What to Expect from Vanilla OS 2 Orchid

Get ready for Vanilla OS 2 Orchid: Currently in alpha, with beta slated for January 30. A fresh wave of features is on the horizon.

Even though Vanilla OS is a relatively young Linux distro, being only a year old with just one stable version out (which didn’t leave us with the best impression), it has already made waves in the Linux community.

However, if you’re not yet familiar with it, let’s bring you up to speed. Here’s a brief rundown of the essential information you should know.

What’s Vanilla OS?

Vanilla OS, a Linux distribution that utilizes the GNOME desktop, is built upon two key principles. The first one is that it bets on immutability and atomicity, which significantly enhances system stability and security, as it prevents unauthorized or accidental modifications of the underlying OS and its critical system files.

The second main selling point of Vanilla OS is that it leverages cross-platform package managers, allowing users to install software from a wide range of sources, irrespective of the operating system’s base architecture. This feature makes the OS highly versatile, accommodating various applications and tools.

To avoid getting too technical, it’s worth noting that this was primarily accomplished through containerization tools and by facilitating on-demand transactions between two distinct root partitions.

However, numerous changes and improvements are in store for the forthcoming Vanilla OS 2 Orchid compared to the present release, so let’s see what it’s all about.

Vanilla OS 2 Orchid: What’s in Store?

Vanilla OS 2 Orchid
Vanilla OS 2 Orchid

The main thing to clarify is that Orchid, currently in the alpha stage, is not merely an update but a reinvention. The project involves a complete rewrite, starting with the transition from Ubuntu to Debian and integrating an array of new technologies developed from scratch or completely reworked.

And that’s good news, especially considering the challenges users often encounter with the current release that hinders a smooth and user-friendly experience.

In light of this, Vanilla OS 2 Orchid will introduce and enhance numerous of its in-house backed tools, including ABRoot, Albius, Vib, Differ, VSO, Apx, Apx GUI, and many more.

Apx GUI
Apx GUI

For example, one of the distro fundamental tools, ABRoot, a utility that provides complete immutability and atomicity by making transactions between two root partitions, has been redesigned for comprehensive system management.

At the same time, Apx, the Vanilla OS package manager for installing packages from multiple sources such as Debian’s APT, Fedora’s DNF, Arch’s Pacman, OpenSUSE’s Zypper, Alpine’s APK, and so on inside containers, has evolved into a powerful resource for developers.

We continue with another critical OS tool, VSO (Vanilla System Operator), which allows you to perform maintenance tasks on your underlying Vanilla OS installation.

Previously known only for its system management capabilities, it has transcended its original purpose, evolving into VSO v2. This all-encompassing package management tool promises to enhance the user experience significantly.

But what’s most exciting about VSO v2 is that it introduces support for sideloading Android applications. Yes, you read that right – Android apps! This feature, powered by Waydroid and closely integrated with the F-Droid repository for open-source Android apps, opens up a realm of possibilities for regular PC users, previously confined to Android devices only.

In other words, as the boundaries between mobile and desktop computing continue to blur, Vanilla OS 2 Orchid will position itself at the forefront of this transition, promising a more integrated, versatile, and user-centric computing experience.

Another significant change in Orchid is the removal of sudo, replaced by meticulously crafted Polkit policies. This shift allows users administrative privileges without the traditional sudo command, a move entirely in the innovative spirit of the project as a whole.

On the desktop side, the alpha version of Vanilla OS 2 features GNOME 44. However, users can anticipate including the most recent GNOME 45 desktop environment for the final Orchid release. Under the hood, the operating system is powered by the Linux kernel 6.4.

Last but not least, we were pleasantly surprised by the improvements made in the documentation. A year ago, the situation was quite different – the operating system came with minimal guidance, leaving users in the dark about the functions of various commands.

Now, things are radically different. The documentation has been thoroughly updated, offering comprehensive insights into every tool within the operating system, greatly enhancing user understanding and experience.

The Road Ahead: Beta Release and Future Plans

The beta version of Vanilla OS 2 Orchid is set to launch on January 30th, marking a crucial milestone. This phase will focus on bug fixes and refinements, with the duration of the beta window dependent on the feedback and issues encountered.

The dev team is optimistic about a 2024 release, aiming to have Orchid on PCs before the summer, so we just have to wait a few more months.

In any case, the upcoming release is anticipated to be a significantly more mature and complete offering, reflecting the distribution’s growth, showcasing a more sophisticated user experience on top of the fundamental idea that forms the core of Vanilla OS – a focus on immutability and distro-agnostic package management.

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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