| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 622, 10 August 2015
Welcome to this year's 32nd issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
Modern operating systems are full of features and options and sometimes current GNU/Linux distributions feel heavy and cluttered. This week we turn our attention toward projects which are trimming down, offering lightweight solutions or otherwise trying to improve performance. We begin with a look at antiX, a Debian based distribution which requires minimal resources while offering many features. In our Questions and Answers column we explore the subject of word processors for the command line. In the News last week the Fedora team called on testers to try the new, high speed kdbus messaging software. Meanwhile Debian developers unveiled a project to track and work around buggy UEFI implementations, The Document Foundation launched LibreOffice 5 and the PC-BSD project made Lumina desktop packages available for multiple Linux and BSD platforms. In our Torrent Corner we share the distributions we are seeding this week and then we provide a list of the projects released last week. In our Opinion Poll we discuss Adobe Flash and how some distributions are no longer shipping the plugin by default. We wish you all a wonderful week and happy reading!
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Playing with antiX 15
The antiX distribution is a lightweight operating system based on Debian. The latest release was put together using packages from Debian 8 "Jessie" and ships with SysV init software instead of systemd. The latest release, antiX 15, is available in three editions: Core-libre (233MB), Base (582MB) and Full (686MB). There are 32-bit and 64-bit x86 builds of each edition. The antiX wiki tells us that the Core edition ships with virtually no software pre-selected for us, allowing us to customize the operating system to our needs. The Base edition is for older computers, like Pentium II and Pentium III machines, while the Full edition is for more modern computers and people who want a complete desktop experience. I opted to download antiX's Full edition.
Booting from the antiX media brings up a graphical user interface, powered by IceWM. The wallpaper is bright and decorates our desktop with images of painted flowers. There are icons on our desktop for opening the file manager, launching the project's system installer and accessing documentation. The documentation covers such information as how to use the desktop, installing the distribution, acquiring additional software and customizing the operating system. At the bottom of the screen we find an application menu, task switcher panel and a system tray. We can right-click on any empty portion of the desktop to access the application menu.
The distribution's installer is a graphical application. The installer's window is divided into two panes. On the left side we are shown documentation explaining how to make use of the settings on the current page. On the right side are prompts and controls for configuring the distribution. The installer begins by asking us which branch of Debian (Jessie, Testing or Sid) we would like to use as the foundation of our copy of antiX. The default is to use Debian's Stable branch (Jessie) and I decided to stick with this option. We are then asked which hard disk should be used to house our new copy of antiX. Once we have selected a disk we can click a button to launch the GParted partition manager. GParted makes it easy for us to create and alter our disk's partitions. Using GParted we can set up ext2/3/4, JFS, XFS and Reiserfs disk partitions. Once we close GParted the installer gives us the chance to assign our partitions to the swap, root and /home mount points. One thing I appreciate about the installer is it asks for confirmation before it formats each of our partitions and attaches it to a mount point. I get nervous when an installer eagerly overwrites data and I like that antiX is cautious and makes very certain we want to proceed before it erases anything on our disk. The system installer next copies its files to our hard drive and walks us through some configuration screens. We are asked if we would like to install the GRUB boot loader and, if so, where GRUB should be placed. The installer once again pauses to confirm our choice before it installs GRUB on our hard drive. We can then select a name for our computer, set our keyboard's layout, confirm our locale and select our time zone from a list. The installer then gives us the chance to enable/disable background services like Bluetooth, OpenSSH, CUPS and the Wicd network manager. The last screen of the installer asks us to create a user account for ourselves and protect the root account with a password. With these steps completed we are prompted to reboot the computer.
I like the antiX installer. It is fairly easy to navigate, comes with built-in documentation and is careful not to over-write any data without our explicit permission. Plus, the installer works quickly and is fairly easy to navigate.
antiX 15 -- Browsing the project's documentation
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Our new copy of antiX boots to a dark login screen with stars and an image of the Earth in the background. We can press the F1 key to cycle through a list of available sessions. Our desktop session options include Fluxbox, JWM and IceWM. I typically stuck with using IceWM during my trial. Usually, distributions provide a way to shut down or reboot the computer from the login screen, however I did not see any obvious way to perform these actions. It appears as though we need to login in order to power off the computer.
