| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 624, 24 August 2015
Welcome to this year's 34th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
A lot of work goes into creating a Linux distribution, maintaining it and even learning how to use it. This week we talk about the effort that goes into learning Linux, crafting a distribution and keeping a project alive. There are few greater experts on this topic than Ian Murdock, founder of the Debian distribution. Debian just celebrated its 22nd birthday and we mark the occasion by sharing a blog post from Mr Murdock in which he talks about his first experiences with Linux. We also share some new up and coming features from Sabayon, talk about IBM's new partnership with Canonical to run Ubuntu on mainframe computers and share news of a new Linux file system. Plus we discuss the Solus project's quest for funding. First, to kick things off this week, we review the Zorin OS distribution. Zorin OS is designed to be a friendly first Linux distribution for people transitioning from Windows and Sameera Gayan shares his views on the latest version of Zorin OS. In our Tips and Tricks column we discuss a new, stable package repository for PC-BSD and FreeBSD users. Then we share the torrents we are seeding, provide a list of the distributions released last week and ask our readers how you got started using open source operating systems. We wish you all a terrific week and happy reading!
|Feature Story (by Sameera Gayan)
Zorin OS 10 Core - A good OS if you're coming from a heavy Windows background
Zorin OS is a GNU/Linux distribution that attempts to mimic the appearance of the Microsoft Windows operating system. I gave it a go roughly about a year and eight months ago (Zorin OS 8 Core) and my general impression was that it succeed in doing so, meaning that it was quite appealing in the eyes of a Microsoft Windows user.
However, back then I compared it to Linux Mint 15 Cinnamon edition (because they were both based on Ubuntu and looked very similar) and after considering the performance (boot-up speeds, memory usage, etc) and features of both operating systems, I still preferred Linux Mint 15 Cinnamon. But Zorin too did not lag behind by too much, it was mostly the lightweight memory usage and the boot-up speed of Linux Mint that took my attention.
In other words, features-wise, they were both good, but Linux Mint was better in terms of technical implementations, because I just had the impression that Linux Mint had taken in an Ubuntu core, stripped down all the unnecessary aspects of it, optimized it to suit their needs, and had implemented their own desktop environment on top of that.
The Zorin team however, it seemed to me, were relying on an almost fully functioning Ubuntu desktop, the only difference being that it was missing the Unity desktop shell. Zorin even had Compiz (the window manager that Unity relies on for delivering application windows based visual effects) running. To mimic the Windows desktop, they had used Avant Window Navigator (application dock) coupled with a start-menu (created by Zorin), the rest was pretty much Ubuntu. Such an approach leaves little room for optimizing for top performance. Zorin also lacked a couple of theme-based enhancements that I felt needed fixing. They were subtle, but sometimes it's the little things that matter. And that's precisely where Linux Mint shined.
Still, an average memory consumption of 370+ MiB for a desktop is still pretty lightweight. And, it had a tool called Zorin Look Changer which can instantly transfer your desktop into a Windows 7, XP or a GNOME 2 look alike as well. All in all, it was easy to use, even for a beginner who is not much familiar with Linux at all, and in that regard especially, Zorin OS 8 was still a good contender.
Zorin OS 10 -- Default desktop environment
(full image size: 227kB, resolution: 601x338 pixels)
So, with that in mind, I skipped the previous release and decided to try the new Zorin OS 10 Core which is based on Ubuntu 15.04. I downloaded the 64-bit version which is about 1.45 GB in size. And I'll be comparing its performance (and some of the new features) with the Zorin OS 8 Core data that I have. But before I begin the actual review, below are the details of the hardware on top of which it was run:
Intel Core i3-2330M CPU, Intel HD 3000 GPU, 4GB RAM (DDR3), Toshiba 7200 RPM (320GB) SATA HDD, Intel N-1030 Wireless adapter, Realtek network adapter ('RTL8168'), LED display with 1366x768 resolution (60Hz/60FPS). It's a Dell Vostro V-131 notebook.
Zorin OS 10 -- The system installer
(full image size: 123kB, resolution: 601x356 pixels)
Zorin OS 10 Core uses the Ubuntu's installer which is excellent, and the only difference is the theme. I won't go into details, because I'm sure most users are familiar with it, and even if you're not, it's a very intuitive, step based, installer that's easy to understand and follow.
That said, one thing that's worth mentioning is that a lot of GNU/Linux distributions that I've recently reviewed failed to add an entry in the boot loader's menu for my primary OS (it used to be Fedora 21, now it's Fedora 22). When reviewing, even Fedora 22 failed to add one! Not Ubuntu's installer though, as Zorin OS 10 Core had added a nice entry for Fedora 22 as well. Excellent.
The GRUB theme has received subtle changes. For instance, there used to be text labels called "Enter Boot", "Edit Selection" and "Commandline" at the bottom of the screen, but now they're replaced by icons, which in effect gives it a cleaner look. All in all it still retains the same beautiful look, though it takes about 2 seconds to load, due to the relatively heavy theme. The boot-logo is the same one that was featured in Zorin OS 8 Core.
