Rhino Linux takes the already excellent Xfce Desktop and blends it with elements of GNOME’s graphical interface, creating a hybrid desktop worth experiencing.
It has made me impatiently wait for the non-beta releases. Since my first interaction with this promising distribution a few months ago, the wait has been extended well into summer.
The resulting desktop keeps the incredible flexibility of Xfce while adding some of the useful conventions of gnome with a couple of feature dashes based in-house. Rhino Linux is the perfect solution for Linux users who want to add a little rolling release update functionality on top of a solid Ubuntu foundation.
Rhino is still a work in progress after resuming development where its predecessor — Rolling Rhino Remix — left off. The predecessor, built by a developer who went unnamed and called himself “http.llamaz”, offered an unofficial rolling-release variant of Ubuntu.
Rhino’s team, which has been developing since October, released the fifth beta in mid-May. An announcement posted on the website acknowledged that the original projections for the release of the first stable version in March were not met due to the underestimating the amount of work needed.
The new version of the distro was expected to be released in summer. As of this writing, the developers have only reached version 2023.1.beta 7. My wait for the non-beta will continue in the hopes that it will arrive soon.
This goal is achievable based on the current beta version. Rhinolinux was easy to use and I found only a handful of flaws.
Game of Anonymity
The developers are not named and difficult to contact. The new website does not have any valid contact details. Rhino’s latest website still includes old links to contact us for former locations and YouTube Channels. LinkedIn only had a reference to a Rhino Linux System developer at RhinoLINUX projects based in South Africa.
The level of anonymity that Linux project developers maintain always raises concerns for me about reliability. When evaluating distributions for review, I also consider their beta status. Rhino Linux’s beta functionality has impressed me so far.
Its desktop approach is appealing. Make sure to visit the correct URL if you’re curious about this “reimagined new direction” for the Rhinolinux project. rhinolinux.org.
The Rolling Rhino Website is still available but it no longer offers updated ISOs. Do not confuse Rhino Linux and BlackRhino GNU/Linux, which has been discontinued. It is based on Debian Linux for PlayStation.
Let’s explore what excites me about Rhino Linux.
A Few Tweaked Pieces Can Make the Whole Better
I have been using Xfce for many years and it continues to be my favorite desktop. It powers my collection of aging bench computers. Rhino runs the latest Xfce environment 4.18, which has been modified to offer a modern user experience.
At first, I was disappointed to see the GNOME desktop trappings such as a full screen app grid menu or a virtual desktop switcher that slides on a side panel. Then I discovered the features that keep me returning to Xfce.
A built-in menu is available on the top panel to select what you want to add or remove. The GNOME full-screen grid application menu called Lightpad is launched by pressing a button in the plank. A panel plugin allows you to add the Whisker apps menu.
A feature I love in Xfce is the right-click mouse launcher. Rhino Linux also offers this feature.
This hybrid desktop allows you to use both methods. The default Calamares installation is reliable and easy to use.
Simple Yet Smart
Rhino Linux was able to show off its features without any flutter or lag. It is easy to use and quick.
Pacstall is one of Rhino’s core components (although it’s still in its early stages of development). It handles system maintenance, kernel installation, dotfiles, the default Plymouth Theme, and more. All system packages are packaged into a single pacscript.
Rhino’s default interface is a desktop with a panel on top and a plank in the middle of the left side of the screen. While similar to GNOME’s left-edge vertical panels, the only launchers it contains are the essential ones. The menu button is located at the top and not on the panel.
Easy-to-use Setup Aids
Rhino Linux’s welcome sequence guides you through the initial feature selections. The graphical user interface gives you the option to add useful software and package managers.
You can also fine-tune your desktop using the half-dozen configuration panels. You won’t be lost in a confusing maze of options or settings because each panel is independent.
Rhino, the Rhino package manager is used to maintain applications. It searches, installs, removes, adds, and updates packages from multiple sources, such as native DEB repositories, Pacstall, Flathub, and Snap Store. Simple terminal outputs can be used to enhance the process for those who are so inclined.
Using the package manager panel, you can select one or more of the included tools — Flatpack, Snap, and Appimage.
Rhino-pkg is a wrapper created in-house for APT.
I have grown to dislike the GNOME desktop over the years. Its handling of desktop workspaces is my biggest dislike.
I did not find it convenient or efficient to have to constantly push the pointer in a corner, or click on the launcher, to activate an overview slide-out column from the right edge of the screen.
It is not the right way to navigate to move an app from one workspace to another by clicking and dragging it. GNOME does not have the ability to move an app from one workspace to another with a right click. Rhino, despite having a solid Xfce base, lacks the ability to send an app to another workspace.
The Workplaces plugin and the Windows menu are added to the top panel, which alleviates some of the user frustration I experience. The plugins are closer to the Xfce-style virtual desktop solution than GNOME’s modified approach.
Rhino Linux offers a functional and enjoyable hybrid desktop, which combines both GNOME’s and Xfce’s best features. The beta version has a limited number of applications.
Rhino has limited functionality at this time due to the lack of productivity software and many office applications. This newly reconstituted Linux OS will be highly recommendable once the first version of stable is available.