Rolling Rhino offers a progressive version of Ubuntu Desktop

While Ubuntu Desktop hasn’t been my operating system of choice for quite some time (that honor goes to System76’s Pop!_OS), it has been for a very long time. To this day, I have the greatest respect for what Canonical does and has done for Linux on the desktop.

One thing, however, that tended to put me off was Ubuntu’s slowness in updating installed apps. For a very long time, Ubuntu lagged behind so many other distros with the release builds used for certain applications. Inevitably, I had to manually install the latest versions of apps like LibreOffice to get the latest versions.

As well: How to Install Ubuntu Linux (It’s Easy!)

Specifically, one problem was that every 6 months it was time for a new upgrade. And while Ubuntu is one of the most reliable operating systems for upgrades (I’ve rarely had an Ubuntu upgrade down south), it’s still a time-consuming process. and that can hamper your productivity during the process. And even though it only happened twice a year, if you wanted to stay on top of updates, it was a necessary evil.

This is one of the reasons streaming distros exist. A rolling Linux distro receives continuous package updates, so there are no major updates (e.g. you don’t upgrade from 21.10 to 22.04). A rolling distribution ensures that you always have the latest version of the software installed as soon as it is available. That doesn’t mean you’re running state-of-the-art beta apps on your desktop. Progressive release distributions run stable software, so you don’t have to worry about losing valuable work to unstable beta software.

Now that you have at least a superficial understanding of what a rolling release is, let me introduce you to a distro that turns Ubuntu Desktop into a rolling release. This distribution is called Rolling rhinoceros and the developers have strived to create a solid and reliable user desktop that adheres to the progressive release philosophy, via the friendly Ubuntu desktop.

Before I continue, I should make this caveat: I wouldn’t recommend a rolling distro to anyone new to Linux, even though most rolling distros are stable enough for everyday use. One of the reasons for this is that Rolling Rhino depends on two particular commands to keep it up to date:

Unlike the traditional Ubuntu desktop (which offers great graphical tools for upgrading), Rolling Rhino users will have to rely on the command line to ensure their systems are up to date. That’s not to say a new user can’t open a terminal and type one of these commands, but novice Linux users are better off sticking to GUI tools until they reach a some level of comfort with the operating system. Even then, most Ubuntu Desktop users could spend their entire lives with Linux and never type a single command.

With Rolling Rhino, you will need to open this terminal window from time to time.

Another great feature found in Rolling Rhino is the Arch User Repository (AUR)-like package manager, Pacstall. The developers have worked with Pacstall developers to make it possible to integrate this tool into Rolling Rhino. While it’s not something users will actually interact with, it works under the hood to bring the AUR experience to Ubuntu.

What does Rolling Rhino look like?

To be perfectly honest, unless you really know what you’re looking for, you’d think Rolling Rhino is just another (light) variation of Ubuntu Desktop. The installation is the same and the desktop (minus a bit of branding) is the same (Figure 1).

Figure 1

Rolling Rhino Linux Desktop

The Rolling Rhino desktop should look instantly familiar to anyone using Ubuntu.

Instead of using a pure GNOME desktop, Rolling Rhino maintains the same layout found in Ubuntu. Thus, you will find a side panel with the overviews of applications and activities. And since it’s based on GNOME 42, you get the highly productive horizontal workflow (Figure 2).

Figure 2

rollrhino2.jpg

GNOME 42’s horizontal workflow makes it easy to move applications to different workspaces.

In fact, aside from the progressive nature of Rolling Rhino, it looks a lot like a traditional Ubuntu desktop. For anyone who has experienced GNOME 42 (and the version of Ubuntu on this desktop), you understand how productive it is. Rolling Rhino is sleek, reliable, powerful, flexible, and doesn’t require you to migrate from version to version as they become available.

Given how similar Rolling Rhino is to Ubuntu, why bother? In a word, comfort. If you find yourself avoiding migrating from one version to another, but still want to install the latest and greatest software on your Ubuntu desktop, Rolling Rhino is a great option. And given that this Linux distro gives you the best of both worlds, it’s a serious win-win for so many users.

You can download a copy of Rolling Rhino here now and install it on bare metal or as a virtual machine and see if it could be your next Linux distro of choice.


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Steven L. Nielsen