I experimented with antiX in two test environments. When running on a physical desktop computer, antiX performed very well. The distribution booted quickly, set my screen to its maximum resolution and was highly responsive. I found networking and sound worked out of the box. When running inside VirtualBox, antiX again performed very well. The distribution worked quickly in the virtual environment and integrated seamlessly into VirtualBox, allowing me to run the virtual machine with my screen's full resolution. The distribution is quite light on memory and used about 140MB of RAM when logged into IceWM. The distribution does not require a lot of storage space either; the Full edition of antiX used 2.4GB of my hard drive space.
antiX 15 -- Exploring multimedia options
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The antiX distribution ships with a surprisingly large number of applications considering the operating system's small footprint. Looking through the application menu I found the Iceweasel web browser with Flash enabled. I also found the very lightweight Dillo web browser, the Claws Mail e-mail software, gFTP and the HexChat IRC client. The Droopy service is available to assist people in sending or receiving files. The Transmission bittorrent software is included, along with LibreOffice and the Ted text processor. To help us get on-line, the Wicd software is included. The antiX distribution features the Gtkam digital camera manager, the Mirage image viewer, the mtPaint simple drawing program, a simple scanner utility and the Xpdf document viewer. I found DOSBox and a few games were installed along with the Geany IDE. Digging further we find the Asunder audio CD ripper, the GNOME MPlayer application, the WinFF file format converter, the XMMS audio player and the "YouTube Browser for SMPlayer" application. The distribution ships with multimedia codecs, allowing us to play most media files. The operating system features a number of administration tools, including BleachBit, the GParted partition manager, ISO-snapshot, the Midnight Commander console file manager and the ROXFiler file manager. Grsync is available to help us synchronize files between directories and the luckyBackup program makes archiving our files quite straight forward. In the background we find the GNU Compiler Collection and antiX runs the secure shell network service. I found antiX uses SysV init software and runs version 4.0.5 of the Linux kernel.
antiX 15 -- IceWM and the application menu
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I found the software which ships with antiX worked well for me. I like that there is some variety. I especially like that there is a mixture of large, full featured applications (such as Iceweasel) and there are lighter applications for low-end machines (like Dillo). Usually distributions focus on either high-end or low-end applications and I like that antiX gives us options at both ends of the scale. I also like that antiX solves the common problem of "How do I receive a large file from someone?" The Droopy program makes it very easy to receive large files over the Internet and all the other person needs to send us a file is a web browser.
The antiX operating system ships with the Synaptic package manager to help us locate, install and upgrade software. Synaptic presents the software available to us in an alphabetically sorted list and we can click a box next to each entry to indicate the packages we wish to install, remove or upgrade. We can also search for packages by their name and enable or disable repositories. By default, antiX pulls software from a mixture of Debian's servers and its own repositories. Though not enabled by default, antiX provides a list of additional software repositories we might find useful and these can be enabled from within Synaptic with a mouse click. I found Synaptic worked well and performed its actions quickly. Shortly after installing antiX I checked for software updates and found 12 new packages were available in the project's repositories. These 12 upgrades totalled 34MB in size and installed without any problems.
antiX 15 -- Managing software packages and repositories
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One of the more interesting components of antiX is the operating system's Control Centre. The Control Centre is a simple panel we can use to launch configuration modules. The panel is broken into a number of different tabs, which nicely organize the various functions available to us. Through the Control Centre we can access configuration modules that will change our interface's background, configure window manager settings, browse system information, create new user accounts, configure the firewall and set the date & time. There are also modules for configuring dial-up networking, launching the package manager, changing our display's resolution, imaging a partition, backing up files, configuring the sound system and setting up printers. There are a few additional modules for synchronizing files between locations and configuring the mouse pointer. There are a few things I found interesting and maybe a touch unusual about antiX's Control Centre. One is that the modules mostly just launch programs we can access through the application menu, though sometimes with specific parameters. For example, some of the session and window manager configuration buttons simply open a text editor with the appropriate configuration files loaded. The system services manager button launches a text console program that displays a matrix of available services and run levels. While this technically may work, it's not the friendly point-n-click interface one usually expects from a modern control panel. Other Control Centre buttons will launch graphical programs to help us configure the system. For instance, the Firewall button launches the simple gufw graphical front-end to working with firewalls. The Control Centre works, and some of the programs it launches are friendly, but others will take us down the text file configuration rabbit hole.
antiX 15 -- Exploring system settings and hardware information
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During my time with antiX I only ran into one issue and I'm not sure if it was a bug or something I caused. Once, during a package upgrade, the screen went blank and turned blue. My windows and mouse pointer disappeared and most keyboard input was ignored. The only way I could find to rescue the system was to use the CTRL+ALT+Backspace key combination to shut down my desktop session and get back to the login screen. Having the screen go blank and turn blue only happened once during my trial, so I'm not sure if it was a side-effect of the package upgrade or a result of a key combination I may have hit while typing.
