| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 489, 7 January 2013
Welcome to this year's first issue of DistroWatch Weekly! PC-BSD has become the premier development platform for users who enjoy the concept of running FreeBSD on a desktop OS. The project's latest version, 9.1, adds a large number of interesting improvements and features, such as Warden jails and new software management options, that make it a worthy contender among the many desktop-focused operating systems. But should you consider switching from Linux to another, less-notable desktop OS? Read the review below to find out what we think. In the news section, an Arch Linux developer takes a look at some of the popular Arch spin-offs to find an ideal alternative for less technically inclined Linux users, a Fedora proponent gives a clear an unbiased view of the rolling-release development model, Ubuntu's Mark Shuttleworth announces the Ubuntu mobile phone, and Mandriva finally sets up a non-profit organisation that unites the developers and contributors of the once highly popular desktop Linux distro. Also in this issue, the regular look at the movers and shakers of the free OS world through our page hit ranking statistics and a Question & Answers section on removing pre-installed applications from Ubuntu. Finally, we are pleased to announce that the recipient of the December 2012 DistroWatch.com donation is Remastersys, a project developing a useful tool that can turn any Debian or Ubuntu installation into a live CD or DVD image. Happy reading!
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (64MB) and MP3 (68MB) formats
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Making computing easier: PC-BSD 9.1
I would like to begin the new year by talking about a project which I had the chance to play with in the final weeks of 2012. This project is PC-BSD, an effort sponsored by iXsystems which places a polished desktop layer on top of the FreeBSD operating system. Though at first glance it might appear as though PC-BSD 9.1 is a simple point release over last year's 9.0 release, the project's blog paints a very different picture. Some of the key features to PC-BSD's 9.1 release include the introduction of TrueOS, a server edition of PC-BSD. Basically, TrueOS is FreeBSD with a nice graphical installer, PBI tools and various modern conveniences which we will get to later. The new release of PC-BSD includes support for ZFS pools that include swap space, this allows users to create installs that are exclusively ZFS based and we will also touch on the benefits of this later.
PC-BSD 9.1 expands on its Warden feature. The Warden is a graphical (and command line) solution for managing FreeBSD jails. This release of PC-BSD adds a feature which will let the Warden create a variety of useful jails, including Linux jails. Also in this version we find the EasyPBI utility, a graphical program which makes it easy to create PBI modules from the FreeBSD ports tree. This lowers the bar for contributing new software to PC-BSD's PBI collection. This version introduces boot environment administration (beadm), a feature which allows administrators to create snapshots of their operating system prior to applying upgrades and allows the admin to then roll back to previous OS versions if something breaks. We also see improved wireless support in this release and updates to various features and to the documentation.
Installation and first impressions
The current version of PC-BSD comes in a number of different builds. There is a large installation DVD (3.5 GB), a large USB install option (3.4 GB), a live USB image (1 GB to download, 4 GB once expanded), a light USB image (1 GB) and there are VirtualBox and VMware images. Each download option is offered in 32-bit and 64-bit builds. The live CD option from previous releases has been removed in favour of the larger live USB option. I decided to download the 32-bit build of the DVD edition.
PC-BSD 9.1 - adjusting system settings and reading the documentation
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Booting from the DVD brings up a graphical environment and automatically launches the PC-BSD graphical installer. The first thing the installer asks for is our preferred language. We can then choose what sort of installation we would like to perform and there are quite a few options. The default choice in my case was to install PC-BSD with KDE. Other options included the PC-BSD base with our choice of GNOME, Xfce or LXDE. There is another option called TrueOS which is essentially FreeBSD with the addition of some nice command line tools developed by the PC-BSD team. There is also an option to install plain FreeBSD, useful for people who want to try FreeBSD, but who wish the convenience of a graphical installer.
What I like about this selection screen is each bundle comes with a description explaining why we might want to go with that option. For instance, we're told KDE is full featured and will require more RAM. The LXDE environment is recommended for lower end machines such as netbooks. Opting to take one default bundle over another is not an exclusive choice. There is a "Customize" button on the page which allows us to declare which packages and graphical environments we want. We can use this easy to navigate tree of software to add or remove specific parts of an environment, for example I can remove the Games section of KDE. We can also add additional drivers, development tools and (officially) unsupported graphical environments such as IceWM, Openbox and Enlightenment.
The next screen of the installer covers disk partitioning. By default I found the installer would try to take over available free space on the drive and it suggested reasonable partition layouts. On lower end machines the installer will recommend we use UFS for our file system and, on machines with more RAM, the installer recommends ZFS. Should we wish to customize our partition layout we can take one of three options: beginner, intermediate or advanced. The beginner option is very simple, the installer just asks which disk partition we want to use and whether our data should be encrypted. The middle option lets us set more options including whether to use UFS or ZFS, disk encryption and RAID options. The advanced partitioning option will let us dig around the system using FreeBSD's command line partitioning utilities. I decided to go with the defaults and set up a plain ZFS-based system without encryption.
At this point we are pretty much done for a while and we can sit back, watching the progress bars as the installer copies its files to the hard drive. Something I'd like to add here is that each screen of the installer has four buttons along the bottom. One of these brings up a window which shows which hardware devices PC-BSD is able to recognize and which devices it cannot match with drivers. This allows us to check our hardware compatibility before we commit to an install. Another button brings up an on-screen keyboard and the third brings up an option to change our default keyboard map. The forth button will provide documentation for the current screen of the installer. The documentation provides helpful hints as to how to get through each step. I suspect most people won't need the documentation as many people can get through the installer by just clicking the "Next" button a few times. The "Customize" button for advanced options is on each screen, but we can ignore it and just sail through with the defaults if we like.
Once the installer finishes copying files to the hard drive we reboot the machine and are brought to another graphical screen where we are asked some configuration questions. First we are asked to test and confirm our display settings, then a quick full screen video plays letting us know whether the video and sound settings work. We're asked to confirm the system is using the correct language and then we can confirm our time zone. The last two steps in the process are setting a root password and creating a regular user account. From there we are brought to a graphical login screen.
