| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 750, 12 February 2018
Welcome to this year's 7th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
Typically when we review rolling release distributions it is right after a new snapshot has been released. We get to see a moment in the distribution's time-line where not many packages are changing because the snapshot is fresh. This week we explore Solus 3, a rolling release distribution that last released a snapshot several months ago, and report on what happens when the distribution's packages are updated. We also talk about features of the distribution's Budgie desktop in our Feature Story. In our News section we talk about work being done to further secure the NetBSD operating system and changes coming to the elementary OS AppCentre. Plus we talk about a new security module for the Linux kernel and Snap packages being added to Ubuntu 18.04. We then share an opinion piece from Jesse Smith on packages in Debian-based distributions not getting sent back upstream to benefit the entire Debian ecosystem. We are pleased to share the distribution releases of the past week and offer a list of the torrents we are seeding. In our Opinion Poll we inquire as to how our readers feel about browser based cryptocurrency mining in comparison with advertisements. Finally, we are pleased to welcome UBports, a Linux distribution for mobile devices, to our database. We wish you all a fantastic week and happy reading!
- Review: Solus 3 and the Budgie desktop
- News: NetBSD reports on security work, elementary OS exploring AppCentre changes, Ubuntu 18.04 to include Snap packages, run-time kernel protection for Linux
- Opinion: Packages not flowing upstream into Debian
- Released last week: Peppermint OS 8-20180203, Kali 2018.1, Quirky 8.4
- Torrent corner: Endless OS, ExTiX, Kali, KDE neon, Peppermint, Quirky, Robolinux
- Opinion poll: Mining cryptocurrency vs advertisements
- New additions: UBports
- New distributions: Scion Linux, Pixel OS
- Reader comments
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (30MB) and MP3 (44MB) formats.
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Solus 3 and the Budgie desktop
Solus is an independent, rolling release distribution. Solus's design is mostly aimed at home users who want a friendly desktop operating system. The distribution is available in three editions (Budgie, GNOME and MATE) and runs on 64-bit x86 computers exclusively. Each edition's installation media is approximately 1.2GB in size.
The project's latest release is Solus 3 which features support for Snap packages as well as more traditional packages managed by Solus's eopkg package manager, which is a fork of the PiSi package manager. There were many tweaks in this release with a number of improvements made to the application menu and searches. The Budgie edition also includes the ability to place the desktop panel on any of the four sides of the screen. There are more changes and tweaks listed, with accompanying screen shots, in the project's release announcement.
One of the reasons I wanted to try out Solus 3 and do it now is because I typically test rolling release distributions immediately after a new snapshot has been released. Solus 3 was made available back in August of 2017 and I was curious to see how well the distribution would handle being rolled forward several months and what changes might be visible between the August snapshot and Solus's current packages.
I decided to try out the Budgie edition of Solus. Booting from the Solus live media brings up the Budgie desktop with a panel placed along the bottom of the screen. The panel houses an application menu, task switcher and system tray. On the desktop we find a single icon for launching the project's system installer. I did not see any welcome screen or encounter any immediate issues so I jumped straight into the installer.
Solus features a graphical system installer which I think is custom-made for the distribution. The installer resembles Calamares or Ubuntu's Ubiquity in its style and steps, with a few minor differences. The steps to select our preferred language, keyboard and time zone from map are about the same. However, Solus's installer does not handle manipulating disk partitions. For managing the disk's layout we need to turn to the GParted partition manager which is included on the live disc. The installer won't launch GParted for us, we need to quit the installer, run GParted and then re-launch the installer to set up partitions on our drive. Once we have partitioned the hard drive, the installer will show us a list of partitions and let us click on them to assign mount points for the root file system, home directories and swap.
Solus 3 -- The system installer
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A second characteristic Solus's installer has that I quite like is we can set up multiple user accounts during the install process. This lets us create accounts for the entire family all at once, marking each account as a regular user or an administrator. The installer pauses before it gets to work, showing us a list of changes it will make to our computer and asking for confirmation before it proceeds. I like Solus's installer as it is easy to navigate and keeps the configuration process streamlined.
