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EasyOS version 3.4 released

February 13, 2022 — BarryK

Forum feedback has identified some serious problems with the new UI. I have some clues what the causes are, and will need a couple of days to work on it. So pleased don't install or update to 3.4, wait for 3.4.1.
By all means though, read this blog post to find out what to anticipate...

Version 3.4 marks a radical departure from the desktop User Interface (UI) of EasyOS, Quirky and Puppy, right back to the first puppies in 2003. They all have icons on the desktop, since around mid-2005 managed by ROX_Filer -- ROX is not just a file manager, it is also capable of managing desktop icons and wallpaper. ROX-Filer has served us well over the years, in company with the JWM window manager -- the latter managing windows, the system-tray and the menu.

There have been some puppies based on other desktop managers, such as XFCE, however, most of the mainline official pups have been based on the ROX-JWM combo.

For some time I have thought about reducing ROX-Filer to just a file manager. Also, have wondered how the UI could be implemented without desktop icons. EasyOS has desktop icons to launch apps, containers, and mount/unmount drive partitions. If they are eliminated, it means that all of that functionality would have to move into the system tray (or trays).

Which brings us to EasyOS 3.4, in which everything has moved into a JWM tray, and the screen is now almost one big wallpaper. Here it is:

img1 do need to be prepared to have your eyes assaulted when you see this on a large screen!

Note, if you want a more soothing wallpaper, go to the menu "Desktop -> Qwallpaper" and there is a nice nature scene with a lighthouse. Note, the wallpaper is now rendered by JWM.

Notice the lack of text, just icons. But the text is there, as tooltips when you mouse-over.

The left-most icon is the usual app menu, next to it is the partitions menu, next to that is the containers menu. These menus can also be popped-up anywhere on the screen by right-click, middle-button-click and scroll-up.

Lots of explanation isn't necessary, just play with it and you will quickly get the hang of using it. My own assessment is that it works. At first, I had doubts that it would be as convenient as desktop icons, but after a few days, have got to like it.

One usability feature, if you plug-in a drive, like a USB-stick, the partitions menu automatically pops up, so you get that visual feedback, like before with the new desktop partition icons appearing when a drive is plugged in.

But, after playing with it, you decide that you would prefer the desktop icons, very simple, edit file /etc/uimanager:

UI_DESK_MANAGER='jwm' #or rox

...change the variable to "rox", then restart Xorg, via the menu "Shutdown -> Rectify -> Restart X server"

The last release announcement on Distrowatch is version 3.2:

Some highlights since then have been the inclusion of Pitivi video editor, builtin to the .img.gz file, and both Firefox and SeaMonkey web browsers builtin. With most Linux distributions, this would result in an enormous download file; however, most packages in EasyOS are compiled from source, avoiding unnecessary bloat. The download .img.gz file is currently 616MB.

As always, that 616MB has a package collection that can be described as "includes the kitchen sink". LibreOffice, Inkscape, Celluloid, Gimp, Gparted, SolveSpace, Dia, Planner and HomeBank are some of the big apps included.

There have been many infrastructure changes, such as a complete recompile in OpenEmbedded, now Dunfell "revision 7". And of course package version bumps and lots of little fixes and enhancements.

Read the complete release notes:

One point to note is that the kernel is still on 5.10.90. Version 5.10.94 was broken, and I still had problems with 5.10.99. Yesterday I received advice that the 5.10.93 kernel is OK and things got broken with 5.10.94, but haven't tried it.

Download English, French and German builds from here:

If you live in or near Europe, this is close mirror, thanks to NLUUG:

Some notes, if you need help, such as how to write the .img.gz file to a USB-stick:

Feedback is welcome at the forum:

Are there any issues? If you find any, please report to the forum -- not just me, there are a bunch of guys who are very helpful.

One issue that I know about is that in icon-free-desktop mode, the wallpaper doesn't render properly on non-widescreen monitors, either distorted or not filling the screen. Will get onto that soon.

If you already have EasyOS installed, then of course updating is very simple; just click on the "update" icon -- after update to 3.4 that "update" icon will still be there, in the systray. I successfully updated from 3.1.11, no problems at all.

All of the documentation is still about icons on the desktop, and it will take awhile to rewrite.

Give the new UI a go. I am very interested to know how you feel about its usability, compared with desktop icons.  

And a final note, the qualification that EasyOS remains an experimental distribution. This radical UI change is just the latest manifestation of the long list of experiments that constitute EasyOS. You can read about some of these here:

There is now a thread on the forum specifically for discussing the 3.4 release:

If you would like to play around with the theme, see this post:   

Tags: easy