| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 652, 14 March 2016
Welcome to this year's 11th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
Open source software development, particularly in the Linux community, tends to feature many individual developers working on various projects without any central design or authority to direct effort. This development models gives us a great deal of variety, but it can also cause some problems when new technologies and older designs are brought together. This week in our News section we look at examples of distributions moving forward while continuing to use older technologies. We start with Fedora, a cutting edge distribution that is trying to replace the aging X display software with Wayland. We also look at Ubuntu's struggle to drop legacy versions of the Python programming language. Plus we talk about Debian replacing Iceweasel with Firefox and feature a status report from the strictly libre Trisquel GNU/Linux distribution. Our Feature Story this week looks at ReactOS, an open source implementation of Windows. In our Tips and Tricks column we discuss how to verify that an installation ISO image has not been compromised using checksums and signatures. Then we share the torrents we are seeding and provide a list of the distributions released last week. In our Opinion Poll we ask whether our readers buy computers with Linux pre-installed. We wish you all a wonderful week and happy reading!
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Many people in the open source community see Microsoft's Windows operating system as an enemy, or at least an unwelcome competitor. Still, the fact remains many people find being able to run Windows applications useful, sometimes even necessarily for one reason or another.
ReactOS is an open source operating system which seeks to re-implement the design and technology of Microsoft Windows. Written from scratch, without using any code from Windows, ReactOS uses its own implementation of the NT kernel and cooperates with the WINE project to offer compatibility with Windows software, file systems and device drivers. The latest release, version 0.4.0, includes the following features:
There are two editions of ReactOS we can download: a live CD and an installation disc. The installation disc is 94MB in size while the live disc is a mere 66MB. These files are compressed to provide faster downloads and, once decompressed, the ISO images take up 113MB and 198MB of space, respectively.
- ext2 read/write and NTFS read support
- New explorer shell and theme support
- SerialATA support
- Sound support
- USB support
- VirtualBox and VirtualPC support
- Wireless networking
ReactOS 0.4.0 -- The application menu and file manager
(full image size: 59kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
I downloaded both editions of ReactOS and tried to use both. At first I attempted to write the images to a USB drive as USB support was mentioned in the project's release notes. However, I was unable to get either of my test computers to boot from the USB thumb drives and I burned copies of the ISO files to CDs. When trying to boot the operating system on my laptop computer, ReactOS immediately displayed an error message saying the operating system was "out of memory". When attempting to boot the operating system on my desktop machine, the operating system started to load, but after about 15 seconds displayed the classic Blue Screen Of Death, reporting the system could not continue to run and had shut down to avoid damaging the computer's hardware.
Not yet deterred, I tried booting both discs in a VirtualBox virtual machine. The live disc booted to a Windows-like desktop. The background was soft blue. Icons for accessing the file system were displayed in the upper-left corner. The operating system's application menu, task switcher and system tray were displayed along the bottom of the screen. The interface closely resembles a Windows 98 or Windows 2000 desktop system.
While playing with the live disc can give us a feel for what ReactOS looks like, if we want to really explore the operating system we will want to install it. I rebooted my virtual machine with the ReactOS installation disc mounted. The disc boots directly into the project's text-based installer which looks and acts a good deal like the Windows installer from the XP era. We are asked to select our keyboard's layout from a list and then warned ReactOS supports installing on partitions formatted with the FAT file system exclusively. We are then asked to select our screen's resolution from a list. Next, we are shown a list of partitions on our disk and given the chance to delete the existing partitions or add new ones. We are then asked which partition should play host to ReactOS. The last question the installer asks us is if it should install a boot loader, either on our hard drive or on a floppy disk. With our answers given, the ReactOS installer then copies its files to our drive and reboots.
When the system starts up for the first time, it loads a graphical environment and a configuration wizard walks us through the remaining steps of setting up the operating system. We are shown licensing information for ReactOS and then given the chance to change our keyboard and language settings. We are asked to provide our name and then set a hostname and administrator password for our system. The final screen gives us the chance to change the system clock and set out time zone. The system then reboots again and, when ReactOS starts, it brings us straight to the desktop environment, logged in as the administrator.
