| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 531, 28 October 2013
Welcome to this year's 43rd issue of DistroWatch Weekly! Open source software comes in many different forms, representing various styles and ideals. This week we aim to celebrate the diversity of the open-source ecosystem by looking at projects and technologies that have a wide range of goals and varying target audiences. First up is a review of the PC-BSD operating system. The PC-BSD project is one of the few BSDs to specifically target desktop users and Jesse Smith took the latest release for a spin to find out how it performs. In this issue of DistroWatch Weekly we will also weigh the pros and cons of upgrading an existing installation to a new version of our operating system and talk about a new firewall technology coming to the Linux kernel. The openSUSE project has some exciting new features coming up in their 13.1 release and is looking for beta testers, read on to find out what the community project is preparing to launch and how you can help test it! In addition, we link to an article which discusses the availability of computers that ship with Linux pre-installed. If you want to avoid the hassle of working around Secure Boot or wish to skip the installation process, this article will help you find the best ready-made solution. As usual, we cover distribution releases from the past week and look forward to exciting new developments. We wish you all a wonderful week and happy reading!
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (21MB) and MP3 (37MB) formats
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
PC-BSD 9.2: The daemon is in the details
The PC-BSD project carries the interesting task of taking the FreeBSD operating system and fashioning it into a desktop-oriented experience. The latest release of PC-BSD, version 9.2, is based on FreeBSD 9.2 and comes with a number of promising new features, many of which will appeal to system administrators. The new release of PC-BSD comes with a backup utility which not only allows users to create archives of their files on a remote server or NAS, it also integrates with the ZFS advanced file system. This means users should be able to create snapshots of their home directories and restore files from within the Life Preserver backup tool.
The PC-BSD operating system now uses the GRUB 2 boot loader and this also integrates with ZFS, allowing the administrator to create boot environment snapshots. This essentially means that, prior to an upgrade or system change, a snapshot can be created of the existing operating system. Once the change has been made the administrator can revert back to the old snapshot (the version of the operating system known to be good) simply by rebooting the machine. This version of PC-BSD also comes with a working PKG-NG repository. This is a collection of binary packages which work similarly to RPM and Deb package repositories in the Linux community. In addition to the PKG-NG repository, PC-BSD comes with a PBI package manager. A PBI package is a stand-alone software bundle that can be easily transferred between computers, but we can come back to talk about software management later. One further behind-the-scenes feature of PC-BSD 9.2 is the project's new mirror system, hosted by ScaleEngine. This lets users download files quickly without manually hunting for a fast/close server.
The PC-BSD operating system comes in a few flavours, including a DVD build which is 3.6 GB in size, a compressed live USB image and a large installation-only USB image. There is no live-DVD nor CD-sized option. Each of the download options is for the 64-bit x86 architecture, there are no 32-bit options. I opted to download the DVD edition of the operating system. When I first starting working with PC-BSD I wanted to try it in a virtual machine prior to setting it loose on my hard drive. I found the operating system did not work well with VirtualBox's default settings and I had to try a few different combinations of settings before PC-BSD would boot in the virtual environment. In addition I tried running PC-BSD in a QEMU virtual machine and, here, the operating system ran, though it was extremely slow. In the end I focused my time on running PC-BSD in VirtualBox (where things eventually worked passably after some trial and error) and on my desktop computer (dual-core 2.8 GHz CPU, 6 GB of RAM, Radeon video card, Realtek network card). I found PC-BSD worked smoothly on the physical machine, properly detecting my display's resolution and running fairly quickly. As I'll discuss later, PC-BSD comes with many possible desktop environments which can be selected at install time, so measuring memory usage will vary a lot from one machine to the next. I installed two desktop environments, LXDE and KDE. When running KDE the operating system used approximately 420 MB of RAM and, when logged into LXDE, PC-BSD actively used about 150 MB of RAM.
