| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 503, 15 April 2013
Welcome to this year's 15th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! One interesting open-source software phenomenon is the availability of source code for all applications. For commercial Linux companies, like Red Hat, this has interesting implications, such as the possibility to be "cloned" by third parties. Over the years CentOS and Scientific Linux have emerged as the most popular free (as in "gratis") rebuilds of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). Today's feature story is an overview and comparison of the two projects' most recent releases, both based on RHEL 6.4. In the news section, the PCLinuxOS developers release their first-ever variant for 64-bit computer systems, Lucas Nussbaum is elected as the new Debian Project Leader, Ubuntu readies the upcoming release with a host of new features but with shorter support, and Fedora delays the alpha release of version 19 over two installer bugs. Also in this issue, the developers of Cinnarch ponder their distro's future - without the much-loved Cinnamon desktop user interface. Finally, in a follow-up to our last week's article on ZFS and Btrfs file systems, a reader wants to know how the two compare with the more established Linux file system - the ext4. We wish you all a great Monday and, as always, happy reading!
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Bring in the clones - CentOS and Scientific Linux
In March 2013 two projects, CentOS and Scientific Linux, released updates to their respective distributions. Both projects provide clones of Enterprise Linux free of cost. As such both projects are important to the Linux ecosystem as they provide a means for users to take advantage of stable, high quality software without the high cost associated with enterprise quality products. While both projects released clones of Enterprise Linux 6.4 and while both projects maintain binary compatibility with their upstream software provider, these projects do carry subtle differences. They may be binary compatible with each other, but each project takes a slightly different approach in their presentation and configuration. With this in mind I would like to talk about what it is like to set up both CentOS and Scientific Linux.
Website & focus
Let's examine CentOS first. The CentOS team released version 6.4 of their distribution on March 9, 2013. The website indicates their distribution is designed to be binary compatible with their upstream vendor and very few changes are made to the upstream packages. Artwork and branding from upstream is swapped out for CentOS specific images and text, a few minor configuration changes are introduced, but otherwise CentOS maintains high fidelity with upstream. The project maintains detailed release notes and serves up both 32-bit and 64-bit builds of the CentOS distribution. The distribution is available in three editions. There is a minimal install ISO (300 MB), a net-install option (189MB) and a torrent file which will enable users to download two "Everything" DVDs which contain all of the distribution's packages. Some of the project's mirrors (though not all) additionally supply copies of the "Everything" ISO images directly for users who do not wish to download via BitTorrent. I opted to download the first of the two "Everything" DVDs as only the first disc is required for performing an installation. I find that I like the CentOS website, it's clean, easy to navigate and provides plenty of documentation along with helpful user forums.
Where CentOS seems intent on maintaining a distribution as close to upstream as possible, Scientific Linux has a slightly different mission statement. While still compatible with upstream, Scientific has an additional mission which is to provide a common base distribution that can be used between multiple scientific laboratories. This allows different labs to start with a common platform and build tools on top of the distribution and these tools can then be shared with other labs. Scientific Linux 6.4 was released on March 28, 2013. The distribution is available in both 32-bit and 64-bit builds. The download flavours include an installation DVD (3.4GB), a rescue & net-install CD (159MB) and two "Everything" DVD images which total 4.6GB in size. Previous releases of Scientific included a live disc but at the time of writing a live disc for 6.4 has not been uploaded to the project's mirrors. Again, as with CentOS, I opted to download the first of the two "Everything" DVD images for my trial. The Scientific website strikes me as being less complete compared with the CentOS website. The project provides downloads and documentation, but doesn't have a community forum and feels more like a jumping off point to other sites and documentation rather than a one-stop location for all our distribution needs.
