| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 653, 21 March 2016
Welcome to this year's 12th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
Ever since Canonical announced the next version of Ubuntu will ship with ZFS support, there has been a lot of debate in the Linux community over the potential licensing conflicts and the legality of shipping ZFS support in a Linux distribution. Meanwhile, the Arch-based Antergos distribution has already started supporting ZFS storage volumes in the project's installer. This week we begin with a look at the Antergos distribution, its ZFS support and the distribution's flexible system installer. Read on to find out what other features this rolling release distribution has to offer. In our News section we discuss Debian's upcoming election for Project Leader, talk about a new Unix-like operating system written in Rust and link to a tutorial that explains how to get Netflix working on PC-BSD and FreeBSD. In our Myths and Misunderstandings column we talk about version numbers, what they mean and why they can be confusing. Plus we share the torrents we are seeding and then provide a list of the distributions released last week. In our Opinion Poll we ask how our readers test new distributions prior to installing them. We wish you all a fantastic week and happy reading!
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Antergos is a cutting edge Linux distribution which is based on Arch Linux. The project creates a powerful desktop oriented operating system that supports several desktop environments and install-time add-ons. Around the middle of February the Antergos project released a snapshot carrying the version number 2016.02.19. At the time I downloaded the ISO image, but was unable to get the distribution to boot on my hardware. I then moved on to explore other projects, but then discovered the Antergos developers had released an updated ISO, this one labelled 2016.02.21. I downloaded this new ISO and found it booted on my test system and so proceeded to experiment with the distribution.
There are two editions of Antergos, "Antergos Live" and "Antergos Minimal". Both editions are available in 32-bit and 64-bit x86 builds. The Minimal edition is about 530MB in size while the larger edition is a 1.6GB download. I decided to explore the larger edition.
Booting from the Antergos live media brings up a menu asking if we would like to boot from the computer's hard drive, start a live graphical desktop session or boot Antergos in text mode. Taking the desktop option loads the GNOME Shell desktop environment. A dock on the left side of the screen provides access to a few commonly used programs and the Antergos system installer, which is called Cnchi. Shortly after the desktop finished loading, a message popped up in the upper-right corner of the screen and let me know the system was checking for updates to the Cnchi system installer. A few seconds later, I was assured I had the latest copy of the installer. Then another window appeared in the centre of the desktop and asked if I would like to explore the live desktop further or install the distribution.
Antergos 2016.02.21 -- MATE desktop and application menu
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The Cnchi installer is a graphical application which starts by asking us to select our preferred language from a list. The next two screens ask us to supply our country and our time zone, which we can find on a map of the world. We then confirm our keyboard's layout. The following screen asks which desktop environment we would like to install with options including Cinnamon, GNOME, KDE, MATE, Openbox and Xfce. We also have the option of installing Antergos without a desktop environment and interacting with the operating system via a text console. I decided to run Antergos with the MATE desktop. The next screen asks which optional software packages we would like to install. There are several add-ons: The Arch User Repository (AUR), Bluetooth support, Firefox, Truetype Fonts, Adobe Flash, a long term support kernel, printing support, LibreOffice, Steam, PlayOnLinux, the Uncomplicated Firewall utility and Samba. I chose to install everything except the LTS kernel and Bluetooth support. One thing I like about the screen which lists the optional add-ons is hovering the mouse pointer over any item in the list displays a brief description of the package.
Disk partitioning comes next. We can either let the installer take over the computer's entire disk with some suggestions from us or we can manually divide up our disk. If we take the manual option, Cnchi offers us a very nice, streamlined partition manager where we can work with Btrfs, ext2/3/4, JFS, XFS, fsfs and Reiser file systems. I quite like Cnchi's manual partitioning screen, but one feature that caught my eye is the guided partitioning option features ZFS support. In fact, Antergos may be the only desktop Linux distribution I have used so far that enables ZFS support out of the box and I decided to try it. When ZFS is enabled we are given the chance to adjust some settings, such as telling Cnchi how big our swap partition should be, whether to enable mirroring or RAID support, whether we want our /home directory on its own sub-volume and the name of the ZFS storage pool. There are a lot of options, but most people can get by just by taking the default settings. Once disk partitioning has been handled, we are shown a list of the actions the installer will take and we are asked to confirm Cnchi may proceed. We are then asked to provide a username and password so the installer can create an account for us. The installer downloads the components we have selected and installs its files. Installation took a long time during my test runs. Each installation (I performed five in total) took over an hour, including the time to download and unpack all the optional packages. Since it seems the entire operating system (over 850 packages) is downloaded each time we install it, I would recommend only using Antergos on computers that have access to a high-speed Internet connection.
