Welcome to Cherimoya
Cherimoya GNU/Linux is an installable Linux liveCD based on Chakra GNU/Linux (in turn based on Arch) and designed as a hardy and extendable basis for Anonymous' daily misadventures, but also for normal computer use. It's packed with networks like I2P/Tor, and with programs like LOIQ, pyLoris, Bitcoin, secure-delete, macchanger, Torchat, and much more.
Even long before they became huge, Anonymous has always held the lofty dream of creating it's own Linux distro. The era may have been different, but the reasons have stayed constant:
- It could contain all the apps that Anonymous needs in its raids.
- Rather than having to get applications from strange sources with difficult setups, we could have them included. It would be the ultimate care package.
- It could help anons learn and fight faster and be able to work in a safer environment.
- Most anons who join today spend a lot of time just trying to tune their system correctly, and it is a real drain on efficiency to have each anon depend on trial and error. Teaching them one by one is not easy and there aren't enough people to do that.
- Such a distro could be preconfigured, saving time and frustration.
- In the future (especially as we begin to face ever more powerful foes) there may not be a second chance if something is misconfigured. This is especially important for security and anonymization networks, such as I2P and Tor.
- It will be open-source, as nothing can be trusted until you can check it yourself.
- When something is open source, that means you can know exactly what's in it whenever you want to know. You can rebuild it however you like, look for vulnerabilities, and watch out for backdoors.
- It could include a lot of training guides.
- A lot of useful documentation should be provided with the system, to teach anons how to stay anonymous and hit the enemy safely. For AnonOS I had made the "Newfag's Guide to Anonymous": available here.
With all these reasons, why hasn't a liveCD been created already? The fact is that they have; however, Anonymous has never truly completed such a large project. The reasons were many, some due to lack of interest, and other times the fear of violating Rules 1 & 2. So how can Cherimoya break the trend?
History of Cherimoya
Well, let's look at it's history. Cherimoya is a cumulation multiple
This was created by anons from 808chan, on their wiki insurgen.cc . The plan was to make something based on Ubuntu for anons, and with all the apps of Backtrack. It never really materialized, although they did get some good insights and program recommendations. L/i/nux was the inspiration, if not the basis for Cherimoya.
2009 - Early 2011
Created by 4chan's technolo/g/y board, it used Cirno as a mascot. It was to be the primary OS for the ever animu-loving Anonymous, but could be used for other things. The problem was, they had bitten off more than they could chew: reviving an OS that had not seen use in 15 years, having to port all the drivers and applications needed, and adding a GUI interface just on the basis of the operating system's name: Plan 9 from Bell Labs.
It was a herculean task that was already too much for it's developers, much less a bunch of random anons from /g/. The first attempt faded away by early 2011. But CirnOS was soon restarted as an Arch Linux-based system (Cirn9). Huge amounts of research and work went into this one, but even as they made a successful system, it didn't take off. Being an early observer and supporter of this system, Cherimoya inherited the research and source code in the development of Cherimoya, in the latter Chakra-based system, and in Cherimoya's version names (taken directly from CirnOS)
Sadly, the mailing lists never survived, leaving only an old website in it's memory. Still, being a mostly decentralized project, forums are scattered everywhere with nice insights to find.
Early 2011 - April 2011
The famous, and most successful of them, AnonOS, was making real headway with a lot of backing. The system was formed as a unification of various liveCD projects going on at the time, one of which was my own system, (the predecessor) Cherimoya. Each of us developers had vastly different ideas on where to take such an operating system, so making a single base system that could be easily respinned would reduce overlap and work.
Since I had gotten the most done, (which was not much) I became the primary developer for the base system. This was a herculean task; I had absolutely zero deep experience in Linux before this. But being determined, I managed to learn the workings of Linux in due time. Finding a liveCD creator and a distro that would support us all was the difficult part. I had to try out a lot of distros and liveCD creators, as each of them had certain quirks that made it foolish to keep going.
Finally, we had managed to get by using Fedora's kickstart LiveCD creator system. It was deceptively simple and perfect for us, depending only on one "kickstart" script that defined what programs to install and scripts to run after. A kickstart file could depend on other kickstarts, so each of our respins could use a core kickstart and make some small additions or edits. Unfortunately, it was simple only for adding programs. As time went on and bigger changes needed to be made, it became clear that this system was not going to work. Simple things, like moving or removing a file became extremely complicated bash scripts. It became impossible to use, teach, or develop for.
With the bar raised so high, I became the only one able to develop or debug the scripts, causing huge amounts of frustration and hopelessness. I also knew nothing about making bash scripts or RPM packages, forcing me to reconsider my decision to work on AnonOS. I decided that it would be foolish to go on, and took a sabbatical to learn more about Linux and package creation. At that point, AnonOS was placed on hold indefinitely.
The development of Cherimoya
The other developers faded away, but I remained committed. I never stopped researching distros, liveCD creators, and programs to add even as AnonOS was abandoned. I ended up finding CirnOS's ArchISO profile, and Arch's new fork based on KDEMod, Chakra. I learned how to work with Chakra-ISO (I'll explain them later) and I rebuilt AnonOS from scratch, based on the same research and goals.
Many months of work later, a real proof-of-concept ISO had finally been created, v0.1.1 KEINE. With AnonOS defunct, I renamed the new project "Cherimoya", after that important founding pillar of AnonOS.
This time, Cherimoya isn't just another pipe dream. It's a production system that I actually use for my work and entertainment. Actually using Cherimoya every day allows me to deal with problems as soon as they arise, port the packages that I need from the AUR, and add features that I want, which the anons of old could never dream of doing.
However, Cherimoya has a long way to go before it truly becomes a useful tool for Anonymous, and all our current goals are shown in the Roadmap. But it cannot do that without the help of developers much more experienced than me. Many features have not been implemented, or even created, but it is my belief that once you understand and use Cherimoya daily, like me, you might just end up working to make it better.