Sorcerer (Linux distribution)

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Developer Kyle Sallee
OS family Unix-like
Working state Active
Source model Open source
Initial release 2 February 2007 (2007-02-02)
Latest release (Rolling release) / Installation CD on June 28, 2013
Platforms x86, x86 64
Kernel type Modular Linux kernel
License Various
Official website

Sorcerer is a source based Linux distribution. Sorcerer's source management tool is called sorcery. Sorcery downloads and compiles source code in order to install and update installed software. Instead of using cryptic hard to remember acronyms, such as rpm and dpkg, Sorcerer's tool terminology is based upon magic words. For example, a recipe for downloading, compiling, and installing software is called a "spell." Software to install is "cast" onto the box. Installed software can be removed by "dispelling." Consequently, the command line tools for casting and dispelling software are called cast and dispel, respectively.

In 2000, Kyle Sallee created a source-based Linux distribution called Sorcerer GNU/Linux and released it under the GNU GPL. During this time Sorcerer was a technology demonstration rather than a stable distribution. Eventually the distribution tools, called sorcery, and the software catalog, called grimoire, were redesigned and rewritten in order to become stable and usable on production machines. A month or two before the rewrite happened, in early 2002, Chuck S. Mead, who had previously created a fork of RedHat, created a fork of Sorcerer GNU/Linux. The first fork of Sorcerer GNU/Linux was called by the same name as Mr. Mead's fork of RedHat. It was called either "Lunar Penguin" or Lunar Linux. This fork's timing was fortunate for system administrators, because it granted them an opportunity to continue deployment of the distribution that Mr. Sallee was about to discontinue.

Due to the immense effort involved in single handedly creating and maintaining a distribution Mr. Sallee ceased "Sorcerer GNU/Linux" during the redesign and rewrite of sorcery and grimoire. System administrators with deployed boxes were encouraged to painlessly transition to the nearly identical fork.

The earliest versions of Sorcerer were named Sorcerer GNU/Linux, with key components licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL). However, from around 2002 and forward current versions of Sorcerer release some key components under the Sorcerer Public License and not the GPL, and the distribution has dropped the term GNU/Linux. Sorcerer has two ancient forks: Lunar Linux and Source Mage which are not based on nor compatible with the current sorcery code nor compatible with current grimoire. Their terminology also deviates from Sorcerer terminology.

Technical Distinctions[edit]

A somewhat distinctive feature of Sorcerer is the fact that it is based almost exclusively on source code. While many other operating systems generally make use of a package that contains pre-compiled (executable) programs, Sorcerer compiles source code on the machine prior to installation.

A new "grimoire", which is a catalog of software supported for immediate installation, is made available daily. When new sources are available, the spells in the grimoire are updated. One's desktop is updated by first installing a current grimoire. If necessary, the installed Sorcery is updated. Finally, any and all installed software can be updated according to the user's decision.

Sorcery automatically recompiles installed software as necessary to ensure continued compatibility and usability when installed libraries are updated to newer or older versions. Unlike a pre-compiled binary-based distro that must always download new packages, Sorcery most often recompiles installed software from previously downloaded sources. When a new source is required and an older source was previously downloaded, then Sorcerer will download a tiny patch that transforms the old source tarball into a current source tarball. The practice of keeping old source tarballs and downloading patches for updates allows Sorcerer systems to be updated using less bandwidth than distributions that provide pre-compiled packages.

Users can add new spells to the grimoire on their local machine and can submit the new spell for inclusion in the general distribution.

The minimum system requirements are given as 1 GB of RAM and 20 GB of hard disk space. This is suggested because compiling some sources will consume large amounts of resources. Sorcerer has recently started using cgroups to limit the impact of software compilation has on the system performance. Therefore, Sorcerer installations are normally updated while still in multi-user mode while causing no interruption to services or downtime. Changing to single user run level mode for updating is not recommended.

See also[edit]

Other source-base Linux distributions:

External links[edit]