Hi everyone!

Today I make an announcement I thought I would never ever make. But things changed.

Discussion about this has a long history, starting as a non-serious suggestion at DesktopSummit 2011, continued with people on IRC, but it was decided back then that it wouldn’t be worth the effort. This has changed too, and a small team has formed to work on it.

We hereby announce Tanglu, a new Debian-based-Linux distribution.

A new logo?Why do we need another one? Let me explain the concepts of that distro:

Tanglu will be based on Debian Testing and follow the Debian development closely. It will have a 6-months release-cycle and it’s target audience are Linux desktop users. We will make installing and setting up the distro as easy as possible.

Tanglu will be usable for both developers of upstream software and the average Linux user and Linux newbie. This is possible because in our opinion developers and users don’t have different needs for a desktop system. Both kinds of users like a polished desktop which “just works”. We will, hwever, not apply any kind of fancy modification on upstream software, we will basically just distribute what upstream created, so users can get an almost “pure” GNOME and KDE experience.

Tanglu is designed to be able to solve the issue that Debian is frozen for a long time and Debian Developers can’t make new upstream versions available for testing easily. During a Debian freeze, DDs can upload their software to the current Tanglu development version and later start the new Debian cycle with already tested packages from Tanglu. The delta between Tanglu and Debian should be kept as minimal as possible. However, Tanglu is not meant as experimental distribution for Debian, so please upload experimental stuff to Experimental. Only packages good enough for a release should go into Tanglu.

Ideally, Tanglu and Debian should be working well together in mixed environments, where you for example have Debian servers and multiple Tanglu desktops with the new software, targeted at desktop user. Since the differences between Tanglu and Debian should not be very high, administering both systems should be very easy (if you know Debian).

Tanglu will be an open project, driven by community. At the beginning of each cycle, people can make suggestions for release goals they want to implement (similar to Fedora, but without FESCo). These proposals are discussed in public and are rejected if there are major technical concerns. If consensus about a certain proposal is lacking, a vote is done for it. The proposal can be accepted with absolute majority. If this does not happen, the proposal is postponed for the next release, where people can vote for it again. If nobody wants that function, it is rejected. In general, decisions made by Debian are superior and have to be followed.

We don’t think we know every package and every software better than the original upstream. That’s why it makes much sense to rely on feedback from others and to have a community-based and peer-reviewed distribution, instead of secretly developing stuff and dumping it on the community. Tanglu will have a highly predictable set of features, defined at the beginning of a cycle, so you will know what you can expect from the next release as soon as possible and plan for it.

Tanglu will make it easy to deploy applications for it. It will contain a software-center, similar to what Ubuntu has. We will also try to establish a solution for a “Linux-AppCenter”, a place for Linux applications, which will be open not only for Tanglu, but can be implemented in any other distribution too. Possible income will flow back into development of the platform.

Now, let’s answer the FQA (Future Questions Asked):

Why don’t you contribute to Debian directly and create yet another distribution?

First of all, we contribute to Debian 😉 And for me, I can say that I will contribute to Debian even more. The point is that Debian can not cover all possible use-cases, and with Tanglu we want to make a distro which solves this. You might ask why we have to create a new distro for that, instead of creating improvements inside Debian? Creating a new distro allows us to do stuff we can never do in Debian. For example, we will include proprietary firmware in that distro, we will make installations of proprietary stuff possible easily (but don’t ship with it by default) and we will have a time-based release cycle. These are already things which are a no-go for Debian, and that’s fine. We don’t want Debian to support these cases, as it is already a great distribution. We want to offer a distro as close to Debian as possible, but with a few modifications for use-cases which are not covered by Debian itself. Of course we will participate in DEX.

If Debian Developers contribute to Tanglu, freezes will take even longer!

This is an often-heard concern, it comes up on every mailinglist discussion about continuing development while freeze. I would disagree here, packaging new upstream stuff is not slowing down testing and improving of packages in Testing. Also, Tanglu is an offer for Debian developers to participate (we will sync privileges for their packages) – we don’t expect anyone to work on it, but as we think DDs know their packages best, we will make it possible for them to participate without extra barriers. We hope that Tanglu can add value to Debian and that Debian cycles can start with better-tested packages.