Installation and first impressions
Booting from the PC-BSD installation disc brings up a graphical system installer. The first screen asks us to select our preferred language. Icons appear in the lower-left corner of the screen and give us access to tools which are available throughout the installation process. One icon brings up a window which shows us what hardware the operating system has detected and which devices can be utilized. Another allows us to configure a network connection. Other icons enable an on-screen keyboard, allow us to change our keyboard's layout and display tips on how to use the system installer. The second screen of the installer asks if we would like to install PC-BSD's desktop edition, the PC-BSD server edition (called TrueOS) or we can opt to restore our operating system from an existing backup. We are shown a Customize button which allows us to mark optional packages for installation on top of the base we select. Some of these software bundles are desktop environments (KDE, GNOME, Xfce, LXDE), some are development tools, there are some third-party drivers (such as the NVIDIA proprietary video driver) and there are unsupported user interfaces (such as Ratpoison and Openbox).
The following screen covers disk partitioning and there are three basic options to be had. We can hand our hard drive over to the installer and basically let it take over the disk; we can walk through a guided disk partitioning wizard where we can set up ZFS RAID and mirroring, name our ZFS data pool and adjust our swap partition's size; and the final option is to open a command line partition manager and set up everything manually on our own. New administrators should be aware it is recommended that we give the desktop edition of PC-BSD 50GB of hard drive space and the server edition 20GB of free space. I found installing the desktop edition with the default desktop (KDE) required approximately 7GB of drive space.
PC-BSD 9.2 - documentation and package management
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The first time we boot PC-BSD the operating system presents a graphical interface with a window asking us to select an appropriate video driver for our computer. We can also set our display's resolution in this window. PC-BSD does try to guess which driver it should use and we can override its choice if we think it appropriate. Following this screen we are shown an animation and then a series of windows appear asking for further information. We are asked to confirm our preferred language, our time zone and we are asked to provide a hostname for our computer. We then enter a password for the root account and create a regular user account for ourselves. We have the option at this point of encrypting the user's home directory. With this done we are brought to a graphical login screen.
The first time we login a series of screens appear, offering us tips on how to make use of some of PC-BSD's key features. These help screens briefly talk about connecting to networks, installing new applications, where to find system settings, how to install security updates and how to create backups of our files. On the desktop we find icons for accessing the AppCafe (a package manager), the PC-BSD Control Panel and the project's Handbook. I tried running the KDE and LXDE desktops and found they both had a traditional layout with the application menu, task switcher and system tray sitting at the bottom of the screen. One of the first things I attempted was to open the project's Handbook which contains a great deal of documentation and this led me on a journey of sorts. When I attempted to open the Handbook the Okular document viewer opened and said it could not open the file. I checked and confirmed the file did, in fact, exist and so decided to install an alternative document viewer to see if that would make a difference.
Applications and software management
The first stop in finding new applications is the AppCafe, a modern, user-friendly package manager. AppCafe allows us to search for software by name or by category. Clicking on a specific application will bring up detailed information on the selected software, including the application's size and a description. The AppCafe will also show us related items, so for example looking at the Firefox web browser will show us other available web browsers. Applications can be installed with the click of a button. The AppCafe actually has two tabs, one for browsing available software and another which shows items that have been (or are being) installed. Clicking on an installed item will show us information on the installed software. Users can remove installed applications or mark them to be automatically updated as newer versions become available. Once an application has been installed its icon is added to our desktop.
During my time with PC-BSD I installed several applications such as Firefox, the VLC multimedia player and a couple of PDF viewers, including Xpdf. Most of the applications installed and ran without any complications, the exception being Xpdf. When Xpdf installed I clicked on its desktop item and a text editor opened, showing the contents of the application's launcher. I found Xpdf had been installed, even if its launcher didn't work, and I was able to manually launch the program from the command line. At this point I tried opening the project's Handbook in Xpdf and learned the document file was corrupted. My quest for a way to view the documentation continued...
