| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 694, 9 January 2017
Welcome to this year's 2nd issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
Good software design is often an effort in finding the proper balance between two or more desired characteristics. Features are balanced against performance, ease of use against flexibility, minimal system requirements against a pleasing appearance. This week we begin with a look at MX Linux, a distribution which tries to find the sweet spot in each of these balancing acts, delivering a lightweight, flexible distribution in an attractive package. In our Questions and Answers column we talk about the sudo command and the reason behind its password prompts. Plus, in our News section, we talk about security features Fedora is considering adopting from systemd and DragonFly BSD's new swap space capacity. Plus we share a roadmap for Ubuntu Touch and a newsletter dedicated to Puppy Linux. We also cover the distribution releases of the past week and share the torrents we are seeding. Our Opinion Poll this week opens the discussion on what kind of processors people are most commonly using. Last week we made some changes, improving our Article Search page and adding two new distributions (Clear Linux and DRBL Live) to our database. We wish you all a wonderful week and happy reading!
- Reviews: MX Linux 16
- News: Fedora considers systemd security features, DragonFly BSD to support large swap spaces, Ubuntu Touch to use Snap packages, Puppy Linux gets a newsletter
- Questions and answers: Removing sudo's password requirement
- Released last week: Solus 2017.01.01.0, Netrunner 17.01, BlankOn 10.0
- Torrent corner: Antergos, KaOS, Netrunner, Solus
- Opinion poll: Commonly used processor architectures
- DistroWatch.com news: Improved article search and release model information
- New additions: Clear Linux, DRBL Live
- New distributions: Debian+PIXEL, DietPi
- Reader comments
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (50MB) and MP3 (32MB) formats.
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
MX Linux 16
MX Linux is a Debian-based Linux distribution which grew out of a cooperative venture between the antiX and former MEPIS Linux communities. The MX distribution strives to provide a fast, friendly desktop environment on the solid base provided by Debian's Stable branch. The distribution includes several utilities to make administering the operating system easier and its installation media is available in 32-bit and 64-bit builds.
I downloaded the project's 64-bit build which is 1.1GB in size. Booting from the distribution's media brings up the Xfce desktop environment. There is an icon for launching the project's system installer on the desktop. The desktop panel is placed vertically down the left side of the screen with the application menu and system tray located at the bottom. The desktop background shows off a pleasant ocean-side view.
Shortly after the desktop environment loads, a welcome window appears. This window provides us with links to the project's on-line forum, documentation and a local copy of the user manual. The manual contains, among other things, the default passwords for the live environment. There are also launchers on the welcome screen which provide access to the MX tools, an application manager and system settings. I will talk about the various MX tools and configuration options later.
MX Linux 16 -- The welcome window
(full image size: 1.1MB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
MX uses a graphical system installer that begins by showing us a brief description of the distribution and its licensing information. The second screen of the installer asks us which local disk will be used to hold our installation of MX. Once we have picked a disk we can optionally click a button to launch the GParted partition manager. GParted will then help us arrange our disk partitions. Closing GParted and returning to the installer, we can choose to let MX take over our entire hard drive or we can manually select how our partitions will be matched with mount points. The following screen gets us to select which disk partition will be used for the root file system and for swap space. We have the option of setting aside a separate partition for users' home directories or placing home folders on the root partition.
We are then asked if we would like to install the GRUB boot loader and, if so, where. We are asked to provide our computer with a name and given the option of enabling Samba shares. The installer then asks us to select our keyboard's layout and locale from long, cryptic lists of language options. We are then given the chance to select whether to display time in 12 hour or 24 hour clock styles as well as set our time zone. The installer gives us a chance to enable/disable background services such as OpenSSH, Cron, CUPS and Bluetooth. Finally, the installer asks us to create a user account for ourselves and create a password for the administrator's account. The installer has several screens and takes a while to get through, but I feel the prompts are well organized and clear in their meaning. I also like that MX's installer asks before performing any destructive actions.
I tried running MX Linux in two test environments, a physical desktop computer and in VirtualBox. When running on the desktop computer, MX Linux booted quickly, the desktop was responsive and programs opened quickly. All my hardware was detected and properly utilized. Things went similarly well when running MX inside VirtualBox. The distribution automatically integrates with VirtualBox and can display the Xfce desktop using the host computer's full screen resolution. The distribution worked quickly in the virtual environment and was pleasantly stable in both test environments. MX used about 4.4GB of hard drive space and, when first logging into the Xfce desktop, required about 240MB of RAM.
