| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 342, 22 February 2010
Welcome to this year's 8th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! Now in its eighth incarnation, Linux Mint is no longer a new entry on the distribution list, but judging by its growing popularity, it's still marching from strength to strength. In this issue, we talk to Clement Lefebvre, the project's founder and lead developer, about the latest version, then take it for a quick test drive to see whether it justifies its label as being one of the most user-friendly operating systems available today. In the news section, Debian announces the availability of the first alpha release of its installer for "Squeeze", Ubuntu outlines plans for a new and lighter user interface for the ARM-based netbooks, OpenSolaris developers express disappointment over lack of communication from Oracle regarding their project, and Mandriva updates KDE to the recently released version 4.4 in its development branch, the "Cooker". Also in this issue we'll take a look at some of the disk mounting options that could increase the speed of accessing hard disks in modern Linux distributions. Happy reading!
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|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Taking a look at Linux Mint 8 "Helena"
Linux Mint is a Ubuntu-based distribution which aims to bring a more complete, elegant and friendly desktop solution to its users. To do this, the project offers multimedia codecs, Flash and Java support right out of the box, along with some custom applications. Mint, the child of Clement Lefebvre, has attracted a lot of attention over the past three years. Some people are very happy with the product and provide the project with a steady stream of donations, while others downplay the distribution, claiming Mint is just Ubuntu with additional codecs and a different theme. It had been over a year since I last tried Mint and I decided to see what the project currently has to offer. Before setting out to test drive Mint, I had a chance to exchange e-mails with Clement Lefebvre (pictured on the right) about his creation...
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DW: What's new in Mint 8? What are some of the new features people will enjoy in Helena?
We answered many of the requests we received after the release of Linux Mint 7 and some of the changes we made were quite popular among our users. The Update Manager now allows you to ignore updates for certain packages. The level associated with each package is something we maintain so this addition gives a lot more power to the user. We also improved many aspects of the Software Manager and we implemented numerous little things to make the system more comfortable to use
DW: One comment that comes up a lot on the DistroWatch forum is that Mint uses the Ubuntu repository, rather than host its own. Would you care to explain why that is and if there are any plans to develop your own repositories? I understand that Mint has a small repository of about 440 packages, could you tell us about that?
CL: Linux Mint isn't just based on Ubuntu, it's fully compatible with it. Unlike what Canonical does with Debian, we do not fork the Ubuntu repositories or break compatibility with our base distribution. We use two technologies to make the most of our package base while remaining independent in our choices and the changes we want to implement: APT pinning (which is well-known to Debian users) and adjustments (which is a technology of our own). When we want something to act differently than it does in Ubuntu we can either maintain the package ourselves or dynamically tell our system to adjust the changes we require. Our repositories are given a higher priority than the other ones, ensuring that Linux Mint users pick the versions we maintain rather than the ones coming from upstream.
Developing our own repositories represents a massive amount of work. If you look at the various distributions on the market you'll notice very few projects which have the resources to both maintain their own packages and develop new innovations on a regular basis. I can think of only a few, and these are backed with corporate funding - with a business model that usually requires them to shift their focus away from what matters to home users and onto more lucrative activities such as business support.
Of course, with our own repositories we would become more independent. I would personally like to slow things down and to be more conservative on the base of the system and when it comes to hardware detection, to ensure more coherence and less regressions between releases, but we're more than happy with what's done upstream, whether it comes from projects like GNOME, KDE, the Linux kernel team or even distributions like Debian or Ubuntu. Every six months our own features shine on top of a large amount of upstream improvements and the result is fantastic. If our goal is to get to a perfect desktop then we're only introducing change when we think we can do better. There's still much to do to improve the desktop and so it's not the time for us to focus away from this. We leave the system to upstream projects and we don't feel the need to introduce changes in that domain.
On the things we do want to change, APT pinning and our adjustment system give us the flexibility we need and so we don't need to duplicate and/or patch every single package in separate repositories.
With regards to server loads, both Linux Mint and Ubuntu are mature projects with mirror networks. For the distribution, a network of mirror hosts is very important. It makes it easy for people to download and use the operating system, it reduces the load on each server and it improves the overall performance for each user. For the mirrors, this is also very important as once they have the resources hosted locally, they can offer them easily to their own audience. Let's take a national ISP as an example. If many people in the country download and use Linux Mint, that creates significant bandwidth and requests from this country to our servers in Germany or Ubuntu servers in the USA. It's in the interest of the ISP to mirror both Ubuntu and Mint so that the local users find the same resources locally. To the distributions, that means fewer things to worry about. To the users that means local servers, to the ISP that means less outgoing requests.
I wish I could answer the question more briefly but there's so much to say about the hosting strategy. To summarize, there's no real advantage in maintaining our own repositories at the moment as it doesn't represent any significant issues when it comes to server loads or our independence as a distribution and it would require a lot of work, attention and focus which would inevitably be shifted away from what matters the most: improving the desktop.
