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Vanilla OS Drops Ubuntu, Welcomes Debian Sid

The upcoming Vanilla OS 2.0 “Orchid” will be based on Debian sid instead of Ubuntu Linux.

The aftershock from Ubuntu’s Flatpak decision continues! The Vanilla OS team today announced that the next release of Vanilla OS would not be based on Ubuntu anymore. It will be based on Debian sid, the “rolling” release or unstable version of Debian Linux.

If you don’t know, the Vanilla OS is a new immutable Linux distribution which had its debut release last year. It aims to be the “vanilla” experience of the GNOME desktop with its unique set of tools such as apx package manager, ABRoot technology, stock GNOME experience and more. It was based on the standard Ubuntu release cycle and versions.

Vanilla OS 22.10 Kinetic Desktop
Vanilla OS 22.10 Kinetic Desktop

Vanilla OS plans for Debian base

The next release of Vanilla OS will be named “2.0” “Orchid” because of these major changes. But why move away from Ubuntu?

As the team says, more difficulties and effort have been spent “to revert Canonical’s opinionated workflow” which takes more development time. Also, the GNOME shipped by Ubuntu is customized as per Canonical’s needs and vision. So, not much of a “vanilla” experience.

The second reason is the problem handling “snap”. After several testing and community feedback, the team feels that the current snap problem doesn’t fit the use case of Vanilla OS. For example, the “slow startups, centralization” problems are not fixed in core snap, and snap doesn’t run inside Vanilla OS’s apx container.

Release model

In addition, moving away from the Ubuntu base give you a much more flexible release cadence. You don’t need to follow the two releases per year cycle. It gives some breathing space to the small FOSS developers and contributors team.

But what would be the release model for future releases? The team will follow an ad-hoc release method which means the famous term applies – “it will be released when needed or ready”. For example, if some Debian sid PACKAGE gets a critical CVE fix, then you may get an immediate point release of Vanilla OS. So, it’s up to the situation and should be need basis.

Furthermore, the team is also planning to reduce the number of packages in the ISO file to minimize the risks of the “unstable” nature of packages. But with my experience with Debian sid, if you follow proper updates and be cautious, it works as a “stable” distro.

Also, part of the other changes is OCI updates to the ABRoot for greater control of updates. A new express and advanced options in set up are notable ones which are planned for the upcoming release.

At the core, the new release is planned to have GNOME 44 and mainline Kernel 6+ based on the situation of Debian sid packages.


In conclusion, it’s indeed a great move for the Debian base. While it does give more flexibility on release cadence, it also brings more careful testing of sid packages before offering a stable release to users. Overall, exciting time ahead as we wait for the testing copy of Vanilla OS 2.0 “Orchid”.

Via announcement

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