Our freshly installed copy of Antergos boots to a graphical login screen where a digital clock sits in the middle of the display. Pressing a key or clicking on the clock presents a login form where we can sign in. I found the login screen's elements offered very little contrast and it was difficult for me to see the input fields.
The first time I installed Antergos I was unable to sign into my user account, the system merely returned me to the login screen without providing an error message. Switching to a command line terminal, I was able to sign in, but found my user did not have a home directory. With a little exploring, I discovered that while the ZFS volume which housed the base operating system had been mounted, the sub-volume containing my home directory had not mounted. I also found I was unable to list the available volumes using the zpool and zfs command line utilities. Other ZFS related commands worked, but the ones used to list volumes would immediately crash. I suspect this explains why the /home sub-volume did not mount properly. At this point I discovered I could fix the problem in one of two ways. I could place the command "zfs mount data/home" in a start-up script and that would force the sub-volume to mount and allow me to login to my account. The alternative was to run through the install process a second time, choosing to place all my data on one ZFS volume. I opted to try the latter approach to confirm everything would work properly if I kept the /home directory in the main storage volume.
Going through the Cnchi installer a second time and putting all my data on one storage volume did work as expected. However, I did discover a second problem: Cnchi is unable to remove existing ZFS pools. The user needs to manually destroy any existing ZFS volumes before trying to install Antergos on the hard drive. Otherwise the installation fails when Cnchi fails to remove the old ZFS volume.
Antergos 2016.02.21 -- Running various desktop applications
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Once I got the ZFS volume and login issue sorted out, I was able to sign into my account and begin exploring the MATE 1.12.1 desktop environment. The desktop places the application menu and system tray at the top of the screen. A task switcher panel sits at the bottom. The background is plain blue. MATE's application menu is presented as one menu divided into three sections: Applications, Places and System. The Applications section of the menu is then further divided into Favourites and All Applications. Selecting All Applications splits the menu again with categories of software displayed to the left and specific applications from each category shown on the right. Personally, I found the menu to be both cluttered and a bit too nested for my taste as it always felt like there were a few extra steps involved in finding the application I wanted. I do want to give the menu designers credit though for making it easy to move applications from the depths of the nested menu to the Favourites section via a context menu, reducing the time it took to access frequently run programs.
In the system tray there is an icon which indicates when security updates are available. Right-clicking on the update icon gives us the option of launching the distribution's software manager or an update manager. Left-clicking the icon immediately launches the update manager. The update manager displays a simple list of available software updates waiting in the Antergos repositories. Each item in the list is displayed with the package's name and size. We can check a box next to each update to indicate whether we wish to install it. On my first day using Antergos, there was one update available, less than 1MB in size. The following day there were two more updates, each also smaller than 1MB. By the end of the week, more than 30 additional updates became available, totalling 91MB in size. The update manager successfully downloaded and installed each of the waiting packages.
By default, it seems the update manager does not check the Arch Linux AUR repository for new software updates. We can enable checks for updates in the AUR by opening the update manager's settings and putting a check in the appropriate box.
Antergos 2016.02.21 -- Managing packages with Pamac
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Antergos ships with a graphical package manager called Pamac. The Pamac window is divided into two main panes. On the left we can set parameters for finding software. The left pane has tabs that will help us search for software by name, by category, by status or by repository. On the right side of the window is an alphabetical list of packages that match our current search parameters. Each package is displayed with its name, size and version number. We can click a box next to a package to choose whether to install or remove the selected item. Pamac is remarkably responsive and fairly easy to navigate. It may not be pretty, but it is certainly functional.
