| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 707, 10 April 2017
Welcome to this year's 15th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
Open source software is always evolving with some projects growing and becoming more relevant while others are unable to attract enough attention to sustain themselves. This week we explore a few projects which are struggling and others which continue to develop and grow. We begin with a review of PCLinuxOS, a rolling release distribution which has maintained a significant following using an unusual combination of up to date desktop applications and conservative approach to change. In our News section we talk about Canonical discontinuing development of the Unity 8 desktop and Ubuntu's mobile operating system in favour of shipping the GNOME Shell for future versions of Ubuntu. We also cover changes to Chakra's infrastructure, how to run OpenBSD on a Raspberry Pi and the Tanglu project's search for ways to streamline and attract new developers to the distribution. Privacy is always an important topic and this week we discuss using VPNs to hide our network traffic from prying eyes in our Questions and Answers column. Let us know whether you use VPNs or related technologies such as Tor in our Opinion Poll. As usual, we cover the distribution releases of the past week and provide a list of the torrents we are seeding. Finally, we are happy to welcome the LibreELEC project to our database. We wish you all a superb week and happy reading!
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (98MB) and MP3 (73MB) formats.
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
It has been about a year since I last explored the PCLinuxOS distribution. At that time I was experimenting with the project's MATE edition. Since I have not taken the chance to try PCLinuxOS since the distribution launched an edition with the KDE Plasma 5 desktop environment, I thought it would be fun to revisit this project. PCLinuxOS currently ships with version 5.8 of the Plasma desktop which is a long term support release of Plasma. The ISO file I downloaded for PCLinuxOS was 1.3GB in size.
Booting from the distribution's live media brings up a menu asking how we would like to launch the operating system. We can choose to launch PCLinuxOS with a graphical desktop with the default settings, load the desktop with safe mode graphics settings, boot to a text console or launch the project's system installer. Taking one of the live desktop options soon brings up a window asking us to select our keyboard's layout from a list. Then the Plasma desktop loads. PCLinuxOS has a varied and colourful wallpaper. There are icons on the desktop which open the Dolphin file manager and launch the system installer. At the bottom of the screen we find a panel which houses the application menu, a few quick-launch buttons, a task switcher and the system tray.
After confirming that the distribution could run in my test environments, I opened the system installer. PCLinuxOS uses a graphical installer which gently guides us through the steps required to get the distribution on our hard drive. We begin with disk partitioning and PCLinuxOS offers to automatically partition our hard drive for us or let us manually divide up our disk. The distribution supports working with ext2/3/4, Btrfs, XFS and JFS file systems as well as LVM and RAID configurations. I found the partition manager to be fairly flexible and easy to navigate. There are a lot of options in the installer, but many of the installer's features are tucked away and only shown if we specifically request Expert or Advanced options.
The installer next offers to remove unneeded software packages from the system. For example, I do not have an NVIDIA video card and the PCLinuxOS installer offers to remove NVIDIA driver packages to free up space. The installer then copies its files to the hard drive. A few minutes later the installer asks which boot loader (LILO, GRUB Legacy or GRUB2) we would like to install and what, if any, special options we would like the operating system to use when it boots. At this point we are finished with the installer and can reboot to start using our brand new copy of PCLinuxOS.
The first time our pristine operating system boots a graphical wizard appears and walks us through a few final configuration steps. We are asked to select our time zone list from a list and we have the option of using network time synchronization or manually setting our computer's clock. We are then asked to make up a password for our system administrator's account and create a regular user account for ourselves. Once these steps have been completed we are presented with a graphical login screen.
Signing into our account brings up the Plasma 5.8 desktop environment. Though Plasma took a while to launch on my systems, once the desktop environment had finished loading the environment was responsive and I experienced no lag or delays. The default desktop theme is fairly bright and offers a variety colours. I found the theme allowed for a good deal of contrast without being visually distracting.
PCLinuxOS 2017.03 -- The Plasma application menu
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For people who do not enjoy the default look and feel of the Plasma desktop, we can adjust most aspects of the desktop environment through the KDE System Settings panel. This configuration panel provides modules for adjusting the desktop's theme, notifications and media support as well as features like file indexing and pairing the desktop with Android phones via KDE Connect. The settings panel is fairly easy to navigate and offers users a search function to help us find the specific option we want to change.
I tried running PCLinuxOS in two test environments, experimenting with the distribution in VirtualBox and on a desktop computer. I found PCLinuxOS was unable to integrate with the VirtualBox environment and therefore I could not make full use of my computer's screen resolution. The distribution does not provide guest modules for VirtualBox environments in its software repositories and the generic VirtualBox modules failed to install on the distribution. I tried installing VirtualBox using a script supplied by the distribution. While this successfully installed the VirtualBox software, it did not provide me with a working guest module. Apart from the poor desktop resolution, PCLinuxOS worked well in VirtualBox. The operating system was responsive, connected to the network and was able to play sound out of the box.