Whenever I started ReactOS, the system always logged me in automatically, even after I had created additional user accounts. If I logged out of the administrator account I would be presented with a graphical login screen. I tried to sign in as other users I had set up on the system, including a regular user account and a guest account. Attempting to sign into any account, even the administrator's account, would simply return me to the login screen again. This meant that if I logged out of the administrator account I would need to reboot the system in order to get signed in again.
Each time I logged into the ReactOS system, a hardware wizard would appear and offer to try to find device drivers for two pieces of virtual hardware. The wizard was unable to find drivers for either of the devices (identified as System Device and Audio Device). The hardware wizard appeared every time I logged in, even after I checked the box telling the system not to show the window again. Also on the topic of hardware, according to the ReactOS task manager, the operating system used about 100MB of RAM when sitting at the desktop. I was a little sceptical of this reading as the task manager incorrectly detected the amount of total RAM available. This memory detection error appears to be a problem with the task manager itself rather than ReactOS in general as the system information panel (found in the My Computer->Properties menu) displayed the correct amount of available RAM.
ReactOS 0.4.0 -- Managing services and device drivers
(full image size: 76kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
ReactOS has an interface that looks and feels very much like earlier versions of Microsoft Windows. The file manager, control centre and application menu all have a very familiar appearance. I spent a lot of my time exploring the settings panel and had mixed results. As I mentioned before, I was able to create user accounts and set passwords for them, but I was unable to log into the accounts. There is a module for dealing with printers, but ReactOS was unable to detect printers on my network and I could not find a way to add printers to the system. Changing the desktop's appearance worked well enough and the networking configuration settings worked for me. Unlike earlier versions of Windows, ReactOS has a software manager and I had some good and some bad experiences with managing packages, which I will cover later.
ReactOS ships with some familiar applications, including a text editor, image editor and calculator. There are a few small games, including Mine Sweeper and Solitaire. These programs work, but tend to be limited in their functionality. For instance, the image editor is only able to work with bitmap (BMP) image files and cannot save images in other formats. Transferring files posed a problem early on too as ReactOS does not ship with an OpenSSH client. There is an FTP command line client available in the default installation, but upon connecting to a remote FTP server using the default client, the entire ReactOS system locked up, forcing a hard reboot.
ReactOS 0.4.0 -- The control centre and networking settings
(full image size: 72kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
While older versions Windows had a configuration module which would facilitate removing applications, they did not feature a software manager in the same way most Linux distributions do. ReactOS has taken the initiative of adding a package manager, called Applications Manager. This program displays a list of software categories down the left side of the window and a list of items in the selected category on the right. When we highlight an application with our mouse, a brief description of the software, its size, license and website are displayed at the bottom of the screen. There are 172 available applications in total, most of them popular open source programs such as LibreOffice, the GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP), VLC and GnuCash.
Since one of the main advantages of running ReactOS appears to be the ability to run applications developed for Windows, I decided to try installing a handful of the programs listed in Applications Manager, along with a few programs I installed from the Web that were not listed. The GIMP software installed, but upon starting up GIMP displays dozens of error messages and then locks up. I tried to terminate the GIMP process using ReactOS's task manager, which caused the task manager to also lock-up. A reboot was required to resolve the situation. Firefox was available in the software manager and worked as expected. I was able to browse web pages and play HTML 5 videos, though videos played without sound. I tried to install Flash, but the Adobe Flash installer failed to connect to Adobe's servers. I'm not sure if this is a compatibility issue with ReactOS or a glitch on Adobe's side of things.
ReactOS 0.4.0 -- Installing software with Applications Manager
(full image size: 70kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Filezilla was not available in the software manager and, while I was able to install the software from Filezilla's website, the application would not launch. The Putty implementations of secure shell and secure FTP are in the software manager and worked perfectly. Both LibreOffice and OpenOffice are listed in the software manager, the former refused to download due to a broken URL, but OpenOffice did install. However, OpenOffice would not launch due to a missing file. Steam was listed in Applications Manager, but would not download and the error message given seems to suggest an incorrect checksum was the problem. In short, less than half the programs I tried worked and installing software from outside sources tended not to deliver the desired experience.
