| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 673, 8 August 2016
Welcome to this year's 32nd issue of DistroWatch Weekly! It can be fun to run a Linux distribution that few people have heard about, let alone installed - at the risk of encountering critical problems while trying out these less-tested development projects. This was the case last week when we attempted to test a distribution called noop linux. Although the installation went fine, the subsequent boot process did not, which halted the attempted evaluation of this Linux-based operating system. Luckily, we had much more success with the next project. EasyNAS, as the name suggests, is a specialist solution catering for Network-Attached Storage (NAS) needs, with an excellent web-based administration interface and a plethora of useful features. Read the Review section below to find out how EasyNAS fared in our test. In the news section, Debian announces a switch to GnuPG's "modern" edition, FreeBSD delays the 11.0 release due to a ZFS and VFS-related bug, Linux Mint prepared to complete its version 18 release process with the upcoming "KDE" edition, and Fedora developers report from the exciting "Flock" conference in Poland. Also in this issue, an extensive Tips and Tricks section covering a variety of subjects from using the "nice" command, recovering a frozen shell session, and evaluating the init system of a Linux installation. Happy reading!
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (38MB) and MP3 (55MB) formats
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Trying two new distributions
I recently decided to do something different and, instead of reviewing one of the distributions in the DistroWatch database, I opted to select two projects at random from the waiting list. I was not sure what I would get when I spun the virtual roulette wheel, but I was eager to try something new.
noop linux 20160308
The first distribution to be selected was noop linux. I suspect the developer named their distribution after the "no operation" (nop or no-op) Assembly command, an instruction which is designed to, in effect, do nothing. However, I prefer to read "noop" as rhyming with "soup". Naming aside, the noop distribution is a hybrid source and binary distribution with a custom package manager. The project's website describes noop as follows:
noop's packages manager and build system are all contained in the shell script 'pkgr'. Packages may be installed from pre-built packages, or with 'bldj' packages (from file, or git) that compile it from source.
The project does not feature much documentation, but there is a brief installation guide and a page which shows us how to use the pkgr command line package manager. The noop distribution is available in four editions: Core, Enlightenment, MATE and Xfce. I decided to try the MATE edition which is available as a 1.6 GB download.
Booting from the live media brought up the MATE 1.10.0 desktop environment. MATE is arranged with a panel at the top of the screen which features the desktop's Applications, Places and System menus. Over on the right side of the panel we find the system tray. At the bottom of the screen there is a second panel which features a list of open windows. The Applications and System menus mostly feature common tools, such as a text editor, system monitor, partition editor and configuration applications for adjusting the look and behaviour of the MATE desktop. I did not find any system installer in the live environment and turned to the noop wiki page on installing the distribution for help.
The first thing we need to do when installing noop is create a partition (and optionally swap space) for the distribution. I tried to launch the GParted partition manager from the distribution's application menu, but was told the application needed to be run as the root user. I then tried launching GParted from the command line (as the root user), but GParted immediately crashed with a segfault. This leaves us with two command line partition managers, fdisk and cfdisk, both of which work well. We can then use the command line programs mkfs and mkswap to format our root partition and initialize swap space. Next, the wiki instructs us to mount our new root partition and run the /root/instlr shell script.
The instlr script asks if we want to install packages from the local live media or over the Internet. I decided to install from local media as it seemed likely to be faster. The system then shows us the name of each package as it is installed. This went on for nearly an hour, with occasional "cannot stat file" errors being thrown by the copy command.
Once the last package has been copied to our hard drive, we are asked to create a password for the root account. We can then run a command to install the GRUB boot loader. The final step gets us to edit noop's /etc/fstab file to make sure the correct mount points are assigned to our partitions. In my case I found the swap and root partitions were reversed in the fstab file and I had to correct them. I then rebooted the computer to start exploring my new copy of noop.
Here is where my trial came to a sudden halt. When booting, immediately after the GRUB menu, the system reported it could not boot as it had encountered an "unknown file system". At first it looked as though GRUB had been misconfigured as the boot loader was trying to access my swap space as the root partition. Booting from the noop live disc, I was able to correct the GRUB configuration and reboot. Once again, despite having the proper location of my root partition, the system still reported it had run into an unknown file system and failed to boot.
While noop looked interesting and has a pleasantly minimal feel to it, I was unable to get the distribution working. Hopefully future releases will offer a more robust experience and additional documentation. For those who are interested in trying noop, it is worth noting the live user's password and the root password are both "noop". This will be useful when it comes time to run a partition manager or the system's installation script.
* * * * *
The second distribution to be selected was EasyNAS. The EasyNAS distribution provides a network attached storage platform which is based on openSUSE's Leap edition. EasyNAS makes use of Btrfs, an advanced file system, to provide flexible storage volumes and file recovery. The project's website summarizes EasyNAS as follows:
EasyNAS advanced features include: file system compression, snapshots, copy on write, online increase/decrease file system, online balancing data between hard drives, online file system check. It also supports file sharing across multiple operating systems through the following protocols: CIFS, NFS, AFP, FTP, HTTP, SCP, DLNA, TFTP.