I feel it is worth mentioning that software installed through the AppCafe is provided in PBI format. PBIs are self-contained software bundles, meaning they contain an application and all the application's dependencies. This is very convenient when transferring software between computers which may have different libraries (or different versions of libraries) installed. However, the trade-off is PBIs are large and can be around ten times bigger than dynamically linked packages available in most Linux distributions.
PC-BSD 9.2 - Control Panel and AppCafe
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For people wanting packages handled in a more Linux-like fashion there is PKG-NG. This command line package manager has a syntax similar to YUM or APT in Linux distributions. The concept is also similar in that PKG-NG connects to remote repositories and downloads binary packages (and their dependencies) to install or upgrade. PKG-NG might be thought of as an extension of sorts to the FreeBSD Ports collection in that the same software is available, but packaged in a different format. PKG-NG is a handy way to search for and install software from the command line and the binary packages are much smaller than the equivalent PBI bundles. PC-BSD comes with one more package manager, a graphical utility which gives us the ability to add or remove big-picture items. For example, with a couple of clicks we can install third-party drivers, alternative window managers or entire desktop environments. This secondary graphical package manager also gives us the ability to download and install all available software updates. There does not appear to be a way to selectively upgrade only desired packages using this utility.
Speaking of upgrades, when software updates are available for the system, a notification appears in the system tray letting us know. Clicking on this notification launches an update manager application. On my system this update manager always locked up, apparently waiting for information to load concerning the new updates. Closing the update manager and manually upgrading PBIs (through the AppCafe) or system packages (using PKG-NG) worked for me and kept the operating system up to date. I noticed upon applying all available package upgrades I was able to open and view the project's very useful Handbook. The Handbook is extensive, detailed and the documentation it contained was very much worth the wait.
One of the nicer elements of PC-BSD is the system's Control Panel. This panel, which closely resembles the KDE System Settings panel, gives us a one-stop location for dealing with system settings. From this panel we can launch the various package managers, activate Active Directory integration, tweak the login manager and check the operating system's compatibility with our hardware. We can manage background services, add and delete user accounts, change our display settings and set up printers and scanners. There is a firewall module that was easy to use, the Life Preserver backup utility and the Warden.
I feel the Warden deserves a special mention. On FreeBSD (and PC-BSD) there is the concept of a jail, a sort of very lightweight virtual machine. These jails are useful for testing software which may misbehave or for running network services that should be kept isolated for security reasons. The Warden is a utility which makes managing jails an easy point-n-click process. PC-BSD supports three kinds of jails, one for running FreeBSD style environments, one for working with software ports and one for running Linux containers. Using the Warden's interface we can quickly create new jails, take snapshots of existing jails and roll back to previous points in the jail's time-line. The Warden can also open a command line interface that exists inside the jail for system administration of the isolated container. I tried running a FreeBSD jail, which worked well, and a Linux jail, which could not be successfully created.
It's hard to talk about what software PC-BSD comes with by default as we have the option of customizing the installation right from the start. Some applications will be consistent across all installs such as the Control Panel and the Warden, backup utilities and ZFS support. Others will vary depending on which desktop environment we install. Taking the default environment (KDE) installs the Konqueror web browser, the Kopete instant messaging client, the KMail e-mail software and the Okular document reader. It also gives us the KTorrent bittorrent software, the GNU Image Manipulation Program, the k3b disc burning software, MPlayer and the Amarok music player. PC-BSD multimedia programs are supported by popular media codecs and we can enjoy most media formats right out of the box. I found that Adobe's Flash player was installed, but disabled by default. This could be confusing to new users, but to enable the Flash player the user must first run, from the command line, "flashpluginctl on". Underneath the hood PC-BSD runs atop FreeBSD 9.2 and makes use of FreeBSD's kernel and userland programs.
Another feature which I feel deserves special mention is the Life Preserver utility. This program can be accessed either from the Control Panel or from the desktop's system tray. Life Preserver makes it very easy for users to schedule ZFS snapshots of their home directories and to copy data to remote servers or NAS boxes via a secure shell connection. The latest version of Life Preserver allows users to browse existing snapshots and to restore either entire snapshots or individual files. At least that is the idea. I found Life Preserver created ZFS snapshots just fine and I could browse old snapshots, but when I tried to restore files I ran into an "undefined" error. This prevented file restores using the GUI tool, but I was able to drop to the command line and manually restore files from existing snapshots.