The first time we login to PC-BSD a welcome wizard pops up and shows us how to get on-line (if we are not already) and how to find the package manager and Control Panel. The welcome wizard also provides tips for setting up backup jobs, acquiring software updates and where we can get further help. Specifically, the welcome screen mentions the PC-BSD website, Wiki and community forum as places where we can get assistance. Once we dismiss the welcome screen we find ourselves presented with a traditional desktop layout with an application menu in the lower-left corner of the screen and icons on the desktop. These icons can be used to launch PC-BSD's package manager (called AppCafe), open the Control Panel or open a PDF version of the project's Handbook. I feel the Handbook deserves special mention. It contains over 300 pages of detailed information on how to use PC-BSD and it features numerous screen shots, step-by-step instructions and, perhaps most importantly, a table of contents. I found it a very useful resource.
During my trial with PC-BSD I tended to swap between two desktop environments, namely KDE and LXDE. I hoped this would give me a general feel for what the two environments had in common and what would be presented differently. While both desktops have their unique styles, I found the overall presentation is pretty much the same. Both environments present us with convenient desktop icons, both place the application menu and task switcher at the bottom of the screen and both have similar themes and wallpaper. The KDE environment is heavier and a bit slower, at least with the default settings. I found once desktop file indexing was turned off, KDE responded smoothly. The LXDE desktop is quite light and very responsive. Since each desktop environment comes with its own bundle of applications and since the user can customize their software selection during the install process, there doesn't seem to be any reason to talk about the many possible combinations of default software. Instead I would like to cover the utilities which exist commonly across environments. What is it that comes with PC-BSD, regardless of our graphical environment?
PC-BSD 9.1 - applying software updates and the default desktop
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The first piece of software I'd like to look at is Life Preserver, the PC-BSD backup utility. This program sits idle in the system tray. Clicking on its icon brings up a graphical wizard which walks us through providing a hostname, username and password for another computer. I suppose it could be a machine anywhere on the Internet, but I chose to use a machine on my local area network. We can specify any remote machine so long as it runs an OpenSSH server and we have an account on that machine. Once we have filled in all the fields Life Preserver synchronizes our home directory with a folder on the remote machine. Should we wish to we can specify how often our local files are copied to the remote computer and we can tell Life Preserver how many of these snapshots to keep on the remote machine.
What I really like about Life Preserver's approach is it will perform its backups on a set schedule and automatically clean out older backups once it has hit its maximum number of snapshots. All of these snapshots are stored on the remote machine in a folder called "life-preserver", separating our backup data from the rest of our account on the remote machine. It's really quite straight forward and we can click on the Life Preserver icon at any time to discover when the last backup ran and whether it completed successfully. The only concern I had with using this tool arose when it came time to restore files. If we use the Life Preserver GUI we need to be able to provide the exact path name of the file to be restored. Alternatively we can login to the remote machine using any OpenSSH client, such as Filezilla, to browse for and restore our file if we do not know the file's full path name.
Package management is handled by a program called AppCafe. This application provides users with a web-like interface for browsing through applications. We can locate software either by browsing through categories of packages or by searching for software by name. Clicking on a package brings up a screen with the software's name, license, size and a brief description. We can queue a package for installation by pressing a button. Once we have selected a package to install AppCafe begins downloading the software in the background while we continue to use the package manager. AppCafe organizes software a little differently than most Linux package managers.
Where on Linux we typically use filters to see what software is installed, what is available and what can be upgraded, AppCafe is effectively split into two parts or tabs. The first tab lets us find and install software. The second tab displays software which has already been installed and, next to each package, is a status indicator letting us know if the package can be upgraded. I found this separation of packages in the repositories vs. software on the local machine to be fairly intuitive. One feature I especially like is once a package has been installed we can opt to set that package to automatically update in the future. For instance, if we always want to have the latest version of Firefox, but we want to manually update all other packages, it is possible to set Firefox to update on its own whenever a newer version enters the repository.
Speaking of updates, whenever the system detects newer versions of software in the repositories, an icon in our system tray lets us know updates are waiting. Clicking on the notification icon opens the AppCafe and displays the packages currently installed, with notices next to the packages we can upgrade. Here we can choose to update any (or all) available packages. One feature I was happy to see included in this release of PC-BSD is delta updates. The PBI packages PC-BSD uses tend to be larger than their Linux counterparts and having delta updates greatly reduces the amount of bandwidth required to install new versions. For instance, installing Firefox the first time required a download of approximately 100MB, however the following update for Firefox took a mere 2 MB.
PC-BSD 9.1 - package management and backups
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Software management and system configuration
Software management on PC-BSD is a bit different than on most other operating systems so I'd like to talk a bit about what goes on behind the scenes. There are, in effect, three categories of software PC-BSD users can access. The first group is system software, those are packages which are part of the base FreeBSD operating system or which PC-BSD comes with out of the box. This collection of software is generally handled for us behind the scenes and requires little to no effort on our part. The second group is made up of PBI packages which are handled by AppCafe. We just talked about how to access these. A PBI package is special in that it carries its dependencies with it. This allows us to run multiple versions of software and install third-party software without concern for missing dependencies or running into conflicts where package A needs one version of a library, but package B needs another version. These built in dependencies make PBI packages bigger, but it also means they are fairly atomic. The third collection of software available to us is the FreeBSD Ports Collection. This optional group of software can be added to PC-BSD using the FreeBSD package handling tools and may be convenient for users seeking greater flexibility or special configurations.
The Control Panel deserves a quick mention. Regardless of which desktop environment we install, the PC-BSD control centre is always available to us. This control centre looks quite a bit like KDE's System Settings panel and, in some ways, there is a functionality overlap. The PC-BSD Control Panel gives us the ability to configure most aspects of the operating system. From this panel we can launch the AppCafe, manage the firewall, adjust the display settings, create new PBI packages, launch the Warden (more on the Warden in a moment), change Adobe Flash settings and get information on the system's hardware. In addition we can gain access to the Life Preserver backup tool, set up printers and scanners, and set default applications. I like this unified approach which works across desktops as it makes getting help on forums and through the documentation more straight forward.
