Today I’m proud to announce the release of Feren OS January 2020 Snapshot, codenamed ‘Zinc’. This snapshot is a refinement snapshot to fix some issues found in December 2019 Snapshot, as well as generally improve the user experience and first impressions a tad.
I was planning on releasing this earlier in January, but then I had a few more ideas that caused the ISO to be delayed by a few days (mainly regarding Web Browser Manager updates and Feren OS Classic theme set updates), following a very tragic event happening that… it hurt me and many others hard, as we knew the man pretty well as a good internet friend.
For those who don’t know, on Tuesday 14th January, Peppermint OS faced one of its darkest ever days as Mark Greaves (the aforementioned person), current head of Peppermint at that time, sadly passed away. Mark was a great man who always wanted to help people, and we had our fair few exchanges with each other… I’ll leave a few links below, which you should check, especially if you’re a fan of Peppermint OS. Since this is about Feren OS, though, I’ll change the subject for the time being. You’ll be sorely missed, Mark Greaves.
Official Announcement: https://forum.peppermintos.com/index.php?topic=9283.0
GoFundMe for his memorial fund: https://www.gofundme.com/f/memorial-fund-for-mark-greaves-peppermintos-ceo
Anyway, I should get to the Feren OS stuff.
Updating to January 2020 Snapshot
As always, it’s easy to update to the January 2020 Snapshot. To update to the January 2020 Snapshot open up Update Manager, hit ‘Refresh’, let it check for new updates and then update everything.
Since this snapshot updates the Linux Mint repositories used for Nemo and Cinnamon (as well as a few Mint-specific tools), you should press ‘Refresh’ a second time once everything is up-to-date to let the newer Linux Mint repositories kick in, providing you with the updates for Mint-specific utilities.
Changes in Feren OS
There are a few changes in this snapshot, however the list is not that long since it has only been one month since the last snapshot (this was done deliberately as I want to return to the regular 3-month pattern for snapshots, with this snapshot being the starting point of that return).
As always, with a new snapshot comes new backgrounds. This snapshot introduces the start of a wallpaper specification for what a wallpaper can and cannot have, although this specification is still being worked on (hence it’s not publicly released yet) and this snapshot is just phasing it in. This specification is currently partly enforced for most of the introduced wallpapers, though the next snapshot should fully enforce it for new wallpapers.
Web Browser Manager
The Feren OS Web Browser Manager has seen a huge set of updates this snapshot to improve the overall user experience and to add a redesign for the installation and removal process for browsers in the utility. These changes are:
- Installations and Removals are now fully logged in /tmp so you can easily find out what went on if a browser fails to install
- A pulsating progress bar now appears over the Install/Remove button of the browser currently being installed or removed — this replaces the external progress dialog
- All of the graphical interface parts of Web Browser Manager are now run as that user, rather than as superuser, which hopefully means the Web Browser Manager can now run flawlessly on Wayland
- Vivaldi will now add its repository during installation if the repository isn’t found
- Vivaldi, Opera and Brave browser installs will no longer proceed with installation (they will instead instantly fail now) if their respective repository’s signing key fails to be imported, preventing their respective repository from becoming permanently untrusted on that Feren OS installation (until the repository is manually removed) if the signing key fails to be imported on the first attempt
Language Select for UEFI Booted Live Sessions
Following feedback on December 2019 Snapshot (https://github.com/feren-OS/Bug-Reporting-Center/issues/55), the standard GRUB screen shown when booting a Feren OS Live USB/DVD on (U)EFI machines now serves as a language selection screen to allow you to boot the Feren OS Live Session in your respective language and keyboard layout. If any languages use incorrect keyboard layouts, please report a bug about it as I couldn’t be sure of some of the language’s origin country’s associated keyboard layouts.
You can also still boot into the Live Session with ‘nomodeset’ from the boot menu as a ‘nomodeset’ option exists as well for each language option.
