Jump to content

Spiral Linux


Hedon James
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hedon James

Recently stumbled across this article for Spiral Linux, which piqued my interest:

https://www.zdnet.com/article/what-is-spiral-linux-and-why-it-could-easily-become-a-top-contender-for-users-new-to-linux/

 

As a former (L)Ubuntu user who has migrated to Debian, I noted a few "pitfalls" of Debian compared to the Ubuntu OOTB setup process.  Customizing my Debian desktop to 100% suit my personal preferences is definitely more work than customizing the 'Buntus, but a lot of that is attributable to the void of proprietary software due to Debian's stance on that matter.  I'm not a fan of proprietary, and will definitely prefer the open-source offering when all things are equal; but there are instances where proprietary does it better.  In those instances, I'm a realist who chooses the proprietary offering; at least until the open-source offering catches up and negates the proprietary advantage.  Just a personal preference...  So, with my piqued interest, found some additional articles, including this brief commentary by Marius Nestor, who I find myself agreeing with quite often on many of his software reviews:

https://9to5linux.com/meet-spirallinux-a-debian-based-distro-focused-on-simplicity-and-usability

 

Long story short....I found the Spiral Linux website, read up on the info provided, noted they seem to have the beginnings of a healthy user forum, and decided to download their LXQT offering and compare with my custom Debian LXQT setup:

https://spirallinux.github.io/

 

I installed a VM in my VMM and poked around a little and my first impressions retain my interest.  A few quick notes & observations from within VMM:

  • the design aesthic isn't my cup of tea, but admittedly well done; it looks very "SUSE-like", but understandable considering the developer's background with Gecko & SUSE
  • the LXQT spin doesn't take full advantage of the offerings of LXQT software, instead relying on many GTK tools/offerings in place of "standard" LXQT offerings.  For instance, Evince Document Viewer rather than QPDF; Document Scanner rather than Skanlite; Mousepad text editor, rather than Featherpad; Network Manager rather than ConnMan; etc....  I'm not prepared to say this is a "pro" (a great introduction to LXQT for GTK users) or a "con" (why introduce extra toolkits if not necessary).  In fact, speaking for myself, I was disappointed at the use of GTK software over similar QT offerings; but I also note that Network Manager is MUCH friendlier for VPN setups than ConnMan (in fact, my preferred ProtonVPN only works with Network Manager....I can't use it on my LXQT desktop).  So like I said, pros & cons, depending on perspective.  Considering there are multiple "spins" available for a spectrum of users, I suspect the developer is attempting to employ a set of "core" software across all spins, for ease of development & troubleshooting, etc...  I can't fault him for that, but it's still a bit of a surprise for a LXQT spin and, if I'm being honest, a slight disappointment.  The Spiral LXQT spin is basically an LXQT "session", using Openbox WM, but with many Gnome software tools.
  • I like the fact that Spiral is entirely from Debian repos, with no additional custom tools or scripts.  Looking at sources confirms....nothing but Debian repos, plus the proprietary Debian repo, enabled by default.  PERFECT!  (IMO)
  • It was nice to be able to play MP3s with no additional download/install, or terminal work.
  • I noted that Spiral was able to "see" other machines on my home Network, despite being installed in usermode.  My Debian VM cannot see these machines.  I've looked into configs, packages, etc.... but concluded that I cannot "see" other machines on the network because I install my machines in "user session" rather than "system session".  Spiral seems to indicate my conclusion is incorrect.  It seems Spiral has a package or config, OOTB, that my Debian VM does not.  I WANT THIS in my VMs!
  • I haven't had much experience with Flatpacks or Snaps, but they seem to be more and more prevalent, with Flatpack seeming in the lead for uptake.  Spiral comes pre-configured for use of Flatpacks and has a software GUI for Flathub.  While I prefer "native DEBs", I can absolutely see instances where a Flatpack might not only be acceptable, but perhaps even necessary.  (see comments above re:  personal philosophy on proprietary offerings)

 