DW: The Mint web site makes it very clear that the project is based on Ubuntu and, in turn, Debian. When you started with Mint was there any move to work within the Ubuntu community more? Or did you see your creation as being its own distro right from the start?
CL: The project was independent from the very start and although the system itself technically qualifies as an Ubuntu flavour (since it's both based on and compatible with it, and since the base system is almost the same) the distribution itself, in terms of direction, structure and ways of working is completely different. We consider Ubuntu as an upstream component and, as prominent as it is within the end result, it's still something we consider as a part, which can be changed, modified, patched and configured to fit in. The same way we're committed to use GNOME as our desktop, we're committed to use Ubuntu as our package base, and the reason for this is simple: these components give us the best results to get the job done. That doesn't mean we're not looking elsewhere though. We're often trying out different desktops, in particular with community editions such as KDE, Xfce, Fluxbox. And we're interested also in porting our technology to other package bases such as Debian (for which there's a project planned) and Fedora. Because of the complexity of these upstream projects and because we're focused on our main task, we're not actively involved in working with them or in developing our own desktop or package base.
DW: Your site offers professional support packages at reasonable prices. Do you have any support clients, and if so, are they mostly home or business clients?
CL: We only have a very small number of customers and they're mostly home or small business clients. We're expensive when compared to Canonical, Mandriva or other support offerings in the Linux market and that's because the support is done by the development team itself. We're also careful when it comes to support as we want to remain focused on the distribution itself rather than on commercial activities revolving around it. Our business model is extremely light and very efficient. We're funded by our user base and the on-line activity it generates and that allows us to be successful without worrying about whether or not what we're doing is lucrative.
DW: Mint seems ideal for home use. What features does it have which would appeal to businesses?
CL: It's robust, predictable, modern, comfortable, efficient - all the reasons why you'd want to use it at home also make for an ideal workstation. It's quite popular among small to medium companies. Our project is small though, and it lacks independence, long term strategies, marketing, PR and support structures. For these reasons, it doesn't appeal to large businesses, where Red Hat, Novell and, to a lesser extent, Mandriva and Ubuntu are more viable solutions.
DW: There are a lot of applications on the CD. Do you use any special compression methods to make it all fit?
CL: Yes, the live CD is compressed with Squashfs. There's about 2.5 GB compressed within these 700 MB :)
DW: What comes next? What will we see in Mint version 9?
CL: It's a bit too soon for me to talk about this but we're planning on two significant developments - a community website with a hardware database, ideas (similar to Brainstorm), blogging, social-networking, support, software portal and many other features. And a complete re-write of our Software Manager. This time we want it to be package-centric (so hopefully it will replace Synaptic) with over 30,000 packages, user reviews, combining the best from the current mintInstall, the GNOME application installer and the Ubuntu Software Center.
DW: Anything else you'd like to share? Words of wisdom, comments?
CL: We're having a lot of fun making Linux Mint. Whether it's integrating upstream projects, implementing our own ideas, interacting with the community, it's always fun. And it's a pleasure for us to see people getting excited about what we do and users happy with our releases. And then there's also so much more than Linux Mint, so many distributions to try and to download, so many other software applications to install, there's a world of fun for everyone to enjoy. I think that's the beauty of open source, that energy and how easy it is for developers to build on top of what's already there and how exciting the whole thing can be. I hope this will last. There's also important questions to be addressed and conflicts to be resolved when it comes to free software and open source and we shouldn't avoid them, but to all people who bring joy and excitement to us and who keep Linux going, I'd like to say thank you. That's the most important aspect of all and that's what we're all here for.
DW: Clem, thank you very much for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer questions. It's greatly appreciated.
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Linux Mint comes in five different flavours, depending on the needs of the user. The Main edition is a GNOME live CD for 32-bit and 64-bit machines. There's a Universal edition, which removes certain software to make the product legally distributable all around the world and includes additional language packs. Rounding out the options are the KDE and Fluxbox editions. The disc images can be downloaded free of charge from the project's website or purchased for a small fee of US$10. While my copy of the Main edition was downloading, I took a look around the Mint site.
The distribution's web site is easy to navigate with clear menus and plenty of useful information. Aside from the download and donation pages, there is also a project Wiki which contains a lot of useful information, HOWTOs and frequently asked questions. There's a forum for people who want to chat, share experiences and ask questions. There are links to reviews, a project blog and a contact page for people who wish to speak directly with the developers. The Mint team also offers professional support agreements at a reasonable price. One of the most impressive features of the site may be the project's software portal. Mint has a small software repository of 438 packages which the user can browse through by name, by category and by popularity. Users are able to download the packages and install them with just a single click. Additionally, users can login to write reviews of the software and rate products to help future users find what they need. Some of the software modules which caught my attention were World of Goo (the demo), Opera and Google Earth.