Installation & Initial Impressions
Both Scientific Linux and CentOS use the Anaconda graphical installer. After offering to perform a media check against our installation disc to confirm our download wasn't corrupted, the venerable installer walks us through selecting our time zone, placing a password on the root user's account and partitioning the hard drive. I like Anaconda's partition manager which has a fairly straight forward interface and allows users to work with LVM volumes, RAID configurations and regular partitions. We also have the ability to enable encryption to protect our partitions. Not many file systems are supported -- we are limited to using ext2, ext3 and ext4 -- and Btrfs has not yet made an appearance in Enterprise Linux. The last screen of the installer asks us to select a role for our operating system. Available roles include Desktop, Minimum Desktop, Web Server, Virtual Host, Software Developer Workstation, Web Developer Work Station and Minimum. One of the few differences between the two distributions is the Scientific installer defaults us to the Desktop role while CentOS defaults to the Minimum role. In both cases I decided to run with the defaults offered to see where they would take me. Both distributions allow us to further customize which packages will be installed, which gives us additional flexibility. One option the Scientific installer gives us, which is not offered by the CentOS installer, is the ability to enable third-party software repositories during the initial install process. These third-party repositories contain multimedia codecs, Flash and other items not available in the base distribution.
After the installer copies its files to the local drive the system is rebooted. Since I had opted to perform a Minimal install, CentOS simply booted to a text prompt where I could login as the root user. No network connection was enabled, no user accounts other than root were created. The standard GNU command line utilities were installed, but manual pages for these commands were not. A mail server and secure shell are running in the background, but otherwise the operating system takes a hands-off approach. There is no compiler, no Java, just some info pages. This makes the system very light, requiring a bare 50MB of RAM to run.
Scientific Linux 6.4 - managing software packages on the GNOME desktop
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Scientific Linux, which I had set up to fulfill the Desktop role at install time, gave a very different experience the first time I booted the operating system. We are greeted by a first run wizard which asks us to create a regular user account and set the system's clock. We are then brought to a graphical login screen. Logging in brings us to a GNOME 2 desktop. The application menu sits at the top of the screen and the task switcher is placed at the bottom. The interface has a nice, low-key theme. When I first logged in an icon appeared in the upper-right corner of the screen letting me know I was not connected to the network. Clicking this icon brings up the Network Manager applet which assists us in enabling a network connection.
When set up with the default Desktop role Scientific Linux comes with a nice collection of popular applications to accompany the GNOME desktop. We are presented with the Firefox web browser, the Pidgin instant messaging client and the Evolution e-mail client. The LibreOffice productivity suite is installed. Scientific comes with an audio CD ripper, the Brasero disc burner, the Cheese webcam utility, the Totem video player and the Rhythmbox audio player. Scientific does not come with multimedia codecs, but if we enabled third-party repositories at install time the system will hunt down the necessary codecs for us when we attempt to play media files. Scientific comes with an archive manager, calculator, note taking apps and a wide range of desktop configuration tools for changing the look & feel of GNOME. Additionally we find a system monitor app and a software update utility. There are several administrative tools included for managing software packages, handling printer configurations, managing the firewall and creating user accounts. Links to the project's documentation and release notes are included in the application menu. As with CentOS, Scientific runs a secure shell and mail server in the background and both distributions run on the Linux kernel, version 2.6.32.
Running Scientific Linux was quite a pleasant experience. The GNOME 2 environment was very responsive and I found the various applications all worked well. I really like the administrative tools which ship with Enterprise Linux as they make configuring the system straight forward. I did run into a few minor problems. When running Scientific I found the PackageKit process would sometimes lock the package database, blocking the user from installing or updating software on the system. Killing the PackageKit process would correct the problem and the issue only cropped up intermittently. Another curious bug I ran into involved Flash support. I found there were two builds of the Flash plugin in the third-party repositories linked to by Scientific. One of these plugins was built for 686 machines and the other for 386. By default the 686 build of Flash would be installed, but this build could not be detected by the Firefox web browser. Forcing the package manager to install the 386 build of Flash resolved the issue as Firefox was able to use this copy of Flash.
CentOS 6.4 - running the KDE desktop and adjusting settings
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Further on the topic of package management I found the graphical package manager was sluggish while it performed searches and installations. This was in contrast to the graphical update utility and the YUM command line package manager, both of which performed tasks very quickly. In fact YUM came in quite handy when I was running CentOS. Since I had installed CentOS with a bare minimum of packages this meant I ended up downloading quite a lot of software through the week. YUM has a nice feature which will let the package manager grab organized groups of packages. This means we can install all of X and its libraries or KDE or GNOME by installing one of these groups. On Debian derived distributions the APT package manager allows for a similar function using meta-packages where one meta package will draw in multiple additional packages as dependencies, but I find YUM's approach feels more tidy and I think it's more clear to the user what is happening when we ask YUM to grab a group of software packages. I certainly appreciated YUM by the end of the week as I used it to add the KDE desktop and development tools to the base CentOS install. The packages all installed cleanly and I ran into no problems.
