Release Notes

KaOS - 2021.10

Today KDE is celebrating its 25th anniversary, to commemorate that event, KaOS is releasing the 2021.10 ISO, including the latest Plasma 5.23.0.

For installer Calamares there are three major changes. Biggest one is the addition of a bootloader selection module. For UEFI installs it is now possible to select between systemd-boot, rEFInd or no bootloader, all presented in a nice, QML based GUI. Second change is the addition of an interactive keybaord preview in the keyboard setup page. And third is the porting of the License page to QML.

Highlights of Plasma 5.23 include Kickoff receiving a code overhaul with improved performance & accessibility, and the option to choose a list or grid view for all apps, Systemsettings has easier find options, sorted screen refresh rates, and a timer to revert possible undesired display settings, for Wayland sessions there is a new screen rotation animation and, it is now possible to middle-click-paste between native Wayland and XWayland apps.

Updates to the base of this distribution include Systemd 249.4, Curl 7.79.1, Coreutils 9.0, NetworkManager 1.32.12, Mesa 21.2.3, Bison 3.8.2, Vulkan packages 1.2.195, Udisks 2.9.4, Sudo 1.9.8p2, and Pacman 6.0.1.< /br> 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 https://dot.kde.org/2021/04/06/announcing-kdes-qt-5-patch-collection. KaOS now regularly does a patch update from this fork for all of Qt 5.15, so it basically is now at 5.15.3.

pmanager, the packages’ viewer used by KaOS, was largely rewritten in its backend part. This was due to the migration of the old database based on json to the more consistent SQLite system. That permits the simplification of the flags management. Previously, flags & packages data were completely independent. Now a flag is linked to a package’s name & version, so it can be automatically removed when the package is updated. The frontend got 2 minor changes: the URL of the package’s view was simplified (with the concatenation of the repo and the name/version of the package in one argument) and the flag button is replaced by a link to the build version of the package (if exists) if the package is not flagged. This is due because too many packages were flagged as outdated though an updated version was in build.

Qt 6.2.0 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.

New applications added include FreeCAD, with the whole stack such a CAD application needs, like PySide, Shiboken, Coin, Soqt, VTK, and Opencascade. And a few Language Server Protocols have been added to use in Kate.

Big thanks goes to Fosshost for not only providing the default mirror (through the Fastly CDN mirror network) but also providing a server for KaOS. This server is replacing an eight year old server (used for package upload, ZNC bouncer, and the old PHP based package viewer).

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 5.85.0, Plasma 5.22.4, KDE Applications 21.08.0, Linux 5.13.11, Systemd 249.3, Kmod 29, NetworkManager 1.32.8, LibreOffice 7.1.5, Krita 4.4.7, Elisa, Xorg-Server 1.20.13, Mesa 21.1.7, Glibc 2.33, GCC 10.3.0, non-free Nvidia 470 and Python3 3.8.11 to name a few.

The package manager is Pacman 5.2.2, with the simple but powerful Octopi 0.11 as GUI frontend. Default web browser is Qt based Falkon 3.1.0. 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 5.13, 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 91.0.1, Chrome 94, Ardour 6.9.0, Inkscape 1.1, GIMP 2.10.24 and Thunderbird 91.0.1.
Complete language packs are available for KDE, Calligra, Firefox, LibreOffice and Thunderbird. For IM, Fcitx 4.2.9.6 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.