Give your OpenPOWER machine a big K1ss

This may be the wrong message in this era of COVID-19, but another operating system option for your POWER9 is to give it a big kiss. That's Kiss Linux, by the way.

Kiss Linux is an independent musl-based non-systemd distribution advertising itself as having "a focus on simplicity and the concept of less is more." Notably it uses busybox as both a source for core utilities and as init, and packages build from source a la Gentoo.

Ostensibly x86_64 only, there is an unofficial ppc64le port available specifically advertised as compatible with the Talos II and Blackbird family. A Debian netboot version is offered which can run directly from Petitboot as a staging area to do the full manual installation with a pre-compiled tarball. Although I don't see any reason why it couldn't be made to work on POWER8, the tarball is compiled for POWER9, so pre-ISA 3.0 systems will need to do more work and there doesn't seem to be current support for big-endian.

On the package side, most things seem to work. Firefox is advertised as functional, which is a good sign because that also means all of its prerequisites (rust, build system, font shaping, etc.) must also be. Netsurf is also advertised, my favourite little browser that can. However, Chromium and LibreOffice are missing, and since Kiss Linux seems to lack dbus this would also exclude GNOME. But, hey, there's no Wayland either, which is good news if you're running a system on just the BMC framebuffer.

If you're running or experimenting with giving your OpenPOWER machine a big sloppy kiss, wipe it off first (ewww), and then post in the comments.


  1. For completeness there are a few less popular PPC64le distributions:


    alt linux

    Bedrock Linux

  2. Hi, author of the KISS ppc64le port here. Thanks for posting this!

    I've just released a new version of the install tarball which is built with mcpu=powerpc64le. This is now more in line with what KISS does on x86_64, which is distribute a tarball built with generic options and then have the user rebuild with CFLAGS appropriate for their system. Will be doing the same for the Rust and Go bootstrap tarballs soon. This should now allow use of KISS on Power8 systems.

    If anyone finds any issues with KISS on ppc64le, please raise an issue on GitHub and I'll take a look. Or join #kisslinux on freenode if you've got any questions.

    Regarding wayland - while it is not supported directly by the author of KISS, it is available from a user repository:

    I don't have any plans to do a BE port currently, mostly because I run this on a TalosII with an AMD GPU. Trying amdgpu on a BE system previously resulted in a kernel panic. Not sure if this has changed.

    However I am working on another ppc64le port, which is KISS Linux but using Clang/LLVM as the base system compiler instead of GCC. This is currently blocked by ppc-specific LLVM bug 36100 though. Would be great if anyone reading has any tips on solving this!


    1. I've been pretty underwhelmed by clang on ppc64le. I think IBM had been working on some LLVM patches but I generally only use it when I have no choice. gcc probably generates better code right now, too.

      Good to hear about POWER8 support!


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