| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 794, 17 December 2018
Welcome to this year's 51st issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
While there are many Linux distributions, literally hundreds, most of them run similar collections of software by default. At the lower levels, almost all Linux distributions run GNU userland software, make use of the same libraries and most of them use one of four popular package managers. This week we begin with a look at Void, a distribution which offers a slightly different approach to multiple facets of the operating system. We would like to hear your thoughts on Void's unusual features in our Opinion Poll. Then, in an opinion column, we talk about software bloat and how the open source community provides a way to avoid it. In our News section we talk about making it easier to get an overview of open windows on GNOME and improvements to DragonFly BSD's HAMMER2 file system. We also cover a story on x32 support being removed from Linux and Quirky being discontinued. Plus we are thrilled to bring you the releases of the past week and share the torrents we are seeding. We wish you all a fantastic week and happy reading!
- Review: Rolling in the Void
- News: Getting an overview of open windows in GNOME, improvements to HAMMER2, Linux to drop x32 support, Quirky discontinued
- Opinion: Avoiding the effects of software bloat
- Released last week: Tails 3.11, FreeBSD 12.0, Univention 4.3-3
- Torrent corner: ArcoLinux, Clonezilla, EndlessOS, FreeBSD, GParted, Kodachi, Tails, Univention, Ultimate Edition, Voyager
- Opinion poll: What do you think of Void's unusual approach?
- Reader comments
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (25MB) and MP3 (19MB) formats.
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Rolling in the Void
Void is an independently-developed, rolling-release Linux distribution with a number of interesting characteristics, such as its own package management system (called XBPS), a custom init system (runit), integration of LibreSSL instead of OpenSSL in the base operating system, and support for several popular ARM-based devices as well as x86 images. The operating system is available in several editions, including Cinnamon, Enlightenment, LXDE, LXQt, MATE and Xfce. New Void users will also be able to choose whether to run the distribution with the GNU C Library or musl libc library. I opted to download the Xfce edition running on the GNU C Library for 64-bit machines; the ISO was 693MB in size.
Booting from the Void media brought up the Xfce 4.12 desktop environment. The desktop is presented with a panel at the top of the screen which holds the application menu and system tray. At the bottom of the display is a dock where we can quick-launch applications. The desktop has a few icons for launching the Thunar file manager. If Void detects any disk partitions these will also be listed on the desktop for easy access. The theme is mostly grey and relatively plain.
Void 20181111 -- Running the Firefox browser
(full image size: 235kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
I did not find a launcher for the project's system installer, either on the desktop or in the application menu. The distribution's download page says we can run the void-installer program from a command line to get started.
Void's installer is run in a virtual terminal window and uses a series of text-based menus. The main menu of the installer acts like a hub, letting us perform configuration steps in the order of our choosing and we can easily jump back to redo a previous step. The steps are fairly typical and involve selecting our keyboard layout and preferred language from long, somewhat cryptic lists. We are also asked to select our time zone from a list and we are given the chance to enable networking (and optionally automatic DHCP network configuration). We are asked to make up a password for the system's root account and create a username/password combination for our main user.
When it comes to partitioning, Void's installer asks us to select which disk we want to use and then launches the cfdisk partitioning tool. It is not the most friendly interface for setting up partitions, but it works. We are then asked which file system should be used, with options including the Btrfs, ext2/3/4, XFS and f2fs file systems. I decided to go with Btrfs for my trial. The installer then copies its files, a task which took under ten minutes, and offers to reboot the computer.
My new copy of Void booted to a graphical login screen where I could sign back into the Xfce desktop. Everything on the desktop was the same as when running the live disc, so there were no immediate surprises. There were no welcome screens, notifications or prompts to install updates either. Void is a distribution which tries to stay out of the user's way, and assumes we know what we are doing.
For experienced users, this focus on efficiency and no-frills computing is probably welcome. However, newcomers may be intimidated at first. Void does a number of things differently from other mainstream distributions (it has its own package manager, a different init system, and some editions run an infrequently used C library) and I recommend reading the project's documentation. The
Void wiki has a series of articles (linked on the front page) which will get newcomers started.