When I started playing with PCLinuxOS on a desktop computer, I ran into a few problems while using the live disc. One issue was that applications could not play sound. My audio volumes (both the PulseAudio and ALSA volumes) were turned up their maximum settings, but I could not get applications to produce sound. I eventually found I could get sound from my speakers by muting and then un-muting the PulseAudio controls. I ran into another problem with the system clock. When NTP time synchronization was enabled and my correct time zone set, PCLinuxOS's clock displayed a time that was off by six hours. Disabling network time synchronization and manually setting the correct time worked around the issue. Both of these problems only appeared when working from the live disc, once the distribution was installed these problems disappeared.
PCLinuxOS 2017.03 -- Adding a printer to the system
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PCLinuxOS was slow to boot in both test environments compared to other mainstream distributions and the Plasma desktop was slow to load. However, I got good performance out of the distribution once the Plasma desktop had finished loading. The desktop and applications were quick to respond. I was pleased to find the distribution properly detected my network printer. During my trial PCLinuxOS and its applications were stable and I encountered no crashes. In either test environment PCLinuxOS required about 420MB of RAM to sign into the Plasma desktop.
The Plasma edition of PCLinuxOS ships with a lot of software. While many of the default applications are Qt/KDE programs, many others are not and I like that the distribution places more focus on providing good tools than providing a pure Qt environment. The distribution ships with Firefox (with Flash support), LibreOffice 5, the Thunderbird e-mail client, the KeePassX password manager and the Pidgin chat client. There are remote desktop viewers, the Choqok micro-blogger, a couple of text editors and a DropBox client. PCLinuxOS ships with an application called Master PDF Editor which makes it easy to edit PDF documents. The Master PDF Editor is free to use for non-commercial purposes, but is provided under a proprietary license. The distribution also ships with the qBittorrent application for downloading and uploading torrents, the Krita drawing program and the BleachBit software for cleaning up temporary files. PCLinuxOS ships with the Dolphin file manager, a process monitor and a live radio streaming client. The distribution also supplies us with the VLC media player, the Kdenlive video editor and the Vokoscreen Recorder. To compliment these multimedia applications the distribution ships with a collection of media codecs so we can play most media files. In the background we find Java, the GNU Compiler Collection, version 4.9.2, and the SysV init software. At the time of writing the distribution runs on version 4.9 of the Linux kernel.
PCLinuxOS 2017.03 -- Cleaning up old files with BleachBit
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Several of the items in the application menu have names which may seem cryptic. In particular I noticed some names like zuluCrypt, MKVToolNix and DeadBeeF scattered through the menu and these are harder to intuit than something like LibreOffice Writer. For people who would like hints as to what these applications do, we can right-click on the application menu and enable program descriptions in the menu's settings. For those of you who are interested, zuluCrypt is a desktop application for encrypting and decrypting files as well as working with encrypted volumes. The zuluCrypt interface is fairly friendly, even for people new to working with encrypted files. DeadBeeF is a simple audio player for listening to music files. MKVToolNix website's contains a blurb which says MKVToolNix can "create, alter and inspect Matroska media files" but I was able to find little else to explain the practical workings of the utility.
I noticed a few applications included with PCLinuxOS do not include documentation. Launching MyLiveGTK or DeadBeeF and selecting items from their Help menus results in an error being displayed that reports the documentation is not available. When running the Click Radio audio streaming application I found clicking the application's About button caused the application to drop the audio stream while it looked for the requested information.
One last application I would like to highlight is MyLiveUSB. This program, and its friendly front-end MyLiveGTK, assist us in making a copy of our live operating system and transferring it to a USB thumb drive. I think this is a handy tool as it makes it easier to take an operating system with us or backup our configuration.
The distribution does not tell us when new software updates are available, we are left to check for new updates ourselves using the Synaptic graphical package manager. Alternatively we can use the apt-get command line package manager. Synaptic is a tried and true package manager which simply presents us with a list of available software and provides us with a search function to find programs based on a name or description. We can check a box next to any packages we wish to install or remove. There is also a handy button which will queue any available upgrades for installation. PCLinuxOS is a rolling release distribution which means we can expect a fairly steady stream of new package versions. During the week I was running the distribution I upgraded 34 packages, requiring about 33MB of downloads. Something I found interesting about Synaptic was the package manager did not, by default, check packages' signatures to guard against corrupted downloads. It is a feature we can enable though if we want the added security.