The ReactOS project appears to be trying to recreate the experience of Windows 95 through to Windows 2000 as faithfully as possible and, from a look and feel perspective, the developers have done an amazing job. However, from a practical point of view ReactOS rarely delivered the functionality I would expect from its closed source cousin. The system refused to run on either of my test machines and, though it would install in VirtualBox, I regularly ran into system crashes, sound didn't work and most of the Windows applications I tried to run failed in some way. I have had better luck running Windows software with WINE on Linux boxes than I did with ReactOS.
In the end, while I admire the ReactOS team's attention to detail in recreating the Windows interface, I do not think running ReactOS is practical for most situations. WINE will run most Windows software passably well and there are lots of good open source alternatives to most closed source applications. Running an old copy of Windows in a virtual machine would probably offer a better experience in most circumstances. The one area where I think ReactOS would shine would be if a person needed to run a Windows clone on hardware that also required Windows specific drivers. ReactOS reports itself to be compatible with drivers written for Microsoft's operating system and I think that may prove to be the project's strong point. Some old systems are very particular when it comes to applications and drivers and I think ReactOS might fill in nicely in those situations.
* * * * *
Hardware used in this review
My physical test equipment for this review consisted of a de-branded HP laptop and a desktop HP Pavilon p6 Series with the following specifications, respectively:
- Processor: Intel i3 2.5GHz CPU
- Display: Intel integrated video
- Storage: Western Digital 700GB hard drive
- Memory: 6GB of RAM
- Wired network device: Realtek RTL8101E/RTL8102E PCI Express Fast
- Wireless network device: Realtek RTL8188EE Wireless network card
- 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)
Wayland coming to Fedora in stages, Ubuntu seeks to remove Python 2 from installation media, Debian switches back to Firefox and Trisquel's status
The Fedora distribution has been a leader when it comes to adopting the Wayland display technology which is intended to be a modern replacement for the aging X display software. For a while it looked as though Fedora 24 would ship with Wayland as the default display technology, but the Fedora developers have decided, for now, to keep using X as the default technology and use Wayland as a session option. A blog post on the GNOME website talks about work that has gone into GNOME Shell running on Wayland and the desktop features we can expect to see in Fedora 24.
"The Fedora Workstation working group decided this week that we're not quite there yet for making the Wayland session the default in Fedora 24. That is a bit of a disappointment for me, since we have worked very hard this cycle to close the gaps; you can see the progress we've made here: primary selection, kinetic scrolling, drag-and-drop, start-up notification, pointer confinement have all landed this cycle. Not to mention countless smaller bug fixes and robustness improvements. But gaps are gaps, so we will take one more cycle to address them."
* * * * *
Fedora is not the only distribution trying to shake off older technologies. The Ubuntu team is currently trying to remove older versions of the Python interpretive language from their Desktop edition. Major versions of the Python language, specifically versions 2 and 3, are similar, but not compatible with each other. This means software originally developed with Python 2 needs to be altered to work with Python 3. The result is that most distributions need to ship both versions of Python in order to support all the software that has been developed using the language. Barry Warsaw reported earlier this month that Ubuntu is very close to removing all dependencies on Python 2 from its Desktop edition: "A long standing goal for Ubuntu has been the demotion of Python 2 off of the default installation images. This is something many folks have been working on for quite a few cycles, and it's finally within our reach for Desktop (Server and Touch already have no Python 2 on them). Of course this is within the context of a much longer term, cross distro effort to port the entire world to Python 3. We have one last thing holding Python 2 on the Desktop image, and it's a problematic one: system-config-printer. Actually s-c-p is already itself ported to Python 3, but it transitively depends on Python 2 through the chain of python3-smbc -> libsmbclient -> samba-libs -> libpython2.7. So the real problem is fully porting Samba to Python 3. Ubuntu is not the only distro converging on this bottleneck. Clearly, we won't have untangled the Samba stack in time for 16.04." Some alternative plans for reducing dependency on Python 2 are mentioned in Warsaw's e-mail.
