KaOS 2022.10

Oct 6, 2022

KaOS Installer with a virtualkeyboard

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

Many changes have been implemented to the installer Calamares in the last few months, so it is fitting to start with listing all that is new or has changed.
It is now possible to do a typical install entirely from a touchpad or mouse, a keyboard is no longer needed. A virtual keyboard has been implemented for those modules that need text input.
For those who prefer PulseAudio over Pipewire, a module has been added (KaOS only), that gives users the option to select which sound server they prefer (with Pipewire set as default).
Dracut is the new default for the initramfs image creation (mkinitcpio is no longer in use for new installs). To accommodate that change, the Dracut module in Calamares had to be adjusted, so it now supports version-less kernels.

KaOS Installer with new Audio Module

The slideshow presented during the install had a complete overhaul, no longer in use are complete different images for each slide, now it has one static background and animated text sliding & fading in & out. Corresponding images for each text are now fading in as slides too. Less jarring transition as was before, so now it is no longer needed to mouse click to advance the slides, it loops automatically.
There now also is an option to either view the slideshow with information about the distribution or watch what the installer Calamares is currently doing by selecting the Log View.
The layout has also been adjusted, so it is now more intuitive to move through the steps and is more in line visually with the other KaOS application presented in Live mode and first boot into the new system. Gone is the use of a ComboBox in the different modules, Drawer is in use instead (for a more consistent behavior).

As mentioned above, KaOS has moved to Dracut as the new initramfs infrastructure. Unlike other implementations, Dracut hard-codes as little as possible into the initramfs. The initramfs has (basically) one purpose in life – getting the rootfs mounted so that transitioning to the real rootfs can be done. Dracut is distribution agnostic and used by many (examples Fedora, VOID, OpenSuse, Gentoo), plus the code-base is very actively maintained.

With Dracut in place, the move to include ZFS as a new filesystem option could also be implemented. Using ZFS has been a goal for KaOS, ever since it started in 2013. ZFS is not default at this stage since it cannot be used (yet) for BIOS installs. For UEFI installs, only the systemd-boot bootloader is ready for ZFS. rEfind adaptation needs to be done still.

A presentation of the new UI of the installer:

Updated navigation and progress bar

Combobox removed from all modules, use of Drawer instead

Locale fine-tuning with a Drawer

Keyboard page with interactive keyboard

Stackview & Combobox removed, again, moved to using a Drawer

Option to select a Bootloader

Partition page with new ZFS option

User page with keyboard activated (optional)

Summary page in QML

Install phase with new Slideshow

Installation finished, note the Debug button when hovered

For the Plasma desktop, the latest Plasma (5.25.90), KDE Gear (22.08.1), and Frameworks (5.78.0) are included. All built on Qt 5.15.6+. Among the changes included in Plasma 5.25.90 is improved Wayland support with the possibility to select if apps will be scaled by the compositor or by themselves to avoid having blurry apps on Wayland.

kcp, the tool to help to manage Community packages, received a small update to list broken depends. This was needed to make it possible to do a full rewriting of KCP-Center (the online Community packages viewer).
The backend of KCP-Center to update the database, whelp, was obsolete since Python2 was removed from the KaOS repositories. Plus it took too long to update the database. It has been simplified to directly use the kcp features to get the database and is now Python3-compatible.
The frontend was rewritten too, removing jQuery depends and unmaintained jQuery Plugins, and using the Mithril framework to create dynamic pages.

Updates to the base of this distribution included Gawk 5.2.0, Bash 5.2, kernel moved to Linux 5.19.13, Systemd 251.5, DBus 1.14.4, Git 2.38.0, Mesa 22.1.7, Texlive packages moved to 2022, Openssh 9.1.P1, Libssh 0.10.4, and ZFS 2.1.6.

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 does a monthly patch update from this fork for all of Qt 5.15, so it basically is now at 5.15.7.

Obs-studio, ported to Qt6

Qt 6.4.0 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 built on qt6-webengine, including some web browsers. Latest applications that are now using Qt6 are Obs-studio & Avidemux. Plus the Kvantum theming has support for Qt6.

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).

Common Notes

The Linux kernel has all the needed ucode build-in for a fully automated Early Microcode update.

KaOS uses the Systemd provided Systemd-boot for UEFI installs.

Included is a KaOS-specific tool to write ISO files to USB. 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. New in this version is the ability to verify the integrity of the written USB flash drive in comparison to the downloaded ISO file. This can be done in Dolphin too, right-click the ISO file, select Actions then select Verify ISO Write.

Croeso Package Selection Page

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.

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.

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.

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.

Known issues:

  • Installing on RAID is currently not possible

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