You said you are a small team – you cannot develop a whole distribution with it!

Let’s put that to the test! 😉 All people working on this are well aware of the issue that the project can not survive without much community-involvement on the long run. But we see a chance that many people are interested in it and that there is a high demand for it.

At the beginning, we will just start with a small set of packages. We will also sync many packages from Ubuntu, to reduce workload. For example, it is planned to use the Ubuntu-Kernel and KDE packaging. By doing this, we keep the workload at the beginning low. We also reduce duplicate work with that.

We even have some possible sponsors for the new distribution. But nothing is set in stone yet, so just wait for it to happen. 🙂

Why not participate in Arch, OpenSUSE $other_distro?

These are not Debian 😉 . I know, it sounds odd, but if you like the Debian way of doing things, you want to use a Debian-based distribution. There is nothing wrong with OpenSUSE. And Debian has issues too. But we want to be close to Debian and use it’s tools and way of doing things.

I hate you!!! You are doing it wrong!! The project is useless!

Well, that’s fine. But there is no reason for hating us. If you dislike our idea, there are basically two options: First, you hate us but the project is successful. In that case, you have been wrong with hate, as there are definitely people who liked the project and contributed to it. Second, you hate us and we fail. In this case, there is no reason for hate, as the project will just vanish and you don’t have to worry about it. So hating it would’ve been just a big waste of energy.

Also keep in mind that forking is a way to keep development healthy and to adapt software to new use-cases which it didn’t target before. And we are not introducing incompatibilities here (like e.g. writing our own display server could). Instead, we want to stay close to Debian and reuse as much code as possible.

Which desktop will you use?

Everyone can add a new desktop to Tanglu, as long as the desktop-environment is present in Debian. Long term, we will have to offer Linux-newbies a default flavour, probably by setting a default download on the website. But as long as there is a community for a given desktop-environment, the desktop is considered as supported.

At the beginning, we will focus on KDE, as many people have experience with it. But adding vanilla GNOME is planned too.

Can you say something about the software used in Tanglu?

Yes, but this is still in flow, so I can’t promise final decisions here. On the server, side, we will try to use the Dak for repository management, as soon as we have enough server capacity. We will also use the standard Debian repository GUI and basically reuse most of the software there, to diverge less from Debian.

The distribution itself could probably use a Linux Kernel from Ubuntu and systemd as the primary init system, as well as the login manager logind. It will be based on current Debian Testing with some fresh packages from Unstable and Experimental. We might also use the Ubuntu driver packages and KDE packaging. We expect to have a very rough start with the first release, but there will be enough time to polish Tanglu.

UPDATE20140214: Just because this pops up online incredibly often: Tanglu does not and will likely not use an Ubuntu Kernel. Tanglu 1 (Aequorea Victoria) ships with Linux 3.12 derived directly from Debian.

Nice idea! How can I help?

Well, you can help with basically anything at time – from writing manuals, over designing logos and pages to administering a webserver and create packages. We are at an early stage of development at the moment, but we wanted to go public with it as soon as possible, to include the community and receive feedback so we can make that distro community-centric from the beginning. Most of the infrastructure is currently in progress too.

So, if you want to get started with Tanglu, subscribe to our mailinglist tanglu-devel and write a mail to it, intruducing yourself. We can then include you in the loop. Generally, if you want to get access to our machines, a trusted GPG-signature will help a lot.

If you want to talk to us, join #tanglu-devel or Freenode! Most discussions are currently happening there.

And that’s it! Tanglu will be awesome!

Some other projects of mine will develop a bit slower because I am now involved in Tanglu. But nothing will stop, and there is some pretty cool stuff coming for both GNOME and KDE (and I still have to implement DEP-11 for Debian). 🙂

90 Replies to “Tanglu”

  1. Sounds like you’re going to be in the sweet spot between Ubuntu and Linux Mint. I wish you the best of luck. Also, I’m happy you’re going with KDE as that’s my desktop of choice. I’ll keep an eye on the project as I may be moving some computers to it in the future.

  2. The direction of Ubuntu (and Mark Shuttleworth’s responses to criticism of Mir) have convinced me that I need to find something else, but I really like the combination of the Debian base and the up-to-date packages that Ubuntu provides. Since Tanglu aims to provide that (and KDE and systemd), I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on Tanglu!