PC-BSD 9.2 - Warden and Life Preserver
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The ZFS technology in PC-BSD isn't just useful for desktop users, it is also helpful when it comes to restoring the operating system. Administrators can create boot environment snapshots prior to performing an upgrade or altering the base operating system. Snapshots can be created using a simple graphical application available through the Control Panel. Once one of these snapshots has been created it is available from the system's boot menu. This means if the underlying operating system is corrupted in some way the administrator can put things right by simply rebooting the computer and selecting the older snapshot from the GRUB boot menu.
Before getting into my conclusions with regards to PC-BSD, I want to tackle the issue of this operating system being 64-bit only. This has been a thorny issue with some people who prefer to run 32-bit operating systems for one reason or another. Personally, I was sorry to see live CDs and 32-bit both being dropped as I like having smaller images to download and test, but being a reviewer is a very niche market and I do not expect projects to cater just to me. In the big picture I think moving to 64-bit only makes sense for PC-BSD. The operating system is designed for modern machines with 64-bit processors, the memory footprint isn't much larger than one would get from the 32-bit build, and this move will let the developers focus on features rather than bug fixes for 32-bit. This focus is apparently important where ZFS technology is concerned. Anyone who really needs to run a 32-bit operating system probably will not be interested in PC-BSD due to the operating system's size. Alternatively, people can install FreeBSD and then install the PC-BSD software on top of the FreeBSD base using the Ports Collection.
As to running PC-BSD, my experience had me constantly swinging back and forth between two thoughts: "Wow, this is a great feature, I wish more projects did this!" and "Drat, another bug, this is frustrating!" There was not a lot of middle ground between these two thoughts while running PC-BSD. It seems as though the developers tried to supply several new features for this release, all of them good ideas, but some of the implementations still have problems. Let's start with the system installer. This is a fine piece of software. I really like that the installer can detect our hardware and warn us if some hardware support is missing. I also like the various guided disk partitioning options and the optional package selection screen. Both of these features were well implemented and I had no issues at all with the installer.
Moving on to package management, this was a case of great features mixing with problems. The new PBI manager, AppCafe, is one of the better software managers I've used to date. It's fast, lets us browse packages while it is working and I really like the related software list which helps users find competing applications. The auto-update feature is welcome too as it will help keep items like the Firefox web browser updated without manual interaction. The flip side to AppCafe was the software update manager which always seemed to be busy and never worked for me. The graphical package manager worked passably, but it was frustrating not having a way to pick and choose which items I wanted to upgrade. The command line package manager, PKG-NG, worked very well for me. I really like this package manager, which works in a similar fashion to APT or YUM and features a simple syntax. I think PKG-NG will make software management on FreeBSD and PC-BSD much easier for people coming from a Linux background.
The Warden was another area where I was really impressed. The level of control over jails is excellent and I like that the Warden can integrate with ZFS, giving us instant snapshots of our virtual containers. The interface is easy to navigate and the ability to create and destroy jails in this way is great. On the flip side, Linux jails (which worked in PC-BSD 9.1) no longer worked for me with PC-BSD 9.2. The control centre which comes with PC-BSD was welcome. It is nice to have a central place to handle settings which is not tied to a particular desktop. I don't have any complaints here.
I really like the direction the Life Preserver backup utility is taking. The ability to manage home directory snapshots, send copies of files to a remote server and restore snapshots or entire files -- all from one location -- is excellent. Unfortunately I found I was unable to restore files from local snapshots using Life Preserver. The files were there and I could manually retrieve them using the command line, but there seems to be a problem with the graphical utility when it comes to restoring files. Luckily the backup and archive browsing functionality worked very well.