The installation media for EasyNAS is 556MB in size. Booting from the disc brings up a menu asking if we wish to boot from the local hard disk or launch the project's system installer. Taking the install option brings up a text screen where we are asked for permission to wipe the computer's hard drive and install the distribution. The response defaults to "Yes", so it pays to be careful when navigating the menu. The system installer requires no further information from us, it wipes our primary drive, copies its packages to our disk and reboots the computer.
Our new copy of EasyNAS boots to a text console where the NAS's IP address is displayed at the top of the screen. The network port of the NAS's web interface is also displayed. We are automatically logged in as the administrator and, instead of a command line, we are shown a menu. This menu provides us with options which allow us to set the NAS's IP address, change the admin password or reset the system to its defaults. Additional menu options give us the ability to shutdown the NAS, reboot or access a command line shell.
The IP address menu option gets us to set a new static network address, provide a netmask, gateway and DNS servers. The password reset option works, but the confirmation (or error) message that appears after we choose a new password is displayed and erased too quickly for me to read it. The other menu options work as expected.
EasyNAS 0.6.2 - changing the NAS's network settings
(full image size: 168kB, resolution: 1221x1004 pixels)
While we can perform these configuration changes and access a command line through the NAS's local console, most work will be done remotely - most likely through EasyNAS's web interface. EasyNAS accepts both HTTP and HTTPS connections on network ports 1080 and 1443 respectively. Pointing a web browser to our NAS's IP address first brings up a login screen where we can sign in as the user "admin" using the password we set on the console.
EasyNAS's web interface is divided into two main sections. On the left we find a list of pages we can access, with the pages arranged into categories of settings. On the right side of the page we see the specific controls and settings we can manipulate. What follows is a quick overview of the settings pages and the controls available.
The first group of pages fall under the System category which deal with the NAS, its resources and network connection. Here we find the System Information page which displays information about our CPU, available memory and our kernel version. We also find the General Setting page where we can set our NAS's hostname, configure which network ports to use, change the date & time and upload a security certificate. This page also provides a method for filtering which computers can access EasyNAS's control panel. The System category further includes a Resource Monitor where we can watch our NAS's CPU usage, memory consumption and the number of clients currently connected.
The System category has a few more pages of interest. The Power Management page handles shutting down or rebooting the NAS. The Firmware page allows us to check for newer versions of EasyNAS. Finally, the Scheduler page gives us the chance to perform key tasks at certain times. Tasks we can schedule include creating file system snapshots, running rsync to backup files and performing scrubs of the Btrfs volumes attached to our NAS.
The second group of controls deals with storage - disks, file systems and Btrfs volumes. The first page in the Storage group is the Disk Manager. Here we can see what disks are attached to our NAS, test the disks for problems and set a disk to offer read-only access. Next up is the File System Manager page. Here we can create new file systems on our disks, enable data compression and enable RAID for multi-disk configurations. We can also add a physical disk to a file system. I'll come back to the organization of disks, file systems and volumes later.
Also in the Storage group we find the Volume Manager page where we can manage file system snapshots, change the owner of a storage volume and change file system permissions. The last page in the Storage group is called Sync Volumes. This page gives us the option of using the rsync command to backup our data to a remote server.
The next group, called Users/Groups, has just two pages, one for managing user accounts and the other for managing groups of users. Primarily this category is used for simply creating new user accounts.
EasyNAS 0.6.2 - working with user accounts
(full image size: 171kB, resolution: 1221x1004 pixels)
The next category, File Sharing, gives us the option of enabling network access to our NAS. EasyNAS supports working with OpenSSH, Samba, NFS, FTP, Web, AFP and Radius access. Looking through these services, the only one I found running by default was OpenSSH. The secure shell server allows us to login and access a command line shell. If we login as the administrator we are shown the same configuration menu we see on the local console. Each network service can be toggled on/off with a mouse click.
Now that we have covered what EasyNAS offers us on the surface, I would like to explore some characteristics of the operating system and my experiences with setting up and accessing storage. I would like to acknowledge up front that EasyNAS requires very few resources. The distribution used about 50MB of RAM when running a network share and the web interface. The operating system itself requires a mere 800MB of disk space, though our EasyNAS installation does lay claim to the entire main disk. So far as I could tell, there is no way to place both a data partition and the operating system on one physical disk.
EasyNAS treats file systems and volumes a little differently than other NAS platforms I have used and I want to explore the distribution's concepts of volumes, file systems and disks. When we add a physical storage disk to our computer, EasyNAS automatically detects the disk and will display it on the Disk Manager page. Through the Disk Manager page we can test the disk for defects, but there isn't much else we can do with the new storage space at first. We need to format the disk with a file system before we can use the new storage space.
After a disk has been added to our computer and tested for defects, we proceed to the File System Manager page. From here we can format our new disk. Once the disk is formatted, we still cannot do much with it. To create snapshots, grant remote access or perform backups, we need to add the new file system to a volume. This sends us to the Volume Manager page where we create a new volume and add our newly created file system to the volume. Each volume is owned by a user and, for security (and convenience) most of us will want to have our files owned by a non-admin user. This sends us over to the Users Manager page to create a new account before creating our first volume.
