Updated: January 25, 2016
Linux, the final frontier. A fellow named Mehdi emailed me the name of this Linux distro for sampling, testing and review. Having already recommended a bunch of software in the past, with pretty good results, I thought this could be another enjoyable exercise.
To make everything all the more mindboggling, Apricity OS tell us it is based on Arch Linux, which means goats and blood and the essence of virgin nerds. Archy Arch and the Funky Byte. But maybe the dreadful can be abstracted into a nice and friendly product. Anyhow, version 12.2015 Beta, underway!
Promise versus premise
The mission statement on the official site is quite a bold one. For instance, the manifesto tells us the lightweight edition of the Gnome desktop used in Apricity OS consumes only about 500 MB of memory compared to several GB for some other distributions. What. First, the fact some operating systems may be excessive in their resource utilization does not mean half a GB is okay. Besides, Xfce desktops easily use less. So how exactly?
There are several other similar catch phrases, which try to highlight the uniqueness of the distro, maybe a little too hard. My very first impression was trying to boot off a USB and failing, and having to switch to a traditional DVD, after which things started moving.
Look & feel
Apricity OS is a very pretty desktop. Undoubtedly so. It comes with a colorful and somewhat cartoonish design, but it sure is on the nicer end of the aesthetics spectrum. Everything shines and sparkles, and using the distro, despite some rather obvious Gnome deficiencies, is a pleasant adventure.
Not all is perfect, though. The first time you reach the desktop, there is no network icon per se. You will have to click the system area menu to be able to configure your Wireless. Then, the default font is a little difficult to read. I was not able to remove mounted volumes from the desktop. I did not find such a tweak in the system settings.
My first lick of sweet and sour disappointment was trying to exercise my Ninth Amendment, which means being able to connect to Samba shares, use my printer and alike. The smb protocol does not seem to be supported. And I found no way to actually connect to any remote location whatsoever.
Wireless worked okay, but then, the package manager popped up right after connecting, and then it hanged, so I had to close it. The second time I tried the exercise, there were some twelve packages available for update. In the live session? Not bad but perhaps unneeded.
I tried MP3, copying some files from other partitions on the laptop, and Youtube with Flash. Both these worked fine, including the choice of software and the presentation layer, although Chrome should not ship with any extensions, as they reflect a very user-specific choice.
Some weird and interesting things
Briefly exploring the distro, without going too deeply into what it can do, as that's normally a set of tasks for after the installation, I did come across some curious bits and pieces. The coffee icon in the system area actually disables screensaver and auto-suspend. What. Ice, a simple SSB Manager, does what exactly? Suspend & resume in the live session works just fine.
You also get a nerdy terminal with some funky colored prompts:
This is going to be an interesting exercise. Because if we recall what happened to Netrunner Rolling, then we must be extra careful. Indeed, the distro almost snagged a couple of times. The installer launched relatively fast, but not as fast a typical Fedora or Ubuntu wizard might. It then crashed. Oops. Second attempt, better, but I was already feeling quite jittery. Oh, the timezone and location choice were also wrong.
The partition scan was fast, but then, the tool lagged for a while before switching to the summary window. Finally, after the installation started, in hanged in the dreaded twenties percentage range, much like Netrunner did, but then it continued until a horrible bootloader failure.
I do not know why and how, but this is definitely something quite repeatable that seems to affect Arch-based systems. UEFI, GPT, a plentitude of partition, sixteen to be exact, formatted with FAT32, NTFS, EXT4, XFS, and BTRFS, so maybe that adds some fresh new complications. Another thing I've noticed is that the installer didn't just format the marked root partition. It actually deleted it, created a new one, and then set the filesystem on it. Regardless, for whatever the reason, the GRUB setup had failed.
Yes, I stopped there. If and when a distro fails to install, for whatever reason, I'm not going to spend any time troubleshooting, fixing, checking, and such. If it can't commit safely, it does not belong on my hard disk. And that means that Apricity OS joins a growing list of distribution that get no love and praise from Dedoimedo.
Yes, it's very pretty, very unique. But ultimately, useless. Insufficient support for trivial network protocols, crashes, glitches, hangs, and a failed installation that could have potentially left the system unbootable. Those are not things one can simply ignore for the sake of beautiful colors. Stability and predictability must come first, and everything else is secondary. Having those two does not guarantee success, but not having them definitely guarantees failure. Alas, not meant to be. You know the score. Ain't very high. We can only forgive cause it's beta. But then, how can rolling be beta? Next.