| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 443, 13 February 2012
Welcome to this year's 7th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! GhostBSD is a relatively recent attempt at conquering desktop computers with a custom build of FreeBSD. The project's version 2.5 is promising to be the most polished to-date so Jesse Smith decided to investigate. Does it offer a solid alternative to PC-BSD or indeed desktop Linux? Read below to find out. In the news section, Robyn Bergeron is appointed as the Fedora project leader, Canonical ends Jonathan Riddell's contract together with formal support for Kubuntu, openSUSE announces plans to celebrate its 20th birthday, and FreeBSD is shaken by accusations of chaotic release engineering. Also in this week's issue, the never-ending comparisons of Ubuntu and Linux Mint continue, while former Pardus Linux developers hint at a possible fork of the distribution. Finally, if you are a privacy and anonymity freak, don't miss our Questions and Answers section which deals with browser data and their possible role in tracking and identifying users. Happy reading!
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|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Two and a half ghosts - GhostBSD 2.5|
A few weeks ago we talked about the PC-BSD project and how it places a user-friendly desktop on top of a FreeBSD base. It seems only fair then if we also examine another FreeBSD-based project with similar aims, though with a slightly different approach. GhostBSD recently released version 2.5 of their desktop operating system and I decided to take a look at what it has to offer.
GhostBSD is a relatively young project. It started as basically a live GNOME environment on top of a FreeBSD base. The project didn't have an installer and appeared to be presented mostly for demo purposes. In recent months the project has expanded. The website has been redone, a graphical installer has been added to the live media and GhostBSD now comes in two flavours: GNOME and LXDE, both offered in 32-bit and 64-bit builds. I opted to try the LXDE edition which is available as a 625 MB ISO image file. Booting off the CD brings us to a LXDE desktop where the task switcher and application menu are placed at the bottom of the screen. In the upper-left corner we find an icon for launching the project's installer. The wallpaper is rich with greens and shows us a picture of a frog.
The GhostBSD system installer is, so far as I know, unique to the project. Though it goes through the same basic motions as most other installers it does so with a simplified approach. The installer's screens tend to pose simple questions with few options, making the process fairly stream lined. It begins by asking on which disk we'd like to install GhostBSD. Then we're asked if we'd like to take over the whole disk or set up partitions. Here I ran into a problem. When I opted for manual partitioning I was able to create the slices I wanted, but then trying to proceed to the next step didn't work. No error message was shown so I'm not sure if the installer didn't like my layout or if I encountered a bug. Backtracking I told the installer to just take over the entire disk, which caused the installer to quickly close with a message saying it had completed the install.
Obviously something had gone wrong. Going back in I found the "take over the entire disk" option only works if the drive has free space, that is the installer won't destroy existing partitions. On the one hand I'm glad the installer isn't destructive, on the other hand I think the option could be renamed to "use all free space". This second time through I removed some partitions and let GhostBSD take over the free space as it saw fit. Once the disk has been partitioned we're asked to set a root password and create a regular user account. We're also asked if we'd like to install a boot loader. The installer copies its files to the drive and we're prompted to reboot.
GhostBSD 2.5 - running Gnumeric
(full image size: 296kB, screen resolution 1024x768 pixels)
Booting into the freshly installed GhostBSD we're presented with a bright green graphical login screen. Signing in brings up the same LXDE desktop we saw before. There are no pop-ups, no welcome screen, no security updates notification. It's a plain, uncluttered, no frills sort of desktop. All of the operating system is squeezed onto one CD so there is a limited amount of software available, but the developers have managed to include the essentials. Looking at the application menu we find the Firefox web browser, the Pidgin instant messaging client and Transmission for handling torrents. Both AbiWord and Gnumeric are included for office work. The menu contains an audio player and a video player. During my trial I found all my media files would play without requiring additional codecs. There's a document viewer, image viewer, task manager, wi-fi manager and printer manager. There is a graphical package manager, which we'll cover later, and some basic network tools are included. The menu contains a text editor, calculator and virtual keyboard. I found neither Flash nor Java, but both the GNU Compiler Collection and the Clang compiler are included. Behind the scenes GhostBSD is based on FreeBSD 9.0 and features that project's base utilities and kernel.
I tested GhostBSD on two machines, a desktop box featuring a 2.5 GHz CPU, 2 GB of RAM and a NVIDIA video card. The operating system performed smoothly, detected all of my hardware and generally performed well. Boot times were a bit longer than I would expect from a modern Linux distribution, but otherwise I encountered no issues. I also ran GhostBSD on my HP laptop which features a dual-core 2 GHz CPU, 3 GB of RAM and an Intel video card. Again, start-up times aside, the operating system performed well. By default my Intel wireless card was not utilized, but I was able to find and load the required firmware. When sitting idle at the desktop I found GhostBSD used around 60MB of RAM, leaving plenty of memory for applications.
