A First Look: instantOS beta 5.1

Whether these projects make it past their alpha or beta stages or will be discontinued just shortly after the release of their first build, taking a closer look at unfinished projects always provides some insight into the possibilities of an operating system based on the Linux kernel. Among the projects currently undergoing its beta phase is the Arch-based instantOS aimed at power users that seek a system that “just works”. Marketing itself as ultra lightweight and feature rich, this distribution provides its own hybrid window manager instantWM, combining the perks of tiling and floating windows into one WM without neglecting navigation via mouse.

As stated on the official website, instantOS is not a suckless distribution, despite some features of it, namely instantWM, instantLOCK, and instantMENU, starting out as forks of the community. Only offering support for 64-bit architecture at the time of writing this, the team behind instantOS is planning builds for 32-bit machines and hardware running on ARM, most notably Raspberry Pi, as well.


Right after booting the live disk, the system detects that it’s being run in a virtual machine, offering to adjust the screen resolution. Keybindings differ little from those of bspwm, which will grant those familiar with this windows manager a minor advantage. A simple click on the desktop will open Applications, which cannot be closed with Super + Q but with another click on the desktop. All windows are opened in full size and can be adjusted by clicking on the application on the panel and holding the left mouse button.

Unlike most Arch-based distributions, instantOS provides its own package manager named instantPACMAN that has yet to receive some attention from its developers.

Other Findings

Although far from being a finished product, two settings already make instantOS stand out: Potato and Dad joke on lock screen. Unfortunately, both still are not ready, and turning both on will have no effect on the system, just like trying to install instantOS. Logging out of the live user will prompt a black screen with white text that lets the user know that the system currently is locked. As I could not find an article about instantOS’ lock screen on the website, I could not log back into the live user, and any failed attempt would merely result in the color of the background changing.


Even though the project comes with some typos, requires almost 300 MB of RAM more than promised, and offers a dad jokes option that cannot be tested due to the live user logging in automatically, testing instantOS did not turn out to be a waste of time, in fact it now is among the distributions that I am looking forward to install on one of my machines and give it a fair chance. The windows manager almost perfectly combines navigation via mouse and keyboard (and yes, I did spend nearly ten minutes just moving windows around and getting the password for the live user wrong just to see how many colors the lock screen offers).

Overall, it is a promising project that could become of great interest to intermediate Linux users that seek the perks of Arch Linux without the hassle of a minimal installation.


HP Pavilion 500–344ng

Processor: AMD A8–6500 APU with Radeon HD Graphics @ 3.50 GHz

Display: ATI Richland (Radeon HD 8570D) & Radeon R5 235 OEM

Memory: 8 GB RAM (7.18)

Storage: 1 TB WD10EZEX-60M HDD

Network: RTL8111/8168/8411 PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet Controller



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