* * * * *
Last month we reported that Debian developers were considering dropping their modified edition of Firefox, named Iceweasel, in order to resume packaging Mozilla's Firefox complete with the "Firefox" name and branding. Last week the Debian project moved forward with this plan, packaging the Firefox web browser in place of Iceweasel. People who currently use the re-branded Iceweasel browser will automatically receive the new Firefox package as an update. "This took longer than it should have, but a page is now officially turned. I uploaded Firefox and Firefox ESR to Debian Unstable. They will have to go through the Debian NEW queue because they are new source packages, so won't be immediately available, but they should arrive soon enough. People using Iceweasel from Debian Unstable will be upgraded to Firefox ESR."
* * * * *
Trisquel GNU/Linux is a distribution that is built from Ubuntu packages with all of the non-free components removed. This results in an entirely free (as in liberty) operating system. Last week the Trisquel project released a status report which talks about the project's improved build system, upcoming plans for Trisquel 8 and the project's finances: "This year will bring us Trisquel 8, codename "Flidas". We have already started the development, aiming to produce the first testing images in a couple of months followed by a final release not long after the upstream distro (Ubuntu 16.04) is released in April. Editions will continue to include a main GTK-based desktop, a lighter environment and a Sugar-based image, but we hope to extend that list with new additions." The rest of the report contains further details.
|Tips and Tricks (by Jesse Smith)
Verifying ISO images
In the wake of the attack against the Linux Mint website last month there have been many concerns raised that distributions are not doing enough to protect their users from downloading compromised ISO files. People have written to us and asked why there are not more checks in place against people installing corrupted ISO images. We have received e-mails asking us to set up a database of checksums so people can verify the one their distribution's website provides is correct. Others have asked us to put a big banner on our website to warn people when a project's download servers are compromised.
While we have received a number of interesting technical suggestions for checking the legitimacy of ISO images (with varying degrees of practicality), the reason we are not implementing most of them is the problem the Linux community faces with regard to corrupted ISO files is not technical, but (I believe) educational.
The truth is, Linux Mint, like most of the major open source operating systems, not only provides checksums (digital fingerprints) for their ISO files, the project also digitally signs the checksums. This means, in short, that if an attacker replaces a good ISO image with a corrupted one, the bad ISO's checksum will not be correct. And, if the attacker is smart enough to replace the distribution's checksum too, then the checksum's signature will not be valid. Put another way, there is a chain of trust. We know the ISO file is correct because the checksum is correct. And we know the checksum is correct because it was digitally signed by the development team. If the signature is bad, then the chain of trust collapses and the ISO cannot be considered safe to install.
All of this probably sounds a little abstract, so why don't we look at an example? Let's use Linux Mint's latest release, version 17.3, and walk through how to confirm the ISO image available for download is legitimate. If we look at one of the Linux Mint download mirrors we will find a collection of ISO images; a file called sha256sum.txt which contains checksums (digital fingerprints) of the ISO files; and a signature file, sha256sum.txt.gpg. Let us assume, in this example, we are downloading the linuxmint-17.3-cinnamon-64bit.iso file, which we plan to install. While the ISO file is downloading, we will also download the sha256sum.txt and sha256sum.txt.gpg files.