One more feature I want to touch on as I feel it brings a lot of convenience to PC-BSD users is the Warden. On FreeBSD (and derived systems) system administrators can make use of jails, a sort of virtual environment roped off from the rest of the operating system. While jails have always been powerful, they have also been a bit cumbersome to use. The Warden is a management system for jails and it makes creating and manipulating jails a simple experience. The Warden has two interfaces, the command line for server systems and a graphical interface which can be accessed through the PC-BSD Control Panel. There are three types of jails the Warden can manage, traditional jails for system and network services, ports jails which allows us to install third-party software safely while still giving those installed packages access to the desktop environment and, finally, Linux jails.
Using the Warden we can create a jail which will bootstrap either a Gentoo or a Debian environment, handy if we want to run software that has been ported to Linux, but not to BSD. I tried setting up a Debian jail and found the required packages downloaded and installed in about ten minutes, making the jail set up faster than if I had downloaded and installed Debian GNU/Linux myself. Aside from the security and convenience of being able to run these isolated systems, the Warden will allow administrators running ZFS to make regular snapshots of jails. Let's say we installed Debian and added a LAMP service. We could take a snapshot of this jail as soon as the set up was completed and create regular snapshots in the future. This would let us roll back to a previous point in time that was known to be good in the event of the jail becoming corrupted or infected. All of this is handled by a very simple graphical interface where creating or destroying a jail happens with a few mouse clicks.
PC-BSD 9.1 - jail management using the Warden
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I tried out PC-BSD on two physical machines, my desktop and a laptop, as well as in a VirtualBox virtual machine. Things went pretty well on the laptop (dual-core 2 GHz CPU, 4 GB of RAM, Intel video card, Intel wireless card). My display was set up properly and audio worked out of the box. I did have a few moments of trial and error getting my wireless card working, but it eventually all came together. I had slightly less luck with my desktop box (dual-core 2.8 GHz CPU, 6 GB of RAM, Radeon video card and Realtek network card). Again, sound worked and I had no trouble getting on-line, but PC-BSD had trouble working with my Radeon card. I found the only way I could get the operating system to boot was to force the system to use the fallback VESA graphics driver. This worked fairly well, but it meant I could not make use of my screen's maximum resolution and video performance was a bit lacking.
When running in the virtual environment PC-BSD worked quite well. I did find that, again, video resolution wasn't optimal, but otherwise I encountered no problems. Memory wise I found PC-BSD to be a touch heavier than its Linux counterparts. When I was running KDE the system's active memory usage was approximately 330MB and when running the lighter LXDE interface the operating system used about 200MB of memory. The boot times I experienced with PC-BSD were noticeably slower than with most Linux distributions, but the performance once the system completed booting was very good. The desktop environments were always responsive and tasks completed quickly even when I was juggling several items at once.
After a couple of weeks of running PC-BSD I have to say I am impressed. In part because of the number of new features the developers have managed to stuff into this point release, but mostly because these features are so polished. People in the BSD community tend to emphasize the point that FreeBSD is a complete operating system, developed in unity, whereas Linux distributions are better described as a collection of separate parts assembled by the distributor. I believe we are seeing the benefit of centralized development in PC-BSD. Most of the tools, the package manager, the Warden, the ZFS support, the backup solutions, etc, all of these are put together by a unified team for a single platform. This gives the developers a chance at making a smooth, integrated experience. It's nice to be able to read the documentation and know that the instructions for adjusting a setting are the same for a person running KDE as they are for a person running LXDE. Having recently spent time reviewing Linux Mint, where there are multiple spins based on multiple bases it is nice to know that if I ask for help on the PC-BSD forum I don't first have to specify which platform and spin I'm using, with PC-BSD the base is always FreeBSD and the controls are all the same across spins.
Another important aspect of PC-BSD which stood out was the way it makes many administrative tasks simple and streamlined. Backups are a prime example. To set up a regularly scheduled backup of my account took all of about ten seconds, accomplished simply by providing the hostname and login credentials of another computer to which I had access. From there PC-BSD will continue to perform regular backups and rotate out stale backups from the remote machine. Package management is likewise straight forward, allowing users to find and install software with just a few clicks and software queued for installation gets processed in the background, out of the way. Having ZFS as an integrated file system option is a nice addition. In the past PC-BSD could use ZFS, but it wasn't as smooth an experience as setting up UFS partitions. Now creating ZFS pools is almost entirely automated and users will be able to quickly set up regular snapshots of the entire file system quite easily. Having ZFS as a front-and-centre option also means users will be able to quickly add new storage space to their operating systems simply by plugging in a new hard drive and adding the device to their existing ZFS pool. There are nice little touches with boot environment administration too. For example, if we create a boot snapshot, perform an upgrade and then, a week later, decide we want to roll back to a previous snapshot, beadm will let us to that. The beadm tool also knows not to roll back our data files or settings to last week's state, the rollback only affects the operating system itself.
Lastly, I want to touch on the Warden. Being able to set up FreeBSD jails with just a few clicks and make regular snapshots of them via an elegant GUI is a really great feature. It makes managing and migrating FreeBSD jails straight forward. I particularly love that I could get a Debian jail up and running in about the same amount of time as it would take to download the Debian net-install ISO. This is a welcome feature and I suspect it will be especially useful for cross-platform development.
Nothing is perfect and PC-BSD does have an Achilles' heel, specifically hardware compatibility. As much as I enjoyed the polish and the features and the wonderful ease of use, I suspect hardware support will be the make or break issue for most people. On my desktop machine I could get PC-BSD working, but only with reduced resolution and video performance. On my laptop things basically worked well, but it took a little tinkering to get my wireless card up and running. When running the operating system in a virtual machine I installed the VirtualBox guest additions, but couldn't get PC-BSD to display its desktop at full resolution. Luckily hardware support with PC-BSD is not a trial and error process, the hardware compatibility tool takes the surprises out of testing the distribution, even when running from the plain installation media.