  3. Will this mean that you will provide fresh KDE packages and even Beta and RCs? I have been looking for a Debian based distro which does this. This would finally provide a Debian based Kubuntu-alternative which I have been looking for.
    On the other side, appart from the possibility of fresh KDE packages, there are several Debian based distros with similar goals: aptosid, kanotix and siduction which also have similar goals and are only parted because the devs did not like each other any more.

  4. sounds great. will definitely try it.

    I think this question will arise sooner or later, any plans to merge forces with kubuntu?

  5. Sounds absolutely great! Just one question, when do you expect to have the first release?


  6. I really like the idea of having something like this. Already thought about going back from Ubuntu to Debian, but until now, the more up-to-date packages kept me using Ubuntu.
    Is there any chance one of your team could set up either a tanglu-announce mailing list or a G+ page which keeps the public informed about updates without having to follow the supposedly high-traffic tanglu-devel mailing list? I would subscribe to either, just to not loose the focus on the project, even if there are no frequent news updates as of now.

  7. IMHO, this is indeed the right time to launch this. The last news about Canonical was the last straw for me. We need a proper, easy to use, community, reliable distro.

    Sticking as close to Debian as possible is extremely important IMHO. Debian is respected, democratic and much supported. So much work is put into it already.

    Where you could play a role is : help Debian testing be more viable. Join forces with other teams that also use Debian testing. Sure, we already have too many distros, so many that most people end up using Ubuntu while being frustrated by it at the same time. The way I see it, your effort is not about to split the community, on the contrary, but making it stronger.

    Best of luck !

  8. First of all my compliments by the courage and clarity of your goals, I will subscribe to your mailing list to try to help in any way I can, I wish you much luck and that the first versions could be available for testing.

    A big thank you for your effort in creating a distribution that I think meet the best there is in the World” DEBIAN Linux and KDE”


  9. Hello,
    i wish you the best of luck. I think that, given the premises, if successful, Tanglu could be one of the best distros around. But, and I know this could seem a non important point, why don’t you give it a more “proper name”. I mean, Tanglu could have some profound meaning in some language (seems Klingon to me, but whatever) but, really, even if successful I can’t count the times I’ve seen people laughing at Ubuntu. Especially in business enviroments. I’ve been at a client that specifically skipped Canonical because they didn’t want “childish” distros. Stupid? Maybe, but it definitely happens. Please, please, please, *please*, ******* P L E A S E ******* call it differently.

    Sorry if I sounded harsh, but well, just my 2 cents…

    1. We have many incredibly odd names for really awesome projects in the community, so rejecting a project because of an odd name is just stupid, IMHO.
      The name-finding process was incredibly tiresome. The name should match the following criteria:
      1) No generic name (like e.g. “Apple” or “Windows”), create an unique name
      2) Easy to memorize: No complicated name
      3) Free .org and .net domain (essential!)
      4) Nice sound in German, English and Portuguese/Brazil.
      The points 1 and 3 are directly connected. The Tanglu name matched nearly all this criteria. Try to think of a name which matches these citeria, it is extremely difficult.
      And now that the project is announced, I think it would be bad to change the name again.
      Tanglu is not Klingon 😛 We are not even sure what it means at time, probably a mix of Tangerine and Iglu.
      Canonical created an unique name, people hear “Ubuntu” and connect it with the OS. You should not underestimate that effect too. 😉

      1. Matthias,

        you did not convince me: “Apple”, “Windows” and “Linux Mint” are the three most successful OS. All three use existing words for their brand names. However, your first goal for your brand name is the exact opposite….erm….

        Right, Ubuntu was launched by a rich man who shipped free InstallCDs around the globe (as a marketing event), who employed a bunch of full time Debian experts and who was a commercial expert himself. You did not yet mention that you have all these resources. If you dont have them, you should consider to simply sail _with_ the winds, they blow for free! Please dont underestimate this too.

        I agree that there are many awesome projects with suicidal names. There is no reason to add another one 😉

        You can be sure that all marekting laws work perfectly, all time, all places and on all subjects. If even if you deny access! 😉

        Better you change the name today but in two years.

