Welcome to ChameleonOS – a resource-light and skinnable desktop Linux operating system.

Download ChameleonOSDownload ChameleonOS Alpha 1 now!

2010-07-12 ChameleonOS Alpha 1 has been released for testing.  The ISO boots as a live CD so you can test without installing. There is an icon for the installer on the default live CD desktop and in the menu. ChameleonOS is crammed with a range of pre-configured ‘skins’ that will instantly alter the appearance of your desktop (panels, wallpaper, icon and GTK theme…) The default skin is available in a range of colours and there are also skins providing the same look and feel as the Gnome desktop, KDE 3 and Windows Vista/7.

The ISO is 500MB and is available for download across the Unity Linux mirrors:

Livecd user login is guest/guest and the root password is root.

There is a range of software included on the live CD including the Chromium web browser, Sylpheed for email, Pidgin for IM, Gnome Mplayer, Audacious, Thunar and PCManFM file managers amongst others.

This is mainly a ‘proof of concept’ release, a technology preview if you like to see the changeable skins in action and to get an overall feel for the project. The script controlling the skins operation is called LXSkins and all related skins files and scripts are stored in /usr/local/share. They are currently fairly rough and ready bash scripts and will be where most of my attention is directed for future releases.

To change skins, right-click on the desktop and go to the Change Skins, submenu. Wait a few seconds for the pipe menu script to identify the installed skins (especially whilst running live) and then click on the skin you would like to use. The screen will ‘blink’ a few times and about 5 seconds later you will be presented with a new look desktop.

You can create your own skins too. Just configure Openbox, LXPanel, GTK, icon themes, wallpaper and whether you want desktop icons (using PCManFM or iDesk). Then use the right-click menu option to create a new skin from the current desktop. The new skin is created in ~/.lxskins and will appear in the Openbox menu.

If you do try ChameleonOS, please provide some feedback to let me know if it worked or didn’t. I am happy to take advice or feature requests for future releases. If you want to get involved in any capacity, again let me know. You can leave a comment below or at the release announcement on the Unity Linux Forum.

Chameleon-OS is based on Unity Linux 2010, which is in turn a fork of Mandriva. Unity is specifically designed as a base for respins (or branches as they like to call it). The current window manager is Openbox with Lxpanel (but not full LXDE).

Known Issues

  • Chromium browser won’t start when using the default black & blue skin. This is because the font isn’t set in the GTK theme file. Solution: right-click desktop–>appearance–>GTK & Icon theme. Then set the font to sans 10.
Icon: http://www.visualpharm.com/

36 Responses to Welcome to ChameleonOS – a resource-light and skinnable desktop Linux operating system.

  1. z3r0_k00l says:

    Congrats, richjack! Looking forward to trying Chameleon!

  2. Relaxion says:

    Cool! I’ll give it a try

  3. Tal says:

    I think I’d like to get involved – email me and I’ll let you know what I can/can’t do!

  4. roy says:

    draklive-installer hangs at last install to harddrive of installing and seems to have all files and folders copied over but after adding to exsiting grub menu at boot shows the boot up syntax but stops there with a blnking cursur never goes any furthur there is no grub error just hangs there and refuses to go any furthur do you have a workaround i love the changeble skins and have tried 3 times with same result.
    avid linux user roy

    • richjack says:

      Hi Roy Sorry you are having problems with installing. Could you post at the support forum with your hardware specs, there are more Unity developers there who might be able to help: http://forum.unity-linux.org It sounds like you might have a bad download, bad burn or bad CD, or perhaps your system is low on memory. Enabling swap when running live can help. Once the live CD is booted, open a terminal and su to root. Then type “swapon /dev/sda?” whereby sda? is your swap partition. Also it might be worth trying a different brand of CD and burning slower. The workaround could be to do a ‘poor man’s’ installation whereby you copy the contents of the CD and set up grub manually. This thread expains how to do it: http://forum.unity-linux.org/thread-841.html. It was written for creating a liveUSB stick, but the same princple applies to a hard drive install. You could just try manually setting up grub using the instructions in the post seeing as how it looks like all the files copied over okay. I hope this helps, but post back if it doesn’t. Richjack

  5. Joshua says:

    Yeah this looks like a great idea! Cant wait to try it out and mess around a bit! Email me and let me know how I can help out! If nothing else, Im one hell of a proofreader, including code as well as doc.

    • richjack says:

      Thanks Joshua. At this stage giving the alpha a thorough testing will really help and I would love some pre-release testing too. I also need to roto out redundant apps and libraries and generally clean things up a bit. Cheers Richjack

  6. Andrea says:

    I really enjoy this distro.
    Lightweight and eye candy 😀
    Good Work, waiting for next Alpha/Beta/Stable relases 😉 !

  7. haibuc julius says:

    i`m not so good in english i make a feedback in german thanks Julius
    Also estmal hi leute also dieser os gefæltmir ganz gut insbesondere die vista(redmond) look und ich wollte es im live system testen kann aber nicht starten. Was kann es sein?
    Danke für antworten .

    • chameleonos says:

      Hello Haibuc. I have translated your feedback using Google. I understand you cannot get the livecd to start. Can you try using the safemode boot option? A few people are having problems with this, so I am striving to get a new release made within the next few weeks. You might also try a different brand of CD or downloading from another mirror.
      Hallo Haibuc. Ich habe Ihr Feedback übersetzt mit Google. Ich verstehe Sie nicht an der LiveCD zu starten. Können Sie versuchen, mit dem safemode Boot-Option? Ein paar Leute haben Probleme mit diesem, so bin ich bestrebt, ein neues Release in den nächsten Wochen machen zu lassen. Sie könnten auch versuchen, eine andere Marke von CD oder das Herunterladen von einem anderen Spiegel.