Void 20181111 -- The settings panel and application menu
(full image size: 325kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
I began experimenting with Void in a VirtualBox virtual machine. The first challenge I ran into was the distribution could not make full use of my display's resolution. I found trying to open the Display configuration module to fix this caused the module to immediate crash with a segmentation fault. I searched for VirtualBox guest packages in Void's repositories and installed them (more on working with the XBPS package manager later). Once the guest modules were installed Void was able to match my display's resolution automatically.
Then I tried void on a desktop computer. Immediately I found Void could not boot in UEFI mode, but I was able to start the distribution in my computer's legacy BIOS mode. Once up and running networking functioned, the desktop was responsive and the Display configuration module worked. However, none of my applications were able to play audio. Sound support, such as PulseAudio, was installed, but not working for some reason. I ended up installing the PulseAudio mixer (there is no sound mixer installed by default) and the ALSA mixer. At first neither tool worked to restore volume. However, once I had rebooted, the PulseAudio mixer I had installed was able to enable sound for my applications.
Void 20181111 -- Trying an alternative dark theme
(full image size: 345kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Void is a relatively lightweight distribution. The Xfce edition uses just 1.8GB of disk space and consumed 210MB of RAM when signed into the desktop. The distribution was always responsive, booted quickly and was fast when launching programs and performing tasks.
The distribution ships with a small collection of open source applications. The Firefox ESR web browser is included along with the Orage calendar and Parole media player. Parole has access to media codecs, allowing us to play audio and video formats out of the box. Audio did not work right away, as I mentioned above, but once that was fixed the multimedia experience was solid. Void includes an image viewer, a tool to bulk rename files and the Thunar file manager. The Mousepad text editor is included along with a process monitor.
Void 20181111 -- Running the Parole media player
(full image size: 565kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
There is an entry in the application menu for a mail reader but it does not work as no e-mail client is installed. Void uses the runit init software which is relatively light and worked to quickly bring up and shutdown the system. When I started experimenting with Void the distribution ran on version 4.18 of the Linux kernel, with newer versions becoming available over time.
The Void distribution uses a package manager called the X Binary Package System (XBPS). XBPS is a collection of utilities rather than one unified tool. I found XBPS's syntax to be short and cryptic and it took me a while to get accustomed to running different tools to complete actions. As an example, on Fedora I might run "dnf search clang" to find the item I want and "dnf install clang" to install the package. With XBPS I would run one tool to find a package, "xbps-query -Rs clang", and then another, such as "xbps-install -S clang", to install it. If I were to run Void for a long time, I would probably create command aliases to help me find, install and remove programs.
I found XBPS does not automatically refresh its repository information and, since Void is a rolling release, our package information can be come outdated quickly. Users should remember to update package information prior to searching for items or installing new software.
Void 20181111 -- Using XBPS to install the Falkon web browser
(full image size: 249kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
When I first started using Void, about a week after the most recent ISO refresh, there were 44 updates totalling 161MB in size waiting for me. I suspect new packages versions will become available quickly and steadily based on my experience so far. Despite the steady flow of new packages, I did not encounter any errors with XBPS. It took me a while to get used to the utility and its approach, but there were no problems with the XBPS software. As far as I can tell, Void does not offer a graphical package manager.
The XBPS package manager has a source-based companion which allows users to build and customize their own packages from source code. I discussed how to use XBPS to work with source packages last year.
For the most part, Void stayed out of my way, providing a light and responsive environment in which I could work and play. One of the nicest things I can say about any distribution is that it is pleasantly boring. When I don't have much to write about, that means the operating system is behaving the way I want it to, or not doing anything distracting or weird. For the most part, Void provided this kind of experience, largely due to its minimalism.
There were occasional issues though, usually when I was trying to add new features or adjust settings away from their defaults. For example, I ran into a problem when I tried to set up the Xfce panel on the left side of the screen instead of the top, and removed the quick-launch bar. Removing the bottom bar was easy, and the panel moved to the left, but the text on the panel was always rotated ninety degrees. On other distributions this has not been a problem, for example when I ran MX Linux earlier this year the panel automatically rotated its text to be the right way up. On Void this did not happen and removing and re-adding the items did not fix the problem.
