Parrot 4.4 Development Goals
The Parrot 4.4 development process involved the ideas of many people from our community, and the goal of this new update was mainly to target software developers and increase average system stability.
Upgrade from a previous version
sudo apt update
sudo apt full-upgrade
Debian Testing stability status
Parrot is based on Debian Testing, which is now entering an important stabilization stage for new Debian 10 (buster) release, that should arrive around the second quarter of 2019. This means that Parrot is up to see a new golden age of stability and reliability, which this time is going to last very long since the team announced the Parrot Long Term Support project in the previous release note.
Since Github released atom.io, an advanced and extensible text editor that is hackable to the core, Microsoft worked hard to create their own atom alternative called Visual Studio Code, also known as VSCode.
Unlike what most of the people think, VSCode and Visual Studio Code are two completely different products:
VSCode is an opensource MIT-licensed editor available ONLY as source code on its github repository, and the only way to use it is to clone the repo and compile it.
When we [Microsoft] build Visual Studio Code, we do exactly this. We clone the vscode repository, we lay down a customized product.json that has Microsoft specific functionality (telemetry, gallery, logo, etc.), and then produce a build that we release under our license.
When you clone and build from the vscode repo, none of these endpoints are configured in the default product.json. Therefore, you generate a “clean” build, without the Microsoft customizations, which is by default licensed under the MIT license
VSCodium is a community project to distribute a binary release of VSCode without any Microsoft branding, telemetry and tracking feature.
Parrot 4.4 uses VSCodium as its new advanced editor instead of Atom, because the atom binary packages became too bloated and too heavy (up to 850MB of storage space), without considering the bare minimum set of plugins that are necessary to make Atom a complete environment. VSCodium in the other hand is very lightweight (less than 200MB) and it is way faster than both Atom and Visual Studio Code, with a smaller memory footprint, and it provides many important features by default and without any need of external plugins (advanced intellisense, code inspector, debugger, git interface, broader languages support etc).
New Golang, Rust, Vala and Mono support
There is a big interest in the Parrot team to offer a comfortable environment for software developers and those pentesters who usually write or modify their tools, and even if we already support python, java, c/c++, ruby, perl, bash and php, there is a big interest in the community in other emerging programming languages like golang, rust or vala.
Parrot 4.4 added for the first time full support for golang, rust, vala and mono (a FLOSS and independent .NET implementation). We believe software developers will benefit from this internal choice that required a lot of effort in order to keep the ISO files within their usual sizes.
New Privacy Metapackage
parrot-privacy now provides all the privacy-related applications as anonsurf, torbrowser, ricochet-im, onionshare and more.
People who need stronger privacy have now a dedicated metapackage.
KDE Plasma Edition
The development of the KDE Plasma edition gave very interesting results, and now Parrot 4.4 provides an awesome KDE flavor with our custom themes and settings for all our users that don’t like MATE and prefer a more advanced and feature-rich (but heavier) desktop environment.
Parrot KDE includes the latest 5.13 Plasma desktop with custom configurations that proved to be very lightweight and fast with a small memory footprint, and we will continue to improve this flavor in the future.
BTRFS and XFS are the new default filesystem
The new Debian-Installer was modified to use btrfs by default for root and xfs for the home filesystem. The installer does no longer create a swap partition when automatically partitioning uefi or encrypted systems, and the boot partition is large enough to host multiple kernel revisions without running out of space.
Btrfs and xfs are very powerful advanced filesystems with CoW, subvolumes, snapshots and other features. While xfs is very fast on some specific workloads, btrfs has additional features like live compression and a very efficient checksuming system for file corruption detection.
Btrfs was considered experimental for many years and it is still under heavy development, but its core features are now stable and production ready (but not ready for mission critical scenarios) and many companies already use it and contribute to its development, including facebook, suse, oracle and more. We think it is ready for desktop use and we actively used it on all our personal computers, testing machines, workstations and servers (yes, parrot servers use btrfs almost everywhere), and it proved to be very stable and reliable.