  8. Hey guys I have a podcast and interview different project leaders of various distros and I would like to do an interview. Please email me if you are interested.

  9. كازينو says:

    Hi guys, tried loading this blog through Google RSS reader and got a strange error message, any ideas what could be the issue?

  10. كازينو says:

    Nevermind, works now!

  11. bob davies says:

    noticed your project in the Distrowatch pages of Linux Format magazine.
    will download + give it a go …
    hope it impresses my son-in-law who’s an Apple addict (I’m still looking for a good white miditower case to match white keybrd+mouse and monitor)
    good luck with proof of concept … will try to give feedback, at least….
    regards b

  12. Chris Sandles says:

    Hi. Like Bob, I’ve just read Linux Format magazine, and thought I’d take a closer look. Over the years I have been accused of being a customisation-freak myself, which apparently means I take far too much time fiddling with the look of my desktop rather than actually using it for anything useful. In my case, it tends to be INSTEAD of doing something useful!
    I love the idea behind your project, and am downloading the Alpha to try it out. I will let you know what I think in due course

    • richjack says:

      Hi Chris I’m very glad of the exposure that Linux Format has given this project, especially as I am British and it is a UK based magazine. I am putting quite a lkot of work in behind the scenes to make the next release easier to configure and customize, but the alpha will give you a pretty solid base to get a feel for how this distro works. I’d be pleased to hear any feedback or comments. richjack

      • Chris Sandles says:

        Firstly, sorry it’s taken about 8 months to reply with a review on this. I have the habit of trying lots of different distros all the time, but for some reason I couldn’t quite let this one go. I’ve been playing around with it tonight on my ancient laptop, and I think it will be perfect for it.

        I prefer to use KDE on my main system, but I also use Gnome, Windows and LXDE on other systems/partitions, so I’m quite familiar with all of them. The main issue for me is that my laptop cannot handle KDE or Gnome any more (well, it can, but it’s so slow). I’ve become used to using lightweight desktop environments such as IceWM, LXDE and JWM, but the real issue for me is the missing bling. I think ChameleonOS is the key here, because it will make my laptop look ultra-cool, even if its just a façade. The same would go for another older PC I have as well.

        Anyway, apart from the chameleon trick you’ve installed, it’s really the first time I’ve played with Unity Linux. I notice it’s based on Mandriva, which I have used in the past, and Unity seems to have a fairly solid foundation. I was expecting this Alpha release to be buggy, but on the contrary, it’s worked a charm, and I’ve not noticed any real issues. Of course, it’s still got a lot of Unity branding, which ought to be changed, but that’s something to work on.

        The choice of default software is also good, but I would welcome a word processor package (such as Abiword). One thing I didn’t test, but would like to know if you would include, is multimedia codecs for mp3, flash etc. I also prefer Firefox to Chomium but that’s just my opinion.

        From the site, I’ve not seen much evidence of activity on the ChameleonOS project, as I gather you’ve been quite busy (that goes for me as well), but I do hope you are still committed to the project. When it comes down to it, the desktop skin switcher, whilst totally awesome, is still only a one-trick pony. I don’t mean any offence by this, but once the novelty of switching skins wears off, and you need to actually use the computer for something, I hope you can develop ChameleonOS into a handy OS that is more than skin deep.

        Keep up the work, assuming you intend to continue with it, ‘cus I think it’s worth it. I too am British, and it would be nice, for once, to show that a British Distro doing something great!

  13. Anth says:

    First i must say looks like a great idea!

    I’ve Just downloaded the iso and created a Live CD. I am having problems login in. Type the suggested username and password guest/guest and root. I have tried various combination but still unable to login.

    Can someone please help me out.

    Kind regards

    • richjack says:

      Hello there. Thanks for trying ChameleonOS. The username is guest and the password is guest (all lowercase). If you want to log in as root, the use the username root and the password root. This should work. If not, it is possible you have a bad burn or download.

  14. Donny Bahama says:

    I’ve been looking for a nice looking, lightweight distro to install on some old PCs that I need to get rid of. What are the minimum hardware requirements for Chameleon?

    • richjack says:

      Sorry for the delay in replying. Minimum hardware would be 192MB RAM and a 1GHz or better processor., preferably P4 or later (or mobile equivalent). Old, slow CD drives can cause a problem in loading or installing from a live CD, but it’s hit and miss.

  15. Jake says:

    Just wanted to say that P4i45GV+9200 doesn’t work on this distro…

  16. farizluqman says:

    I want to give you a space for hosting these files. http://ftp.cc.uoc.gr/mirrors/linux/simpleLinux/ email me at 2fzweb aaaattt gmail. dooot cooommm

  17. Maty says:

    Chameleon OS is AWESOME. Great work! I just installed this on my new AO522 and I love it. Thank you so much!

    • Maty says:

      Forgot to mention that I’d love to see Global Menu implemented. I love global menus (especially on my tiny screen, it saves space), and it’d be especially nice on the OSX based theme.

  18. Daniel says:

    Hello. I had seen videos of this Linux distro and liked it very much. I downloaded the live CD iso and burned it and tried to boot it. I tried every booting method normal, vesa safe, safe, writing “vga=normal”, etc, but the cd always hangs while starting the system with a text saying “cannot find root” or so and things like that. It writes a lot of things on the console but stops there. My PC is Pentium 4 with 256 Mb ram and graphic card is NVidia FX 550. I´m a newbie at Linux and find difficult to type so many commands to boot the system. Can anybody help me to fix this and be able to run Chameleon Live CD on my PC ? Thanks in advance.

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  23. Hot Chilli says:

    Too bad that Chameleon OS stopped its development. The beginning was good……

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