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Vanilla OS 2 Orchid Beta Unveils Revolutionary Hybrid Debian Base and OCI Image Updates

After many months of development, Vanilla OS 2 “Orchid” beta is now available for testing.

Vanilla OS has just rolled out its highly anticipated Vanilla OS 2 Orchid Beta to redefine your experience with Linux distribution innovation. Packed with cutting-edge features and enhancements, this release aims to elevate the operating system to new heights of flexibility, control, and security.

Let’s quickly round up the key highlights.

Vanilla OS 2 “Orchid” Beta: Key features

Debian base

A standout feature of Orchid is the transition from Ubuntu to Debian as the system’s base. This move brings increased flexibility and control over the system and update distribution. The hybrid base comprises Debian packages and Vib modules, providing a robust foundation for Vanilla OS users.

Notably, the update structure has evolved from a package-based system to an OCI image-based structure, leveraging Vib technology. This innovative approach allows the assembly of OCI images using various modules, ensuring users receive updates in the exact state they were tested. This meticulous process guarantees uniformity in user experience across the board.

ABRoot v2

Orchid introduces ABRoot v2, a complete overhaul of the A/B Partitioning system. This rewrite focuses on reliability and speed, employing atomic transactions through OCI image expansion instead of traditional package updates. This ensures a consistent and flawless system, with added features like system state dumping for support, seamless flavour switching without data loss, auto-recovery of ABRoot file system structure, and more.

Drivers & LVM

The latest release enhances driver management, addressing the need for atomic system changes. ABRoot v2 replaces the transactional shell with support for generating custom local images. While not recommended for daily use, this feature facilitates the installation of drivers not present in the system.

To further streamline the process, Vanilla OS now includes an extensive set of drivers covering most peripherals. During installation, the system proposes the most suitable OCI image based on detected hardware, minimizing the need for custom operations.

Orchid tackles a previous criticism by introducing support for LVM Thin Provisioning. This technology dynamically allocates disk space for the two root partitions, totalling 20GB, based on their actual needs. This optimization addresses concerns about space allocation in previous versions and ensures a more efficient use of storage resources.

Security

Vanilla OS 2 Orchid replaces the common practice of using sudo with PolKit policies. This shift allows users to perform privileged operations in a controlled and secure manner. PolKit’s centralized authentication authority and specific policies for each action offer a more robust defence against potential security threats.

Security enhancements continue with the introduction of FsGuard and FsWarn. Developed in collaboration with Linux Immutability Tools, these tools check the integrity of system binaries during boot. If discrepancies are detected, FsWarn halts the system boot, providing users with the option to restart to a previous state to ensure system integrity.

VSO v2 and Apx v2

Vanilla OS introduces significant updates to familiar tools with VSO v2 and Apx v2. VSO v2 now serves as the system shell, package manager, and supports Android applications. Users can install and run Android applications seamlessly within Vanilla OS, thanks to the integration of the F-Droid store into VSO. This might be a critical use case for many users. This opens up possibilities of using third-party APK files and packages from the F-droid store.

Sideloading of Android APK packages in Vanilla OS 2 Orchid

Apx v2 undergoes a complete rewrite, offering powerful capabilities for developers. Custom environments (stacks) can be created, allowing users to define package managers, subsystems, and more. The addition of Apx GUI provides a graphical interface for easier management and access to created subsystems.

Installer

Vanilla OS 2 Orchid prioritizes user-friendliness with improvements to Vanilla Installer and First Setup. The switch from Distinst to the Albius installer backend brings enhanced intuitiveness and usability. Users can now configure system requirements, install VM Tools and Nvidia drivers during the installation process, ensuring optimal compatibility.

Improved setup

First Setup offers OEM compatibility, enabling hardware manufacturers to pre-install Vanilla OS on devices. During this phase, users can configure essential settings, including username, device name, timezone, language, keyboard, and network.

Overall, these are critical highlights of this release. Of course, there are many under-the-hood updates, stock GNOME experience and new wallpaper to make it look stunning.

Download

Remember, this is still beta, and you should not use it for serious production work. You can help test this release by downloading the ISO from GitHub.

Download Vanilla OS (download might be a little slow due to the GitHub infra server)

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