SpiralLinux is a brand new Linux distribution offering a rich set of desktop environments and uses official Debian package repositories.
Not every day, a new Linux distribution appears on the horizon, so we’re happy to present you SpiralLinux – the new kid on the block. So, in the following lines, we will try to shed as much light on this new Linux distribution as possible for our readers.
SpiralLinux is a Debian-based distribution focusing on simplicity and out-of-the-box usability in all major desktop environments. It was created and is maintained by the same person that created and maintained GeckoLinux, an openSUSE-based distribution.
SpiralLinux, like GeckoLinux, is available in an astonishing eight different editions that cover practically all of the most popular desktop environments in Linux today. These include:
- SpiralLinux Cinnamon
- SpiralLinux Xfce
- SpiralLinux GNOME
- SpiralLinux Plasma
- SpiralLinux Mate
- SpiralLinux Budgie
- SpiralLinux LXQt
- SpiralLinux “Builder”
A few days ago, SpiralLinux 11.220606, the distribution’s initial release, was made available to the public. Distro utilizes the well-known Calamares installer, ensuring a trouble-free installation.
We chose the SpiralLinux Cinnamon edition for our testing based on the assumption that, like GeckoLinux, it might be considered a flagship. Furthermore, this spin is listed as the first in the list of available ones, which confirms this assumption.
SpiralLinux to Debian: Similarities and Differences
SpiralLinux, as previously said, is based on Debian, specifically Debian 11 Bullseye. “OK, just another Debian derivative,” you’re probably thinking. And quite rightly so. That was our initial reaction as well. But when we were delving deeper into SpiralLinux, our views changed utterly.
If I had to sum up this article in a single sentence, it would be this: SpiralLinux is the closest thing to pure Debian with a carefully measured dose of tweaks. Let us explain.
The distro is a customized Debian system using only official Debian package repositories. This means that no packages have been modified to reflect the viewpoints of a specific distribution.
In other words, you use and install what Debian users use. In addition, to be more precise, SpiralLinux is built on Debian Stable packages, with newer hardware support from Debian Backports preloaded.
The distro includes a graphical Flatpak package manager and a pre-configured Flatpak theming. But let us not forget to mention one of the essential points. SpiralLinux installs with the Btrfs filesystem, which brings all its advantages, such as system snapshots.
So, in the rare situations that the system becomes unbootable, you can use the SpiralLinux snapshots section of the GRUB boot menu to select a working snapshot, take note of the snapshot number, and boot into it.
Additionally, the distro comes preinstalled with proprietary media codecs and non-free Debian package repositories. As you know, in Debian, they are disabled by default. On top of that, SpiralLinux also has extensive hardware support, with a large range of proprietary firmware ready to be used.
Continuing the list of benefits, we should highlight that zRAM swap is enabled by default, resulting in higher performance on low-end hardware. VirtualBox support is also available out-of-the-box.
Visual Appearance and Software
All SpiralLinux spins have a consistent and polished appearance thanks to the use of one of the most popular themes for its visual identity, Numix. In addition, the distribution comes with pre-configured font rendering and theme colors for optimal legibility.
We know that one of the most often asked questions by users is what software versions of the desktop environments the distribution provides. The answer is simple: those available in the official Debian 11 stable repositories.
We’d be happy to list them for your convenience – Cinnamon 4.8, Xfce 4.16, GNOME 3.38, KDE Plasma 5.20, MATE 1.24, Budgie 10.5, and LXQt 0.16. In addition, you also get Firefox 91.10 ESR, Thunderbird 91.10, LibreOffice 7.0.4, VLC 3.0.17, and so on.
Under the hood, SpiralLinux is powered by the latest and greatest Linux kernel 5.18. In addition, it is kept company by systemd 247.3, PulseAudio 14.2, X.Org Server 1.7, and so on.
As our readers surely notice, much of the software is outdated. Of course, this is due to one of Debian’s most notable characteristics: stability above all else. Because SpiralLinux is pretty much pure Debian, it is fully expected to inherit all of its qualities.
