BlendOS – The New Operating System Bringing Linux and macOS Together

BlendOS is an upcoming operating system that combines the best features of Linux and macOS into a single unified OS. BlendOS aims to provide an open-source, community-driven operating system that offers the usability and polish of macOS and the flexibility, customizability, and breadth of software offered by Linux distributions.

History and Development

blendOS is being developed by a team led by former Linux and macOS contributors who wanted to create an OS that blended the strengths of both platforms. Initial work on blendOS began in late 2021, with the goal of having early alpha builds available for testing in 2022.

The core of blendOS uses the Linux kernel, system components, and libraries from various open-source projects. On top of this, the blendOS team is building a desktop environment and applications that take inspiration from the design and workflow of macOS. This includes features like:

  • A dock for easily launching and switching between apps
  • Expose-like functionality for viewing all open windows
  • An elegant theme and UI with smooth animations
  • Deep integration between apps for seamless workflow
  • Driver support for Apple hardware like MacBooks

At the same time, blendOS retains the ability to access Linux software repositories like Debian’s apt and install thousands of open-source apps. Users can also access the Linux terminal and use common bash commands and utilities.

The blendOS project is being developed openly on GitHub. This allows community members to follow progress, provide feedback, contribute code changes, and assist with testing. The developers are committed to creating an OS tailored to the needs of its users.

Features and Capabilities

blendOS includes a combination of features from the Linux and macOS ecosystems. Some of the highlights include:

Desktop Environment

  • A custom desktop environment with a dock, global menu bar, system tray, and notifications
  • Expose-like overview for switching between windows
  • Customizable themes and UI layout options
  • Window management capabilities like tiling and snapping

Applications

  • Web browser based on WebKit
  • Email client with support for Exchange and IMAP accounts
  • Office suite with word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation apps
  • Media apps for photos, music, videos and podcasts
  • App store for easily finding and installing new software

File System and Storage

  • Uses Linux file systems with added support for macOS-style volume formatting
  • Time Machine-like backup capabilities for continuous backups to external drives
  • Support for iCloud Drive for syncing files across devices
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System Technologies

  • Based on Linux kernel (version 5.x or newer) for memory management, process scheduling, etc
  • System services managed by systemd init system
  • Uses Wayland display server protocol by default
  • Support for Apple’s Metal graphics API in addition to OpenGL

Hardware Support

  • Designed to work on standard PCs as well as Apple Macs
  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, audio, GPU and other device driver support
  • Power management for laptops, including sleep/wake

Security

  • Uses Linux user accounts system for file permissions and process isolation
  • Firewall enabled by default for protecting from network attacks
  • Sandboxing capabilities to limit app access and contain vulnerabilities

Customization

  • Ability to choose between stable releases or rolling release model
  • Access to the Terminal for command line usage and configuration
  • Support for third-party themes, docks, launchers, and extensions

blendOS aims to provide a polished and user-friendly desktop experience while offering the benefits of open-source software and the ability to customize the OS to suit your needs. The developers strive to balance an aesthetically pleasing UI, performance, stability, and many software options.

Benefits Of Traditional Operating Systems

There are several motivations behind the development of blendOS and potential benefits over existing operating systems.

For Linux users, blendOS offers an opportunity to have a more refined desktop experience without giving up the vast software selection and open ecosystem of Linux. Installing and managing software is streamlined via a centralized app store. And the advanced window management and multi-tasking capabilities make productivity easier.

For macOS users, blendOS provides an alternative that retains many of the macOS interface’s positive aspects while removing some drawbacks like vendor lock-in to Apple hardware and software ecosystems. blendOS enables using non-Apple hardware, having more OS customization options, and using thousands of additional open-source applications.

For all users, blendOS aims to combine the best of Linux and macOS into a single offering. Access to professional-quality apps for content creation, rock-solid system fundamentals, and development tools on top of an open-source platform provides a versatile environment suitable for many use cases.

The development approach being taken aims to learn from the mistakes and shortcomings of both existing OSes while combining their most successful attributes. If blendOS can achieve its aims, it has the potential to gain widespread adoption and provide a compelling alternative. However, it faces challenges in maturing the platform and ecosystem as a new operating system.

