Blooming dahlia. Testing Dahlia OS

About a month ago I

conducted an experiment

with the CloudReady cloud operating system installed on an old subnotebook. The experience on the whole can be called successful, but I was a little strained by the fact that this platform is entirely built around the Chromium browser, and the recommended software is mainly web applications. And in the comments, readers were advised to try an OS called Dahlia. Well, you don’t need to beg me twice: download Dakhliya! The patient is still the same: Acer Aspire One with 1 GB of RAM and a 120 GB Chinese SSD.

Dahlia OS is based on another open source operating system called Fuchsia, which was developed by Google Corporation. Unlike Chromium OS and even Android, Fuchsia is based not on the Linux kernel, but on the original Zircon kernel. The code for this platform was first published publicly on GitHub in August 2016. In 2018, Google posted instructions on how to install Fuchsia on its own Pixelbook laptops on the Internet, and in 2019, at the annual Google I / O developer conference, Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google’s senior vice president for Chrome and Android, called Fuchsia “one of Google’s experiments. on New Concepts of Operating Systems “. Fuchsia’s GUIs and apps are built with Flutter, a Google-backed cross-platform development tool for Android, iOS, and web apps.

There are two versions Dahlia OS – one compiled from Fuchsia sources with Zircon core. It allows you to run Flutter applications, as well as some Linux programs using containers. The second is based on the Linux kernel, but has the same user interface – Pangolin Desktop. I could not find my Acer Aspire One in the list of supported devices, in addition, in the documentation, I found a mention that the system requires at least a dual-core processor and 2 Gigabytes of RAM, so I decided to download and install the system at my own peril and risk – maybe it will work.

The legacy version of Dahlia OS distribution kit “weighs” only 164 MB and is a traditional .ISO file that can be deployed to a bootable USB flash drive using, for example, Rufus. The first attempt to start my Acer Aspire One with it immediately ended in kernel panic, only by inserting a 2 GB memory strip, temporarily borrowed from another laptop, into the machine, I was able to move forward. However, the second and all subsequent attempts successfully ended with a system crash immediately after the graphical interface was launched. After forty minutes of continuous torment, I decided to spit on real hardware and test the dahlia at least on a virtual machine.

Having booted from a flash drive, we find ourselves in the Dahlia graphical interface, which is very similar to that in CloudReady. The same “taskbar” with application icons, the same clock, the power and battery indicator on the right side, and the system menu button on the left.

When opening the settings window, Dahlia OS immediately warns us that we are using a pre-release build, so some of its functions may not be available. This is quite funny, because I downloaded the distribution kit by clicking on the Download button in the Latest section of the official website of the system, and without exception, all links in the Older updates section led to a 404 page.

The warning turned out to be not in vain: when trying to select a good half of the options, the system reports that this function is not available in the current version of Pangolin Desktop, and sends the user to Reddit for additional information (well, well, not to Dvach).

The OS settings turned out to be rather meager: Dahlia OS did not allow me to change the default screen resolution, and in fact all I could do in the settings window was to adjust the speaker volume. It also failed to add a new keyboard layout: the Russian language is in the list, but an attempt to select it in the settings does not lead to any visible changes. Among other things, more than half of the tabs in the Settings window look like this:

But among the available languages ​​of the user interface, Russian was unexpectedly found – it can be turned on by opening the menu on the right side of the “taskbar” and sequentially clicking on the button with the image of the globe. True, localization concerns only this very menu: the language of the applications remains English.

The default programs include a calculator, a primitive text editor in which not a single toolbar button works, a terminal, a file manager and a browser, which, as expected, also does not work.

The most interesting thing is that after breaking all the Dahlia OS settings, I never found any way to install the system on a hard drive. How does the installation start? For a clue, I turned to Dvach Reddit, where he found an exhaustive answer from the developers a year ago: “We don’t officially support installation yet, because the system is deep in development“. That is, it is simply impossible to install Dahlia OS on a computer, since the system is still under development, use Live USB.

However, installation on a hard drive is generally not needed. After running Dahlia OS for a couple of hours, I came to a disappointing conclusion: it is still a very crude, unfinished system, which in terms of its level does not even reach beta. It is completely impossible to use it as a full-fledged OS – it consists half of stubs, and what has already been implemented does not function normally anyway.

Will Dahlia OS be able to turn into a full-fledged system for everyday work, when (if) it is still finished at least to the state of beta? It’s hard to say, because I personally don’t see her market niche. For personal computers and laptops, there are stable Linux distributions with a rich assortment of software, for other devices Dahlia OS is unlikely to fit due to system requirements: at least a dual-core x86 processor and 2 GB of RAM. The project seems to be stillborn, although who knows – perhaps someone will find a worthy application for this system. Well, I still do not lose hope of choosing a fast and compact OS for the Acer Aspire One that can run fast on a machine with 1 GB of memory. Next in line is Q4OS with Trinity shell.

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