There were a few other minor bugs, things which will probably get fixed during the life of the release. For example, the Xpdf application launcher opening its short-cut information instead of the application itself or the PC-BSD Handbook not opening. Prior to downloading system updates my wallpaper would not display when I logged into KDE. These are minor, if annoying, problems that can be fixed in short order.
For the most part I think PC-BSD 9.2 is a step in the right direction. There are some great system administration tools included in this release and the design of some applications (such as the AppCafe and Life Preserver) are very promising. However, I found there were some bumps on the Road of Progress and there were problems which would likely cause newcomers to turn away. If you are feeling experimental or would like to play with exciting new ZFS features then I think PC-BSD is a great choice. This release did have its problems, but PC-BSD remains, in my opinion, the best desktop solution in the BSD community.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith and Ladislav Bodnar)
openSUSE looks for more testers, finding computers with Linux pre-installed, SolusOS closes shop, Linux gains new firewall technology
The openSUSE project is nearing the launch of the distribution's 13.1 release. The new release will feature improvements to the distribution's Btrfs implementation, an overhaul of YaST and various other new features. The project has put out a call for people to test the new openSUSE release candidate and they are particularly interested in how the distribution works on the hardware of real users. "The automated testing has limitations: it only works in a virtualized environment, precluding testing of hardware and technologies like UEFI/Secure boot. And our Factory users have a limited amount of hardware available and they're usually only updating, not doing new installations. So it is extremely valuable if you grab an old (or new!) laptop or desktop and do a full installation on it instead of using a virtual machine." The release of openSUSE 13.1 is scheduled to take place on November 19, 2013.
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Most people reading this will be aware that Linux distributions can make for good desktop/laptop operating systems. Many Linux distributions are user-friendly, come with a great deal of quality software and are consistently stable -- all ideal features for a desktop OS. The hurdle for many people is getting the free operating system installed. For new users it can be intimidating to download an ISO, burn it to a disc and try to figure out what partitioning a hard disk is, let alone doing it. For this reason, computers which come with Linux distributions pre-installed are valuable and Computer World has a useful guide to finding computers bundled with GNU/Linux. "People may joke about `the year of the Linux desktop' always being some five years into the future. But for a whole clutch of PC vendors who sell Linux as a standard pre-loaded OS on their systems, that year came a long time ago." The article lists some big name vendors with Linux offerings, such as Dell, and some lesser known entities such as ThinkPenguin.
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SolusOS, a beginner-friendly Linux distribution based on Debian's stable branch, closed shop last week. Citing "lack of manpower" to continue with development in an efficient manner, lead developer Ikey Doherty announced the sad news after nine alpha releases of what would have been the project's second stable release. The distribution's website was no longer accessible at the time of writing, but IT World's Jon Gold summarised the point from the announcement in Beginner-friendly Linux distro SolusOS to shut down: "Developer Ikey Doherty announced this week that work on SolusOS, a Debian-based distro aimed at beginning Linux users, would come to a halt. The solo nature of the project eventually became too much for Doherty, he wrote in an official blog post. He is employed full-time as a software engineer at Intel. 'Simply put, there is no longer enough manpower to fulfill the vision,' he said. 'What began as a Debian derivative evolved into an independent distribution, without the large development team required to back such an effort.'" SolusOS thus joins the list of discontinued distributions the number of which currently stands at 413.
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Technology is constantly changing and in fewer places is that more apparent than in the Linux community. The Linux kernel is soon due to receive a new way of filtering network packets with nftables. In the past Linux has used a number of approaches to filtering packets, including IPChains and IPTables. The new nftables approach to network filtering should simplify the in-kernel code and reduce complexity. The new code has been in development for over four years and is just now getting ready for inclusion in the 3.13 version of the Linux kernel. Jonathan Corbet has a nice write-up of what nftables is and how it will work, a good read for network administrators eager to test out the new technology.
