Even though we didn’t have the fortune to meet each other in person like we did last year, AOSCC 2018 has been productive and a whole heap of fun. While there’s obviously no picture of the event this time, we do have a full log of the sessions over the two weeks for your reference.
This year’s conference was constituted by a series of topic, with 14 topics discussed across 16 sessions over the span of two weekends. The purpose of this news post is to provide a summary of decisions made and changes planned for the coming year - so you’ll know what to expect. There are lots of things to talk about so… Let’s dive in.
Friends of our community never disappoints in terms of creativity and sense of humour… And this year is no exception. Out of 40 nominated codenames, the community voted “Fsck” to be the codename of AOSC OS Core 6. Fsck, file system consistency check, or an elegant rendition of a widely used profanity - like how Fsck was originally called…
*Dennis Ritchie: “So fsck was originally called something else”* *Question: “What was it called?”* *Dennis Ritchie: "Well, the second letter was different"*
This year’s default wallpaper was made by Tianhao Chai with Blender - titled “Campanula”.
“Campanula” also comes in two variants, one with an alternative layout, and another rendered in a “neon light” style. All these wallpapers could be downloaded here.
We have also received 39 wallpaper submissions from our community members, currently available for download here
AOSC OS will continue to evolve around a Core, and with Core 6, we expect to make some major changes in terms of version updates and build configurations.
-mtune=parametre will now point to
core2, which should marginally improve binary performance on newer AMD64 devices.
AOSC OS Core 6 will come as a part of the next wave of major updates, expected in December.
Two of the most notable changes planned are the switch to a seasonal update model, and the introduction of a third system update branch/channel. Allow me to break it down a little bit…
This change originated largely originated from the time and scheduling trouble we have had since the last summer’s switch to monthly update cycles - as there’s simply too little time for us to make it happen (and too little of us, mind you), and we did not have a concrete policy on feature planning and freezing periods.
With this new update model, the change is not limited to (obviously) switching to a seasonal schedule to provide stable updates. With this new model, extensive changes are made to how AOSC OS is maintained and updated - known patch releases (typically,
z in a
x.y.z version format) will be provided for “stable” channel users, a month-long freezing period will be set in place for the “testing” channel, a strategy to align update cycles with upstream LTS branch updates is also introduced.
The “stable” channel will also become our focus of maintenance, which we find a bit “left behind” and starved of updates. While this tend not to break things - since security updates were practically the only updates pushed to this channel - the channel also suffered from lack of backported bugfix due to the aforementioned time and scheduling issues. A good example of this issue is best demonstrated in this severely delayed update cycle, where on the “stable” channel a graphical bug that prevented transparency to be displayed on Plasma panels on deviced with Intel GMA/Core Graphics - while this was addressed when libGLVND was introduced in the “testing” channel, though for the extensive changes required to introduce this library and the fact that we did not have enough time to investigate for a more minimalistic approach to fix this issue, this “fix” was then never backported to the “stable” channel.
Users of the “testing” channel can also expect more stability in the future, as updates will go through a process of automatic testing and auditing before landing in this channel. This will be discussed in the section below.
This update channel is intended as a “No Man’s Land”, where immediate version updates are uploaded, and tested automatically, before landing in the “testing” channel.
The “explosive” channel is also introduced to aid in feature freezing and release scheduling, as freezing for users of both channels will no longer hinder package updates - to reduce time waste, which could in turn hinder updates for the next cycle.
The branch is also limited to the
amd64 port of AOSC OS - due to computational limitations, we chose not to build any “explosive” updates on the other ports, they will in turn receive updates merged from the “explosive” branch, while build fixes for these ports will be merged back to “explosive”.
Again, this channel is not intended to be used by anyone - not even the developers themselves. If you feel obliged to update with this channel, you are on your own.
On the question of security updates, we are looking to expand user notifications beyond GitHub issues and our
email@example.com mailing list. In the future, security advisories will be posted as a brief list here on the Portal.
We are also seeking help on security vulnerable discovery, reporting, fixing, and testing - please do contact us at
#aosc or at our Telegram group if you are interested.
We will implement two overlays in the coming year - in the form of an extra repository:
AVX2+Overlay, for AVX2-enabled (Advanced Vector Extensions 2) devices, where most devices with Intel Haswell (4th Generation Core) processors or newer, and all AMD Ryzen are supported.