What Will Happen to GeckoLinux?
As stated at the beginning of this article, SpiralLinux was created by the same guy who created GeckoLinux. Interestingly, the developer in question is unwilling to reveal his identity on any of the project’s websites, seemingly wanting to remain anonymous.
However, it is reasonable that all GeckoLinux users are wondering if the new project means the end of the previous one. Fortunately, there is good news. Both projects will be developed and maintained simultaneously in the future.
GeckoLinux will continue to be maintained. However, SUSE and openSUSE have announced some major changes that will eventually affect the Leap branch a few years from now, so SpiralLinux would fill the void in the event that openSUSE Leap ceases to exist or turns into a completely different sort of product.
SpiralLinux looks like a very promising distribution. It fills the void between pure Debian and its heavily modified derivatives such as Ubuntu, Deepin, MX Linux, etc.
As you know, many Linux distros build custom packages and additional package repositories that will cease to exist and leave their users stranded if the project ever stops existing.
Controversially, SpiralLinux is carefully built to rely entirely on the upstream Debian project’s enormous development resources and robust package infrastructure.
This ensures users that even if SpiralLinux ceases to exist for whatever reason, their systems will continue to function and receive updates from the official Debian repositories.
If you want to try SpiralLinux, you may get the installation ISO images from the project website.
While I understand the interest in new projects. This release does almost nothing that distros like SparkyLinux have not already done.
Hi there, SpiralLinux creator here. With all due respect, I don’t agree with your assessment. I did look at SparkyLinux and other options built from Debian. At this time, SparkyLinux has LXQt, XFCE, and KDE spins for their Stable spins; I personally also need all the other preconfigured desktop environments that SpiralLinux offers, both for myself and for other users that I support. Additionally, the SparkyLinux spins use the Debian Stable kernel, whereas SpiralLinux live images uses the much newer kernel and firmware packages from Debian Backports. While there is definitely a good reason for many users to prefer the Debian Stable kernel in many cases, some newer hardware will simply not allow the older Debian kernel to boot or run correctly. So I prefer the SpiralLinux approach of covering newer and older hardware with the live installation medium, and then users that want to use the older Stable kernel once it’s installed can easily do so from the boot menu. Another difference I see is that SparkyLinux includes its own repo.sparkylinux.org repository, something that I have very specifically avoided doing in SparkyLinux in order to avoid making the installed system dependent on me. SparkyLinux prominently mentions on their website that they require donations to keep going, whereas SpiralLinux has a yearly budget and operating cost of $0.00. Finally, SparkyLinux does not include a graphical manager for Flatpak at all, and if Flatpak support was installed by the user they would run into the typical issues with proper theming and font rendering in Flatpak apps, which is a major issue for me that I work around via preconfiguration in SpiralLinux. There are also a large number of other quality-of-live improvements via configuration files in SpiralLinux, please take the time to see what they are by visiting the SpiralLinux website and/or inspecting the tarballs containing the overlay configuration files, available on Github. I want to be clear, I’m not trying to poach away users from SparkyLinux, I recognize and appreciate their achievements in the Debian space, and if you or anyone else is already happily using SparkyLinux then by all means keep using it. But I saw an unfilled need in the Debian space and I filled it, thus making Debian-via-SpiralLinux a legitimate option for my needs and those of others that I support, which until the creation of SpiralLinux was not possible.
Hi Bobby, SpiralLinux creator here. Thanks a lot for the open-minded review and accurate description of the goals and features of SpiralLinux!
My pleasure. I thank you for the great distro!
Hi, installed Gnome DE with great pleasure to see a pure Debian but with BTRFS included with snapper support, what I would like to tell you Sam thanks a lot for your work and I hope for a great success in future for this amazing distro.
At the end I’ve stopped to break my mind with manjaro, endevours and TW
Thank you again
Really happy to hear that it’s working for your needs! Thanks for saying so.