All in all, I'm pretty impressed with Spiral.  Nothing that I "dislike", but the things I don't like are easy enough to fix.  Spiral fixes some items OOTB that I have struggled to solve with my Debian box.  Taking a page out of the 'Buntus playbook, it really does "just work" upon installation, but staying 100% true to upstream Debian repos without re-packaging or customizing anything.  I like that philosophy.  I'm going to keep an eye on my Spiral VM for awhile and see how it maintains in my test bed  over an extended period.  But my observation, as of TODAY, is that if presented between the choice of installing Spiral, but swapping out software for my preferences; or installing Debian, but adding the proprietary softwares and changing configs for my preferences; it seems that Spiral is a "cleaner" and "straighter" path.

 

Just sharing information for anyone else who isn't aware of this newer distro, but may be curious...

  • Like 1
  • +1 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

raymac46

Well I set up Spiral Linux LXQt in VBox and everything worked great including the Guest Additions. The appearance is fine, although I think I like Lubuntu a bit better. So I decided to stress test by pointing to Debian Bookworm as my source. After an "upgrade," my Guest Additions didn't work anymore, and the Software and Sources GUI was borked so I could not change anything. To make a long story short I would advise sticking with Debian Bullseye if you plan to run in a VM - at least with VBox. Probably I could fix things in the Terminal but I don't think it's worth the effort. I could totally work with Spiral Linux on the rails if I needed to.

Edited by raymac46
Link to comment
Share on other sites

raymac46

Reinstalled Spiral LXQt  in VBox and I'll stick with Debian Bullseye for now.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

SpiralLinux1

Hi there, SpiralLinux creator here. Thanks to those who gave it a try.

 

@Hedon JamesThanks for the observations. I understand what you're saying about the application selection. Basically I have no allegiance to any particular family of libraries or aapplications and I do use some different core apps in each edition according to the desktop environment. I try to include what is generally the most functional and user friendly as long as it doesn't bring along a lot of dependency bloat. So Skanlite definitely wouldn't be a good idea for the LXQt because it pulls in a truckload of KDE libraries. I know I tested qPDF but I believe I finally went with Evince because it provides a thumbnailer for the file manager. Mousepad has a lot of desirable functions compared to Featherpad. And as you mentioned, NetworkManager is basically the most functional standard for the Linux desktop at this point in time.

 

@raymac46a    Also thanks for testing it. The VirtualBox add-ons broke after the upgrade to Bookworm/Testing because they are not present in the default Debian Bullseye repository, but rather in the Debian FastTrack add-on repo, which is only available for the current stable release, not Testing. (They are also available in the Unstable repos and have been tested to work when upgrading SpiralLinux to Sid). There is an entry in the SpiralLinux wiki with instructions to use the software manager GUI to upgrade to Testing or Unstable using the preconfigured entries for those branches,  which has been tested to work correctly.

  • Thanks 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hedon James

not a fan of their theme/appearance, but that's easy to fix....sometimes I do it for sport.  LOL!  He's already pre-configured some things that I usually do anyhow, so it COULD end up being a "shorter & quicker" path for me, as a base to build from.

 

concerning that things got borked when you switched to Bookworm repos.  I know you can switch sources in the software GUI....i saw the checkboxes for "testing" and "sid".  Did you switch to "Testing", or Bookworm specifically?  just curious...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

raymac46

Just used the software GUI and followed their directions which was uncheck everything and then check Debian Testing as repo. That unchecked the VBox stuff so I'm not surprised everything got borked. When I reinstalled I used Xfwm4 as window manager.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hedon James
11 hours ago, raymac46 said:

Just used the software GUI and followed their directions which was uncheck everything and then check Debian Testing as repo. That unchecked the VBox stuff so I'm not surprised everything got borked. When I reinstalled I used Xfwm4 as window manager.