The GRUB theme used in this language selection screen is planned to make its official debut as the Feren OS GRUB theme on installed systems too in the next snapshot.
Furthermore, a few new packages were added (or re-added) to Feren OS after I, and others, found out they were missing or should be there for a better user experience by default.
Those packages are: feren-flatpak-management gucharmap build-essential friendly-recovery ffmpegthumbnailer bash-completion nemo-share samba nemo-preview qt5-style-plugin-gtk2
feren-flatpak-management is a new boot service that clears the Flatpak cache on startup to prevent it from filling your disk space up and qt5-style-plugin-gtk2 was just placed under the packages to purge by accident instead of packages to install in the custom script I use to construct Feren OS. Additions such as samba resulted in the ISO hitting 2.0GB once more, however that’s a sacrifice made for completeness.
(Feren OS Classic) Layout Revamps
Finally, Feren OS Classic received some last minute love to make it more like Feren OS, with some revamps to the layout of each theme in Feren OS Classic by default:
- Weather, Accessibility Menu and Search were removed from all the layouts
- Printers was added to all the layouts
- Tablet Mode has been given a complete overhaul to look and behave more like how it looks and behaves in Feren OS
- Applet config file numbers are now consistent across all the default layouts meaning that in most cases your applet customisations will always transfer across the different layouts just fine (the exception to being the configs of applets that are removed when switching between layouts)
- All the Themer themes in Store have been updated to reflect these layout changes
OEM Config Fixes
OEM Config received some much-needed updates on Feren OS, including the disabling of more unnecessary background services and startup applications, fixes to the theming in the ‘System Setup’ Calamares window and the addition of the ‘Toggle Onboard’ button, from Tablet Mode, to the panel in the OEM Config Plasma environment.
Linux Mint repositories update
Finally, the Linux Mint repositories have been updated to use Linux Mint 19.3’s repositories, since 19.3 is the newest version of Linux Mint. This means that users can now get the latest Nemo and the latest versions of some Mint-specific applications that Feren OS currently uses. Furthermore, this also means that Feren OS Classic users get the latest Cinnamon and MintReport versions as well.
This snapshot was very nearly just a refinement snapshot and nothing else, meaning there are a few note-worthy bug fixes to mention here:
Latte Dock works no matter the language now
In all builds of Feren OS (formely Feren OS Next) up to January 2020 Snapshot, Feren OS’s Latte launching background service used the existence of a window named “Desktop” belonging to Plasma Desktop Workspace to determine if the user is logging out or not, and therefore whether to relaunch Latte Dock on exit or not (because there can be the rare time when Latte Dock silently crashes).
Following the release of December 2019 Snapshot, however, a new method using DBus Signal watching was made to reliably determine if the user is requesting a logout or not. This therefore means that Latte Dock will now appear no matter what language is used on the user’s session…
Latte Dock no longer reloads during logout
…and now quits gracefully when logging out of Feren OS without restarting itself during logout (due to detecting Plasma Desktop Workspace running right before the desktop quits during the logout process).
This fix also means that logouts should be slightly faster now as Plasma no longer has to wait for Latte to never quit on its new instance (from reloading during logout) before timing out and killing the session anyway.
Feren Calendar no longer provides a shortcut to the disabled ‘Region’ settings page
Finally, Feren Calendar has been tweaked to remove the shortcut in the menu shown when right-clicking on it to go to ‘Region’ settings. This option did nothing anyway since Feren OS disables this System Settings item in favour of the ‘Languages’ and ‘Input Method’ applications.
This update should provide some quality-of-life improvements to Feren OS for new users and existing users (who are looking to reinstall Feren OS) alike. The current plan is to slowly work through each reported bug, especially the ones on the “Quality of Life” improvements task, for the coming snapshots, however with a new theme and icon set redesign in the works, and the Ubuntu 20.04 LTS base coming soon, the future looks bright.