MX Linux 16 -- The MX application menu, moved to the top of the display
(full image size: 1.3MB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
The freshly installed MX distribution boots to a graphical login screen. From there we can sign into our account which launches the Xfce desktop. When we sign in the first time we are greeted by the welcome window we saw in the live environment.
When I first signed into my account I noticed a green box icon in the system tray which indicated there were software updates available. Clicking this icon brought up a window which listed the available updates and gave me the option of running apt-get's dist-upgrade or upgrade commands. The first time I tried to run the upgrade command the process failed, saying files on the remote server could not be found. I re-ran the update application and clicked a button to refresh my local software repository information. Then I ran the upgrade process again and, this time, the update manager installed the waiting packages. There were eight upgrades available on my first day with MX, totalling 58MB in size. Over the week a few more upgrades tickled in, each of them fairly small.
Apart from the welcome window and the subtle update indicator, the MX distribution largely stays out of the way. I was not distracted by notifications and I found the Xfce environment to be very responsive. This made for a snappy, clutter-free desktop experience.
MX ships with a fairly standard set of popular open source applications. We are given the Firefox web browser with Flash support. The Filezilla file transfer application is included along with the Thunderbird e-mail client and the Transmission bittorrent software. Network Manager and the GNOME PPP dial-up client are included to help us get on-line. The LibreOffice (version 5) productivity suite is featured along with a dictionary and the FBReader e-book reader. The Orage calendar application and a PDF viewer are included. MX ships with several multimedia applications, including the VLC media player, the Clementine audio player, the Xfburn disc burner and the Asunder audio disc ripper. The distribution features a collection of media codecs, enabling us to play most media formats out of the box. MX provides users with a few games, the Mirage image viewer, the GNU Image Manipulation Program and the Shotwell image manager. The luckyBackup utility is available to help us make archives of our files. MX ships with Java and the GNU Compiler Collection. In the background, MX runs on version 4.7 of the Linux kernel.
MX Linux 16 -- Watching YouTube videos using SMPlayer
(full image size: 958kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
MX runs the SysV init software by default. However, the systemd init software is also installed by default. If we run "man init" to learn about the init service, the manual page for systemd is displayed. The systemctl service manager is present too, but fails to work properly due to a missing dependency.
Apart from the systemd service manager, I found the software which shipped with MX worked well. I like that the application menu has a search box we can use to hunt for applications. Finding the correct desktop application is made even easier as the menu displays a brief description of each application along with the program's name and icon.
MX Linux ships with two package managers. The first is a custom package manager called Popular Apps. The Popular Apps program displays a window with a tree view of programs, grouped by category. Each category has just a few popular open source applications inside it. Each application entry includes a brief description explaining what the application does. We can select an item from the list and install it with a click.
While the Popular Apps software manager gives us quick and easy access to some of open source's greatest hits, it does not provide access to a large pool of software. The Synaptic package manager provides us with full access to the software available to MX, including low-level packages. Synaptic shows us a list of categories and filters down the left side of the window and an alphabetical list of packages down the right side. We can check boxes next to the items we want to install or remove and Synaptic will work on the selected packages in batches. MX pulls in software from its own repositories as well as the antiX repositories, Debian's repositories and a VirtualBox repository. This gives us access to Debian's massive collection of packages, plus a handful of convenient add-ons and more modern versions of packages.
One thing that stood out early in my time with MX was that the distribution uses an unusual command line prompt. The prompt in virtual terminals is displayed with multiple colours and is spread across two lines. I find this combination jarring, but it can be adjusted by editing the prompt variable in the user's .bashrc file in their home directory.
MX Linux 16 -- Creating backups with luckyBackup
(full image size: 133kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
One tool I appreciated having was luckyBackup. This utility helps us set up backup procedures, with multiple backup jobs per user if we want. luckyBackup will synchronize or archive files and place them in the directory of our choosing. The backup utility has many options, but they are presented in a fairly straight forward manner and I like the utility's flexibility.
There are two launchers in the application menu which relate to printers. The first opens Firefox and displays the local CUPS web admin panel. The second printer menu entry launches the CUPS configuration application. Using the latter I was able to successfully detect and connect to my wireless HP printer.
