It is with my Community Manager hat and as a Linux enthusiast that I bring you this post about the Foresight Linux distribution, literally born and brewed where I work and filled to the brim with the technology developed at rPath. However, this is not yet another article about yet another Linux distribution with arguments about how great it is compared to other popular ones out there. No siree Bob! In fact, if you are happy with the platform or distribution that you are running, then kudos to you! I will not bore you to tears comparing lists of packages, what kernel or why you should drop everything you’re doing and grab a copy of Foresight. No (32-bit)!!! No (64-bit)!!! For a while Foresight was indeed a trail blazer and if you wanted to get the latest and coolest applications or features for Linux, that’s where you’d go! But nowadays I feel that a lot of the popular distributions are pretty much shipping the same set of things plus or minus a feature here or there.
Instead, I’d like to tell you about a couple of nice features I came to grow very fond of after having run Foresight as my main distribution for the last 3 years. My intention is not to convert anyone but to share something things I find extremely cool and that may be of your interest as well!
Reason 1 - Rolling releases: Because Foresight is based on a “rolling release” schedule, you don’t have to wait 6 or 12 months to get your hands on new features or applications! Sure you could download the source code and compile it yourself or even trust that package that a friend of a friend told you to install, but I’m talking about having something that is completely managed by the underlying package management system! Most of the time new applications are available within days of being launched as it passes through some spot checking and QA.
Reason 2 - Roll backs: Because the entire system is kept under a complete version control down to the file level, It is possible to perform something that other distributions can only dream of: system roll backs! Don’t like the application you’ve just installed? Remove it and it will be as if your system never had it installed! Want to go back to the update you ran 3 weeks or even months ago? Not a problem! Your system is like a giant Git/Mercurial repository and you control what to clone and what branch to checkout.
Reason 3 - The Conary Package Management System: this is the pixie dust that makes Foresight and rPath's products run! Created from the ground up to be the next generation of package management systems and to provide a platform to create a true distributed versioning environment, Conary is definitely worth your time! Prior to using it on a daily basis, I could never have imagined that I would be able to package anything (software) in my life, let alone try to create and maintain a distribution! With its Pythonic style and syntax-like, writing up a “recipe” for an application is extremely easy to do!
Reason 4: Small crew: Foresight is formed by a bunch of very, very enthusiastic group that really enjoy developing and maintaining a cool system! That means that we’re small enough to have an almost family-like relationship and all help out in whatever task needs to be done. That also means that we’re most of the time shorthanded and have a lot of things being worked by one single person! Some people may find this to be a hindrance but I like to see it as a great chance to get involved with an open source project! Do you want to maintain a package? Want to impress the world with your artistic skills? Is documentation your thing? There are very few hoops to jump through and you will learn a whole lot about Linux and running a distribution! What can I say, we are a small team that just love what we do!
I think I should also mention that most of our discussions or even support happens via the irc channel (#foresight and #foresight-devel on Freenode) and mailing lists, but you are guaranteed to find a courteous and helpful bunch. It is very captivating, trust me!