Brussels / 1 & 2 February 2014


The DeforaOS desktop environment

An alternative desktop for all ranges of devices

The DeforaOS desktop environment is one of three major components from the DeforaOS Operating System project. It is Open Source and meant to be portable, currently supporting Linux, *BSD, MacOS X, and possibly more. More than just an alternative desktop, it can be adapted for embedded use, be it with a stylus or with finger-based interaction. It has already been released and presented as a Debian-based smartphone (Openmoko) and a NetBSD-based tablet device for instance.

The DeforaOS Project was started in 2005 with one specific goal: seamlessly integrating software on personal devices (workstation, laptop, PDA...), possibly involving the migration of running applications across them. While this is still being worked on (with a working prototype), the development of the project involved a deep understanding of the design and implementation of existing systems. Therefore, a number of components has been developed again from scratch, so as to more easily support the more innovative components.

Doing so quickly highlighted three major parts: a self-hosted environment (libc, basic tools, assembler and compiler), the distributed framework (main objective of the project), and a desktop environment which is what will be presented here. While initially intended to fully grasp the specific constraints of GUI applications when supporting the distributed framework for the DeforaOS Project, it is meant to be fully usable and sufficient for regular desktop use, including a file manager, desktop manager, panel, web browser, e-mail client, telephony application and more.

The DeforaOS desktop is currently based on the Gtk+ toolkit, usually requiring version 2.6 or newer (including Gtk+ 3.0). It can be found packaged for Debian (via the hackable:1 project), FreeBSD (official ports), NetBSD and more (via pkgsrc).


Pierre Pronchery