One of the first, and rare, issues I ran into with Solus was when I rebooted my system following the install process, the live disc started up and showed me the boot menu. The menu offers just two options: start the live desktop or boot from the computer's hard drive. I took the hard drive option and the system reported that booting had failed. I then removed the live disc and restarted the system, which booted from the hard drive as expected. I ran into this inability of the live media to hand over booting to the hard drive in both my test environments.
Solus boots to a graphical login screen where the available user accounts are listed vertically. We can click on an account and sign in to get back to the Budgie desktop. Budgie manages to be feature rich, but also stays out of our way. The panel is small, there are no icons on the desktop and no welcome window greets us. When notifications are presented they don't take up much space and then disappear, simply changing the notification icon in the system tray to let us know something has changed.
Solus 3 -- The application menu
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The distribution's notification panel features two tabs. One tab shows the latest notifications, such as when software updates are available. The second tab displays some applets, including a calendar, a volume control and media player controls. This dual-purpose panel built into the system tray gives us access to several controls and bits of information in one compact space and I found it quite useful. My only complaint was clicking on notifications for software updates did not open the software manager to get us started installing security fixes.
Managing software is handled by Solus's Software Centre. The Software Centre is divided into six screens. One lets us browse through categories of available software, another shows a list of installed packages. A third page lets us search for packages by name and another displays a list of available upgrades. The final two pages display available third-party applications and the Centre's settings. I was a little surprised to find third-party programs entirely separated from the packages in Solus's repositories, but I can see the reasoning in play. The third-party items tend to be closed source applications such as Chrome or Skype and the user should be aware they cannot expect fixes or support for these items from the Solus team.
Solus 3 -- Software Centre
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The updates page of Software Centre is further divided into three parts with sections for required updates, security updates and miscellaneous updates. We can expand these three sections and decide which items we want to download. When I first started using the distribution there were 339 updates available, totalling 696MB. Throughout the rest of the week I rarely saw additional updates. 696MB is an accumulation of several months of updates and about half the size of the installation ISO, which makes me think the ISO may be due for a refresh.
There were a few features of Software Centre I appreciated. One was we can locate both desktop applications and background packages (libraries and command line tools) through Software Centre without switching to the distribution's command line package manager, eopkg. I also like that most package pages include links to the software's upstream website and bug tracker that will open in Firefox. This makes it easier to get issues reported to the original developers.
On the other hand, I could only perform one action (installing or removing a package) at a time. The Software Centre would not let me queue new actions while it was already working on installing a package.
One odd thing I noticed while using Software Centre concerned not the package manager, but a handful of packages. When I was testing Solus in VirtualBox I discovered the guest add-on modules are packaged as "virtualbox" rather than "virtualbox-guest-additions". This leads to an odd situation where installing the "virtualbox" package gives us guest virtual machine features, but not the VirtualBox application.
Earlier I mentioned Solus includes a command line package manager called eopkg. This tool has a fairly straight forward syntax, similar to APT or DNF, and will show useful hints when we type "eopkg help". While eopkg works, I found Software Centre was both fast and convenient enough I did not want to use the command line option.
Solus features two settings panels. One panel is specifically for dealing with the Budgie desktop, its window manager and panel. The Budgie settings panel can also help us select applications which should be started when we login and adjust fonts. The second settings panel deals with just about all other aspects of the desktop environment and operating system. The second panel handles our wallpaper, privacy settings, user accounts, printer management and display resolution.
Solus 3 -- The settings panels before an upgrade
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Earlier I mentioned I wanted to see what, if anything, would change when I installed multiple months of software updates. The general settings panel was the only area where I saw a significant change when over 300 updates were installed. The settings panel went from displaying a grid of modules I could click on and back out of to a two-pane layout. I talked about this switch in panel styles back when I reviewed Ubuntu 17.10. Personally, I like the two-pane layout as I find it takes fewer steps to switch between pages of settings.
Both settings panels (and both versions of the general settings panel) worked well for me and I encountered no issues while using either. I especially found the Budgie window manager settings convenient. I liked being able to quickly switch the location of window control buttons, toggle a dark theme and tweak the panel's size and location.