GhostBSD, being based on FreeBSD, can use the same command line tools to install and update software from the FreeBSD Ports Collection. In addition to the usual command line tools, GhostBSD comes with a graphical front-end for package management. I'm of the opinion the GUI looks a bit like Synaptic with software categories on the left side of the window and detailed package information on the right. We're able to search for software by name and by using keywords. For the most part the graphical front-end worked well for me. I did find if I tried to perform two tasks at once the manager would sometimes crash, but as long as I stuck to a one-at-a-time approach it worked well. One problem I ran into was that clicking the button to upgrade all installed packages would immediately result in a message assuring me the system was up to date. A quick check showed this was not the case and the message was due to a missing index file in the Ports directory. The command line tools were also unable to detect if updates were available. Once I had manually installed the Ports Collection I found the command line programs were able to identify software which could be updated, however the graphical front-end continued to falsely claim the system was up to date. This strikes me as a rather dangerous bug with the package manager as it's likely to lull users into a false sense of security.
GhostBSD 2.5 - running Gnumeric
(full image size: 390kB, screen resolution 1024x768 pixels)
I found using GhostBSD to be a curious mix of good and bad, smoothly working parts and malfunctions. Most of the time, the day-to-day tasks went smoothly. The operating system has a tiny memory foot print and I found the system to be quick, the menu was easy to navigate and there was a good supply of codecs and media support provided straight out of the gate. Installing new software was straight forward, the FreeBSD base is solid and stable and there's a small, but useful collection of applications included by default. Yet every so often I'd run up against issues which required some time to work around. The issue with the package manager not recognizing available updates was one example. Not having my laptop's wireless card detected automatically requiring the proper module to be located and loaded was another. The installer is functional, though manual partitioning posed a problem.
I suppose what it comes down to is GhostBSD does place a nice face on top of FreeBSD. It provides a pretty layer with useful software which allows a user to pop the CD in, test drive the operating system and get straight to work. However, it's probably best if people trying GhostBSD have an understanding of the underlying operating system. This project lowers the bar to trying a FreeBSD install, but does not remove that bar and potential users should be prepared to do a little digging around under the hood from time to time.
It is my impression that GhostBSD is off to a good start and just requires a few extra touches to make it a really user-friendly desktop. A little work on the installer could make it a first-class piece of software. Other little touches like putting the FreeBSD Handbook on the desktop and making updating the system's packages easier would make GhostBSD a really appealing system. As it is, despite its warts, I do think it makes it easy to get a FreeBSD desktop install in place with a minimal amount of fuss and that's a worthwhile venture. Even if you're not planning to install the system, GhostBSD's light live CD provides a good method for previewing what's coming out of the FreeBSD camp these days.
|Miscellaneous News (by Ladislav Bodnar)
Robyn Bergeron, Kubuntu funding, Ubuntu Business Desktop Remix, 20 years of SUSE and FreeBSD, Mandriva and Pardus updates
Fedora project leaders (FPL) tend to come and go and this process seems to have accelerated over the last few years. The long-serving Max Spevack was replaced by Paul Frields in January 2008, while Jared Smith took over the helms in June 2010. Now, less than two years into Smith's leadership the current FPL is about to step down: "One of the things I like most about the Fedora project is the opportunity for people to move and grow in (and out) of different roles and responsibilities. The position of Fedora Project Leader, in particular, has never been a long-term leadership position, but one that regularly invites new people to assume the role and bring new ideas and new energy to the project. I would like to take this opportunity to share some of my thoughts about being the Fedora Project Leader and inform you of upcoming changes in Fedora leadership. Any time we make leadership changes in Fedora, we that that challenge seriously, and do everything we can to make the leadership transition as smooth as possible."
Fedora won't go leaderless though as the link in the above paragraph also introduces the new Fedora leader. Her name is Robyn Bergeron (pictured on the right), she is a resident of Phoenix in the USA, and she has been a Fedora Program Manager and a member of the Fedora marketing team since late 2010 when she was employed by Red Hat. From Robyn's personal blog: "By now, most of you have probably heard that yours truly is the new Fedora Project Leader. I'm not going to get too preachy or soapbox-y here, but I have a few things to say. Big shoes to fill, I have before me. Some of the smartest and wisest and most inspiring people I know have sat in this seat; over the years since I joined the Fedora Project, they've become dear friends, co-workers, the peeps I can count on for advice, and guidance. These are interesting times, folks, and we have a TON of stuff going on in Fedora right now that is on the hockey-stick path to Awesomeness. The *rest* of smartest and wisest and most inspirational people I know are the diverse group of contributors who drive the Fedora Project forward every day; you all are the Doers, the people who make things happen, the people who take ideas and turn them into actions."
