April 25 2019 - Viewing Single Post

Since 2015, I've used a semi-custom version of Debian that I affectionately referred to as "EDC". It uses a much lighter set of software than what is included with the standard Debian GNOME desktop installation and also includes several software and user interface tweaks and modifications that make Debian feel a lot more like a modern operating system.

I've always been a huge fan of Debian since I started using it on my PowerPC-based Mac Mini back in 2011. I grew to love APT, and grew to love the stable (yet, admittedly stale as well) software that Debian provided. At the time however, my main PC ran Arch Linux, as I preferred to have cutting-edge software. I would only seriously give Debian a shot in 2015, with the release of Jessie. There was a lot I liked about it right away, but I felt that things could be improved. I spent hours looking at the GNOME and Debian documentation to see how to adjust certain parts of the system to fix odd quirks or things that I just didn't like. At the time, all of my changes were done manually, but once I was done customizing it, I was left with what I wanted: a stable desktop without any of the quirks. It was, for my needs, almost perfect. But, the main issue at that point was if I needed to reinstall. I didn't want to have to go through all of that customization again. I started work on a Bash script called "EDC Bootstrap", which would configure the system automatically for me as I sat back and watched.

The bootstrap script took several days to get somewhat desirable results with Debian Jessie, but there were a lot of things that weren't perfect about it. It would take me weeks of rewriting the script, running it in a virtual machine, then going back to the drawing board. Eventually, I had a script that worked nearly flawlessly...

For myself, anyway. At the time, EDC was written to look for several of my computer's product names and install video drivers, wireless card firmware, etc. depending on what the product name returned. If there was a product name that the bootstrap script ran into but didn't have a "formula" for, it wouldn't know what to do. However, my main focus wasn't on making it compatible with more hardware. I was focused on getting the bootstrap script to work on the testing version of Debian, which would later become Stretch. By the time Stretch came out in 2017, I was able to upgrade all of my machines using the updated bootstrap script. It worked perfectly, and again I was left with a stable, yet modern desktop.

I took a break from EDC for about a year after Debian Stretch came out, but started work on it again in 2018 for Debian testing, which is set to become Buster this year. At this point, I wanted to really push what I could do with my bootstrap script. Once I got the bootstrap script working with Debian testing, I got to work on several key points: giving the desktop a new look, and allowing the script to find the correct software, drivers, firmware, etc. to install on any hardware; not just hardware that I owned. I also renamed this project to "Eridanus", as I'll be honest, I can't remember what "EDC" stood for originally.

I have put a lot of time and effort into Eridanus, and have recently thought about what the bootstrap script does and what I want out of a distribution: stable software, a non-quirky desktop that 'just works', and a light footprint with the option to add a wide variety of software. I don't believe I'll ever actually release Eridanus to the public... in it's current form. However, if I do make Eridanus public, I plan to do it correctly: by completely forking Debian. This isn't something that will happen today... or tomorrow, or even in a year or two, or possibly ever. But, I have had thoughts about forming a new distribution with the changes that the bootstrap script does to Debian.

Or, I may end up releasing the Eridanus bootstrapper to the public as it is. I don't know. Maybe if people want it?