Void 20181111 -- Moving the panel to the left side of the display
(full image size: 407kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Earlier I mentioned Void uses very little disk space compared to most mainstream distributions. This is because few desktop applications are installed. Once I had most of my typical work tools installed, disk usage grew from under 2GB to over 5GB of space. One item I was surprised to find missing was the cron software. Almost every Linux, UNIX and BSD flavour I have used over the years runs cron to perform periodic tasks, but Void does not. There are several cron implementations in the repositories if we want to install one.
There doesn't appear to be any support on Void for using Btrfs snapshots as boot environments, as I enjoyed recently with openSUSE Tumbleweed and with ZFS snapshots on GhostBSD. I had hoped, with Btrfs enabled, that boot environments might be set up, but this was not the case. The Timeshift utility is available in the distribution's repositories and I had hoped it would work for people who want to take snapshots of their operating system. However, Timeshift does not pull in all of its dependencies so some manual work is required to add the required packages. Then, once Timeshift was installed, I found out Void did not set up Btrfs in a way which is compatible with Timeshift, rendering the snapshot utility unable to function.
Void's software repositories are a little smaller than those of mainstream Linux distributions. There is also less support from third-party software companies. For example, you will not find a XBPS package of Google's Chrome or Steam. And these items are not in the distribution's repositories. One of the few reasons I use any non-free software these days is to watch Netflix and I found Void's Firefox package was able to automatically download an add-on to work with the streaming service. This is the first time I have ever had a Firefox package work with Netflix on Linux without additional tinkering required on my part.
When I started using Void the distribution looked promising. The project clearly is not targeting beginners and people who want to be able to point-n-click their way through things. Void is designed for people who don't mind text-based installers, managing packages from the command line, and manually configuring things, like scheduled jobs. This may be more work up front, but it provides a very slick, high performance, rolling release operating system. Early on, I felt Void was a good match for me, as I like its lightweight nature and I don't mind trading a little convenience for efficiency.
Another thing I like about Void is it is taking a different approach. This is not yet another spin of Ubuntu, or another desktop distribution based on Debian. Void is very much its own creation, with its own package manager, its own ports tree, its own init software, and some different low-level libraries. Void is different enough to be interesting while still able to run most of the same software other GNU/Linux distributions use.
However, by the end of the week I was beginning to realize Void was not going to be a practical distribution for me, personally, to run on an ongoing basis. There were too many little things I had to manage or work around. The lack of working sound early on is a prime example. It's not hard to fix, I just needed to install a mixer tool and reboot, but this pattern of fixing this which simply work on mainstream distributions continued throughout the week. As the days went by I had to install and set up cron to perform house-keeping tasks, work with Firefox with add-ons because Chrome wasn't available, deal with a missing icon for the file search feature, tinker with the panel to try to get text oriented in the right direction, manually track down dependencies for Timeshift, and so on.
I came away from my trial with Void thinking it is a highly interesting distribution and I like its design and style. But it is not a distribution I can "just use" day after day and be productive. It is a distribution more akin to Arch Linux where the user needs to craft their own system, set up the background services and work to maintain it. Which is great for many people, lots of Linux users want to tinker and enjoy the latest available software. And I recommend such people try Void. But if you crave a distribution where everything works out of the box and keeps working without maintenance, then Void is going to be a rough experience.
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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
Void has a visitor supplied average rating of: 9/10 from 169 review(s).
Have you used Void? You can leave your own review of the project on our ratings page.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
Getting an overview of open windows in GNOME, improvements to HAMMER2, Linux to drop x32 support, Quirky discontinued
Fedora Magazine ran an article this week which talks about how to add an overview of open applications to the GNOME Shell desktop using an extension available in the Fedora repositories. "The default desktop of Fedora Workstation - GNOME Shell - is known and loved by many users for its minimal, clutter-free user interface. However, one thing that many users want is an always-visible view of open applications. One simple and effective way to get this is with the awesome Dash to Dock GNOME Shell extension. Dash to Dock takes the dock that is visible in the GNOME Shell Overview, and places it on the main desktop. This provides a view of open applications at a glance, and provides a quick way to switch windows using the mouse." Installation instructions and notes on the extension's features can be found in the Fedora Magazine article.