* * * * *
Perhaps the most widely discussed topic on Linux websites during the past week was Canonical's withdrawal of funding and support for Kubuntu, starting with version 12.10. Jonathan Riddell announced the bad news on KDE blogs: "Today I bring the disappointing news that Canonical will no longer be funding my work on Kubuntu after 12.04. Canonical wants to treat Kubuntu in the same way as the other community flavors such as Edubuntu, Lubuntu, and Xubuntu, and support the projects with infrastructure. This is a big challenge to Kubuntu of course and KDE as well." Jonathan Riddell, Kubuntu's founder and project leader (DistroWatch interviewed Jonathan back in August 2005), was on Canonical's payroll ever since the project became an official Ubuntu subproject, but it seems that, with all the recent drastic changes in orientation, desktop design and target market, Kubuntu's presence in Canonical's line-up perhaps seemed a little awkward. As if the company wanted to further distance itself from the traditional computer desktop and associate the word Ubuntu with Unity, touch-screen interfaces, TV sets and other modern gadgets. Kubuntu, with its vanilla KDE desktop interface, might have started to feel archaic in Canonical's future plans, a distraction from the company's ambitious goals to capture a much larger market share.
Of course, all this doesn't mean that Kubuntu is about to disappear. On the contrary, it might even prosper under a more open, community approach. Still, the overwhelming pessimism didn't stop some journalists and bloggers from burying the distribution. KDE and Kubuntu developer Richard Johnson vents his anger at irresponsible reporting in "Kubuntu Is Not Dead": "Kubuntu is not dead, it is in fact just as alive today as it was last month. Those of you who are posting things like, 'Time to jump ship' or 'Kubuntu is dead', where do you get your facts? Did you happen to read Jonathan's blog post? Where in there does it say that Kubuntu is dead? Why jump ship? Why jump ship to another distro that is only supported by a few instead of a larger community? ... Canonical is not stopping Kubuntu, they are stopping the funding. Stopping the funding doesn't mean that Kubuntu is dead. If you support the idea that Kubuntu is dead because of this, then damn near every distribution that you want to jump ship to is also dead. Jumping ship in a time like this equates to nothing more than a slap in the face of everyone who has worked their asses off to offer to you, free in every sense of the word, Kubuntu. Remember, Jonathan was the only paid Kubuntu developer, everyone else did it for free. Don't disrespect their hard work with your flawed logic."
* * * * *
In the meantime, Canonical has been busy vying businesses with a new product: Ubuntu Business Desktop Remix. Mark Shuttleworth has announced the product on his blog: We're publishing an initial version of the Ubuntu Business Desktop Remix today, based on Ubuntu 11.10. Deployment teams have long been modifying their Ubuntu installs to remove features like music players or games and add components that are a standard part of their business workflow. This remix takes the most common changes we've observed among institutional users and bundles them into one CD which can be installed directly or used as a basis for further customization. Before anyone gets all worked up and conspiratorial: everything in the remix is available from the standard Software Centre. Packages out, packages in. No secret sauce for customers only; we're not creating a RHEL, we already have an enterprise-quality release cadence called LTS and we like it just the way it is. This is a convenience for anyone who wants it." Ubuntu Business Desktop Remix is available for download from here (after registration and after agreeing to a licence agreement).
* * * * *
So which one is better? Ubuntu with Unity or Linux Mint with Cinnamon? If you still can't make up your mind, ZDNet's Terry Relph-Knight is here to help with an in-depth review entitled "A tale of two distros: Ubuntu and Linux Mint": "Ubuntu and Linux Mint are both stable, mature distributions with a wide range of compatible applications. If you're a business requiring commercial-level support for which you're willing to pay, then Ubuntu is the obvious choice. Home users who want out-of-the-box support for a wide range of media and can put up with the slightly later release dates might well prefer Mint. Some people take a rather dim view of Ubuntu's default earth-tone colour palette, and Mint certainly provides an appropriately cool green-and-grey alternative. Ubuntu does offer desktop themes in alternative palettes, although the default 'orange'-hued Ambience theme arguably has the most polished appearance. Then there's the choice between Ubuntu's Unity interface and Linux Mint's modifiable GNOME 3 shell. As we've seen, the UIs for both distros are works in progress, and in practice both offer an easy switch to variations on the earlier GNOME 2 if you don't get on with the default offerings."
* * * * *
It is perhaps hard to believe, but this year will mark the twentieth anniversary since the birth of SuSE Linux (as it was known back in 1992). Brian Proffitt looks back at the two turbulent decades: "While Linux itself celebrated its twentieth anniversary in high style last year, 2012 will be the year of the lizard, as SUSE Linux steps up to celebrate two decades as the world's oldest commercial Linux entity. The company has announced it 'will showcase major historical milestones throughout the year and discuss plans for the future at a series of events throughout the world that will include SUSECon 2012, the premier event for SUSE customers, partners and enthusiasts,' according to a press release out today. But this relatively long existence almost didn't come to pass, as what began as S.u.S.E. GmbH in 1992 has undergone two major takeovers, a partnership with Microsoft that led to near-revolt in the Linux community, and a heretofore-unknown consideration by Red Hat to purchase the German Linux company just prior to the turn of the century. According to Kerry Kim, who is now Director of Solution Marketing at SUSE Linux, then-SuSE Linux AG approached Red Hat to possibly acquire SuSE around the 1999-2000 time period."