PCLinuxOS 2017.03 -- The Synaptic package manager
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One of the best features I think PCLinuxOS has to offer is the distribution's Control Centre. This control panel, which is shared by other distributions in the Mandriva/Mageia family of operating systems, provides the administrator with many useful configuration tools. The Control Centre divides its tools into categories such as Software, Security and Boot. Each category contains modules we can launch which provide us with friendly graphical interfaces for changing settings. The Control Centre makes it easy to do anything from simply launching the Synaptic package manager to setting up a web server to configuring network services such as DHCP, NTP and OpenSSH. We can also browse hardware information, configure the display server, set up printers and share our files over NFS and Samba shares. The Control Centre contains modules for configuring the distribution's firewall, managing user accounts, setting the system time and enabling automatic logins.
PCLinuxOS 2017.03 -- The Control Centre and KDE System Settings panels
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I like the Control Centre as it makes a lot of administrative tasks straight forward and the modules generally provide clear explanations and options. Though I did run into one minor issue when using the OpenSSH module. The first time I went through the module to enable the secure shell service I took the defaults and was unable to connect to the service. I confirmed, using the Control Centre services module, that OpenSSH was running, but it was not accepting connections. I later found the OpenSSH module had incorrectly detected my IP address and caused the OpenSSH service to ignore incoming connections to my real address. Walking through the OpenSSH module and manually specifying my computer's proper IP address fixed the issue.
PCLinuxOS is fairly easy to set up, offers good performance and includes a wide range of software. I generally enjoyed using the Plasma 5.8 desktop and the System Settings panel makes it easy to customize the Plasma environment. I very much enjoyed working with the Control Centre as it makes tasks like setting up network shares or working with the firewall easy. In short, there is a lot about PCLinuxOS that I enjoyed.
However, I did run into several minor problems. Nothing show stopping, but a handful of "papercut" style issues that bothered me. For example, PCLinuxOS makes it easy to install VirtualBox, but not to get working VirtualBox guest modules. When running the live environment on my desktop computer I had trouble with sound and network time synchronization. A few programs were missing their documentation files and I ran into an error while setting up secure shell access. None of these items are big issues in themselves, but when combined they suggest to me that not enough people are testing the distribution and reporting issues to the developers.
In general though what stood out about PCLinuxOS was the distribution provides a rolling release platform that receives regular updates, while also providing a relatively conservative environment. Most distributions either stick with a static, point release system or offer a rolling release with cutting edge packages. PCLinuxOS seems to be finding a pleasant middle ground where core components and the layout of the desktop are conservative while the desktop applications are the latest and greatest. I like the balance that is achieved between providing a traditional environment and newer applications.
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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
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Visitor supplied rating
PCLinuxOS has a visitor supplied average rating of: 8.9/10 from 162 review(s).
Have you used PCLinuxOS? You can leave your own review of the project on our ratings page.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
Canonical pulls the plug on Unity 8 and convergence, Tanglu seeks additional developers, Chakra's infrastructure changes, OpenBSD on the Raspberry Pi
In a surprise announcement, a blog post attributed to Ubuntu's Mark Shuttleworth claims the Canonical-sponsored distribution will shift its default desktop environment from Unity 8 to GNOME for the next long term support (LTS) release. "I'm writing to let you know that we will end our investment in Unity 8, the phone and convergence shell. We will shift our default Ubuntu desktop back to GNOME for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS. I'd like to emphasize our ongoing passion for, investment in, and commitment to, the Ubuntu desktop that millions rely on. We will continue to produce the most usable open source desktop in the world, to maintain the existing LTS releases, to work with our commercial partners to distribute that desktop, to support our corporate customers who rely on it, and to delight the millions of IoT and cloud developers who innovate on top of it." The change in focus likely means development of the Unity 8 desktop environment, and related technologies such as Mir and Ubuntu Phone, will no longer be sponsored by Canonical. At the time of writing, it is unclear what effect this will have on related community projects such as Ubuntu GNOME and UBports. Since the announcement, a fork of Canonical's Unity 8 desktop has been created at Unity8.org with the source code available through GitHub. The UBports team has also responded to the news with plans to continue porting Ubuntu to Android mobile devices.
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A blog post on Planet Tanglu seems to indicate the Debian-based distribution is struggling due to a lack of interested developers. Matthias Klumpp posted an overview of the project and its history and reported that he no longer has as much time to spend on the Tanglu project. The post echoes the message of many Linux distributions facing the strains of maintaining a large project with few developers and limited resources: "So, what actually is the way forward? First, maybe I have the chance to find a few people willing to work on tasks in Tanglu. It's a fun project, and I learned a lot while working on it. Tanglu also possesses some unique properties few other Debian derivatives have, like being built from source completely (allowing us things like swapping core components or compiling with more hardening flags, switching to newer KDE Plasma and GNOME faster, etc.). Second, if we do not have enough manpower, I think converting Tanglu into a rolling-release distribution might be the only viable way to keep the project running. A rolling release scheme creates much less effort for us than making releases (especially time-based ones!). That way, users will have a constantly updated and secure Tanglu system with machines doing most of the background work. If it turns out that absolutely nothing works and we can't attract new people to help with Tanglu, it would mean that there generally isn't much interest from the developer or user side in a project like this, so shutting it down or scaling it down dramatically would be the only option."