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Technical Details and Architecture

Under the hood, blendOS utilizes the Linux kernel and GNU coreutils and combines them with custom desktop environments and system components. Here are some key technical details about the blendOS architecture:

  • Kernel: Linux kernel (version 5.x or newer). Provides process management, memory management, device drivers, file system support, network stack, etc.
  • Init system: systemd for system and service management. Responsible for mounting file systems, starting services on boot, and dependency management.
  • Display server: Wayland display server protocol is the default for efficient graphic rendering. X11 server is also available for legacy app support.
  • Desktop environment: Custom desktop shell and components built using Gtk toolkit. Includes window manager, dock, system tray, settings pane, etc.
  • Window manager: Designed for high-performance rendering and smooth animations. Offers compositor for transparent effects, along with tiling and stacking capabilities.
  • File systems: Ext4 as the default file system, with added support for ZFS, Btrfs, XFS. Also implements a macOS-style volume format for external drives.
  • Package management: Supports Debian packages (.deb) and RPM packages using respective package managers (APT and DNF). Also includes a curated app store for simplified software installation.
  • Graphics stack: Mesa graphics drivers. Defaults to OpenGL but also adds support for Metal graphics API. Vulkan coming in a future update.
  • Audio stack: PulseAudio sound server manages audio routing and volume control. Codecs for MP3, AAC, ALAC, FLAC and more.
  • Security: Uses Linux user accounts and file permissions model. Firewall enabled by default, along with sandboxed containers for isolating processes. SELinux policies in development.

BlendOS aims to combine standard Linux components with enhanced UI/UX and polished apps to provide a complete desktop operating system that is open, capable, and pleasant to use.

Release Plans and Getting Involved

blendOS aims to have early alpha releases available in 2022 for testing purposes. This will allow adventurous users to try out blendOS on secondary systems and provide feedback to help steer ongoing development.

More stable beta releases are slated for 2023 and beyond, with an official 1.0 release planned once all major features are complete, and the OS is deemed production-ready. Releases will be available for standard PCs, Macs, and eventually other devices like the Raspberry Pi.

Ongoing development will happen openly via GitHub. Users can track progress, file bug reports, and contribute code changes through public repositories. The community also welcomes translations, documentation, testing, and other forms of contribution.

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You can get involved with blendOS via:

As an open-source project, community involvement will be key to helping realize the vision of an open, user-friendly desktop OS. Everyone is invited to get involved!

Summary of Key Facts

blendOS offers an exciting vision of a polished, beginner-friendly OS paired with total open-source freedom. Here are some key facts about blendOS:

  • Combines the front-end usability of macOS with the openness of Linux
  • Based on Linux kernel, GNU coreutils, and other open-source technologies
  • Developed by a team of former Linux and macOS contributors
  • Backed by several prominent open-source companies/foundations
  • Custom desktop environment with dock, system tray, and global menu
  • Terminal access for Linux command line usage
  • Will run on standard PCs and Apple Macs
  • Early alpha releases expected in 2022, betas by 2023
  • Default apps for Web, email, office, media and more
  • Access to Linux repositories (apt, dnf, etc) for thousands of open-source apps
  • Curated app store for easy software installation and updates
  • Releases under open-source licenses for full transparency
  • Community-driven development model with code hosted on GitHub

With an attractive fusion of form and function, blendOS aims to offer a harmonious computing platform that both novices and tech enthusiasts can appreciate. The coming releases will ultimately demonstrate whether this ambitious goal can be fulfilled. But with dedicated development resources and community support, blendOS has strong potential to gain adopters who want the best of both operating system worlds.

References

Alphr. “MacOS vs Linux: Which Is Better in 2021?” 10 Aug. 2021, https://www.alphr.com/macos-vs-linux/

Barker, T. “Windows vs Mac vs Linux: Which Operating System Is Best for Business.” Business News Daily, https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/10601-best-operating-systems-for-business.html. Accessed 18 Oct. 2021.

Bastos, G. “Linux vs. MacOS – Performance, Software, Compatibility, And More Compared (Detailed Comparison).” Help Desk Geek, 4 Sept. 2022, https://helpdeskgeek.com/windows-10/linux-vs-macos/

Lifewire. “Linux vs Mac: What’s the Difference?” https://www.lifewire.com/linux-vs-mac-2200609. Accessed 29 Sept. 2021.

McCabe, J. “With Dominating Market Share Over Users, Why Isn’t Linux Leading the Desktop Market Too?” EveryLinuxUser, https://everylinuxuser.wordpress.com/2012/12/14/with-dominating-market-share-over-users-why-isnt-linux-leading-the-desktop-market-too/. Accessed 5 Oct. 2021.

Rouse, M. “Linux Operating System.” TechTarget, https://www.techtarget.com/searchdatacenter/definition/Linux-operating-system. Accessed 28 Sept. 2021.

Swapnil B. “Which Is Better for You: Linux or Mac.” It’s FOSS, 24 Apr. 2021, https://itsfoss.com/linux-or-mac/

Wilkinson, M. “What is Linux? Everything you need to know.” TechRepublic, https://www.techrepublic.com/article/what-is-linux/. Accessed 25 Sept. 2021.

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Mohamed SAKHRI

I am Mohamed SAKHRI, the creator and editor-in-chief of Tech To Geek, where I've demonstrated my passion for technology through extensive blogging. My expertise spans various operating systems, including Windows, Linux, macOS, and Android, with a focus on providing practical and valuable guides. Additionally, I delve into WordPress-related subjects. You can find more about me on my Linkedin!, Twitter!, Reddit

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