One of the strengths of MX Linux, and what sets the distribution apart from its Debian base, is the collection of MX utilities. The MX administration tools can be found in the desktop's application menu and through the MX Tools control panel. Each tool typically does one specific task. For example, there is one MX utility which just installs NVIDIA drivers and another which installs AMD/ATI drivers. Another tool helps us enable or disable login/logout event sounds and another tool exists to help us create and work with user accounts. One MX tool manages software repositories while two others install packages from a Testing repository and a Backports repository. One MX utility installs media support, including DVD playback support, and another manages the system's Adobe Flash packages. These tools may not be necessary for more experienced users who know how to handle separate repositories and hunt down codecs, but for less experienced users these MX-brand tools can be big time savers.
MX Linux 16 -- The MX Tools panel
(full image size: 842kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
One of MX's configuration utilities assists the user in changing the location of the desktop panel, with options basically being the bottom of the screen or the left side of the display. This tool also lets us change the colour theme of the desktop. Changing the colour theme from dark to light, or light to dark, causes a pop-up to appear letting us know we may need to restart Firefox in order for the change to take effect. This seems odd as the theme updates immediately and the Firefox browser was not running while I was changing the theme.
Another aspect of the distribution I found odd was there were three different configuration tools for changing the position of the desktop panel: Panel, MX Default Look and Panel Orientation. Each of these utilities has different restrictions on where the panel goes -- one lets us switch between the bottom of the screen or left side, another switches between the top of the screen and the left side. There are also multiple tools for changing the look of the desktop, including Desktop Settings, Appearance and MX Default Look. When we factor in the two CUPS menu entries, four package managers (Popular Apps, Synaptic, MX Test Repo Installer and Debian Backports Installer) and two repository managers, we begin to see a pattern of duplication. Some people may look at these tools and think it is good the distribution provides multiple paths to perform similar tasks. Personally, I found the duplication cluttered up the menus a bit without much benefit to me.
On the topic of duplication, there is some additional overlap with adjusting settings. Apart from the panel which gives us quick access to the MX collection of configuration tools, there is also a settings panel for the Xfce desktop. This second settings panel gives us quick access to modules which will help us to configure the screen saver, set up the firewall, create Samba network shares and change the behaviour of the file manager, along with a few other tweaks to the desktop environment.
MX Linux 16 -- Desktop settings panel
(full image size: 1.1MB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Taken as a whole, I like MX Linux 16. The distribution is fairly lightweight by modern standards and the project provides both 32-bit and 64-bit support, a characteristic which is increasingly rare. The desktop is light and responsive, but still provides a nice, modern look.
I like that while MX is light on resources, it provides a lot of popular software for us to use. We are treated to good multimedia support, a full featured productivity suite and web browser. The software included in MX is more modern than Debian Stable and we have access to a Backports repository if we want to access up to date applications.
I ran into just a few rough edges, like the theme changer asking me to restart Firefox and the update manager not refreshing its package information before downloading new updates. Earlier I mentioned some frustration with the many overlapping configuration tools, but I acknowledge what I see as clutter could be another person's convenience.
All in all, MX Linux provided me with a good experience. The distribution walks a fine line between providing conveniences (like the welcome window and update notification) and staying out of the way. I think the developers have struck a good balance and I definitely see MX as a good option, especially for people running older computers. I'm not sure I would recommend MX Linux to first time Linux users, MX does expect more technical knowledge than some more mainstream distributions, but I think MX would make a fine second distribution for someone comfortable with Linux concepts, but who also wants performance and convenience.
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Hardware used in this review
My physical test equipment for this review was a desktop HP Pavilon p6 Series with the following specifications:
- Processor: Dual-core 2.8GHz AMD A4-3420 APU
- Storage: 500GB Hitachi hard drive
- Memory: 6GB of RAM
- Networking: Realtek RTL8111 wired network card
- Display: AMD Radeon HD 6410D video card
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
Fedora considers systemd security features, DragonFly BSD to support large swap spaces, Ubuntu Touch to use Snap packages, Puppy Linux gets a newsletter
Following reports of a local privilege exploit in early December, the Fedora developers are looking at ways to use systemd's security features to mitigate attacks against the distribution's software. The idea is to use systemd to limit the damage a misbehaving (or hijacked) program can do. LWN reports: "The AF_PACKET local privilege escalation (also known as CVE-2016-8655) has been fixed by most distributions at this point; stable kernels addressing the problem were released on December 10. But, as a discussion on the fedora-devel mailing list shows, systemd now provides options that could help mitigate CVE-2016-8655 and, more importantly, other vulnerabilities that remain undiscovered or have yet to be introduced. The genesis for the discussion was a blog post from Lennart Poettering about the RestrictAddressFamilies directive, but recent systemd versions have other sandboxing features that could be used to head off the next vulnerability. Fedora project leader Matthew Miller noted the blog post and wondered if the RestrictAddressFamilies directive could be more widely applied in Fedora. That directive allows administrators to restrict access to the network address families a service can use." The work Fedora is planning to do to secure services will likely be transferable to other Linux distributions which also run systemd.