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The Chakra GNU/Linux project is overhauling some of its infrastructure, introducing hardware and networking enhancements to the distribution's build servers. The project is also rolling out some automation on the backend to improve the development process. There are some changes in the works for Chakra's end users too, including package signing and a new community forum: "totte introduced our new forum software, a closed beta for which is already running on community.chakralinux.org. We plan to use this as a replacement of our current forum, mailing list, wiki and news tools and we hope to soon make it available to everyone. totte has also already setup Gitlab, but we still need to migrate pending bug reports before we officially switch to it to host our code and issue-tracker. Samir (Ram-Z), Chaoting (brli) and Luca (AlmAck) are working on finalizing package signing on both our local build systems and on Chakra's build server. This is important in order to improve the security of our packages and repositories." Details on these changes and more can be found in the project's news update.
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The Raspberry Pi is a minimal, single board computer which has proved popular among hobbyists and in educational settings. The Pi's minimal resources are well suited to efficient operating systems that can be customized to the Pi's hardware. Ian Darwin has been working on getting OpenBSD running on the Raspberry Pi 3 computer. "The Raspberry Pi computers are interesting in their own way: intending to bring low-cost computing to everybody, they take shortcuts and omit things that you'd expect on a laptop or desktop. They aren't too bright on their own: there's very little smarts in the board compared to the "BIOS" and later firmwares on conventional systems. Some of the "smarts" are only available as binary files. This was part of the reason that our favorite OS never came to the Pi Party for the original RPi, and didn't quite arrive for the RPi2. With the RPi3, though, there is enough availability that our devs were able to make it boot. Some limitations remain, though: if you want to build your own full release, you have to install the dedicated raspberrypi-firmware package from the ports tree. And, the boot disks have to have several extra files on them - this is set up on the install sets, but you should be careful not to mess with these extra files until you know what you're doing!" Details on Darwin's experiment can be found in this post.
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These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Setting up VPN connections
Hiding-my-connection asks: I have been hearing a lot about VPNs and using them to hide my web browsing habits from ISPs. What are some good tips for using a VPN and how to set one up?
DistroWatch answers: A virtual private network, or VPN, provides a method by which computers can talk to each other over the Internet as though they were on the same local network. This feature is often used to treat a remote computer as our gateway to the Internet. Instead of our Internet traffic leaving our computer and going out into the world directly, our network connection effectively goes out to the VPN server and, from there, goes out into the world. This makes it look like the remote computer is where our network traffic is coming from. The VPN acts as a sort of proxy or gateway between us and the rest of the Internet.
Since it looks like our network traffic is coming from the VPN server and the server can be anywhere in the world, a VPN connection is often used to get around censorship or region limitations placed on on-line media. A connection to a VPN server is usually encrypted to prevent people from being able to see what it is we are sending or receiving between our local computer and the VPN server. Because the traffic between our computer and the VPN server is encrypted, VPNs are sometimes used to hide communications when we are connecting over an insecure network.
Recently, policy changes in the United States of America have made people want to shield their network traffic from the eyes of their Internet service providers (ISPs) to avoid having information about their web browsing habits sold. While a VPN can hide some of the specifics of what a person is doing on-line, using a VPN is not a perfect solution for Internet privacy. Connecting to websites over a VPN may hide the specifics of what we are doing from our local ISP, but it passes the privacy issue further down the line. Now the VPN provider and the VPN's ISP will see which websites we are visiting and when. The issue is shifted more than solved because now we need to trust the VPN to keep our secrets.
A VPN certainly has its uses, such as getting around censorship or protecting network traffic on an open network, but VPNs also have their limits. When trying to avoid being monitored by your ISP it makes sense to look for a VPN provider you can trust to not track the traffic moving through their servers. There is a chart comparing VPN providers and their features on That One Privacy Site which may be useful for people shopping for a VPN.
Another thing to consider is much of the time, when people are on-line, they sign into websites. People often log into places like their bank, Facebook, Twitter, Google and so on. These websites may also use methods to track their visitors. Using a VPN or other anonymizing service and then logging into a website largely removes the user's anonymity.
As for how to set up a VPN, that may vary depending on which VPN provider you decide to use. Your provider should offer basic set up instructions to enable the VPN once you have an account with them. There are a few common types of VPNs, one is OpenVPN which is particularly popular in the open source community. The Linux.com website has instructions for setting up connections to an OpenVPN server using a variety of methods. A second method, which has been around for a while, uses the Point-to-Point Tunnelling Protocol (PPTP). PPTP connections are supported by Network Manager on most Linux distributions and can be enabled by adding a VPN connection in Network Manager.