I quite enjoyed my time with antiX 15. The distribution is fairly easy to install, offers the user the choice of working with stable software repositories or rolling release/development repositories and antiX is very careful not to overwrite any data without our explicit permission. The distribution runs quickly and offers a fairly friendly interface that is also minimal in its resource usage.
I especially like that antiX ships with a wide variety of software and can complete many different tasks out of the box. Everything from productivity software to web browsing to transferring files to enjoying multimedia is available. If we need more software, we can access Debian's massive software repositories where there are over 40,000 packages.
The antiX distribution worked quickly, properly detected all of my hardware and offered a nearly trouble-free experience. The one item on my wish-list is I would like to see some of the Control Centre modules launch nice graphical configuration tools rather than text editors, thereby lowering the bar to customizing the distribution's interface. Those rare descents into configuration files aside, antiX was pretty beginner friendly. I think it is an excellent distribution for reviving old hardware or for giving a little additional pep to a computer that could do with a lighter user interface.
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Hardware used in this review
My physical test equipment for this review was a desktop HP Pavilon p6 Series with the following specifications:
- Processor: Dual-core 2.8GHz AMD A4-3420 APU
- Storage: 500GB Hitachi hard drive
- Memory: 6GB of RAM
- Networking: Realtek RTL8111 wired network card
- Display: AMD Radeon HD 6410D video card
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
Fedora experiments with kdbus, Debian tracks UEFI problems, LibreOffice 5 launches and PC-BSD expands Lumina support
The D-Bus software is a system by which programs running on Linux can pass messages to each other. When new hardware gets plugged into the computer or a task completes, often times programs need a way of communicating that information. Generally, D-Bus runs quietly in the background and we do not even notice it is there. The current implementation of D-Bus runs as a userspace program which means it does not have any special privileges, it behaves like any other application we run. Recently some developers have been pushing the idea of implementing D-Bus inside the Linux kernel. Ideally, this would make message passing faster and possibly more secure. The new implementation, called kdbus, is still a young technology and has not been adopted by most distributions.
The Fedora developers are offering users a chance to test kdbus to see how well it works in real life scenarios. An article in Fedora Magazine talks about kdbus becoming available to people running Fedora's Rawhide branch: "For the past decade, [D-Bus] has run as a user-space daemon - a system service that runs in the background, but outside of the Linux kernel. Fedora is experimenting with a new implementation, called kdbus, which - as the "K" might imply - is actually integrated into the kernel. This will allow it to be available at early boot (before other system services are running), may also allow for better performance, and because it's connected to the kernel, better security features. Some developers have been running this themselves for a while now, and now we're asking for broader testing, at least among those of you brave enough to run our always-moving development branch, Fedora Rawhide." Further discussion of D-Bus, kdbus and how to enable the latter in Fedora can be found in the Fedora Magazine article.
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Getting Linux distributions to boot on UEFI enabled computers can be difficult. This is especially true when Secure Boot is involved and, since each manufacturer implements UEFI in a different way, navigating UEFI is often problematic. A group of Debian developers is taking initiative to maintain UEFI related packages and to track buggy UEFI implementations. "There can be issues with shipping installer images including UEFI. But they're mainly due to crappy UEFI implementations that vendors have shipped. It's fairly well-known that Apple have shipped some really shoddy firmware over the years, and to allow people to install Debian on older Apple x86 machines we've now added the workaround of a non-UEFI 32-bit installer image too. But Apple aren't the only folks shipping systems with horrendously buggy UEFI, and a lot of Linux folks have had to deal with this over the last few years. I've been talking to a number of other UEFI developers lately, and we've agreed to start a cross-distro resource to help here - a list of known-broken UEFI implementations so that we can share our experiences." The new wiki will help developers document and work around problems with UEFI so that Linux distributions will better handle booting on UEFI enabled machines.
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Usually we focus on news relating to Linux distributions and other open source operating systems, but there were two significant software releases last week which will soon find their way into most distributions. The first was LibreOffice 5.0. The latest version of the popular, open source productivity suite features a number of key features and improvements. Specifically, LibreOffice now offers better compatibility with Microsoft Office, plus the suite runs and supports editing documents on Android and Ubuntu Touch devices. A list of the new features and fixes available in LibreOffice 5.0 can be found in the project's release notes.