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The DragonFly BSD project, which is famous for its HAMMER file system and performance, will soon be able to handle vast amounts of swap space. Swap space is an area of the disk where data is placed when it is not currently needed in memory, freeing up the computer's RAM. According to the DragonFly BSD Digest website, the operating system may soon be capable of handling 32TB of swap space. "Matthew Dillon has made some changes to DragonFly's swap handling, and his explanation notes that the theoretical max swap space is now 32 terabytes. He even had to change field sizes to accommodate the new, bigger numbers."
* * * * *
People who are using Ubuntu on mobile devices will need to wait a while to receive new features and significant updates. According to a mailing list post from Pat McGowan, the developers of Ubuntu Touch are in the process of transitioning the operating system from using Click packages to Snap packages. The team is also putting a pause on new features while developers work to transition Ubuntu Touch from the Ubuntu 15.04 base to Ubuntu 16.04. "There are new milestones defined on Launchpad, you can see the main focus is now on Xenial (which is the basis for Ubuntu Core 16 that we will use), and there are milestones assigned to Ubuntu Personal images which also encompasses the work for the Unity8 session on classic Ubuntu. How you can help is an excellent question, we certainly want to transition
the Click apps to Snaps hence the earlier message to app developers. We
will have more stable test images soon (for amd64 VMs and PC, and arm64
M10, we also have kiosk images for Dragonboard and R-Pi in progress)
which should allow us to pick up the pace of the transition. There is also
the Unity8 session on classic desktop available now but it also needs to
stabilize. In short visit snapcraft.io, and start using and creating snaps in the standard desktop and in the Unity8 session and provide all the feedback you
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Fans of the Puppy Linux distribution may be happy to know there is a new publication dedicated to the distribution. Puppy Linux Newsletter is intended to be a monthly publication featuring Puppy news and tips. The first issue of the newsletter can be found on the editor's website.
* * * * *
These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Removing sudo's password requirement
Stop-asking-me asks: Since I switched from Windows to Linux I keep getting prompts for my password whenever I want to change anything. On Windows I sometimes got the confirmation window, but I could just click through it. Why does Linux always demand my password and how can I get it to just let me click to confirm like on Windows?
DistroWatch answers: First, welcome to Linux! When moving to a new operating system there are always some bumps in the road and some new experiences to get accustomed to. Hang in there, the road gets smoother.
When comparing the Windows User Account Control (UAC) feature with Linux's sudo (and BSD's doas) I think it is important to note that the two technologies (UAC and sudo) are designed to do different things which is a large part of why they have different behaviours. Both UAC and sudo show up when the user wants to make changes to the system, but for different reasons.
On Windows, the UAC feature is basically there to prevent the system administrator (or users running as the administrator) from shooting themselves in the foot. When the admin is logged into their account, programs effectively run with limited access. When a program needs to perform an admin action, the system asks the user for confirmation. What is important to note here is the administrator is already logged in and running programs as the administrator (or power user or other privileged account). The "Do you want to allow..." prompt on Windows is basically just a way of asking someone already logged in as the administrator if they are really sure they want to proceed. It's a warning that a program or action is about to do something serious and it gives the user a chance to block that action.
By contrast, on Linux the sudo command is run by regular user accounts that wish to perform actions usually reserved for the administrator. When a regular (unprivileged) user account wants to update a software package or change the system clock, they go through the sudo service to elevate their access and perform a one-time admin action. Here, the user is not already the admin, they are temporarily becoming an admin to run one program. This is why the password prompt is there, it's to confirm the person performing the action really is the person they claim to be and should be allowed to perform administrator actions even though they are not logged in as the administrator.
In addition, the sudo command can divide up different admin tasks to different users and perform logging which can leave an audit trail in case something goes wrong.
If a person were to log into a Linux system as root (the name of the system administrator's account) and run their programs that way, there would be no prompt for passwords and usually no confirmation screen to warn the user before they did something potentially dangerous. Linux distributions tend to assume the administrator knows what they are doing and stays out of the way. This does not mean it is a good idea to login as the administrator, the amount of power the admin has on a Linux system means it is usually a better idea to login as a regular user and perform system configuration using the sudo command.
