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Kiss – A Linux distribution with a focus on “less is more” (getkiss.org)
168 points by chacha2 on Sept 19, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 219 comments

ITT: People on _hacker news_ complaining about someone building their own linux distro...

Go install windows and be happy in your mono culture world, but don't shit on other peoples creativity and effort.

While i agree with the first part, about the second part... Windows is hardly a monoculture, it contains a ton of technologies that overlap heavily each other. As an example, people used to make fun of the number of GUI toolkits available for Linux and their messy looks, but nowadays your average Windows installation has way more different toolkits installed than your average Linux installation :-P.

Some people call it "hater news" for the tendency of people here to be negative on new things, though in my experience it's not as bad as other sites.

HN heavily skews MacOS though.

Not to be dumb, but for a newcomer such as myself who read the blurbs about it being simple to use and develop for, not being able to have a single ISO to download and install is from this point in my Linux Journey, not simple.

I'm not making a value judgment as to whether or not I should know how to compile source code and running this on top of another Linux and so fort, but I can intuit my way through installing Debian or Manjaro or Arch Linux or knoppix or any other distro that provides a binary ISO.

It seems like this is simple in terms of 'lightweight for linux pros', not simple as in 'intuitive for users to use'.

I'm not sure that's a bad thing, just pointing out that I am unable to try this with my current skill level

This is mentioned early on the page:

> A user without prior knowledge may see this distribution as the exact opposite.

It's simple in the terms of that an experienced person can easily understand how it works in many details. Not that an unexperienced person could use it easily. It's like a Ford T. Simple to build and repair for an old school mechanic. Probably not user friendly for the average driver today.

The author includes a pithy and terse installation guide that will be valuable to those unfamiliar with assembling a Linux distro. This seems to me to be a welcome change to new users since they’ll be able to see more of the process and understand the components better.

> It seems like this is simple in terms of 'lightweight for linux pros', not simple as in 'intuitive for users to use'.

That's a common problem with declaring things "simple", and not only for Linux distros.

What's simple in implementation (lightweight and straight to the point) may not be simple for an uninitiated user.

Basically simple does not necessarily mean "easy to use". The main "easy" element about most simple stuff is "easy to understand" and that is often what is sought after when it comes to simplicity.

In which world replacing removing Wayland in favour of X is considered KISS? We seem to have very different understanding of KISS with those folks.

Wayland by itself is useless, you need other stuff to get some useful functionality, and the combination of Wayland+other stuff not only give you just a fraction of the functionality you get out of the box with Xorg but they also tend to be bloated silos (in that since Wayland itself doesn't do much it relies on extensions to do actual work but different Wayland implementations use different extensions - in theory X is the same, but in practice everyone has settled on Xorg and even without extensions, X provides enough functionality to allow creating useful applications).

Also for all practical purposes with Wayland you also need XWayland, which means that you get X anyway (especially considering that a lot of simple stuff will rely on X functionality). So might as well stick with X itself and get rid of Wayland as it doesn't provide anything of real value.

X is widly used since 30 years. Its configuration (and security model) is well documented (xorg.conf). It is as simple as launching the X server using a simple command line and being able to connect any client (even remote) thanks to a single environment variable (DISPLAY).

How do you launch a wayland server and how do you forward "display" (ssh -X or -Y) to launch a remote application ?

agree, even though some features of X are a bit crappy built, it's very well known, documented and used for so long basically any issue you run into someone else will have solved already somehow. perhaps one day wayland will be nice ,but not yet imho.

As for display forwarding via SSH, you may be interested in this summer's GSoC project Waypipe[1].

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20848334

Thank you very much. The work seems very complex. At the moment, I am at work on a windows PC. I have exceed and xming started and I have a toolbar with around 70 putty shortcuts with X11 forward. I am using them all the day long. At my previous job (using HP servers), it was a similar setup (with only 5 shortcuts).

Well, by that logic we should probably use COBOL everywhere.

I am lacking a proper analogy here, but it isn't because something is old, and most people are accustomed to its quirks, that it is simple... Maybe Apache, PHP, or even IPv6 would be a better comparison? IPv6 is likely a very good analogy here.

Now, Xorg's "security" model is well understood, just like its security issues. xorg.conf itself is a configuration nightmare. You might be able to launch the X server with a simple command line, but that's just hiding complexity behind a command. I can do the same with sway.

Wayland is quite modular itself. You can probably use namespaces to restrict one app's access to the clipboard, if that's not a feature the compositor supports, for instance.

For network "transparency" under wayland, which is an argument X proponents often cling to (it has its merits, but was counterproductive for most apps), it is a matter of serializing the protocol+image data (that's normally sent trough shared memory), and deserializing it at the other end. That's basically what waypipe [0] is doing, trough Unix sockets. So Wayland can be used remotely over anything that supports Unix sockets, thanks to waypipe, that plays the role of a compositor proxy.

A lot more things are possible due to Wayland being properly specified. The first and most important being multiple, interoperable implementations. Just like the TCP or HTTP stack. That is a Good Thing™ in my opinion. Zero-copy is also simpler to achieve, as another example.

I am sorry if I sound condescending about network transparency for instance. But that was pointed out for so long, and it is even written in Wayland's FAQ. The only reason it was that slow to materialize is Wayland's slow adoption. Which might be in part due to people complaining about stuff like network transparency without understanding it, and making themselves impervious to reasoning, while actually undermining efforts to bootstrap the ecosystem.

> How do you launch a wayland server

A compositor that displays stuff that applications send it? Well, you just execute it. Then that compositor decides to merge that stuff together, or pick some of it, and displays it where it wants: waypipe sends it to a socket, traditional wayland compositors can render on a connected screen trough the DRI kernel interface, others such as sway can even pass the rendered data to an X server or wayland compositor.

> thanks to a single environment variable (DISPLAY)

Use WAYLAND_DISPLAY to specify a Unix socket, if supported[1]. I'll admit that I am a bit in a learning phase, so I don't yet understand everything about the various subtleties (I couldn't use that to start an app from one TTY on another).