* * * * *
With FreeBSD also about to enter its third decade of existence and with new stable releases arriving at semi-regular intervals, one could easily come to a conclusion that everything is going great in the world of the popular open-source operating system. But as with any project of this size, voices of discontent are never far away. The most recent one came from John Kozubik who has a few harsh words for the FreeBSD release engineering process. Nathan Willis reports for Linux Weekly News: "On January 16, John Kozubik posted to the FreeBSD-hackers list and expressed his disappointment in some of the recent trends in the project. Namely, an increasingly-slow release cycle, too many overlapping "production" releases, and an estrangement between the core developers and end users when it comes to support issues like bug fixes. The list has since debated Kozubik's assessment of the situation in a heroically long thread, but while the majority agree that FreeBSD would benefit from refocusing its energies and polishing its processes, it has not yet developed a concrete plan of action. Kozubik himself is not a FreeBSD developer; he manages enterprise production environments that run almost 1,000 FreeBSD machines. As he explained in his initial message, he was disappointed to hear that the next point release of the OS, 8.3, has been pushed back to March 2012 -- more than a year after 8.2."
* * * * *
Mandriva Linux may not be as old as either SUSE or FreeBSD, but it has established itself as a well-known Linux entity on a worldwide scale. Sadly, its days could be numbered as yet another financial crisis engulfs the Paris-based company. Peter Cannon takes a brief look at Mandrake and Mandriva's highs and lows: "Released in 1998 and based on Red Hat Linux 5.1 Mandrake (Mandriva) was probably ahead of its time in respect of trying to get people to pay for Linux by running the Mandrake Club. Basically the club, which was closed in 2009, was a paid membership, yearly fee, in bronze, silver or gold, and optional corporate status. It gave you access to releases before the public. Members also got access to the Powerpack edition for free, (two releases per year). Powerpack had proprietary drivers, a (legal) DVD player and the official Adobe reader. It also gave access to dedicated update and download mirrors, meaning better performance, and it also provided a closed forum and support, help desk etc. Thereby being amongst the first to offer in effect support contracts for their products."
* * * * *
Another Linux distribution currently fighting for survival is Pardus Linux, a Turkish project that has garnered some following over the last few years. But with those responsible for funding unable to come to a firm decision, talks about a possible fork of the distribution have intensified. Susan Linton reports for OStatic: "In a lengthy explanation Pardus developer Bahadır Kandemir said, 'They are not shutting down the project, they are killing it very slowly.' He's speaking of the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey and their recent decisions that spell nothing less than the abandonment of this wonderful Linux distribution. Political climates are volatile and evolving by the day in the Middle East and it appears this little project may be yet another casualty. Kandemir explains that many of those in management who cared and supported the project were reassigned or given early retirement. Boards were manned with 'non-academic and non-talented people who have nothing to do with science, research and development.' Despite TUBITAK denials, developers have been resigning on a daily basis, according to Kandemir. He said that Pardus had about 35 developers last year and now only five remain."
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Tracking and identifying users through web browser data
Am-I-anonymous asks: I've heard that my browser can be uniquely identified and tracked. Is this true, should I be worried about it?
DistroWatch answers: When you visit a web page there are typically many pieces of information which get transferred to the server. The name of the browser, its version, which operating system you're running, which add-ons you have installed, your IP address, information stored in cookies... The list goes on. Quite often your IP address itself is enough to uniquely identify the computer during one session, but over multiple sessions, is the browser unique? Maybe not entirely unique, but probably unique enough to make a guess at who you are.
After receiving this question I did a quick scan of a web server's log files and found even when ignoring IP addresses and cookies, it was possible to identify many users uniquely just by looking at the browser's name, version number and operating system. That being said, some websites seem designed to make people think their browser is more identifiable than it really is. Take this page, hosted by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Visiting this page declares my web browser unique. Changing my IP address and returning to the page again identifies my browser as still being unique, which makes the verdict suspect. However, even if the page comes to the wrong conclusion it does show the visitor some of the information available to web hosts and packet sniffers which can be used to take a fingerprint of the browser.
As to how worried one should be about this, I suppose that depends on where you are and what you're doing. And, for that matter, what your privacy concerns are. A friend of mine likes to say browsing the web is a bit like yelling in a public place and people should act (and post) accordingly. Personally I think that's a good piece of advice. Still, if you're interested in making it more difficult to track your browser there are some tools available. Items like the user-agent switcher extension for Firefox can make the browser change its identity at will. The HTTPS Everywhere extension helps to prevent people from listening in on your network traffic and technologies like Tor and web proxies can help keep a person anonymous. Privacy seekers should probably prevent their browser from accepting cookies and maintaining a history as those things make it easy to track a person's browsing habits.
