Kuhnke International is pleased to announce the release of the initial version of Cascadia Linux for i386. Cascadia Linux is based on an Xubuntu 12.04 final release i386 build with numerous additional packages added to the default install. Cascadia comes standard with:
- Linux 3.2.0-24-generic-pae kernel for i386
- XFCE 4.8 desktop environment with both Thunar and Nautilus file managers
- Google Chrome
- Chromium (the development branch of Google Chrome)
- Midori (a lightweight web browser based on the WebKit rendering engine)
- Google Earth
- Skype and Ekiga
- The Remmina VNC/RDP remote desktop client and Teamviewer
- Libreoffice, Abiword, GIMP and Inkscape
- Thunderbird, Transmission, XChat, Pidgin and Filezilla
- The "ubuntu-restricted-extras" codec package which includes Flash
- VLC, Gnome mplayer, Audacity, Banshee, Brasero, Cheese, and other useful multimedia applications
- Wine, gparted, graphical disk map, and other useful system utilities
- Minicom and cutecom for communication with RS232 serial port devices
- 7zip, rar, unrar, sshfs, htop and ntpdate
- Approximately 300MB to 400MB of additional libraries required by the software listed above
Go to the 7zip archive download page (last build date: 2012-05-11) ->>
Go to the ISO image download page (last build date: 2012-05-11) ->>
Cascadia Linux follows several common sense design principles:
We don't believe that the current requirement from Canonical to fit the official Ubuntu (or Xubuntu, or Kubuntu) v12.04 distribution onto a 700MB CD-R is relevant for our purposes. The 700MB ISO size requirement is a worthy goal for a base system, but requires too many compromises to squeeze a "full" desktop environment into the available space. The vast majority of computers manufactured in the past ten years have at least DVD-ROM reading ability. Blank DVD-R discs are extremely affordable, and new DVD-R burners cost $17. For those who wish to avoid using fragile and unreliable spinning optical media, the vast majority of x86 computers manufactured post-2006 have the ability to boot from an ISO image written to a USB 2.0 flash drive. As of March 2012, 4GB USB 2.0 flash drives cost $4.99 USD each. Cascadia Linux can be written onto a USB 2.0 flash drive using the same process as a standard Ubuntu distribution.
Cascadia Linux has been specifically optimized for installation on computers in locations with highly restricted WAN bandwidth. Assume for a moment that your WAN downstream bandwidth is 96 kbps to 128 kbps with a latency of 500 ms or more. If you install a fresh system from a the base 700MB Xubuntu CD and then wish to install Libreoffice, Google Chrome, Google Earth, Skype, Gimp and other common applications with all of the required dependencies and libraries, it may require downloading as much as 500MB or 600MB of additional archives via apt-get. This is not feasible on highly bandwidth restricted WAN links such as small TDMA VSAT systems in Internet cafes located in developing nations.
Without a local apt cache, it is definitely not feasible to perform an installation using the same 700MB Ubuntu CD (again requiring the download of 500MB to 600MB of .deb files per PC) on multiple computers such as a twenty PC computer lab bottlenecked by a low bandwidth WAN connection. In many situations when working from the far end of a bandwidth constrained connection it is much faster to either manually sneakernet the .deb packages via some physical media to the installation location, or to install a system image such as Cascadia Linux which already has the most popular desktop software integrated into the installer.
Downloading a single-file 700MB ISO on a high latency, low bandwidth connection is frequently difficult or impossible due to packet loss and other connection reliability issues. In locations where the only Internet access available is by satellite, it's an unfortunate fact that $300 USD/month does not buy a very fast VSAT system, and the speed of such a high-latency (500 to 700ms ping) connection is further reduced when shared between four or more persons at a single location. Now imagine sharing the same high latency 96 to 128 kbps connection between fifty people or more at a small technical school or college located in the developing world. It's possible to download Linux ISOs by bittorrent, and bittorrent is indeed a very reliable method for incrementally downloading and automatically checksumming the final file, but many ISPs operating on highly bandwidth restricted connections also throttle bittorrent traffic or take steps to block it.
By distributing the installation ISO archived in a 7Zip LZMA compressed 100MB spanned archive, a user located on a high latency + low bandwidth Internet connection can slowly but methodically download individual pieces of the archive and verify their SHA1 checksums. When all of the pieces have been downloaded and verified, the archive can then be extracted and the ISO burned, written to a USB flash drive, or mounted in a virtual machine host environment. On high bandwidth connections, simultaneous http mirroring/download tools such as the Firefox plugin Downthemall or wget may be used to retrieve all of the 7Zip archives sequentially in approximately the same time that it would take to download a monolithic ISO.
