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Teen dream team reboots Rolling Rhino into Rhino Linux

Well, these distros are all about continual reinvention, after all

Rolling Rhino, a project that turned Ubuntu into a rolling-release distribution, is restarting development under a new name: Rhino Linux.

We wrote about Rolling Rhino last spring. Yes, it's another Ubuntu remix, but with a different goal. Most Ubuntu remixes just replace the desktop, bundle a different set of apps, or make other relatively cosmetic surface changes. But Rolling Rhino changes the entire release model, switching the package sources to Ubuntu's in-progress development branches and turning the distro into a continuously-changing rolling release.

According to the latest news update from the project, they're astonished it's done so well:

It began as a proof-of-concept, and the fact that people utilzsed it as a daily driver astounded many and was more stable than anticipated.

The project was founded by a developer who was known as MrBeeBenson – but he now prefers to be called http.llamaz. (Find the nicknames odd? Bear in mind that he's 18 years old – and try to remember what that felt like.) He and co-creator Billy Gilbrech, 19, created some tools to modify Ubuntu's package sources, but over time, in the founder's own words:

Rolling Rhino Remix kept piling on utilities until it simply was no longer just a rolling release flavor of Ubuntu.

So they've decided to start over. The new project is called Rhino Linux, although so far there isn't much info on the site apart from the release announcement. The team are planning to release one final version of Rolling Rhino, probably at the start of November, and support it with another three months of updates. Then, sometime in 2023, Rolling Rhino will be replaced by Rhino Linux.

The new project is still going to be a rolling-release version of Ubuntu, but with different tooling and a different focus. It will ship with the Xfce desktop, and the main tool for installing new software will be Pacstall.

Pacstall, whose Github page has more information and some instructions, is another tool which describes itself as "The AUR for Ubuntu," and as such reminds us of Una and the MPR repo, which we covered in our article about the creator of Ubuntu Unity.

Long-term Ubuntu users may never have heard of the AUR anyway as it's specific to Arch Linux. The Arch User Repository is a large community-maintained collection of additional software for the Arch Linux rolling-release distro. Arch derivatives such as EndeavourOS and Garuda Linux bundle their own package-installer tools to make it easier to grab software from the AUR.

It looks like the plan is that the base OS will use Ubuntu development packages, but whatever users choose to install on top of that will be built from source by Pacstall. A policy of keeping user customizations separate from the core of the OS could work out… but we would like to hear that the maintainers of Pacstall and the MPR were to work together.

Rhino Linux may not turn out to be a long-lived distribution, but its creators have got time to sort stuff out. According to their online profiles, "http.llamaz" is 18, Pacstall creator "Plasma" is 17, and co-developer Sourajyoti "wizard-28" Basak is 15. But then again, when Linus Torvalds released the first version of the Linux kernel in 1991, he was 21.

This jaded vulture is a little older than even Mr. Torvalds, and usually runs LTS releases on anything important. Saying that, in the meantime, those who like both the DEB package format and its tools, but enjoy living on the edge with a rolling-release distro might choose to install SpiralLinux, whose snapshots could save your bacon, then change it to track Debian Sid.

Still, we wish the Rhino Linux team all possible luck with their project, and we hope that it will lead to great things for all of them. ®

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