Thoughts & Comparison
What I find interesting about these two distributions is that, despite their common source code and their similar goals, the two projects maintain slightly different emphases. As a result, when we run through the installation of both distributions, taking all of the default options, we end up with quite different results. Of course we can manipulate packages and add repositories to get both distributions back in line with each other, but the fact remains these two projects maintain slightly different areas of focus. Scientific Linux provides a default configuration which is suited to desktop users and, with very little effort on our part, we can enable multimedia support, browser plugins and have a great home or small office desktop system. Taking all of the defaults in the CentOS system installer results in a simple server configuration with secure shell enabled and not much else. We can install desktop environments and hunt down third-party repositories, but it's a longer hike to get CentOS to a state where home desktop users will be comfortable. The CentOS team appears to be more interested in server deployments and situations where a clean operating system is more important than features.
Both projects provide an enterprise class operating system and both will supply security updates for several years. These projects are very similar, but their mildly different focus makes CentOS appear more appealing to server work while Scientific is a little more desktop-friendly. Both distributions are fast, conservative and flexible. At first glance either distribution might look as though it is showing its age; the software included in Enterprise Linux is a few years old now. As it turned out I didn't run into any situations where I was missing features, the software which ships with CentOS and Scientific is quite capable. In fact, sometimes the age of the software worked in favour of the distributions. GNOME 2 is certainly faster and carries fewer problems than a modern GNOME Shell and the older version of Anaconda in Enterprise Linux 6.4 doesn't suffer from the interface problems of some newer installers. Both of these clones are light on resources, powerful and can be tailored to just about any task.
|Miscellaneous News (by Ladislav Bodnar)
64-bit PCLinuxOS, Debian Project Leader elections, Ubuntu 13.04 features, Fedora 19 delay, Cinnarch dilemma
It took much longer than many would have liked, but it's finally here. A variant of PCLinuxOS for 64-bit computer systems was finally unleashed on the unsuspecting public last week: "PCLinuxOS 64-bit KDE desktop - first release. The 64-bit KDE desktop is a popular, multi-platform desktop environment for your 64-bit computer and a great Windows OS replacement. Features: Linux kernel 3.2.18-pclos2.bfs for maximum desktop performance; full KDE 4.10.1 desktop; NVIDIA and ATI fglrx driver support; multimedia playback support for many popular formats; wireless support for many network devices; printer support for many local and networked printer devices; Addlocale allows you to convert PCLinuxOS into over 60 languages; LibreOffice already installed; LibreOffice Manager can install LibreOffice supporting over 100 languages; MyLiveCD allows you to take a snapshot of your installation and burn it to a live CD/DVD; PCLinuxOS-liveusb - allows you to install PCLinuxOS on a USB key disk." Download from one of the project's FTP/HTTP mirrors.
PCLinuxOS 2013.04 - the first official 64-bit edition
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As of yesterday (Sunday), the Debian project has a new leader (DPL). Lucas Nussbaum, a Debian developer and assistant professor at the Université de Lorraine in Nancy, France, defeated both Moray Allan and Gergely Nagy to claim the post. According to Lucas Nussbaum's personal page his work in Debian is mostly in Quality Assurance while he also maintains some Ruby packages. On the professional front the new Debian Project Leader tells us about his work on his university's profile page: "My research activities focus on experimentation for the evaluation of distributed systems in the context of high-performance computing, cloud and grid computing and peer-to-peer systems. Specifically, I focus on emulation (through work on the Distem emulator), and on real-scale (in situ) experiments, mainly on the Grid'5000 test bed." If you are interested in the finer details on this year's voting please visit the Debian Project Leader Elections 2013 page on Debian.org. The new term for the project leader will start this Wednesday, 17th of April 2013.