There is a difference in philosophy here. On Linux, it is assumed people will generally perform tasks as a regular user and only perform potentially damaging admin functions rarely. This can be done through sudo and the password protection is in place to make sure you really are who you claim to be. But if you logged in as the admin to begin with, there are virtually no checks on your power on Linux. On Windows, there is an assumption that people will often run with admin access when they do not need to and people with admin access are likely to accidentally change things on the system. The UAC is in place to protect the administrator from themselves or malicious programs running as the admin.
Some Linux distributions lock the admin account by default and this has lead to the myth that distributions which set up sudo automatically do not have an administrator account. However, these distributions do still have a root account and it can still be used.
It is possible to disable the sudo password prompt by editing the utility's configuration file. This allows the administrator to grant any or all access to the system to an unprivileged account without requiring a password. This is generally seen as a bad idea as it means there is no protection between the user (or anyone else who gains access to your account) and unlimited access to the operating system. However, if convenience is a higher priority than security, the sudoers manual page explains how to set up passwordless access to a user who has sudo access. The details can be read by running "man sudoers" in a terminal.
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For more questions and answers, visit our Questions and Answers archive.
|Released Last Week
Joshua Strobl has announced the release of a new Solus snapshot. Solus is an independent Linux distribution which uses the eopkg package manager (a fork of the PiSi package manager). The new snapshot, Solus 2017.01.01.0, is available in two editions (Budgie and MATE) and features support for mounting more devices over MTP, the VLC multimedia player can now play files over Samba and SFTP connections, and the distribution ships with version 4.8.15 of the Linux kernel. "We're happy to be kicking off the new year with the release of our first ISO snapshot, 2017.01.01.0, across our Budgie and MATE editions. The out-of-the-box experience for shipped applications in Solus has improved, as we've worked towards enabling a larger set of features for them. A larger set of devices are now supported for MTP mounting, thanks to an upgraded libmtp. Evince can now handle PS and XPS files. Our package manager, eopkg, has received performance improvements as well as a fix to statelessness that'd cause the Software Center to hang. Instances where a corrupted cursor would appear while using Firefox have been resolved. VLC can now play content from SMB shares and SFTP locations. We've also done work on enabling subtitles for certain content played via MKV files." Further information and a detailed list of changes can be found in the project's release announcement.
Clemens Toennies has announced a new version of the desktop-oriented Netrunner Linux distribution. Netrunner is available in a few different flavours, with one branch based on Debian and the other on Manjaro Linux. The latest release, Netrunner 17.01, is based on Debian Stretch and features KDE's Plasma 5.8.2 desktop environment. "The Netrunner Team is happy to announce the immediate availability of Netrunner Desktop 17.01 64-bit ISO. Netrunner Desktop 17.01 'Baryon' has jumped from Debian Jessie to snapshot '20161211' of the upcoming Debian Stretch. This means the system can be kept on a certain version stack, while it is also easy to enable the corresponding repositories for continuously tested updates. Netrunner Desktop adds the usual selection of software applications like KDEnlive, Gimp, VLC, LibreOffice, Audacious, Steam, Skype, Transmission, VirtualBox, Krita, Inkscape and many more." Further information and key package versions can be found in the project's release announcement.
Netrunner 17.01 -- Running the Plasma desktop
(full image size: 375kB, resolution: 1680x1050 pixels)
Rania el-Amina has announced the release of BlankOn 10.0, an Indonesian Linux distribution based on Debian and featuring a custom GNOME Shell-based desktop called "Manokwari": "After several years of development, the BlankOn development team proudly present the 10th release of BlankOn, code-named 'Tambora'. There are many changes in this release which provides its own colors and support for new hardware. The development team has also added new features to some of the native BlankOn packages. Manokwari is a desktop environment based on GNOME Shell 3. It combines GTK+ with the HTML 5 frontend; it is an evolution from a shell called blankon-panel. In this release, Manokwari gets many updates and several new features, including updated search function, right-hand side panel, weather widget, music player and beautiful icons. Manokwari on BlankOn 'Tambora' supports higher screen resolutions, such as the Retina display and can also be used on 4K screens." Continue to the release announcement (in Indonesian, scroll down for the English version) for further details.
