TileOS 1.0 Unveiled for Tiling Window Managers Enthusiasts

TileOS 1.0 brings Debian, Sway, & River together in its first stable release. Experience cutting-edge tiling WM today!

Many of us love using the visual interfaces offered by Linux desktop environments like KDE Plasma, GNOME, Xfce, and more. They provide a straightforward desktop experience, where the mouse plays a key role in navigating and enjoying our digital space.

However, another group of savvy Linux users prefer to use the keyboard shortcuts to manage their desktop windows. They find this approach more efficient and handy, thanks to the powerful features offered by tiling window managers.

For them, TileOS 1.0 is here, and it’s been crafted with tiling window management enthusiasts at heart. As the latest addition to the Linux universe, this brand new, first stable release is all about bringing you the best of organized and efficient computing. But before diving into what it offers, let’s say a few words about the OS itself.

What’s TileOS?

TileOS is a Linux distribution based on Debian’s stable branch, designed specifically for users who prefer tiling window managers. It leverages Debian’s stable and solid foundation, incorporating some packages backported from Debian Testing to ensure a blend of stability and newer software features.

The distro distinguishes itself by offering a fully pre-configured desktop environment based on the Sway or River tiling window managers and Wayland compositors, known for their efficient management of screen space and resources.

TileOS 1.0 Highlights

TileOS 1.0 "T-Rex" Sway
TileOS 1.0 “T-Rex” Sway

Powered by Linux kernel 6.6 and based on Debian 12 “Bookworm,” TileOS 1.0 comes with fresh and stable graphics drivers, also backported from Debian Testing, and includes a wide range of device drivers and non-free firmware to ensure compatibility with a broad spectrum of hardware.

The release includes the latest versions of key software components, such as Mesa 23.2.1, Xwayland 23.2.2, and PipeWire 1.0. It also introduces ZRAM with ZSTD compression and various system optimizations to enhance performance and user experience.

Another notable aspect of TileOS is its inclusion of additional repositories, which provide access to software not available in the Debian repositories, such as OnlyOffice, VirtualBox, Librewolf, Visual Studio Code, and Brave. This feature allows users to easily install and use various applications beyond what’s traditionally available in Debian.

The distro ships with a user-friendly installer (Calamares), making it a breeze for beginners to navigate the setup process. This means you can quickly have a functional desktop with a tiling window system up and running in no time.

Calamares Installer
Calamares Installer

TileOS 1.0 has modest system requirements, making it accessible to users with older or less powerful hardware. However, it faces some limitations, such as issues with Secure Boot, encrypted partitions, non-Latin keyboard layouts during installation, and boot problems on VMware virtual machines.

Despite these challenges, TileOS presents a compelling option for users seeking an efficient, customizable, performance-optimized Linux distribution. The distro offers two flagship editions:

TileOS 1.0 “T-Rex” Sway

This edition features Sway 1.8.1, a lightweight and highly customizable Wayland compositor designed to be compatible with the i3 window manager but built on the Wayland display server protocol instead of X11.

It offers a full-featured, complete Wayland compositor experience adorned with the Catppuccin color scheme, Waybar panel, and applications from the NWG project for a powerful, easy-to-use, and flexible desktop.

TileOS 1.0 “T-Rex” River

This edition is focused on River, a minimalistic and lightweight dynamic Wayland compositor known for its simplicity, efficiency, and ease of use. It excels in automatically arranging windows in a tiled layout, maximizing screen space, and simplifying the switching between applications.

Like the Sway Edition, it features the Catppuccin color scheme, Waybar panel, and NWG project applications for a cohesive and flexible user experience. The version that is being used here is River 0.2.4.

Bottom Line

TileOS is a fresh and thrilling addition to the Linux world. It offers an effortless and full-featured tiling window experience, all while being powered by the reliable Debian.

Usually, setting up tiling window managers can be a bit tricky and requires some technical know-how. However, with TileOS 1.0, all those complexities are handled for you. You can have a graphical environment set up and ready to go in just a few minutes.

One downside worth noting is the lack of documentation provided with the distribution. This means you’re expected to be comfortable using the APT package manager and know the essential keyboard shortcuts for your chosen tiling window manager, whether that’s Sway or River, to fully engage with the operating system.

Since this is just the initial stable release, we expect things to only get better from here. Anyway, TileOS 1.0 has won our sympathy, and we suggest you take it for a spin. Who knows? It might be your gateway into the fascinating world of tiling window managers.

For more information, visit the project website or the TileOS 1.0 release notes.

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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