With my latest CD image downloaded and burned to disc, I sat down to test drive Mint 8, code-named "Helena". The disc begins by showing a green-themed GRUB menu which provides a few options. The user can boot into the Linux Mint live desktop, start Mint in Compatibility Mode or kick off OEM mode. The OEM option starts the installer without booting into the live desktop and the Compatibility Mode tries to run the desktop with the VESA graphics driver enabled and APCI turned off. Selecting the default option takes the user to an Emerald City edition of GNOME where the application menu and taskbar sit at the bottom of the screen. A few icons for exploring the file system and a launcher for the system installer sit in the upper-left corner of the desktop.
The installer takes the user through the usual steps of selecting a preferred language, the proper time zone, and keyboard layout. When we arrive at the partition manager, there are three options available to the user. The system can take over the entire disk, try to install Mint alongside any other OS on the drive, or the user can manually arrange partitions. The manual partition manager is pretty straightforward, giving the user the ability to set the size, format and mount point of each partition. The installer supports most common file systems, including ext4, ext3, ext2, JFS, XFS and ReiserFS. The only feature I missed here was the ability to encrypt an entire partition, but it is possible to encrypt individual home directories. In the next step, the installer asks the user to create an account and a password. The final screen provides the option to configure the boot loader and then the installer goes to work copying over the required files.
Linux Mint 8 - the system installer introduces itself
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When booting up Mint from the hard drive for the first time, there's no further configuration required, the user is sent directly to a login screen. Once logged in, they're presented with a welcome dialogue providing helpful links. These links direct the user to the distribution's manual, the forum and the release notes. There's also a link which will connect the user to Mint's IRC chat room where members of the community can provide assistance. The next thing I noticed was a padlock icon in the system tray. This icon changes, depending on whether updates are available and it provides a subtle way to let the users know their update status. The program blissfully does not nag the user if ignored, a habit some distributions have fallen into.
Though it takes just 2.5 GB of hard drive space, Mint comes packed with useful software. The application menu is loaded with a disc burner, text editor, calculator, file search utility, GIMP, OpenOffice.org, Firefox, Thunderbird, Pidgin, a BitTorrent client, IRC client, movie player, audio player, a system information tool and a few applications to transfer files. Mint also includes the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) for developers, popular multimedia codecs, Flash, an application to perform backups, and Java. To tweak the system, there are tools to customize the look and feel of the desktop, manage printers, configure the firewall, use Windows wireless drivers, two package managers and an update program. All of these system configuration tools can be accessed separately or via Mint's all-in-one Control Center.
Linux Mint 8 - using features in the control center
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While on the topic of software, let's explore the two package managers offered by Mint. The first is Synaptic, which will be familiar to anyone who has used Debian, Ubuntu or other members of that family. Software categories are displayed in the left side of the window and (often cryptic) package names and a description are displayed to the right. Mint uses Ubuntu's repositories, providing over 28,000 packages. The other program is Mint's own mintInstall, which has a similar look to Synaptic with a few important differences. The main difference is that mintInstall connects to Mint's small repository of 438 packages. The categories are arranged in a more intuitive fashion, and each available program is given a popularity rating. Optionally, clicking on a package displays a screenshot of the desired program in action along with user reviews, similar to the way things are arranged on the project's web site. The update manager is also customized, acting very much like Ubuntu's update tool, but with an additional rating system. The ratings (ranging 1 - 5) tell the user how important and safe an update is. Critical updates which have been tested are rated as 1 while less important updates or ones which may break existing functionality are rated closer to 5. The user has the ability to select which levels of updates will be visible to the system (allowing dangerous updates to be hidden) and which levels will be automatically selected for download when the Update Manager is run.
While much of the software in Mint is what you could expect to find in its parent, Ubuntu, there are some highlights I feel are worth mentioning. For example, the Backup Tool application is a great way to archive the user's home directory with just a few mouse clicks. The File Uploader allows users to create links to remote computers and drag-n-drop files from their local machine to the remote server. Combining these tools means a user can back up their files and send the archive over a secure connection to another machine with six mouse clicks and no typing involved - handy for users with less technical experience. Mint also comes with Giver, a file sharing tool which allows users to transfer files to other people on the network using a simple point-and-click method. I can see this being a very useful tool in a small office environment. The graphical Ubuntu firewall application is pre-installed on Mint, which is good to see.
A program called Domain Blocker gives the administrator the ability to deny access to web sites - handy for concerned parents and people who wish to block advertisements. The application menu itself is an unusual creation. It attempts to merge the main GNOME menus (Applications, Places and System) into one large menu. The new approach took me a while to get used to, but I find it's growing on me. One last application I was happy to find pre-installed was APTonCD. This tool gives the user the ability to save all cached software packages into a CD image and, optionally, burn them to a disc. The benefit of this is that a person with several computers to set up can download all the available updates onto one machine and then transfer the updates to a USB drive or CD. The updates are readily available for the next machine without using any bandwidth to re-download the packages. There are other ways of doing this, of course, but APTonCD is probably the easiest option for end-users.