As mentioned in the beginning, at a glance, the desktop looks like the familiar traditional Windows desktop and should put Windows users at ease. When compared to Zorin 8 however, except for the wallpaper (which always changes in each new release), there are two prominent changes.
First is the blueish colored bottom-panel. In Zorin 8, it used to be much darker, but I very much prefer the new blue color, when surrounded by the two white colored areas, it looks beautiful and pleasing to the eye.
Zorin 8 used to come with two themes, a lighter (default) one and its darker variant. This version however, includes four color pallets, Blue (default), Green, Orange and Red. And each can be further customized with three background colors (light, dark and black) which changes bottom-panel and application windows colors.
Zorin OS 10 -- New icon theme
(full image size: 118kB, resolution: 601x319 pixels)
The other change is the new icon theme. These icons are actually from the Elementary OS, and they too look very pretty compared to the old ones.
There are other subtle changes in the theme as well. For instance, previously, the Minimize, Maximize and Close buttons used to be blue. But now their background is set to white and the borders of the buttons are colored in gray.
Not everything is fixed though
In my previous review, I pointed out that when you move the cursor over the start-menu icon, or click on it, a tool-tip message appears displaying "Zorin menu", and if you start searching for an application without bothering to move the cursor (which is what most users usually do, I suppose), the tool-tip message ("Zorin menu") does not fade away as it should, and it covers the search box perfectly, and one can't really see what's being typed in.
This was how it was in Zorin 8 and sadly, it's still here in Zorin OS 10 as well. Very annoying.
Other than that, I very much liked the start-menu, all its features and how menus are arranged. It almost feels like the native start-menu that used to come with Windows 7. You can even right-click on an application icon and select "Open as Administrator" too!
If you prefer a traditional GNOME 2 desktop layout or Windows XP look alike, then you can use the Zorin Look Changer. With just push of a button, it'll transform your desktop.
Zorin OS 10 -- The look changer
(full image size: 46kB, resolution: 669x345 pixels)
Also, unlike in many other distributions, you can right-click on the desktop and create an empty image file (GIMP), text file or a LibreOffice document easily as well.
Small but neat features like these definitely improve one's confidence, specially if you're coming from a heavy Windows background.
Zorin OS 10 Core ships with the 3.19.0 Linux kernel and X server 1.17.1. Firefox 39.0 is the default web browser and Zorin includes playback support for proprietary multimedia codecs, though inevitably, includes the outdated Adobe Flash Player for Firefox (since Adobe abandoned its development). But it comes with another native Zorin tool called Zorin Web Browser Manager which lets you install Google Chrome, Web (GNOME 3's web browser) and Midori, again, all with a push of a button.
Zorin OS 10 -- The web browser manager
(full image size: 63kB, resolution: 666x276 pixels)
Firefox played Flash video content smoothly, but I installed Google Chrome due to the security concerns of the outdated Flash Player plugin for Firefox.
Zorin also includes Play On Linux 4.2.8 (it's actually a frond-end for WINE for WINE is the underlying engine). If you're unfamiliar with it, it's a utility that basically lets you run applications that are designed to run in a Microsoft Windows environment, though there's no guarantee that they'll be run properly, or run at all, and not every application is supported either. Still, this too is another encouragement for the Windows users nonetheless (just for the record, I've run a couple of popular Windows applications using Play On Linux in the past quite successfully).
Zorin OS 10 -- Play On Linux
(full image size: 85kB, resolution: 601x454 pixels)
The default multimedia player is Parole (developed by the Xfce desktop developers). Whenever I paused a video, the video screen got set to blank. I was able to fix it by simply changing the video output to OpenGL through the Preferences window. Other than that, it's a good media player.
Zorin OS 10 -- Changing video output in Parole
(full image size: 43kB, resolution: 601x232 pixels)
Zorin doesn't create video thumbnails by default either. But that can be quickly fixed by simply installing the ffmpegthumbnailer utility. For that simply use the below commands:
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install ffmpegthumbnailer
Zorin 10 OS -- Fixing thumbnail generation
(full image size: 35kB, resolution: 601x290 pixels)
That should do the trick.
Other applications include: Rhythmbox 3.2.1, OpenShot 1.4.3, Geary Mail 0.10.0 (the default mail client developed for and by the Elementary OS developers), GIMP 2.8.14, Empathy 3.12.9, LibreOffice 220.127.116.11 and few other GNOME 3 applications.
Performance Related Data
Keep in mind that even though these data are provided at the end of the article, I measured them first without touching the OS to keep the accuracy of the readings high. And before measuring them, I booted into the OS 5-6 times, letting things to settle down (such as letting the applications to be done with their first time configurations etc). This is what I always have done in other distributions when measuring performance.