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DragonFly BSD users will be happy to learn the operating system's HAMMER2 file system has received a number of improvements. The file system can now better recover from crashes and offers the ability to have an encrypted root volume. "Matthew Dillon's been working on 'reliable on-media topology' for HAMMER2. If you had a crash at just the right time with HAMMER2, you wouldn't lose data but you might have to do some manual cleanup. (Don't ask me the steps; never happened to me.) With these changes, that doesn't happen any more. It's present now in -master and will be in what should be DragonFly 5.4.1 by the end of the year. He has a post to users@ that goes into better detail. If you want way too much detail, you can check the commits." More information and links to in-depth details on the changes can be found in a DragonFly BSD Digest post.
* * * * *
The x32 architecture is a special offshoot of the 64-bit x86 (x86-64) architecture which allows a program to use 64-bit instructions while still using smaller, 32-bit pointers. The idea is to allow applications to use faster, 64-bit instructions while consuming smaller amounts of memory than "pure" 64-bit application do. The x32 feature is rarely used and Andy Lutomirski has suggested it be removed from the Linux kernel. LWN explains: "The x32 subarchitecture is a software variant of x86-64; it runs the processor in the 64-bit mode, but uses 32-bit pointers and arithmetic. The idea is to get the advantages of x86-64 without the extra memory usage that goes along with it. It seems, though, that x32 is not much appreciated; few distributions support it and the number of users appears to be small. So now Andy Lutomirski is proposing its eventual removal: 'I propose that we make CONFIG_X86_X32 depend on BROKEN for a release or two and then remove all the code if no one complains. If anyone wants to re-add it, IMO they're welcome to do so, but they need to do it in a way that is maintainable.'" It is important to note that x32 is different from 32-bit support. The removal of x32 instructions will not affect 32-bit x86 hardware support, which continues to be maintained in the kernel.
* * * * *
Barry Kauler has announced that the experimental Quirky distribution has been discontinued. In an e-mail Kauler wrote: "I am now formally announcing that my project Quirky Linux is retired. I am working on another distribution, EasyOS, and that is where all the action is these days. I was stretched too thin trying to maintain both distributions. The repository at ibiblio.org will remain up indefinitely, but I cannot guarantee how long." Information on Kauler's new distribution can be found on the EasyOS website.
* * * * *
These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Opinion (by Jesse Smith)
Avoiding the effects of software bloat
Software bloat refers to the way programs and software libraries tend to grow over time, taking on more features and working in a wider variety of environments. Software usually starts off doing one thing and, if it works well, users will request new features and abilities be added to the program, causing it to grow in size, using up more disk, memory and CPU resources.
A common example of this progression towards higher resource consumption and more features can be seen in most web browsers. A web browser might start off just showing web pages and storing bookmarks. But then someone wants the browser to store passwords too, and another user requests a feature to synchronize bookmarks across devices and someone else submits a patch to manage cookies. A simple web browser can quickly balloon into a massive program that talks over multiple network protocols, blocks ads, plays videos, filters cookies and syncs bookmarks & passwords.
A lot of people feel negatively about software bloat. They, correctly, point out that software often becomes slower over time and requires new computer hardware to run. This can get expensive as new hardware is often purchased to keep up with growing software demands. For better or worse, programs that get big rarely reverse direction because removing features invariably upsets users who have come to rely on the added bells and whistles.
The good news is it is possible to fight against the steady current of software bloat. While individual programs almost always grow in size and resource consumption, the software ecosystem has a natural and positive response: writing smaller programs with a sharper focus. Whenever popular software packages get large and slow, developers pop up to write leaner alternatives. When Firefox began to get noticeably bigger, several alternatives such as Epiphany and Falkon were available to take its place. When GNOME and KDE expand, there are several lighter alternatives such as Xfce and LXQt to take their places. The same holds true for productivity suites, music players, and even the system's C library.
In a way, the open source community enters into a cycle where new programs are created, become popular, get larger, and then smaller alternatives get created - restarting the process. Some may choose to see this cycle of new programs coming into existence, growing and (in some cases) being replaced, as depressing, but it serves the open source community well. This approach allows people who want all the bells and whistles to use full featured applications while others stick to lean and fast equivalents. Each distribution, and each user, can choose to find their preferred balance between efficiency and features.