Linux Mint 8 - finding software and getting assistance
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My test drive with Mint included two computers, a generic desktop machine with a 2.5 GHz processor, 2 GB of RAM and an NVIDIA graphics card; and my HP laptop with a dual-core 2 GHz CPU, 3 GB of RAM and an Intel graphics card. As far as detecting and using my hardware was concerned, Mint performed perfectly. And, to date, it's the only distribution which can make that claim. Recent versions of both Fedora and Ubuntu come very close, but Mint worked flawlessly with no manual configuration. My desktop was set to the desired resolution, sound worked out of the box, my laptop's touchpad worked properly, the webcam functioned as desired, my printer was detected as were my wireless card and Novatel mobile modem. To see how Mint would perform with fewer resources, I ran the distribution in a VirtualBox virtual machine with variable amounts of memory. I found Mint was very responsive with 1024 MB of RAM and performance continued to be good down to about 512MB. Below that point, applications became sluggish.
With such a large collection of applications and a tendency toward user-friendliness, I excepted Mint to disappoint when it came to security. By and large, I was mistaken. The Mint team walks a careful line between giving the user what they want and protecting them. For instance, when using the live CD the user is logged into the system as a non-root user, called "mint". This user is able to mount local hard drives and read from them, but write access is denied, preventing accidental data loss. Once installed locally, the Mint administrator can grant new users administration rights, regular desktop rights or set them up as unprivileged users. Though administrator tasks can be performed (by privileged users) via sudo, the root account is also available for people who wish to use it. By default, the home directories of regular users are left open for other users to read, but the root user's directory is locked down. I was happy to find that Mint doesn't run most network services by default, leaving secure shell, for example, disabled. The exception is Samba, which is running with reasonable defaults.
Linux Mint 8 - creating a different look for Mint
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During my time with Mint I experienced no application crashes, no lock-ups and no cryptic error messages. Care has been taken to make features accessible to the user without being annoying and without getting in the way, making Mint not only a user-friendly, but enjoyable experience. While Mint caters to novice Linux users, the developers have tried to make their distro appealing to the more experienced crowd as well. For example, having GCC installed out of the box is convenient for developers. For people who don't like the custom Mint application menu, it can be swapped out for a more traditional menu with a few mouse clicks. If the user isn't thrilled with the constant green theme, it can be replaced in seconds. People who don't like the Mint software manager can use the popular Synaptic instead. For free software enthusiasts who don't want to download proprietary software, there's the Universal edition of Mint. And, while some people might be concerned about bloat from all of the extra applications, Mint requires less hard disk space than Mandriva and only slightly more space than Fedora. The Mint team provides their product free of charge, but also offers support for people looking for business solutions.
Mint isn't perfect -- no distribution or operating system is -- but it does very well. There is only one thing on my wish-list for Mint: more documentation for some of the small applications, such as the Backup Tool, Giver and the File Uploader. These are great little programs and I think more users would feel comfortable with them if they came with some examples. That desire aside, I am very impressed with Mint 8, both the product and the project as a whole. It's ideal for Linux newcomers and more experienced users who want their computers to function right away. I found the system to be responsive, friendly and immediately useful. I highly recommend giving Mint a try.
|Miscellaneous News (by Ladislav Bodnar)
Linux Mint ends "distro hopping", Debian releases first 6.0 installer, Ubuntu outlines new netbook interface with Enlightenment, OpenSolaris developers fear for project's future, Mandriva "Cooker" updates
The above review of Linux Mint is not exceptional in its conclusions; it seems that most people who try this distribution tend to be impressed. Others go even further. As this article at ExtremeTech boldly implies, for many people Linux Mint also means end of "distro hopping": "Linux Mint may have made things too easy and, in doing so, it may have killed the great Linux pastime of distro hopping. For those who aren't familiar with it, it's what desktop Linux users do as they seek their ultimate distro. They spring from one to another to another, never quite satisfied with any they land on. ... It's a sad thing to watch as dedicated Linux geeks abandon distro hopping in favor of sedately using the same distribution on an ongoing basis. How boring! How tedious! In a way, it's almost like using Windows! They just sit there like oblivious cows, content to chew their cud and gaze mindlessly across the field as the time passes." Is it true? If you are a Linux Mint user, have you really stopped downloading and testing other distributions? Please comment below.