If this process sounds complicated it is probably because I am accustomed to working with ZFS volumes which generally have two components (physical disks and the whole storage pool). With ZFS I add a disk to the machine, place the disk into a storage pool and then work out permissions and sub-volumes later as need arises. EasyNAS seems to work better if we organize storage as if we were working with LVM which has three layers (physical disks, file systems and logical storage volumes). EasyNAS with its additional layer seems (to me) to require more steps to set up, but encourages us in the process to plan ahead. With EasyNAS I found myself planning from the top down, rather than simply throwing additional disks into my storage pool on a whim.
While using EasyNAS I found the controls worked well. I do not think I ran into any errors during my trial. Each page has a Help button which offers a little guidance on how things work. I would like to see the Help section expanded a bit to explain how EasyNAS organizes its services, but for now the essentials are available in the documentation.
I did run into a few quirks, though I hesitate to call them bugs exactly. For example, EasyNAS takes an unusually long time to shutdown. The system will turn off cleanly, but it took about a minute during my trail, quite a bit longer than Linux distributions usually require. The web interface tended to be a bit slow to respond compared to other web-based administrative panels I have used. To its credit, the web interface worked and it never locked up or otherwise caused problems. Another quirk I noticed was the System Information page always showed my storage disks as full, even when both my system disk and data disks were nearly empty.
As I mentioned above, EasyNAS runs a secure shell server by default. This is definitely nice to have when setting up a NAS which will be accessed remotely. The one issue I had with connecting to EasyNAS over secure shell was that, when logged in as the admin user, there was no normal way of ending the session. Dropping to a shell from the admin menu and typing "exit" or pressing CTRL-D would simply return me to the menu. I had to either close the terminal window or use the "~." OpenSSH short-cut to drop the connection.
One quirk of EasyNAS I ran into was that I could set up Samba shares and Web (HTTP) shares. But files uploaded to the Samba share were not visible over Web connections. The names of the Web and Samba folders are the same, but they access files in different locations. I found this a bit frustrating as I was hoping to upload files over Samba and share them with people over a Web connection, but this requires some extra work through the command line.
I was pleased to find that manually creating volume snapshots worked flawlessly. I also found scheduled snapshots worked as expected. This gives us an extra (usually read-only) copy of our data in case something is accidentally deleted. While creating snapshots is quite easy through the EasyNAS interface, I found accessing snapshots was a bit more tricky. It is possible to manually create network shares to access snapshots. I also found it possible to access snapshots through the command line. However, the web-based admin panel appears not to have a method for browsing or restoring snapshots. Hopefully this feature will be added in a future release.
EasyNAS 0.6.2 - managing volumes and snapshots
(full image size: 171kB, resolution: 1221x1004 pixels)
EasyNAS appears to be a young project and I feel that it deserves to be treated as a promising work in progress. While EasyNAS does not yet have the features and polish that other NAS technologies (such as FreeNAS) have, the developers are off to a good start.
EasyNAS is, as the name suggests, easy to set up. The basic features of setting up file systems, creating snapshots and enabling services are all there. I found EasyNAS made it pleasantly straight forward to schedule snapshots, enable Samba shares, and check on the system's status. The rough edges I encountered tended to be in the areas of documentation and more advanced feature such as restoring files from a snapshot and sharing files between multiple services. EasyNAS certainly makes good use of Btrfs and is one of the few distributions to really leverage the power of Btrfs in a user-friendly way.
I think EasyNAS is off to a good start. There are a few, rare rough edges, but this is a promising project and will likely soon be challenging other NAS distributions in homes and small businesses. Since writing this review I have added the distribution to our database.
* * * * *
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 2.8 GHz AMD A4-3420 APU
- Storage: 500 GB Hitachi hard drive
- Memory: 6 GB of RAM
- Networking: Realtek RTL8111 wired network card
- Display: AMD Radeon HD 6410D video card
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith and Ladislav Bodnar)
Debian sets up onion sites and announces GnuPG change, FreeBSD delays 11.0, Mint prepares to launch "KDE" edition, Fedora "Flock" reports
The Debian project is working with the Tor privacy network to set up anonymous access to Debian's infrastructure: "We, the Debian project and the Tor project, are enabling Tor onion services for several of our sites. These sites can now be reached without leaving the Tor network, providing a new option for securely connecting to resources provided by Debian and Tor. The freedom to use open source software may be compromised when access to that software is monitored, logged, limited, prevented, or prohibited. As a community, we acknowledge that users should not feel that their every action is trackable or observable by others. Consequently, we are pleased to announce that we have started making several of the various web services provided by both Debian and Tor available via onion services." A list of Debian services available through the Tor network and how to access them can be found in the announcement.