        Al the best for you product. Please note that I am not against it, I am _not_ complaining about yet another blabla, no I just want to point out sth crucial. Your success will come faster and easier if you go along with the rules.


  10. This seems more like a fork of Ubuntu than a fork of Debian to me ;). However, I really like your idea. This is something I had in mind for a long time as I was still on Kubuntu.
    However, I’ll stay with openSUSE for the moment, but I wish you to have a lot of fun!

  11. It was a long, long time since I was excited with a story like this.

    Tanglu distribution would be perfect for me, as it would be using Debian and if I understood correctly the official announcement would not have to wait for each freeze to have the latest packages (provided they are still usable).

    That comes with KDE is a plus for me. And the fact that the developer contributes directly to Debian, it gives me confidence to adopt it as distro header ..

    For my part, I have all the support and hopefully the project to proceed and not die. I’m no programmer, but I will try to work with others, do not know, maybe translations or artwork .. And of course promotion. In my blog (Spanish speaking) keep the entire community informed.

  12. This distro could be the chakra of the deb world, I wish the team all the luck in the world.
    I’m a future user waiting for the first release. 😉

  13. I’m a User, use the desktop for work, at home, with friends. A free desktop beautiful, where everything works, no drama, easy and attractive. I’m a Linux user in search of desktop linux.

    We are free. We are Tanglu

  14. Excellent timing. Due to Ubuntu/Canonical not wanting to play nicely with others I’ve been looking for an alternate distro. I’ve only considered distros using systemd, and where the probability of getting Gnome 3.8 shortly after its release is high. I also use btrfs as my filesystem. Unfortunately the first two ruled out Debian testing (no systemd, stuck on Gnome 3.4). I tried various other distros, all of which had annoying quirks.

  15. Debian *DOES* provide some (unofficial) images including firmware:
    And even if it would not, you could build such installers without the need of creating a separate distro.

    Though I’m not convinced by the approach (a lot of things can be done in Debian, and working on RC bugs is the way to reduce freeze duration and its impact), I wish you success, please work very close to Debian, IMO that’s the most efficient approach for free software in general.

  16. Please read carefully the words Frank comitted! He is 100% right! If you have someone in your team who is doing Marketing for his living, ask him. Mind Linux Mint!

    Just two more cents…good luck!

  17. Please read carefully the words Frank comitted! He is 100% right! If you have someone in your team who is doing Marketing for his living, ask him. Mind Linux Mint!

    Just two more cents…good luck!


  18. Wow, some weeks ago I thought that i would love it if something like a rolling debian testing would exist.
    I guess my wish came true 🙂

    any chance that XFCE will be present, too?

  19. Good Luck with that project, sounds like a distribution to my liking. I’m currently using KUbuntu and have been looking for a replacement for a long time now – but nothing was to my liking.

    1. PS: Chakra is a very small team too, and they’re doing an incredible job. It’s easier for decision finding then ;-).

  20. Cool! When can we download it?

    I’m searching for a new Xubuntu (xfce is the best desktop environment, but Ubuntu sucks more from release to release), Debian Cut isn’t doing a progress, LMDE unstable …

  21. “We are not even sure what it means at time, probably a mix of Tangerine and Iglu.
    Canonical created an unique name”

    really? I can read -tangible (tantivy or even tantra[Hindu]) GNU/Linux- in “Tanglu”; citrus fruits would be my last thought 😉
    Ubuntu is not unique but from Zulu/Xhosa see: “Southern African philosophy of ubuntu (“humanity towards others”) [wikipedia]

    What about the Ubuntu kernel. Will Tanglu use the upto-date kernel in already installed versions or will already installed version keep the kernel and get 18-60 months support for that? I think that it could be difficult to upgrade the kernel every 6 months for already installed systems…

    Linux Mint Debian Edition has Update Packs to ensure the stability of the system, how wil the Tanglu developers ensure that?

    If there are plans to built something like Ubuntu jockey, there is a “Device Driver Manager” by Schoelje (from Linux Mint community)

    I hope Tanglu will not became as slow and sluggish like Ubuntu.

    Good Luck with that project.

