SpiralLinux Is a New Debian-Based Distro from the GeckoLinux Creator

SpiralLinux Is a New Debian-Based Distro from the GeckoLinux Creator

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”
SpiralLinux Spins

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.

Calamares Installer

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.

SpiralLinux Cinnamon Spin

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.

SpiralLinux Software Manager

SpiralLinux Advantages

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.

SpiralLinux Visual Appearance

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.

Conclusion

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.

8 Comments

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  1. 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.

  2. Hi Bobby, SpiralLinux creator here. Thanks a lot for the open-minded review and accurate description of the goals and features of SpiralLinux!

  3. 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

  4. 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”.