My one serious complaint with Pamac is that the available software categories are oddly specific and not always intuitive. Instead of the "Internet", "Graphics" and "Office" categories usually found in other package managers, we are presented with dozens of technical names like "Base", "System", "Qt", "Qt5" and "xorg-drivers". I suspect most new users are going to struggle with names like these. I encountered some confusion myself when searching for specific packages. For instance, there is a "Browsers" category where we can find web browsers, but there is also a "Firefox" category which does not contain the Firefox web browser, only plug-ins for Mozilla's web browser. There is an "Email" category which only contains one email client, but if we search for the term "email" in the search tab Pamac offers us a list of half a dozen email applications. The "System" category has ZFS packages and utilities, but the "ZFS" category does not contain ZFS utilities. This sort of maddening behaviour caused me to search for most items using keywords rather than categories. For people who want to manipulate software from the command line, Antergos ships with the pacman package manager. The pacman utility is very fast, though I find its syntax more terse (perhaps even cryptic) compared to other command line package managers.
Antergos 2016.02.21 -- The settings panel
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Antergos provides us with a control panel where we can launch configuration modules to change our desktop environment and manage some aspects of the operating system. The control panel has modules for changing the desktop's theme and wallpaper. We can also find modules for managing printers, setting up network connections, configuring the firewall, the screen saver and start-up applications. These modules generally worked well. One module, the one for configuring the firewall, always failed to launch. I also regretted that I was unable to find a module for working with user accounts, either in the control panel or in MATE's application menu. Another minor annoyance appeared while I was using the Appearance module which changes the look and theme of the desktop. At one point I accidentally clicked on an alternative theme, causing MATE to immediately change its look. The original theme, called Custom, was immediately lost, preventing me from switching back. This quirk is not specific to Antergos, but rather seems to be common across distributions which ship with a special "Custom" MATE theme.
The distribution ships with a varied and useful collection of software. Looking through the application menu we find the Firefox web browser with Adobe's Flash plug-in, the Pidgin instant messenger software and the Transmission bittorrent software. LibreOffice is available along with the Atril document viewer and the Eye of MATE image viewer. PlayOnLinux and Steam are available to help us install Windows software and Linux games, respectively. Unfortunately, Steam would not launch on my test system. PlayOnLinux did work most of the time, but was not always able to successfully complete installations of Windows applications. The Pragha audio player and Totem video player are included. I found I was able to play music files, including mp3 files, in Pragha. However, I was not able to play video files using Totem. I downloaded a copy of the VLC media player from the Antergos software repository and found VLC was able to play my video files. Antergos also ships with the Xfburn optical disc burning software, a text editor, calculator and archive manager. Antergos ships with the GNU Compiler Collection for developers. In the background we find systemd 229 and version 4.4.1 of the Linux kernel.
The first user we create when setting up Antergos has the ability to perform administrator actions using the su and sudo commands. This concerns me a little as I do not think there is any part of the installation which asks us to set up a root password. It seems as though the root password is just automatically set to match the first user's account. Personally, I would rather the root account have its own password or the system lock root and get users to perform administrative actions using sudo exclusively. Having one password to access two accounts feels like a potential problem to me.
I tried running Antergos in two test environments, a physical desktop computer and a VirtualBox virtual machine. Antergos performed well in both environments, properly detecting my hardware and running smoothly. My one complaint was that when booting Antergos took over a minute and a half to reach the login screen. I am uncertain if this is an issue specific to ZFS or a result of some services (like dev-disk) which took an unusually long time to start-up. However, once the system had booted, Antergos was responsive. The distribution, with all optional add-ons installed, used about 6GB of disk space, plus a 500MB /boot partition formatted with the ext4 file system is set aside when we install Antergos on a ZFS volume. When logged into the MATE desktop, Antergos used approximately 560MB of memory. Some opponents of ZFS like to state the file system requires several gigabytes of RAM, but the ability to run the operating system, MATE and ZFS with under 600MB of memory indicates none of the distribution's components is particularly heavy.