Zorin OS 10 -- Boot times graph
(full image size: 8kB, resolution: 601x378 pixels)
As mentioned in the beginning of this article, I got a bit frustrated with the boot-up delay of Zorin OS 8 Core, not with Zorin OS 10 Core though. As you can see, it was roughly 23% faster while booting, although, it's about a second behind Ubuntu 15.04 according to my data.
That said, both Zorin 10 and 8 come with a tool called preload that improves your frequently used applications' loading times (to put it into a simpler context: it does this by copying the user's most frequently used programs into the RAM, before they're demanded by the user), and it can slightly slow down the boot-up speed (yes, I've tested it in the past and have written a review) as well.
Memory Usage Upon Desktop Loading
Zorin OS 10 -- Memory usage graph
(full image size: 8kB, resolution: 601x381 pixels)
As you can see, the new Zorin did not shine in memory usage readings. It used roughly 19.4% more memory than Zorin OS 8, and even Ubuntu 15.04 with its default Unity desktop consumed only about 378.9 MiB which is about 19.4% lighter when compared against Zorin OS 10 Core! I'm not sure about exact reasons, but this is how the numbers stand.
Power Usage at Idle
As always, when measuring power, I turned off Bluetooth, turned on wi-fi (connected to my wireless router) and set screen brightness to its maximum (with dimming disabled), and let the OS idle. The tool I use to measure power is called powerstat (originally developed by Ubuntu developer Colin King).
Zorin OS 10 -- Power usage graph
(full image size: 7kB, resolution: 601x380 pixels)
Here too Zorin OS 10 Core was not impressive. It consumed about 14% more power than Zorin OS 8 Core, and even Ubuntu 15.04 consumed 7.6% less.
Still, these days, I'm not so much worried about such issues, because unlike in the past, there are a couple of new tools that can be used to fix them. One of my favorite such tools is called TLP (it's a power usage optimizer).
So after installing it, I remeasured the power usage and was quite satisfied with the result as it had reached even below the power usage of Zorin OS 8 Core, though Zorin OS 8 Core power consumption is without any manual tweaks or using tools such as TLP, and back then, I did not install TLP in Zorin OS 8 Core to see what it can do. And just to add, Ubuntu 15.04, after installing TLP, was still able to reduce power by around 10%, compared to Zorin OS 10 Core!
CPU Usage at Idle
Zorin OS 10 -- Measuring CPU usage at idle
(full image size: 69kB, resolution: 601x440 pixels)
When letting the OS idle, except for the system monitor process itself that constantly kept using about 2-3% of the CPU time (it does that all the time), all the other applications and process did not interrupt the CPU, for longer periods. Excellent.
ACPI and Hardware Recognition
As usual, almost all of my hardware was recognized and configured properly by Zorin OS 10 Core which is not a surprise since it's based on Ubuntu 15.04 and Ubuntu runs well on my hardware.
Zorin was able to restore the previously set screen brightness and restore the states of the Bluetooth and wi-fi adapters as well. Suspending also worked without any issues. After manually installing the above mentioned TLP utility though, Bluetooth adapter got turned on every time I logged into the desktop. Though that can be fixed many ways, I just edited the main configuration file of TLP and got it fixed in no time. I won't go into it here, but if you experience any such issues after installing it, let me know, I'll provide you with the details.
The only hardware that didn't work was the fingerprint reader, but that's how it has always been in other distributions, except in Fedora 22 where it worked partially. But the driver is still very new (I think it's a reverse engineered one) and useless basically.
For those of you who're not familiar with my reviews, I'll provide a brief introduction to this next test. The point of this test is to try to get a sense of the responsiveness of the operating system when put under a heavy I/O (hard disk) activity. Why is it important? Well, who would love an OS that majorly jeopardizes the playback of a movie when your hard disk is busy (say a file copy is underway in the background), or just gets sluggish when trying to open multiple programs at the same time? Nobody, right?
Now, what I do is simple. I try to copy a file (that's usually about 1.5GB in size) between two folders that reside within my home folder, and while it's happening, I try to play a multimedia file first. I then try to open a couple of programs by using an application menu and try to open some by searching as well. When all that's happening, I also try to browse a folder that's filled with a reasonably large amount of files as well. When this is all happening, I mainly try to observe three things. The multimedia playback, how many applications get opened and the cursor's sensitivity.
For instance, if the multimedia playback is not majorly disrupted and if most of the applications get opened up before the file copying is finished and, in this whole time, if the mouse pointer doesn't lose its sensitivity by that much, then I consider the OS to be a responsive one.
So I carried out the test and found out that Parole took 6-7 seconds delay to open up the multimedia file and its play back only interrupted once or twice (all of which were short lived), and, though certainly not all, most of the applications that I tried to open, got opened up before the file copying was finished. Mouse pointer sensitivity got lost only for about two times (each time with a 2-3 seconds delay). Overall, it was good.