Solus 3 -- The settings panels following an upgrade
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Solus ships with a fairly standard collection of popular open source applications. Firefox is available along with the Thunderbird e-mail client, LibreOffice and the HexChat IRC software. GNOME Calendar is included along with the Transmission bittorrent software. Solus provides us with the MPV media player and the Rhythmbox audio player, both of which have access to a full range of media codecs. The distribution uses the Nautilus file manager and Network Manager is present to help us connect to the Internet. The system includes a password manager, text editor, archive manager and image viewer. The GNOME Help documentation is present, though some desktop features of Budgie may not work exactly the same way as GNOME's documentation suggests. Solus ships with the systemd init software and the installation media installs version 4.12 of the Linux kernel. Following the first large batch of updates, I found version 4.14 of the kernel was installed.
Solus 3 -- Working with the calendar and Firefox
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I experimented with Solus on a desktop computer and in a VirtualBox environment. When running on the desktop computer, Solus ran beautifully. The Budgie desktop was responsive, the visual effects were both minimal and attractive. All my desktop's hardware was automatically detected and worked well. When running in VirtualBox Solus did not automatically integrate with the virtual environment. However, once I had installed VirtualBox's guest modules through Software Centre, I was able to use my host computer's full screen resolution. Budgie gave fairly good performance in VirtualBox, and was neither remarkably snappy or sluggish. I found Solus used about 4GB of disk space on a fresh install and logging into Budgie used about 490MB of my computer's memory.
While playing with Solus I made a few general observations, mostly about the Budgie desktop. For instance, I like how flexible Budgie is with placing window buttons as well as the size and position of the desktop panel. I was less enthusiastic about the way moving dialog boxes also moved the dialog's application window, making it so I could not uncover a window hidden by a dialog box. This feature is easily disabled in the window manager settings.
I found the icons in the system tray to be small and close together. This sometimes caused me to click the wrong button, or click the right one only to have a different panel open when my mouse slid slightly left or right. I would have liked to have the system tray icons further apart. Also on the topic of the system tray, I found it odd there are two separate buttons to open the Applets/Notifications panel. The two icons only differ by which tab is activated when the panel opens. Personally, I found this feature offered more clutter than convenience, but I could see the appeal of these two short-cuts if I were using Solus for longer than a week.
On a similar note, I found having two separate settings panels with matching icons a little confusing, especially since both include desktop-related settings. After a day or two I got into the groove of choosing the right panel, but I think two similarly designed settings panels with the same icon is going to cause me tech-support headaches if I install Solus on other people's computers.
Solus 3 -- Working with user accounts
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Finally, I'd like to say that I like Budgie's default set of effects. They tended to be minimal and more attractive than distracting. I like the somewhat toned down colours present in window decorations and in the default terminal colours. The desktop does a nice job of offering a visually appealing environment while not drawing this user's attention away from work.
While I was using Solus's live disc I ran into a few minor inconveniences, such as the disc's boot menu not being able to initiate booting from my hard drive and the installer's requirement that I find and launch GParted to partition my disk. Otherwise getting the distribution up and running was a fairly easy experience. Once Solus was installed it performed very well for me. Budgie was responsive, even when run in VirtualBox, the distribution was stable during my trial and memory usage was comfortably in the mid-range. All my hardware was detected and the distribution ran well in both test environments.
I very much liked Budgie's settings panel with window manager tweaks. I found it easy to customize my desktop to have the layout and style I wanted. I also think the developers have done a great job with the distribution's Software Centre. It's well organized, responsive and doesn't hide non-desktop applications.
One of my only complaints while using Solus was that Budgie tends to duplicate some things. I mentioned the two settings panels earlier. I also found some software categories in the application menu felt redundant. The menu includes the categories "Other" and "Sundry", which mean approximately the same thing and both of which are practically empty. There are also "Accessories" and "Utilities" categories, leading me to second-guess myself as to whether text editors and screen shot apps are accessories or utilities. The only other issue I ran into was I found desktop elements tended to be grouped closely together, such as menu entries or icons in the system tray. I clicked on the wrong icons semi-frequently this week due to small shifts in the mouse.
Honestly though, those issues were pretty minor. I took some time to think about potential "cons" to balance out Solus's many "pros" and couldn't come up with anything more severe than small icons. Solus provided an unusually polished, attractive and easy to use experience. Even with the massive influx of new packages near the start of my trial, the distribution didn't cause me any headaches. I definitely recommend giving Solus a try. It has been one of the more user friendly distributions I have used lately and I like how the desktop lets me focus on getting work done with minimal customization and distractions.