Another approach to maintaining on-line privacy would be to use Tor. The Tor Project uses methods to safeguard traffic which are similar in many ways to VPNs, but with more effort put into anonymizing network traffic. It is fairly easy to set up Tor, the service is free to use and it will offer many of the same benefits as a VPN. Tor connections tend to be a bit slower than premium VPN services, but can be used with similar effectiveness.
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These and other answers can be found in our Questions and Answers archive.
|Released Last Week
Vine Linux 6.5
Daisuke Suzuki has announced the release of a new version of Vine Linux, a general-purpose Japanese Linux distribution with RPM package management. Code-named "Poupille", Vine Linux 6.5 upgrades the Linux kernel to the long-term supported 4.4 branch and provides updates to many popular applications, but it continues to include GNOME 2 as the default desktop environment. From the release notes: "Vine Linux 6.5 (Poupille). Vine Linux 6.5 has following features (highlights): update the software collection; update Linux kernel to 4.4.y; update toolchain (GCC 4.9.3, glibc 2.23, Binutils 2.26); bundle newer software - Firefox 52, Thunderbird 45, LibreOffice 5.2, OpenJDK 126.96.36.199, OpenSSL 1.0.1u; improved stability; improved look and feel; improved hardware support; new user-friendly tools." See also the release announcement (in Japanese) for further information.
Lucas Villa Real has announced the release of GoboLinux 016.01, an updated build of the project's independently-developed distribution with a custom file system hierarchy: "We are pleased to announce GoboLinux 016.01 after roughly 3.5 months since the release of 016. While it features some essential package upgrades, this revision aims at providing a more stable foundation for those who want to try it out. The list of improvements over 016 is extensive. The following is a high level summary of what's new since 016: enabled support for Core2 processors; improved support for UEFI systems and virtualized platforms; improved detection of other operating systems when creating the GRUB configuration file; support for installation to external hard drives; fixes the SSL certificate paths; fixes SSL support in our Compile tool; fixes the /usr/libexec compatibility link; inclusion of CryptSetup to enable mounting of encrypted partitions from the live ISO image; inclusion of Listener, a daemon that automatically cleans up broken links when entries from /Programs are removed...." Visit the project's home page to read the full release announcement and see also the release notes for further details.
Univention Corporate Server 4.2-0
Univention Corporate Server (UCS) is a Debian-based Linux distribution for enterprise server environments. The Univention team has announced the release of Univention Corporate Server 4.2-0. The new version shifts the distribution's base from Debian 7 to Debian 8 which also transitions UCS from using SysV init to the systemd init software. "We are very happy to announce the availability of Univention Corporate Server (UCS) 4.2. Considerable highlights are: The Debian base in UCS was changed from Debian 7 (Wheezy) to Debian 8 (Jessie). The entire Debian distribution will no longer be rebuilt. This allows security updates to be released even faster, and binary compatibility is increased. This change also involves the switch of the default start-up system to systemd. However, all previous init scripts are still started, so that the apps can be migrated successively. A configurable web portal provides an overview of the services installed in the domain. If there is more than one UCS system in the domain, an overview of servers is displayed." Further information on UCS 4.2-0 can be found in the company's release announcement and release notes.
Johnny Hughes has announced the release of CentOS 6.9, a Red Hat-sponsored Linux distribution built from the source code for the recently-released Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 6.9. This is the project's legacy branch supported until November 2020. From the release announcement: "We are pleased to announce the immediate availability of CentOS Linux 6.9 and install media for i386 and x86_64 architectures. CentOS Linux 6.9 is derived from source code released by Red Hat, Inc. for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.9. All upstream variants have been placed into one combined repository to make it easier for end users. Workstation, server and minimal installs can all be done from our combined repository. There are many fundamental changes in this release, compared with the past CentOS Linux 6 releases, and we highly recommend everyone study the upstream release notes as well as the upstream technical notes about the changes and how they might impact your installation." See also the release notes for further information and upgrade instructions.
CentOS 6.9 -- Running the KDE desktop
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Thierry Nuttens has announced the availability of a new version of the NuTyX distribution. NuTyX is based on Linux From Scratch (LFS) and features a custom software manager called "cards". The new release, NuTyX 9.0, features some of the latest software (Linux 4.10, Plasma 5.9, GNOME 3.22, MATE 1.16 and Python 3.6) and now supports booting on UEFI-enabled hardware. "The new ISOs can be launch on UEFI machines If you have a UEFI compatible computer, you can now install NuTyX in UEFI mode. If it's your case, the installer will guide the user to make the right choices during installation and the UEFI will take care of booting the machine, no other boot managers are needed by default. It is up to the end user to decide or not for choosing one if needed. You can find a tutorial, how to install on UEFI machines, on the web page documentation and on YouTube channel. ISO can be loaded 100% in memory if the target computer has more then 1GB of RAM. The USB key can then be disconnected and then make the single USB port available. Useful when you want to install NuTyX on tablets having one single USB port." Additional information can be found in the project's release announcement.