The first thing we should do is attempt to verify the checksum file, sha256sum.txt, is valid. That means it has been signed by a developer working for Linux Mint. We can do this with the gpg command line program. Running the following command will attempt to verify the checksum file is correct:
gpg --verify sha256sum.txt.gpg sha256sum.txt
In this case, I get back the information:
gpg: Signature made Wed 06 Jan 2016 12:06:20 PM AST using DSA key ID 0FF405B2
We know when the file was signed and with which key (0FF405B2), but we do not know whose key that is. We need to download and verify the key. We can do this by asking a special server, called a key server. A key server holds a collection of keys and information on those keys. Here we check out information on the key 0FF405B2. I use the pgp.mit.edu server, which is a popular one for holding digital keys:
gpg: Can't check signature: public key not found
gpg --keyserver pgp.mit.edu --recv-keys 0FF405B2
Here is the information I get about the requested key:
gpg: requesting key 0FF405B2 from hkp server pgp.mit.edu
It looks like this key belongs to Clement Lefebvre of the Linux Mint team. That is a good sign. Now we try to verify the checksum file again:
gpg: key 0FF405B2: public key "Clement Lefebvre (Linux Mint Package Repository v1) <email@example.com>" imported
gpg --verify sha256sum.txt.gpg sha256sum.txt
Since we have data on the digital key now, gpg gives us the following information:
gpg: Signature made Wed 06 Jan 2016 12:06:20 PM AST using DSA key ID 0FF405B2
Now we know when the checksum was signed and by whom. The information looks correct so we know we can use the checksum file to verify our ISO download. We can do this with the following command:
gpg: Good signature from "Clement Lefebvre (Linux Mint Package Repository v1) <firstname.lastname@example.org>"
sha256sum -c sha256sum.txt
Assuming the ISO image is correct, we will see several lines, one of which should read:
If the above line does not appear in the output from the sha256sum command then the ISO file cannot be trusted. Either it was corrupted during the download and should be deleted or the file has been replaced on the server and should not be trusted. Whatever the cause, a bad ISO file will result in sha256sum displaying a warning:
sha256sum: WARNING: 1 computed checksum did NOT match
Hopefully more projects will start signing their checksum files and those that already do will make it easier to find their signatures. Often times it is necessary to browse project mirrors to find checksum files and their signatures and the attack on Linux Mint's servers has demonstrated this information needs to be easier to find. The Peppermint OS team has a fine example on their website of how this can be done. Clicking on one of the project's download buttons brings up a page with links to the ISO, its checksum and step-by-step instructions explaining how to verify the downloaded ISO has not been corrupted. I believe the Peppermint OS team deserves some credit for being community leaders in educating their users and keeping them safe.
We will also be helping to keep our readers safe. In our front page release announcements we will provide links to signature files as well as checksums, when they are available.
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: 172
- Total data uploaded: 31.5TB
|Released Last Week
The developers of The Amnesic Incognito Live System (Tails), a Debian-based live disc for anonymous communication and on-line web browsing, have released a minor update to their distribution. The new release, Tails 2.2, features support for viewing DRM-protected DVDs, automatically saves the KeePassX database after each update and includes an update to the Tor Browser. "This release fixes many security issues and users should upgrade as soon as possible. New features: Add support for viewing DVDs with DRM protection. Upgrades and changes: Replace Vidalia, which has been unmaintained for years with a system status icon indicating whether Tails is connected to Tor or not, Onion Circuits to display a list of the current Tor circuits and connections. Automatically save the database of KeePassX after every change to prevent data loss when shutting down...." Additional details can be found in the project's release notes.
Linux From Scratch 7.9
Bruce Dubbs has announced the release of Linux From Scratch (LFS) 7.9, a book of step-by-step instructions on how to build a base Linux system from scratch. Beyond Linux From Scratch (BLFS) 7.9, a separate book that extends the base system with additional software packages for desktops and servers, is also out: "The Linux From Scratch community is pleased to announce the release of LFS version 7.9 and BLFS version 7.9. This release is a major update to both LFS and BLFS. The LFS release includes updates to glibc 2.23, Binutils 2.26 and GCC 5.3.0. In total, 25 packages were updated and changes to text have been made throughout the book. The BLFS variant includes approximately 800 packages beyond the base Linux From Scratch 7.9 book. This release has 597 updates from the previous version including numerous text and formatting changes. A major change to BLFS includes the addition of the KDE Plasma 5 desktop." Read the rest of the release announcement for more information.
Qubes OS 3.1
Joanna Rutkowska has announced the launch of Qubes OS 3.1, a new stable release of the Qubes operating system which enforces strong isolation between tasks. Version 3.1 of the security-oriented project features a new management system that centrally controls Qubes configuration: "The major new architectural feature of this release has been the introduction of Qubes Management infrastructure, which is based on popular Salt management software. In Qubes 3.1 this management stack makes it possible to conveniently control system-wide Qubes configuration using centralized, declarative statements. Declarative is a key word here: it makes creating advanced configurations significantly simpler (the user or administrator needs only to specify what they want to get, rather than how they want to get it). This has already allowed us to improve our installation wizard (firstboot) so that it now offers the user ability to easily select various options to pre-create some useful configurations, such as e.g. Whonix or USB-hosting VMs." The new release of Qubes OS also supports booting on machines with UEFI and introduces additional hardware support for a range of video cards. The release announcement and release notes have additional details.