Throughout the week, I was impressed with the features Antergos brings to the table. There is a lot of cutting-edge software included in the distribution. Antergos worked well in both of my test environments, has a very friendly system installer and lots of useful features. I especially like how the project ships one ISO image and we can select our desktop and add-ons from the Cnchi installer. This gives us a good deal of flexibility without cluttering up the project's download page with extra editions. I was also happy to see Antergos supports both Btrfs and ZFS as both are useful, advanced file systems. This may be the first Linux desktop distribution I have encountered which supports ZFS at install time.
However, on the other hand, I occasionally ran into problems. Usually small things, but ones that made Antergos feel less polished. For example, I mentioned earlier that asking the installer to place our /home partition on its own ZFS sub-volume would cause /home to not be mounted at all. Also, while most ZFS functions worked, listing volumes and snapshots did not, which puts a damper on some of the more useful ZFS functions. The Steam gaming portal did not work for me and Totem was unable to play my video files and I had to install an alternate media player. Most configuration modules worked beautifully, particularly the printer manager, but the firewall utility failed to launch.
I think the Antergos project is doing some interesting things and the developers are providing a great deal of flexibility combined with cutting edge software. Personally, I wish there was an off-line version of the Cnchi installer so I did not need to wait so long for packages to download each time I installed the distribution. And I did run into a few problems. However, overall I liked Antergos. The distribution is fast, easy to customize and provides access to a huge repository of software via the main repositories and Arch Linux's AUR community repository.
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Hardware used in this review
My physical test equipment for this review was a desktop HP Pavilon p6 Series with the following specifications:
- Processor: Dual-core 2.8GHz AMD A4-3420 APU
- Storage: 500GB Hitachi hard drive
- Memory: 6GB of RAM
- Networking: Realtek RTL8111 wired network card
- Display: AMD Radeon HD 6410D video card
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
Debian prepares for Project Leader election, Redox developers create Unix-like OS, and a tutorial for watching Netflix on PC-BSD
Each year the Debian project elects a leader who helps guide and coordinate the efforts of groups within the Debian family of contributors. The election for Debian's next Project Leader is underway and it looks as though there will not be any competition for the office. At the moment, there is just one nomination: Mehdi Dogguy. Voting in the election will take place from April 3rd through to April 16th and it seems likely Dogguy will then take over the job of leading the hundreds of Debian developers. Dogguy has stated he would like to create a central roadmap for Debian which would outline a list of goals the distribution will strive to achieve in each release cycle: "I will initiate an effort in order to help our project to publish a roadmap; have each item described in a S.M.A.R.T way and make sure progress is made. I am sure that each team has its own set of ideas to implement. However, it is important to centralize those ideas to give them more visibility and have a better understanding of the big picture." The rest of Dogguy's platform is available on the Debian website.
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Redox is a Unix-like operating system that is written in the Rust programming language. Rust is considered safer than traditional languages, such as the C language which is used to develop the Linux kernel. Redox uses a microkernel design and runs drivers in userspace for improved security and reliability. The developers have also stated their operating system will support the ZFS advanced file system. The project's documentation states that Redox will support running some Linux applications without virtualization. "Redox is a general purpose operating system and surrounding ecosystem written in pure Rust. Our aim is to provide a fully functioning Linux alternative, without the bad parts. We have modest compatibility with Linux syscalls, allowing Redox to run many Linux programs without virtualization. We take inspiration from Plan9, MINIX, and BSD. We are trying to generalize various concepts from other systems, to get one unified design." Redox development is still in its early stages, but the most recent release is reported to work on some hardware as well as in VirtualBox and Qemu virtual environments.
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Accessing the Netflix video streaming service is a task that has posed a problem for FreeBSD and PC-BSD users for some time. It's a situation many FreeBSD users find frustrating as Netflix uses FreeBSD servers to provide their content. While Linux users can access their Netflix accounts using Google's Chrome web browser, the closed-source Chrome browser does not run on FreeBSD-based systems. Chrome has also resisted attempts to run it through both the WINE compatibility software and FreeBSD's Linux emulation software. One enterprising PC-BSD user has found a workaround which involves Pipelight and the Firefox browser that allows PC-BSD (and FreeBSD) users access Netflix. A video tutorial which explains how to set up Pipelight with Firefox is available. The video also covers some trouble-shooting steps in case things do not immediately work as planned.
|Myths and Misunderstandings (by Jesse Smith)
The value of version numbers
When it comes to software, version numbers are everywhere. If you check with your distribution's package manager you will see each component of the operating system has its own version number and these numbers mean something. Though what they mean varies a lot, depending on the project that develops the software.