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Just ten days to go before the brand-new Ubuntu release, code named "Raring Ringtail", will show up on the shelves of your favourite free software retailer. As is always the case, articles describing the many new features of the most innovative desktop Linux distribution's upcoming release have mushroomed all over the Internet. "The Var Guy" Christopher Tozzi reports about what's new and what's not in Ubuntu 13.04: "So what's actually new in Ubuntu 13.04? In many ways, it's not the software itself, but the development cycle, the tools available for installing Ubuntu and Canonical's broader vision that are in the midst of the greatest change as this release rolls around. Ubuntu developers have announced, after a lengthy debate that began earlier this spring, that non-long-term support (LTS) releases of the operating system will receive official support only for nine months, instead of the eighteen Canonical previously provided. That will make the LTS versions of Ubuntu, which come out once every two years, even more important than the other releases." On a more technical note, see also the "Seven Subtle Unity Changes You Might Not Notice in 13.04" by Joey-Elijah Sneddon.
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The alpha release of Fedora 19 has been delayed by a week. Yes, that's not a particularly interesting piece of news, since delays are a standard feature of Fedora releases. Still, it's always educational to read about the reasons. Adam Williamson sheds some light on the latest issues (which, luckily, are not particularly serious): "Fedora 19 happenings": "What's holding up Fedora 19 Alpha is two bugs in UEFI installation, and that's it. (Note for the haters: none of the bugs has anything to do with Secure Boot). The installer is in fine shape, except for an issue in the custom partitioning screen which we'll try and slip a fix in for. All the code that was meant to be written by now is actually written, it's all working pretty well, and most of the functionality of the installer is pretty solid. There have been a ton of UI improvements since Fedora 18 based on both online feedback and real-world usability testing and observation, as well. So it sucks that we had to slip, but it's a much different situation from Fedora 18, and it's been a lot lower stress - we're not running around trying to keep tabs on 15 bugs and 5 features that aren't written yet, right now we're really just waiting on upstream review of a patch for the last UEFI issue."
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is was an exciting desktop Linux distribution that combined Arch Linux with the Cinnamon (a fork of GNOME Shell developed by Linux Mint) desktop user interface. Unfortunately, Cinnamon has seemingly fallen behind the times as it is (at the time of writing) no longer compatible with the latest GNOME release. This has resulted in a dilemma with the Cinnarch developers who have now decided to drop Cinnamon altogether and possibly rename the distribution: "While Cinnamon is a great user interface and we've had a lot of fun implementing it, it's become too much a burden to maintain/update going forward. We'd like to remain faithful and compatible to our parent distro, Arch Linux, and further support of Cinnamon would strain that by causing incompatibilities/hacks in the entirety of the GNOME packageset. It is almost impossible to maintain software developed by Linux Mint in a rolling release as we are. They're one year behind with upstream code. Arch Linux is going to have GNOME 3.8 and Cinnamon is not compatible with it. The Cinnamon team still has to migrate some of their tools to fully work with Gnome 3.6. That said, we've decided that in order to deliver the most stable, best out-of-the-box user experience possible, that we'll now be using GNOME as our default desktop environment going forward."
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Advantages and benefits of ZFS and Btrfs over ext4
Why-go-advanced asks: How about a simple, layman explanation for what use a normal user would have for advanced file systems. Is there a huge benefit of either of these (Btrfs and ZFS) over ext4 for a regular user?
DistroWatch answers: Yes, there are certainly many advantages for regular users who are interested in switching from a traditional file system such as ext4 and moving to either Btrfs or ZFS. I'm going to focus mostly on ZFS here as it is the technology I've used the most and therefore I'm more familiar with it, but much of what I say about ZFS will be applicable to Btrfs as well.
The first and perhaps most obvious advantage is the ease of setting up these advanced file systems. When you install Linux on a traditional file system or when you add a new partition to an existing installation, what are the steps? We have to create a partition, we need to format that partition and then we need to assign the partition a mount point, probably by adding an entry to our system's fstab file. If we are lucky our distribution's installer will take care of a lot of this for us, but we still need to divide up the hard disk, select the size of the new partition, format it and select its mount point. ZFS makes this wonderfully easy. Adding ZFS storage space (called a pool) to our operating system is often a one step event. We tell ZFS to take over a hard disk (or an existing partition) and it takes care of the formating and mounting. We don't have to format anything, in many cases we don't need to partition anything, ZFS just takes care of it for us. Recently I added a ZFS storage pool to one of my systems and the command was simply this:
zpool create Data /dev/sdb
Given this command ZFS created a new storage pool using the second hard disk on my machine, handled any formatting it might need, created a new directory called /Data and mounted the new storage space under my new Data directory. When I rebooted the machine the new storage space was automatically mounted and available for me. It's very convenient this way.