Still in the Debian land, the distribution has announced an upcoming change in the way it handles the GNU Privacy Guard (GnuPG) package, notably a switch to GnuPG's "modern" branch (currently version 2.1.x). Although the transformation will be transparent to most of us, active GnuPG users as well as developers creating Debian packages that depend on GnuPG will have to pay attention as the switch might affect them: "If you're an end user and you don't use GnuPG directly, you shouldn't notice much of a change once the packages start to move through the rest of the archive. Even if you do use GnuPG regularly, you shouldn't notice too much of a difference. One of the main differences is that all access to your secret key will be handled through gpg-agent, which should be automatically launched as needed. This means that operations like signing and decryption will cause gpg-agent to prompt the user to unlock any locked keys directly, rather than gpg itself prompting the user." See this blog post by Daniel Kahn Gillmor explaining the differences between the three GnuPG branches and also providing a list of features of the "modern" GnuPG.
* * * * *
One of the most eagerly anticipated releases of this year will undoubtedly be that of FreeBSD 11.0. The ambitious list of new features includes major architectural changes and tool chain updates with Clang 3.8.0, as well far-reaching networking and vitualisation improvements, among many others. But as with any large-scale community projects, the developers are bound to code in a few bugs from time to time which might delay the final release. Such was the case last week when an unscheduled BETA4 build has pushed the final release back by one week - to 9 September 2016: "As those of you tracking our PR system are probably aware, re@ is aware of an issue related to ZFS and VFS that we feel is urgent enough to have fixed for 11.0-RELEASE. As such, instead of branching releng/11.0 today and starting 11.0-RC1 builds, BETA4 will be added to the 11.0 release schedule, since the level of possible intrusiveness would be extremely difficult to fix with an errata notice after 11.0-RELEASE." Chances are this won't be the only show-stopper bug and further delays cannot be excluded.
* * * * *
The generally well-received Linux Mint 18 release, based on the Ubuntu 16.04 with all the benefits of the distribution's long-term security support, is about to complete the release plan with the upcoming Linux Mint 18 "KDE" edition. While the wait will soon be over for the fans of the popular heavy-weight desktop, they might find the new version almost unrecognisable compared to the previous releases. Clement Lefebvre explains in the latest issue of Mint Monthly News: "Unlike other Linux Mint editions, the KDE edition will ship with the SDDM display manager. Bad news for the nostalgic, the KDE edition will also abandon its distinctive blue Linux Mint icon and adopt the same green icon and boot sequence as other editions." Although there is no mention of the KDE version being shipped with Linux Mint 18, chances are it will be the same as in Kubuntu 16.04, i.e. KDE Plasma 5. This will, of course, dwarf any other changes in the edition, as KDE Plasma is still considered too buggy and incomplete by many. Nevertheless, Mint's "KDE" flavour might turn out to be the most interesting of the bunch, especially if the project's usually excellent quality assurance is applied to this edition in the same manner as in its "MATE" and "Cinnamon" variants.
* * * * *
The annual gathering of Fedora developers known as Flock to Fedora took place last week in the beautiful city of Kraków, Poland. As expected, the Fedora Planet blogs have been dominated by the reports and photos from the event. A good example of the day's activities at the conference is this blog post by Natalie Ardasevova: "The first session of the day delivered for me the most interesting and alarming idea. The speaker was Radoslaw Krowiak, the co-owner of Akademia Programowania in Kraków. He's been involved in teaching kids programming since 2013. The age of his students is 5 years and higher. He noted that skills like communication, commercial awareness, ability to work in a team, or problem solving, are among the top ten skills missing in college graduates. He went on to say that math, engineering, and the sciences in general have a reputation of being boring, 'too hard,' and 'not cool.' The fact that these subjects are not taught in creative environments is not helping either. Furthermore, the sciences are often taught in isolation from each other, not to mention their isolation from the arts." The article goes on to cover a wide variety of Fedora-related topics discussed at the conference.
These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Tips and Tricks (by Jesse Smith)
Play nicely, drop secure shell sessions cleanly, check init's name
In the past we have talked about changing the priorities of programs running on Linux distributions by using the nice and renice commands. The nice and renice programs are typically used to reduce the scheduling priority of an application. When a program's priority is reduced, it stays out of the way and avoids impacting the performance of other applications we are running.
The nice command tends to be used when we want to run a task in the background. Any task that does not need to be completed in a hurry and which (ideally) will not impact the system's performance can be run using nice. As an example, I run system updates and backup files at scheduled times and use nice to avoid impacting the performance of my desktop applications. In the following example, the nice command is used when launching a backup script to avoid impacting desktop performance.
nice -n 19 my-backup-script
The nice command can change a process's priority from anywhere in the range of -20 to 19. A high nice value makes the process less greedy (nicer) and reduces its impact on the system. A lower nice value makes the program more greedy and increases its impact on system performance. Regular users can set a nice value in the range of 0 (zero) to 19, with most processes running at zero by default. The root user can lower the niceness value to negative numbers, making programs increasingly aggressive.
Sometimes we want to reduce the impact of a program after we have launched it. For those situations there is the renice command. Let's say I have decided to perform a big clean-up of my Thunderbird mailbox and the e-mail client will be working for a long time, archiving old e-mails. To prevent Thunderbird from slowing down my system, I can run:
renice -n 19 $(pgrep thunderbird)
The above command searches for processes named thunderbird and assigns them a nice value of 19. The 19 value prevents Thunderbird from working unless the system is otherwise idle.