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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
Solus has a visitor supplied average rating of: 8.6/10 from 294 review(s).
Have you used Solus? You can leave your own review of the project on our ratings page.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
NetBSD reports on security work, elementary OS exploring AppCentre changes, Ubuntu 18.04 to include Snap packages, run-time kernel protection for Linux
The NetBSD team has been working to improve the security of their highly portable operating system. Several of the enhancements coming to NetBSD's stable branch involve the removal of legacy code and patches to work around the Meltdown and Spectre CPU bugs: "Ilja Van Sprundel presented at Defcon 25 (July 2017) and 34c3 (December 2017) the results of his audit of the BSD kernels. The issues affecting NetBSD were fixed overnight in the NetBSD-current branch, and were propagated to the stable branches within a month. Kernels from NetBSD-6 and NetBSD-7 built after August 23rd 2017 had all the necessary fixes. Some reports published recently suggest that the stable branches remained vulnerable for months, and that NetBSD was lagging behind; that is simply not true. In Ilja Van Sprundel's report, NetBSD was criticized for having too much legacy and buggy code. Several proactive measures were taken, within a month again, to clean up the system." Further details can be found in a blog post on the NetBSD website.
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In the past we have talked about elementary OS's software marketplace, called AppCentre. AppCentre offers customers a chance to purchase software using a pay-what-you-want model. The elementary OS team has some thoughts on the experiment so far and plans for the future: "One of the primary goals of developing AppCentre Dashboard was to build a sustainable app ecosystem. I don't think it's a surprise to anyone that although the AppCentre ecosystem is growing, nobody can make a living on it yet. That's what we mean when we say 'sustainable'. Writing apps is a real, hard, full-time job. If we want to see more high-quality, open source apps then we need to prioritize getting third-party app developers paid. Let's talk numbers a second. We released AppCentre in May 2017 and since then we've processed about $1,700 worth of payments from a little over 750 charges. On the one hand this is good because it means the average paid price for an app in AppCentre is about $2.30. We have to remember that this is a non-zero number in an ecosystem where previously the standard was zero." Further details and upcoming changes to AppCentre can be found in this post by Daniel Foré.
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Portable Snap packages have been available for many Linux users for some time, but most distributions have avoided installing Snaps by default. It looks as though Ubuntu 18.04 will be one of the first distributions (after Ubuntu MATE) to experiment with including Snaps as default packages. Steve Langasek wrote a mailing list post with more details: "We are confident that Snaps today represent a solid delivery vehicle for third-party software on top of Ubuntu, and that Snaps stand as a first-class alternative to Deb packages for Ubuntu users where appropriate. Snaps are already presented alongside Debs in the software catalog on the Ubuntu Desktop, and with the 17.10 release, the Ubuntu MATE team took the first foray into including Snaps by default in an Ubuntu flavor image. Now in Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, we are looking at broadening the inclusion of Snaps in Ubuntu images by default. This raises important questions about what the policies should be for software installed by default as a Snap, since the review processes around the Ubuntu archive for Universe and Main don't directly translate to the Snap Store."
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After several years in development, a new security module for the Linux kernel has made its debut. The Linux Kernel Runtime Guard (LKRG) "is a loadable kernel module that performs runtime integrity checking of the Linux kernel and detection of security vulnerability exploits against the kernel." The module can be loaded into a running kernel where it attempts to detect (and then either report or block) unauthorized access. This should make it possible to prevent some exploits against the Linux kernel or at least make administrators aware of attacks against the kernel. The software is still in its early stages, but is available for testing. Further information and download links can be found on the project's website and in the initial release announcement.
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These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Opinion (by Jesse Smith)
Packages not flowing upstream into Debian
About five years ago I spent a month using the Unity 7 desktop. Overall, it was a good experience and, shortly after that, I decided to adopt Unity as my main desktop environment for a time. Using Unity went well while I was running Ubuntu, but when I switched to another Debian-based distribution, Unity was no longer available. Canonical had developed and packaged Unity for their Ubuntu distribution only and the packages had never made their way back upstream to Debian.
About a year ago I was experimenting with installing UBports on an Android phone. At the time I had to run a tool called ubuntu-device-flash to get my new operating system onto the phone. But while this tool is available for Ubuntu users, it was not available to people like me running its cousin, Linux Mint Debian Edition, even though both projects are derived from Debian.