So, this distro sounds interesting on paper, but I can't really justify this choice of their, and I am probably not going to use it unless their revise their position. Wayland really needs a bit of forced adoption, like IPv6, if we want to have nice things.

[0]: https://gitlab.freedesktop.org/mstoeckl/waypipe

[1]: https://wayland.freedesktop.org/docs/html/ch04.html#sect-Pro...

The big problem with Wayland is that it isn't actually an obvious improvement over X. X is awful and long in the tooth and well overdue for replacement, but the best I can say about Wayland is that it is just differently awful. It's been in development for what, over a decade now? And it still would be missing a lot of basic functionality if it weren't for people like Drew Devault stepping up and creating new standard protocols to cover for it, as well as a library to make dealing with all these protocols less of a nightmare.

I'm not sure which point you're trying to make. Of course every new technology needs someone to do the work. That doesn't take away from the technology's merit. If Drew is now doing all this work, then great! Now is the best time ever to be adopting Wayland.

(Speaking as someone who just switched to Sway two weeks ago.)

My point is that in setting out to replace X, they created something that doesn't actually do that and it took about ten years for third parties to do it for them and there still isn't consensus that Wayland is superior to X.

In comparison, Windows Vista introduced a perfectly functional compositor with brand new driver model at about the same time and I can't think of any significant functionality it lost in the process, while I can name many significant improvements.

> I can't think of any significant functionality it lost in the process

Hardware acceleration for 2D operations (GDI)

In what aspect Wayland makes more KISS?

You cannot completely remove X anyway, so using Wayland inevitably introduces much compatibility headache. Just sticking with X is the simples and KISS way to get GUI for now.

Wayland has a less powerful API, multiple frames of latency, and last time I checked, was locked to 60hz and the devs don't care

Last time I've checked, kissing involves the mouth, at the least, so if the logo was some sort of play on the KISS, it fails anatomically. On top of that, there is no connection between the logo and the product which is what probably sets people off more than the content.

If it's by some ways a Rorschach case (doubt it), then it fails again as a logo, which should be clear and concise and aligned with the product. If no such alignment can be done graphically, then a text oriented logo would be far better.

I've been doing branding for a big part of my life, consider taking the suggestions from the other commentators as well in revising the logo if this is to be a serious endeavor; think of the various cultures and settings this would be seen.

Keep it simple, stupid

Also see "The Pure Bash Bible" posted today, and created by the same person; HN username "dyanaraps":


Been following you for a long time Dylan. Keep up the good work and screw the inevitable BS that will come from these SV nutjobs

Thanks :)

KISS is great. Been using it for two months. No complaints.

That's awesome. Glad you're enjoying it.

I love this!

The only part I find questionable is the use of tools written in shell. Shell is a very difficult language to understand and use correctly. To the credit of the author, he is aware of this and the code is linted using shellcheck. Still, I wonder if it wouldn't have been a better idea to write the utilities using Python or Lua or even (gasp) C! (Or Rust, or Go or ... Just pick one that isn't completely esoteric and isn't Perl, then stick to it.)

shell is the only portable language. It works on all Linuces, BSDs, and even on WSL. Anyone with a tiny bit of sysadmin experience knows sh.

Python is far too much overhead for something as simple as firing shell (!!) commands and dumping new files in a tar archive.

And also, shell is extensible in the most simple way: you just write a program name, and boom, it runs.

Shell is simple, stable (remember the debacle of Python 2->3?), safe (no pointers, etc.), readable (compiling can even introduce issues), and dangerous only if you do it seriously wrong[0].

The only remark I have regarding code quality is that the word splitting warning is disabled for the entirety of kiss: I would have disabled it on a per-occurence basis.

[0] https://github.com/valvesoftware/steam-for-linux/issues/3671

PS: the most secure open-source OS out there has a package manager written in perl, with priv-sep (https://github.com/openbsd/src/tree/master/usr.sbin/pkg_add).

> The only remark I have regarding code quality is that the word splitting warning is disabled for the entirety of kiss: I would have disabled it on a per-occurence basis.

There are 8 occurrences of word splitting in the source, each and every one is intentional.

I also enable all lint errors when working on the package manager itself (to catch any unintentional word splitting which may slip through my fingers).

The ideal goal is to reduce the word splitting count to zero though! :)

(I'll go ahead and make the change you're suggesting until I do remove all word splitting).

I agree with this. I would just add that you can get great linting / syntax checking with ShellCheck [1] [2]

[1] - https://github.com/koalaman/shellcheck

[2] - https://www.shellcheck.net/

ShellCheck is in many of the distro package repositories already.

Isn’t that a bit of a sexist logo...?

I think so, yes, though I do think it's nicely drawn and not unartistic (e.g. the kiss being implied). In my opinion it's offensive, for a few reasons.

First is that the woman's pose derives from images of 'feeble' femininity (e.g. old Marilyn Monroe films; sexy, innocent, willing). I don't think there's any need to hark back to such absurd stereotypes.

Second, it assumes my preferred aesthetic isn't, for example, big bearded men. They are equally capable of giving or blowing a kiss. The logo could have been more generic, if it was appealing to the intimate.

Third, I don't really like sexualised or intimate imagery mixed with productivity tools. It's jarring and distracting.

At the end of the day, it's just a logo, though it made me switch off.

Maybe it's not assuming anything about your preferences. Maybe it's catering to one of my preferred aesthetics, which happens to be 'feeble' feminity (as you put it).

Yes, it's a stereotype, but not an arbitrary one - and no less absurd than a bearded man blowing a kiss.

Or maybe it's just a silly logo that's not worth deconstructing.

It is sexual, it references sexuality, does that make it sexist?