There are days when a process on my computer starts taking up more resource than it should and impacting performance. When this happens, and I do not know which process to blame, I will run the top system monitor. This will show a list of running programs with the ones using the most CPU resources at the top of the list. While running top we can press the "r" key to renice any process. By default, top renices the process using the most CPU resources, but we can specify any process we like. I often find myself running top, seeing a greedy process and pressing the "r" key to assign it a lower priority.
Also on the topic of keeping processes out of the way, have you ever found yourself in a situation where you wanted all the programs you ran to be kept out of the way? Perhaps while sharing a server with other users at school, or a laptop at home where you were logged in at the same time as someone else? It can be a hassle to prefix every command with "nice". We do not want to type "nice apt-get update", "nice apt-get upgrade", "nice my-backup-script"... that would get tedious.
I have good news, the nice value of a program is passed along to any child processes. For example, if your command line shell has a nice value of 10, then every program you run from the shell will also have a niceness of 10. This means if we assign our running shell a high nice value, every command we run will have a reduced impact on the operating system. A quick way to assign our Bash shell a nice value is to refer to the shell using the "$$" identifier. The following command assigns the nice value 15 to our running Bash shell and any program we run afterwards:
renice -n 15 $$
* * * * *
Moving away from process priorities for a moment, have you ever been logged into a remote computer using secure shell and found the connection had broken, but your session had not disconnected? Perhaps the remote server locked up or your session froze. Whatever the cause, now your terminal is stuck in a non-responsive secure shell session. Often times it seems the only thing you can do is force the virtual terminal to close, killing your secure shell session and losing any shell history in the process.
Alternatively, if you are using OpenSSH (as most of us do), there is a quick shortcut you can use to drop the frozen session and return you to your local shell. The key combination is "~." at the start of a line. Or "Enter ~." if you have started typing already on the current line. The ~ symbol is made by pressing the Shift key and the ` key. So it might be easier to think of the short-cut as:
Enter Shift ` .
* * * * *
Some readers have asked if there is a quick and easy way to tell if their distribution runs systemd or another implementation of init. This can be difficult to tell at a glance as the distribution's package list may contain pieces of multiple init technologies installed on the same operating system. One way to tell if systemd is running as init is to perform the following on the command line:
The systemd software will cause the above command to output "systemd" while other init technologies will usually display "init". To figure out which specific implementation displayed "init" following the above command, we can run:
This will bring up the manual page for the version of init installed on your system, usually with the implementation's name displayed at the top of the page.
* * * * *
Additional Tips and Tricks articles can be found in our archive.
|Released Last Week
ROSA R8 has been released. ROSA is a Russian Linux company, previously cooperating with Mandriva and now building various Linux solutions for individual users and enterprises alike. Unlike the previous versions of ROSA, this one is delivered in four separate variants featuring, the GNOME 3.16, KDE 4.14, KDE Plasma 5.7 and MATE 1.12 desktop environments: "ROSA Desktop Fresh R8 is a distribution for enthusiasts in a constantly changing Linux world. It's the last release based on the ROSA 2014.1 platform. R8 is a stable release with two years of extended support (security updates will be provided until the third quarter of 2018). ROSA Desktop Fresh R8 features four desktop environments: KDE 4 - stable, recommended for home users; GNOME 3 - simple and easy to use; Plasma 5 - a new version of KDE, recommended only for Linux enthusiasts because it's not as stable as KDE 4; MATE - fast and lightweight for older hardware." The release announcement is provided in Russian only, but the project's English language Wiki pages have an brief overview as well as detailed release notes with a changelog.
Linux Mint 18 "Xfce"
Clement Lefebvre has announced the availability of Linux Mint 18 "Xfce" edition. Linux Mint 18 is a long term support release which will receive security updates through to the year 2021. The Xfce edition is a lightweight alternative to Linux Mint's Cinnamon and MATE editions. The new release offers users access to Mint's X-Apps, forks of GNOME applications which are designed to look and work the same across multiple desktop environments. The new version of Mint also features improvements to the update manager: "Linux Mint no longer ships lists of fixes and lists of regressions specific to particular kernels. With so many kernel revisions, so many fixes and so many regressions happening sometimes on a daily basis, this information was quickly outdated. Instead, it was replaced with links to relevant sources of information. For instance, if you select a particular kernel you can now quickly access its changelog and see all the bug reports marked against it. The update manager was already configurable but it wasn't clear how to configure it, and why. In particular, the concepts of regressions, stability and security weren't clearly explained. To raise awareness around these concepts and to show more information, a new screen is there to welcome you to the update manager and to ask you to select an update policy." Additional information can be found in the project's release announcement and release notes.