Another interesting release last week came from the Lumina Desktop project. Lumina is a lightweight, cross-platform desktop environment which was originally developed for PC-BSD. However, despite being created with PC-BSD in mind, the desktop's performance, flexibility and its lack of dependencies on any one operating system or on low-level technologies (such as D-Bus, HAL and systemd) has encouraged people to package Lumina for other operating systems. In the release announcement for Lumina 0.8.6, lead developer Ken Moore mentioned that Lumina now has its own website. The new website provides documentation and installation instructions for people running Arch Linux, Debian, Fedora, FreeBSD, Manjaro, OpenBSD and PC-BSD.
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Command line word processors
Wanting-no-distractions-while-writing asks: Is there such a thing as a word processor for the command line? I want to have a program I can use anywhere with minimal resources and no desktop distractions.
DistroWatch answers: It has been a long time since I last worked with a word processor that was designed to run in a text console. I think, at the time, Word Perfect for DOS was still a popular application. What I mean is, I'm out of the loop as far as console-only word processors are concerned, but I did manage to find one. WordGrinder is, according to its website, "a word processor for processing words. It is not WYSIWYG. It is not point and click. It is not a desktop publisher. It is not a text editor. It does not do fonts and it barely does styles. What it does do is words. It's designed for writing text. It gets out of your way and lets you type. The author wrote it to have something to write novels on."
WordGrinder, I found, runs on Linux, FreeBSD and Windows. In fact, WordGrinder is available in the Debian and FreeBSD package repositories. The word processor uses ncurses to provide a minimal interface text interface and supports Unicode. It will also work with HTML, LaTeX and OpenDocument file formats, according to the project's website. That being said, I was unable to get WordGrinder to open an OpenDocument file that was created with LibreOffice, so compatibility is not guaranteed. Mostly WordGrinder just lets the user type and gets out of the way, there are very few options. However, I did find most of the word processor's features can be accessed by pressing the ESC key and navigating the small menu that appears. Text can be highlighted and changed using the CTRL+SPACE keys.
Before rushing off to install WordGrinder (or any other word processor designed for text consoles), I would like to point out there are good reasons most people do not use tools like these anymore. It is very tricky to get an idea of how a word processor document will appear when it is created in a text-only environment. Formatting options like font size, font family, text style and colour are typically lost. Quite often these tools lack spell check and the file formats often are not 100% compatible with other processors, meaning it might be hard to share documents you create with other people.
A simple text editor like nano will provide about the same functionality, work faster and offer a similar interface while providing a file format that can be opened by virtually any other text editor. For people who just want to type without distractions and produce simple pages of text, nano is probably a better option. On the other hand, people who want more features without distractions might want to run an application such as AbiWord or LibreOffice from a minimal desktop environment (LXDE, for example) and disable their network connection.
Bittorrent is a great way to transfer large files, particularly open source operating system images, from one place to another. Most bittorrent clients recover from dropped connections automatically, check the integrity of files and can re-download corrupted bits of data without starting a download over from scratch. These characteristics make bittorrent well suited for distributing open source operating systems, particularly to regions where Internet connections are slow or unstable.
Many Linux and BSD projects offer bittorrent as a download option, partly for the reasons listed above and partly because bittorrent's peer-to-peer nature takes some of the strain off the project's servers. However, some projects do not offer bittorrent as a download option. There can be several reasons for excluding bittorrent as an option. Some projects do not have enough time or volunteers, some may be restricted by their web host provider's terms of service. Whatever the reason, the lack of a bittorrent option puts more strain on a distribution's bandwidth and may prevent some people from downloading their preferred open source operating system.
With this in mind, DistroWatch plans to give back to the open source community by hosting and seeding bittorrent files. For now, we are hosting a small number of distribution torrents, listed below. The list of torrents offered will be updated each week and we invite readers to e-mail us with suggestions as to which distributions we should be hosting. When you message us, please place the word "Torrent" in the subject line, make sure to include a link to the ISO file you want us to seed. To help us maintain and grow this free service, please consider making a donation.
The table below provides a list of torrents we currently host. If you do not currently have a bittorrent client capable of handling the linked files, we suggest installing either the Transmission or KTorrent bittorrent clients.