Cascadia Linux is not intended to be a significant departure from the standard Xubuntu user interface, or a major change to the standard Ubuntu distribution. This is not intended to become a project like Linux Mint. Cascadia Linux is intended for both experienced users and Linux beginners. It uses the standard Ubiquity installer familiar to most current Ubuntu users, and does not depart from the Xubuntu standard base configuration. This project's intention is to prepackage a set of the most popular and useful desktop software together in a single ISO file, deliberately exceeding the 700MB size of the official Ubuntu distribution, yet remaining small enough to be written onto a commodity 2GB or 4GB USB flash drive.
Cascadia Linux is for people who want to follow the latest stable branch of the XFCE 4.8 desktop. It is not for people who wish to use a Gnome3 or Ubuntu Unity desktop environment. It is our belief that the task-based oversimplification of the Gnome3 UI is such a significant departure from traditional desktop environments that it has the effect of preventing experienced users from using their computers in the way they would like to, and confusing new users. In the wake of the introduction of Gnome3 and Unity, the growing popularity of forks of the Gnome2 project such as MATE and Cinnamon illustrate the controversial nature of these new UIs in the Linux community. It is our belief that the XFCE 4.8 desktop environment combined with pre-installed Gnome2/GTK libraries is close enough to a classic Gnome2 environment for common use, and will result in less user confusion overall.
XFCE 4.8 also operates with lower system requirements for 3D compositing and other features which result in a memory-hungry desktop as compared to Gnome3 or Ubuntu Unity. Cascadia Linux comes with several hundred megabytes of Gnome2/GTK libraries and KDE libraries which are not included in the base Xubuntu distribution. These libraries are provided as dependencies of certain Gnome and KDE desktop applications included with the Cascadia Linux distribution. They are included to save download time for persons operating on bandwidth restricted connections. However, it does not come with a Gnome2 or KDE desktop.
Like the Xubuntu 12.04 i386 distribution it is based on, Cascadia Linux runs reasonably well on older systems with single core processors and 512MB of RAM. It is significantly less resource hungry than the full Ubuntu 12.04 or Kubuntu 12.04 distributions. While 512MB is the generally accepted minimum for reasonable performance with multiple memory-hungry applications open simultaneously (Firefox + multiple tabs, Libreoffice, etc), it will run much better with 1GB of RAM or more. For systems with less than 512MB of RAM we recommend using Crunchbang Linux or a base distribution of Debian Wheezy+XFCE4.8. Fancy visual effects and Windows7-like transparency effects have not been configured in the default installation. It will also perform well in a 512MB RAM virtual machine guest environment inside VMware Workstation or Virtualbox v4.1.x.
Cascadia Linux is based on the desktop i386 distribution of Xubuntu. It is not intended for use on servers, although there's nothing in the default configuration which specifically prevents the installation of Apache, PHP, MySQL, etc. We recommend using the base command line only Ubuntu 12.04 i386 or AMD64 ISO for server installations.
Q) What format is Cascadia Linux distributed in?
A) The standard distribution uses a 100MB-spanned (multiple volume) LZMA compressed 7zip archive. See #2 and #3 above for more details. 7zip is used because it is a widely accepted GPL licenced archive format which can be created or extracted on all popular desktop platforms, and does not have the licence encumberance of RAR.
Q) How do I extract it?
A) Open the first file of the archive series, ending in ".7z.001" with your 7zip archiving software. You will see an index showing one large ISO file and two small MD5SUM and SHA1SUM files which are the verification checksums for the ISO file. Extract all three files into the same directory.
Q) How do I install it?
A) Standard installation instructions are exactly the same as any normal Ubuntu or Xubuntu distribution. Typically the ISO file will be written onto a blank DVD-R or DVD-RW disc, written to a blank USB 2.0 flash drive, or mounted as an ISO disk image file inside virtual machine host software.
Q) What extra software comes in Cascadia Linux that isn't in the base 700MB Xubuntu installation?
A) The following is a list of the major additions to the base. For a full list, use "dpkg_query -l" from the command line. Note that this list does not include numerous libraries which these programs are dependent upon.