Release Notes

KaOS - 2023.02

It is with great pleasure to present to you the February release of a new stable ISO.

For the Plasma desktop, the latest Plasma (5.27.0), KDE Gear (22.12.2), and Frameworks (5.103.0) are included. All built on Qt 5.15.8+. Among the many changes included in Plasma 5.27 are the Big Multi-monitor Refactor to make working with screens much more reliable. There is also a new fine grained control tools when the user has 3 or more screens connected. For those with a large monitor KWin has long been able to place one window on the left and one on the right. Now with Meta-T the quick tiling is launched allowing complete control of where your windows are placed. Drag windows with Shift pressed and it will stick to the tiled layout. And a new System Settings module has been added to easily control the settings for Flatpaks.

Updates to the base of the system included a new GCC 12.2.0, Glibc 2.36 and binutils 2.39 based toolchain, CLang/LLVM 15.0.7, Libtiff 4.5.0, Sqlite 3.40.1, kernel moved to Linux 6.1.11, Systemd 252.5, Libffi 3.4.4/Glib2 2.74.3 stack, Python 3.10.10, Dracut 059, ZFS 2.1.9, Gnupg 2.4.0, and Libarchive 3.6.2.

Big thanks goes to YourHostingSolutions for not only providing a mirror, but also providing a server for KaOS. With the discontinuation of Fosshost, a new server was sorely needed.

The move to include ZFS exposed a shortcoming in the installer Calamares. A generated hostid for ZFS during the installation did not copy over to the installed system, thus the installed system failed to match the hostid on system updates where a new initramfs was created. This is now corrected by adding a new zfshostid module to Calamares. This module was presented to upstream Calamares, but is not included yet in a release, at this point it is a KaOS-only option.
It is now also possible to select the EurKEY layout in the keyboard page.

To get good logs has always been a bit of a challenge since you have to know what journalctl commands to use. That is now a thing of the past, Kjournald gives the option to view the logs from a nice GUI, with all kinds of filter options in the left-hand pane (it is now part of the default install)

New applications added include Ghostwriter, a dedicated Markdown editor. A start is also made to get ready for Plasma 6. For the adventurous, the kde-next repository is used for a complete Qt6-based KDE stack, all Frameworks are built there on Qt6, most of Plasma and a few KDE Applications have also been ported to Qt6. Plasma 6 does boot but is not usable yet (so, of course not part of this ISO).

A shift has started as to how all Python packages are built. Historically, just about all were built with setuptools through a script. PEP17 is the new standard for building python packages, see At this stage, KaOS is testing this transition with different new Python build tools, such as Python-flit & Python-build, with Python-wheel currently in use to install the build packages.

Qt 5.15 does not receive updates or maintenance from the Qt company (only closed source, paid support is available). KDE has stepped up though and published a maintained 5.15 fork KaOS now regularly does a patch update from this fork for all of Qt 5.15, so it basically is now at 5.15.9.

For Nvidia, a new longterm support version is included in this ISO, 470xx. The move by Nvidia to 495 meant the end of support for Kepler based cards, thus the need to add a new legacy version.

Qt 6.4.2 is included and is now far more complete since many more are ported from Qt5, this includes qt6-location and the big one, qt6-webengine (plus all the Qt6 webengine depends on). A few test applications have been build on qt6-webengine, including some web-browsers. Latest applications that are now using Qt6 are OBS-studio & QBittorrent. Plus the Kvantum theming has support for Qt6.

Since LibreOffice 6.2, it is now possible to supply this as a pure Qt5/kf5 application. LibreOffice has thus replaced Calligra as the default Office Application for KaOS.

KaOS' creation Croeso (Welsh for welcome) for helping with configuring a new install is included. It will run on the newly installed system and offers to adjust some 15 commonly used settings, includes a custom Wallpaper selector, distribution info and the option to select packages to install from six different groups. It is written in QML and fits well with the Welcome application used in the Live system. The latter includes an Installation Guide.

There is an option to verify the authenticity of downloaded KaOS ISO files through GPG signature verification, see the Download page for further details and instructions.

A KaOS specific tool to write ISO files to USB is in use. Not only does IsoWriter write to USB it also gives the option to recover your USB stick after using it for an ISO, something that regular dd copy or the previously used Imagewriter were not able to do. It includes the option to verify the written USB in comparison to the used ISO file.

The artwork includes custom icon themes for light and dark themes. Midna and Midna Dark both create a complete unified look from boot-up all the way through logout.

This ISO uses the CRC and finobt enabled XFS filesystem as default. CRCs enable enhanced error detection due to hardware issues, whilst the format changes also improves crash recovery algorithms and the ability of various tools to validate and repair metadata corruptions when they are found. The free inode btree does not index used inodes, allowing faster, more consistent inode allocation performance as filesystems age.

Octopi is becoming a very crucial part of full system maintenance for KaOS. It is not just a GUI frontend to pacman. Tools like making sure a mirror is synced before starting any update, looking at the pacman logs, an option to get a paste from a complete snapshot of all info of a system with the SysInfo tool are included. Also included are very simple ways to open files, like copy to clipboard the file path shown in Octopi. To make sure the system doesn't start using too much disk space for the pacman cache, but still giving the user the option to retain some recent packages, the cache-cleaner tool is a great addition. The built-in tool to access KCP has now a much clearer place with the addition of its own "foreign" icon in the menu-bar. When viewing package info it is now possible to click the depends of such a package. New added is the option to select custom icons for the systemtray.

For UEFI installs, KaOS uses the simple, transparent but quite powerful systemd-boot as bootloader.

To learn more about the goals and ideas behind KaOS, please read the Home, About and FAQ pages.

To avoid any misunderstanding and confusion, KaOS is not based upon, derived of, or inspired by any one particular distribution. It is completely independent, build entirely from scratch with its own repositories. To read more about this see FAQ. A rolling release distribution never has a "final" release, every ISO is merely a snapshot of the current status of the repositories. An idea what is currently available:

The ISO ships with Frameworks 5.103.0, Plasma 5.27.0, KDE Applications 22.12.2, Linux 6.1.11, Systemd 252.5, Kmod 30, NetworkManager 1.42.0, LibreOffice 7.5.0, Elisa, Xorg-Server 1.21.7, Mesa 22.3.5, Glibc 2.36, GCC 12.2.0, non-free Nvidia 525 and Python3 3.10.10 to name a few.

The package manager is Pacman 6.0.2, with the simple but powerful Octopi 0.14 as GUI frontend. Default web browser is Qt based Falkon. GFXboot is included with KaOS artwork, Grub theme is Midna, Look & Feel is a KaOS exclusive version "Midna".

Repositories of KaOS will stay limited in size and expect it to stay at the current maximum of about 2100-2200. A gist of what is available, besides the stable kernel there is Linux-next 6.1, Calligra 3.2.1, VLC, Vokoscreen, Blender, Kodi, Calibre, Sigil, Vulkan packages, a few games like 0ad and Knights.
A limited number of the most well-known GTK applications are available, examples Firefox 109.0.1, Chrome 112, Ardour 7.2.0, Inkscape 1.2.2, GIMP 2.99.14 and Thunderbird 102.7.2.
Complete language packs are available for KDE, Calligra, Firefox, LibreOffice and Thunderbird. For IM, Fcitx is available as a rather complete group.

Known issues:

To create reliable installation media, please follow the instructions from the Download page. KaOS's ISO's do not support unetbootin or rufus, and DVDs need a burn speed no higher than 4x.