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Great news for those desperately seeking information on the next release of Debian GNU/Linux, version 6.0 and code name "Squeeze". The first alpha of its installer, which some see as the first alpha of the distribution itself, was released over the weekend: "The Debian Installer team is pleased to announce the Debian Installer 6.0 Alpha 1. This first release since Lenny brings a lot of new features and improvements. It is also important to note that we have disabled the graphical installer, and, as consequence, the speakup drivers, for this release due to a breakage in the DirectFB back-end of the GTK+ library. We are working to get this fixed for the next release." Some of the features and improvements in this release include new help options during installation steps, a more flexible selection of language, location and locale, improved mirror selection, and other minor changes. Of course, from here it's still a long way to the final stable release of Debian "Squeeze", but at least we are firmly on the way. For those intended to test the installer, here are the quick download links to the "netinst" CD image for i386 and amd64 architectures: debian-testing-i386-netinst.iso (161MB, MD5), debian-testing-amd64-netinst.iso (138MB, MD5).
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Lots of Ubuntu related news last week. Firstly, according to this report at DesktopLinux, Ubuntu is developing a new, lighter desktop interface for ARM-based netbooks based on the Enlightenment libraries: "With a lack of open-source 3D graphics support on ARM devices impeding Ubuntu's use in ARM-based netbooks, Canonical turned to the Enlightment project's libraries to add visual panache to 2D interfaces. The Canonical project to use the open source Enlightenment Foundation Libraries (EFL) was announced in a blog post by in Canonical Ubuntu Mobile Developer Jamie Bennett, and then echoed by a post at the Enlightenment project." Also of interest to many Ubuntu users was the announcement about the switch away from the Human theme (link includes a video interview with Mark Shuttleworth) in Ubuntu 10.04, which will be replaced by a "light" theme. Details about it are still sketchy though. Another change, a more technical one, is also on the cards - from nv to nouveau as the default driver for NVIDIA video cards. Finally, if you have missed the candid interview with Jono Bacon, the Ubuntu Community Manager, it's definitely worth a read - and a good way to learn more about the person who has been such an active Ubuntu ambassador for several years.
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An interesting article about the fears and uncertainties in the OpenSolaris developer community, entitled "OpenSolaris community worried by Oracle silence" was published by H Open Source last week. This follows the recent acquisition of Sun Microsystems, the original developer of Solaris and OpenSolaris, by Oracle. From the article: "The OpenSolaris community is concerned by the silence from Oracle over its future plans for the open source operating system. In a blog posting, OpenSolaris developer Peter Tribble complained that Oracle has not mentioned OpenSolaris, apart from a single appearance on a slide in Oracle's five hour post Sun acquisition webcast." At this time, regular OpenSolaris development builds continue to be published, with the project's fourth official stable release expected in March 2010. However, there seems to have been a departure from the stated plan of producing a new stable release every six months, as the 2010.3 release will have been in development for nine months when it is released.
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Finally, a quick look at the latest updates in Mandriva's "Cooker", meticulously summarised by Frederik Himpe: "GNOME is now at version 2.29.90 (the first beta of GNOME 2.30). KDE has been updated to final version 4.4.0, new features since KDE 4.3 include integrated desktop search in Dolphin, a new Plasma desktop interface optimized for netbooks, Palapelli (a jigsaw puzzle game), Cantor (a scientific maths application) and many others. New versions of the personal finances management applications Skrooge and HomeBank were released. Skrooge 0.6.0 brings improved graphs reports and better automatic text completion of categories and an improved search & process user interface. HomeBank 4.2 brings similar improvements with a new trend time report. Mandriva’s configuration utilities now support setting up an encrypted password in GRUB. Gutenprint 5.2.5 adds support for many new Epson printers. The monitoring tool Zabbix has been updated to new version 1.8.1, this release brings much improved performance and GUI improvements."
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Disk mount options
Suffering-from-a-slow-disk asks: Which file mounting parameters increase system performance?
DistroWatch answers: Some days it feels like the hard disk just isn't performing as fast as you'd like. When that happens, you might be tempted to find ways of making it run faster. Maybe you try sweet-talking it, maybe you utter threats, but your best bet is changing a few of the mount parameters. The mount options for each file system are kept in the file /etc/fstab in the forth column. Generally this field simply reads "defaults", but we can add more options, separated by commas.
Before we get into the details, it's important to keep in mind that we're moving away from the default parameters. Typically, Linux file systems are mounted in such a way as to prevent data loss or corruption. By changing the parameters you run the risk of getting unexpected behavior or possibly losing data.
The first option most people recommend using when adjusting the file system for improved speed is "noatime". Using this flag tells the system not to update the access time of a file each time someone accesses that file. This means for each time you read from a file you're not also writing data back to the disk. The only downside is that with "noatime" set, it's no longer possible to see when someone read from a file. A few programs still rely on knowing file access times, but most users are safe disabling the feature. There's a corresponding "nodiratime" flag which prevents access times from being updated on directories, though I think setting "noatime" causes "nodiratime" to be set for you.