Archives of our previously seeded torrents may be found here. All torrents we make available here are also listed on the very useful Linux Tracker website. Thanks to Linux Tracker we are able to share the following torrent statistics.
Torrent Corner statistics:
- Total torrents seeded: 95
- Total downloads completed: 47,617
- Total data uploaded: 9.9TB
|Released Last Week
Simplicity Linux 15.7
David Purse has announced the release of Simplicity Linux 15.7. The new version of the Puppy-based distributions for desktops and netbooks was already announced last Friday, but because of a critical bug in one of the released images, a new respin was required and it was finally delivered yesterday. From the original announcement: "We are very pleased to announce Simplicity Linux 15.7. Our two main editions, Netbook and Desktop, are available for 32-bit or 64-bit processors. The 32 bit edition comes with the 4.0.4 kernel and the 64 bit version comes with the 4.0.2 kernel. The Netbook edition, our light-weight variant of Simplicity Linux comes pre-installed with Google Chrome and focuses on Cloud-based applications. The Desktop edition is for users who want a fully featured distro; it contains more local applications such as Spotify, LibreOffice and Thunderbird and it could easily become your everyday operating system. And if you are feeling adventurous you might want to give our experimental X edition, a try."
Simplicity Linux 15.7 -- Running the Xfce desktop
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Matthias Klumpp has announced the launch of Tanglu 3.0. Tanglu is a Debian-based desktop distribution which focuses on ease of use. The new release of Tanglu ships with a new graphical system installer, the Apper package manager front-end has been replaced with Muon Discover and the KDE edition of Tanglu now ships with the Plasma 5 desktop environment. "Tanglu 3 comes with fresh new packages, a Linux 4.0 kernel, systemd 224, KDE Plasma 5.3 and the latest GNOME release, GNOME 3.16. On the installer side, the previous live-installer has been replaced with Calamares, which is now available as additional option to the Debian-Installer installation method. The KDE Plasma flavor of Tanglu now comes with Plasma 5, and replaces the Apper package manager with Muon Discover, for installing new software (Apper will come back in future, when it is fully ported). A lot of the KDE packaging is now shared with Kubuntu and the KDE flavor of Debian. GNOME is available in version 3.16, although a few components are still on their previous 3.14 release." Additional information on Tanglu 3.0 can be found in the project's release announcement and detailed release notes.
Black Lab Enterprise Linux 6.6
The developers of Black Lab Linux have announced the launch of an updated image of their Enterprise Linux product line. Black Lab Linux is based on Ubuntu and the new release, Black Lab Enterprise Linux 6.6, offers updated software packages, bug fixes and support for Docker 1.7. "Today we have released Black Lab Enterprise Linux 6.6. Black Lab enterprise Linux 6.6 is a bug fix and application update for the Black Lab Enterprise Linux 6.x line. With this release we added full Docker integration and it also includes the Black Lab SDK 2.0. Black Lab Enterprise Linux 6.6 being based on LTS Technologies will continue to get security updates until 2021. All current licensees will be able to update through the updater or you can request the ISO file. With this release the following packages have been updated: Xfce 4.12, GNOME 3.10, VirtualBox 5.0, Webmin 1.760, Firefox 39, Thunderbird Groupware Suite 31.8, LibreOffice 4.4, GLOM, GCC 4.9, Kernel 3.16.0-43, kernel 4.1.4 Installable, Docker 1.7 and all security updates until August 1, 2015." Purchase details and further information on the new release of Black Lab's commercial edition can be found in the company's release announcement.
Adam Conrad has announced the release of an updated version of the Ubuntu distribution and Ubuntu's many community spins. The new download media does not represent a separate new release, rather it provides fresh installation media with up to date packages and bug fixes. Apart from Ubuntu itself, fresh installation media is also available from the Edubuntu, Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Ubuntu Studio, Ubuntu GNOME, Ubuntu Kylin, Xubuntu and Mythbuntu projects. "We have expanded our hardware enablement offering since 12.04, and with 14.04.3, this point release contains an updated kernel and X stack for new installations to support new hardware across all our supported architectures, not just x86. As usual, this point release includes many updates, and updated installation media has been provided so that fewer updates will need to be downloaded after installation. These include security updates and corrections for other high-impact bugs, with a focus on maintaining stability and compatibility with Ubuntu 14.04 LTS." Further information is available in the release announcement. Download links, upgrade information and more technical details can be found in the release notes.