gotcha.....I know Debian doesn't like VBox, so I made the switch to Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) awhile back (see above re: proprietary vs. open source offerings) and everything has been acceptable for my use.  I think VBox is more polished for the average user (and cross platform), but VMM does what I want and is sufficient for me, and Debian supports VMM but not VBox....so VMM is my choice now.  All that said, VMM doesn't "perfectly resize" in my 24" monitor, but I can usually find a resolution that's good enough for my purpose.  I wonder if my VMM will behave any better than VBox when I update, as my VMM doesn't use the VBox "guest addition" graphics?  I'll let you know when I'm a little further in my tinkering & tweaking!  Thanks Ray!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

raymac46

I can deal with resolution issues but I didn't like the Software and Updates GUI crash after switching over to the Testing branch. I stick with VBox because most of the time I use Windows as the host and test various distros as guests.

Edited by raymac46
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hedon James
2 hours ago, raymac46 said:

I can deal with resolution issues but I didn't like the Software and Updates GUI crash after switching over to the Testing branch. I stick with VBox because most of the time I use Windows as the host and test various distros as guests.

ahhh....I missed the part about GUI crash.  silly me...

 

I'm a big fan of cross-platform software, and I'm a fan of VBox for that reason.  I've got NOTHING against VBox.  In fact, I'd still be using it if it weren't for Debian's (draconian) policies.  But VMM also suits my needs, so I give the nod to VMM.  But I don't think VMM is cross-platform.  Advantage = VBox, IMO.  But like I said, VMM suits my needs, so that's a battle I don't need to fight, FWIW...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

raymac46

I have an old desktop system in the basement and I may install Spiral Linux on the rails and do some more stress tests on it. But that will have to wait until the grandkids finish their visit.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

raymac46

Now that the grandkids are in bed, I had a chance to burn an ISO of Spiral Linux LXQt so I'll try an install later this week on my old system.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hedon James
Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, raymac46 said:

Now that the grandkids are in bed, I had a chance to burn an ISO of Spiral Linux LXQt so I'll try an install later this week on my old system.

You're ahead of the curve!  LOL!  Appreciate your enthusiasm, and curiousity, so let me know what you learn, and especially your thoughts.  We often make different decisions, due to different criteria, but when you look beyond that, we usually have very similar tastes and outlooks.  Usually....

Edited by Hedon James
Link to comment
Share on other sites

raymac46

Grandkids usually equal chaos and this visit is no exception.  So far our 17 year old microwave packed it in so I had to buy another one last night. Also the inflatable mattress one of them uses has sprung a leak so I'll have to patch that today.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I clicked on the link for Spiral Linux from above and it takes me to the site but down where it says "Download SpiralLinux", the jps for the links are broke.  Is anyone else not seeing the jpgs?  This happened to me the other day on a funeral home site that had a link for sending flowers.  I could not see a picture of the arrangement I wanted to send.  I turned off my VPN, I tried it on two computers and my phone and still no pictures. This has nothing to do with SpiralLinux so maybe I just post this separate.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

raymac46

Well I now have Spiral Linux set up on my ancient Dell Inspiron 520. This looks like a good distro because it is LXQt and based on Debian stable. I don't upgrade this old beast that often as it's mostly a jukebox for my workroom. I installed Google Chrome via Flatpack. Also installed Rhythmbox and all my old MP3s.

  • +1 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, crp said:

Do you use the same ad blocker on all your devices?

I do use an ad blocker.  I didn't think about that.  I use PiHole.  So that may be the culprit....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It was the ad blocker doing it's thing.  Thanks for reminding me I have one!

Edited by wa4chq
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bookmem

I'm trying to DL this from SourcForge and it is saying it will take 5 hrs to DL a 1.8gb file.  Anyone have another DL link that is faster?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

raymac46

I had to try a couple of times but I got it from Sourceforge in about 10 minutes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bookmem
16 minutes ago, raymac46 said:

I had to try a couple of times but I got it from Sourceforge in about 10 minutes.

Thanks.  Cancelled the DL and chose another mirror that's down to about 20 minutes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
Hedon James
On 7/10/2022 at 7:54 PM, SpiralLinux1 said:

Hi there, SpiralLinux creator here. Thanks to those who gave it a try.