A common source of confusion I often run into comes from the way people interpret version numbers. You might have heard someone say, "I never install a point-zero (x.0) release. Wait until x.1 or x.2 has been released before trying it." Or perhaps you have heard people say the opposite: "This version should be stable, the project has hit version x.0."
To be fair, in certain contexts, either of the above statements can be true. There are projects which produce multiple development builds prior to launching an x.0 release and their x.0 version will likely be stable. But there are also projects which push out x.0 releases as an early preview of things to come and their software might not be stable until x.2 or x.3 of the series arrives.
The unfortunate truth is there is no common practice when it comes to version numbers. Some projects use complex version numbers that carry a good deal of information. For example, one project might use "4.10.2" to indicate the 4th major version with 10 feature revisions and 2 minor patches. Another project might use "4.9" to indicate the version that comes after "4.8". Yet other projects create version numbers based on the date their project ships. All of these are valid ways to track software, the problem arises when people try to treat all version numbers in the same way. The truth is, whatever rules a project uses for labelling their software, those rules apply only to that project and do not automatically translate to other pieces of software.
As an example, I have worked on a few open source projects which used incremental version numbers. For instance, 4.8 was followed by 4.9, then 5.0, 5.1 and 5.2. It was a surprise to me how often our mailing list received comments from our users along the lines of, "There are a lot of great changes in this update. It feels like more of a 5.0 than a 4.6." Or perhaps, "This 6.0 release sounds good, but I'm going to wait for 6.1 or 6.2." Both sets of comments ignored how the project's versioning system worked. It didn't matter if we piled on lots of new features or spent the entire release cycle working on bug fixes, in the end the version number went up an additional 0.1.
I feel it is important to remember when looking at a product's version numbers that each project handles them differently. When in doubt, it is a good idea to ask on a mailing list or forum what kind of versioning scheme the project uses before trying to evaluate the software.
Another common mistake I encounter comes from people using version numbers to determine whether their distribution has addressed a security vulnerability. Often times, when a distribution patches a vulnerable piece of software, they do not increase the package's version number. For instance, let's say I am running a program called Foo with the version number 4.0. It comes to light that Foo 4.0 is vulnerable and the developers of Foo release a fixed version, Foo 4.1.
Often times, distributions will not package Foo 4.1 because it contains more than just the security fix, it also has a bunch of new features which have not been properly vetted. What they may do instead is copy just the fix from Foo 4.1 into their package of 4.0. Then I download the patched version of Foo 4.0 from the distribution's repositories and I'm safe. But, if I check the version number of Foo, I see it's at 4.0 when I know everything prior to 4.1 is considered vulnerable.
Package maintainers are in a difficult spot in these scenarios because if they keep the 4.0 version number, many people will think their software is outdated and contains the security vulnerability. But if they bump the version number of Foo to 4.1, then people will wonder why their software is missing the features advertised for the new version of Foo. Sometimes distribution package maintainers will add an extra version number to the end of the package, labelling their software Foo 4.0-1 or 4.0.1. That helps people keep track.
In the end, the best way to find out if your copy of a package has been patched against security vulnerabilities is not by looking at the version number, but rather checking the package's change log. This can be accomplished a few different ways, depending on the operating system you are running. On Debian and related distributions such as Ubuntu, the apt-get command will show recent changes and fixes applied to a package. For instance, to check on changes to the gcc package we would run:
apt-get changelog gcc
On Fedora and related distributions the equivalent command using the rpm package manager is:
rpm -q --changelog gcc
Other package managers have similar changelog and auditing features which can help identify fixed (or still vulnerable) software.
In the end, version numbers can be helpful, but they need to be viewed in context and they are usually not a good method for checking the state of a package's security.
Bittorrent is a great way to transfer large files, particularly open source operating system images, from one place to another. Most bittorrent clients recover from dropped connections automatically, check the integrity of files and can re-download corrupted bits of data without starting a download over from scratch. These characteristics make bittorrent well suited for distributing open source operating systems, particularly to regions where Internet connections are slow or unstable.