Only if staring at boobs and failing to make eye contact with women is sexist

Edit: that's a yes. Because apparently that isn't obvious to some folks around here

Of course it's not going to be obvious to everyone. Some people honestly don't see the difference between criticizing that behavior and saying to people "you should smile more"[1]. Good luck explaining it.


I think that's just "sexual", not "sexist."

Nope. The framing, cropping the face and focusing on the chest, is distinctly objectifying.

objectifying ≠ sexist

I think there is a strong arguement for objectifying, but still think it's more "sexual" than "objectifying", and definitely those two way more than it's "sexist".

Sexism is discrimination based on sex. Discrimination is different treatment based on a characteristic.

Sexist, no. Weird and completely out of place, yes.

Sexist is probably not precise enough. I find the logo choice strange though.

Yes, unfortunately

How is it sexist?

Ew, that is... really not great. Yikes.

I don't think so.

New logo needed. The chopped off head is bad luck in parts of Asia.

The chopped off head may not be the best, but it's clearly not the worst part of this logo...

I've been staring at the logo for a few minutes now and I cannot make head or tails of it. It just looks like a random squiggle to me.

It was easier for me to make heads and tails of it after inverting the colors.

Saving you some time in The Gimp, you can look at the logo on the Microsoft Github page, where the colors are inverted compared to the website: https://github.com/kisslinux/

I'm having exactly the same problem. Even after reading the description of it below, I can't seem to recognize any shape in it. I'm wondering why is that so: is it something about this image? For me it's just imperscrutabile, just a weird bunch of lines. Weird... or perhaps just bad design.

It’s a woman with the top of head cropped

A woman who is not fully clothed, because We Are Tech Bros.

This looks to be inspired by pinup poster girls so she's most likely wearing a dress like in [1] but with her right arm on her stomach.

[1] https://thewondrous.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Pinup-Art...

I don't want to overanalyze this, but there is a small dark upward bump between the breasts which makes the white stuff look like a bra or bikini top to me.

Note also how there is black below it as it wraps around to the back. If all that black space were her right arm, it would have a bump in the middle, and she would hold it in a very awkward position with the hand wrapping around to her back below her left arm. Seems less likely to me.

The upward bump at the top is the line between her breasts, you can see it in the painting i linked too, but the logo is black and white so it is more obvious. It could be thinner but seems that all lines on it were drawn with the same width. The upward bump at the bottom is the silhouette her breasts are making on her right forearm as a background. Imagine if [1] or [2] was tilted a bit forward and the right forearm was below her breasts. In both of these paintings the breast silhouettes are visible due to shading even though the colors are soft and they aren't tilted like the woman in the logo. Again since the logo is black and white it makes the silhouettes more pronounced since it relies on them for definition.

The black below is her arm from the elbow to the hand. The hand is just at the bottom right of the image with the line going in a /| shape right below the elbow of the left (right as we see it) arm. The tip is the fingers. They look a bit too long but i think it is mainly due to the line width.

The anatomy could have been better (the neck is a bit too long, the left shoulder is a bit too rotated, the left upper arm is a bit too short) and a couple of lines are too long that can be distracting, but overall it is very obvious to me that this is a pose with a tilted head, right arm on stomach and below breasts touching the side/back, left arm rotated a bit forward, on top of second arm with a slight angle in the elbow.

I mean, it could be a bikini but it also could be a dress like in all the images i linked at. There is not enough detail to say one way or another, the only hint is that the image is inspired by 40s pinup posters and at least from a Google Images search one or two had girls wear just a bra or bikini. All others use full clothes and dresses.

[1] https://muscleheaded.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/frahm.jpg

[2] https://www.ebay.com/itm/1940s-Pin-Up-Girl-Glamour-Shot-Pict...

Lots of women dress like this. What's wrong with depicting it in a logo?

Context. There are lots of pumpkins out there, but a pumpkin would be a weird logo for a Linux distribution named Kiss. Lots of people have electric stoves, but an electric stove would be a weird logo for a Linux distribution. There are also lots of men with great bodies, but a nude male torso would also be a weird logo for a Linux distribution. The only reason you are not very surprised by a half-dressed woman is that half-dressed women are so ubiquitous in our media.

This logo has nothing to do with Linux, nor with kissing (you can't even see lips because the face is cut off to put the cleavage in the focus). It's only about transporting and reinforcing the idea that one of the main roles of women in society is to be something pretty for men to look at. Always, everywhere, without any context. Oh, and you know what's prettier that a nerdy woman with glasses and a hoodie? A woman wearing a bikini! Because we can.

> This logo has nothing to do with Linux, nor with kissing

And it does not have to! Look at the logo of other distributions, what do they have to do with Linux, other than being the logo of a Linux distribution? Sigh.

> It's only about transporting and reinforcing the idea that one of the main roles of women in society is to be something pretty for men to look at.

No, this is only what YOU BELIEVE it means. I did not think about that at all, it is just your own interpretation (that may be shared with other people). You see what you want to see, it does not make it so.

> Look at the logo of other distributions, what do they have to do with Linux, other than being the logo of a Linux distribution?

They all have to do with the name of the distribution: Red Hat has a red hat, Alpine has the Alps, Ubuntu (a term having to do with solidarity) has people holding hands.

Kiss doesn't have a logo that shows kissing or lips. It has disembodied boobs.

Again: If Kiss had a stove as its logo, or diapers, or a half empty box of chocolates, someone would post here "that's a strange logo for something called Kiss", and you would probably more likely upvote them than bother to argue against them. Only sexualized women are always considered appropriate by some people, completely without any context.

Sure, you brought up a few Linux distributions whose logo is related to the name itself. I am pretty sure there are A LOT that do not have a logo related to the name. Then again, why does it even matter?

Plus, KISS is an abbreviation, it does not refer to the word "kiss".

> someone would post here "that's a strange logo", and you would probably more likely upvote them than bother to argue against them.

No, I would just ignore them, and I am not interested in arguing about taste either.

