Newsletter for July 04, 2024

Hope everyone has had a good holiday (if you celebrate the 4th)! I’ve been a bit quiet, but I’m here with some more news on the project. (It’s not dead or dying!)

It’s been slow but steady. I had grander plans for alpha 4, but I’ve had to go with more sensible plans, and with that come some roadmap changes, which should hopefully bring a new release soon.

The biggest change is that I’ve decided to change from a Debian-clone to a Debian-base. What I mean by this is that rather than building everything from scratch and packaging with dpkg, the base system is now using packages from Debian 12. It’s been a massive learning experience doing things as a Debian-clone, but the burnout from the maintenance burden was pretty high and I was spending a lot of time, actually most of my time, repackaging and updating the 100 or so packages making up just the base system, rather than being able to focus on the parts that make Libranext unique.

The upside to rebasing on Debian, is that I now have a lot more time to spend on the Libraconf tool, our init system (SSM), and other tools that were being mildly neglected. There is still some packaging work: some packages in Debian I’ve repackaged with customizations for Libranext, and the individual Libranext tools also needed to be re-worked and repackaged for Debian (due to some differences in file locations, and slightly differing package names causing dependency issues). It also means I’m spending about 90% less time on applying security patches to packages and building them.

There are other technical (and one that’s more historical than technical) merits to this switch:

  • Software packaged for Debian should generally work on a Libranext system (with a few minor caveats)
  • Software selection is much greater because Libranext should be able to use most of the Debian repository (still working on a few things related to this to ensure upgrades work well)
  • Using Debian’s packaging helpers (dh-helper scripts, debmake, debuild, etc.)

Libranext doesn’t use Debian’s repository directly (i.e. in /etc/apt/sources.list) right now. Instead, I import packages from Debian into the Libranext repository.

So where does that leave Libranext right now?

The Libranext package repository at contains several components (debian-base, main), and all packages there are from the Debian-based switch.

You can now succesfully debootstrap a minimal Libranext base system using our repository (effectively allowing you to do a manual installation). I’ve ported SSM and Libraconf (including libconf) to Debian.

I’d already promised I’d bring 32-bit x86 support to the next release, and I’ve followed through: You can debootstrap both 32-bit x86 and 64-bit x86/amd64 systems now!

What’s blocking the next release?

  • I’m currently writing the networking module for Libraconf (netsvc : Network Services). All prior versions of Libranext required manually setting up networking on every boot. This will automate the handling of network connections and allow for easy configuration.
  • I need to adapt the setup utility to work with the Debian infrastructure. Most of its underlying logic is actually used from Libraconf’s libconf, so it’s mostly a matter of porting it to the latest libconf version. I also need to finish up UEFI support in the installer.
  • I need to rework how I generate the installer ISO
  • The repository needs X11 packages and stuff for the graphical experience (DEs/WMs, etc.) If you have suggestions or requests for package inclusion, please let me know! I’m not sure this first release will include as carefully curated a number of packages as Libranet’s venerable Flagship Edition, but I hope to get a start on it.

I’m thankful for the patience of those watching the project. It’s historically been a pretty long trek, but I’m determined for Libranext to be known as “Debian’s back on Steroids”.