I definitely recommend trying PC-BSD. This new release has really taken a step forward in usability and features compared to where the project was even a year ago. I would say 9.1 brings to the table a level of ease of use and trouble-free administration only found in a few of the top ranking Linux distributions. It is well worth the time to test drive this latest release.
|Miscellaneous News (by Ladislav Bodnar)
Arch developer evaluates spin-offs, Fedora coder ponders rolling-release model, Ubuntu unveils mobile platform, Mandriva sets up non-profit organisation
The concept of the rolling-release development model, as epitomised by the ever so successful Arch Linux, has mesmerised many users in the Linux community. But what if you enjoy Arch Linux more than its idea to keep your software up-to-date? You have plenty of choices, thanks to the many Arch Linux derivatives. Alan McRae summarises some of them in the "Battle of the Arch Spin-Offs": "According to DistroWatch, there are eleven 'distributions' 'based' on Arch Linux. I use 'distributions' in quotes, because some are far less of a distribution than others and 'based' gets quotes because some are so based that they are really Arch Linux in a poor disguise... I have seen a bunch of new release announcements for several of these distributions in the last few days, so I thought I would take some for a spin and see what I am missing out on. All distributions were tested in VirtualBox with a 128 GB disk and 2 GB RAM." The article compares Chakra GNU/Linux 2012.12, Cinnarch 2012.12.21 and Manjaro Linux 0.8.3 "Xfce" edition. And which was the best? "Sadly, I do not think there were any winners today," concludes the author.
* * * * *
In a recent mailing list discussion, the developers of Fedora have touched on the concept of developing a usable rolling-release distribution for the general public to use. But as always, the idea sounds better on paper than in reality. Fedora developer Kevin Fenzi explains: "There was a discussion on the Fedora development list late last year about moving to a more rolling-release model, and I have seen people continue to suggest this in various places since then, so I thought I would write up my thoughts on rolling releases and how they can/could apply to Fedora." And the conclusion? "You probably don't want to be using a rolling-release. With a timed release, you can choose when you have time to upgrade to the newest collection of software, re-learn new applications and UI's, rebuild/fix local code to new libraries, etc. With a rolling release, you are at the mercy of the upstream projects and your distro as to when you have to accept and adjust to a change. So, if 'Rawhide' is a rolling release and some folks want Fedora to do one, why don't they just use Rawhide? I think there's a number of reasons for that, many around Rawhide being too raw for day-to-day use."
* * * * *
In recent years, the Ubuntu distribution has teen turning more and more into a mobile operating system, especially with the introduction Unity as the default desktop user interface. Or at the very least, many users suspected this. But with the end of 2012, this thinking has become official as Mark Shuttleworth, the Ubuntu founder, outlined the future of the once-popular desktop computer OS: "Unity in 2013 will be all about mobile - bringing Ubuntu to phones and tablets. Shaping Unity to provide the things we've learned are most important across all form factors, beautifully. Broadening the Ubuntu community to include mobile developers who need new tools and frameworks to create mobile software. Defining new form factors that enable new kinds of work and play altogether. Bringing clearly into focus the driving forces that have shaped our new desktop into one facet of a bigger gem. It's also why we'll push deeper into the cloud, making it even easier, faster and cost effective to scale out modern infrastructure on the cloud of your choice, or create clouds for your own consumption and commerce." As a proof, the company also unveiled the Ubuntu mobile phone last week, or more precisely, an idea that some day in the distant future, may become reality....
* * * * *
Finally, a link to the announcement about Mandriva Linux becoming a non-profit association: "2013 has started well with the news of the official incorporation of the OpenMandriva Association. The OpenMandriva Association is a France-based legal entity that has been founded by the community and for the community to further the development of the former Mandriva Linux distribution. Mandriva S.A. is pleased by this news and welcomes the OpenMandriva Association as a partner it will work with in a mutually beneficial way. The OpenMandriva Association is a French NGO ('Association de loi 1901') that will be in charge of representing the OpenMandriva community to channel and attract resources and contributors. The crucial step of incorporation is the result of six months of hard work involving several parties, including Mandriva S.A., but it also shows the commitment of Mandriva S.A. to set the community free and help it create an independent entity to continue the work on the Linux distribution. Mandriva S.A. is thus very happy about the news; it sets a landmark in the rebirth of OpenMandriva as an independent community and of Mandriva S.A. as a key player in the industry of open-source enterprise software."
|Statistics (by Ladislav Bodnar)
DistroWatch Page Hit Ranking statistics in 2011 and 2012
Although not a reliable method for determining distribution usage by any means, the DistroWatch Page Hit Ranking statistic is perhaps a good indicator of trends and shifts in the world of free operating system, at least among the users who visit this website. And as always this time of the year, we once again take a brief look at the movers and shakers of the distro world in the annual comparison table. Who was up and who was down during the turbulent year of 2012, best characterised by the emergence of often controversial new desktop user interfaces?
As evident from the table below, Mageia was the distribution that made the biggest inroad into the statistical compendium of 2012. This seems to have surprised many readers. But it shouldn't have; while Mageia might be a relatively new name on the Linux distro scene, it is the logical successor of the once highly popular Mandrake Linux (later renamed to MandrakeLinux and Mandriva Linux) that dominated the ranking in the early days of DistroWatch. The distribution clearly continues to have many loyal fans and supporters. Nevertheless, its rise has probably been exaggerated by the curiosity of those casual visitors who, surprised by the presence of a lesser-known name in the table, might have visited its page to find out more about the distribution. In contrast to the growing interest in Mageia, Mandriva Linux (29th) suffered badly, dropping out of the top 25 list for the first time ever. Interestingly, another Mandriva fork, Russia's ROSA, has also risen dramatically during the past year.
Another distribution reaching new heights include Zorin OS, an interesting Ubuntu variant that keeps getting excellent marks from Linux beginners, while Snowlinux, a Debian-based distribution with a traditional desktop interface (MATE in the most recent version) and aggressive release schedule, Pear Linux, a flashy Ubuntu-based distribution with an OS X-like user interface, and Fuduntu, a fork of Fedora with a rolling-release development model, all reached the top 25 for the first time. The distributions that fell from the list include Scientific Linux (39th) which lost much of its glitter once CentOS finally returned to business, MEPIS Linux (49th), a Debian-based desktop distro with KDE, Pinguy OS (34th), an Ubuntu flavour which suffered from much reduced development activity in 2012, and PC-BSD (27th), a FreeBSD-based operating system for the desktop. Other then these movements, the rest of the list remained largely unchanged, with Linux Mint consolidated its top spot with a noticeably higher page hit count for 2012 when compared to the previous year.
