ravynOS: A macOS-Inspired FreeBSD-Based Desktop

ravynOS, a macOS-like open-source OS that aims to be compatible with the Apple apps ecosystem, released an early developer preview, v0.5.

ravynOS might be a name unfamiliar to you, which is quite understandable. Since it’s a project without any stable releases and its most recent development preview, version 0.4, was released almost three years ago, it hasn’t attracted much attention yet. So, before we continue, let’s explain what we’re talking about.

ravynOS is a FreeBSD-based open-source desktop operating system designed to offer a user experience reminiscent of Apple’s macOS, both in appearance and functionality. The ultimate goal is to allow users to install and use native macOS applications in a desktop environment nearly identical to Apple’s, essentially creating an open-source version of macOS.

After nearly three years of silence, the devs recently announced the release of version 0.5, dubbed “Sneaky Snek.” However, it is essential to understand that this is a Developer Preview, meaning it is not intended for the general user but for developers who contribute to its development.

In light of this, even the devs described it as unstable and packed with bugs—ranging from minor glitches to severe issues like kernel panics and application crashes. Nevertheless, this release marks progress in development, so here’s the new stuff.

Image credits: ravynOS Project

What’s New in ravynOS 0.5

ravynOS 0.5 brings several significant updates and changes, starting with the base system. It updates the underlying FreeBSD base to version 15-CURRENT and incorporates all third-party dependencies to their latest versions.

Notably, the system has shifted away from using FreeBSD ports, integrating all necessary code directly into the system repository for streamlined development.

In terms of features, the release sees enhancements across the board:

  • Turbo Editor: Included in the base system for those who aren’t familiar with Vim.
  • Improved Framework Bundles: Enhancements to Frameworks makefiles, such as linking objects in subdirectories more easily, facilitating better code organization and efficiency.
  • Simplified Package System: ravynOS has moved away from having its own package repository and now uses the pkg command to manage FreeBSD packages. However, caution is advised as this can still cause conflicts.

Moreover, developers will appreciate the new build tool, which simplifies creating bootable ISO live images with changes. The build system can now run against a vanilla FreeBSD system, making it more accessible for new developers to the project.

A new, albeit minimal, Dock app has been introduced. It provides basic functionality similar to macOS, including managing desktop wallpaper and launching applications. Partial support for NSStatusItem also allows Cocoa applications to integrate more seamlessly with the global menu bar, although some features, like context menus, are not yet supported.

Refer to the changelog for detailed information about all changes. The link to the installation ISO image is at the bottom of the announcement. Once again, this is a reminder that potential adopters should be prepared for a bumpy experience, including possible system crashes and other significant disruptions.

Lastly, don’t expect a graphical installer; the initial OS installation process is entirely CLI-based, similar to what you’d find with FreeBSD. For detailed instructions on how to complete the installation, click here. The project’s website is here.

Bobby Borisov

Bobby Borisov

Bobby, an editor-in-chief at Linuxiac, is a Linux professional with over 20 years of experience. With a strong focus on Linux and open-source software, he has worked as a Senior Linux System Administrator, Software Developer, and DevOps Engineer for small and large multinational companies.

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