You would ignore any other weird logo. Yet you feel conpelled to defend this one. You are making my point for me: Objectification of women has a special protected status in society.

No, I said I would ignore people saying "that's a strange logo", there is not much you can respond to it. You might ask why, but I am not interested. This conversation, is a tad different, do not you think? If you do not, may I suggest you read it again from top to bottom?

> You are making my point for me: Objectification of women has a special protected status in society.

Holy shit... OK. I hope you do realize that you came to this conclusion by a false assumption, see above. I am only reacting to your statements, if defending it is a side-effect, so be it, I do not give a damn. But you thinking that it has to do with "objectification of women" is quite a tell of YOUR BELIEFS, not mine. It is what you see, it is your interpretation, it has nothing to do with me. I will not respond to any of your future comments.

Thanks, now I see it

FreeBSD didn't change its logo from a daemon to something else even if it offended Christian people.


Where is a chopped off head good luck?


Humour de guillotine ! superb !

It only supports English

Kudos for not using any pointless HTML tags on the website. I like how you skip head and body. :)

Yeah, I spent a lot of time ensuring the website would load quickly and I do away with a lot of "optional" cruft.

There's no Javascript full stop, no stylesheets (all CSS is embedded in each page) and every page load is a single web request (with the exception of the screenshots page).

Even the SVG logo is embedded in the pages!

Writing it this way also causes each page to be self contained, a download of the HTML page includes all of the CSS, logo and information so it can easily be saved and viewed locally. :)

My main issue with the site is that in my browser i get the mobile version instead of the desktop since i do not use my browser maximized (i have a 1366x768 monitor). Isn't there any other way to figure out if i use a mobile phone instead of using the horizontal resolution?

I'll fix this, thanks for letting me know.

I'm surprised at the closed-mindedness of the comments here: usually browsing HN I read wonderful insights on tech how "you can't assume X, technology Y has a place and that place is Z". Here commenters appear unable to accept that this tech has a place because it doesn't include "app/feature X" or it doesn't abide by "rule Y". I'm more interested in the ripple effects seen here than the original article.

Normies galore after that RMS Twitter drama

Just wanted to say this looks kickass. It is way easier to tear things down than to build them.


First off, I love the philosophy, and the package format is nice.

I'm not a language hipster, I don't care what language you write something in as long as it fits the purpose well, and shell can certainly do that here. However, some uses of shell in the package manager are non-obvious, and that will make it more difficult for people to troubleshoot or maintain this code.

@OP: I imagine you've examined Slackware's pkgtools? (https://slackware.osuosl.org/slackware-12.1/source/a/pkgtool...) They're written in shell too, and have been in use since 1994. I wish they would get a bit more updated to do things like read metadata (especially for Slackbuilds) and handle build dependencies, but I always found them pretty easy to understand and modify to my needs. Later I threw together some scripts to automate the most common configure/make/make install/packaging steps (https://github.com/psypete/public-bin/tree/public-bin/src/sl...). My scripting experience was, let's say... "limited". :)

I ended up making a couple thousand packages from tarballs. What that taught me was that actually managing build dependencies, and the complications of layering different software into the same file tree, was a lot more weird than it seemed. So depending on people's intentions with this distro, it may end up being a lot more complicated for them to manage than they think.

What i am looking for is a distro where the only UI is through webpages.

I had idea about installing a local Prometheus agent, cockpit and other modern administration tools, but it could'nt match all the features of Gnome 3. Especially, I couldn't find a webtool to manage hardware, such as Wifi, keyboard configuration, display, mouse, etc. Also, a very good, fast, and stable web terminal isnt easy to find

As someone who works in computer graphics this idea makes me sad. I mean I know web is the closest thing we have to a universal interface, and there are a ton of advantages to it, but the idea of moving more toward a world where every single thing you do on a computer has this thick layer of web technologies between the user and the hardware is just depressing. Like why should AMD and Intel even bother innovating if everything is going to be bottlenecked by single-threaded Javascript?

It depends on your use case. In my case, most of the ram of my computer is already dedicated to a web browser anyway. I prefer to have everything done in the web browser rather than having another complex graphic framework running in parallel. Plus HTML is highly hackable and there is no reason we cannot reuse the many tools developed for monitoring remote servers on a local machine.

I like the idea of Google Chrome OS, but I would like to be free to chose the web browser I want.

> In my case, most of the ram of my computer is already dedicated to a web browser anyway

To me that's an argument for why you'd want to do less in the browser, not more.

> I prefer to have everything done in the web browser rather than having another complex graphic framework running in parallel.

Do you have any technical reason you want that? Because a terminal interface, for example, is going to be much more efficient in terms of resource usage if it's implemented natively rather than in a webview.

Once wasm is commonplace, this might not be that bad actually.

Wasm is a step in the right direction, but it's not the same as machine code. Also the API's currently pretty limited. For instance, if you want to talk to the GPU you still have to go through javascript.

Have you thought about using tools like http://www.webmin.com/ or https://cockpit-project.org/ ? They are thought for managing servers, but they might also work for desktops. Also I wouldn't be surprised if tools like http://yast.opensuse.org/ offered a web GUI.

Furthermore, for a web based terminal, thanks to https://xtermjs.org/, terminal.js and friends, there are plenty of products available nowadays. Maybe this helps for starting a web search.

I tried cockpit and liked the UI. It's modern, simple and clean. However the features were limited (disk space, CPU graphs, but no management for wifi).

I aslo tried ajenti.org but same issue, I couldn't even manage wifi with it.

I will maybe make something myself. Maybe something that can take any linux tools in input and make a primitive web interface for it as output automatically.

These tools don't offer to manage wifi because they are intended for managing servers. However, most of them follow some module paradigm, so if you are open to start coding, you could implement a wifi module. Which cannot be that hard, given that there are also modular (UI independent) codes for network managing, such as https://wiki.gnome.org/Projects/NetworkManager

Of course, similar as to when configuring a router, don't lock out yourself from the wifi-connected machine ;-)

This is actually a decent idea as it would make spotting webshite-obsessed hipsters even easier.