Karanbir Singh has announced the availability of a new release of CentOS, a distribution made from the source code used to create Red Hat Enterprise Linux releases. "CentOS Linux 6.7 is derived from source code released by Red Hat, Inc. for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.7. All upstream variants have been placed into one combined repository to make it easier for end users. Workstation, server, and minimal installs can all be done from our combined repository. All of our testing is only done against this combined distribution. There are many fundamental changes in this release, compared with the past CentOS Linux 6 releases, and we highly recommend everyone study the upstream Release Notes as well as the upstream Technical Notes about the changes and how they might impact your installation. (See the 'Further Reading' section if the CentOS release notes). All updates since the upstream 6.7 release are also on the CentOS mirrors as zero day updates. When installing CentOS-6.7 (or any other version) from any of our media, you should always run 'yum update' after the install to apply these." More information on CentOS 6.7 is available in the project's release announcement and in the release notes.
Linux Mint 17.2 "KDE", "Xfce"
Linux Mint is a desktop oriented distribution based on Ubuntu. Clement Lefebvre has announced two new editions to the Linux Mint 17.2 family which feature the KDE and Xfce desktop environments, respectively. The new KDE and Xfce editions ship with a more flexible Software Sources manager, improved UEFI support and the ability to alias packages in the Update Manager. There are a number of other miscellaneous improvements: "The USB Image Writer and the USB Stick Formatter now recognize a wider variety of USB sticks. They also feature improvements in terms of partitions alignment, boot flags. Sticks are better described and the tools also now use less CPU than they did before. LibreOffice was upgraded to version 4.4.3. HPLIP was upgraded to version 3.15.2, for more HP printers to be recognized and supported. HAL was reintroduced to support DRM playback in Adobe Flash (note that this helps with certain video websites, but not all of them, a tutorial was written to workaround other DRM/Flash issues). In the repositories, Inkscape was upgraded to version 0.91." Further information can be found in the release announcements (KDE, Xfce) and in the release notes (KDE, Xfce).
Linux Mint 17.2 -- KDE edition
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GParted Live 0.23.0-1
The developers of GParted Live, a live CD distribution which provides tools for managing hard drive partitions, have announced the availability of GParted Live 0.23.0-1. The new release is based on Debian's Unstable branch and fixes a number of bugs, including one which would cause the interface to hang during disk operations. The new release also includes additional hardware support, thanks to version 4.1 of the Linux kernel. "The GParted team is happy to announce a new stable release of GParted Live (0.23.0-1). This release includes GParted 0.23.0 which permits naming a GPT partition on creation, displaying the serial number in device information panel, and preventing a user interface hang when resizing FAT16/32, HFS and HFS+ file systems. Items of note include: Based on the Debian Sid repository (as of 2015/Aug/06); Linux kernel updated to 4.1.3-1. This release of GParted Live has been successfully tested on VirtualBox, VMware, BIOS, UEFI, and physical computers with AMD/ATI, NVidia, and Intel graphics." More information on GParted Live and its features can be found on the project's home page.
Slackel 4.14.3 "KDE Live"
The developers of Slackel, a distribution based on Slackware and Salix, have announced the release of Slackel 4.14.3 "Live KDE". The new release ships with version 3.18.11 of the Linux kernel, offers support for 32-bit and 6-bit x86 machines and supports booting on UEFI enabled devices. "Slackel Live KDE 4.14.3 includes the latest 3.18.11 kernel and latest updates from Slackware's 'Current' tree. This release is available in both 32-bit and 64-bit architectures with both fitting comfortably within the size of a DVD. Iso images are isohybrid. The 64-bit iso supports booting on UEFI systems. Secure Boot is however not supported. The 32-bit flavor supports both i686 PAE SMP and i486, non-PAE capable systems. Slackel Live KDE 4.14.3 includes the current tree of Slackware and KDE 4.14.3 accompanied by a very rich collection of KDE centric software. Linux kernel is 3.18.11. Firefox 38.0.1esr is the web browser, KMail and KTorrent are the main networking applications included in this release, followed by Akregator, an RSS reader for KDE, Kopete, the KDE instant messenger and more. It comes also with OpenJRE-7u79, rhino, Icedtea-web, GParted. Wicd is used for setting up your wired or wireless networking connections. In the multimedia section Dragon multimedia player, Clementine 1.2.3, K3b 2.0.2 included. The Salix codecs installer application can be used, to quickly and easily install patent encumbered codecs to your system. A wide variety of office applications are included. Calligra Words, Calligra Stage, Calligra Tables are the main office applications present while there are many more like the Okular document viewer. In Slackel repositories there is the latest stable LibreOffice version 4.4.5. In the Graphics section Gwenview, KColorChooser, KSnapshot." Further information is presented in the project's release announcement.