TalkingArch is a re-spin of the Arch Linux live ISO image, modified to include speech and Braille output for blind and visually-impaired users. The project's latest release, version 2017.04.04, is the first build that limits hardware support to the x86_64 processor architecture: "The TalkingArch team is pleased to present the latest version of TalkingArch, available from the usual location. This version features all the latest software, including Linux kernel 4.10.6. The most important feature of this live image is the new x86_64-only compatibility, removing the i686 compatibility that was present in previous images. This makes the latest version much smaller, but it will no longer work on older i686 machines. This version is the only one that will be listed on the download page, as it always only includes the latest version. However, anyone needing an image that works on i686 may still download the last dual-architecture image until i686 is completely dropped from the Arch official repositories later this year." Continue to the release announcement for further information and listen to this audio tutorial while installing the distribution.
Ronnie Whisler has announced the release of LXLE 16.04.2. As the name and version number suggests, this is a distribution based on Ubuntu's latest LTS (long-term support) release while featuring a customised LXDE desktop environment. From the release announcement: "LXLE 16.04.2 'Eclectica' released. What's new? Menu layout - reconfigured for cleaner, less cluttered navigation; Control Menu - completely re-worked to act as a dynamic 'Control Panel'; consistency - theme tweaks throughout the system for a more uniform look; Proposed - fixed 'proposed' Ubuntu repository not being included by default; Zenburned - Zenburn theme used as inspiration for custom terminal color scheme; Qt and GTK+ - forced GTK+ theme adaptation for stubborn Qt based default applications; languages - installer slideshow and custom menu entries have been fully translated; htop - replaced LXtask due to memory usage and new enhanced terminal capabilities; GRUB/login - backgrounds set to default wallpaper for overall theme consistency; games - semi-new selection to adhere to 'desktop' games philosophy and to save space; Synaptic - re-configured to showcase more features and facilitate ease of use...."
LXLE 16.04.2 -- The default desktop and menu
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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 in our Torrent Archive. We also maintain a Torrents RSS feed for people who wish to have open source torrents delivered to them. Thanks to Linux Tracker we are able to share the following torrent statistics.
Torrent Corner statistics:
- Total torrents seeded: 362
- Total data uploaded: 61.2TB
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Using a VPN or Tor
This week, in our Questions and Answers column we talked about virtual private networks (VPNs) and Tor. Both are often used to protect a user's privacy when browsing the web. We would like to find out how many of our readers use these technologies on a regular basis in an effort to get around region blocking, for privacy purposes or to work around censorship. Feel free to share your experiences using VPNs and Tor in the comments.
You can see the results of our previous poll on methods for removing old or temporary files in last week's edition. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
Torrent RSS feed and visitor ratings in the PHR table
In an effort to make it easier for people to find, download and seed distributions' torrents, we have created a new RSS feed. This feed provides links to the latest torrent files of Linux distributions and BSD flavours we have either created or shared. The new torrent feed is available over HTTPS and HTTP connections. If you are looking for a way to help promote Linux and take some of the load off projects' servers, this is a great way to assist your favourite projects.
On our front page, on the right-hand side, there is a chart showing projects listed along with the number of times their information pages are visited on DistroWatch. The drop-down box at the top of this chart allows visitors to change the view of the chart to show statistics over various amounts of time. The drop-down box can also show trends in page visits over periods of time.
This past week we updated the PHR chart so that it can also show distributions ranked according to visitor supplied ratings. Two new entries in the PHR drop-down menu allow people to view distributions sorted by average rating and by number of total reviews received.
To avoid skewing the rankings, projects which have only received three or fewer ratings are not displayed in the average rating statistics. This avoids projects with only one perfect rating from dominating the top of the chart.
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New projects added to database
LibreELEC is "just enough OS" to run the Kodi media centre. LibreELEC is a Linux distribution built to run Kodi on current and popular hardware. The project is an evolution of the OpenELEC project. LibreELEC software will be familiar to OpenELEC users. The distribution runs on x86 desktop computers, Raspberry Pi devices and ODroid and WeTek computers.
LibreELEC 8.0.1 -- The settings panel
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Distributions added to waiting list
- Milis Linux. Milis Linux is a Turkish GNU/Linux distribution (with multi-language support) built from Linux From Scratch and Beyond Linux From Scratch, with a custom package manager called "mps". The package manager can install individual binary packages, a group of related binary packages (e.g. desktop packages, such as KDE or Xfce), and compile source packages. Milis Linux has web based system management and wiki program called Komutan.
- Fux. Fux is a desktop Linux distribution which features the DNF package manager for working with RPM packages. The distribution is available in GNOME, MATE, Cinnamon and Xfce editions.