While we're on the topic of privacy I'd like to bring up something I see as an inconsistency among a vocal minority in the open-source community. It seems whenever a story appears talking about Ubuntu's OEM installs sending a "count me" signal to Canonical or PC-BSD installs checking into BSD-Stats there is an explosion of people complaining about privacy violations and demanding the feature be removed. Yet, at the same time, those outraged comments are being posted from browsers which send ten times more information to the websites where the posts appear and our package managers send more information to repository mirrors almost every day. There seems to be a misunderstanding as to just how much information our computers transmit and to who and by what methods. For those interested in seeing just what their computers are sending to the outside world I recommend installing Wireshark and taking a look at the traffic being sent over the wire.
|Released Last Week
Sabayon Linux 8
Fabio Erculiani has announced the release of Sabayon Linux 8, a modern Gentoo-based distribution with a choice of GNOME 3, KDE 4 and Xfce desktops: "Busier than busy bees, we're once again here to announce the immediate availability of Sabayon 8 in all of its tier-1 flavours. If you really enjoyed Sabayon 7, this is just another step towards world domination. There you have it, shining at full bright, for your home computer, your laptop and your home servers. Linux kernel 3.2, GNOME 3.2.2, KDE 4.7.4 (4.8.0 available in the testing repository), Xfce 4.8, LibreOffice 3.4.4 are just some of the things you will find inside the box. Read the full release announcement for more details and relevant links.
Sabayon Linux 8 - the default KDE desktop
(full image size: 260kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Kai Hendry has announced the release of Webconverger 11.2, a Debian-based, browser-only live CD designed for Internet kiosks: "11.0 was a great and popular release. Thank you! 11.2 builds on that with: Firefox 10; Linux kernel 3.2 with TCP proportional rate reduction; removal of confusing tab groups from Firefox, making things simpler; stop accidental downloads of unknown mimetypes, therefore saving precious bandwidth; for developers - build upgraded to live build a42 from Debian Live and source has moved to Github; 10 second retry on net error for cases where network isn't quite ready; more (non-free) wireless firmware - realtek, libertas, brcm80211 and atheros, which means your wireless kiosk will almost certainly work. Here are the full release notes with notes on upgrading and future plans.
Superb Mini Server 1.6.4
Superb Mini Server (SMS) 1.6.4, a Slackware-based server distribution, has been released: "Superb Mini Server version 1.6.4 released (Linux kernel 22.214.171.124). This minor release brings security updates to 2.6.39 kernels for CVE-2012-0056 local root exploit, where a local user could gain root privileges by modifying process memory, and for various packages such as OpenSSL, Samba, Apache server, PHP. This is the last release with GCC 4.5.3 as we will follow Slackware 'Current' with GCC 4.6.2 and 3.2.x kernels. The 3.2.5 kernels built with GCC 4.5.3 are available from the SMS kernel repository if anyone wants an early upgrade. Also Eric Hameleer's OpenJDK packages adopted, replacing JDK and JRE packages. The SMS live CD now issues default passwords at login prompt to help the lazy ones, and comes with kernel 3.2.5, just for the fun of it. Read the rest of the release announcement which includes a changelog.
CrunchBang Linux 10 R20120207
Philip Newborough has released an updated set of CrunchBang Linux 10 "Statler" CD images, a lightweight Debian-based distribution featuring the Openbox window manager: "As previously discussed, I have updated the 'Statler' images. The new images do not constitute a new release, at least not for anyone who is content with using the previous 20111125 images. However, due to some concerns which were expressed over the default use of Backports packages, there are now two sets of images, 'stable' and 'backported'. The 'stable' images ship with Debian's stable kernel (2.6.32) and stable X.Org (7.5), while the 'backported' images ship with Linux 3.2 and X.org (7.6) and automatically track any packages that enter the Debian Backports repository. Both sets of images use backported versions of Iceweasel (10.0) and Geany (0.20). Also, GDM has been restored as the default display manager. See this forum post to learn about the changes in this release.
AV Linux 5.0.3
Glen MacArthur has announced the release of AV Linux 5.0.3, a Debian-based multimedia oriented distribution with a custom kernel enabled for low-latency audio performance: "AV Linux 5.0.3 'Tube' has been released. It represents some important refinements and tweaks to the very successful 5.0.2 release. AV Linux 5.0.3 will be the last ISO update of the 5.0 series and for the first time it is accompanied with a 3-part YouTube screencast detailing what's new in AV Linux 5.0.3. Highlights include Trulan Martin's 3.0.16 Kernel, Iceweasel 9.0.1, gThumb replaces GPicview, better OOTB M-Audio Fast Track Pro 24-bit support, LinuxDSP's PEQ-2 demo, a few handy hidden scripts and important updates to almost every featured Video Editor. Changelog: move to Linux ernel 3.0.16 with USB duplex fix; supply performance CPU defaults for AC and on-demand defaults for laptops running on battery.... Read the rest of the release announcement for a full changelog and a screenshot of the default LXDE desktop.