This isn't a particularly practical suggestion, but you might be interested in the Nintendo ES operating system.

EDIT: Maybe XPenology can run the DSM web interface on a desktop OS?

EDIT 2: Most of KDE Plasma (well, the QML parts at least) will probably run through the WebGL streaming QPA. Likewise using Broadway for Gnome GTK3 apps.

Thank you for the pointers!

If at some point we can run classical Gnome apps in the Browser, I guess it could be a solution. I would prefer to have only one "way" of presenting information, based on web standards.

That logo was a terrible idea.

Mainly because it is the easiest (or simplest :-P) part of the entire page to criticize so people do that.

FWIW, personally i like it (though i'd put a frame around it to emphasize the pinup poster girl style) and find it more artistic than most meaningless abstract shapes other projects use.

Well no I was criticising it because women I know thought it was disrespectful to women.

A pair of tits isn't "artistic".

That logo is the cutest part of the ordinary linux distro page that sparked my interest.

I like it.

Isn't there a distro that's already based on the KISS principle? (Arch Linux)

Is there something that the Kiss distro achieves that Arch doesn't?

This distro is much simpler than Arch. It reminds me more of something like Static Linux: https://sta.li/

It reminds me much more of Crux or even Gentoo (with the Bash ebuilds as package management).

Arch is based on the KISS'DD principle (KISS for the distro developers).

Arch unfortunately has gotten more and more complicated over the years. Their decision to adopt systemd was really disappointing, imo.

Of the major distros I feel Arch has one of the best KISS implementations of systemd. For my use cases and system admin style, I'm really glad they made that decision.

Looks interesting. Shell can be a good tool for this type of thing, as long as rigorous care is taken to maintain good quality. I view it kind of like PHP, Perl, or JavaScript... you can definitely write good code in these languages, but it requires more discipline than in other languages. Shell offers a number of benefits too, namely it's ubiquitous, most people that would be interested in this distro will know it already, and it makes it easy to drive around other tools and processes.

One concern I would have though is that it seems their package manager does not currently have any way to include patches to packages (or if it does, it's not mentioned in the documentation). This can make it hard to port things if they require even minor tweaks to build properly.

> One concern I would have though is that it seems their package manager does not currently have any way to include patches to packages

https://getkiss.org/pages/package-system/ mentions patches. There is a section on patches alone with an example.

We have quite a few patches in use too.


What is the standard pick these days for a no-frills, stripped back, but still usable Linux distribution? One that doesn't start with much, but isn't boiling the ocean like Arch or Slack if you want to add more?

I used to like Xubuntu, but this was like a decade ago at this point.

I've been using Void Linux[0] for a few years now. It's philosophically aimed at being a minimal distro for power users.

Design choices:

* Rolling release

* Custom package manager: XBPS with binary package repository. It's pretty darn good IMHO.

* Minimal init process: runit

* LibreSSL (vs OpenSSL)

* User can choose standard library: Glibc or musl

* Prefer dash over bash in system scripts

You get the drift. The biggest change to a user is probably the use of XBPS as a package manager. The repository of pre-compiled binaries is pretty extensive, and the package definition scripts are dead simple. The entire collection of package definitions is in a repo on GitHub, so sharing your package definitions is also quite painless.

Their IRC channel on freenode (#voidlinux) is also pretty active with lots of knowledgeable and helpful people.


You forgot to mention they have a very sane package hirachy that always draws as few dependencies as possible. Many self proclaimed "minimalist" distros will immediately become bloated as soon as you install one package not in the base system.

I still go for a minimal Debian install, or even CentOS. Both still usable because you can add a basic DE if you like, and have something like FireFox if needed.


While regular Ubuntu switched back and forth between Gnome→Unity→Gnome, my Xubuntu install looks and works pretty much the same, except with less bugs than before, and even some new features that don't get in your way (e.g. better hidpi/color management support). At the same time you have first-class access to Debian packages, so you don't have to feel left out in that way.

I’d give Manjaro a try. It’s an arch based distro where they take care of setting up a desktop environment for you, while including a nice install experience.

After that, you’re basically in arch land, which is an excellent no-frills stripped back experience, with an unrivaled user-created package repository. Seriously, every time I have to install something on Ubuntu it drives me crazy to have to use whatever out-dated stuff they have in the repos, or to go hunting for a PPA. With arch it’s one command to install almost anything (assuming you’re using pikaur or the like for installing from the arch user repository).

So much of AUR is broken builds though to make AUR the more painful experience out of the two.

I can’t say that has been my personal experience, and I feel like I use AUR pretty extensively, but I can see how that would be very frustrating if that’s been your experience with it.

I am often surprised at what’s available on AUR — my most recent discovery being a current version of dwarf fortress, which is kind of a huge pain to get working on Linux.

I know it’s not a Linux distro, but I find that OpenBSD is so essential that it’s easy to understand everything that is going on with your system at all times. Everything you need to know is in man pages, each daemon does one thing and one thing only, and there is basically no risk of leaving stuff running or open without your knowledge.

It’s not a great choice for desktops, but as a server it’s pretty cool.

I think puppy linux and tinycore are the lightest ones Ive heard of. Haven't tried either yet, I find mainstream distros like debian are still light enough for most old computers.

Before deciding to try a new distribution, I want to know which important application it supports or not. I assume it supports usual stuff like ssh, vim, emacs, python, ruby, node, but does it support chrome, firefox, visual studio code, docker, virtual box ?

Half of your named programs are not supported (Chromium/Electron, Virtual Box, Docker, all non open source software that doesn't support musl libc (which is nearly all proprietary software)). Chromium and Electron are a pain on musl systems, Virtual Box also would require patching for musl.

It depends on what you mean by "support".

I absolutely love the overall objectives here!