 

@Hedon JamesThanks for the observations. I understand what you're saying about the application selection. Basically I have no allegiance to any particular family of libraries or aapplications and I do use some different core apps in each edition according to the desktop environment. I try to include what is generally the most functional and user friendly as long as it doesn't bring along a lot of dependency bloat. So Skanlite definitely wouldn't be a good idea for the LXQt because it pulls in a truckload of KDE libraries. I know I tested qPDF but I believe I finally went with Evince because it provides a thumbnailer for the file manager. Mousepad has a lot of desirable functions compared to Featherpad. And as you mentioned, NetworkManager is basically the most functional standard for the Linux desktop at this point in time.

 

@raymac46a    Also thanks for testing it. The VirtualBox add-ons broke after the upgrade to Bookworm/Testing because they are not present in the default Debian Bullseye repository, but rather in the Debian FastTrack add-on repo, which is only available for the current stable release, not Testing. (They are also available in the Unstable repos and have been tested to work when upgrading SpiralLinux to Sid). There is an entry in the SpiralLinux wiki with instructions to use the software manager GUI to upgrade to Testing or Unstable using the preconfigured entries for those branches,  which has been tested to work correctly.

Spiral...appreciate the background.  I get "what" you're doing and appreciate the "why".  FWIW, I'm digging Spiral OOTB, as you're basically pre-configuring Spiral with many of the changes/customizations that I make to Debian post-installation.  From that perspective, it's WONDERFUL and much appreciated.  Any "criticisms" I leveled are based on MY personal preferences and honestly, are "nit-picky" so far.  Nothing that would stop me from using it, or possibly even switching from Debian to Spiral for new installations!

 

And since I rendered criticism/disappointment/surprise with SOME of the LXQT choices, let me also say KUDOS on replacing ConnMan with NetworkManager.  I find ConnMan to be a fiddly/kludgy beast that I only continue to use because I already have it setup.  I find NetworkManager to be much more user-friendly.  Also, I cannot use my preferred VPN, ProtonVPN, on my desktop system due to the ConnMan interface....they only support NetworkManager.  But I'm not about to rip out my working ConnMan from my working daily drive & production machine; and potentially create OTHER UNINTENDED network issues that will suck my precious time from productive $$$ endeavors at this moment.  Inasmuch as Spiral has already done that for me, it's a proof of concept....but why should I take the risk when Spiral has it pre-configured OOTB and still remains true to the Debian repos.  And I mentioned how Spiral "sees" other machines on my home network, when installed as VM on VMM.  That is another sore spot of my current install, that Spiral has addressed OOTB.  I LOVE both of those features!  I know I'm a special-use case, and you can't market that, but those are 2 HUGE selling features to THIS user.

 

So just to be clear, despite my nit-picky criticisms (and they ARE nit-picky), I love what you're doing with Spiral and hope you continue to refine it!  I'll be watching and tinkering, with full intentions of switching my "fleet" of computers on home network to Spiral.  I'll be getting the stable Debian base with LTS that I require, with MANY of the customizations/tweaks that I make post-install.  And I ALWAYS tweak the aesthetics on new installs anyway, so that's not even worth discussing.

 

However, once I get a distro customized exactly how I want it, and how I want it to look, I like to get it "remastered" for installation across my main machine, studio box, movie server, laptop, and 2 set top NUC 'puters.  That's SIX installs that I need to be homogeneous for upkeep/maintenance and/or troubleshooting issues, in the event that "stuff happens".  Since Remastersys went dormant, there seems to be a void of "good" remastering tools, with several choices now but each has its "quirks".  Most recently, I've used the Debian Refracta tools for a remastered ISO for homogenous deployment; but I've also become aware of a tool called Penguin Eggs:

https://github.com/pieroproietti/penguins-eggs

 

I haven't tried it yet, but this looks very promising and seems to have the versatility that many "forks" are lacking since Remastersys went dormant.  All of that explanation to ask you this:  HOW are you creating your Spiral "remasters" of Debian?  Would you consider including that in your base of Spiral software?  I know MX-Linux has an excellent remaster tool, which I've thought about stealing, but worried about the compatibility with systemd init software (which MX is NOT!).  I don't know that I'm right, but I STRONGLY suspect that the ability to remaster is a huge element in the rapid rise in popularity of MX.  But if I'm right, could be a huge reason to entice users to SpiralLinux?!!!  JMO...