Friends asked me recently why I haven't upgraded my computer in the past couple of years and, upon thinking about it, I realized that I'm performing the same tasks I was three years ago and using the same features, but my resource usage is actually lower now than it was when I first bought this computer. Small migrations, such as moving from Firefox to Falkon and Unity to Xfce have allowed me to keep performing the same tasks in mostly the same ways while gobbling up less RAM and CPU cycles.
While some software continues to march forward, becoming bigger, better, richer and heavier, it is important to remember that for nearly every full-featured heavyweight application out there, there are smaller ones. Software which may not have every feature and the kitchen sink, but which can do most of what users need with a smaller footprint. In a similar fashion, for every Linux distribution which eats resources in a effort to provide a shiny, feature-rich experience, there is another which will get by on resources which were available nearly two decades ago. This gives us a whole spectrum of resource usage versus features, and we can pick the tools we feel best suit our needs. In other words, software bloat is very real, but we do not need to fall victim to it in the open source community. We can choose the tools, small or large, that best suits our environment.
What are some of your favourite lightweight application and desktop alternatives? Do you run a minimal window manager, use a bare-bones e-mail client, or a low-resource office suite? Let us know how you keep your system skinny in the comments.
* * * * *
More answers can be found in our Questions and Answers archive.
|Released Last Week
A new version of Tails has been released. Tails is a Debian-based live distribution whose goal is to help its users to browse the Internet anonymously and to circumvent censorship. This version is a standard minor upgrade and bug-fix release: "Upgrades and changes: Add a confirm dialog between downloading and applying an automatic upgrade to control better when the network is disabled and prevent partially applied upgrades. When running from a virtual machine, warn about the trustworthiness of the operating system even when running from a free virtualization software. Disable Autocrypt in Thunderbird to prevent sending unencrypted emails by mistake. Update Linux to 4.18.20. Update Tor Browser to 8.0.4. Update Thunderbird to 60.3.0. Fixed problems: Fix the opening of Thunderbird in non-English languages. Reduce the logging level of Tor when using bridges. For more details, read our changelog." Further information is available in the project's release announcement.
The FreeBSD team has announced the project's first release in its 12 series. FreeBSD 12.0 features a number of software updates, including OpenSSL 1.1.1, OpenSSH 7.8, and the Clang compiler has been updated to version 6.0.1. TRIM support has been improved for the UFS filesystem and the bhyve virtualization software can now be run inside a jail. "The FreeBSD Release Engineering Team is pleased to announce the availability of FreeBSD 12.0-RELEASE. This is the first release of the stable/12 branch. Some of the highlights: OpenSSL has been updated to version 1.1.1a (LTS). Unbound has been updated to version 1.8.1, and DANE-TA has been enabled by default. OpenSSH has been updated to version 7.8p1. Additional capsicum(4) support has been added to sshd(8). Clang, LLVM, LLD, LLDB, compiler-rt and libc++ has been updated to version 6.0.1. The vt(4) Terminus BSD Console font has been update to version 4.46. The bsdinstall(8) utility now supports UEFI+GELI as an installation option. The VIMAGE kernel configuration option has been enabled by default." Further details can be found in the project's release announcement and in the release notes.
FreeBSD 12.0 -- Running the Xfce desktop
(full image size: 536kB, resolution: 1920x1080 pixels)
Univention Corporate Server 4.3-3
Stefan Gohmann has announced the release of Univention Corporate Server (UCS) 4.3-3, the latest update of the project's Debian-based distribution for servers with a web-based administration system: "Third point release for Univention Corporate Server (UCS) 4.3 is now available. It includes a number of important updates and various new features. The portal is the starting point for many UCS users and administrators. As described in the blog article Design the UCS Portal with Drag & Drop, you can adapt it very easily to your needs. The 'Applications' and 'Administration' categories were static until now. We have extended the portal so that you can now define your own categories. In addition, you can add static links to the portal. In many environments different users should be shown different tiles. To do this, the group members for whom a particular tile is displayed are stored in the tiles. Previously, you could only assign each tile to one group. With UCS 4.3-3 you can now assign several groups to each tile. As soon as a user is a member of one of these groups, the corresponding tile will be displayed." See the release announcement and release notes for further information.