G4+Overlay, intended for PowerPC-based Apple Macintosh computers with a G4 processor or newer - where AltiVec is available.
Both overlays aimed to produce higher performance binaries with optimisations for these newer, vector-based instruction sets (or SIMD) - this can provide performance uplift in certain applications, as benchmarked by Phoronix in the case of AVX2 in 2013.
However, these optimisations may come with a price of higher power consumption and heat output - as briefly described in this Super User Post. In our current plan, users will be made aware if an overlay repository is available for their device(s), though it will not be enabled by default automatically. We plan to conduct more up-to-date performance, power consumption, and thermal testings in the future.
One of the longest running discussion among the AOSC OS users and developers has been the introduction of Live media and a system installer. For system installation and configuration, LiveKit will be similar to GParted Live - a lightweight toolkit environment.
An installation program is also planned, inspired by the Which Wich order form - a single-page installation configurator. More details will come once the implementation process begins.
RescueKit takes on roughly the same idea, though it is assembled as a RAM disk image that is bootable right from the GRUB menu - where users could boot into to repair their AOSC OS installation. Additionally, users will be able to package a backup of their current system as a system tarball, which could be in turn installed by the system installer, as discussed above.
In the question of system releases, we plan on maintaining a seasonal update cycle, much like the aforementioned seasonal update model - with additional system releases made available in case of major security vulnerabilities.
In the coming months, a community-wide platform for goods and devices exchange will be implemented to provide friends in and around the community with community goods such as the legendary (?) AOSCC sticker packs and other souvenirs.
Community developers could also request for compiling/testing/… devices on this platform, which will be provided by community members or other developers as a donation.
This has already been quite a long news post, so it might not be in the interest of information and transparency to keep extending this post. Here is a brief (and incomplete) list of things we’ve discussed and decided upon, in no particular order…
armel; and PowerPC 32-bit Big Endian,
powerpc) will have minimalised configurations to remove features unsuitable or unapplicable to their performance and platform support.
With the lessons learned from AOSCC 2018, we will no longer hold community-wide poll on next year’s meeting location unless anyone could secure a venue before hand. Therefore, next year’s meeting location is not yet known, and hopefully we will get some choices in the near future.
And with such, the re-cap of AOSCC 2018 is now complete, AOSCC 2018 had been quite a productive conference and will surely point a clearer direction for our community projects in the coming year. Look forward to see you again in AOSCC 2019!
— Mingcong Bai
It’s been nearly three months without any posting on the Portal - these have certainly been three busy months for us. Our community is still alive - just check out our GitHub Organisation… A more detailed “what’s-up” post will be made on a later date.
But anyways, let’s get to the subject.
Unfortunately, AOSCC 2018 will not be held in Wuhan as promised from our last AOSCC Re-cap due to some reasons out of our hands - and for this particular reason, we were unable to obtain any viable venues for our annual gathering/conference. Therefore, we will be doing this online instead - (hopefully) same discussions, same community-wide polls, and same fun.
AOSCC 2018 will take place on an open Telegram Group, which is synchronised with an IRC channel (which we will have to make another post about, since we are not yet ready with that). While another Telegram Group will be made available to attendees to cast their votes.
As most participants and contributors to AOSC projects are Chinese speakers, we will limit our discussion languages to Chinese Simplified and Chinese Traditional - while English could certainly be viable, it may still hinder your ability to participate in our discussions, as we would have to switch back and forth between languages.
The 2018 online gathering and conferences will take place across two weekends, the weekend of July 21st, and the weekend of July 28th. A detailed schedule could be found on the event read-me file linked below - though be advised that all discussion sessions are organised according to the China Standard Time (UTC+8) considering the geographic distribution of community members, so do convert and plan ahead of time if you do not reside in this particular timezone.
For more details about the organisation, scheduling, and rules of the gathering and conferences, please take a read at our AOSCC 2018 README. We look forward to see you this weekend!