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Considering upgrade pros and cons
Not-eager-to-upgrade asks: I'd like to know is what are the benefits of upgrading my operating system, if any, if I run PPA's / Backports? I currently run Kubuntu 12.04 LTS and have various "Precise" PPAs enabled, including the Backports PPA. I'm running KDE SC 4.12 for the majority of my system with a little 4.11 scattered throughout and whatever else is updated from time to time through those Kubuntu PPAs.
Since Kubuntu 13.10 is now released, my question is: why would (or why should) I erase all that and install Kubuntu 13.10? Is there an advantage to doing so, or is it unnecessary? Should I just stick with my long term support operating system and PPAs?
On a side note, why should I only use a distro specific PPA? For example, "Precise" as opposed to "Raring" or "Saucy" for my LTS distro? Is the reason that a later release may have a different tool chain in use? Why is that better (or is it)?
DistroWatch answers: When other people ask me whether or not they should upgrade their operating system my response typically boils down to asking three questions of them:
Now, from the sounds of things, you already have a working operating system (Kubuntu 12.04) and it is running up-to-date desktop software and applications. The Kubuntu 12.04 release is supported through to about 2017. Assuming the existing operating system is running smoothly and you can perform all the tasks you need to do with your computer, there seems to be little incentive to move away from Kubuntu 12.04. Looking at Kubuntu 13.10 we see that it comes with similar versions of software you already run, it only receives security updates for approximately nine months and looks (to me) to be a fairly tame version with regards to features. In other words, Kubuntu 13.10 doesn't seem to have exciting new features which would draw people to it. Now, Kubuntu 13.10 may have some low-level improvements that would make your computer faster, hardware drivers are often improved from one release to the next, but otherwise it sounds to me like Kubuntu 12.04 is probably the better solution unless you are feeling experimental.
- Does your current operating system do everything you need it to and is it still receiving security updates?
- Do you know of any new features the new version of your operating system offers that you need and do not already have?
- How much spare time do you have for when something breaks during the upgrade process?
As to why there are separate PPA packages for each version of the Ubuntu family, the reason is that different versions of the distribution will supply different versions of libraries or perhaps put components in different places. There is no guarantee a program built to work with "Raring" will run on "Precise", for example. As a result, each package needs to be rebuilt for each supported version of the operating system. It is best not to try to mix packages built for different versions of your operating system.
|Released Last Week
Ultimate Edition 3.6
"TheeMahn" has announced the release of Ultimate Edition 3.6, a desktop-oriented distribution and live CD with MATE as the default desktop, based on Ubuntu 12.10: "Ultimate Edition 3.6 was built from the ground up bootstrapped from the Ubuntu 12.10 tree. This was the first time I have done this. I have discovered in doing so that it makes for a tighter release as can be seen in the Lite edition. The release boots in under 6 seconds on my PC. Many repositories have been added to increase software availability. The kernel was pulled from the X.Org 'Crack Pushers PPA', version 3.7. Ultimate Edition 3.6 Lite has the very basics and a good ground to build your operating system forward, adding only what you need. Ultamatix has been resurrected from the dead to assist in this matter. Ultamatix's dependancies on older libraries have been stripped and replaced with WebKit (still not fully functional so use at your own risk)." Continue to the release announcement for more information and screenshots.
Euan Thoms has announced the release of Kwheezy 1.3, the latest update of the Debian-based distribution centred around the KDE desktop: "Version 1.3 is now available from the download page. This release focuses on improving the installation and post-install process. Also there is quite a bit of tidying up and polishing. Changes in version 1.3: Updated to Debian 7.2; added GPT partitioning support to the installer (requires BIOS/Legacy boot); a new post-installation wizard adds polish, hopefully the need to add a regular user account will be clearer; a few redundant (duplicate functionality) applications have been removed; the administrator account has UID/GID changed to 999, so the first real user will be 1000; the menu has been tidied up, so it should be easier to browse; Kwheezy Keyboard Selector now has a text box for testing the new configuration; some other minor tweaks and polish. Version 1.2 installations can be upgraded to 1.3 via Apper or apt-get." Here is the brief release announcement.
