A user-friendly Arch Linux derivative

New Life

© Photo by The Lucky Neko on Unsplash

© Photo by The Lucky Neko on Unsplash

Article from Issue 241/2020
Author(s):

RebornOS offers an innovative alternative to Arch Linux that will appeal to Linux newcomers.

Arch Linux has the reputation of being difficult for beginners and users switching from other operating systems. Several projects have tried to remedy this situation. RebornOS [1], a young derivative based on the discontinued Antergos, offers a user-friendly alternative, while retaining the advantages of Arch Linux.

Concept

RebornOS makes it easy to get started, offering many graphical dialogs and tools. The developers focus on seamless integration of innovative technologies and the easiest possible installation of the operating system. RebornOS is available as a single hybrid ISO image with a size of about 2.1GB, which is designed for 64-bit hardware only.

After creating the boot media, you boot from it into a GRUB menu. Besides the various standard options, GRUB lets you boot RebornOS as a Live system, but it does not offer an option for installing directly from disc.

After booting, you land on a spartan looking Gnome desktop with a horizontal panel at the bottom of the screen containing a couple of launchers and a small system tray. The button on the far left does not open a Start menu; instead; it opens the tiled view of the installed applications that you may be familiar with from Gnome. There are no icons on the desktop.

After booting the Live system, RebornOS shows you the graphical Cnchi installer, which is visually similar to Ubuntu's Ubiquity wizard. Cnchi then gives you a choice between live use or installing on your computer.

Live System

The Live system stands out due to its fairly limited choice of software. Standard applications, like LibreOffice, Gimp, VLC, and Thunderbird, are all missing. Only the web browser Firefox comes preinstalled in the Live version. In addition, you will find numerous programs from the Gnome repository, as well as some third-party tools and utilities.

For Lenovo notebook users, the distribution offers the TLPUI tool, which gives you an option for configuring the hardware in detail. GParted and the Gufw firewall are also available, as well as several graphic front ends for the hardware configuration and software management that make life easier.

Installation

For installation, the programmers enhanced the Cnchi graphical front end, which was originally designed for Antergos. Cnchi initially checks whether the local mass storage device meets all requirements for successfully installing the operating system. If you are not using a wired connection, you need to configure WiFi access on the Live system before calling the routine – RebornOS needs to access the online repositories to complete the installation.

In terms of operation, Cnchi is similar to Ubiquity, but there are two major differences compared to other installation wizards. Cnchi lets you select the desktop environment when preparing the installation. From a list of about a dozen entries, simply select the one that best suits your needs (Figure 1).

Figure 1: RebornOS offers more than a dozen desktop choices for installation.

In addition to common desktop environments, the RebornOS developers also take into account exotics such as the Pantheon desktop from Elementary OS; the Chinese Debian derivative, deepin; the Apricity desktop; and the Budgie interface from Solus Linux. RebornOS uses the lean Openbox by default, but you can also install without a desktop environment.

Cnchi also lets users customize the software selection in a further installation step. The wizard does not use standard tools. Instead it displays a list of frequently used applications; you use sliders to include the desired programs from the list in the installation.

You can choose from several office suites, such as LibreOffice, FreeOffice (developed by Softmaker), or the Chinese WPS Office. Browser choices include Google's Chrome and its free counterpart Chromium, as well as Opera and its offshoot Vivaldi as alternatives. Various applications are also available for multimedia content.

Modern online services like Dropbox, Steam, or Spotify are included in the installer. Before starting the installation, Cnchi lets you review your selection, and you can make changes if necessary (Figure 2).

Figure 2: The RebornOS installer lets you select the applications you want to install.

Depending on your selected software options and your available Internet bandwidth, the installation may take some time as most of the software is retrieved from the repositories.

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