In addition to being easy to set up, advanced file systems are quite flexible. Once we have created an ext4 partition we are pretty much stuck with it as it is with a given size. But with ZFS I can easily add additional disks to a given storage pool, which dynamically grows the available storage space. Let's say I have several users on my machine who are all using my storage space mounted under /Data. I want to grow the space without taking the system off-line for a long period of time and I don't really want to have to copy all of the data from an existing disk or partition to a new disk. I can do this easily with ZFS by plugging in a new disk and running:
zpool add Data /dev/sdc
The storage pool has now expanded to use all of the new drive and all of its space is available under the existing mount point, /Data.
Another big advantage to using Btrfs and ZFS is the ability to make snapshots. At any given moment we can create a copy of the existing file system and set it aside. These snapshots occur instantly and do not use up additional disk space until the contents of the snapshot differ from the current contents of the file system. This does two things for us. First, it makes it very cheap and easy to maintain multiple versions of data, configuration files and applications. Prior to any application upgrade I can make a snapshot of the operating system. Once a day I can snapshot all of the documents my users have in their home folders. Later I can restore the file system back to a known good state. Alternatively I can browse through existing snapshots of the file system and restore a single file or directory. This is very handy if we have accidentally erased a file or a file has become corrupted. This reduces our reliance on external backups. Keeping backups is still important as it guards against hardware failure, but when we run advanced file systems accidentally deleting a file is easy to reverse and doesn't send us digging through archives.
Btrfs and ZFS are both designed with extremely large amounts of data in mind. This means we can grow storage pools to virtually any size and store massively large files in these file systems. In addition both storage technologies attempt to use space efficiently. Both file systems support compression of data to squeeze as much information as possible onto our disks. Further ZFS has (and Btrfs is developing) a concept called deduplication. This basically means that multiple files which contain the same data only need to be stored in one place. Let's imagine we somehow ended up with three copies of a 1GB file on our hard drive. Usually this would mean all three copies take up a total of 3GB of space. With deduplication all three copies can be treated as one file which is simply visible in three different places. Therefore the three identical 1GB files require just 1GB of storage space.
Though probably only of interest to administrators there are some more nice features. ZFS in particular makes it very easy to create mirrored disk configurations. This basically means that any data placed on one disk is also placed on a second disk. Should one disk fail, our information is safe on the second disk. Systems which make use of mirroring or RAID configurations can get an added bonus from ZFS, namely data integrity. It is possible for files to become corrupted over time and ZFS tries to guard against this by maintaining checksums (a digital fingerprint) of our data. When a file's data no longer matches its fingerprint, ZFS will automatically try to find a second copy of our file on a mirrored disk and use that second copy. The corrupted copy of our file is then overwritten by the good copy, preserving our data against corruption.
Getting back to the original question, is there a "huge benefit" to using Btrfs or ZFS over a file system such as ext4? Perhaps not one single big reason that will drive people to migrate, but there are several small benefits to using ZFS or Btrfs. Many of these benefits will appeal to system administrators and people who have massive amounts of data, but snapshots and the ease of adding additional storage space do make these advanced file systems appealing to home users too. Perhaps the question could be turned around. Given the many benefits of running Btrfs and ZFS is there any reason for people to still use ext4? The only perk to using ext4 of which I am aware is that ext4, under heavy load, will probably read from and write to a hard disk faster than Btrfs and ZFS can. Still, most of us don't require raw speed as much as we need data integrity and the ability to browse backward in time to earlier snapshots of our data. This is why I believe it makes sense to try (and possibly migrate to) one of the more advanced file systems. I have been using ZFS on Linux during the past year at home and have found it to be a welcome and reliable tool.
|Released Last Week
Bill Reynolds has announced the release of PCLinuxOS 2013.04, an updated version of the project's rolling-release desktop Linux distribution featuring the latest KDE: "PCLinuxOS KDE, MiniME, and FullMonty 2013.04 are now available for download. These are 32-bit quarterly update ISO images which can also be installed on 64-bit computers. With respect to the previous KDE editions these ISO images have the following changes and additions: KDE 4.10.1; Linux kernel 3.2.18; the latest full set of NVIDIA drivers; PCLOS410 theme; Qt update notifier. KDE 2013.04 has all the additions from MiniME and was built to provide a general-purpose KDE desktop computing environment. The DVD includes popular tools for office, audio, video, graphics, and Internet applications as well as additional drivers and tools to set up your hardware." See the full release announcement for further information and a screenshot.