Since Ubuntu 15.04 uses the deadline I/O scheduler (a lower level utility that governs the read/write request priority) which is optimized for SSDs, I decided to change it into CFQ to see if it can further improve the responsiveness. So I ran the same test and found out that it did improve things a lot! For instance, Parole, unlike the previous 6-7 seconds delay, was able to play the file within about 2-3 seconds and although the multimedia playback got slightly interrupted 2-3 times (here too they were very short lived, nothing major as to interrupt the enjoyment), the vast majority of the programs got opened up, and the mouse pointer lost its sensitivity a couple of times, but overall, things had been improved.
So all in all, even without changing the I/O scheduler, Zorin behaved well by default. I was a happy end-user.
Just for the record, Ubuntu 15.04 did not perform that well with the deadline I/O scheduler, but I could see the same negative effects in action here (in a somewhat a smaller scale) in Zorin OS 10 Core, such as the big delay of the Parole media player for instance as something very similar happened in Ubuntu 15.04 with VLC. And after changing to CFQ, the situation changed completely in Ubuntu 15.04 as it became very responsive.
Zorin OS 10 -- Shutdown delay
(full image size: 7kB, resolution: 601x380 pixels)
As you can see, Zorin OS 10 Core was 64% slower while shutting down. Yes it sounds like a lot, and even Ubuntu 15.04 only took about 2.5 seconds for that, still, 4.1 seconds delay is pretty fast for shutting down an OS.
Zorin OS 10 Core, compared to Zorin OS 8 Core, uses more memory, consumes more power and is not the fastest to shut down either. And, as mentioned in the beginning of this article, the reason is because Zorin doesn't seem to care too much about the technical implementations, and inevitably pays a certain price for it.
That being said, it now boots faster and is responsive, and I must say that it quite impressively mimics the appearance of the Microsoft Windows operating system's desktop, not just the appearance, in terms of functionality too it has made a lot of effort, and that really deserves praise. And, if you are coming from a heavy Microsoft Windows background and have never used Linux before, then yes, I would say that Zorin OS 10 Core should make you feel almost at home, plus, the inclusion of Play On Linux might even let you run your favorite native Windows app in Linux! Thus, I see no reason why one such user shouldn't try it out.
Good luck everyone and thank you for reading!
* * * * *
About the author: Hello everyone. My name is Gayan and I'm a bit of a technically oriented individual. I strongly believe that the only way to achieve happiness in life is to follow your passion and live your vision, no matter how small or big it is.
I've been using GNU/Linux for about 12 years now, and I'm also a Red Hat Certified Engineer. In my spare time, I review GNU/Linux distributions on my blog, with an emphasis on their technical aspects. I'm a farmer in real life. And that's me in a nutshell.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
Sabayon announces new features, Canonical and IBM partner to run Ubuntu on mainframes, Solus seeks funding, Linux gains a new file system and Debian celebrates its 22nd birthday
Several important changes have been taking place in the Sabayon Linux project. Some of the new features coming to Sabayon include Docker based images, a return of the project's official MATE spin and a new system installer. "We replaced Anaconda installer with Calamares. Many users complained about buggy Anaconda and the Calamares project was designed for distros like Sabayon Linux. At the moment Calamares still lacks some features, like disk-encryption, but we expect them to be implemented sooner or later. Obviously Calamares is fully theme-able and all the artwork is in a separate artwork package. The installer configuration is shipped with the app-misc/calamares-sabayon-base-modules package." The project's status report also mentions the availability of Plasma 5 desktop packages in a community repository and plans to officially support the ARM architecture.
* * * * *
IBM and Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu distribution, have announced they will be working together to support Ubuntu running on IBM mainframe computers. According to IBM's announcement, the company will be supplying LinuxONE and z System machines which will run Red Hat Enterprise Linux, SUSE Linux Enterprise and Ubuntu. According to the announcement, IBM is offering free access to LinuxONE environments for developers. "Marist College and Syracuse University's School of Information Studies plan to host clouds that provide developers access to a virtual IBM LinuxONE at no cost. As part of the program, IBM also will create a special cloud for independent software providers (ISVs) hosted at IBM sites in Dallas, Beijing and Boeblingen, Germany, that provide application vendors access and a free trial to LinuxONE resources to port, test and benchmark new applications for the LinuxONE and z Systems platform." IT World has an interview with Canonical's Mark Shuttleworth in which he talks about the deal with IBM, Snappy packages and open source in the enterprise market.