SUSE Linux Enterprise 12 SP4
Raj Meel has announced the availability of the fourth service pack for SUSE Linux Enterprise 12, the current legacy branch of the company's commercial, enterprise-class distribution with long-term support of over 10 years: "SUSE Linux Enterprise 12 Service Pack 4 is now generally available. Service Pack 4 marks the fourth generation of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12, a major code stream and product foundation with a lifecycle from 2014 to 2024 plus long-term support (10 + 3 years). This release consolidates all fixes and updates introduced since SUSE Linux Enterprise 12 Service Pack 3. Key features of this release include: persistent memory enhancements - Intel Optane DC persistent memory (NVDIMM) with SAP HANA is supported for faster recovery from planned and unplanned outages; new hardware support - latest Intel processors, AMD's 'Zen 2' core processor generation, IBM Z14, IBM LinuxONE Rockhopper II, IBM POWER9 (Little Endian) enhancements, Arm SoC/ODM support for selected vendors including Raspberry Pi devices...." See the brief release announcement and the detailed release notes for further information.
GParted Live 0.33.0-1
Curtis Gedak has announced the release of GParted Live 0.33.0-1, the latest stable version of the project's specialist live CD with a collection of disk partitioning and data rescue tools: "The GParted team is pleased to announce a new stable release of GParted Live. This release includes GParted 0.33.0, updated packages and other improvements. Items of note include GParted 0.33.0 which adds the following enhancements: support copying and moving of unsupported partition content; add MINIX file system support; recognise APFS Apple file system; GTK+ 2 code modernisation; based on the Debian Sid repository as of 2018-12-14; Linux kernel updated to 4.18.20. This release of GParted Live has been successfully tested on VirtualBox, VMware, BIOS, UEFI and physical computers with AMD/ATI, NVDIA and Intel graphics. Note that the default boot options does not display an X desktop on old Acer Aspire laptops. The workaround is to select 'Other modes' of GParted Live and choose 'GParted Live (Safe graphics setting, vga-normal)'. If this issue occurs on a 64-bit computer with UEFI then try the amd64 image." Here is the full release announcement.
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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: 1,166
- Total data uploaded: 22.7TB
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
What do you think of Void's unusual approach?
This week we reviewed Void, a Linux distribution with some unusual characteristics. Void does a number of things differently, using its own package manager, init software, an alternative security library and its own software building framework. While Void runs most of the same software other Linux distributions do, and performs the same tasks, it offers a different approach.
We would like to hear how you feel about Void taking alternative approaches. Do you like that they are trying something different, or is their style too far off the beaten track for your taste?
You can see the results of our previous poll on how many non-free packages are installed on our readers' computers in last week's edition. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
What do you think of Void's unusual approach?
|I am using Void and like that it is different: ||88 (9%)|
| I am using Void and do not like how it is different: ||5 (0%)|
| I am not using Void but like its differences: ||375 (36%)|
| I am not using Void and do not like its differences: ||153 (15%)|
| I have no strong feelings on Void being different: ||310 (30%)|
| Void is not all that different: ||47 (5%)|
| Other: ||54 (5%)|
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 24 December 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)
|Linux Foundation Training
|• Issue 843 (2019-12-02): Obarun 2019.11.02, Bluestar 5.3.6, using special characters on the command line, Fedora plans to disable empty passwords, FreeBSD's quarterly status report|