Users of the popular ext3 and ext4 file systems have a few more options to choose from, such as the "data" flag. This parameter controls how the journal tracks changes on the disk and has three possible settings. These are:
Another option you may want to look at is "commit". This parameter tells the OS how often the data in the file system should be synchronized. For example, "commit=5" means a sync happens every five seconds. If the system crashes, you'll only lose changes made in the past five seconds (or less). Smaller numbers cause more syncs to occur and thus insure less loss due to a crash. Larger numbers result in better performance, but carry more risk.
- journal -- the safest option, but also slower than the others
- ordered -- this is the default and tries to balance performance with the safety of the data
- writeback -- generally considered the fastest option, but could cause problems in the case of a crash.
Once you've made the changes you want to your /etc/fstab file, you can remount your file systems or reboot for the changes to take effect.
For more information on file systems and their parameters, please see this document.
|Released Last Week
Calculate Linux 10.2
Alexander Tratsevskiy announced the availability of Calculate Linux 10.2, a Gentoo-based distribution from Russia for desktops and servers: "What's new in Calculate Linux 10.2: Added support for creating Live USB system using UNetbootin; Support to create a binary kernel package from calculate-sources; New installation options - scheduler choice (--set-scheduler) and choice of UUID partition labels (--set-uuid); Reduced requirements for RAM when installing the system; In CLD Firefox changed under the style of 'Oxygen', added spellchecking dictionary; Add e-book reader FBReader in CLD/CLDX; Add OpenOffice Thumbnail plugin in the CLD; In CDS accelerated samba server, overcome 2TB limit in share; New tool cl-kernel for compilation kernel; Add support for Canon printers; Add support for 16-bit PCMCIA cards (modems and Serial cards) and Ricoh SD/MMC Host Controller." The release announcement in Russian and in English.
After many months of testing and experimentation, the final release of Element version 1.0, an Ubuntu-based distribution designed for home theatre or media centre personal computers, is available for end users: "This version is based on and thus binary compatible with Ubuntu 9.10. Featured software in this release includes Linux kernel 2.6.31, Xfce 4.6.1, XBMC 9.11, Firefox browser 3.5.7, Transmission 1.75, AllmyApps.com 9.10 integration, custom GTK+ themes, and version 1.0 of the Element App Finder (based on Xfce-App-Finder)." Check the download page for more information like username and password for the live CD.
Element 1.0 - an Ubuntu-based distribution for home theatre PCs
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Alexander Eremin has announced the release of MilaX 0.5, an OpenSolaris-based mini-distribution which runs completely off a CD or a USB pendrive: "MilaX 0.5 released. Based on OpenSolaris snv128a. JWM as WM, system monitor - conky, keyboard layout switcher - SCIM. Now with fastest browser Midori - Twitter, Facebook and other sites are working well. Fast start: boot live CD (live USB), configure network (Menu -> Setup -> Net Setup), run zfsinstall, reboot and enjoy. Two add-ons are available for this version... MilaX is released under the CDDL license version 1. Version 0.5 requires at least 256MB RAM and a Pentium or Celeron to boot into an X desktop. 128MB RAM is sufficient for booting into command-line mode. MilaX is fast (about 14secs from GRUB to fully functional desktop on SSD drive). Login to system as alex with password alex. Access for root - through su with password root." Here is the brief release announcement.
Epidemic GNU/Linux 3.1
Epidemic GNU/Linux 3.1, a user-friendly Brazilian distribution (with support for Portuguese and English) based on Debian's testing branch, has been released. The focus of this minor update was on correcting bugs and polishing the system, but there have been also some important additions, such as a new boot option that allows booting directly from an ISO image located on a hard disk, speed improvements in the boot process with elimination of text messages, integration of ESU (a user-friendly authentication module developed in-house) with KNotification, switch to GRUB 2 as the default bootloader, update to KDE 4.3 with Compiz Fusion available directly from the live DVD, major system installer enhancements and other improvements. Please read the complete release announcement (in Portuguese) for further details.
Epidemic GNU/Linux 3.1 - a Debian-based distribution from Brazil
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
New distributions added to waiting list
- Shackbox. Shackbox is an Ubuntu-based distribution and live CD with the goal to provide a complete operating system for Ham Radio operators.
- Tritech Service System. Tritech Service System (TSS) is a Linux live CD aimed at providing a minimalist environment for experienced Linux users to perform system rescue and repair tasks from a clean environment that does not depend on external media being present to operate.
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DistroWatch database summary
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This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 1 March 2010.
