Q&A

These are answers to some of the most common questions we are asked.

Project Questions

How did Adélie start? (or: What is the history of Adélie?)

Adélie Linux started with a group of Linux users, developers, and sysadmins that wanted to harness the technical power of the Gentoo Linux distribution, combined with the APK binary package manager. Portage's binpkg format has multiple issues, and keeping similar configurations across multiple systems and multiple architectures becomes quickly overwhelming.

A. Wilcox (awilfox), Elizabeth Myers (Elizafox), and Horst Burkhardt (mc680x0) started Foxtoo, a short-lived project that intended to bring better musl support, and APK packaging support, to Gentoo Portage. Part of this work was derived from blueness' gentoo-musl overlay, and some of that early work is still visible.

After a while, it was determined that it would be easier to create a fork of Gentoo, instead of simply using an overlay. The work on creating a full fork of Gentoo was called Adélie, after the closest living cousin of the Gentoo penguin, the Adélie penguin (both members of the Pygoscelis genus of penguins).

Although the project was able to progress, including integrating Portage with APK, there were many long-standing integration bugs. This, combined with friction within the Gentoo community, caused the Adélie Linux system to search for a different basis. The Adélie Linux system ended up moving from the Gentoo Portage build system to the abuild system, which is also used by Alpine Linux and postmarketOS.

Moving to the abuild system allowed the project to iterate faster, which allowed us to support more types of computers. Furthermore, contributors found APKBUILD files to be easier to write than ebuild files, which helped the community grow to where it is today.

Is Adélie related to Alpine? (or: Is Adélie a fork of Alpine?)

We are not related to the Alpine Linux distribution, though we are using the same APK package manager. We have a focus on POSIX conformance, desktop software, stability, reliability, and long-term support that Alpine Linux does not.

We are not a 'fork' of Alpine and we have virtually no shared code beyond the package manager. Alpine Linux, as a distribution, is focused primarily on containers and server systems. While Adélie should be fully usable on such systems, it is not a core focus of Adélie, and therefore we naturally make different choices on how we build our software packages. In addition, Alpine releases are made twice yearly and supported for two years. Adélie releases are made every 18 months, and are supported for three years. This influences what versions of software we ship compared to Alpine.

For just a few differences between Alpine and Adélie:

  • We provide coreutils instead of BusyBox. User experience and ease-of-use are our highest goals.
  • We provide OpenSSL instead of LibreSSL. This ensures that we remain compatible with upstreams such as Qt and OpenLDAP, provide a usable and stable experience on 32-bit architectures, support important standards such as FIPS, and more.
  • We provide Qt 5.9 LTS and Firefox ESR instead of the newer, less stable releases.

As such, we are a different distribution from Alpine. We have contributed to apk-tools in the past, but that is the extent of our involvement with the Alpine Linux distribution.

How does the Adélie Linux project operate?
The project relies on contributions from users and sponsors. We have no venture capital or private investors; this ensures that we are able to put the needs of our community first.

Technical Questions

What package manager does Adélie use? (or: Why use APK?)

The Adélie Linux system uses the APK package manager. APK was chosen because it is very fast, and its dependency resolver is one of the more performant and efficient available for Linux. It is also more compact and easier to manipulate than RPMs. APK fits very well with the goals of Adélie; lightweight, libre, and portable.

What platforms does Adélie Linux support?

The Adélie Linux system fully supports five major CPU architectures: 32-bit and 64-bit PowerPC, 64-bit ARM (AArch64), and 32-bit and 64-bit Intel x86. Limited support is available for 32-bit ARM computers. More information about our supported platforms and rationales is available at the Platform Group's main page.

Why support non-x86_64?

This question is asked with alarming frequency. The world is not built entirely on x86. Plus, as stated above, one of our tenets is bringing libre software to all people, including to those who own computers that are not the "latest and greatest". Most of these systems are still entirely useable under Linux; the only thing preventing them from running modern software is the lack of anyone stepping up and packaging for them.

When will SPARC64 be supported? (or: Is SPARC64 on the roadmap? Will you accept SPARC64 contributions?)

We are very interested in a port of Adélie to the SPARC processor. We are currently porting the musl libc to SPARC. Assistance with this porting effort is gladly accepted; you can contact the porting mailing list or our IRC channel for more information. We hope to have a SPARC64 release available for Adélie Linux 2.0.

What about (RISC-V, Alpha AXP, PA-RISC, other CPUs that the Linux kernel supports)?

We would be interested in almost any CPU type that Linux supports. Before we can run on such a CPU, though, the musl libc must be ported to it. Once the musl libc is ported, you can follow our official Porting Guide, which will help you add your CPU of choice as a Tier 3 port of the Adélie Linux system. Once a functional, self-hosting system exists that can itself build (at least) the system repository, the port can be evaluated and may be upgraded to Tier 2. For more information about tiers and ports, see the Platform Group's project page.