GoboLinux, NixOS, and Bedrock flourish undercover


The concepts promoted for the next-gen Linux distribution [17] are not really new. They have been in testing for a decade, but have not yet made inroads into the major distributions – at least not on a large scale.

Arch Linux and Fedora at least already have implemented /usr Merge; openSUSE is still immersed in this process. Debian will probably follow in early 2015, after the release of Debian 8. CoreOS [18] implements automatic updating via atomic updates with a second, parallel filesystem; the technology is already used at the cluster level. Red Hat has pursued a similar path with project Atomic [19].

When Lennart Poettering, an original author of systemd, talks about app stores, he means, in addition to Chrome OS, the concepts that are incorporated into GoboLinux and NixOS, which keep their packages in a directory, rather than distributing them across the filesystem tree.

The projects presented here all manage to accommodate multiple versions of applications – Bedrock even accommodates multiple distributions.

Distributions such as GoboLinux, NixOS, or Bedrock are still seen as niche projects; in the future, you are likely to hear more from them. The Linux community is watching with interest: More than 200 people are in the NixOS IRC channel.

Whatever else you might say, the projects that are presented here are pioneering. Poettering believes that it is time to combine these ideas and make them a basis for next-generation Linux distributions.

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