Kongoni: A new Linux distro from Africa
We’ve had Ubuntu and Impi, now there is a new African-named Linux distribution. South African developers today announced the first cut of a new Linux distro which they are calling Kongoni. Named after the Shona word for the GNU, Kongoni has a strong BSD-Unix influence and includes a ports-like package management system. The underlying code is, however, based on Slackware and the makers are promising to keep the distribution free of proprietary software.
The initial “baseline” release of Kongoni is codenamed Aristotle and is more a base for future developments than an end-user-focused release. Lead developer AJ Venter says that the idea behind the baseline release “is to establish a common working platform for the further development of the system. A previous baseline release was made available only to current developers of the system while this second baseline is being made available to the public at large.”
He says that from this point on Kongoni will follow a more traditional release pattern with alpha, beta and stable releases.
“The baseline release is not intended for end-users except as a curiosity but rather for interested developers and GNU/Linux experts. It does not fully represent the ideas or unique features of kongoni, but instead a platform on which those ideas can be created.” Venter says that while the release is aimed at developers it is nevertheless fully installable and usable.
Technically, says Venter, Kongoni adopts a BSD ports-like approach to package management. “Ports represent a powerful way to distribute software as a set of tools that automatically fetch the sources of the program and then compile it locally,” he says. “This is more bandwidth friendly for users as source code is usually smaller than prebuilt packages. This benefit is particularly useful in Africa where bandwidth is expensive, and since Kongoni came from Africa this was a major concern.”
Ports also allow power-users to manage the compilation of applications, allowing them greater control over the performance and capabilities of the software, he says.
The core system includes a KDE 4.2 desktop as the default desktop manager but the system intended to be easy to remaster, says Venter. Users can easily build and replicate the system with their own preferred setups and desktops.
Venter says that Kongoni is intended to be a “truly free distribution” with strict Free Software Foundation compliance. He says that FSF chairman Richard Stallman was involved in the discussions that led to the foundation of the project and his input was sought on critical decisions to ensure the system really was free software.