* * * * *
To adapt an old saying, money makes the hard drives go around. While most Linux distributions are provided to users free of charge, the developers of these distributions do need to cover costs. Most Linux distributions have hosting costs, backup servers to maintain, testing equipment to purchase and electric bills. Plus it would be nice to be able to pay contributors or post bug bounties. Unfortunately, most Linux distributions have trouble meeting their costs and developers end up paying the bills out of their own pockets. The Solus distribution is currently trying to come up with funds to meet the project's hosting costs. A post on the project's Google Plus page reads, "We need to think of some alternative funding mechanisms for the project. The current Patreon monthly fund is barely going to cover the monthly bills anymore, having dropped to $78 a month. (If you include the new NAS that we drastically need to move to from lack of disk space, then it actually doesn't cover the monthlies.) So, we know Bountysource didn't work (we ran that for several months), and it requires us to use GitHub's inferior issue tracking. We know Patreon fluctuates wildly, with an ongoing downward trend. So the only things I can think of now would be advertising or similar, but I really don't see those coming anywhere near what we'd need to run the servers. So, thoughts?" An ongoing discussion on how to keep the project financially afloat is taking place on the Solus Google Plus page.
* * * * *
Kent Overstreet has announced the availability of a new Linux file system. The new file system, called bcache, is designed to deliver the performance of ext4 while offering the copy-on-write and snapshot features present in Btrfs and ZFS. At the moment, Overstreet says the file system is still in its testing phase and may not be completely safe to use. "I've been focusing on stability and correctness for quite awhile now; xfstests passes aside from a few relatively minor known issues. It probably won't eat your data - but no promises. Also note - the on disk format is not finalized yet, and won't be for awhile
though changes are infrequent at this point." Benchmarks and information on using the new bcache file system can be found in Overstreet's post.
* * * * *
Debian, one of the older surviving distributions and parent to over one hundred other GNU/Linux distributions, celebrated its 22nd birthday last week. Debian is one of the largest distributions in terms of packages maintained, architectures supported and developers working on the project. Last week Ian Murdock, the founder of Debian, shared a blog post in which he talked about what caused him to explore Linux and create one of the world's most successful distributions. "I was also accessing UNIX from home via my Intel 80286-based PC and a 2400-baud modem, which saved me the trek across campus to the computer lab on particularly cold days. Being able to get to the Sequent from home was great, but I wanted to replicate the experience of the ENAD building's X terminals, so one day, in January 1993, I set out to find an X server that would run on my PC. As I searched for such a thing on Usenet, I stumbled across something called `Linux.' Linux wasn't an X server, of course, but it was something much better: A complete UNIX-like operating system for PCs, something I hadn't even contemplated could exist." Happy birthday, Debian, and thank you Mr Murdock!
|Tips and Tricks (by Jesse Smith)
Improved package stability coming to FreeBSD/PC-BSD
In the Linux community there are two main types of distributions, those which provide fixed releases which stay relatively static during the life time of the release and rolling release distributions which are continuously upgraded. With fixed release distributions packages within a distribution's repositories usually remain unchanged (apart from security updates) for the duration of the distribution's life cycle. With rolling release distributions packages are generally updated and tested to make sure each application works with the other pieces of software within the rolling repositories. There is a third type of Linux distribution which uses a semi-rolling release model. These distributions usually maintain a stable core with the kernel, drivers and other essential components remaining fixed while desktop applications and less critical components are continuously upgraded.
The open source BSD projects compare most closely with the semi-rolling release model found in the Linux community. With the BSDs (specifically I plan to talk about FreeBSD and its branch of the BSD family in this article) the projects release a stable core which includes a kernel, command line utilities and other essential components. Meanwhile, much of the services, desktop applications and libraries are kept separate in another repository referred to as a ports collection. The items in the ports collection are not maintained directly by the FreeBSD project, the software in the ports collection comes from third-parties and is not subject to the same scrutiny and standards. Typically, in the BSD world, people mix a stable core operating system with a ports collection that is in regular flux. This means the operating system, FreeBSD for the sake of today's topic, is stable for years while the ports are changing fairly rapidly.
As one might imagine, having a collection of packages which regularly update and change operating on top of a core system that is stable can cause some problems. It is easy to imagine a situation in which we are using two services, Y and Z, which both rely on the MySQL (version 5.5) database. Then, over time, service Y is upgraded and requires MySQL 5.6 while service Z still wants MySQL 5.5. In situations such as these the pkg package manager runs into a conflict. It wants to upgrade service Y to the latest version, but to do so it needs to upgrade MySQL, which will break the dependency chain service Z depends on. It is not uncommon to find the pkg package manager throwing up its metaphorical hands and either refusing to upgrade service Y or insisting it needs to un-install Z. Neither is a pleasant situation for a system administrator.
The FreeBSD project and, by extension, related projects like PC-BSD which use FreeBSD as a base, have recently formalized long term support for FreeBSD releases. This was a welcome change for system administrators who use FreeBSD and want long, predictable release cycles. However, the ports collection continues to roll forward, even while the core of FreeBSD remains stable. This can lead to surprises during package upgrades.