Lee Ward has announced the release of Fuduntu 2013.2, a user-friendly, rolling-release distribution with the RPM package management system and the classic GNOME 2 desktop: "The Fuduntu team is proud to announce the second quarterly release of 2013, Fuduntu 2013.2. This release comes with many improvements, including many bug fixes, new features and applications. As usual, existing Fuduntu users have already rolled into 2013.2. As Fuduntu has grown, so has the default install. To help those who may want a lighter install, especially for netbooks, we now include a light edition. Users of the Fuduntu Lite will notice several programs that are normally installed by default, including LibreOffice, GIMP, and Thunderbird, are not installed. Included in 2013.2: Linux kernel 3.8.3, GIMP 2.8.4, Thunderbird 17.0.4, Firefox 19.0.2, Chromium 25.0.1364.172 and LibreOffice 4.0.1." Read the rest of the release announcement for more details.
Fuduntu 2013.2 - an updated release featuring GNOME 2.32
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Tails 0.17.2, another minor update of the Debian-based live DVD with focus on user's privacy and anonymity on the Internet, is out: "Tails, The Amnesic Incognito Live System, version 0.17.2, is out. All users must upgrade as soon as possible. Changes: upgrade to Iceweasel 17.0.5; stop displaying obsolete context menu entries ('Open Tor URL' and friends); hardware support; update Linux kernel to 3.2.41; temporarily drop the Rendition display driver. Bug fixes: use more reliable OpenPGP key servers; keep udisks users (GNOME Disk Utility, tails-persistence-setup) from resetting the system partition's attributes when manipulating the partition table. Minor improvements: disable NoScript's HTM L5 media click-to-play for better user experience. Localization: many updated and new translations all over the place. The next Tails release (0.18) is scheduled for May 16." See the complete release announcement for further information.
Kai Hendry has announced the release of Webconverger 19.1, a single-purpose Debian-based distribution designed for Internet-only web kiosks and featuring the Firefox web browser: "Webconverger 19.1 release. Webconverger 19 brings you in terms of effort put in: printing support completely overhauled with a new printer API; restored NVIDIA WebGL acceleration using driver version 313.30; new support API which allows customers to send us their complete (non-browsing) logs for study to; raft of package upgrades; new prefs API, to override Firefox preferences, typically used for omitting print headers; Firefox 20 updates and Flash security updates; tweaks to our Firefox kiosk extension (version 45); printing properly provisioned. Thanks to a government client, who needs to print off Ricoh printers, we have greatly improved our printing offering." See the full release announcement for further details.
Manjaro Linux 0.8.5 "Cinnamon"
Philip Müller has announced the release of Manjaro Linux 0.8.5 "Cinnamon" edition, an Arch Linux-based distribution with GNOME 3 and Cinnamon as the core user interface: "We are happy to release our final Manjaro Cinnamon community edition to the public. See this release as our last gift to this amazing GNOME fork, as we have to drop the support for Cinnamon in the near future. We can not maintain this edition anymore since upstream is dropping Cinnamon due incompatibility with GNOME 3.8. We worked hard to make this release the best Manjaro experience featuring Cinnamon 1.7 and GNOME 3.6. You will find all the goodies you expect from a desktop based on Cinnamon: Nemo 1.7.2, Cinnamon 1.7.3, Cinnamon Control Center 1.7.2. The following changes have been made since 0.8.4: graphical installer; Manjaro settings manager...." Read the detailed release announcement for more information and screenshots.
