With the release of Ubuntu 22.04 LTS "Jammy Jellyfish", TUXEDO OS received a new desktop environment with KDE Plasma, replacing Budgie as the default desktop. This was accompanied by plenty of changes, which we explain in more detail in this article.
More than a change of design
TUXEDO OS goes far beyond the visual tweaks to TUXEDO Computers' corporate identity; many hours of developer time went into the latest edition of the operating system for TUXEDO notebooks and PCs. The decision to use KDE Plasma as the desktop environment was made because of its unparalleled configurability. This allows us to design the system according to our ideas. The customer can completely overturn this and implement their own ideas. GNOME in Ubuntu leaves much less leeway here. For a system that is usable right from the start, it needs some extensions, which in the past often did not work at first with a new GNOME version. Despite the extensive configuration of TUXEDO OS, the RAM consumption of around 1.2 GBytes is on a comparable level right after startup.
At first glance, you will notice two new menu item in the GRUB menu when booting the system, titled WebFAI Notebook Installation. One is for notebooks, the other one for desktop systems. They do the same as the WebFAI USB stick that came with your device, but without the need for said stick. Clicking on one of the the new menu items creates a new image of TUXEDO OS for the desired platform, which you can boot into when finished. The GRUB menu is not displayed by default in order not to prolong the boot process unnecessarily. That is, if you only have one OS installed. To have it displayed at startup anyway, please press the [ESC] key in quick succession immediately after pressing the start button until the menu appears. If you have a dual-boot situation, the menu will be displayed anyway. To have GRUB menu show up on a single-boot system on every boot, you need to edit /etc/default/grub and place a # in front of the line GRUB_HIDDEN_TIMEOUT=0. After saving the file, you need to run sudo update-grub to apply the changes.
When using WebFAI, no matter if via GRUB menu or from USB stick, make sure that you back up data you still require in advance. The FAI process overwrites all data on all hard disks in your device. In that context, another pending change we made is to be pointed out: To avoid deleting their data when reinstalling via WebFAI, customers repeatedly asked for the possibility to be able to download an image of TUXEDO OS. We are now fulfilling this request in our quest for more flexibility for our customers: The TUXEDO OS ISO is now also available for download. The image comes with the open-source drivers for Intel and AMD graphics cards, as well as the proprietary driver for NVIDIA. If the OS detects an NVIDIA graphics card in your system, the NVIDIA driver will automatically be used. Thus, it is ready for use with all devices, regardless of which graphics card is installed, right after the start. You will find more info on the ISO further down the article.
The package list we curated installs many of the most used applications like the office suite LibreOffice, the Mozilla browser Firefox, the email client Thunderbird or the media player VLC. In addition, we also preinstall applications that are usually not necessarily on the package lists of other distributions. These include applications such as VirtualBox for creating virtual machines. Of course, the TUXEDO Control Center (TCC) and TUXEDO Tomte are also included. The kernel used is an Ubuntu kernel with some patches. You can read more about it in an article from the dev team. The installer packaged for TUXEDO OS is based on the Calamares Installer Framework, which is now used by about two dozen distributions to build their installers. Also, new in the TUXEDO repository is a DisplayLink driver, which in the past had to be installed manually for the TUXEDO Office Hub. For the gamers among you, we ship a recent version of the Open Gaming Platform Lutris as well as the Heroic-Games-Launcher package in our repository for you to install. You can view all preinstalled packages of TUXEDO OSin the manifest file online.
There are a few more deviations from the Ubuntu packages and presets. Instead of the soon-to-be retired audio daemon PulseAudio, we ship its modern counterpart, PipeWire. In the preferences, we deviate from Ubuntu in the configuration of GRUB. GRUB2 has a function for including the external program os-prober to detect other operating systems installed on the same computer in dual- or multi-boot systems and to create corresponding menu entries for them to make them bootable.
This feature has been disabled by default on many distributions since this spring with the arrival of GRUB 2.0.6, as the automatic execution of os-prober and the creation of boot entries based on this data represents a potential attack vector if SecureBoot is used. In the interest of our customers, we have decided to re-enable this feature so that other operating systems can be detected, displayed in GRUB and booted from in dual- or multi-boot systems. Users who make use of SecureBoot generally know what they are doing and can weigh the risks for themselves. If you don't need os_prober, you can disable it again in /etc/default/grub by changing the GRUB_DISABLE_OS_PROBER line from false to true and following up with the command sudo update-grub to make the change permanent.
Package formats: Deb vs. snap
With Ubuntu 22.04 LTS "Jammy Jellyfish", the browsers Firefox and Chromium, among other packages, are no longer offered in the Debian package format (.deb), but in Canonical's own package format Snap. Besides the fact that this solo effort is based on a proprietary Snap store, browsers in Snap format also have tangible disadvantages: In addition to the rather negligible additional demand for disk space with today's low prices for hard disks, the startup of applications is still slower than with the native DEB package.
We want to avoid hiding the advantages of the Snap format for a security-relevant application like a browser. It is very time-consuming for distributions to stay up-to-date and secure with the increasingly common browser security vulnerabilities. The Firefox snap for Ubuntu is created by Mozilla, which adds timeliness to security.
Weighing the pros and cons of DEB vs. Snap, we opted for the Debian format. The snap daemon snapd is not installed in TUXEDO OS, the preinstalled Firefox is a Debian package. Additionally, Chromium is available for installation via our TUXEDO repository as a DEB. Of course, every customer can decide for him or herself if they want to use Snaps. More information can be found in an article dedicated to the topic. We also have an article for users of plain Ubuntu on how to install Firefox as DEB.
Canonical URL removed
In the same breath, we moved the NetworkManager Connectivity Check from an Ubuntu URL to a TUXEDO URL. Connectivity Checking is a feature of the NetworkManager package that checks at intervals to see if there is a connection to the Internet. In Ubuntu, and therefore in TUXEDO OS, the URL http://connectivity-check.ubuntu.com/ was used for this, which checks the connection every 300 seconds. Since we already mirror Ubuntu's mirror servers and thus no IP addresses of customers go to Canonical, we decided to also put the URL for the connection test on a separate URL for TUXEDO OS. Thus, the URL http://connectivity-check.tuxedocomputers.com is used for the automatic queries in NetworkManager. We guarantee that we do not record the access on the server side.
TUXEDO OS as Live IOS for download
To ensure a more flexible handling of the installation of TUXEDO OS, we now also provide TUXEDO OS as LIVE-ISO with installer for download. Thus, in addition to WebFAI as a simple installation option with the disadvantage that all partitions are deleted in the process, a flexible option for installation is available, as experienced Linux users are used to from other distributions. In addition, we have built in a repair function for the new image, which uses the functionality of chroot, but sets it up it with only two mouse clicks. You find this handy function in the main menu under the submenu TUXEDO. The details can be found in a separate article.
As you can see, TUXEDO OS 1 is much more than a change of scenery. We hope to have made a good basis for your workflow, your wishes and needs, both visually and in terms of package selection and system defaults. And now have fun with the new TUXEDO OS 1.