The PC-BSD project, an organization which builds friendly server and desktop environments on top of FreeBSD, is working on a solution that will allow administrators to keep up with security updates while avoiding a lot of dependency conflicts. The PC-BSD project has set up a new package repository, named Enterprise, which becomes "frozen" when new releases of FreeBSD & PC-BSD are launched. The Enterprise package repository will be kept up to date with security fixes from upstream projects, but will avoid changing dependencies or making modifications to packages which will harm compatibility. The new repository, which can be accessed by PC-BSD and FreeBSD users, will try to offer stable packages for the five year life span of FreeBSD releases, similar to the way Debian, CentOS and Ubuntu maintain fixed repositories which are only updated with security fixes. The Enterprise repository's five year mission is to allow administrators to keep up to date with security fixes while avoiding situations where service Y and service Z suddenly find themselves with conflicting dependencies.
The existing PC-BSD and FreeBSD package repositories still remain available to people who want the latest and greatest software. The new Enterprise repository is presented as an additional package source for people who crave stability over new features. Administrators and end users who use the Enterprise repository can request that specific packages receive special attention on the PC-BSD support forum in the Enterprise Repository Update Requests section.
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: 102
- Total downloads completed: 48,903
- Total data uploaded: 11.2TB
|Released Last Week
IPFire 2.17 Core Update 93
The developers of IPFire, an independent Linux distribution designed to be run on firewalls, VPNs and network gateways, have released IPFire 2.17 Core Update 93. The new release includes a number of bug fixes and expands support for dynamic DNS services. "This is the official release announcement of IPFire 2.17 - Core Update 93. This update comes with various security fixes in the Squid web proxy, the dnsmasq DNS proxy server and the Perl-compatible regular expressions library. ddns, our dynamic DNS update client, has been updated to version 008. This version is more robust against network errors on the path and server errors at the provider. Updates will then be retried frequently. The providers joker.com and DNSmadeEasy are now supported. A crash when updating namecheap records has been fixed. Pakfire was fixed and now correctly pulls additional dependencies of add-on packages when updating from an older version. TRIM is disabled on some SSDs with known firmware bugs that cause data loss." Further information can be found in the project's release announcement.
Dru Lavigne has announced the launch of PC-BSD 10.2. The PC-BSD project is based on FreeBSD and offers users pre-configured desktop environments, ZFS on root and graphical system administration utilities. The new release includes several bug fixes and a number of new features, including a CD-sized network installation disc. "The PC-BSD team is pleased to announce the availability of 10.2-RELEASE! A very special thanks to all the developers, QA, and documentation teams for helping to make this release possible. PC-BSD 10.2 Notable Changes: FreeBSD 10.2-RELEASE base system; Many bug fixes and enhancements to installer to dual-boot setups; New CD-sized network installation media, with wifi Configuration via GUI; Switched to `iocage' for jail management backend; Disk Manager GUI now available via installer GUI; Bug-fixes and improvements to Life-Preserver replications; Improved localization options for login manager..." This release also features a server edition of PC-BSD called TrueOS. Further information is available in the project's release announcement.
PC-BSD 10.2 -- Running the Lumina desktop environment
(full image size: 1.2MB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
The developers of Q4OS, a lightweight Debian-based distribution featuring the Trinity desktop environment, have delivered a new point release. The new release, Q4OS 1.2.8, features improved dependency management in the Setup application and bug fixes. "This Q4OS release delivers redesigned 'Setup' utility, the native Q4OS tool, that enables smooth and user friendly installation of external applications. It has been improved to be able to solve dependencies of packages in deeper complexity and automatically install extra useful software without the need of additional user intervention. An integrated message-box now displays installation messages much clearer. Several system bug fixes and under the hood improvements has been closed as usual. All the updates will arrive into repositories in the days to come, automatic unattended upgrades mechanism will take care about to update computers of current users." Further information can be found on the project's blog.
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Why did you start using Linux/BSD?
Most computers sold around the world today still ship with proprietary operating systems installed on them. It is relatively rare to find computers with Linux or BSD installed on them in retail shops and it's often difficult to find consumer laptop and desktop computers on the websites of companies like Dell and HP. This means most people who are currently running Linux or BSD made the choice to switch from a proprietary operating system to an open source system.
Our question this week is: why did you start using Linux or BSD? Switching operating systems usually requires some self-education and a willingness to try new things, so what motivated you to make the switch? Was it curiosity, was it the ideals of free and open source software, perhaps it was frustration with the previous operating system or the desire to access a specific feature? Let us know what drew you to explore the world of open source in the comments section.
You can see the results of last week's poll on dual booting here.
I switched to Linux/BSD due to
|Curiosity: ||775 (22%)|
| Cost: ||163 (5%)|
| Frustrations with my old OS: ||806 (23%)|
| Features: ||150 (4%)|
| Escaping malware: ||410 (12%)|
| A Friend recommended it: ||92 (3%)|
| Work/Education purposes: ||212 (6%)|
| I like the philosophy/ideals: ||771 (22%)|
| Other: ||104 (3%)|
Search for distributions based on release model
Several of our readers have written to us and asked for the ability to search for distributions based on release models. Specifically people have said they would like to find distributions which use a rolling, semi-rolling or fixed release approach. This past week we rolled out the initial code to make this a possibility.