Jacque Raymer has announced the release of MakuluLinux 4.0, a desktop-oriented distribution with Xfce, based on Debian's "testing" branch: "Unlike our previous releases, this is a solo Xfce build, focusing on bringing Xfce visually on par with modern desktop environments while at the same time keeping stability and speed a top priority. This is our 4th release and a major stepping stone as we have moved away from Ubuntu and moved completely to Debian as a base for this and future versions. This version is built from scratch and has undergone extensive testing while using it on a daily basis. Major changes since 3.0: rolling release; upgraded kernel to 3.10.3; extremely stable and fast; single desktop environment (Xfce upgraded to 4.10); easy to use traditional style environment; complete new look (themes, icons, decorations, wallpaper, lots of customisations); focus on transparency; featuring complete out-of-the-box pre-installed software, codecs, Flash player and games...." Read the rest of the release announcement for more information.
Wrishiraj Kaushik has announced the release of SuperX 2.1, an Ubuntu-based distribution with a tweaked KDE desktop, aimed at beginners and casual Linux users: "This is SuperX 2.1, code name 'Ada'. SuperX 2.1 is a minor update to 'Darwin' and contains mostly performance tweaks and updated software stack. If you have installed Darwin and have constantly updated it, you are probably running 'Ada' at the moment as we updated the packages a few weeks ago but no ISO images were available then. As an effort to enhance user experiences in Ada we've decided to remove certain software from the default selection that doesn't play well with SuperX: Firefox - yes it is a great browser, but Chromium plays better with SuperX, especially when it comes to global menu integration; Blender - a very specialized application, showcases the power of open-source development, we removed it because the real use of this great software is limited to 3D designers and animators only. Apart from this, we've updated KDE to 4.10.5." Here is the full release announcement with a screenshot.
Voyager Live 13.10
Voyager Live 13.10 has been released. Voyager Live is a Xubuntu-based distribution with a highly customised Xfce desktop and a large number of usability improvements. These include retractable dynamic panels, the Skippy "exposé" plugin, and the Slingscold launcher for starting applications. Also presented on the desktop are Plank, a configurable and responsive dock for launching programs, a much-improved "Box Wall" for changing themes on the four virtual desktops, an excellent backup utility called "Box Backup", a new Conky control tool, and Startpages that allow to append applications and websites to any of the virtual desktops. There is much more - the comprehensive release announcement which includes plenty of screenshots to illustrate the ergonomic and usability enhancements to the Xfce desktop is in French only, but the distribution actually defaults to English and it also supports a number of other languages.
Voyager Live 13.10 - a Xubuntu-based distribution with a highly customised Xfce desktop
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
New distributions added to database|
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New distributions added to waiting list
- Centrych. Centrych is based on Ubuntu and presents a unified look and feel, as well as support for both KDE/Qt and GNOME/GTK+ applications.
- Metamorphose Linux. Metamorphose Linux is a Brazilian distribution which tries to be complete and beginner-friendly while providing a great deal of power and hardware support.
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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, 4 November 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)
If you've enjoyed this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly, please consider sending us a tip.
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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 |
Star is a desktop-oriented Linux distribution based on Devuan GNU/Linux. Star is available in a range of editions, each featuring a lightweight desktop environment. Star is small enough to fit on a CD and uses SysV init software.
|Tips, Tricks, Myths and Q&As |
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|Tips and tricks: Find common words in text, find high memory processs, cd short-cuts, pushd & popd, record desktop|
|Questions and answers: Transferring email to Linux|
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|Tips and tricks: Using GRUB with XFS|
|Tips and tricks: Package compression compared|
|Tips and tricks: Check free disk space, wait for a process, command line spell-check, shutdown PC when CPU gets hot|
|Tips and tricks: Running Mandriva "Cooker"|
|Tips and tricks: Shell switching, battery charge, getting the system's IP address and dealing with stubborn processes|
|Questions and answers: Sending commands to multiple servers|
|More Tips & Tricks and Questions & Answers|