Purism Devlog #3

Zlatan Todorić

Zlatan Todorić

Director of Technology
Zlatan Todorić

Latest posts by Zlatan Todorić (see all)

Welcome to new devlog post. Many exciting news here, so lets dive into it step by step.

New infrastructure

In past we had many issues with failing repositories, an outdated archive, expired keys, sources changing too often… this is why we have now moved to new servers, with control from the ground up, and started building the new PureOS infrastructure (the whole Purism infrastructure also moved to new server). We are still improving and tweaking everything on a daily basis, but the foundation is there. New infrastructure is now mandated by DAK (Debian Archive Kit) and Laniakea (which is developed by Matthias Klumpp, aiming to make creating and maintaining Debian derivates easier for all).

Bug tracker

One of the most important aspects of every distribution is its users reporting bugs and submitting ideas. Now you can simply go to https://tracker.puri.sm/maniphest/ and report any issues as well as submit ideas. In the near future we plan to tweak the infra in such way that it becomes publicly visible even without registering an account (we spent our time building everything, so we haven’t been tweaking it yet).

The PureOS bug tracker
Example of what the PureOS bug tracker looks like

Code hosting

While our code is still spread out on GitHub and we’ll be mirroring it to our infrastructure in the beginning, we plan to eventually host all our work on our infrastructure by default. After all, our infrastructure is entirely Free software based (code auditable, anyone can contribute, etc.). The code will be in place at https://tracker.puri.sm/diffusion/ (only a small, non-updated portion lies there at the moment).

Wiki pages

A good OS needs good documentation pages. Good documentation needs a good community. We started building the foundation for that as well, and now need your help. Our wiki effort will be lead by our main support person, Mladen Pejakovic. Either contact him or send mails that you want to contribute to the wiki foundation of PureOS, to feedback@puri.sm or hr@puri.sm. The wiki is located at https://tracker.puri.sm/w/. You can also fire up your favorite IRC client (Polari, Hexchat or some web IRC client), connect to freenode (irc.freenode.net) and join our #purism channel to chat with us. We need our community to pull this all out, as the task we are setting needs combined effort of an entire community that cares.

PureOS 3.0 alpha release — codename “Prometheus”

prometheus-by-heinrich-fueger-cropped

With a new infrastructure comes new tasks, and the first and obvious is to improve our OS. We chose to start from ground zero and progress on it properly. We call this release an “alpha” as it is missing a few things (and we want people to test it) but its overall stability should actually be slightly higher compared to previous releases. Also, a great feature it gained is that now our images are “live”, meaning you can run them without installing on your drive! The download link is located at the usual place.

For those who don’t want try the new installation (although we would appreciate that, even if done in GNOME Boxes or other virtualization tools you use) and just want to update to it, here is what should be done in terminal:

wget http://repo.puri.sm/pureos/pool/main/p/pureos-archive-keyring/pureos-archive-keyring_2016.09_all.deb
sudo dpkg -i pureos-archive-keyring_2016.09_all.deb
sudo > /etc/apt/sources.list
sudo echo "deb http://repo.puri.sm/pureos/ green main" >> /etc/apt/sources.list

sudo apt install pureos-minimal pureos-standard pureos-desktop
sudo apt update && sudo apt dist-upgrade

And voila, you’re there!

Now lets talk what is in there, what is missing and what can you do.

PureOS 3.0 Prometheus aims to be the best release we ever made, and we want it to be the release with the most community engagement ever (this is why we deployed our awesome now infrastructure foundation above!)

With that in mind, we want to see of course your code and ideas of what do you want to see in the default installation, but we also want artwork! A lot of artwork. We are opening a contest for wallpapers. The rules are simple: create a piece of artwork (it can even be an old photo you took at some point in time) that inspires you, reminds you of freedom and/or has the Prometheus idea floating around, combined with some Free license (GPLv3 for example). Prometheus gave to humans fire (a.k.a. knowledge) which made humans free. We are giving you the OS which we hope will empower you to make your dreams true and form the best community around it. Also, if anyone feels inspired and wants to challenge their skills, please do a plymouth theme (here is inspiration).