One of the challenges involved with finding distributions based on whether the project is using a rolling release model or not is defining what qualifies as a rolling release. For instance, Clonezilla Live is based on Debian's development repositories, which would suggest Clonezilla uses a rolling release model. However, Clonezilla is primarily used as a live disc, which means users need to download a new ISO file each time they want to upgrade their Clonezilla Live software. This makes Clonezilla Live, for most practical purposes, a fixed release distribution.
Further complicating matters, most projects maintain a development branch. Fedora calls their development repository Rawhide, Slackware calls theirs Current, PC-BSD calls their development branch Edge. These repositories are, from one point of view, rolling releases. However, these development repositories are not typically used by the general public and are not enabled by default.
Keeping the above points in mind, we have tagged a distribution as using a rolling (or semi-rolling) release model if the default repositories are operating under a rolling release model. We have also tagged distributions as using a rolling release model if the project provides separate installation media for their development repository (as Debian and openSUSE do). A distribution may also be tagged as a rolling release if the project's system installer gives the user the choice of enabling rolling release repositories at install time. The antiX distribution, for example, gives the choice of using Debian's Stable, Testing or Unstable repositories at install time.
With the above criteria, we have added "Release model" as a searchable feature on our Search page. This new search parameter allows a visitor to find, for example, all rolling release distributions which use Portage for package management. Or we could look for all distributions which use RPM and offer a semi-rolling release model.
In several cases we were not able to find clear information on whether a distribution used a fixed, rolling release or semi-rolling release model. If we have miscategorized a distribution, please e-mail Jesse, put "Rolling release" in the subject line and provide us with a link to the project's documentation on its release model. Thank you.
* * * * *
Distributions added to waiting list
- RaspBSD. RaspBSD is a port of the FreeBSD operating system to Raspberry Pi computers. The project strives to offer users an easy way to run FreeBSD on Raspberry Pi and related mini computers.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 31 August 2015. To contact the authors please send email to:
- Sameera Gayan (feature story)
- 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)
If you've enjoyed this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly, please consider sending us a tip.
(Tips this week: 0, value: US$0.00)
|Linux Foundation Training
|• Issue 768 (2018-06-18): Devuan 2.0.0, using pkgsrc to manage software, the NOVA filesystem, OpenBSD handles successful cron output|
|• Issue 767 (2018-06-11): Android-x86 7.1-r1, transferring files over OpenSSH with pipes, LFS with Debian package management, Haiku ports LibreOffice|
|• Issue 766 (2018-06-04): openSUSE 15, overview of file system links, Manjaro updates Pamac, ReactOS builds itself, Bodhi closes forums|
|• Issue 765 (2018-05-28): Pop!_OS 18.04, gathering system information, Haiku unifying ARM builds, Solus resumes control of Budgie|
|• Issue 764 (2018-05-21): DragonFly BSD 5.2.0, Tails works on persistent packages, Ubuntu plans new features, finding services affected by an update|
|• Issue 763 (2018-05-14): Fedora 28, Debian compatibility coming to Chrome OS, malware found in some Snaps, Debian's many flavours|
|• Issue 762 (2018-05-07): TrueOS 18.03, live upgrading Raspbian, Mint plans future releases, HardenedBSD to switch back to OpenSSL|
|• Issue 761 (2018-04-30): Ubuntu 18.04, accessing ZFS snapshots, UBports to run on Librem 5 phones, Slackware makes PulseAudio optional|
|• Issue 760 (2018-04-23): Chakra 2017.10, using systemd to hide files, Netrunner's ARM edition, Debian 10 roadmap, Microsoft develops Linux-based OS|
|• Issue 759 (2018-04-16): Neptune 5.0, building containers with Red Hat, antiX introduces Sid edition, fixing filenames on the command line|
|• Issue 758 (2018-04-09): Sortix 1.0, openSUSE's Transactional Updates, Fedora phasing out Python 2, locating portable packages|
|• Issue 757 (2018-04-02): Gatter Linux 0.8, the UNIX and Linux System Administration Handbook, Red Hat turns 25, super long term support kernels|
|• Issue 756 (2018-03-26): NuTyX 10.0, Neptune supplies Debian users with Plasma 5.12, SolydXK on a Raspberry Pi, SysV init development|