Qubes OS 3.1 -- Exploring the application menu
(full image size: 142kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
Devin Johnson has announced the release of ClearOS 7.2.0, the latest stable version of the project's CentOS-based distributions designed for servers: "ClearOS 7.2.0 final for all editions has arrived. ClearOS 7 is available in three editions - Community, Home and Business. All editions can be installed from the same ISO image, but each edition provides access to different repositories with a mix of applications, support and services to meet different environment needs. This release is the second in the ClearOS 7 series and provides primarily maintenance and bug fixes. ClearOS 7.2.0 introduces: support for LVM caching; improved VM support." The brief release announcement links to a more detailed changelog which provides a comprehensive list of changes and update since the release of ClearOS 7.1.0 in November 2015: "Dashboard unusable in FF - resolved; prevent Zarafa from being installed when Samba directory used - resolved; Suva daemon is not reloadable - resolved...."
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Do you buy computers with Linux pre-installed?
In the past it was often difficult to find companies which sold computers with Linux pre-installed on their hard drives. Over time, the situation has gradually improved with more and more companies selling computers with Linux already installed.
This week we would like to know if you buy your computer(s) with Linux pre-installed or if you purchase computers with another operating system in place and install Linux later? If you have purchased computers with Linux (or BSD) already installed on the drive, please let us know where you bought your computer in the comments.
You can see the results of our previous poll on reviewing Ubuntu community editions here. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
Do you buy computers with Linux pre-installed?
|I buy computers with Linux/BSD pre-installed: ||183 (7%)|
| I buy computers with blank hard drives: ||401 (15%)|
| I buy computers with another OS pre-installed: ||565 (21%)|
| I assemble my own computers from parts: ||961 (35%)|
| Some or all of the above: ||570 (21%)|
| None of the above: ||52 (2%)|
Distributions added to waiting list
- Minux. Minux is a lightweight/minimalist Linux distribution based on Tiny Core Linux.
Minux is loaded with FLTK and GTK based applications.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 21 March 2016. To contact the authors please send e-mail to:
- Jesse Smith (feedback, questions and suggestions: distribution reviews/submissions, questions and answers, tips and tricks)
- Ladislav Bodnar (feedback, questions, donations, comments)
|Linux Foundation Training
|• Issue 824 (2019-07-22): Hexagon OS 1.0, Mageia publishes updated media, Fedora unveils Fedora CoreOS, managing disk usage with quotas|
|• Issue 823 (2019-07-15): Debian 10, finding 32-bit packages on a 64-bit system, Will Cooke discusses Ubuntu's desktop, IBM finalizes purchase of Red Hat|
|• Issue 822 (2019-07-08): Mageia 7, running development branches of distros, Mint team considers Snap, UBports to address Google account access|
|• Issue 821 (2019-07-01): OpenMandriva 4.0, Ubuntu's plan for 32-bit packages, Fedora Workstation improvements, DragonFly BSD's smaller kernel memory|
|• Issue 820 (2019-06-24): Clear Linux and Guix System 1.0.1, running Android applications using Anbox, Zorin partners with Star Labs, Red Hat explains networking bug, Ubuntu considers no longer updating 32-bit packages|
|• Issue 819 (2019-06-17): OS108 and Venom, renaming multiple files, checking live USB integrity, working with Fedora's Modularity, Ubuntu replacing Chromium package with snap|
|• Issue 818 (2019-06-10): openSUSE 15.1, improving boot times, FreeBSD's status report, DragonFly BSD reduces install media size|
