Cutefish OS

by Moss Bliss

This is a review which was judged to be too incomplete to include in Distrohoppers’ Digest podcast. Cutefish OS is created by the developers of Cutefish Desktop, which has already been released on Manjaro Linux. It is based on Ubuntu core.

I installed this on my Lenovo ThinkPad T540p. Somewhere I saw it listed as a 0.4 beta? Beta is not mentioned anywhere on the system after installation.

I didn’t notice the installer button on the bottom dock even though I looked for it. So I opened the launcher. Install Cutefish was finally found in the launcher, out of alphabetical order. It launches a flawed version of Calamares, which, when you try to replace a partition, attempts to create two partitions in the same space and write to one of them. This is an old problem that is long since been fixed. I chose to go ahead and use the whole disk.

This is an interesting distro, which uses BTRFS on Ubuntu core.

The dock at the bottom shows the launcher, Firefox, calculator, unnamed file manager, settings, unnamed terminal, Kate, muon package manager, cutefish installer, and trash

I finished the installation, obeyed the instruction to remove the installation medium and press enter. It then rebooted.

The desktop is reasonably well designed, with a taskbar at the top which includes Bluetooth, cutefish-gxkb, a widget which includes volume, battery level, and battery percentage, and time. The dock is the same as before, minus the install icon. Installation did not pass my Wi-Fi password to the installed system. The installed screen resolution is 1368, which is what I prefer.

There is a choice of light or dark theme and a choice between 6 accent colors. You have a choice of six backgrounds. You can move the dock to left bottom or right, default is bottom. There are other options to size the font or hide the dock. There are several other very simplified options, including an inability to switch to a 24-hour clock or to modify your power settings beyond two options available.

The kernel is 5.11.0-31 generic
Firefox is 91.0.2

Calculator remains unnamed, as does the file manager and terminal. The terminal is so transparent that it’s hard to see and default text is very tiny.

Updates using Muon package manager went fairly quickly but I was left quite confused as to what actually updated. It seemed to be crammed in using the default size. Expanding it seemed to help a bit. According to the launcher there were 34 icons available to launch, some of which are standard plasma apps but not many. Discord is included by default as is telegram. One of the buttons says Cutefish Full Upgrade, I thought I had already done that. I pressed it to double check and it’s downloading 301 more packages.

As installed, it does not include an office package. I’m wondering if it will throw that in to the upgrade. It is upgraded in the kernel slightly to 5.11.0-37. there are some Wayland upgrades and several plasma libraries. The upgrade took a very long time, at least subjectively, as one would expect from 301 package downloads and installations.

I confirmed that there was still no office package installed after the upgrades, or at least there was not one showing on the launcher. It does, however, include a program called catdoc, which claims to be able to extract text from MS Office files.

Some unusual choices in software are made, though not necessarily unwelcome ones. It continues to use systemd, as one would expect from a system based on Ubuntu. All audio sources are handled by pipewire, not pulseaudio although that appears to be included. Muon appears to be similar in scope and presentation to Synaptic; at this stage in my use, I prefer Synaptic. After the updates, I removed Transmission for no good reason, and I noted that my launcher now only lists 27 icons.

If you like the options presented then you will probably like the system. If you find them few and limiting, you might contact the devs to see if they would add more.

There does not appear to be a setting to turn off my touchpad. Also I just discovered that the updates did not include updating Discord to the current version. I could not get either the archiver or qapt to install the new version, so I opened the terminal and installed gDebi, grabbing neofetch and Ubuntu restricted extras while I was at it. After using gdebi to install discord, I found the icon is still opening the old version. And for whatever reason, I no longer have the downloaded package. I downloaded again, saved it, and ran gDebi from terminal, which worked.

I’m also not finding a workspace switcher, everything just piles on top of each other.

I also went into shut it down and decided to turn down the brightness. The system locked up for about 2 minutes and then told me I needed to authenticate it with my password but would not allow me to enter the password in the field provided. I must say, I’ve never had to enter my password before just to turn down my brightness. The system appears to remain locked at that level. After a few more minutes of waiting I did a cold reboot. When I rebooted I went straight to the brightness turned it down. I did not get prompted for a password for another 2 minutes. Same thing happened, no way to continue.

As I could not close this down without holding down the power button, I decided it was not ready for prime time and withheld my review from Distrohoppers’ Digest.

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