As per tradition, we will be voting community-wide on a (meme-worthy) codename for the next AOSC OS Core release series, and also for a default wallpaper for the AOSC OS releases of the coming year. Here’s how you could participate…
This year’s AOSC OS Core codename will be named after a word or two-word phrase headed by the letter “F” (as natural succession to Core 3’s “Cyanflame”, Core 4’s “Duang-Duang”, and the current Core 5’s “eMMC”). With additonal constraints…
While we do not necessarily block nominations, any codename submitted that violates any of the four rules above will be invalidated - and of course, you will be notified. You are free to nominate more than one codename.
Otherwise, please submit your codename nomination by July 21st (UTC) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next year’s (from this July to the next) AOSC OS system releases/distributions will apply a new set of wallpapers, and one that will be used as the default for all releases. If you would like to submit and compete for the “default” status…
If you would like to submit your work to be a part of the default wallpapers collection…
Any submission that violates any of the rules above will be invalidated, and you will be notified of this incident, along with our evaluation.
Otherwise, please submit your wallpaper(s) by July 28th (UTC) at email@example.com.
If you have any questions or concerns, please file an issue at our AOSCC GitHub repository.
— Mingcong Bai
I know… We are supposed to push out waves of updates every month, however, with a new constraint added to our already high workload-per-capita, a monthly wave was simply too difficult for our development capacity. However, there are certainly enough changes made to AOSC OS for you to be excited about.
Several quick statistics on package addition and removal…
Most of the new packages were not, unfortunately, added from user requests, but to serve new features added to AOSC OS - some of which new functions, some of which dependencies. I will get into more details… Now.
Most of the package changes made in this Wave are to catch up with upstream versions, and to ensure all architectures could enjoy as much of the new updates as possible. However, changes are also made to the desktop experience and system base in general.
Various MATE components have been updated and ported from Ubuntu MATE to further enhance desktop functionalities and user experience. Most notably of which was the introduction of MATE Tweak, which allows for easy management of desktop layouts, window manager alternatives, and individual enhancements like the MATE HUD (a keyboard-driven menu browsing system) and global application menu (as found with macOS and Unity 7).
MATE Tweak, showing possible customisations with desktop layouts and extra panel features.
Package for GNU C Library (Glibc,
glibc) now generates all locales at compile-time. Users should experience significantly faster update times, especially on performance constrained devices like older PowerPC hardware, ARM-based devices, etc. as the package will no longer generate locales as a post-installation configuration procedure - saving up to an hour.
With Fontconfig updated to 2.13.0 and Michal Srb’s performance tweaks (https://github.com/michalsrb/fontconfig) rebased to our Fontconfig package, applications like LibreOffice should see visible improvement to UI responsiveness. The new update also significantly improved efficiency of font cache generation (fc-cache), especially with larger font packages installed (Noto CJK Fonts, for instance), generation time reduced from several minutes to seconds - also avoiding freezing issues with GNOME when updating the Fontconfig package.
We have also removed an old patch for Pixman which introduces gamma correction, as it caused larger LibreOffice Calc to become unresponsive when scrolling through larger spreadsheets.
As mentioned in our last Wave’s announcement in January, we were working on re-synchronising package updates between our various architectural ports. We are happy to report that this wave of updates are now available for all of our currently active ports:
armel) and AArch64 (
Apple iBook G4, freshly updated to the Spring Wave.
And so says “active”, as in this news, we regret to announce an indefinite freeze to our MIPS/Loongson ports due to lack of developer commitment and the software repositories for both 32 and 64 bit ports are now off-line. We will report back if we gain any more development support for these two ports.
Oops, almost forgot, we have now started an experimental port to the RISC-V 64-bit architecture (specifically,
rv64gc). We have now compiled all packages contained in a “Container” distribution variant - that is, a “Base” variant minus bootloader and Linux Kernel. Due to the lack of hardware available to our developers, we currently have no plan to expand this particular repository. Also, due to the experimental nature of this port, we have not yet differentiated stable and testing repositories for this port. The packaging architecture is denoted as
We are looking to release new tarballs for all architectures in the coming month, along with updated ARM device images.
A sneak-peek at our new project device, Nokia N900, running on mainline Linux Kernel.
Assuming that the current development workload continues, you should expect the next wave of update before July - though still in debate, our update cycle may lengthen to a season (that is, normally, three months) instead of a monthly update.