|• Issue 817 (2019-06-03): Manjaro 18.0.4, Ubuntu Security Podcast, new Linux laptops from Dell and System76, Entroware Apollo|
|• Issue 816 (2019-05-27): Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.0, creating firewall rules, Antergos shuts down, Matthew Miller answers questions about Fedora|
|• Issue 815 (2019-05-20): Sabayon 19.03, Clear Linux's developer features, Red Hat explains MDS flaws, an overview of mobile distro options|
|• Issue 814 (2019-05-13): Fedora 30, distributions publish Firefox fixes, CentOS publishes roadmap to 8.0, Debian plans to use Wayland by default|
|• Issue 813 (2019-05-06): ROSA R11, MX seeks help with systemd-shim, FreeBSD tests unified package management, interview with Gael Duval|
|• Issue 812 (2019-04-29): Ubuntu MATE 19.04, setting up a SOCKS web proxy, Scientific Linux discontinued, Red Hat takes over Java LTS support|
|• Issue 811 (2019-04-22): Alpine 3.9.2, rsync examples, Ubuntu working on ZFS support, Debian elects new Project Leader, Obarun releases S6 tools|
|• Issue 810 (2019-04-15): SolydXK 201902, Bedrock Linux 0.7.2, Fedora phasing out Python 2, NetBSD gets virtual machine monitor|
|• Issue 809 (2019-04-08): PCLinuxOS 2019.02, installing Falkon and problems with portable packages, Mint offers daily build previews, Ubuntu speeds up Snap packages|
|• Issue 808 (2019-04-01): Solus 4.0, security benefits and drawbacks to using a live distro, Gentoo gets GNOME ports working without systemd, Redox OS update|
|• Issue 807 (2019-03-25): Pardus 17.5, finding out which user changed a file, new Budgie features, a tool for browsing FreeBSD's sysctl values|
|• Issue 806 (2019-03-18): Kubuntu vs KDE neon, Nitrux's znx, notes on Debian's election, SUSE becomes an independent entity|
|• Issue 805 (2019-03-11): EasyOS 1.0, managing background services, Devuan team debates machine ID file, Ubuntu Studio works to remain an Ubuntu Community Edition|
|• Issue 804 (2019-03-04): Condres OS 19.02, securely erasing hard drives, new UBports devices coming in 2019, Devuan to host first conference|
|• Issue 803 (2019-02-25): Septor 2019, preventing windows from stealing focus, NetBSD and Nitrux experiment with virtual machines, pfSense upgrading to FreeBSD 12 base|
|• Issue 802 (2019-02-18): Slontoo 18.07.1, NetBSD tests newer compiler, Fedora packaging Deepin desktop, changes in Ubuntu Studio|
|• Issue 801 (2019-02-11): Project Trident 18.12, the meaning of status symbols in top, FreeBSD Foundation lists ongoing projects, Plasma Mobile team answers questions|
|• Issue 800 (2019-02-04): FreeNAS 11.2, using Ubuntu Studio software as an add-on, Nitrux developing znx, matching operating systems to file systems|
|• Issue 799 (2019-01-28): KaOS 2018.12, Linux Basics For Hackers, Debian 10 enters freeze, Ubuntu publishes new version for IoT devices|
|• Issue 798 (2019-01-21): Sculpt OS 18.09, picking a location for swap space, Solus team plans ahead, Fedora trying to get a better user count|
|• Issue 797 (2019-01-14): Reborn OS 2018.11.28, TinyPaw-Linux 1.3, dealing with processes which make the desktop unresponsive, Debian testing Secure Boot support|
|• Issue 796 (2019-01-07): FreeBSD 12.0, Peppermint releases ISO update, picking the best distro of 2018, roundtable interview with Debian, Fedora and elementary developers|
|• Issue 795 (2018-12-24): Running a Pinebook, interview with Bedrock founder, Alpine being ported to RISC-V, Librem 5 dev-kits shipped|
|• Issue 794 (2018-12-17): Void 20181111, avoiding software bloat, improvements to HAMMER2, getting application overview in GNOME Shell|
|• Issue 793 (2018-12-10): openSUSE Tumbleweed, finding non-free packages, Debian migrates to usrmerge, Hyperbola gets FSF approval|
|• Issue 792 (2018-1203): GhostBSD 18.10, when to use swap space, DragonFly BSD's wireless support, Fedora planning to pause development schedule|