A little over a year ago I was experimenting with the Lumina desktop. While running SparkyLinux, it was easy to install Lumina as it was packaged and in the official repositories. However, some months later I had switched to running MX Linux as my workstation distribution and Lumina were no longer available. Both SparkyLinux and MX Linux are based on Debian and closely related, but MX doesn't have Sparky's Lumina package. And, for that matter, Sparky does not have access to MX's custom configuration tools. This is a result of MX-Tools and Lumina packages not making their way back upstream to Debian.
Around the start of 2018 I was experimenting with two Debian-based distributions, MX Linux and deepin. I really liked deepin's desktop environment and I enjoyed using MX's configuration tools. Once again, despite the two projects both being direct descendants of Debian, MX did not have deepin's desktop packages and deepin did not have access to MX's administration tools.
At this point the pattern is probably pretty clear. It is quite common for Debian-based distributions to feature their own tools and packages which do not exist in the official Debian repositories. It seems there is either a barrier or a lack of motivation for developers working on Debian-based projects to get their software included in Debian itself. Which is a shame, because Debian has a lot of children, over 100 active distributions at the time of writing. While all these children use the same package formats, libraries and package managers, they are often prevented from using software developed by their sibling projects.
I suspect part of the problem is developers are already busy enough working on their own software and do not feel they have time to upload their packages to Debian. Perhaps there is not much motivation either. Developers make software for their distribution's users and probably do not see much benefit in spreading their work to other Debian-based projects. There may even be a sense of friendly competition between sibling projects which reduces the motivation to share packages.
Another hurdle to sharing packages though is, I think, the process involved in getting software into Debian's official repositories. The page on Debian's wiki which gives a brief summary on how to become a Debian contributor is about 100 lines long. That's before we get into creating security keys, reading the developer documentation or going through the software guidelines, social contract and finding a mentor. What I'm saying is it is a bit of a long process to become a Debian Developer and I think it discourages software developers from contributing their work back into the larger Debian family.
I contrast the situation with Debian's children and their variety in packages with FreeBSD's family. FreeBSD has around a dozen actively maintained children. While it is common for different branches of the Debian family tree to feature unique software packages, members of the FreeBSD family usually do not have packages unique to one project. The teams working on FreeBSD-based projects certainly make their own software. For instance, TrueOS created Lumina and GhostBSD developed their own graphical network manager. The swap extender daemon grew out of TrueOS. The Octopkg package manager was started for a downstream project, as was the SysAdm remote administration daemon. Each of these new packages, while developed by separate projects, made their ways back into the FreeBSD software repository. Which means all FreeBSD-based projects can make use of these pieces of software.
Presumably people working on FreeBSD-based projects have the same incentives to focus on their own work, rather than put effort into helping other projects. And, presumably people working on these projects do not necessarily want to spend a lot of time helping their competition (ie other FreeBSD-based operating systems). Still, there seems to be more sharing, more cross-pollination, in the FreeBSD ecosystem than there is in the Debian family. I suspect a big reason for the difference is in the steps required to get software into FreeBSD's repository.
People looking to get their work included into FreeBSD often just need to perform two steps: sign up for a free account to access FreeBSD's issue tracker, and submit an issue asking to have a new package added, with the package's recipe (called a port) attached. Assuming the new port builds properly, that's often all the work involved. A FreeBSD developer may ask for the port to be tweaked a little for style and correctness, but otherwise the author's work is done. There is no security key generation, no social contract to read, no required mentorship, the developer simply sends in their code, it's looked over and (usually) accepted. This puts adding software to FreeBSD approximately on par with getting new packages accepted into Arch Linux's Arch User Repository.