Linux Mint 18 - running the Xfce desktop
(full image size: 692kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
The Amnesic Incognito Live System (Tails) is a Linux distribution which is designed to route Internet traffic through the Tor network. The Tails distribution also provides users with a number of privacy tools which help to secure files and strip meta data from documents. the latest version of the distribution, Tails 2.5, ships with Tor Browser 6.0.3, and the Icedove e-mail client (version 45.1). "The automatic account configuration of Icedove used to freeze when connecting to some email providers. In some cases sending an email with Icedove used to result in the error: "The message could not be sent using Outgoing server (SMTP) mail.riseup.net for an unknown reason." A spurious error message used to sometimes appear when creating an account in Icedove and providing its password. Fix some time synchronization problems, by replacing obsolete and unreliable servers, and decreasing a timeout. KVM virtual machines with QXL video: vastly improve graphics performance and fix visual artifacts in Tor Browser." Further information can be found in the project's release announcement.
DragonFly BSD 4.6.0
The DragonFly BSD project, a former fork of FreeBSD which is now independently developed, has released a new version: DragonFlyBSD 4.6.0. this new release offers a series of incremental updates, including improved accelerated video, better SMP performance and enhanced networking performance under heavy loads. "DragonFly version 4.6 brings more updates to accelerated video for both i915 and Radeon users, home-grown support for NVMe controllers, preliminary EFI support, improvements in SMP and networking performance under heavy load, and a full range of binary packages." This release of DragonFly BSD also features over 24,000 third-party ports and introduces EFI support for 64-bit x86 hardware. The release notes offer a complete list of improvements and changes since the previous stable release of DragonFly BSD 4.4.
Guix System Distribution 0.11.0
Ludovic Courtes has announced the launch of version 0.11.0 of the Guix System Distribution (GuixSD). The distribution is based on the Linux-libre kernel and uses the Guix software manager. The new release features a number of new support services and over 480 new packages. "It is a pleasure to announce the new beta release of GNU Guix and GuixSD, version 0.11.0! The release comes with USB installation images to install the standalone GuixSD, and with tarballs to install the package manager on top of your GNU/Linux distro, either from source or from binaries. It's been four months since the previous release, during which 70 people contributed code and packages. The highlights include: New GuixSD system services, including an mcron service, a Dropbear SSH service, and a Dico dictionary service. Infrastructure for whole-system tests. Compression support for guix publish. An Emacs mode to browse package definition locations. GuixSD support for RAID devices. 484 new packages, 678 package updates notably glibc 2.23 and linux-libre 4.7, as well as several bit-reproducibility issues fixed Assorted improvements to all the tool set, many bug fixes and improvements to the manual!" The release announcement has more information.
Adam Conrad has announced the release of Ubuntu 14.04.5, code-named "Trusty Tahr", the fifth maintenance update of the distribution's long-term support version originally released in April 2014 and supported with security updates until April 2019: "The Ubuntu team is pleased to announce the release of Ubuntu 14.04.5 LTS (Long-Term Support) for its Desktop, Server, Cloud and Core products, as well as other flavours of Ubuntu with long-term support. 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." Here is the full release announcement.
Wifislax is a specialist a Slackware-based Linux distribution with a set of tools and utilities for performing wireless connection analyses and related security tests. The brand-new version 4.12, the first stable release in 12 months and based on the recently-released Slackware Linux 14.2, comes with numerous improvements and new tools. It continues the tradition of offering a choice of two kernels (a standard i486 kernel as well as one with support for symmetric multiprocessing systems). As was the case with previous Wifislax releases, this version also offers two desktops - Xfce 4.12 and KDE 4.14.3. There has been a change in web browsing software where Firefox replaces Chrome, as the latter no longer supports 32-bit processors. Several new software packages, such as Python 3, Qt 5 and Java, are now included on the live DVD. The distribution ships with Linux kernel 4.4.16, currently the highest version among the kernels with long-term support. Much more information is available in the Spanish-only release announcement.
blackPanther OS 16.1
Károly Barcza has announced the release of blackPanther OS 16.1, a major new version of the project's distribution originally forked from Mandriva Linux, but which is now under independent development. This new release is the project's first that uses the KDE Plasma 5 desktop: "blackPanther OS release 16.1 (Silent Killer) is out. It was just a year ago that I was able to announce release 14.1 and now I m happy to do the same again. After months of hard work, version 16.1 (Silent Killer) of blackPanther OS has been released. In keeping with tradition and due to a good number of optimisations, we are still able to fit it on a 700 MB CD-R(W) (you need to enable overburn before writing the ISO image to the disc). Several major components: Linux kernel 4.7.0; Qt 5.6.1; Plasma 5.7.1 + components; Python 3.5.1; Calamares installer." Read the rest of the release announcement for further details and a good number of screenshots together with a screencast presenting the distribution's latest version.
Apricity OS 07.2016
Alex Gajewski has announced the release of Apricity OS 07.2016, the first stable build of the project's Arch Linux-based distribution offering a choice of GNOME and Cinnamon desktops: "The Apricity OS team is incredibly happy to announce the release of Apricity OS 07.2016 'Aspen', the first-ever stable release of Apricity OS. Apricity OS 07.2016 Dev, another monthly development snapshot, is also released. Many changes have been implemented since the last release, most notable of which is certainly Apricity Freezedry, a system configuration tool that has been integrated into the development build system for Apricity OS. With a simple TOML configuration file, many aspects of a system may be configured, including GNOME and Cinnamon themes and settings, installed packages, enabled systemd services, and enabled Vim plugins (installed through Pathogen). Freezedry is built with modules, each in charge of controlling a specific aspect of a user's system. Other changes to the OS include LUKS encryption support...." Here is the brief release announcement.