Mike Eriksen has announced the release of Thinstation 5.0, a small and open-source thin client operating system based on CRUX: "After about a year of development Thinstation 5.0, the successor to Thinstation 2.2.2, has been released. Thinstation 5.0 is based on the CRUX 2.7 code, but the user front-end is very much the same as previously, i.e. it still uses build.conf and thinstation.conf. There are of course some new things to learn (2.2.x is more than five years old) but the soul and spirit is all the same. However, there are new requirements: a simple build requires 64 MB of RAM and an i686 class processor is required. This is 16-year old technology, any CPU post 2003 works and almost any post 1996 does. For package developers Thinstation 5.0 is great news. It is so easy now to add own packages or modify existing ones thanks to the standardized CRUX code base. Read the release announcement and visit the project's website to learn more.
Thinstation 5.0 - a thin client operating system based on CRUX
(full image size: 1,318kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Soren Jacobsen has announced the release of NetBSD 5.1.2: "The NetBSD Project is pleased to announce that version 5.1.2 of the NetBSD operating system is now available. NetBSD 5.1.2 is the second critical/security update of the NetBSD 5.1 release branch. It represents a selected subset of fixes deemed critical for security or stability reasons. Please note that all fixes in critical/security updates (i.e., NetBSD 5.0.1, 5.0.2, etc.) are cumulative, so the latest update contains all such fixes since the corresponding minor release. These fixes will also appear in future minor releases (i.e., NetBSD 5.1, 5.2, etc.), together with other less-critical fixes and feature enhancements. NetBSD 5.1.2 is dedicated to the memory of Yoshihiro Masuda, who passed away in May 2011. See the brief release announcement and the detailed release notes for further information.
Parsix GNU/Linux 3.7r2
Alan Baghumian has announced the release of the second revision of Parsix GNU/Linux 3.7, a desktop distribution and live DVD based on Debian's stable branch: "The second and probably the last update release of Parsix GNU/Linux 3.7, code name 'Raul', is available now. This version comes with several updated packages including GNU Iceweasel 10.0 and also merges all the published security and bug-fix updates as of February 10, 2012. It is hard to believe that it has been seven years since we published our first public release. We have come a long way and are hoping to be able to serve our user community as long as we can. Soon we will start to work on the next version of Parsix GNU/Linux which will be shipped with GNOME 3.x series and GNOME Shell extensions. Stay tuned. See the release announcement and release notes for further details.
Chakra GNU/Linux 2012.02
Anke Boersma has announced the release of Chakra GNU/Linux 2010.02, one of the first distribuitons featuring the recently released KDE 4.8 desktop: "The Chakra development team is proud to announce the first release of the KDE 4.8 series, code name 'Archimedes'. With this release KDE is updated to 4.8.0, kernel to Linux 3.2.2. A new theme, Ronak, is introduced. Updated Qt, boost, Subversion, Phonon packages, libxcb stack, to name a few of the newer base packages included. A switch to GRUB 2 has been decided on, to be more compatible with other operating systems. Chakra is now offering a DVD and CD edition. The CD edition gets you to a minimal working KDE desktop, with only a text editor, file manager, web browser and a simple media player installed. The DVD includes all the language packs, most of standard KDE applications, LibreOffice 3.4.5, Amarok.... More details in the release announcement.
Chakra GNU/Linux 2012.02 - one of the first distributions shipping with KDE 4.8
(full image size: 829kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Frugalware Linux 1.6
Miklós Vajna has announced the release of Frugalware Linux 1.6, a general-purpose distribution for desktops and servers: "The Frugalware developer team is pleased to announce the immediate availability of Frugalware Linux 1.6, our sixteenth stable release. No new features have been added since 1.6rc2, but 93 changes have been made to fix minor bugs. Here are the most important changes since 1.5: updated packages - Linux kernel 3.1.10, X.Org Server 1.11.2, GNOME 3.2, KDE 4.7, LibreOffice 3.4.5, Mozilla Firefox 10.0 to name a few major components; i686 and x86_64 ISO images are now hybrid and we no longer build separate USB images for these architectures; cpupower can be used to configure your CPU power management; UEFI/EFI support has been removed from i686; UUIDs are now used by the installer when generating the /etc/fstab for new installs.... Read the remainder of the release announcement for a full list of new features and upgrade instructions.
