Skip to content

The March Of Progress

Despite a brief excursion out of the country for a first-in-a-lifetime holiday, I'm happily back at the desk to bring you up to date with the latest goings in Serpent OS. TLDR: Loads of awesome, baremetal is enabled, ISO cycle in next couple of weeks.

GNOME on Serpent OS

Tooling Improvements

OK, we all know you want to know about the baremetal stuff, but c'mon, check out this changeset!


We're officially at a point where the Rust boulder implementation has become our "blessed" build tool. This is actually a crate within the moss repository, allowing the two tools to share huge chunks of code. Our focus over the past few weeks has been to ensure we can drop the tool into our existing build network and "just work", while making it significantly faster.

One of the most important high level changes is performance, in some cases virtually 50% faster packaging times. Our package payloads are now compressed using multi-threaded zstd compression, and a bunch of internal components were reworked to use faster code paths leading to a significant speed up in the raw generation of each .stone package.

Legacy boulder tool has been retired

As of March 31st, 2024, the legacy D implementation of boulder is no longer supported. The runtime component, mason, has been removed from the volatile repository. Our new tool is written in Rust and contains the moss code, enabling a self-contained all-in-one approach to buildroot management.

It relies on clone-based user namespaces, so is fully "rootless". Please migrate immediately to the new Rust based tool. Not only is it more advanced, it is significantly faster at generating the raw .stone packages.


Other, quite awesome changes:

  • Fix manifest encoding for 0 nul byte, interop with build systems
  • Explicit --update flag to refresh the repositories prior to build
  • Defaults to multithread zstd compression
  • Slick timing reports
  • Base-enabling landed for "meta" packages (contain no files or content)
  • Added BuildRelease control via tooling for automated package rebuilds


Moss also got some love these past few weeks, including a full migration over to Combined with a limiting of async to largely network bound operations, and some clever performance optimisations under the hood, moss is now faster than ever. In fact, we're able to generate desktop ISOs in under 20 seconds, and install the full GNOME desktop to a virtiofs VM in almost no time.

  • Dropped some unnecessary dependencies
  • Significant code cleanups
  • Further refined our system + transaction triggers to fully respect dependency ordering
  • Augmented state management with new functionality to activate/rollback to a specific transaction by ID using offline store.
  • Various optimisations:
  • Drop expensive Path usage in vfs crate
  • Optimise queries in our transaction management to speed up DAG initialisation and filesystem blit
  • And more to be covered in a future blog post

Hardware/Desktop Enablings.

Rather than extensively widen our repository at this point we've opted for further low-level enabling of components required for the developer experience desktop. This includes Network Manager, the desktop kernel package, Vulkan + mesa integration, etc.

Gnome Software

As well as enabling core applications and features such as GNOME Software and Flatpak, we've also enabled preliminary usage on baremetal booting hardware. Note, this isn't yet installable but we do plan to offer early access installable images to our sponsors!

Also worth noting.. we've begun to package the Cosmic Epoch desktop from the cool guys over at System76. We're highly interested in this project and plan to track progress closely, offering it within Serpent OS as a fully featured development focused desktop experience.

The Agenda

This post was finished moments before the March deadline, so needless to say we've been super busy! Thankfully a lot of pivotal pieces have landed now and we can focus on some big ticket items. Our primary concern is to ship one last "pre-alpha" image for the public, and a test installable pre-alpha ISO for our sponsors to help gain early feedback. The hope is this will help fund a widening of our infrastructure to support more concurrent repository users and our own debuginfod compatible extensions to our repository.

The April (and beyond) agenda:

  • Finish pre-alpha stage with some shiny ISOs!
  • Enter alpha by adding versioned repository support to moss for an "upgrade forever" guarantee
  • Enhance our ABI tracking story to vastly simplify huge rebuild queues and automation
  • Expand our native hardware support
  • Add some missing basic triggers such as Fedora-compatible SSL certificate management
  • Begin work on the all-important boot management in moss! (not boot LOADER, this will be systemd-boot)
  • Add battery testing of our tooling to our CI pipelines to protect users
  • Ensure all of our code is fully documented
  • Greatly improve our onboarding and documentation for packaging and usage of Serpent OS, focusing on stone.yaml in depth
  • Get core team running Serpent OS daily. WiFi and GPU support are in place already.
  • Build an amazing developer experience

On behalf of the Serpent OS team, I look forward to sharing some amazing updates with you towards the end of April! Keep your eyes peeled for the ISO drops in the coming weeks.