CarbonOS, a robust distro that bets on containers and Flatpak 

Several days ago The first release of a new custom Linux distribution named "carbons" which stands out for being built using the atomic system design model, in which the base environment is delivered as a single whole, not divided into separate packages.

One of the features that stand out in this new Linux distribution is that the applications costs they are installed in Flatpak format and run in isolated containers.

Unlike other Atomic distributions, carbonOS doesn't try to keep traditional package management features: carbonOS is Flatpak first for apps and container first for everything else.

The ultimate goal of carbonOS is to be a distribution that uses the unique capabilities of Linux to provide a secure, stable, and robust environment for user applications. I want it to be a general purpose operating system that the user doesn't have to think about. Users should be able to play on it, work on it, program on it, and do whatever they want without having to worry about the technical details of their operating system.

About CarbonOS

In CarbonOS unlike many of the distributions of popular Linux and especially of the great majority of the current ones, in it base system content is mounted read-only to protect it from modification in case of compromise (in addition, in the future they plan to integrate the ability to encrypt data and verify the integrity of files using digital signatures).

The only case where the system can be written to is on the /usr/local partition. In the system update process it boils down to loading a new system image in the background and switching to it after reboot. It is mentioned that, at the same time, the old system image is preserved and if desired or problems arise, the user can return to the previous version at any time.

During development of the distribution's environment, the system's environment population is assembled using OSTree (the image is built from a Git-like repository) and the BuildStream build system, without using packages from other distributions.

On the part of installed applications by the user, these are isolated from each other in containers. In addition to installing Flatpak packages, the distribution also allows to use the tool kit nsbox to create arbitrary containers, which can also host traditional distribution environments like Arch Linux and Debian.

It also provides support for the podman toolkit, which provides compatibility with Docker containers. To install the distribution, a graphical installer and an interface for the initial configuration of the system are offered.

Btrfs is used as file system with stored data compression enabled and active use of snapshots. Systemd-oomd is used to handle low memory situations in the system and instead of a separate swap partition, swap-on-zram technology is used, which allows memory pages stored in compressed form to be evicted. The distribution implements a centralized permission management mechanism based on Polkit: sudo is not supported and the only way to run commands as root is pkexec.

The project develops its own user environment GDE (Graphite Desktop Environment), based on GNOME 42 and including applications from the GNOME distribution. GNOME changes include a redesigned login screen, a configurator, volume and brightness indicators, a panel, and the Graphite Shell. An application manager based on GNOME software is used to manage the installation of system updates.

Finally for those who are interested in being able to test this distribution, you should know that the size of the installation image is 1.7 GB and you can get it from its official website In the following link.

As for those interested in knowing the developments of the project, they should know that they are distributed under the MIT license.


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  1.   txerrenak said

    I am confused with this distro. For example, I wanted to manage the gnome extensions (I have installed the extensions and the corresponding addon in Firefox) and they are all marked as NOT COMPATIBLE.

    Can't I have these extensions?