Frugalware Linux 1.6 - the default KDE 4.7.4 desktop
(full image size: 519kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
New distributions added to database
* * * * *
New distributions added to waiting list
- SmartRouter. SmartRouter is a Brazilian specialist distribution for routers, firewalls and proxy servers. The project's website is in Portuguese.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 20 February 2012.
Jesse Smith and Ladislav Bodnar
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|Linux Foundation Training
|• Issue 777 (2018-08-20): YunoHost 126.96.36.199, limiting process resource usage, converting file systems on Fedora, Debian turns 25, Lubuntu migrating to Wayland|
|• Issue 776 (2018-08-13): NomadBSD 1.1, Maximum storage limits on Linux, openSUSE extends life for 42.3, updates to the Librem 5 phone interface|
|• Issue 775 (2018-08-06): Secure-K OS 18.5, Linux is about choice, Korora tests community spin, elementary OS hires developer, ReactOS boots on Btrfs|
|• Issue 774 (2018-07-30): Ubuntu MATE & Ubuntu Budgie 18.04, upgrading software from source, Lubuntu shifts focus, NetBSD changes support policy|
|• Issue 773 (2018-07-23): Peppermint OS 9, types of security used by different projects, Mint reacts to bugs in core packages, Slackware turns 25|
|• Issue 772 (2018-07-16): Hyperbola GNU/Linux-libre 0.2.4, UBports running desktop applications, OpenBSD auto-joins wi-fi networks, boot environments and zedenv|
|• Issue 771 (2018-07-09): Linux Lite 4.0, checking CPUs for bugs, configuring GRUB, Mint upgrade instructions, SUSE acquired by EQT|
|• Issue 770 (2018-07-02): Linux Mint 19, Solus polishes desktop experience, MintBox Mini 2, changes to Fedora's installer|
|• Issue 769 (2018-06-25): BunsenLabs Helium, counting Ubuntu users, UBports upgrading to 16.04, Fedora CoreOS, FreeBSD turns 25|
|• Issue 768 (2018-06-18): Devuan 2.0.0, using pkgsrc to manage software, the NOVA filesystem, OpenBSD handles successful cron output|
|• Issue 767 (2018-06-11): Android-x86 7.1-r1, transferring files over OpenSSH with pipes, LFS with Debian package management, Haiku ports LibreOffice|
|• Issue 766 (2018-06-04): openSUSE 15, overview of file system links, Manjaro updates Pamac, ReactOS builds itself, Bodhi closes forums|
|• Issue 765 (2018-05-28): Pop!_OS 18.04, gathering system information, Haiku unifying ARM builds, Solus resumes control of Budgie|
|• Issue 764 (2018-05-21): DragonFly BSD 5.2.0, Tails works on persistent packages, Ubuntu plans new features, finding services affected by an update|
|• Issue 763 (2018-05-14): Fedora 28, Debian compatibility coming to Chrome OS, malware found in some Snaps, Debian's many flavours|
|• Issue 762 (2018-05-07): TrueOS 18.03, live upgrading Raspbian, Mint plans future releases, HardenedBSD to switch back to OpenSSL|
|• Issue 761 (2018-04-30): Ubuntu 18.04, accessing ZFS snapshots, UBports to run on Librem 5 phones, Slackware makes PulseAudio optional|
|• Issue 760 (2018-04-23): Chakra 2017.10, using systemd to hide files, Netrunner's ARM edition, Debian 10 roadmap, Microsoft develops Linux-based OS|
|• Issue 759 (2018-04-16): Neptune 5.0, building containers with Red Hat, antiX introduces Sid edition, fixing filenames on the command line|
|• Issue 758 (2018-04-09): Sortix 1.0, openSUSE's Transactional Updates, Fedora phasing out Python 2, locating portable packages|
|• Issue 757 (2018-04-02): Gatter Linux 0.8, the UNIX and Linux System Administration Handbook, Red Hat turns 25, super long term support kernels|
|• Issue 756 (2018-03-26): NuTyX 10.0, Neptune supplies Debian users with Plasma 5.12, SolydXK on a Raspberry Pi, SysV init development|
|• Issue 755 (2018-03-19): Learning with ArchMerge and Linux Academy, Librem 5 runs Plasma Mobile, Cinnamon gets performance boost|
|• Issue 754 (2018-03-12): Reviewing Sabayon and Antergos, the growing Linux kernel, BSDs getting CPU bug fixes, Manjaro builds for ARM devices|
|• Issue 753 (2018-03-05): Enso OS 0.2, KDE Plasma 5.12 features, MX Linux prepares new features, interview with MidnightBSD's founder|
|• Issue 752 (2018-02-26): OviOS 2.31, performing off-line upgrades, elementary OS's new installer, UBports gets test devices, Redcore team improves security|
|• Issue 751 (2018-02-19): DietPi 6.1, testing KDE's Plasma Mobile, Nitrux packages AppImage in default install, Solus experiments with Wayland|