Unfortunately I can't see a reason to use this over Alpine Linux, which is also quite simple and minimal and has been around for a while and works fantastically well.

What are advantages of KISS vs Alpine Linux(also musl/busybox based)?

KISS doesn't have different packages that Alpine doesn't have. KISS has a more recent "yet another package manager" that sill looks pristine.

Ominous's screenshot looks amazing. Does anyone know what (software/gui/manager/idk) is?

Even though I've been using Linux (Ubuntu) as my daily driver for the past several years, I really son't know too much about it such as how to ask the right question about desktop manager(?). The install instructions look detailed enough that I could probably figure it out. I will bookmark this, because I want to buy a laptop, amd it might be interesting to try to build/install this as an experiment first.

If you like that, you should visit https://reddit.com/r/unixporn

It says it in the screenshot :) catwm

Thank you, I see it after "WM", and that jogs my memory a little. "Windows Manager" - that's the term I was looking for!

There are plenty of minimalist ones, if you're looking for a mainstream tiling window manager you should check out i3.

A simple solution is often worthless if the underlying problem is complex. It's nice this project foregoes on complex things like pam, systemd, gettext, etc. But these things are often created to solve problems. Problems this 'simple' solution needs to account for as well (if not now, in the near future when use X needs feature Y). And then new functionality is introduced in the solution making it complex again (and often non-standard).

Nothing stops a user from packaging and installing these things in KISS, they just aren't included by default.

I envision KISS as a minimal base in which you extend to suit your needs and not something you need to cut to size.

As I state in the Philosophy; "it's easier to add things to a system than it is to remove them".

A user has actually gone ahead and done this! \[1\] They run KISS with systemd, pam, dbus, pulseaudio, glibc, chrome etc etc.

\[1\] https://github.com/fanboimsft/kissD

But for me that beats the purpose. You still end up with the complexity. Only now you have to add and manage it yourself in some other way, probably being worse off then when you would have started with all that complexity but integrated in one standardised package (distro).

Imho, the issue is not that the solutions are complex but the problems we (assume we) need to solve are. Just making simple solutions that ignore the bigger problems underneath do not really help in the end.

The purpose can be to make a simple system, not an easy to use one. A simple system can maintain its simplicity by avoiding tackling complex problems - however if you want to tackle those problems yourself then, sure, you'll also need to handle that inherent complexity that the original system decided to avoid. But that is complexity you invite in, not something that the original system had.

That doesn't make the original system any simpler or more complex.

The Philosophy is "it's easier to do things that were already done before".

So the project is an arbitrary reduction of scope and then writing the implementation just for that scope.

Keep making the biggest problem of Linux bigger, please... Yeah, this problem is "fragmentation", and it is not solved with "simplicity".

This kind of distro is exactly the point of FOSS & Linux imo. Diversity of ideas breeds innovation and competition, we need that. Otherwise linux will at some point go the way of browsers, with everything effectively owned by google/microsoft/whatever and a big fat artificial lock-in.

In addition, this kind of project is emblematic of the hobbyist nature (and origin) of linux. When that's no longer possible, the fun and interest, for me at least, is dead. And when I get gently pushed into some kind of software standardization I can't opt out of, I'm going return to windows.

You are right ! diversity is the good move, that is how life decided to grow, by diversifications. Ok, it consumes loads of time, but the result is without point of thinking. M$ did the opposite in '80, and is not quite winning nowdays... Just a question of time and experimentations ;)

No, that's not the point of FOSS. Having a right doesn't mean that you have to exercise it for the sake of it. When I use/advocate Linux and other FOSS apps it's because ultimately I'll be able to fix any issue that they have, or that nobody will be able to take it the software away from me. But I'm not creating patches for every piece of software I use. We developers should grow past that point, the reason why so many ISVs don't support Linux is because of this madness which means there's no really standards in this ecosystem. (Yeah, now cry me a river about how standards are the equivalent of "authority" please...)

Really, there are de-facto standards. If you are a big corporate enterprise, like a bank, the standard is going to be RHEL. If you're conservative organization but don't want to pay for licenses or support, you're probably going to go with a RHEL clone like CentOS, or worse, Oracle Linux. If you're a trendy Web 2.1 startup you'll probably go with Ubuntu or containers of Alpine Linux etc.

EDIT: source - been doing Linux for corporates, big and small since 1999.

They fragment on trivial parts which is pointless for the evolution.

I think comparing software development to a barely understood natural phenomenon like evolution is a slippery slope, but assuming we take that position, evolution has produced many biological dead ends through mutation. So why should software be any different, it is produced through a biological process of monkeys hammering on keyboards after all.

Your comment is the best illustration of what fragmentation means.

Then choose Windows then. Or Solaris. Or any of the other major operating system players. It really doesn't matter, unless you consider value for money or being able to get things done as important.

Having multiple choices for different purposes is completely normal, even for Windows - or would you install Windows 10 Home on an enterprise server or an IoT device?

You call it "fragmentation", others might call it "choice".

The main problem with Linux adoption isn't choice - every beginner can easily find out a reasonable distro for starting out - but motivation to do the switch in the first place. Almost nobody is used to Linux and doesn't know a reason to try it. Even limiting the choice to one single distro isn't going to change that.

This "problem" you talk about is not a problem in my view but rather a essential freedom in free software.

People's computers are like their cars we like to customize and mod them because it's cool and remember, you own it so it gives a sense of pride.

My problem with the proprietary software is that they compete by creating incompatible standards for the same thing to fight each other while I'm suffering implementing them or using them and having to jumping from one to the other.

There was a glimmer of hope at the start when the focus was on just getting the full free software stack working. But then it went back to making near-exact copies of the most trivial parts of it.

Why nobody ever copies the hard parts?

If you want to get rid of "fragmentation" to make linux "win", you get rid of a big part of what makes linux "winning" a desireable goal in the first place.

How is fragmentation a "big problem"? There are like what, four distros?