|• Issue 842 (2019-11-25): SolydXK 10, System Adminstration Ethics book review, Debian continues init diversity debate, Google upstreaming Android kernel patches|
|• Issue 841 (2019-11-18): Emmabuntus DE3-1.00, changing keys in a keyboard layout, Debian phasing out Python 2 and voting on init diversity, Slackware gets unofficial updated live media|
|• Issue 840 (2019-11-11): Fedora 31, monitoring user activity, Fedora working to improve Python performance, FreeBSD gets faster networking|
|• Issue 839 (2019-11-04): MX 19, manipulating PDFs, Ubuntu plans features for 20.04, Fedora 29 nears EOL, Netrunner drops Manjaro-based edition|
|• Issue 838 (2019-10-28): Xubuntu 19.10, how init and service managers work together, DragonFly BSD provides emergency mode for HAMMER, Xfce team plans 4.16|
|• Issue 837 (2019-10-21): CentOS 8.0-1905, Trident finds a new base, Debian plans firewall changes, 15 years of Fedora, how to merge directories|
|• Issue 836 (2019-10-14): Archman 2019.09, Haiku improves ARM support, Project Trident shifting base OS, Unix turns 50|
|• Issue 835 (2019-10-07): Isotop, Mazon OS and, KduxOS, examples of using the find command, Mint's System Reports becomes proactive, Solus updates its desktops|
|• Issue 834 (2019-09-30): FreedomBox "Buster", CentOS gains a rolling release, Librem 5 phones shipping, Redcore updates its package manager|
|• Issue 833 (2019-09-23): Redcore Linux 1908, why Linux distros are free, Ubuntu making list of 32-bit software to keep, Richard M Stallman steps down from FSF leadership|
|• Issue 832 (2019-09-16): BlackWeb 1.2, checking for Wayland session and applications, Fedora to use nftables in firewalld, OpenBSD disables DoH in Firefox|
|• Issue 831 (2019-09-09): Adélie Linux 1.0 beta, using ffmpeg, awk and renice, Mint and elementary improvements, PureOS and Manjaro updates|
|• Issue 930 (2019-09-02): deepin 15.11, working with AppArmor profiles, elementary OS gets new greeter, exFAT support coming to Linux kernel|
|• Issue 829 (2019-08-26): EndeavourOS 2019.07.15, Drauger OS 7.4.1, finding the licenses of kernel modules, NetBSD gets Wayland application, GhostBSD changes base repo|
|• Issue 828 (2019-08-19): AcademiX 2.2, concerns with non-free firmware, UBports working on Unity8, Fedora unveils new EPEL channel, FreeBSD phasing out GCC|
|• Issue 827 (2019-08-12): Q4OS, finding files on the disk, Ubuntu works on ZFS, Haiku improves performance, OSDisc shutting down|
|• Issue 826 (2019-08-05): Quick looks at Resilient, PrimeOS, and BlueLight, flagship distros for desktops,Manjaro introduces new package manager|
|• Issue 825 (2019-07-29): Endless OS 3.6, UBports 16.04, gNewSense maintainer stepping down, Fedora developrs discuss optimizations, Project Trident launches stable branch|
|• Issue 824 (2019-07-22): Hexagon OS 1.0, Mageia publishes updated media, Fedora unveils Fedora CoreOS, managing disk usage with quotas|
|• Issue 823 (2019-07-15): Debian 10, finding 32-bit packages on a 64-bit system, Will Cooke discusses Ubuntu's desktop, IBM finalizes purchase of Red Hat|
|• Issue 822 (2019-07-08): Mageia 7, running development branches of distros, Mint team considers Snap, UBports to address Google account access|
|• Issue 821 (2019-07-01): OpenMandriva 4.0, Ubuntu's plan for 32-bit packages, Fedora Workstation improvements, DragonFly BSD's smaller kernel memory|
|• Issue 820 (2019-06-24): Clear Linux and Guix System 1.0.1, running Android applications using Anbox, Zorin partners with Star Labs, Red Hat explains networking bug, Ubuntu considers no longer updating 32-bit packages|
|• Issue 819 (2019-06-17): OS108 and Venom, renaming multiple files, checking live USB integrity, working with Fedora's Modularity, Ubuntu replacing Chromium package with snap|
|• Issue 818 (2019-06-10): openSUSE 15.1, improving boot times, FreeBSD's status report, DragonFly BSD reduces install media size|
|• Issue 817 (2019-06-03): Manjaro 18.0.4, Ubuntu Security Podcast, new Linux laptops from Dell and System76, Entroware Apollo|
|• Issue 816 (2019-05-27): Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.0, creating firewall rules, Antergos shuts down, Matthew Miller answers questions about Fedora|