|• Issue 791 (2018-11-26): Haiku R1 Beta1, default passwords on live media, Slax and Kodachi update their media, dual booting DragonFly BSD on EFI|
|• Issue 790 (2018-11-19): NetBSD 8.0, Bash tips and short-cuts, Fedora's networking benchmarked with FreeBSD, Ubuntu 18.04 to get ten years of support|
|• Issue 789 (2018-11-12): Fedora 29 Workstation and Silverblue, Haiku recovering from server outage, Fedora turns 15, Debian publishes updated media|
|• Issue 788 (2018-11-05): Clu Linux Live 6.0, examining RAM consumpion, finding support for older CPUs, more Steam support for running Windows games on Linux, update from Solus team|
|• Issue 787 (2018-10-29): Lubuntu 18.10, limiting application access to specific users, Haiku hardware compatibility list, IBM purchasing Red Hat|
|• Issue 786 (2018-10-22): elementary OS 5.0, why init keeps running, DragonFly BSD enables virtual machine memory resizing, KDE neon plans to drop older base|
|• Issue 785 (2018-10-15): Reborn OS 2018.09, Nitrux 1.0.15, swapping hard drives between computers, feren OS tries KDE spin, power savings coming to Linux|
|• Issue 784 (2018-10-08): Hamara 2.1, improving manual pages, UBports gets VoIP app, Fedora testing power saving feature|
|• Issue 783 (2018-10-01): Quirky 8.6, setting up dual booting with Ubuntu and FreeBSD, Lubuntu switching to LXQt, Mint works on performance improvements|
|• Issue 782 (2018-09-24): Bodhi Linux 5.0.0, Elive 3.0.0, Solus publishes ISO refresh, UBports invites feedback, Linux Torvalds plans temporary vacation|
|• Issue 781 (2018-09-17): Linux Mint 3 "Debian Edition", file systems for SSDs, MX makes installing Flatpaks easier, Arch team answers questions, Mageia reaches EOL|
|• Issue 780 (2018-09-10): Netrunner 2018.08 Rolling, Fedora improves language support, how to customize Kali Linux, finding the right video drivers|
|• Issue 779 (2018-09-03): Redcore 1806, keeping ISO downloads safe from tampering, Lubuntu makes Calamares more flexible, Ubuntu improves GNOME performance|
|• Issue 778 (2018-08-27): GuixSD 0.15.0, ReactOS 0.4.9, Steam supports Windows games on Linux, Haiku plans for beta, merging disk partitions|
|• Issue 777 (2018-08-20): YunoHost 22.214.171.124, limiting process resource usage, converting file systems on Fedora, Debian turns 25, Lubuntu migrating to Wayland|
|• Issue 776 (2018-08-13): NomadBSD 1.1, Maximum storage limits on Linux, openSUSE extends life for 42.3, updates to the Librem 5 phone interface|
|• Issue 775 (2018-08-06): Secure-K OS 18.5, Linux is about choice, Korora tests community spin, elementary OS hires developer, ReactOS boots on Btrfs|
|• Issue 774 (2018-07-30): Ubuntu MATE & Ubuntu Budgie 18.04, upgrading software from source, Lubuntu shifts focus, NetBSD changes support policy|
|• Issue 773 (2018-07-23): Peppermint OS 9, types of security used by different projects, Mint reacts to bugs in core packages, Slackware turns 25|
|• Full list of all issues|
Star Labs - Laptops built for Linux.
View our range including the Star Lite, Star LabTop and more. Available with a choice of Ubuntu or Linux Mint pre-installed with many more distributions supported. Visit Star Labs for information, to buy and get support.
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Porteus Kiosk is a lightweight Gentoo-based Linux operating system which has been downscaled and confined to allow the use of one application only - the Firefox web browser. The browser has been locked down to prevent users from tampering with settings or downloading and installing software. When the kiosk boots, it automatically opens Firefox to the user's preferred home page. The browsing history is not kept, no passwords are saved, and many menu items have been disabled for increased security. When Firefox is restarted all caches are cleared and the browser reopens with a clean session.