ClearOS 6.4.0 "Community"
Peter Baldwin has announced the release of ClearOS 6.4.0 "Community" edition, a cloud-connected server, network and gateway operating system designed for homes, hobbyists and small organisations: "ClearOS Community 6.4.0 is now available. Along with the usual round of bug fixes and enhancements, this release introduces a new reports engine, a storage manager, an anti-malware file scanner, RADIUS, a basic POP/IMAP server, and mail retrieval. What's next? After a bumpy start with ClearOS 6, we are now happy with the stability and maturity of the version. Version 6 required a major overhaul under the hood, but it provided ClearOS with a modern and secure web application platform. So what's currently in the pipeline? A beta release of the new QoS engine; Samba 4 and Samba Directory preview; The ibVPN application...." See the release announcement and release notes for more details and upgrade notes.
Foresight Linux 2.5.3
Tomas Forsman has announced the release of Foresight Linux 2.5.3, a rolling-release desktop Linux distribution with Conary package management and a choice of GNOME 2, LXDE and Xfce desktops: "Announcing Foresight Linux 2.5.3. Foresight is a Linux distribution for your desktop that features a rolling-release schedule that always keeps your desktop up to date; a revolutionary package manager, Conary; the latest GNOME 2, LXDE and Xfce desktop environment and an innovative set of excellent, up-to-date software applications. Foresight also includes the polished and refined long-term support 3.4 Linux kernel. If new and shiny is more your thing, you will be pleased to learn that the newly-minted Linux kernel 3.8 is currently undergoing shakedown tests and is slated to become available in the coming weeks." Read the rest of the release announcement for more information.
Pardus Linux 2013 "Community"
Following the release of the "Corporate" edition last month, the Pardus development team has now also released the "Community" flavour of Pardus Linux 2013 (or "1.0" as it is called in the announcement). Available in both Turkish and English, the "new" Pardus is a desktop-oriented distribution based on Debian's "testing" branch. From the release announcement: "We are doing a stable and useful Linux called Pardus Community edition 1.0. We are sure you'll enjoy the many improvements. We have done our best in terms of stability and security that you have come to expect. Pardus Community edition 1.0 is now based on Debian 'Wheezy' and built using tools provided by the debian-live project. Easy to install and use. And also all drivers are included. All images boot as live CDs but they can be installed on your computer with the included installer."
Manjaro Linux 0.8.5
Philip Müller has announced the release of Manjaro Linux 0.8.5, a user-friendly distribution with Xfce or Openbox, based on Arch Linux: "We are happy to announce the release of Manjaro 0.8.5. We worked hard to make this release the best Manjaro experience featuring Openbox 3.5.0 and Xfce 4.10. A graphical installer got added and a Manjaro settings manager handling user accounts, keyboard layouts and locales and translation packages is also included. Pamac got enhanced and is now translated to several languages. Following changes are made since Manjaro 0.8.4: LXDM/Slim as display manager; Linux 3.8.5 as our kernel; systemd 198; X.Org Server 1.14.0; proprietary driver support for AMD and NVIDIA graphic cards; additional multimedia support, applications and access to the AUR have been pre-installed." Read the complete release announcement for more details.
Manjaro Linux 0.8.5 - an updated release featuring the latest Xfce desktop
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Network Security Toolkit 18-4509
Ron Henderson has announced the availability of a major new release of Network Security Toolkit (NST), a specialist Fedora-based live DVD featuring a collection of open-source network security applications: "We are pleased to announce the latest NST release - 'NST 18 SVN:4509'. This release is based on Fedora 18 using Linux kernel 3.8.6. This is the most robust and stable release of NST to date. Significant effort has been devoted to integrate systemd service control support with all network services applications, thus providing enhanced management and flexibility when using the NST WUI. Here are some of the highlights for this release: created a more friendly and intuitive user experience when booting NST Live and performing a hard disk installation; added a new NST script, nstipconf, which provides management to easily setup IPv4 address and stealth network configurations...." Continue to the full release announcement if you'd like to find out more about the product.
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
|DistroWatch.com News (by Ladislav Bodnar)
New distributions added to database|
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New distributions added to waiting list
- Mnix. Mnix is a free, simple and fast i686 GNU/Linux distribution aimed at experienced users. All Mnix scripts, package build scripts and the Mtpkg package manager are licensed through the GNU General Public License version 3.