- ARCHLabs. ARCHLabs is a rolling release, Arch Linux based distro, heavily influenced and inspired by the look and feel of BunsenLabs.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 17 April 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.
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|Linux Foundation Training
|• Issue 785 (2018-10-15): Reborn OS 2018.09, Nitrux 1.0.15, swapping hard drives between computers, feren OS tries KDE spin, power savings coming to Linux|
|• Issue 784 (2018-10-08): Hamara 2.1, improving manual pages, UBports gets VoIP app, Fedora testing power saving feature|
|• Issue 783 (2018-10-01): Quirky 8.6, setting up dual booting with Ubuntu and FreeBSD, Lubuntu switching to LXQt, Mint works on performance improvements|
|• Issue 782 (2018-09-24): Bodhi Linux 5.0.0, Elive 3.0.0, Solus publishes ISO refresh, UBports invites feedback, Linux Torvalds plans temporary vacation|
|• Issue 781 (2018-09-17): Linux Mint 3 "Debian Edition", file systems for SSDs, MX makes installing Flatpaks easier, Arch team answers questions, Mageia reaches EOL|
|• Issue 780 (2018-09-10): Netrunner 2018.08 Rolling, Fedora improves language support, how to customize Kali Linux, finding the right video drivers|
|• Issue 779 (2018-09-03): Redcore 1806, keeping ISO downloads safe from tampering, Lubuntu makes Calamares more flexible, Ubuntu improves GNOME performance|
|• Issue 778 (2018-08-27): GuixSD 0.15.0, ReactOS 0.4.9, Steam supports Windows games on Linux, Haiku plans for beta, merging disk partitions|
|• Issue 777 (2018-08-20): YunoHost 188.8.131.52, limiting process resource usage, converting file systems on Fedora, Debian turns 25, Lubuntu migrating to Wayland|
|• Issue 776 (2018-08-13): NomadBSD 1.1, Maximum storage limits on Linux, openSUSE extends life for 42.3, updates to the Librem 5 phone interface|
|• Issue 775 (2018-08-06): Secure-K OS 18.5, Linux is about choice, Korora tests community spin, elementary OS hires developer, ReactOS boots on Btrfs|
|• Issue 774 (2018-07-30): Ubuntu MATE & Ubuntu Budgie 18.04, upgrading software from source, Lubuntu shifts focus, NetBSD changes support policy|
|• Issue 773 (2018-07-23): Peppermint OS 9, types of security used by different projects, Mint reacts to bugs in core packages, Slackware turns 25|
|• Issue 772 (2018-07-16): Hyperbola GNU/Linux-libre 0.2.4, UBports running desktop applications, OpenBSD auto-joins wi-fi networks, boot environments and zedenv|
|• Issue 771 (2018-07-09): Linux Lite 4.0, checking CPUs for bugs, configuring GRUB, Mint upgrade instructions, SUSE acquired by EQT|
|• Issue 770 (2018-07-02): Linux Mint 19, Solus polishes desktop experience, MintBox Mini 2, changes to Fedora's installer|
|• Issue 769 (2018-06-25): BunsenLabs Helium, counting Ubuntu users, UBports upgrading to 16.04, Fedora CoreOS, FreeBSD turns 25|
|• Issue 768 (2018-06-18): Devuan 2.0.0, using pkgsrc to manage software, the NOVA filesystem, OpenBSD handles successful cron output|
|• Issue 767 (2018-06-11): Android-x86 7.1-r1, transferring files over OpenSSH with pipes, LFS with Debian package management, Haiku ports LibreOffice|
|• Issue 766 (2018-06-04): openSUSE 15, overview of file system links, Manjaro updates Pamac, ReactOS builds itself, Bodhi closes forums|
|• Issue 765 (2018-05-28): Pop!_OS 18.04, gathering system information, Haiku unifying ARM builds, Solus resumes control of Budgie|
|• Issue 764 (2018-05-21): DragonFly BSD 5.2.0, Tails works on persistent packages, Ubuntu plans new features, finding services affected by an update|
|• Issue 763 (2018-05-14): Fedora 28, Debian compatibility coming to Chrome OS, malware found in some Snaps, Debian's many flavours|
|• Issue 762 (2018-05-07): TrueOS 18.03, live upgrading Raspbian, Mint plans future releases, HardenedBSD to switch back to OpenSSL|
|• Issue 761 (2018-04-30): Ubuntu 18.04, accessing ZFS snapshots, UBports to run on Librem 5 phones, Slackware makes PulseAudio optional|
|• Issue 760 (2018-04-23): Chakra 2017.10, using systemd to hide files, Netrunner's ARM edition, Debian 10 roadmap, Microsoft develops Linux-based OS|
|• Issue 759 (2018-04-16): Neptune 5.0, building containers with Red Hat, antiX introduces Sid edition, fixing filenames on the command line|