|• Issue 755 (2018-03-19): Learning with ArchMerge and Linux Academy, Librem 5 runs Plasma Mobile, Cinnamon gets performance boost|
|• Issue 754 (2018-03-12): Reviewing Sabayon and Antergos, the growing Linux kernel, BSDs getting CPU bug fixes, Manjaro builds for ARM devices|
|• Issue 753 (2018-03-05): Enso OS 0.2, KDE Plasma 5.12 features, MX Linux prepares new features, interview with MidnightBSD's founder|
|• Issue 752 (2018-02-26): OviOS 2.31, performing off-line upgrades, elementary OS's new installer, UBports gets test devices, Redcore team improves security|
|• Issue 751 (2018-02-19): DietPi 6.1, testing KDE's Plasma Mobile, Nitrux packages AppImage in default install, Solus experiments with Wayland|
|• Issue 750 (2018-02-12): Solus 3, getting Deb packages upstream to Debian, NetBSD security update, elementary OS explores AppCentre changes|
|• Issue 749 (2018-02-05): Freespire 3 and Linspire 7.0, misunderstandings about Wayland, Xorg and Mir, Korora slows release schedule, Red Hat purchases CoreOS|
|• Issue 748 (2018-01-29): siduction 2018.1.0, SolydXK 32-bit editions, building an Ubuntu robot, desktop-friendly Debian options|
|• Issue 747 (2018-01-22): Ubuntu MATE 17.10, recovering open files, creating a new distribution, KDE focusing on Wayland features|
|• Issue 746 (2018-01-15): deepin 15.5, openSUSE's YaST improvements, new Ubuntu 17.10 media, details on Spectre and Meltdown bugs|
|• Issue 745 (2018-01-08): GhostBSD 11.1, Linspire and Freespire return, wide-spread CPU bugs patched, adding AppImage launchers to the application menu|
|• Issue 744 (2018-01-01): MX Linux 17, Ubuntu pulls media over BIOS bug, PureOS gets endorsed by the FSF, openSUSE plays with kernel boot splash screens|
|• Issue 743 (2017-12-18): Daphile 17.09, tools for rescuing files, Fedora Modular Server delayed, Sparky adds ARM support, Slax to better support wireless networking|
|• Issue 742 (2017-12-11): heads 0.3.1, improvements coming to Tails, Void tutorials, Ubuntu phasing out Python 2, manipulating images from the command line|
|• Issue 741 (2017-12-04): Pop!_OS 17.10, openSUSE Tumbleweed snapshots, installing Q4OS on a Windows partition, using the at command|
|• Issue 740 (2017-11-27): Artix Linux, Unity spin of Ubuntu, Nitrux swaps Snaps for AppImage, getting better battery life on Linux|
|• Issue 739 (2017-11-20): Fedora 27, cross-distro software ports, Ubuntu on Samsung phones, Red Hat supports ARM, Parabola continues 32-bit support|
|• Issue 738 (2017-11-13): SparkyLinux 5.1, rumours about spyware, Slax considers init software, Arch drops 32-bit packages, overview of LineageOS|
|• Issue 737 (2017-11-06): BeeFree OS 18.1.2, quick tips to fix common problems, Slax returning, Solus plans MATE and software management improvements|
|• Issue 736 (2017-10-30): Ubuntu 17.10, "what if" security questions, Linux Mint to support Flatpak, NetBSD kernel memory protection|
|• Issue 735 (2017-10-23): ArchLabs Minimo, building software with Ravenports, WPA security patch, Parabola creates OpenRC spin|
|• Issue 734 (2017-10-16): Star 1.0.1, running the Linux-libre kernel, Ubuntu MATE experiments with snaps, Debian releases new install media, Purism reaches funding goal|
|• Issue 733 (2017-10-09): KaOS 2017.09, 32-bit prematurely obsoleted, Qubes security features, IPFire updates Apache|
|• Issue 732 (2017-10-02): ClonOS, reducing Snap package size, Ubuntu dropping 32-bit Desktop, partitioning disks for ZFS|
|• Issue 731 (2017-09-25): BackSlash Linux Olaf, W3C adding DRM to web standards, Wayland support arrives in Mir, Debian experimenting with AppArmor|
|• Issue 730 (2017-09-18): Mageia 6, running a completely free OS, HAMMER2 file system in DragonFly BSD's installer, Manjaro to ship pre-installed on laptops|
|• Issue 729 (2017-09-11): Parabola GNU/Linux-libre, running Plex Media Server on a Raspberry Pi, Tails feature roadmap, a cross-platform ports build system|
|• Issue 728 (2017-09-04): Nitrux 1.0.2, SUSE creates new community repository, remote desktop tools for GNOME on Wayland, using Void source packages|
|• Issue 727 (2017-08-28): Cucumber Linux 1.0, using Flatpak vs Snap, GNOME previews Settings panel, SUSE reaffirms commitment to Btrfs|
|• Issue 726 (2017-08-21): Redcore Linux 1706, Solus adds Snap support, KaOS getting hardened kernel, rolling releases and BSD|
|• 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|
|• Full list of all issues|
|Random Distribution |
Kwheezy is a Debian-based Linux distribution with an intuitive KDE desktop and a good selection of GNU/Linux and open-source software. It also includes popular device drivers, media codecs and browser plugins, all pre-configured and ready for use at first boot.