Rhino Linux Unveils Its First Stable 2023.1 Release

Rhino 2023.1 is a release that brings the long-awaited Ubuntu-based rolling distribution model to Linux users but with its own identity.

In the ever-evolving landscape of Linux distributions, the arrival of Rhino 2023.1 has created a buzz among enthusiasts and users alike. This brand-new Linux distribution brings a long-awaited feature, infusing the Ubuntu-based foundation with the innovative rolling distribution model.

After six betas, the distribution developers released the first stable version, Rhino 2023.1, today, so we can’t wait to bring you our impressions of it.

Rhino Linux 2023.1 Highlights

Rhino 2023.1 with Unicorn Desktop.
Rhino 2023.1 with Unicorn Desktop.

Rhino Linux, the successor to last October’s discontinued Rolling Rhino Remix project, is a new Linux distribution based on the Ubuntu development branch.

The concept of rolling releases in the Linux world has garnered immense attention over the years with vivid representatives in the face of distributions such as Arch Linux, openSUSE Tumbleweed, Manjaro, Gentoo, Void Linux, etc.

Rhino has also chosen this distribution model, but the big news is that the distribution is based on Ubuntu, which has been missing in the Linux world until now.

Now let’s look at the highlights of this rising star on the Linux sky.

Installer

Calamares Installer
Calamares Installer

All Linux users will feel immediately at home with the installation of Rhino 2023.1, as the distribution relies on the well-known and proven Calamares installer.

Of course, the installer is customized to match the identity of the distribution, and the installation process is seamless, with a Linux system ready to go in only a few minutes.

Rhino’s Unicorn Desktop

Rhino doesn’t stop simply adopting the rolling model on an Ubuntu base. One key feature that sets the distribution apart is the inclusion of its desktop, Unicorn, which offers the Rhino developers’ views on how the desktop environment should look and interact.

Designed to provide users with a visually pleasing and lightweight interface, Unicorn is based on the latest Xfce 4.18 desktop environment but modified and built with user experience in mind.

It comes with an integrated Ulauncher, a lightweight and highly customizable application launcher for Linux written in Python – a decision we liked very much.

Ulauncher App Launcher
Ulauncher App Launcher

Furthermore, Rhino’s App Grid has been added to the Xfce desktop environment, making GNOME users feel at home.

It is a simple but powerful Wayland-compatible application launcher integrated visually appealing into the Unicorn Desktop.

Rhino 2023.1 App Grid
Rhino 2023.1 App Grid

Instead of the standard Xfce panel, Rhino Linux 2021.3 relies on Plank, a lightweight and minimal dock. However, this may be met with mixed feelings, given the software’s latest version was released four years ago (August 2019), and its further development appears to have been discontinued.

In conclusion, the Unicorn Desktop is an Xfce experience but styled and tweaked to make working with the desktop environment more effortless and enjoyable.

Software Management

Immediately after installation, users are given the option via a handy GUI tool to choose additional software sources, including Snap, Flatpak, and AppImage.

Selection of additional software sources.
Selection of additional software sources.

Depending on your choice, the system automatically configures everything you need for the respective source, which is a huge time saver.

However, the most significant advantage of Rhino Linux is the integration of Pacstall, which shares a very similar ideology to Arch’s AUR, but for Ubuntu users.

It uses so-called “pacscripts,” very similar to Arch’s PKGBUILDs concept, that contain the necessary contents to build ready-to-install packages for your system.

Another unique aspect of Rhino 2021.3 is the in-house developed rhino-pkg (rpk) – the all-in-one package manager written. Its main advantage is its versatility, which allows you to manage software from numerous sources.

Rhino Package Manager (rpk)
Rhino Package Manager (rpk)

It allows you to search, install, remove, and update packages from multiple package managers repositories, such as native DEB repos, Pacstall, Flathub, and Snap Store, with simple terminal outputs to enhance and ease user experience.

On top of that, users get preinstalled Nala, a frontend for the APT command, which provides some significant improvements in package management over APT.

However, with so many package managers available, new Linux users will likely be confused about which one to use. But don’t worry – here’s how things work.

The preferred approach, recommended by the Rhino devs, is to go with rpk. So, our recommendation is also to stick to it and leave APT and Nala only when, for some reason, something goes wrong with rpk.

Other Rhino Linux 2021.3 Highlights

Under the hood, the distro is powered by the most up-to-date Linux kernel, 6.4, accompanied by systemd 253, PipeWire 0.3.76, and Mesa 23.1.3.

On the apps side, users get in the default installation Firefox 116 Web Browser, Mousepad 0.6.1 Simple Text Editor, mpv 0.36 Media Player, and VSCodium 1.80.1 Integrated Development Environment.

So, compared to distributions bloated with apps, we were impressed that only the most necessary software is included, which adds an extra feeling of lightness.

Our only criticism is that instead of VSCodium, the developers may have included some more widely used software, such as an office suite.

Conclusion

Ubuntu has long held its position as one of the most popular and user-friendly Linux distributions. Rhino 2023.1 leverages this strong base to provide users with the reliability they expect while introducing the dynamic nature of a rolling release.

It is a breath of fresh air in the Linux world, where many distributions try to offer everything at once, relying on complex technical solutions cluttered with software tools to accomplish simple things. In contrast, Rhino strives to keep things relatively simple.

While Ubuntu is a widely-used and popular distro designed for general use, Rhino is more tailored toward intermediate Linux users who are looking for a simpler and more streamlined experience.

So, would we recommend giving Rhino Linux a try? A short answer is yes! However, remember that the project is very early, so this should be considered if you decide to use it for your everyday computing needs.

You can learn more about Rhino by visiting the project website. The 2021.3 release announcement is here, and the installation ISO image is available from the website’s download section.

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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One comment

  1. +1 brick in the wall of not working Linux distros.
    No package manager.
    Settings does not save.
    Does not respect chosen settings during install.
    Auto muting sound every reboot.
    No screen lock……

    If you ever meet unsuccessful man, you can brighten up his day by telling that he will never ever break the record of desktop linux fails.

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