- Debian and *buntu - Red Hat - Fedora - Suse

All of them use systemd. All use X11 or wayland. All package gnome. All DEs, WMs etc. are available on all these distros.

Smaller distros can reuse whatever is available for that distros, see for example chrome or skype.

What do you mean reuse whatever is available? Non derivative distros are going to be using their own package manager and not just using some prebuilt package for another system.

But regardless, I agree, fragmentation isn't really a problem. It would be very rare indeed for some software to only work on some distro but not another. And if this was the case, you could probably change it with enough work (swap out libc or whatever).

I mean for example this:


Google only packages chrome as .deb and .rpm, but you can still get it on other distros anyways.


Try actually reading what I wrote and not attacking straw men.

This isn't going to cause any meaningful fragmentation because, simply looking at its goals and features, very few people will find it usable at all, and those who do will be an extremely small set of highly technical users.

I think not to worry about it, it will probably die when the maintainer gets bored of it after a few years. You don't have to use it. And in the meantime, somebody gets to learn to more by doing their own LFS.

I think that distributions patching software is especially problematic -- whether you consider it a symptom or a cause of fragmentation.

You're missing the point of free software. You own it and can change it how you like. It's not problematic this is how it was made to be.

Here's two examples of how distros patching software has been helpful for me.

1) SquirrelMail (abandoned) patched to work with PHP 7.3 thanks to FreeBSD contribs

2) Abiword patch builds in the AUR that fix a broken default install.

Is the point of free software to create as much variations of a program as possible?

I'd rather see that useful changes are merged upstream, or projects are forked. If this had happened, you wouldn't even need to patch, and this would save an enormous amount of manpower that is wasted on trivialities.

Distributions exist to provide software that all fits and works together (e.g. providing the correct versions of dependencies). Sometimes patching is necessary to make things work.

Why would it be a problem? I think it's a strength.

I'm always a proponent of simplicity.

Some criticism about the site: What a horrible layout. I zoomed out to 25% (the furthest you can go) and the text is still to big.

I like the layout.

Looks simple enough to get working. I'll try it out. Am curious to see what the disctro architecture is rather than isn't.

Awesome project, nice work.

Thanks :)

Seems like an extremely specific minutia to build an entirely new distribution for. Also if less is more, how do you call less? I always preferred it because it is faster. /jk

"This distribution has no default desktop or window manager environment." - goes to prove that "simple" doesn't mean "easy to use"...

The website does mention this:

> A distribution being “simple” has many different interpretations. It may mean simple to use, simple to develop or simple in its implementation. Further, the phrase “simple to use” may differ from person to person. > > Users with prior knowledge of Linux and basic programming skills will find this distribution simple in all three examples given above. A user without prior knowledge may see this distribution as the exact opposite.

I was looking for something like this actually, I thought I would finally have to warm up to BSD if I wanted an OS that I have some hope of understanding fully.

this looks kind of nice to be honest, and i hardly ever say that about some custom distro. only thing i'd like is to install it from USB instead of some chroot mumbo jumbo. that would require me to instal linux on a box firs before re-rolling into this. kind of annoying. perhaps something on the roadmap, didn't check. but definitely promising as far as i can see.

Thanks. :)

You don't need to install another Linux distribution beforehand, you just need to boot another distribution's live-iso to partition disks and download/unpack KISS.

This is simpler on my side as I don't have to compile and package a heavy kernel, generate an initramfs, build a squashfs and finally package it into an ISO image.

On the user side this enables more flexibility too. You can use a live-iso offering a GUI for "easier" partitioning or an iso in which you _know_ includes the firmware you need for the installation process etc.

The download for KISS is only a 45MB~ tarball and the installation is just unpacking it to your newly partitioned disk at `/`!

This also allows for the same installation tarball to double as a working chroot in existing systems. In my eyes, this method is simpler all round.

This reminds me of: https://arewesimpleyet.org/

Is there a docker image available? I'd like to experiment with the package manager, but I'd rather not setup a VM.

You can download the installation tarball, extract it to a directory and use 'chroot' to start tinkering with it. The installation tarball doubles as a working 'chroot' image. :)


potential successor to Alpine for lightweight docker images?

Is it, though? (That's a bit of a meme, sorry.)

No, seriously. Why would I choose this over Alpine? Or, given the failure modes of Alpine as a container image, why would I even choose Alpine? Everything in this space is absolute shite.

What’s the problem with alpine?

According to Itamar Turner-Trauring on Podcast.__init__[1] the issue with Alpine (at least in a Python context) is that the use of musl[2] instead of glibc (and I paraphrase) is an increased technical risk where corner cases that may not be as thoroughly tested are in view.

ITT counseled in favor of using containers based on ubuntu or centos.

I haven't done huge amounts of container work, but my light outings with Alpine have been fine. Maybe load and internationalization expose more personality in musl, or these concerns pertain to issues that have been fixed.

It's something to keep in mind when assessing risk.

[1] https://www.pythonpodcast.com/docker-python-production-episo...

[2] https://www.musl-libc.org/

I think of it as being like the "dash as /bin/sh" thing in Debian-derived distros. Software that's carefully done "by the book" or intended to be highly portable is unlikely to have a problem. But a lot of things depend on bash/glibc without anyone particularly intending or realizing it, simply because their sheer market share means that such dependencies will "just work" for the vast majority of users.

I think that's a fair assessment.

I had trouble installing basic packages like Sphinx (Py) due to some imaginary locking problem on the part of apk... and I couldn't find any info on how to make apk ignore the locks (or even just delete the locks, and then go on installing).

This was in container-world, so... a bit bizarre. It's very possible that I did something wrong or bizarre, but... that's of no consequence. Ubuntu/Debian works.

One issue is that they do not keep an archive of packages, and often you'll end up finding it really difficult to downgrade or use a different version that once existed.

On closer inspection, it doesn't look like it's a viable alternative. My biggest gripe with Alpine is that it uses musl instead of glibc. Most python C based dependencies require glibc to build. Looks like Kiss uses musl too.