 

Regardless, I'd like to know how you're creating your remastered versions, FWIW!  And please continue with your SpiralLinux project....I'm honestly excited about it!  😎

  • +1 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

raymac46

@SpiralLinux1 I have installed your distro on the rails using an old desktop system and it's working well. I left it in Bullseye and I plan to continue using it. Hedon James and I are usually on the same wavelength as far as distros go and I am happy to see a good LXQt version.

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

55 minutes ago, Hedon James said:

Regardless, I'd like to know how you're creating your remastered versions, FWIW!  And please continue with your SpiralLinux project....I'm honestly excited about it!  😎

 

From the links at the bottom of Spiral home page, it appears they are using Debian live-build system.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hedon James
Posted (edited)
32 minutes ago, sunrat said:

 

From the links at the bottom of Spiral home page, it appears they are using Debian live-build system.

I'm not familiar with that one!  Off to click some links and see what I can learn.

 

One of these days, I really need to learn how all the distros do it, so I'm not always looking for a tool that works within the specified ecosystem.  I need a tool, or process, that ALWAYS works...

 

EDIT:  worked backwards until I found this HOW TO:

https://lecorbeausvault.wordpress.com/2021/01/10/quickly-build-a-custom-bootable-installable-debian-live-iso-with-live-build/

 

I'll have to re-read this several times and try to digest, as there's stuff in there I don't understand (yet).  But doesn't look impossible for a layman like me.  Thanks for that interesting comment Sunrat...didn't know such a tool existed in the Debian world!  TY!

Edited by Hedon James
Link to comment
Share on other sites

securitybreach

BTW, there is not much difference in any linux distro. Its just a default set of preconfigured apps and themes along with a package manager. You can make any linux distro look and feel like any other distro. You can even change the package manager on some of them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

SpiralLinux1

Hi everyone, thanks for the friendly replies and opinions! Sorry for my slow response, it took quite a while for my account to be approved here and I don't frequently check the associated email address.

 

@Hedon JamesThanks for the kind comments! Of course I respect your preferences, and I do appreciate the constructive criticism. I'm thrilled to hear that SpiralLinux is filling a need for you. So regarding the method used to create SpiralLinux, as @sunrat correctly deduced, I use a tool created by the Debian project itself called live-build. (The link is at the bottom of the SpiralLinux website, I won't post it here to avoid possibly setting off forum spam control). It's not technically a "remaster" tool, as it actually builds the ISO from the ground up (known as "bootstrapping") directly from the Debian repos using DEB packages and a simple predefined folder structure that basically contains a recipe for building the ISO. It consists essentially of a file containing a long list of package names that should be installed, another file that defines the repositories to pull said packages from, some shell scripts that automatically run the same sort of commands that an advanced human user would often run in the terminal to customize a system, and an "overlay" filesystem that adds and/or replaces files in the system image, which is used to override some of the Debian defaults and create the unique SpiralLinux configuration. You can easily install live-build on any Debian system with   sudo apt install live-build   and then download and decompress the .tar.gz files that I upload to the SpiralLinux Github repo. Those contain the full recipe to build SpiralLinux with live-build, I even include a little wrapper script that I wrote so you just have to cd into the directory, change the date code for the ISO filename, and then run   ./spiral -i   and about an hour later you'll have yourself a fresh ISO waiting for you.

 

As for actual "remaster" tools that take a base ISO or an installed system and allow for creating a new ISO from it, that's also something that interests me. I also checked out Remastersys wayyyyy back in the day. I also ran across Penguin Eggs, please let me know if you try it and how it works.

 

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...