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1. What is Laclin?

Laclin is an unusual Linux distro that's been under de­vel­op­ment since 1995.

The distro is original. It uses patches from a dozen distros, but it's very dif­fer­ent from most and is descended from none.

This web­site is hosted on a Laclin box. We've been eating our own dogfood since the start. Woof.

The distro can be used to drive a super-light but powerful (and systemd-free) server box.

The main Laclin dedi box runs a Github clone (gitea) with 7,500 repos, half a dozen web­sites (nginx), IRC (ngircd), a dozen game worlds, and a replacement for Twitter (Pleroma).

The static web­sites are writ­ten in Haggis, Laclin's own sim­ple but use­ful website markup language. Haggis produces sites that are mobile responsive but don't need JavaScript except for special purposes.

You may notice responsive hyphenation on some pages. It's handled by word-breaks that Haggis inserts automatically.

The source code will start to appear online here over the next few years.

Many pieces will be use­ful to CLI developers regard­less of distro. In short, you don't need to down­load or run Laclin. You can learn from the developer's mistakes and crib scripts, patches, and data.

2. Who is Laclin for?

If you're a Linux CLI de­vel­op­er;
If you don't understand why heavy and sluggish desktops are common;
If you enjoy light-weight games;
If you remember Sun workstations;
If you consider systemd to be the work of the Devil;
If you're aghast at the modern focus on doing away with reproducible builds;

and you like the idea of a shirt-pocket toy stuffed with a terabyte of de­vel­op­ment tools, games, source code, and data;

Laclin might be for you.

3. Who is behind Laclin?

As of this writing, Laclin is a single-person Linux distro that has existed for about 25 years. It is OldCoder's (Robert Kiraly's) most foolish endeavor in a lifetime.

OldCoder hopes primarily to finish the SSD version and some books to add to it, to send physical copies out, and to have the use­ful content outlive him in a Rudy Rucker Lifebox sense.

4. Some details.

Laclin runs on a pocket-size USB3 SSD. Put it in a pocket and forget about it until you need it. Then plug the SSD into a ran­dom PC or laptop and boot from USB3. The existing hard disk and OS aren't affected.

It needs to be a PC or laptop that supports boot from USB3. This rules out some netbooks. BIOS Setup may be required.

The distro is large: Wikipedia (about 150GB unpacked), the FreeDB CD music database (1GB), and Flight Gear (including 24GB of maps) are built in. Just for fun, there's a 4GB CPAN mirror as well.

Laclin also comes with copies of Debian, Fedora, Arch Linux, Slackware, and other stand­ard distros. Including toolchains. Need to do a Linux port? The porting center is in your pocket.

Laclin is interesting in other respects:

* The distro is light despite its size. The desktop is “jwm”. You can't get much lighter than that.

* We've made fixes to old programs and added new features in some cases. You'll find maintained packages here that are orphaned elsewhere.

* There are a few unique tools. The unique tools will be released separately as individual FOSS projects.

* A number of web­sites and/or books are in­clud­ed. Wikipedia is one example.

* User data is stored in an encrypted filesystem. If you lose the SSD, you'll know, at least, that nobody else can get at the data.

* The distro is packed with dozens of lightweight games. Including, for the chess inclined, 11 chess engines.

* There are no added pieces to down­load. Not even the source code. Everything, including gigabytes of source code, comes on the one pocket-size SSD.

Disclaimer: We don't provide the source code for the bundled third-party distros.

* In the same vein, Laclin has a strong focus on reproducible offline builds. This means that we're at odds with the modern trend towards reliance on cloud-based package repos such as CPAN and Ruby Gems.

We've invested effort to make nearly all packages rebuildable offline. There are just a few exceptions. One example is Docker, which can't be built offline without the assis­tance of Lovecraft-ian entities.

So, Laclin is a novel and use­ful toy. However, the distro isn't stand­ard or polished.

Most Linux users should use one of the major distros. We recommend Debian for VPSes, Debian or CentOS for corporations, and Linux Mint for former Windows users.

Plus, Laclin is too large to down­load in its entirety. Some components will need to be torrent-only. There's no choice; they're as large as 80GB each.

One option is that we could dis­tri­bute the distro on preloaded SSDs. But nobody is going to want to pay for the devices.

Most importantly, Laclin isn't stand­ard. It has its own way of doing things. Changes such as gcc or glibc updates, for example, are documented but tricky.

The bottom line is that this distro is mostly for experienced CLI developers who happen to like the unusual features that it offers.

We figure that there are a few dozen such people out there. But most won't happen across this page.

So, realistically, Laclin is performance art. Somebody spent 25 years on something that might never be seen.

But there's more to it. If we share everything, people will find some parts use­ful.

Additionally, we can highlight our versions of some of the more rare and unusual programs involved and try to provide port­a­ble build instructions for them.

Finally, as part of this, we can write about FOSS, individual programs, and the process of assembling a distro.

This site will aim for these goals.

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