FAQs: About the Project
- What is the primary goal of Ark Linux?
- What can Ark Linux do for me?
- Can I keep running my Windows applications and games?
- How is Ark Linux different from all the other Linux distributions out there?
- What distro is Ark Linux based on?
- Why does Ark Linux use KDE for it's GUI?
- I hear Ark Linux is Free Software, yet I see sites like OSDisc and Linux CD charging for Ark Linux. How can they do this if it's Free, and aren't they stealing your work?
- Why don't you charge for it to help cover costs?
- Why does Ark Linux use RPM and APT as package managers? Why not dpkg or yum or smart or....?
- What type of release cycle does Ark Linux use?
- What license(s) does Ark Linux use?
What is the primary goal of Ark Linux?
Ark Linux wants to create an easy-to-use operating system entirely of Free Software as described by http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html. Our core installation is comprised entirely of Free Software, though we include Proprietary Drivers and other Proprietary Software in our unsupported Contrib repository.
What can Ark Linux do for me?
Ark Linux is a complete operating system (a replacement for systems like Microsoft Windows). It contains much more functionality than many other operating systems, though: Ark Linux comes with a complete office suite, a media player that handles almost all formats, a photo editor, CD/DVD burning software, and more. A lot of extra software is included in our online software repositories.
For developers and more advanced users, it provides a more sane development environment via the various libraries and compilers available in our repository, and you may download the most common ones (including g++ from the GNU Compiler Collection and some of the other helpers and linkers) via the devel-core meta-package.
Can I keep running my Windows applications and games?
That's hard to say. That is because of the Windows emulator (called WINE) that Ark Linux includes. This is the only alternative to the Windows API (Application Programing Interface) we know of that is distributed for free and is Free Software. It is designed to allow the running of many Windows applications and games directly in Linux. Many applications and games are known to run in the emulator, while some others will not. To get an idea of what will work on the current version of WINE, you may visit WINE's AppDB or Franks Corner. However, it is entirely possible that what is listed as not working today may well work tomorrow -- the only way to know for sure is to try.
Ark Linux can also coexist with a Windows installation in a "dual boot" environment, with each on separate hard disk partitions or separate hard disks altogether; this allows you to choose which you want when you turn on your computer. If you don't want to dual boot, you may install a virtual machine, or fake computer that runs inside your real computer. Two popular options are VirtualBox and VMWare. You may download these for free and install Windows inside of these. Be careful though! Depending on whether or not your computer supports virtualization (allowing your computer to run 64bit software inside a virtual machine), you may or may not be able to install 64bit Windows. Also, you have to make sure your restrictive Windows license will allow it. Alternatively, you may install and run Ark Linux from inside a virtual machine, and keep Windows installed on your real hardware. While we do not encourage or support doing this (we don't encourage the use of any Proprietary Software due to licensing and general instability), it can be done.
How is Ark Linux different from all the other Linux distributions out there?
Linux is traditionally a server and hobbyist operating system -- unlike most other Linux distributions, Ark Linux has been designed from the start with normal people with little or no computer experience in mind. It is not based on any distribution intended for servers or for those who have used UNIX-like operating systems for ages. We focus on giving the user one tool to do the job - in a default installation, you won't find 3 different desktop environments (a GUI), 50 different text editors and 5 different browsers. Unlike some other distributions meant for normal people, however, we do not remove power user functionality -- if someone WANTS to use a command line or compile software, we let him.
What distro is Ark Linux based on?
None. Ark Linux was originally based off of Red Hat because our head developer used to work for Red Hat; however, Ark Linux developed into it's own thing and veered off entirely from Red Hat. We no longer use any Red Hat code.
Why does Ark Linux use KDE for it's GUI?
KDE is easy to use and configurable enough to make it possible for people switching from Windows and people switching from Mac OS to feel at home. And while not relevant to normal users, KDE also provides a very nice programming interface for developers; this enables KDE to make progress much faster than it's competition.
I hear Ark Linux is Free Software, yet I see sites like OSDisc and Linux CD charging for Ark Linux. How can they do this if it's Free, and aren't they stealing your work?