|• Issue 750 (2018-02-12): Solus 3, getting Deb packages upstream to Debian, NetBSD security update, elementary OS explores AppCentre changes|
|• Issue 749 (2018-02-05): Freespire 3 and Linspire 7.0, misunderstandings about Wayland, Xorg and Mir, Korora slows release schedule, Red Hat purchases CoreOS|
|• Issue 748 (2018-01-29): siduction 2018.1.0, SolydXK 32-bit editions, building an Ubuntu robot, desktop-friendly Debian options|
|• Issue 747 (2018-01-22): Ubuntu MATE 17.10, recovering open files, creating a new distribution, KDE focusing on Wayland features|
|• Issue 746 (2018-01-15): deepin 15.5, openSUSE's YaST improvements, new Ubuntu 17.10 media, details on Spectre and Meltdown bugs|
|• Issue 745 (2018-01-08): GhostBSD 11.1, Linspire and Freespire return, wide-spread CPU bugs patched, adding AppImage launchers to the application menu|
|• Issue 744 (2018-01-01): MX Linux 17, Ubuntu pulls media over BIOS bug, PureOS gets endorsed by the FSF, openSUSE plays with kernel boot splash screens|
|• Issue 743 (2017-12-18): Daphile 17.09, tools for rescuing files, Fedora Modular Server delayed, Sparky adds ARM support, Slax to better support wireless networking|
|• Issue 742 (2017-12-11): heads 0.3.1, improvements coming to Tails, Void tutorials, Ubuntu phasing out Python 2, manipulating images from the command line|
|• Issue 741 (2017-12-04): Pop!_OS 17.10, openSUSE Tumbleweed snapshots, installing Q4OS on a Windows partition, using the at command|
|• Issue 740 (2017-11-27): Artix Linux, Unity spin of Ubuntu, Nitrux swaps Snaps for AppImage, getting better battery life on Linux|
|• Issue 739 (2017-11-20): Fedora 27, cross-distro software ports, Ubuntu on Samsung phones, Red Hat supports ARM, Parabola continues 32-bit support|
|• Issue 738 (2017-11-13): SparkyLinux 5.1, rumours about spyware, Slax considers init software, Arch drops 32-bit packages, overview of LineageOS|
|• Issue 737 (2017-11-06): BeeFree OS 18.1.2, quick tips to fix common problems, Slax returning, Solus plans MATE and software management improvements|
|• Issue 736 (2017-10-30): Ubuntu 17.10, "what if" security questions, Linux Mint to support Flatpak, NetBSD kernel memory protection|
|• Issue 735 (2017-10-23): ArchLabs Minimo, building software with Ravenports, WPA security patch, Parabola creates OpenRC spin|
|• Issue 734 (2017-10-16): Star 1.0.1, running the Linux-libre kernel, Ubuntu MATE experiments with snaps, Debian releases new install media, Purism reaches funding goal|
|• Issue 733 (2017-10-09): KaOS 2017.09, 32-bit prematurely obsoleted, Qubes security features, IPFire updates Apache|
|• Issue 732 (2017-10-02): ClonOS, reducing Snap package size, Ubuntu dropping 32-bit Desktop, partitioning disks for ZFS|
|• Issue 731 (2017-09-25): BackSlash Linux Olaf, W3C adding DRM to web standards, Wayland support arrives in Mir, Debian experimenting with AppArmor|
|• Issue 730 (2017-09-18): Mageia 6, running a completely free OS, HAMMER2 file system in DragonFly BSD's installer, Manjaro to ship pre-installed on laptops|
|• Issue 729 (2017-09-11): Parabola GNU/Linux-libre, running Plex Media Server on a Raspberry Pi, Tails feature roadmap, a cross-platform ports build system|
|• Issue 728 (2017-09-04): Nitrux 1.0.2, SUSE creates new community repository, remote desktop tools for GNOME on Wayland, using Void source packages|
|• Issue 727 (2017-08-28): Cucumber Linux 1.0, using Flatpak vs Snap, GNOME previews Settings panel, SUSE reaffirms commitment to Btrfs|
|• Issue 726 (2017-08-21): Redcore Linux 1706, Solus adds Snap support, KaOS getting hardened kernel, rolling releases and BSD|
|• Full list of all issues|
|Random Distribution |
During LinuxTag 2004 the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) and the company credativ unveiled the Linux Government Desktop. The Linux Goverment Desktop has been developed within the scope of the project ERPOSS which evaluates Open Source Software in government environments. Composed entirely of free software the distribution was available as a live CD as well as an install CD. One of the highlights brought by the Government Desktop was the fact that it saves the whole data on encrypted filesystems. Furthermore KMail was preconfigured to send and receive encrypted e-mail (GnuPG and S/MIME) and to make use of all kinds of authority certificates. The package was completed by integrated spam and virus protection and a preconfigured personal firewall.