|• Issue 815 (2019-05-20): Sabayon 19.03, Clear Linux's developer features, Red Hat explains MDS flaws, an overview of mobile distro options|
|• Issue 814 (2019-05-13): Fedora 30, distributions publish Firefox fixes, CentOS publishes roadmap to 8.0, Debian plans to use Wayland by default|
|• Issue 813 (2019-05-06): ROSA R11, MX seeks help with systemd-shim, FreeBSD tests unified package management, interview with Gael Duval|
|• Issue 812 (2019-04-29): Ubuntu MATE 19.04, setting up a SOCKS web proxy, Scientific Linux discontinued, Red Hat takes over Java LTS support|
|• Issue 811 (2019-04-22): Alpine 3.9.2, rsync examples, Ubuntu working on ZFS support, Debian elects new Project Leader, Obarun releases S6 tools|
|• Issue 810 (2019-04-15): SolydXK 201902, Bedrock Linux 0.7.2, Fedora phasing out Python 2, NetBSD gets virtual machine monitor|
|• Issue 809 (2019-04-08): PCLinuxOS 2019.02, installing Falkon and problems with portable packages, Mint offers daily build previews, Ubuntu speeds up Snap packages|
|• Issue 808 (2019-04-01): Solus 4.0, security benefits and drawbacks to using a live distro, Gentoo gets GNOME ports working without systemd, Redox OS update|
|• Issue 807 (2019-03-25): Pardus 17.5, finding out which user changed a file, new Budgie features, a tool for browsing FreeBSD's sysctl values|
|• Issue 806 (2019-03-18): Kubuntu vs KDE neon, Nitrux's znx, notes on Debian's election, SUSE becomes an independent entity|
|• Issue 805 (2019-03-11): EasyOS 1.0, managing background services, Devuan team debates machine ID file, Ubuntu Studio works to remain an Ubuntu Community Edition|
|• Issue 804 (2019-03-04): Condres OS 19.02, securely erasing hard drives, new UBports devices coming in 2019, Devuan to host first conference|
|• Issue 803 (2019-02-25): Septor 2019, preventing windows from stealing focus, NetBSD and Nitrux experiment with virtual machines, pfSense upgrading to FreeBSD 12 base|
|• Issue 802 (2019-02-18): Slontoo 18.07.1, NetBSD tests newer compiler, Fedora packaging Deepin desktop, changes in Ubuntu Studio|
|• Issue 801 (2019-02-11): Project Trident 18.12, the meaning of status symbols in top, FreeBSD Foundation lists ongoing projects, Plasma Mobile team answers questions|
|• Issue 800 (2019-02-04): FreeNAS 11.2, using Ubuntu Studio software as an add-on, Nitrux developing znx, matching operating systems to file systems|
|• Issue 799 (2019-01-28): KaOS 2018.12, Linux Basics For Hackers, Debian 10 enters freeze, Ubuntu publishes new version for IoT devices|
|• Issue 798 (2019-01-21): Sculpt OS 18.09, picking a location for swap space, Solus team plans ahead, Fedora trying to get a better user count|
|• Issue 797 (2019-01-14): Reborn OS 2018.11.28, TinyPaw-Linux 1.3, dealing with processes which make the desktop unresponsive, Debian testing Secure Boot support|
|• Issue 796 (2019-01-07): FreeBSD 12.0, Peppermint releases ISO update, picking the best distro of 2018, roundtable interview with Debian, Fedora and elementary developers|
|• Issue 795 (2018-12-24): Running a Pinebook, interview with Bedrock founder, Alpine being ported to RISC-V, Librem 5 dev-kits shipped|
|• Issue 794 (2018-12-17): Void 20181111, avoiding software bloat, improvements to HAMMER2, getting application overview in GNOME Shell|
|• Issue 793 (2018-12-10): openSUSE Tumbleweed, finding non-free packages, Debian migrates to usrmerge, Hyperbola gets FSF approval|
|• Issue 792 (2018-1203): GhostBSD 18.10, when to use swap space, DragonFly BSD's wireless support, Fedora planning to pause development schedule|
|• Issue 791 (2018-11-26): Haiku R1 Beta1, default passwords on live media, Slax and Kodachi update their media, dual booting DragonFly BSD on EFI|
|• Full list of all issues|
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Magic Linux was a new distribution, which was specifically designed for Chinese users. Magic Linux was a non-commercial production completely developed by Linux enthusiasts with a simple motive in mind: say farewell to endless Chinese localisations from one Linux distribution to another and bring the native Chinese support to your desktop.