As always, the disclaimer. The DistroWatch Page Hit Ranking statistics shouldn't be taken too seriously - they are a fun way of looking at what's hot and what's not among this site's visitors, but they almost certainly do not reflect install base or distribution quality.
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Removing pre-installed applications
Taking-it-apart asks: I have often heard that software not being used should be removed from the computer for security reasons. But recently I read an article which recommended against removing pre-installed applications from PCs running Ubuntu. Which is right? What's your advice?
DistroWatch answers: First, let us build some context around the advice for removing software from the operating system if that software isn't in use. Typically this is good security advice for people running network servers. If you find yourself running a web server and that server, by default, also runs a mail service you do not use, then the mail service is unnecessary "attack surface". It is a running program which is not being used, but which may be remotely exploited. For this reason it would be a good idea to disable the mail service and, optionally, remove it from the system.
In the context of the server machine two important things were happening: an unwanted service was actively running and it was accessible over the network, exposing the service to remote attacks. Now, if we look at the advice given to people running Ubuntu on their PCs (I'm assuming PC is used here to mean a desktop or laptop machine and therefore the computer is probably running Ubuntu's Desktop edition) we find a different context. By default I don't believe Ubuntu's Desktop edition runs any network services, this greatly reduces the potential security risk. The operating system isn't running unwanted network services and therefore there is very little exposure to remote attacks. There may be a handful of applications included in the default installation you don't run, but in that case they aren't running and are not a security threat. Programs which aren't run are not much of a threat, they're just digital lumps taking up space on the hard drive.
The reason some people warn against removing software from a default desktop installation is that the user is more likely to damage their system by removing key software packages than they are to be attacked via those packages. When a user starts purging software form their system there is always a risk they may remove too much or that the package manager might make a mistake and remove a required dependency. This leads us to a scenario where the user is at greater risk of damaging the system by removing packages than the system faces from outside attackers.
The key is context. People want their servers to be lean, efficient and to have the fewest possible points of attack. A desktop machine typically isn't open to the same sorts of network attacks and is designed with a lot more interconnecting software. If you do plan on making your desktop operating system leaner, then I suggest experimenting with two things:
- Use a package manager which will tell you exactly what it is doing. Synaptic is good for this. Alternatively, running your distribution's command line package manager will provide the maximum amount of information. This will help you avoid accidentally deleting your entire desktop environment.
- Install your desktop distribution in a virtual machine and practice removing software from the virtual environment. This will let you have a practice run and, if anything breaks, it's no big deal because it's just a throw away virtual machine.
|Released During Last Two Weeks
Ryan Finnie has announced the release of Finnix 107, a small, self-contained, bootable Linux CD distribution for system administrators, based on Debian's testing branch: "Today I am pleased to announce the release of Finnix 107, only two months from the previous release, but packed with new functionality and bug fixes. Finnix 107 includes Linux kernel 3.6, and includes a fix for the (overhyped, it seems) ext4 corruption bug. Average Finnix startup times have been reduced even further by the cleanup of legacy code. In addition, the shutdown procedure, which largely has not changed in years, got a revamp and is now noticeably quicker. The x86 ISO is now being built with the isohybrid method, meaning you can now write the ISO directly to a USB flash drive at the block level to boot it." Read the release announcement and release notes for further information.
Jeff Rizzo has announced the release of NetBSD 6.0.1, the first security and bug-fix update of the project's 6.0 branch: "The NetBSD project is pleased to announce NetBSD 6.0.1, the first security and bug-fix update of the NetBSD 6.0 release branch. It represents a selected subset of fixes deemed important for security or stability reasons. Please note that all fixes in security and bug-fix updates (i.e., NetBSD 6.0.1, 6.0.2, etc.) are cumulative, so the latest update contains all such fixes from the corresponding minor release (in this case, 6.0). Major changes: posix_spawn() - fix processes with attributes; resolve races between vget() and vrele() resulting in vget() returning dead vnodes...." For more details please read the comprehensive release notes.
Calculate Linux 13
Alexander Tratsevskiy has announced the release of Calculate Linux 13, a Gentoo-based distribution for desktops and servers: "We are proud to announce the final release of Calculate Linux 13. Main changes and fixes: meta-packages are no longer used to manage default dependencies; Portage files will be unpacked when booting for the first time; better identification of NTFS partitions; fixed the user profile configuration for VMware; Composite enabled by default for VMware; should you want to replace main applications, their launch icons will be created correctly; in case the user modified the local Portage overlay repositories, those can now be restored; Calculate Utilities were updated to 3.1; full French translation now available...." Read the rest of the release announcement for a full list of changes.
Calculate Linux 13 - the default KDE desktop
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Toorox 01.2013 "KDE"
Jörn Lindau has announced the release of Toorox 01.2013 "KDE" edition, a Gentoo-based distribution and live CD featuring the KDE 4.9.4 desktop environment: "Toorox 01.2013 'KDE' has been finished and you can download it as 32-bit or 64-bit image. This release is based on the latest Linux kernel 3.7.1. All packages have been updated. KDE has been updated to the latest version, 4.9.4. The release also contains X.Org Server 1.13.0, LibreOffice 188.8.131.52, Chromium 24.0.1312.45, VLC 2.0.5, WINE 1.5.20, GIMP 2.8.2. With this release, Toorox makes use of UUIDs instead of simple device names in the fstab file. So a ramdisk (initramfs) is now necessary after the installation for booting the system from hard disk. The hard disk installer has been enhanced as to that. Have fun with Toorox." Here is the brief release announcement.