Jesse Smith and Ladislav Bodnar
|Linux Foundation Training
|• Issue 843 (2019-12-02): Obarun 2019.11.02, Bluestar 5.3.6, using special characters on the command line, Fedora plans to disable empty passwords, FreeBSD's quarterly status report|
|• Issue 842 (2019-11-25): SolydXK 10, System Adminstration Ethics book review, Debian continues init diversity debate, Google upstreaming Android kernel patches|
|• Issue 841 (2019-11-18): Emmabuntus DE3-1.00, changing keys in a keyboard layout, Debian phasing out Python 2 and voting on init diversity, Slackware gets unofficial updated live media|
|• Issue 840 (2019-11-11): Fedora 31, monitoring user activity, Fedora working to improve Python performance, FreeBSD gets faster networking|
|• Issue 839 (2019-11-04): MX 19, manipulating PDFs, Ubuntu plans features for 20.04, Fedora 29 nears EOL, Netrunner drops Manjaro-based edition|
|• Issue 838 (2019-10-28): Xubuntu 19.10, how init and service managers work together, DragonFly BSD provides emergency mode for HAMMER, Xfce team plans 4.16|
|• Issue 837 (2019-10-21): CentOS 8.0-1905, Trident finds a new base, Debian plans firewall changes, 15 years of Fedora, how to merge directories|
|• Issue 836 (2019-10-14): Archman 2019.09, Haiku improves ARM support, Project Trident shifting base OS, Unix turns 50|
|• Issue 835 (2019-10-07): Isotop, Mazon OS and, KduxOS, examples of using the find command, Mint's System Reports becomes proactive, Solus updates its desktops|
|• Issue 834 (2019-09-30): FreedomBox "Buster", CentOS gains a rolling release, Librem 5 phones shipping, Redcore updates its package manager|
|• Issue 833 (2019-09-23): Redcore Linux 1908, why Linux distros are free, Ubuntu making list of 32-bit software to keep, Richard M Stallman steps down from FSF leadership|
|• Issue 832 (2019-09-16): BlackWeb 1.2, checking for Wayland session and applications, Fedora to use nftables in firewalld, OpenBSD disables DoH in Firefox|
|• Issue 831 (2019-09-09): Adélie Linux 1.0 beta, using ffmpeg, awk and renice, Mint and elementary improvements, PureOS and Manjaro updates|
|• Issue 930 (2019-09-02): deepin 15.11, working with AppArmor profiles, elementary OS gets new greeter, exFAT support coming to Linux kernel|
|• Issue 829 (2019-08-26): EndeavourOS 2019.07.15, Drauger OS 7.4.1, finding the licenses of kernel modules, NetBSD gets Wayland application, GhostBSD changes base repo|
|• Issue 828 (2019-08-19): AcademiX 2.2, concerns with non-free firmware, UBports working on Unity8, Fedora unveils new EPEL channel, FreeBSD phasing out GCC|
|• Issue 827 (2019-08-12): Q4OS, finding files on the disk, Ubuntu works on ZFS, Haiku improves performance, OSDisc shutting down|
|• Issue 826 (2019-08-05): Quick looks at Resilient, PrimeOS, and BlueLight, flagship distros for desktops,Manjaro introduces new package manager|
|• Issue 825 (2019-07-29): Endless OS 3.6, UBports 16.04, gNewSense maintainer stepping down, Fedora developrs discuss optimizations, Project Trident launches stable branch|
|• Issue 824 (2019-07-22): Hexagon OS 1.0, Mageia publishes updated media, Fedora unveils Fedora CoreOS, managing disk usage with quotas|
|• Issue 823 (2019-07-15): Debian 10, finding 32-bit packages on a 64-bit system, Will Cooke discusses Ubuntu's desktop, IBM finalizes purchase of Red Hat|
|• Issue 822 (2019-07-08): Mageia 7, running development branches of distros, Mint team considers Snap, UBports to address Google account access|
|• Issue 821 (2019-07-01): OpenMandriva 4.0, Ubuntu's plan for 32-bit packages, Fedora Workstation improvements, DragonFly BSD's smaller kernel memory|
|• Issue 820 (2019-06-24): Clear Linux and Guix System 1.0.1, running Android applications using Anbox, Zorin partners with Star Labs, Red Hat explains networking bug, Ubuntu considers no longer updating 32-bit packages|
|• Issue 819 (2019-06-17): OS108 and Venom, renaming multiple files, checking live USB integrity, working with Fedora's Modularity, Ubuntu replacing Chromium package with snap|
|• Issue 818 (2019-06-10): openSUSE 15.1, improving boot times, FreeBSD's status report, DragonFly BSD reduces install media size|
|• Issue 817 (2019-06-03): Manjaro 18.0.4, Ubuntu Security Podcast, new Linux laptops from Dell and System76, Entroware Apollo|
|• Issue 816 (2019-05-27): Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.0, creating firewall rules, Antergos shuts down, Matthew Miller answers questions about Fedora|
