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CutefishOS “Reborn” Arrives with Debian 12 and Ubuntu 22.04

A new beta release of the famous CutefishOS arrives, refreshing the package base to Debian 12 and Ubuntu 22.04 LTS.

CutefishOS arrives in the news every now and then. Last year, the project was discontinued, and early this year, there was news about the name change of the project.

A recent SourceForge repository appeared last week featuring a new BETA release of CutefishOS featuring a test build based on Debian 12 “Bookworm” and Ubuntu 22.04 LTS “Jammy Jellyfish”. This project seems to be from an independent developer with a new name, “CutefishOS Reborn”.

We took a closer look at this release. And here’s what we found.

CutefishOS Desktop with Debian 12

CutefishOS Beta with Debian 12: A Quick Review

Builds and installations

In the repository, there are three builds available. A standard 0.8 build, which seems based on early Debian 11. The other two are separate Beta builds based on Ubuntu 22.04 and Debian 12.

At the core, CutefishOS is crafted with Qt Quick, QML, and C++. This desktop environment promises a sleek, modern, and user-friendly experience.

Our journey begins with the installation of the Debian 12 version, and CutefishOS makes it a breeze. Utilizing the Calamares installer, known for its stability, you can expect a hiccup-free setup process. During our test installation, everything went smoothly, from the installation itself to the configuration of GRUB, both on fresh installations and in dual-boot setups.

First look

One glance at CutefishOS, and you’ll notice its resemblance to macOS. The top bar, bottom dock, and icons, along with stock wallpapers, all contribute to this familiar yet refreshing aesthetic.

The Cutefish Desktop does more than just mimic macOS; it offers a polished user interface that’s both functional and aesthetically pleasing. The login and lock screens are clean and tidy, providing easy access to date, time, user accounts, and password lists.

CutefishOS Login screen

A new feature that comes in this beta release is a few steps to configure your system before first use. For example, you get to choose the “dark” or “light” mode of the operating system.

Preferences to be selected before first use

Navigating applications on CutefishOS is a breeze. The application menu on the left side is reminiscent of GNOME’s approach. With four rows of applications and a handy search bar at the top, you’ll have no trouble finding and launching your favourite software. The bottom dock remains accessible even when the application menu is open.

Application menu

CutefishOS doesn’t skimp on the finer details. The system tray and notification area are sleek and visually appealing. Rounded corners define the notification popups, offering a modern touch. You’ll find preloaded input controls, volume settings, time display (though no date), and shortcuts for Wi-Fi and Dark Mode toggle options in this tidy space.

Look and feel with settings

The settings seem to have improved since my last review of this distribution. You get all the network, display, themes, and user settings common to any modern desktop environment. A scaling option is available. However, surprisingly, there are no options to change the resolution. In case you are trying, you need to install arandr (sudo apt install arandr) to get it sorted.

One new option I spotted in the “Appearance” is “Dim the wallpaper while using dark theme.” – which is cool, I think.


Apps and global menu

The OS includes native applications, like the file manager, which is a welcome addition. While mature file managers like Thunar, Dolphin, and Nautilus exist, having more options aligns with CutefishOS’s philosophy. The standout feature, however, is the built-in Global Menu.

A few new applications are pre-loaded compared to the last stable release. They are:

The default web browser is Chromium. LibreOffice is not installed by default. The Debian 12 version is powered by Linux Kernel 6.1.

Apps and Global Menu


Under the hood, CutefishOS performs decently. It employs the SDDM display manager and KWin window manager, providing a responsive experience. During our tests, it consumed approximately 1.4GB of RAM and kept the CPU usage around 3% to 4%. While minor lags were observed when opening the application list, minimizing, and maximizing, these are minor quirks worth noting.

CutefishOS performance (Debian 12 version)


In conclusion, CutefishOS “Reborn” Beta brings an enticing blend of Debian and Ubuntu with a touch of macOS inspiration. Its elegant interface, Global Menu integration, and responsive performance make it a promising option. While it may not replace your favourite Linux distribution just yet, it’s certainly a distribution to keep an eye on.

Give it a spin and see if it suits your taste!

You can download it from this page.

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