GParted Live 0.14.1-6
Curtis Gedak has announced the release of GParted Live version 0.14.1-6, a new version of the specialist Debian-based live CD designed for data rescue and disk partitioning tasks: "The GParted team is proud to announce a new stable release of GParted Live. The big news with this release is the added ability to boot the live image on UEFI firmware computers, while maintaining boot ability on traditional PC/BIOS computers. This means that GParted Live can now boot on newer Windows 8 computers. In addition to supporting UEFI firmware, two more GNU/Linux operating system images have been released: i686-PAE (Physical Address Extension) and AMD64 (x86_64). These new images permit addressing more than 4 gigabytes of RAM, and enable using multiple processor cores. Other items of note include: updated Linux kernel to 3.2.35-2; based on the Debian 'sid' repository as of 2012-12-23." Visit the project's news page to read the release announcement.
AgiliaLinux 8.1.1, 184.108.40.206
AgiliaLinux 8.1.1 has been released. AgiliaLinux is a Russian Slackware-derived distribution with a custom, dependency-resolving package manager and support for several pre-configured desktop environments. Changes in this release include: fixed problems with dBUS in Openbox causing nm-applet to work incorrectly; fixed dcron - now it creates pid-file and rc-service crond restart works correctly; fixed the PHP build on x86_64 architecture; fixed calculation of required space during installation; added phonon-gstreamer to KDE without which there were problems with sound; support for fbdev video driver and modesetting in live mode; fixed a problem with hostname and NetworkManager; fixed problem with "grey faces" in YouTube and updated libvdpau to 0.5; Firefox now uses the default system language, not English; the mpkg package manager now always uses "safe" mode to update packages; updated Linux kernel to 3.6.11, Qt to 4.8.4 and KDE to 4.9.4.... Read the release announcement (in Russian) for a full list of bug fixes and other changes.
FreeBSD 9.1 has been released: "The FreeBSD Release Engineering team is pleased to announce the availability of FreeBSD 9.1-RELEASE. This is the second release from the stable/9 branch, which improves on the stability of FreeBSD 9.0 and introduces some new features. Some of the highlights: new Intel GPU driver with GEM/KMS support; netmap(4) fast userspace packet I/O framework; ZFS improvements from Illumos project; CAM Target Layer, a disk and processor device emulation subsystem; optional new C++11 stack including LLVM libc++ and libcxxrt; jail devfs, nullfs, zfs mounting and configuration file support; POSIX2008 extended locale support, including compatibility with Darwin extensions; oce(4) driver for Emulex OneConnect 10Gbit Ethernet card...." Read the release announcement for highlights and the release notes for a detailed description of new features.
Parsix GNU/Linux 4.0r1
The honour of the first release announcement of 2013 goes to Parsix GNU/Linux, a distribution based on Debian's testing branch and featuring the GNOME 3 desktop: "The updated 4.0r1 version has been synchronized with Debian's testing repositories as of December 29, 2012 and brings lots of updated packages compared to Parsix 3.7 aka Raul. Parsix Gloria is project's first release with the GNOME 3 series and ships with LibreOffice productivity suite by default. Gloria has a brand-new software manager package. Highlights: GNOME 3.4.2, X.Org 7.7, GRUB 2, GNU Iceweasel 17.0.1, GParted 0.12.1, Empathy 220.127.116.11, LibreOffice 3.5.4, VirtualBox 4.1.18 and a brand-new kernel based on Linux 3.2.35 with TuxOnIce 3.3, BFS and other extra patches. The live DVD has been compressed using Squashfs and xz. Main changes are: X.Org Server 1.12.4, glibc 2.13, GIMP 2.8.2, Grisbi 0.8.9, VLC 2.0.5, xFarDic 0.11.7." See the detailed release notes for more information and upgrade instructions.
Semplice Linux 3.0.0
Eugenio Paolantonio has announced the release of Semplice Linux 3.0.0, a lightweight distribution based on Debian's unstable branch and featuring the Openbox desktop user interface: "The Semplice project is pleased to announce the immediate release of Semplice Linux 3.0.0, the first stable version of the 3.0.x 'pulse' series. Semplice Linux 3.0.0 contains: Openbox 3.5.0, the window manager used in Semplice; Linux kernel 3.2.35, bringing the latest and greatest drivers and performance; Chromium web browser 22.0.1229.94 based on the WebKit rendering engine; Exaile 3.3.1, a music manager and player for GTK+ written in Python; GNOME MPlayer 1.0.6, the power of MPlayer combined with a friendly interface; AbiWord 2.9.2 and Gnumeric 1.10.17; Pidgin Internet Messenger 2.10.6, a graphical, modular Instant Messaging client; Guake terminal 0.4.3, a GTK+ drop-down terminal...." Read the release announcement and release notes for further details.
Semplice Linux 3.0.0 - a Debian-based distribution with Openbox
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Ultimate Edition 3.5
A new version of Ultimate Edition, an Ubuntu 12.04 remix with KDE as the default desktop, was announced earlier today: "What is Ultimate Edition 3.5? Ultimate Edition 3.5 was built off Ultimate Edition 3.4 and Ubuntu 12.04 'Precise Pangolin' release. All packages fully updated and upgraded, old kernels purged, new initrd and vmlinuz rebuilt. Ultimate Edition 3.5 is everything Ultimate Edition 3.4 has plus multiple operating environments; KDE being the default. Ultimate Edition 3.5 has a new GTK+ 3 theme and a comprehensive set of software packages. Just to bring you up to date, I have Ultimate Edition 3.6 in local testing based on Ubuntu 12.10 'Quantal Quetzal'. I am currently running Ultimate Edition 3.4 Lite based on Ubuntu 12.04 'Percise Pangolin' with a solo environment of GNOME 2 which is quite responsive." See the release announcement and the brief release notes for more information.
Ultimate Edition 3.5 - an Ubuntu-based distribution with much eye candy
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Tomáš Matějíček has announced the release of Slax 7.0.3, an updated release of the project's Slackware-based live CD: "A new version of Slax is available for download. This release adds several new features and fixes a few bugs as well. Probably the most interesting feature is PXE boot support and improved X auto-detection. All modern computers nowadays support PXE, which allows booting an operating system over network interface independently of data storage devices (like hard disks). Slax fully supports PXE booting now. How to do that? One computer will act as a server, so just boot Slax on it from CD or USB and make sure to have the appropriate boot menu option 'Act as PXE server' checked. Slax on the server computer will provide DHCP, TFTP and HTTP services to enable PXE booting for other computers on the network." See the full release announcement for a list of new features and changes.