Anke Boersma has announced the release of KaOS 2017.01, a new stable build of the project's rolling-release, desktop-oriented Linux distribution featuring KDE Plasma 5.8.5: "It is with great pleasure to present to you a first KaOS ISO image for 2017. Starting the new year with a fresh new look. All parts of the Midna artwork have been updated, most notably a new sddm theme that uses a layered QML model. This makes selecting between the default regular Plasma session or optional Wayland much clearer. There is also a new move to the right vertical panel as the default. As always with this rolling distribution, you will find the very latest packages for the Plasma desktop, this includes Frameworks 5.29.0, Plasma 5.8.5, KDE Applications 16.12.0 and not-yet-released ports of KDE Applications. All built on Qt 5.7.1. Linux 4.8.15 has a change as to how the kernel image is created. Instead of using an install file that only gets called on kernel updates, a new hook file is used." Continue to the release announcement for more information and screenshots.
KaOS 2017.01 -- Running the Plasma desktop
(full image size: 461kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
The table below provides a list of torrents DistroWatch is currently seeding. If you do not 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: 272
- Total data uploaded: 52.0TB
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Commonly used processor architectures
One of our readers asked if we would run a poll to find out what kind of CPUs people are running on their main computers. Are you sticking with old, tried and true 32-bit x86 processors, or running the latest and greatest 64-bit multi-core processors? Or perhaps you are going in a different direction and using an ARM or PowerPC processor under the hood?
If you're running multiple computers at home, leave us a comment with a run down of your hardware.
You can see the results of our previous poll on preferred video cards and drivers here. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
Commonly used processor architectures
|i386: ||44 (2%)|
| i486: ||12 (0%)|
| i586: ||31 (1%)|
| i686: ||148 (5%)|
| x86_64 (single core): ||75 (3%)|
| x86_64 (multi-core): ||2308 (86%)|
| ARM: ||36 (1%)|
| PowerPC: ||12 (0%)|
| Sparc: ||15 (1%)|
| Other/Unknown: ||13 (0%)|
Improved article search and release model information
In December we launched a new search feature which makes it easier to find past reviews, Questions and Answers columns and tutorials. The Article Search page has been expanded to include an "Other/Misc" category of searches. When the "Other/Misc" category is selected, the Article Search page will try to find articles in any past DistroWatch Weekly in any category. We hope this will make it easier to locate past news items, tutorials and reviews.
Another change we have made is, on each distribution's information page, there is now a new field in the About section. The new field is called Release Model and it is sandwiched between the distribution's Category and Status fields. The Release Model field indicates whether a distribution uses a fixed, rolling or semi-rolling approach to releases and software updates. We have typically supplied this information in the distribution's description, but having it presented in point form should make it easier to quickly see what type of release model a project uses at a glance. As with the other data fields, clicking a project's listed Release Model will bring up our Search page with other distributions that use the same model.
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New distributions added to database
Clear Linux is a minimal distribution primarily designed with performance and cloud use-cases in mind. The operating system upgrades as a whole rather than using individual packages. Extra software can be added to the system (along with associated dependencies) using pre-compiled bundles which can be accessed through the distribution's swupd software manager.
DRBL (Diskless Remote Boot in Linux) is server software to boot and operate remote desktop clients. The DRBL software allows client machines to run as stateless, thin-client style computers which are managed by the DRBL server. DRBL Live is a Debian-based, live disc distribution of the DRBL server software which can be run from a USB drive or CD/DVD. It includes a desktop environment to assist users in configuring the server.
DRBL Live -- Running the Xfce desktop
(full image size: 281kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
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Distributions added to waiting list
- Debian+PIXEL. Debian+PIXEL is a minimal desktop operating system featuring the PIXEL desktop. It is a live distribution developed by the Raspberry Pi foundation for x86 computers.
- DietPi. DietPi is a lightweight, Debian-based Linux distribution for Raspberry Pi and other single board computers.