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DistroWatch database summary
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This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 22 April 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)
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|Linux Foundation Training
|• 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|
|• Issue 725 (2017-08-14): openSUSE 42.3, Debian considers Flatpak for backports, changes coming to Ubuntu 17.10, the state of gaming on Linux|
|• Issue 724 (2017-08-07): SwagArch 2017.06, Myths about Unity, Mir and Ubuntu Touch, Manjaro OpenRC becomes its own distro, Debian debates future of live ISOs|
|• Issue 723 (2017-07-31): UBOS 11, transferring packages between systems, Ubuntu MATE's HUD, GNUstep releases first update in seven years|
|• Issue 722 (2017-07-24): Calculate Linux 17.6, logging sudo usage, Remix OS discontinued, interview with Chris Lamb, Debian 9.1 released|
|• Issue 721 (2017-07-17): Fedora 26, finding source based distributions, installing DragonFly BSD using Orca, Yunit packages ported to Ubuntu 16.04|
|• Issue 720 (2017-07-10): Peppermint OS 8, gathering system information with osquery, new features coming to openSUSE, Tails fixes networking bug|
|• Issue 719 (2017-07-03): Manjaro 17.0.2, tracking ISO files, Ubuntu MATE unveils new features, Qubes tests Admin API, Fedora's Atomic Host gets new life cycle|
|• Issue 718 (2017-06-26): Debian 9, support for older hardware, Debian updates live media, Ubuntu's new networking tool, openSUSE gains MP3 support|
|• Issue 717 (2017-06-19): SharkLinux, combining commands in the shell, Debian 9 flavours released, OpenBSD improving kernel security, UBports releases first OTA update|
|• Issue 716 (2017-06-12): Slackel 7.0, Ubuntu working with GNOME on HiDPI, openSUSE 42.3 using rolling development model, exploring kernel blobs|
|• Issue 715 (2017-06-05): Devuan 1.0.0, answering questions on systemd, Linux Mint plans 18.2 beta, Yunit/Unity 8 ported to Debian|
|• Issue 714 (2017-05-29): Void, enabling Wake-on-LAN, Solus packages KDE, Debian 9 release date, Ubuntu automated bug reports|
|• Issue 713 (2017-05-22): ROSA Fresh R9, Fedora's new networking features, FreeBSD's Quarterly Report, UBports opens app store, Parsix to shut down, SELinux overview|
|• Issue 712 (2017-05-15): NixOS 17.03, Alpha Litebook running elementary OS, Canonical considers going public, Solus improves Bluetooth support|
|• Issue 711 (2017-05-08): 4MLinux 21.0, checking file system fragmentation, new Mint and Haiku features, pfSense roadmap, OpenBSD offers first syspatch updates|
|• Issue 710 (2017-05-01): TrueOS 2017-02-22, Debian ported to RISC-V, Halium to unify mobile GNU/Linux, Anbox runs Android apps on GNU/Linux, using ZFS on the root file system|
|• Issue 709 (2017-04-24): Ubuntu 17.04, Korora testing new software manager, Ubuntu migrates to Wayland, running Nix package manager on alternative distributions|
|• Issue 708 (2017-04-17): Maui Linux 17.03, Snaps run on Fedora, Void adopts Flatpak, running Android apps on GNU/Linux, Debian elects Project Leader|
|• Issue 707 (2017-04-10): PCLinuxOS 2017.03, Canonical stops Unity development, OpenBSD on a Raspberry Pi, setting up a VPN for privacy|
|• Issue 706 (2017-04-03): Super Grub2 Disk, Snap packages of deepin applications, Subgraph OS routes network traffic for one application, announcements from Linux Mint|
|• Issue 705 (2017-03-27): Minimal Linux Live, sharing control of the operating system, new KaOS features, Uplos32 provides 32-bit fork of PCLinuxOS|
|• Issue 704 (2017-03-20): ToarusOS 1.0.4, Linux Mint's security record, Debian starts Project Leader election, Ubuntu 12.04 reaches end-of-life|
|• Issue 703 (2017-03-13): SolydXK 201701, CloudReady, Solus announces new features, KDE Connect sends text messages from desktop, openSUSE's YaST module for Let's Encrypt|
|• Full list of all issues|
|Random Distribution |
trixbox (formerly known as Asterisk@Home) was a CentOS-based Linux distribution that enables the home user to quickly set up a VoIP Asterisk PBX. A web GUI makes configuration and operation easy. The CD also includes an xPL (home automation) interface for easy interaction with other devices in the home.