Lars Torben Kremer has announced the release of Snowlinux 4, a Debian-based distribution with MATE (a desktop environment forked from GNOME 2): "The team is proud to announce the release of Snowlinux 4 'Glacier'. Snowlinux 4 is based upon Debian GNU/Linux 7.0 'Wheezy' and uses Linux kernel 3.5. MATE 1.4 is the default desktop environment and LightDM as the new default login manager that replaces GDM 3. It includes its own greeter for LightDM. Many new features have been introduced, like snowMenu, the Snowlinux menu and snowMount, the Snowlinux mount tool for drives. The Snowlinux metal theme was colored blue and the icon set was updated with the latest Faience icons. Snowlinux now uses Pidgin as the default IM client. This release comes with Firefox 17 and Thunderbird 17, LibreOffice, Rhythmbox and Shotwell." Read the rest of the release announcement which includes a screenshot and upgrade information.
Snowlinux 4 - a Debian-based distribution with MATE
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Bodhi Linux 2.2.0
Jeff Hoogland has announced the release of Bodhi Linux 2.2.0, an Ubuntu-based distribution featuring the Enlightenment 0.17 window manager as the default desktop user interface: "The Bodhi team and I are very happy to present to you our 2.2.0 release - the first Bodhi images to feature the stable E17 desktop. This release is exciting for a number of reasons. To start with, we are introducing a few new things with this update release. With this release, we will now be maintaining two 32-bit install discs: one that is PAE enabled by default and one that is not. The kernel without PAE will be an older stable kernel (in this case 3.2) while the PAE enabled kernel will be the latest kernel - for 2.2.0 this means 3.7 kernel. Our 64-bit release also comes with the 3.7 kernel. These discs are also our first released images that are hybrid ISO images." See the release announcement for further details, relevant links and obligatory screenshots.
Chakra GNU/Linux 2013.01
Anke Boersma has announced the release of Chakra GNU/Linux 2013.01, the fifth update of the project's "Claire" series featuring the new KDE 4.9.5 desktop: "The Chakra project team is proud to announce the fifth 'Claire' release, (a code name that follows the KDE SC 4.9 series). The day the 2012.12 release was announced as the final ISO image in the 'Claire' series, KDE announced there was going to be a KDE 4.9.5. That fact combined with KDE 4.10 release being pushed back 2 - 3 weeks and many base packages updated, the team decided to have one more 'Claire' release. Among updates in this release are KDE 4.9.5, OpenSSL and krb5 stack, sound group, KDE telepathy 0.5.2 to name a few. ISOlinux (the start-up of the live session) received a face-lift, plus booting into existing operating system and Memtest86+ options were added." See the complete release announcement for more information.
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
December 2012 DistroWatch.com donation: Remastersys|
We are happy to announce that the recipient of the December 2012 DistroWatch.com donation is Remastersys, a unique tool that creates a live image from an installed Debian or Ubuntu system. It receives US$300.00 in cash.
Developed by Tony Brijeski, Remastersys is described as "a tool that can be used to do two things with an existing Debian GNU/Linux, Ubuntu or derivative installation: 1. It can make a full system backup including personal data to a live CD or DVD that you can use anywhere and that can be installed. 2. It can make a distributable copy you can share with friends. This will not have any of your personal user data in it. The resulting ISO image file can be used on any other PC that still meets the original minimum requirements of Ubuntu or Debian. Things like the graphics card and other hardware will be configured and set up automatically and you do not have to use identical hardware. Ubuntu's live boot tool, Casper, currently blacklists NVIDIA and AMD proprietary drivers so they will not be available on the live system and will need to be re-installed after installation of your custom system." Visit the project's website to learn more.
Tony Brijeski has sent DistroWatch a thank-you note: "Thanks very much for the donation. It is an honour to be given such a large donation from DistroWatch and I thank you very much once again for it. Regards, Tony."
Launched in 2004, this monthly donations programme is a DistroWatch initiative to support free and open-source software projects and operating systems with cash contributions. Readers are welcome to nominate their favourite project for future donations. Those readers who wish to contribute towards these donations, please use our advertising page to make a payment (PayPal and credit cards are accepted). Here is the list of the projects that have received a DistroWatch donation since the launch of the programme (figures in US dollars):
Since the launch of the Donations Program in March 2004, DistroWatch has donated a total of US$33,985 to various open-source software projects.