  22. This sounds very close to my ideal Linux distribution, and is welcome news.

    I need a stable desktop for professional work, and rolling releases have always been too volatile for my needs. But Debian stable releases were too infrequent and unpredictable. Software got so stale as to cause real impediments to work. I switched to Ubuntu while waiting for sarge. But Ubuntu is now clearly on a course I cannot follow. I’ve been strongly considering going back to Debian stable but worry about getting locked in to stale code again.

    So a distro that is Debian testing, with minimal changes, but releases on a strict calendar-based schedule, would be just about perfect.

    I’ll throw this out there: if it were me I’d release annually, not biannually. Personally, upgrading every 6 months feels like too much, and I’ve never noticed problems using 12-month old packages. Annual releases would really simplify version numbering. You could just use the year. Tanglu 2013, Tanglu 2014, etc.

  23. Please, please have a look on LMDE which has quite similar goals. Nobody wins at all if efforts is spread all over different place. Neither regarding Desktop Environments nor Linux Distributions.

    Regarding the other aspects: Debian definitely misses a faster release flavour aimed for Desktops. And Ubuntu starts to drift of into a direction which makes clear, how important the role of Debian is.

  24. As long as you copy all packages from Debian… I’m not going to have the time to submit my software to yet another Debian fork, and the availability of all of Debian is a *must*.

    I know *buntu, who had all Debian software available, and Univention Corporate Server, who didn’t – until UCS version 3, which contains *all* Debian packages, by requests so popular they could not ignore it.

  25. How closely will you cooperate with the Debian KDE maintainers? I hope the story of Kubuntu will not be repeated, where lots of KDE packaging work is duplicated between Kubuntu and Debian.

  26. Yet an other Linux distro…

    You answer the question to “Why not contribute to Debian?”, but to me the solution you choose to this problem is wrong.

    Why not create a external repository with all your changes while keeping the rest of the packages from the Debian repositories? Why create a yet an other distribution when you love Debian that much?

    That way someone could easily switch to your “Debian mod” just by adding a repository to his Debian “vanilla”.

    Please, do not create more fragmentation, now that the desktop industry is trying to step into the Linux world (Steam), it is time to regroup!

  27. I’m wondering if I can just add Tanglu repositories on my Debian/Sid and get fresh “on the edge” packages just like I do with qt-kde.debian.net or siduction. Best luck on the project.

  28. You should consider giving CUT (http://cut.debian.net/) a look. It has similar goals to what you have.

    You should collaborate with CUT, probably also influence the CUT roadmap to accommodate your needs, and sync your efforts.

    CUT *is* a sub-project of Debian and will inherit all the updates. This will help you. A Hodge-podge of versions from different streams is just asking for headache during software integration.

    If CUT doesn’t work out, this plan looks good too. 🙂
    All the best.

  29. Looks interesting. I used Mepis 8 in 2011 and liked it but the packages were VERY old. Now I am on Mepis 11 which has newer packages but is VERY buggy compared to 8. The killer is that despite repeated attempts and emails I cannot join the Mepis community so there is no path for reporting or resolving bugs. Waht I want is a desktop (rather than server) oriented Debian. I am also hoping for a usable interface. The curent crop of low-contrast wobbly interfaces are better for wowing newcomers than for using every day.

  30. Good idea! I plan to keep an eye on this.

    And you have a great opportunity for an icon, if you can just figure out what a tangerine igloo would look like!

  31. After too many comments on the “name!” Here is some more …

    What’s in a name? That which you call a Rose (Tanglu) shall by any other name smell as sweet!
    William Shakespeare


    1. Yep! You are right, the distro will work regardless how it is called! Just like a rose smells sweet regardless how I call it.
      But we were talking about Marketing. The question is: how many people will ever taste the sweet smell? That is what our concerns are about…


  32. Since you will support Gnome, you have a devoted and hopeful fan. Unlike most, I’m not a fan of KDE, mostly because I really need Evolution. Other than that one caveat, it sounds like a “dream come true” or “soon to become true” for me. It’s what I’ve been hoping for with each new release. I wish you and you team all the best and look forward to it.

  33. I would definitely not favor MATE! It does not support Evolution, in any of it’s implementations. Many say it does but in no implemenatation does it FULLY support all of its’ functions!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.