I have spent approximately the same amount of time in the Debian and FreeBSD communities and I think, while both are world-class, stable operating systems, the FreeBSD team has found a better way of encouraging derivative projects to submit their work back to the parent operating system. I think both Debian, and distributions based on Debian, would benefit a lot if it were easier to get software from downstream distributions back upstream to Debian. Even if only into a semi-official, community maintained repository similar to the Arch User Repository. There is a lot of good work being done by developers working on Debian-based projects and it should be easier for users to get packages from other Debian-based distributions so they don't need to either switch distributions or compile their own packages to get desired features.
|Released Last Week
Peppermint OS 8-20180203
Peppermint OS is a lightweight distribution based on Lubuntu. The Peppermint team has released a new minor update to the project's version 8 release. The new installation media features bug fixes and an updated version of the Linux kernel. "This is a security refresh of the Peppermint 8 ISO images to include all updates to date (as of 3rd Feb 2018), including the Meltdown and Spectre mitigations such as the new HWE kernel 4.13.0-32 and the latest Chromium web browser version 64. The new ISO also contains bug fixes for flash content in ICE SSB's, and Chromium not remembering user selected xdg-open preferences for magnet and mailto links. There is no need for Peppermint 8 or Peppermint 8 (first) Respin users to reinstall this version, the mitigations and bug fixes have already been pushed as automatic updates to the earlier Peppermint 8 versions." A list of changes and fixes can be found in the project's release announcement and in the release notes.
Kali Linux 2018.1
Kali Linux is a Debian-based distribution that includes a collection of security and forensics tools. The Kali developers have released a new version, Kali Linux 2018.1, which features an updated kernel and two new security features: "Kali Linux 2018.1 has a shiny new 4.14.12 kernel. New kernels always have a lot of new features and the 4.14 kernel is no exception, although two new features really stand out. AMD Secure Memory Encryption Support - Secure Memory Encryption is a feature that will be in newer AMD processors that enables automatic encryption and decryption of DRAM. The addition of this features means that systems will no longer (in theory) be vulnerable to cold-boot attacks because, even with physical access, the memory will be not be readable. Increased Memory Limits - Current (and older) 64-bit processors have a limit of 64 TB of physical address space and 256 TB of virtual address space (VAS), which was sufficient for more than a decade but with some server hardware shipping with 64 TB of memory, the limits have been reached. Fortunately, upcoming processors will enable 5-level paging, support for which is included in the 4.14 kernel." More details can be found in the project's release announcement.
Barry Kauler has announced the release of a new version of the Quirky distribution. Quirky is a lightweight distribution and a sister project to Puppy Linux. It is assembled using a custom tool called Woof. The new version, Quirky 8.4, is built using the latest available packages from the Ubuntu 16.04 repositories: "Version 8.4 has many architectural improvements and package upgrades, including new packages Sakura, Refind, EasyApps, PupControl, VTE and EasyShare. EasyShare is a simple 'one stop shop' for network file sharing and printing, using Samba and SSHFS. Upgraded applications include Pclock (0.8.2) and SeaMonkey (2.49.1). The Linux kernel is now version 4.14.17. Xerus 8.4 has retained the theme of 8.2; however, the desktop has a simplified icon layout, with new 'apps' and 'share' - 'share' launches EasyShare and 'apps' launches radky's EasyApps. There is an introduction to EasyShare here. Note that EasyShare works in EasyOS 0.7.1 and Quirky 8.4, but is designed to be able to be ported to other Puppy distributions." Further information on Quirky 8.4 can be found in the project's release announcement and in the release notes.
Robolinux is a desktop operating system and one of the project's more interesting features is the availability of a pre-configured virtual machine support pack with Windows XP, 7 or 10. The project's latest release, Robolinux 9.1, is based on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS and includes support for UEFI, Secure Boot and disk encryption. "Robolinux has really listened carefully to its user base and is extremely excited to release its first Robolinux 64-bit 9 series version MATE 3D which is based upon the 4.13 Linux kernel. This first of many Robolinux 9 series versions with a focus on privacy was built with a flawless crash free balance of the best current but highly stable Debian and Ubuntu source code, delivering exactly what our Users wanted in a Linux OS that runs Windows XP, 7 and 10 natively inside it, with blazing fast speeds which is a hallmark of all Robolinux operating systems built since 2011." More information can be found in the distribution's release announcement.