When we speak of Free Software, we are referring to Freedom in much the same way that someone saying "Free Speech" is referring to Freedom. One of the Freedoms is the Freedom to distribute Free Software and charge for it, if you want to. We choose to allow this Freedom because a lot of people in the world can't afford (or just don't have) high-speed Internet connections, and it would take a very long time to download Ark Linux on a dialup connection. CDs are cheap nowadays, so most people can afford them.
Why don't you charge for it to help cover costs?
Different people on our team will likely give you different answers. It mostly boils down to this: We want to encourage people to give Linux a try, and provided that most people will be cautious about spending their money on something they aren't familiar with, we want to provide it for free. In addition, we don't want to resemble certain other companies that charge for software that hardly works, so we do everything within our power to provide software that actually works free of cost.
Why does Ark Linux use RPM and APT as package managers? Why not dpkg or yum or smart or....?
RPM and dpkg are both good package managers. From a user perspective, there is no big difference between them. We chose RPM because it is much easier to learn on the packager side -- anyone who has learned the basics of a command line interface can build RPM packages.
As for the more advanced packaging tools, we pick APT (specifically, the APT-RPM port of APT) over yum and smart because it is compiled: The others require an interpreter (Python) to run. This is not a problem for normal, everyday use -- but for tools that are important for system recovery, we must assume that they will be run on a damaged installation, where Python may not be running anymore. If you break your C or C++ libraries (the libraries that allow you to run programs written in C or C++), your system is too broken for recovery, whereas Python is not required for normal system operation. There are two compiled advanced packaging tools (APT and Zypper) that support RPM4 (the version of RPM in 2008.1 and older), but we wanted to try and remain as independent as possible from other distributions, where Zypper is from openSuSE.
For those who do not feel comfortable with a command line, we use Kynaptic. Kynaptic is a rewrite of Synaptic for KDE. While it does not have much of the functionality of Synaptic, our goal is to provide a clean, simple interface for new users. Most new users do like Synaptic, but many still find it rather confusing and "too much".
For our next release, we will be upgrading to a new version of RPM which has changed quite a bit of the API (Application Programming Interface, basically the stuff in the background that allows people to easily write a program in a certain way); APT-RPM seems largely unwilling to update, so with the help of openSuSE we have ported their Zypper command line utility to RPM5. While we did want to remain independent from other distros, we have decided that it is more important to provide a working distro.
We are currently trying to decide what to use for people who are not comfortable with the command line. We can't use Kynaptic or Synaptic because they only work with APT. If you would like to make a suggestion (preferrably something that uses the Qt API for it's graphical interface), feel free to make a suggestion to us in our forum, by email (firstname.lastname@example.org, or on our IRC channel (chat.freenode.net channel #arklinux).
What type of release cycle does Ark Linux use?
We are based primarily on a megafrozen release cycle, meaning that with each release, we "freeze" the stable software repositories (called dockyard) and don't make any changes to it. If there is a need to provide an update to dockyard, we will make the update as soon as possible. We do, however, try to avoid updating stable until our next release because we feel that updates have a good possibility to ruin the stability and quality of each release
We provide our updates to our test repositories (called dockyard-devel). We put dockyard-devel through a rigorous QA process to ensure that each release will be a stable and high-quality release.
The first level of test is pre-alpha, which starts after making a stable release. This is when we first start updating dockyard-devel. Alpha starts when dockyard-devel will install and will be somewhat usable, but could have a lot of serious issues. Several alpha releases may occur until the major issues are sorted out; once these are done, we will start the beta phase. Beta releases are used to indicate that we are concentrating on the smaller, less serious bugs. Once we think we might have a good release, we will enter the Release Candidate (RC) stage. We will always have at least one RC, though we may have several. Each RC allows us to collect final thoughts from our users to see if they can find any other bugs or suggest any other improvements. After the feedback stops coming in for a reasonable amount of time, we will make a stable release.
What license(s) does Ark Linux use?
We use the GNU General Public License version 2 (abbreviated GNU GPLv2) for our own custom software. Additional software may have their own licenses. None of the software we include (save for those in our unsupported Contrib repository) has a Proprietary License.
The GNU GPLv2 is found at http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/gpl-2.0.html. We do not use GPLv3 because they have added several clauses that seem to allow Proprietary Software, and we do not want our operating system to be used as Proprietary.
You may visit the sites of the individual pieces of software we include to find out about their licenses.