- 2004: GnuCash ($250), Quanta Plus ($200), PCLinuxOS ($300), The GIMP ($300), Vidalinux ($200), Fluxbox ($200), K3b ($350), Arch Linux ($300), Kile KDE LaTeX Editor ($100) and UNICEF - Tsunami Relief Operation ($340)
- 2005: Vim ($250), AbiWord ($220), BitTorrent ($300), NDISwrapper ($250), Audacity ($250), Debian GNU/Linux ($420), GNOME ($425), Enlightenment ($250), MPlayer ($400), Amarok ($300), KANOTIX ($250) and Cacti ($375)
- 2006: Gambas ($250), Krusader ($250), FreeBSD Foundation ($450), GParted ($360), Doxygen ($260), LilyPond ($250), Lua ($250), Gentoo Linux ($500), Blender ($500), Puppy Linux ($350), Inkscape ($350), Cape Linux Users Group ($130), Mandriva Linux ($405, a Powerpack competition), Digikam ($408) and Sabayon Linux ($450)
- 2007: GQview ($250), Kaffeine ($250), sidux ($350), CentOS ($400), LyX ($350), VectorLinux ($350), KTorrent ($400), FreeNAS ($350), lighttpd ($400), Damn Small Linux ($350), NimbleX ($450), MEPIS Linux ($300), Zenwalk Linux ($300)
- 2008: VLC ($350), Frugalware Linux ($340), cURL ($300), GSPCA ($400), FileZilla ($400), MythDora ($500), Linux Mint ($400), Parsix GNU/Linux ($300), Miro ($300), GoblinX ($250), Dillo ($150), LXDE ($250)
- 2009: Openbox ($250), Wolvix GNU/Linux ($200), smxi ($200), Python ($300), SliTaz GNU/Linux ($200), LiVES ($300), Osmo ($300), LMMS ($250), KompoZer ($360), OpenSSH ($350), Parted Magic ($350) and Krita ($285)
- 2010: Qimo 4 Kids ($250), Squid ($250), Libre Graphics Meeting ($300), Bacula ($250), FileZilla ($300), GCompris ($352), Xiph.org ($250), Clonezilla ($250), Debian Multimedia ($280), Geany ($300), Mageia ($470), gtkpod ($300)
- 2011: CGSecurity ($300), OpenShot ($300), Imagination ($250), Calibre ($300), RIPLinuX ($300), Midori ($310), vsftpd ($300), OpenShot ($350), Trinity Desktop Environment ($300), LibreCAD ($300), LiVES ($300), Transmission ($250)
- 2012: GnuPG ($350), ImageMagick ($350), GNU ddrescue ($350), Slackware Linux ($500), MATE ($250), LibreCAD ($250), BleachBit ($350), cherrytree ($260), Zim ($335), nginx ($250), LFTP ($250), Remastersys ($300)
* * * * *
Change in ISO image linking in release announcements
As many readers have noticed, since 1 January 2013 the release announcements on the front page of DistroWatch contain links to 64-bit ISO images only. This is in line with the recent trend where the x86_64 architecture has clearly become the most popular and most downloaded even with relatively conservative distributions, such as Debian GNU/Linux. As such, the ix86 links will no longer be listed, except in obvious situations, e.g. when the announcement is from a project which does not provide images compiled for the x86_64 architecture or when the project's focus is developing a distribution for older computers. This arrangement will also free up space for linking to ISO images of the various editions that some projects might choose to provide. As always, the release announcement will continue to carry a direct link to the distribution's download page so that those readers who need ISO images for one of the alternative architectures might easily reach it. As always, reader opinion is welcome so feel free to discuss this topic in the comments section below.
* * * * *
New distributions added to waiting list
- DidJiX. DidJiX is an Arch-based Linux distribution featuring Mixxx, an advanced software applications for disc jockeys.
- GnomerOS. GnomerOS is an openSUSE-based Linux distribution with Linux Terminal Server Project (LTSP) software - a free and open-source terminal server for Linux that allows many people to simultaneously use the same computer.
- Mega Linux. Mega Linux is an openSUSE-based Linux distribution for everyday work. It includes the GNOME 3 desktop and many useful programs, such as the Firefox web browser, Skype, and the Banshee audio player.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 14 January 2013. To contact the authors please send email to:
- Jesse Smith (feedback, questions and suggestions: distribution reviews, questions and answers, tips and tricks)
- Ladislav Bodnar (feedback, questions, suggestions and corrections: news, donations, distribution submissions, comments)
- Bruce Patterson (feedback and suggestions: podcast edition)
|Linux Foundation Training
|• 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|
|• Issue 790 (2018-11-19): NetBSD 8.0, Bash tips and short-cuts, Fedora's networking benchmarked with FreeBSD, Ubuntu 18.04 to get ten years of support|
|• Issue 789 (2018-11-12): Fedora 29 Workstation and Silverblue, Haiku recovering from server outage, Fedora turns 15, Debian publishes updated media|
|• Issue 788 (2018-11-05): Clu Linux Live 6.0, examining RAM consumpion, finding support for older CPUs, more Steam support for running Windows games on Linux, update from Solus team|
|• Issue 787 (2018-10-29): Lubuntu 18.10, limiting application access to specific users, Haiku hardware compatibility list, IBM purchasing Red Hat|
|• Issue 786 (2018-10-22): elementary OS 5.0, why init keeps running, DragonFly BSD enables virtual machine memory resizing, KDE neon plans to drop older base|
|• Issue 785 (2018-10-15): Reborn OS 2018.09, Nitrux 1.0.15, swapping hard drives between computers, feren OS tries KDE spin, power savings coming to Linux|
|• Issue 784 (2018-10-08): Hamara 2.1, improving manual pages, UBports gets VoIP app, Fedora testing power saving feature|
|• Issue 783 (2018-10-01): Quirky 8.6, setting up dual booting with Ubuntu and FreeBSD, Lubuntu switching to LXQt, Mint works on performance improvements|
|• Issue 782 (2018-09-24): Bodhi Linux 5.0.0, Elive 3.0.0, Solus publishes ISO refresh, UBports invites feedback, Linux Torvalds plans temporary vacation|
|• Issue 781 (2018-09-17): Linux Mint 3 "Debian Edition", file systems for SSDs, MX makes installing Flatpaks easier, Arch team answers questions, Mageia reaches EOL|
|• Issue 780 (2018-09-10): Netrunner 2018.08 Rolling, Fedora improves language support, how to customize Kali Linux, finding the right video drivers|
|• Issue 779 (2018-09-03): Redcore 1806, keeping ISO downloads safe from tampering, Lubuntu makes Calamares more flexible, Ubuntu improves GNOME performance|
|• Issue 778 (2018-08-27): GuixSD 0.15.0, ReactOS 0.4.9, Steam supports Windows games on Linux, Haiku plans for beta, merging disk partitions|
|• Issue 777 (2018-08-20): YunoHost 18.104.22.168, 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|
|• Full list of all issues|
Star Labs - Laptops built for Linux.
View our range including the Star Lite, Star LabTop and more. Available with a choice of Ubuntu or Linux Mint pre-installed with many more distributions supported. Visit Star Labs for information, to buy and get support.
|Random Distribution |
SmartPeer was a free, open source load balancing solution that runs from a single bootable CD-ROM. SmartPeer allows you to easily balance your web traffic to distribute the load across multiple servers, effectively reducing bandwidth bottlenecks that could potentially overload a single server.