Robolinux 9.1 -- Running the MATE desktop
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Endless OS 3.3.10
Endless OS is a Linux-based operating system which provides a simplified and streamlined user experience using a customized desktop environment forked from GNOME 3. The project has released a new version, Endless OS 3.3.10, which features automatic updates, improved launch speed for applications and some Flatpak programs will be downloaded from the Flathub community repository rather than Endless's custom repository. "Automatic App Updates: Apps will now automatically update in the background when the system is connected to an unmetered network connection. This can be turned off in the App Center by pressing the icon in the top left hand corner of the window and unticking 'Automatic updates'. Migrating older apps to Flathub: With this release, some of the apps in the App Center that were previously provided by Endless will now be provided by the Flathub community. Users will see upgrades and better quality since the Flathub community will be able to provide more support for the apps than Endless alone. Improved app launch speed: Many apps were slow the very first time they were started after installation, as they detected the fonts available on the system. This has now been considerably sped up." Further information can be found in the project's release announcement. Endless OS can be downloaded in a variety of languages using torrents from the project's Download page.
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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. To share your own open source torrents of Linux and BSD projects, please visit our Upload Torrents page.
Torrent Corner statistics:
- Total torrents seeded: 736
- Total data uploaded: 17.8TB
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Mining cryptocurrency vs advertisements
Most websites which offer free content, including this one, are sustained primarily through advertising. Recently some sites have been experimenting with alternatives, such as mining cryptocurrency in the web browsers of visitors to the site. How this works is, while a visitor is viewing the website, their web browser works to mine cryptocurrency for the website. The owners of the website can then trade the cryptocurrency for cash or services such as web hosting.
Some people like having their browser generate revenue for the websites they visit as it is an easy way to help support content creators. Using cryptocurrency mining also allows websites to show fewer advertisements which can clutter the page. The downside to in-browser cryptocurrency mining is that it requires a lot of CPU cycles and can slow down the visitor's computer or cause the computer's fan to run.
This week we would like to find out what our visitors think of these two options for supporting DistroWatch. Do you think mining cryptocurrency is better or worse than showing advertisements? If we experiment with providing both options on select pages with the ability to switch between them, would you prefer ads or mining be the default? Please leave us your thoughts in the comments.
You can see the results of our previous poll on running commercial Linux distributions in last week's edition. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
Mining cryptocurrency vs advertisements
|I prefer ads with to the option to switch to mining: ||698 (54%)|
| I prefer mining with the option to switch to ads: ||154 (12%)|
| I prefer another option like Patreon: ||445 (34%)|
New projects added to database
UBports is a community-developed fork of Canonical's Ubuntu Touch operating system for mobile devices. UBports works on getting the mobile operating system working on new devices, provides software updates and ports new versions of Ubuntu to mobile devices.
UBports 15.04 -- The UBports app scope
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Distributions added to waiting list
- Scion Linux. Scion Linux is a lightweight distribution based on Ubuntu and featuring the Openbox window manager.
- Pixel OS. Pixel OS is a Linux distribution based on Lubuntu for 64-bit computers.
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DistroWatch database summary
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This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 19 February 2018. 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)
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|Linux Foundation Training
|• Issue 777 (2018-08-20): YunoHost 22.214.171.124, limiting process resource usage, converting file systems on Fedora, Debian turns 25, Lubuntu migrating to Wayland|
|• Issue 776 (2018-08-13): NomadBSD 1.1, Maximum storage limits on Linux, openSUSE extends life for 42.3, updates to the Librem 5 phone interface|
|• Issue 775 (2018-08-06): Secure-K OS 18.5, Linux is about choice, Korora tests community spin, elementary OS hires developer, ReactOS boots on Btrfs|
|• Issue 774 (2018-07-30): Ubuntu MATE & Ubuntu Budgie 18.04, upgrading software from source, Lubuntu shifts focus, NetBSD changes support policy|
|• Issue 773 (2018-07-23): Peppermint OS 9, types of security used by different projects, Mint reacts to bugs in core packages, Slackware turns 25|
|• 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|
|• 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|
|• Full list of all issues|
|Random Distribution |
VAST (VIPER Assessment Security Tools)
VAST was a Linux-based security distribution specifically designed for penetration testing VoIP and UC networks. It enables security professionals and UC administrators to rapidly perform VoIP security assessments and enumerate vulnerabilities in IP Phones or IP PBX servers in a lab environment. With VAST, a security consultant has every tool necessary to carry out a successful on-site or remote penetration test or vulnerability assessment against a UC network. VAST was built on Linux Mint and includes all of the open source VIPER Lab tools, in addition to some other network penetration testing tools.