In the coming cycle, we will return our focus on user requests and further enhancement of user experience (or usability in general) on non-AMD64 ports, especially for users of ARM-based devices.
Thanks for your continued support for AOSC OS, and we wish you productivity and enjoyment with AOSC OS.
— Mingcong Bai
Now that April is in full swing, we have some news that should be taken notice by our friends here in this community…
Recall the message sent out in a similar time last year:
"Since 2014, our community repository has been growing in size due to our (essentially) permissive policy on keeping all old versions of all our packages.
“As we stand today, the repository is roughly 500GiB in size. This is abnormal even when considering all of our architectural ports, as Debian, the largest binary-based *nix distribution requires just over 1TiB in size. This continuing growth in repository size has brought storage challenges to both our mirror hosts and our own repository server.”
Another year has passed since the announcement was made, and unfortunately, our repository size has again skyrocketed to the point that we can no longer maintain a reasonable way to keep them there. In order to make the system more future-proof and robust to accommodate all users with all bandwidth limitations as well as our rapid-growing repository size, we have to make the tough decision to remove it entirely from the Internet, and use the more robust Sneakernet in lieu of it.
The Sneakernet, backed up by the Anthon Optical Storage Center funded also in last year, would unlock the unprecedented experience of data transfer. If you are located within the US, the strong and robust Sneakernet would offer a maximum of 27.7 Mbps, improved to 57.9 Mbps in the upcoming month, at a cost of only USD 0.081/GiB - less than 1/10 of the price comparing to our closest competitor. If you are really in a deep budget, we also offer the lowest cost option of USD 0.044/GiB at a bandwidth of 3.97 Mbps. If you are unfortunately located outside of the US, a roaming charge would have to be applied to it, thus raising the cost slightly. The maximum bandwidth of 9.26 Mbps would come with a charge of 0.298/GiB, and the budget bandwidth of 1.98 Mbps would only come with a cost of USD 0.77/GiB - still cheaper than our closest competitor’s domestic rate.
However in order to use the next-generation of Sneakernet-based repository distribution system, you would also need some new hardware requirement. The baseline system requirement would include a Blu-Ray Disc drive, in which you may easily find at anywhere at a price of less than USD 75, and it would be a one-time purchase that you can also use it with your Blu-ray HD Movies.
In favor of the new Sneakernet-based repository, the legacy Internet-based repository would run for another month to allow a smooth transition for our users, and become part of the archive offered by the Anthon Optical Storage Center followed by its official closure date of 20180501T0000Z. While we appreciate the development and support of the Internet over the whole course of the AOSC, there are things we had to give up for others to work better, and unfortunately an Internet-based repository is one that has to go…
Now, if you would like to purchase a subscription of our software repository and many additions that will enhance your software installation/update experience - you could do so here.
Thank you for your continued support for our community and many of its projects.
— Anthon Operation: Sneakernet Committee Chair Staph. O. aureus
A long over due batch of updates is now available for the AMD64 architecture, with a date of 20180128. With the last batch of tarballs released almost a year ago, this update should provide quite some convenience for new users, and old users trying to reinstall.
Finally, some new looks!
Apart from updating the system releases, we have also made a series of changes to the tarballs - from how they were made, to the content of the tarballs:
aoscuser, or the
usersgroup occupying the 1000 UID and GID, respectively. You would have to create your own user, as discussed in the Wiki.
In more detail, here are some of the changes we have made to specific variants:
You may ask, where is the variant for the Deepin Desktop Environment? We have decided not to ship this variant, as we recently discovered a “feature” in the DDE Daemon that changes the system GRUB (bootloader) theme without noticing the users. We are working on a method to remove or disable this feature by default, after which the tarballs could be generated with the next batch of updates.
Speaking of the next batch, we do recognise that a year-long gap between updates has brought quite some inconvenience for new and old users a like - we do apologise for procrastinating. With automatic generation made available by Ciel, we are considering a fixed schedule for updating and releasing tarballs (say, monthly, or even weekly) to incorporate latest updates, bug fixes, and security updates. A news post will be made on this topic.
As for other architectural ports of AOSC OS, we are still working on syncing package versions on these architectures, we are aiming for tarball releases in Mid-February.
Thank you for choosing AOSC OS and we wish you enjoy the new releases!
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