Apricity OS 07.2016 - running the GNOME 3.20 desktop
(full image size: 1,502kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Distributions added to waiting list
- Thorn Linux. Thorn Linux is a Debian-based distribution with tools for penetration testing and with an additional focus on being a daily-driver with anonymity features.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 15 August 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)
- Bruce Patterson (podcast)
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 754 (2018-03-12): Reviewing Sabayon and Antergos, the growing Linux kernel, BSDs getting CPU bug fixes, Manjaro builds for ARM devices|
|• Issue 753 (2018-03-05): Enso OS 0.2, KDE Plasma 5.12 features, MX Linux prepares new features, interview with MidnightBSD's founder|
|• Issue 752 (2018-02-26): OviOS 2.31, performing off-line upgrades, elementary OS's new installer, UBports gets test devices, Redcore team improves security|
|• Issue 751 (2018-02-19): DietPi 6.1, testing KDE's Plasma Mobile, Nitrux packages AppImage in default install, Solus experiments with Wayland|
|• Issue 750 (2018-02-12): Solus 3, getting Deb packages upstream to Debian, NetBSD security update, elementary OS explores AppCentre changes|
|• Issue 749 (2018-02-05): Freespire 3 and Linspire 7.0, misunderstandings about Wayland, Xorg and Mir, Korora slows release schedule, Red Hat purchases CoreOS|
|• Issue 748 (2018-01-29): siduction 2018.1.0, SolydXK 32-bit editions, building an Ubuntu robot, desktop-friendly Debian options|
|• Issue 747 (2018-01-22): Ubuntu MATE 17.10, recovering open files, creating a new distribution, KDE focusing on Wayland features|
|• Issue 746 (2018-01-15): deepin 15.5, openSUSE's YaST improvements, new Ubuntu 17.10 media, details on Spectre and Meltdown bugs|
|• Issue 745 (2018-01-08): GhostBSD 11.1, Linspire and Freespire return, wide-spread CPU bugs patched, adding AppImage launchers to the application menu|
|• Issue 744 (2018-01-01): MX Linux 17, Ubuntu pulls media over BIOS bug, PureOS gets endorsed by the FSF, openSUSE plays with kernel boot splash screens|
|• Issue 743 (2017-12-18): Daphile 17.09, tools for rescuing files, Fedora Modular Server delayed, Sparky adds ARM support, Slax to better support wireless networking|
|• Issue 742 (2017-12-11): heads 0.3.1, improvements coming to Tails, Void tutorials, Ubuntu phasing out Python 2, manipulating images from the command line|
|• Issue 741 (2017-12-04): Pop!_OS 17.10, openSUSE Tumbleweed snapshots, installing Q4OS on a Windows partition, using the at command|
|• Issue 740 (2017-11-27): Artix Linux, Unity spin of Ubuntu, Nitrux swaps Snaps for AppImage, getting better battery life on Linux|
|• Issue 739 (2017-11-20): Fedora 27, cross-distro software ports, Ubuntu on Samsung phones, Red Hat supports ARM, Parabola continues 32-bit support|
|• Issue 738 (2017-11-13): SparkyLinux 5.1, rumours about spyware, Slax considers init software, Arch drops 32-bit packages, overview of LineageOS|
|• Issue 737 (2017-11-06): BeeFree OS 18.1.2, quick tips to fix common problems, Slax returning, Solus plans MATE and software management improvements|
|• Issue 736 (2017-10-30): Ubuntu 17.10, "what if" security questions, Linux Mint to support Flatpak, NetBSD kernel memory protection|
|• Issue 735 (2017-10-23): ArchLabs Minimo, building software with Ravenports, WPA security patch, Parabola creates OpenRC spin|
|• Issue 734 (2017-10-16): Star 1.0.1, running the Linux-libre kernel, Ubuntu MATE experiments with snaps, Debian releases new install media, Purism reaches funding goal|
|• Issue 733 (2017-10-09): KaOS 2017.09, 32-bit prematurely obsoleted, Qubes security features, IPFire updates Apache|
|• Issue 732 (2017-10-02): ClonOS, reducing Snap package size, Ubuntu dropping 32-bit Desktop, partitioning disks for ZFS|
|• Issue 731 (2017-09-25): BackSlash Linux Olaf, W3C adding DRM to web standards, Wayland support arrives in Mir, Debian experimenting with AppArmor|
|• Issue 730 (2017-09-18): Mageia 6, running a completely free OS, HAMMER2 file system in DragonFly BSD's installer, Manjaro to ship pre-installed on laptops|
|• Issue 729 (2017-09-11): Parabola GNU/Linux-libre, running Plex Media Server on a Raspberry Pi, Tails feature roadmap, a cross-platform ports build system|