|• Issue 758 (2018-04-09): Sortix 1.0, openSUSE's Transactional Updates, Fedora phasing out Python 2, locating portable packages|
|• Issue 757 (2018-04-02): Gatter Linux 0.8, the UNIX and Linux System Administration Handbook, Red Hat turns 25, super long term support kernels|
|• Issue 756 (2018-03-26): NuTyX 10.0, Neptune supplies Debian users with Plasma 5.12, SolydXK on a Raspberry Pi, SysV init development|
|• Issue 755 (2018-03-19): Learning with ArchMerge and Linux Academy, Librem 5 runs Plasma Mobile, Cinnamon gets performance boost|
|• Issue 754 (2018-03-12): Reviewing Sabayon and Antergos, the growing Linux kernel, BSDs getting CPU bug fixes, Manjaro builds for ARM devices|
|• Issue 753 (2018-03-05): Enso OS 0.2, KDE Plasma 5.12 features, MX Linux prepares new features, interview with MidnightBSD's founder|
|• Issue 752 (2018-02-26): OviOS 2.31, performing off-line upgrades, elementary OS's new installer, UBports gets test devices, Redcore team improves security|
|• Issue 751 (2018-02-19): DietPi 6.1, testing KDE's Plasma Mobile, Nitrux packages AppImage in default install, Solus experiments with Wayland|
|• Issue 750 (2018-02-12): Solus 3, getting Deb packages upstream to Debian, NetBSD security update, elementary OS explores AppCentre changes|
|• Issue 749 (2018-02-05): Freespire 3 and Linspire 7.0, misunderstandings about Wayland, Xorg and Mir, Korora slows release schedule, Red Hat purchases CoreOS|
|• Issue 748 (2018-01-29): siduction 2018.1.0, SolydXK 32-bit editions, building an Ubuntu robot, desktop-friendly Debian options|
|• Issue 747 (2018-01-22): Ubuntu MATE 17.10, recovering open files, creating a new distribution, KDE focusing on Wayland features|
|• Issue 746 (2018-01-15): deepin 15.5, openSUSE's YaST improvements, new Ubuntu 17.10 media, details on Spectre and Meltdown bugs|
|• Issue 745 (2018-01-08): GhostBSD 11.1, Linspire and Freespire return, wide-spread CPU bugs patched, adding AppImage launchers to the application menu|
|• Issue 744 (2018-01-01): MX Linux 17, Ubuntu pulls media over BIOS bug, PureOS gets endorsed by the FSF, openSUSE plays with kernel boot splash screens|
|• Issue 743 (2017-12-18): Daphile 17.09, tools for rescuing files, Fedora Modular Server delayed, Sparky adds ARM support, Slax to better support wireless networking|
|• Issue 742 (2017-12-11): heads 0.3.1, improvements coming to Tails, Void tutorials, Ubuntu phasing out Python 2, manipulating images from the command line|
|• Issue 741 (2017-12-04): Pop!_OS 17.10, openSUSE Tumbleweed snapshots, installing Q4OS on a Windows partition, using the at command|
|• Issue 740 (2017-11-27): Artix Linux, Unity spin of Ubuntu, Nitrux swaps Snaps for AppImage, getting better battery life on Linux|
|• Issue 739 (2017-11-20): Fedora 27, cross-distro software ports, Ubuntu on Samsung phones, Red Hat supports ARM, Parabola continues 32-bit support|
|• Issue 738 (2017-11-13): SparkyLinux 5.1, rumours about spyware, Slax considers init software, Arch drops 32-bit packages, overview of LineageOS|
|• Issue 737 (2017-11-06): BeeFree OS 18.1.2, quick tips to fix common problems, Slax returning, Solus plans MATE and software management improvements|
|• Issue 736 (2017-10-30): Ubuntu 17.10, "what if" security questions, Linux Mint to support Flatpak, NetBSD kernel memory protection|
|• Issue 735 (2017-10-23): ArchLabs Minimo, building software with Ravenports, WPA security patch, Parabola creates OpenRC spin|
|• Issue 734 (2017-10-16): Star 1.0.1, running the Linux-libre kernel, Ubuntu MATE experiments with snaps, Debian releases new install media, Purism reaches funding goal|
|• Full list of all issues|
|Random Distribution |
Black Lab Linux
Black Lab Linux (formerly OS4 OpenLinux) is a user-friendly, commercial desktop and server Linux distribution based on Ubuntu. Some of its most interesting features include support for popular browser plugins, addition of packages for multimedia production, content creation and software development, and an innovative desktop layout based on GNOME Shell. Separate editions with KDE and Xfce desktops are also available. The company behind the distribution also sells a desktop mini-system with Black Lab Linux pre-installed.