Is Spirallinux a “rollong” distro? Will I ever be obsoleted if I use spiral??
Another remark: I signed-up for github, and then tried to post my question at the spiralinux “forum”, but I saw
no way to post anything. [ Will there be a active and easy forum? That seems necessary for any linux distro.]
PS Sewew “spiral hashing”.
I’ve been trying some different distros to see which one I will be my everyday OS.
I tried a Debian testing 11 and was good but the night color does not change. Also the repository layout is better on some of the other distros. Better search and feedback system.
Spiral KDE plasma looks to be promising and the night color works (tried without install). I tried to install and it gets stuck at the partition 1%. I have tried two different versions of Rufus, BalenaEtcher, and Linux USB image writer (Mint). Rufus states wrong version of a file in the iso. BalenaEtcher and Linux USB image writer burn iso image and verifies ok but when removing USB stick it states “No object for D-Bus-interface”. I did a sudo eject /dev/sdx and dismounts but still corrupted iso. I then loaded mint 21 on same USB stick and no problems so stick is fine. Any idea what is wrong? I’m slightly above a newbie and am working to improve my skills in Linux.
Tried the DD method in terminal to create bootable USB drive and same results except no eject issue. The error at the install states: Installtion Failed Boost.Python error in job “mount”.
The live from USB works fine, just won’t install.
One other thing. I did try three different iso’s from different mirrors. All responded in the same manner. I did a check-sum from the SourceForge site (which uses SHA1). SHA256 does not equal SHA1 as expected. So so way to check. The three iso’s from different sources did match SHA256 sum giving me confidence that they should be ok.
What are the Computer min requirements? I could not find anywhere. Am doing my distro testing on an older pc. Core 2 quad @ 3.00 GHz, 4 GB Ram DDR2, low end AMD graphics card and a modern SSD. Computer supports 64 bit. Actually runs some other distros I tested quite well.
Maybe I’ll try Cinnamon.
Used MD5 to verify non-corrupt iso. Numbers matched.
Cinnamon installation responded the same as KDE/Plasma.
Not sure why this is not installing.
Only clue is: Installtion Failed Boost.Python error in job “mount”.
Just installed LMDE 5 Elsie. Same PC, software/hardware to create iso stick (same stick), same pc (same hardware SSD) to load into. First try zero issues. Works as it should.
Nothing wrong on my end. The verified by MD5 SpiralLinux .iso is faulty in the KDE/plasma and cinnamon versions. I did not check the other versions.
Really wanted to give it a try. I tried about ten distros and narrowed it down to two for my daily user.
If this gets fixed, I’ll try it out. I don’t want to switch around once I settle on a distro. Also LTS is important.
Update & final report: SpiralLinux KDE plasma iso installed fine on a newer PC (i7 etc.). So my older pc with specs as listed above was the problem. The older pc had no trouble installing: Mint 22.04, Ubuntu 22.04, Debian-testing .iso from Aug 2022, Debian 11, Kubuntu 22.04, LMDE 5. Also tried MX, Zorin & Manjaro (Arch based). I couldn’t install one of them on my older pc (can’t remember which, wasn’t interested in those last three anyway) and it let me know that my pc specs were too low. BTW- all installed and tested on older pc worked fine, Ubunbtu was a little slow but that’s it. I will be installing on a newer higher spec pc; SpiralLinux seemed very user friendly and is a candidate. I installed some software from the repository and other places and no issues. Very nice.
So to someone new to Linux, the distros are mostly preference. The real “Linux” is to know the file structure, learn to use the command line and write simple scripts. Then you can say goodbye to Microsoft and Apple forever. Open source all the way. Richard Stallman, way ahead of the masses. Too bad Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and Netflix all sponsor Linux now. If you like freedom and your data to be yours, do not use or limit Silicon Valley products.
I hope this distro (and Linux in general) gets more recognition and keeps on growing.