Alpine's been fine though for other uses, Go and Node apps for instance.

As an alpine alternative, may I suggest Distroless [1]?

I had a lot of issues in the past with alpine due to lack of "community" and docs around some problems, as well as musl causing issues with all sorts of nodejs build tools (bower, yarn).

[1]: https://github.com/GoogleContainerTools/distroless

wow, thanks! I'll try playing around with these images. The cc variant looks perfect for what I need.

Maybe an arch sibling

That's what it sounds like to me. It's trying to out Arch Arch.

Honestly I don't mind it. It might even give arch some ideas who knows. Hopefully not about logos :)

Very curious, applying the "less is more* philosophy by making even more Linux distributions...

Well, it's "less is more", not "fewer are more" :-)

It is because they are using a mathematical path. A function that is tending to +infinite, next step is to tend to -infinite. Think of a path shaped as a circle, then of its cosinus variation, then you understand... ;)

That logo makes it a non-starter in any organization I've seen in the last decade.

Regardless of that logo, those north-American organizations would not be running a minimalist Linux distro written by a single guy in the first place, but some sort of Lovecraftian Kubernetes setup involving redundancy everywhere, especially in the software stack.

A single guy, or a single guy?

It never occurred to me before, but the word "Lovecraftian" is indeed perfect for describing the modern approach to infrastructure. Well put.

"Kubernetes, The Great Abomination in the Network, The Soul-Eating Son of Borg, was first described as a demanding and destructive cosmic entity in the forbidden book of Google, guarded in the temple of Mountain View by the practitioners of the heinous cult of Silicon Valley"

I, for one, am not in the least terrified to be a member of the Cult of Kthulhlbernetes, and welcome our Old Internet Gods, waiting in the deep shadows of the cosmic data center, until that fateful day when the machines finally rise to the surface and replace our tongues with YAML parsers. May they devour our souls and privacy first! Apiivihr, apiivihr, apiivihr!!!

How many of those organisations feature smiling attractive women in their product advertising? It's funny how many companies are happy to use sex to sell products but god forbid someone see a silhouette of a bikini.

> How many of those organisations feature smiling attractive women in their product advertising?

I don't know, but I also don't know if this woman is smiling because they cut off her head to get more breast in frame.

Blaming each other who is sexist for wearing certain clothes or saying certain word is a distraction skillfully used to make people busy and not pay attention to what the leaders are doing.

  > That logo makes it a non-starter in any organization I've seen in the last decade.
Could be what they're going for. There's a subset of the free software movement who are actively opposed to politically correct corporate culture.

This is no issue of politically correctness, it's an issue of poor branding - if this is meant for a serious project, which I get the feeling the author intends to be perceived as.

It can be a serious project, and yet not aimed at corporate.

I think you're conflating "corporate" with "considerate" or similar.

Lots of people feel that tech culture leans toward the objectification of women, so we're less inclined to use projects that use overtly sexual language or imagery.

For example, read the first paragraph of the Julia language community standards: https://julialang.org/community/standards/

Thanks for your condescending, moralizing remarks. I just woke up from a coma and did not know about any of this, or the moral superiority neo-puritan people expel when they push their Orwellian pursuit to ban any form of sexual expression from society under the false flag of being "inclusive" and "considerate". [dead]

i.e. a subset of the FSM that want to keep alienating women

Rorschach test? There's another comment here saying it's sexist, but after staring at it for a few minutes all I can see is some sort of odd https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sign_of_the_horns in the middle; which might be because the name made me think of the band.

It took me a while too, but now I can't unsee it. Not sure if this what the others see, but to me it looks like a woman leaning over to the left. The vertical lines on the right are her left arm, the line on the left is her right arm. And she seems to be wearing a hat. We one would choose a logo like that is beyond me.

It was definitely intended to be a pinup girl leaning over and doing the stereotypical kiss. It's not a matter of interpretation.

It's clearly a view from above of a pterodactyl stuck in a canyon because its wings are too large.

> It's not a matter of interpretation.

What do you mean? Apparently it is. Many people here had no idea what it was supposed to be, and many people had a different interpretation of what it is.

That and the package manager is a bash script.

... which relies on many battle-tested Unix utilities.

Why is that such a bad thing? I'm not generally a big fan of shell scripts but this one looks particularly readable and documented: https://github.com/kisslinux/kiss/blob/master/kiss

Looks cool but WTF is that logo? I'm an artist and I can't figure out what it's supposed to be even after staring at it for 5 minutes ¯\(°_o)/¯

Stereotypical pinup girl leaning forward to kiss you, I assume.

i think it's a woman leaning over - we're seeing some cleavage there. but... it may just be a rorschach logo...

Yeah I thought so too but then other parts it stop making sense. Vastly ahead of its time or just bad? Either way, it's kind of a millstone around the neck of the project.

Just what we need, another Linux distribution. Spread the effort even more thinly.

No thanks

"Fewer distros mean more active developers per distro" is just as much a fallacy as "Less music piracy means higher profits". Many distros exist exactly because their devs don't want to touch something like Ubuntu.

Much of the work that goes into the open source software ecosystem goes into projects that benefit more than one particular platform be they user facing apps or system components. A minority goes into distributions.

Distributions mainly require infrastructure, packaging, and distro specific software like package management.

Many distros are quite derivative and represent largely Linux set up as the author desires.

You see a lot of these because they are easy to make they also suck near zero resources from the broader pool of resources because they are stuck packaging their own software and the skills needed to make them wouldn't translate directly into improving system components anyway.

More complex efforts which are the minority are the way people explore possible paths forward. Many are already increasingly converging on common patterns that make it easier to focus on the things that are truly important to that project.

Complaining about a diversity of options seems poorly thought out when discussing a platform that exists only because others desired more options.

Hell if we all standardized on redhat we might well be trading 10% more progress for 99% fewer options.

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