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DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 16 January 2017. Past articles and reviews can be found through our Article Search page. 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: 1, value: US$15.00)
|Linux Foundation Training
|• Issue 742 (2017-12-11): heads 0.3.1, improvements coming to Tails, Void tutorials, Ubuntu phasing out Python 2, manipulating images from the command line|
|• Issue 741 (2017-12-04): Pop!_OS 17.10, openSUSE Tumbleweed snapshots, installing Q4OS on a Windows partition, using the at command|
|• Issue 740 (2017-11-27): Artix Linux, Unity spin of Ubuntu, Nitrux swaps Snaps for AppImage, getting better battery life on Linux|
|• Issue 739 (2017-11-20): Fedora 27, cross-distro software ports, Ubuntu on Samsung phones, Red Hat supports ARM, Parabola continues 32-bit support|
|• Issue 738 (2017-11-13): SparkyLinux 5.1, rumours about spyware, Slax considers init software, Arch drops 32-bit packages, overview of LineageOS|
|• Issue 737 (2017-11-06): BeeFree OS 18.1.2, quick tips to fix common problems, Slax returning, Solus plans MATE and software management improvements|
|• Issue 736 (2017-10-30): Ubuntu 17.10, "what if" security questions, Linux Mint to support Flatpak, NetBSD kernel memory protection|
|• Issue 735 (2017-10-23): ArchLabs Minimo, building software with Ravenports, WPA security patch, Parabola creates OpenRC spin|
|• Issue 734 (2017-10-16): Star 1.0.1, running the Linux-libre kernel, Ubuntu MATE experiments with snaps, Debian releases new install media, Purism reaches funding goal|
|• Issue 733 (2017-10-09): KaOS 2017.09, 32-bit prematurely obsoleted, Qubes security features, IPFire updates Apache|
|• Issue 732 (2017-10-02): ClonOS, reducing Snap package size, Ubuntu dropping 32-bit Desktop, partitioning disks for ZFS|
|• Issue 731 (2017-09-25): BackSlash Linux Olaf, W3C adding DRM to web standards, Wayland support arrives in Mir, Debian experimenting with AppArmor|
|• Issue 730 (2017-09-18): Mageia 6, running a completely free OS, HAMMER2 file system in DragonFly BSD's installer, Manjaro to ship pre-installed on laptops|
|• Issue 729 (2017-09-11): Parabola GNU/Linux-libre, running Plex Media Server on a Raspberry Pi, Tails feature roadmap, a cross-platform ports build system|
|• Issue 728 (2017-09-04): Nitrux 1.0.2, SUSE creates new community repository, remote desktop tools for GNOME on Wayland, using Void source packages|
|• Issue 727 (2017-08-28): Cucumber Linux 1.0, using Flatpak vs Snap, GNOME previews Settings panel, SUSE reaffirms commitment to Btrfs|
|• Issue 726 (2017-08-21): Redcore Linux 1706, Solus adds Snap support, KaOS getting hardened kernel, rolling releases and BSD|
|• Issue 725 (2017-08-14): openSUSE 42.3, Debian considers Flatpak for backports, changes coming to Ubuntu 17.10, the state of gaming on Linux|
|• Issue 724 (2017-08-07): SwagArch 2017.06, Myths about Unity, Mir and Ubuntu Touch, Manjaro OpenRC becomes its own distro, Debian debates future of live ISOs|
|• Issue 723 (2017-07-31): UBOS 11, transferring packages between systems, Ubuntu MATE's HUD, GNUstep releases first update in seven years|
|• Issue 722 (2017-07-24): Calculate Linux 17.6, logging sudo usage, Remix OS discontinued, interview with Chris Lamb, Debian 9.1 released|
|• Issue 721 (2017-07-17): Fedora 26, finding source based distributions, installing DragonFly BSD using Orca, Yunit packages ported to Ubuntu 16.04|
|• Issue 720 (2017-07-10): Peppermint OS 8, gathering system information with osquery, new features coming to openSUSE, Tails fixes networking bug|
|• Issue 719 (2017-07-03): Manjaro 17.0.2, tracking ISO files, Ubuntu MATE unveils new features, Qubes tests Admin API, Fedora's Atomic Host gets new life cycle|
|• Issue 718 (2017-06-26): Debian 9, support for older hardware, Debian updates live media, Ubuntu's new networking tool, openSUSE gains MP3 support|
|• Issue 717 (2017-06-19): SharkLinux, combining commands in the shell, Debian 9 flavours released, OpenBSD improving kernel security, UBports releases first OTA update|
|• Issue 716 (2017-06-12): Slackel 7.0, Ubuntu working with GNOME on HiDPI, openSUSE 42.3 using rolling development model, exploring kernel blobs|
|• Issue 715 (2017-06-05): Devuan 1.0.0, answering questions on systemd, Linux Mint plans 18.2 beta, Yunit/Unity 8 ported to Debian|
|• Issue 714 (2017-05-29): Void, enabling Wake-on-LAN, Solus packages KDE, Debian 9 release date, Ubuntu automated bug reports|