|• Issue 728 (2017-09-04): Nitrux 1.0.2, SUSE creates new community repository, remote desktop tools for GNOME on Wayland, using Void source packages|
|• Issue 727 (2017-08-28): Cucumber Linux 1.0, using Flatpak vs Snap, GNOME previews Settings panel, SUSE reaffirms commitment to Btrfs|
|• Issue 726 (2017-08-21): Redcore Linux 1706, Solus adds Snap support, KaOS getting hardened kernel, rolling releases and BSD|
|• Issue 725 (2017-08-14): openSUSE 42.3, Debian considers Flatpak for backports, changes coming to Ubuntu 17.10, the state of gaming on Linux|
|• Issue 724 (2017-08-07): SwagArch 2017.06, Myths about Unity, Mir and Ubuntu Touch, Manjaro OpenRC becomes its own distro, Debian debates future of live ISOs|
|• Issue 723 (2017-07-31): UBOS 11, transferring packages between systems, Ubuntu MATE's HUD, GNUstep releases first update in seven years|
|• Issue 722 (2017-07-24): Calculate Linux 17.6, logging sudo usage, Remix OS discontinued, interview with Chris Lamb, Debian 9.1 released|
|• Issue 721 (2017-07-17): Fedora 26, finding source based distributions, installing DragonFly BSD using Orca, Yunit packages ported to Ubuntu 16.04|
|• Issue 720 (2017-07-10): Peppermint OS 8, gathering system information with osquery, new features coming to openSUSE, Tails fixes networking bug|
|• Issue 719 (2017-07-03): Manjaro 17.0.2, tracking ISO files, Ubuntu MATE unveils new features, Qubes tests Admin API, Fedora's Atomic Host gets new life cycle|
|• Issue 718 (2017-06-26): Debian 9, support for older hardware, Debian updates live media, Ubuntu's new networking tool, openSUSE gains MP3 support|
|• Issue 717 (2017-06-19): SharkLinux, combining commands in the shell, Debian 9 flavours released, OpenBSD improving kernel security, UBports releases first OTA update|
|• Issue 716 (2017-06-12): Slackel 7.0, Ubuntu working with GNOME on HiDPI, openSUSE 42.3 using rolling development model, exploring kernel blobs|
|• Issue 715 (2017-06-05): Devuan 1.0.0, answering questions on systemd, Linux Mint plans 18.2 beta, Yunit/Unity 8 ported to Debian|
|• Issue 714 (2017-05-29): Void, enabling Wake-on-LAN, Solus packages KDE, Debian 9 release date, Ubuntu automated bug reports|
|• Issue 713 (2017-05-22): ROSA Fresh R9, Fedora's new networking features, FreeBSD's Quarterly Report, UBports opens app store, Parsix to shut down, SELinux overview|
|• Issue 712 (2017-05-15): NixOS 17.03, Alpha Litebook running elementary OS, Canonical considers going public, Solus improves Bluetooth support|
|• Issue 711 (2017-05-08): 4MLinux 21.0, checking file system fragmentation, new Mint and Haiku features, pfSense roadmap, OpenBSD offers first syspatch updates|
|• Issue 710 (2017-05-01): TrueOS 2017-02-22, Debian ported to RISC-V, Halium to unify mobile GNU/Linux, Anbox runs Android apps on GNU/Linux, using ZFS on the root file system|
|• Issue 709 (2017-04-24): Ubuntu 17.04, Korora testing new software manager, Ubuntu migrates to Wayland, running Nix package manager on alternative distributions|
|• Issue 708 (2017-04-17): Maui Linux 17.03, Snaps run on Fedora, Void adopts Flatpak, running Android apps on GNU/Linux, Debian elects Project Leader|
|• Issue 707 (2017-04-10): PCLinuxOS 2017.03, Canonical stops Unity development, OpenBSD on a Raspberry Pi, setting up a VPN for privacy|
|• Issue 706 (2017-04-03): Super Grub2 Disk, Snap packages of deepin applications, Subgraph OS routes network traffic for one application, announcements from Linux Mint|
|• Issue 705 (2017-03-27): Minimal Linux Live, sharing control of the operating system, new KaOS features, Uplos32 provides 32-bit fork of PCLinuxOS|
|• Issue 704 (2017-03-20): ToarusOS 1.0.4, Linux Mint's security record, Debian starts Project Leader election, Ubuntu 12.04 reaches end-of-life|
|• Issue 703 (2017-03-13): SolydXK 201701, CloudReady, Solus announces new features, KDE Connect sends text messages from desktop, openSUSE's YaST module for Let's Encrypt|
|• Full list of all issues|
|Random Distribution |
BeaFanatIX was an Ubuntu-based mini live CD with utilities borrowed from KNOPPIX. It was developed by a small group of developers who have forked the successful, but discontinued BeatrIX distribution and added new features and scripts. The main purpose of BeaFanatIX was to provide a small, installable live CD, with good documentation and easy-to-use applications for a variety of desktop tasks.