GNOME Software is in there but we still need to build our Appstream machine, so it’s currently missing data (the Synaptic package manager is not ported to Wayland yet, so the good old terminal will be your friend for next couple of days—or just pick “GNOME on Xorg” at the login screen 🙂 )

Wayland logo

PureOS 3.0 alpha will be shipping with Wayland by default (you can simply choose your session on login screen by pressing the gear button and choosing which one you want). Wayland is such a huge step forward in many ways, to provide a beautiful tearing-free desktop experience but also to build future security. To get why this is important, watch this video. We are proud to push this last bit forward as we feel comfortable that our hardware will play nicely with GNOME and Wayland. Notice there are some quirks with Wayland (some missing legacy icons, global menu loading 15-30 seconds before it becomes usable, some pointer issues) but most of them we will clear out in the near future while bravely going towards the final release of PureOS 3.0.

Here are some known issues (nothing that affects stability):

  • The default wallpaper is still the old one, and while we have new artwork done, we still didn’t integrate it as we want your wallpapers in as well.
  • You will miss our patched kernel which provides somewhat better touchpad functionality compared to stock kernel, but we will push that in soon: you will be able to find it in a package update; we hope to eventually provide fully automated builds that you can test early.
  • About the touchpad, we plan one more quick snapshot in coming days to fix few things and, after that, allow one developer to focus full-time on making it work better.

FSF distribution endorsement

This is something PureOS is aiming for. What does this endorsement mean? It means that we provide and support only Free software by GNU standards. While PureOS is not meant only for our hardware, we must advise people who will try it on other hardware that you may encounter some issues, for example WiFi might not work if your hardware requires a proprietary firmware. Also, in the future we will optimize the default image towards our hardware (so AMD and nVidia drivers would be missing from default images, as we currently only use Intel ones—unless AMD or nVidia start providing an entirely free/libre and open source stack to run their cards efficiently). To the endorsement and beyond!

Purist services

While we focused most of our energy towards building infrastructure for PureOS, we also gain one notable feature very important for future of Purist services usage: keysafe. Joey created this to make it easy for all our users, as services will use GPG keys in some form—and we all know how hard that can be to use, for many reasons. Not only we built such a feature, Joey also deployed it as the standard for our servers already (check here for requirements and path to our server). We will also move the Purist Services roadmap to the PureOS bug tracker (or make it visible at some place so people can hop in to contribute).

Community

Our systems administrators are volunteers. They believe in what we do and dedicate some portion of their time to our cause. We mentioned this many times, but  we really want the community integrated inside the company, not to become just another commercial entity. We care for our community and we would love you in. Head towards anything you want to help with (you can see how much we trust community that they take care of our critical infrastructure) and please do chat with us. To show appreciation for their entire effort we sent Librems to our sysadmins and one of them even responded with a great tale that made us laugh (sadly we can’t share it here). Yes, we love fun stories (we want even to integrate some humor into all our products so feel free to suggest something “spicy”). We lived entirely of community donations (in form of purchasing our hardware) and although we started searching for some investments to speed up our development, we still trust that the community will stay the biggest backbone of our progress.

Developers

You can jump straight into coding for PureOS. Probably the only missing bit is Developer Guidelines, and we plan that write those soon. Besides technical aspects (how to do proper packaging) we will also make some guidelines about look & feel. For example, it would be awesome to have beautiful GUI app for creating, editing, maintaning GPG keys. It should work just as nicely as Etcher.

That would be all folks, we will try to update blog (not only technical part) more often, especially now that our website has new contents and a new look, improved in many ways thanks to the tireless efforts of our marketing guru Jeff (from the land of maple syrup)!