|• Issue 713 (2017-05-22): ROSA Fresh R9, Fedora's new networking features, FreeBSD's Quarterly Report, UBports opens app store, Parsix to shut down, SELinux overview|
|• Issue 712 (2017-05-15): NixOS 17.03, Alpha Litebook running elementary OS, Canonical considers going public, Solus improves Bluetooth support|
|• Issue 711 (2017-05-08): 4MLinux 21.0, checking file system fragmentation, new Mint and Haiku features, pfSense roadmap, OpenBSD offers first syspatch updates|
|• Issue 710 (2017-05-01): TrueOS 2017-02-22, Debian ported to RISC-V, Halium to unify mobile GNU/Linux, Anbox runs Android apps on GNU/Linux, using ZFS on the root file system|
|• Issue 709 (2017-04-24): Ubuntu 17.04, Korora testing new software manager, Ubuntu migrates to Wayland, running Nix package manager on alternative distributions|
|• Issue 708 (2017-04-17): Maui Linux 17.03, Snaps run on Fedora, Void adopts Flatpak, running Android apps on GNU/Linux, Debian elects Project Leader|
|• Issue 707 (2017-04-10): PCLinuxOS 2017.03, Canonical stops Unity development, OpenBSD on a Raspberry Pi, setting up a VPN for privacy|
|• Issue 706 (2017-04-03): Super Grub2 Disk, Snap packages of deepin applications, Subgraph OS routes network traffic for one application, announcements from Linux Mint|
|• Issue 705 (2017-03-27): Minimal Linux Live, sharing control of the operating system, new KaOS features, Uplos32 provides 32-bit fork of PCLinuxOS|
|• Issue 704 (2017-03-20): ToarusOS 1.0.4, Linux Mint's security record, Debian starts Project Leader election, Ubuntu 12.04 reaches end-of-life|
|• Issue 703 (2017-03-13): SolydXK 201701, CloudReady, Solus announces new features, KDE Connect sends text messages from desktop, openSUSE's YaST module for Let's Encrypt|
|• Issue 702 (2017-03-06): Fatdog64 Linux, elementary OS bundled with new netbook, Haiku announces new features, security and the size of a distro's development team|
|• Issue 701 (2017-02-27): OBRevenge 2017.02, Mageia 6 delays, NetBSD reproducible builds, questions about swap space, trying to steam video on a Raspberry Pi|
|• Issue 700 (2017-02-20): RaspBSD, Debian replaces Icedove with Thunderbird, Fedora's licensing guidlines, tips for switching shells, finding battery charge, getting IP address and killing processes|
|• Issue 699 (2017-02-13): Clear Linux, GhostBSD network utility ported to FreeBSD, Ubuntu coming to Fairphone, elementary OS crowd funding an app store|
|• Issue 698 (2017-02-06): Solus 2017.01.01, comparing containers with portable applicatins, Tails dropping 32-bit support, Debian Stretch enters freeze|
|• Issue 697 (2017-01-30): Subgraph OS 2016.12.30, running Ubuntu on an Android phone, Arch Linux phasing out 32-bit support, Linux Mint testing updated LMDE media|
|• Issue 696 (2017-01-23): GoboLinux 016, remotely running desktop applications, Solus adopting Flatpak, KDE neon using Calamares, TrueOS tests OpenRC|
|• Issue 695 (2017-01-16): Zorin OS 12, Peppermint team fixes installer bug, Debian refreshes Jessie media, Ubuntu improves low graphics mode, Exciting things coming in 2017|
|• Issue 694 (2017-01-09): MX Linux 16, Fedora considers systemd security features, DragonFly BSD to support massive swap space, Ubuntu Touch roadmap, Puppy's newsletter, sudo's password prompt|
|• Issue 693 (2017-01-02): Comparing small distros, fig language, video driver comparsion, Debian+PIXEL, Wayland on FreeBSD|
|• Issue 692 (2016-12-19): Bodhi Linux 4.0.0, Cappsule containers, Calculate's new Utilities package, Solus and Ubuntu MATE build new application menu|
|• Issue 691 (2016-12-12): SalentOS 1.0, openSUSE improves YaST, Fedora considers slower release cycle, KDE neon gets LTS branch|
|• Full list of all issues|
|Random Distribution |
TA-Linux was a free Linux distribution that targets Linux power users. Its main goal was to have a small base installation that the end-users can expand to include the software they need. The secondary goal was to support as many different architectures as possible, at this time x86 was fully supported with Alpha, Sparc, PPC and PA-RISC around the corner. Extra software not included in the base was handled using a system resembling the *BSD ports system, called Collection, which handles installation, upgrading and dependencies. The primary way of installing new software was to download the source, compile and install it (totaly automatic). The user can also choose to install already built binary packages, also automaticaly using the Collection system.