ExTiX 15.3 "LXQt"
Arne Exton has announced the launch of a new version of ExTiX, a desktop distribution based on Ubuntu. The new release, ExTiX 15.3 LXQt, ships with the lightweight LXQt desktop environment and version 4.1 of the Linux kernel. "I have made a new version of ExTiX - `The Ultimate Linux System'. I call it ExTiX 15.3 LXQt Live DVD. (The previous version was 15.2). ExTiX 15.3 LXQt DVD 64-bit is based on Debian 8.1 Jessie/Ubuntu 15.04. The original system includes the desktop environment Unity (Ubuntu). After removing Unity I have installed LXQt 0.9.0. LXQt is the Qt port and the upcoming version of LXDE, the Lightweight Desktop Environment. It is the product of the merge between the LXDE-Qt and the Razor-qt projects: A lightweight, modular, blazing-fast and user-friendly desktop environment. The system language is English." More information on the latest version of ExTiX can be found in the project's release announcement.
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Adobe's Flash plugin
For many years Adobe's Flash plugin was used across the web to deliver multimedia content to users. Chances were if you saw a video, an audio player or a game embedded into a website, it was powered by Flash. Because Flash was so widely used, users generally came to expect it to be available in their web browsers and many Linux distributions delivered, including Adobe Flash as part of the default installation.
In recent years Flash has slowly been falling out of favour due to its resource requirements, closed source nature and security vulnerabilities. Last month System76, a company which sells computers bundled with Ubuntu, announced they will no longer ship computers with Flash installed. Two weeks ago the Korora project launched Korora 22 without Flash included.
What do you think of this trend? Do you see Flash as a useful tool which should be included or as a dangerous security liability that should be avoided? Should Linux distributions offer the free Gnash alternative instead of Flash? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section.
You can see the results of last week's poll on contributing to open source projects here.
Adobe Flash should be
|Installed by default: ||183 (9%)|
| Available in distro repositories: ||971 (47%)|
| Not offered at all: ||427 (21%)|
| Replaced by Gnash: ||386 (19%)|
| Other: ||82 (4%)|
DistroWatch database summary
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This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 17 August 2015. 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 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|
|• Issue 702 (2017-03-06): Fatdog64 Linux, elementary OS bundled with new netbook, Haiku announces new features, security and the size of a distro's development team|
|• Issue 701 (2017-02-27): OBRevenge 2017.02, Mageia 6 delays, NetBSD reproducible builds, questions about swap space, trying to steam video on a Raspberry Pi|
|• Issue 700 (2017-02-20): RaspBSD, Debian replaces Icedove with Thunderbird, Fedora's licensing guidlines, tips for switching shells, finding battery charge, getting IP address and killing processes|
|• Issue 699 (2017-02-13): Clear Linux, GhostBSD network utility ported to FreeBSD, Ubuntu coming to Fairphone, elementary OS crowd funding an app store|
|• Issue 698 (2017-02-06): Solus 2017.01.01, comparing containers with portable applicatins, Tails dropping 32-bit support, Debian Stretch enters freeze|
|• Issue 697 (2017-01-30): Subgraph OS 2016.12.30, running Ubuntu on an Android phone, Arch Linux phasing out 32-bit support, Linux Mint testing updated LMDE media|
|• Issue 696 (2017-01-23): GoboLinux 016, remotely running desktop applications, Solus adopting Flatpak, KDE neon using Calamares, TrueOS tests OpenRC|
|• Issue 695 (2017-01-16): Zorin OS 12, Peppermint team fixes installer bug, Debian refreshes Jessie media, Ubuntu improves low graphics mode, Exciting things coming in 2017|
|• Full list of all issues|
|Random Distribution |
UserLinux was a GNU/Linux distribution based from Debian, but streamlined to a smaller set of default applications. The UserLinux variants (server, desktop, etc.) will be freely available in both source and ISO formats. Application specifics are being worked out right now. The desktop environment will be GNOME featuring OpenOffice.org for word processing. The server configuration will include Apache and Postfix. UserLinux will be complemented by a network of service providers offering certification, support, and professional services.