|• Issue 815 (2019-05-20): Sabayon 19.03, Clear Linux's developer features, Red Hat explains MDS flaws, an overview of mobile distro options|
|• Issue 814 (2019-05-13): Fedora 30, distributions publish Firefox fixes, CentOS publishes roadmap to 8.0, Debian plans to use Wayland by default|
|• Issue 813 (2019-05-06): ROSA R11, MX seeks help with systemd-shim, FreeBSD tests unified package management, interview with Gael Duval|
|• Issue 812 (2019-04-29): Ubuntu MATE 19.04, setting up a SOCKS web proxy, Scientific Linux discontinued, Red Hat takes over Java LTS support|
|• Issue 811 (2019-04-22): Alpine 3.9.2, rsync examples, Ubuntu working on ZFS support, Debian elects new Project Leader, Obarun releases S6 tools|
|• Issue 810 (2019-04-15): SolydXK 201902, Bedrock Linux 0.7.2, Fedora phasing out Python 2, NetBSD gets virtual machine monitor|
|• Issue 809 (2019-04-08): PCLinuxOS 2019.02, installing Falkon and problems with portable packages, Mint offers daily build previews, Ubuntu speeds up Snap packages|
|• Issue 808 (2019-04-01): Solus 4.0, security benefits and drawbacks to using a live distro, Gentoo gets GNOME ports working without systemd, Redox OS update|
|• Issue 807 (2019-03-25): Pardus 17.5, finding out which user changed a file, new Budgie features, a tool for browsing FreeBSD's sysctl values|
|• Issue 806 (2019-03-18): Kubuntu vs KDE neon, Nitrux's znx, notes on Debian's election, SUSE becomes an independent entity|
|• Issue 805 (2019-03-11): EasyOS 1.0, managing background services, Devuan team debates machine ID file, Ubuntu Studio works to remain an Ubuntu Community Edition|
|• Issue 804 (2019-03-04): Condres OS 19.02, securely erasing hard drives, new UBports devices coming in 2019, Devuan to host first conference|
|• Issue 803 (2019-02-25): Septor 2019, preventing windows from stealing focus, NetBSD and Nitrux experiment with virtual machines, pfSense upgrading to FreeBSD 12 base|
|• Issue 802 (2019-02-18): Slontoo 18.07.1, NetBSD tests newer compiler, Fedora packaging Deepin desktop, changes in Ubuntu Studio|
|• Issue 801 (2019-02-11): Project Trident 18.12, the meaning of status symbols in top, FreeBSD Foundation lists ongoing projects, Plasma Mobile team answers questions|
|• Issue 800 (2019-02-04): FreeNAS 11.2, using Ubuntu Studio software as an add-on, Nitrux developing znx, matching operating systems to file systems|
|• Issue 799 (2019-01-28): KaOS 2018.12, Linux Basics For Hackers, Debian 10 enters freeze, Ubuntu publishes new version for IoT devices|
|• Issue 798 (2019-01-21): Sculpt OS 18.09, picking a location for swap space, Solus team plans ahead, Fedora trying to get a better user count|
|• Issue 797 (2019-01-14): Reborn OS 2018.11.28, TinyPaw-Linux 1.3, dealing with processes which make the desktop unresponsive, Debian testing Secure Boot support|
|• Issue 796 (2019-01-07): FreeBSD 12.0, Peppermint releases ISO update, picking the best distro of 2018, roundtable interview with Debian, Fedora and elementary developers|
|• Issue 795 (2018-12-24): Running a Pinebook, interview with Bedrock founder, Alpine being ported to RISC-V, Librem 5 dev-kits shipped|
|• Issue 794 (2018-12-17): Void 20181111, avoiding software bloat, improvements to HAMMER2, getting application overview in GNOME Shell|
|• Issue 793 (2018-12-10): openSUSE Tumbleweed, finding non-free packages, Debian migrates to usrmerge, Hyperbola gets FSF approval|
|• Issue 792 (2018-1203): GhostBSD 18.10, when to use swap space, DragonFly BSD's wireless support, Fedora planning to pause development schedule|
|• Issue 791 (2018-11-26): Haiku R1 Beta1, default passwords on live media, Slax and Kodachi update their media, dual booting DragonFly BSD on EFI|
|• Full list of all issues|
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View our range including the Star Lite, Star LabTop and more. Available with a choice of Ubuntu, Linux Mint or Zorin OS pre-installed with many more distributions supported. Visit Star Labs for information, to buy and get support.
|Random Distribution |
Whoppix was a stand-alone penetration-testing live CD based on KNOPPIX. With the latest tools and exploits, it was a must for every penetration tester and security auditor. Whoppix includes several exploit archives, such as Securityfocus, Packetstorm, SecurityForest and Milw0rm, as well as a wide variety of updated security tools. The new custom kernel also allows for better WIFI support. Starting with version 3.0, Whoppix was renamed to WHAX and its base changed from KNOPPIX to the more modular SLAX live CD.