Many Linux and BSD projects offer bittorrent as a download option, partly for the reasons listed above and partly because bittorrent's peer-to-peer nature takes some of the strain off the project's servers. However, some projects do not offer bittorrent as a download option. There can be several reasons for excluding bittorrent as an option. Some projects do not have enough time or volunteers, some may be restricted by their web host provider's terms of service. Whatever the reason, the lack of a bittorrent option puts more strain on a distribution's bandwidth and may prevent some people from downloading their preferred open source operating system.
With this in mind, DistroWatch plans to give back to the open source community by hosting and seeding bittorrent files. For now, we are hosting a small number of distribution torrents, listed below. The list of torrents offered will be updated each week and we invite readers to e-mail us with suggestions as to which distributions we should be hosting. When you message us, please place the word "Torrent" in the subject line, make sure to include a link to the ISO file you want us to seed. To help us maintain and grow this free service, please consider making a donation.
The table below provides a list of torrents we currently host. If you do not currently have a bittorrent client capable of handling the linked files, we suggest installing either the Transmission or KTorrent bittorrent clients.
Archives of our previously seeded torrents may be found here. All torrents we make available here are also listed on the very useful Linux Tracker website. Thanks to Linux Tracker we are able to share the following torrent statistics.
Torrent Corner statistics:
- Total torrents seeded: 174
- Total data uploaded: 32.3TB
|Released Last Week
Anke Boersma has announced the release of KaOS 2016.03, the latest stable version of the desktop Linux distribution that features the latest Plasma desktop from KDE: "KaOS is proud to announce the availability of the March release of a new stable ISO image. The Plasma desktop includes Frameworks 5.20.0, Plasma 5.5.5 and KDE Applications 15.12.2. A few enhancements to the Plasma 5 experience have been added, these are KaOS-specific extras. You now have the option to calculate the MD5 sum from any file from the Dolphin service menu. Since the kf5 move there has not been a fully working GUI for user management, but there is one added now for KaOS - you will find it under system settings, account details. From there you can create new users, change existing user's role or delete a user. Also added is a KCM for locale and language settings. A new icon theme for light and dark themes has arrived. The Midna Dark theme received a complete overhaul with a new Plasma theme, window decorations, color scheme, and new SDDM and splash themes." Read the rest of the release announcement for further details and screenshots.
KaOS 2016.03 -- Welcome screen and drop-down terminal
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The Robolinux project has announced the availability of a new stable release of the project's Robolinux Raptor series. The new release, Robolinux 8.4, is available in Cinnamon, LXDE, MATE and LXDE flavours and features several privacy and anti-malware tools. " All Robolinux Raptor 8.4 versions are based on 100% rock solid current Debian 8 stable source code running the newest Debian 3.16 Linux kernel plus over 180 important upstream security and application updates. We also included the newest Firefox 45 and Thunderbird 38.7, Tor Browser, VirtualBox and replaced all of our 32-bit operating systems end of life Google Chrome versions with Chromium." A list of changes and available security tools can be found in the distribution's release announcement.
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
How do you test new distributions?
Before installing a new operating system it is nice to know whether the software will work as intended. There are a number of ways to test a Linux distribution before we install it. Most projects provide live media, allowing us to experiment with the distribution's hardware support, performance and default applications before installing the operating system. Other tools, such as virtual machines, allow us to perform a test installation before making space for a new system on our hard drive. Some people keep test machines around to assist in exploring new distributions.
This week we would like to know how you test a distribution before installing it to your computer's hard drive.
You can see the results of our previous poll on purchasing computers with Linux pre-installed here. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
How do you test new distributions?
|Using a live disc/USB thumb drive: ||828 (37%)|
| Installing it in a virtual machine: ||519 (23%)|
| Running it on a spare computer: ||200 (9%)|
| A combination of the above: ||604 (27%)|
| None of the above: ||75 (3%)|
Distributions added to waiting list
- Studio 13.37. Studio 13.37 is a commercial distribution for audio and video production. The distribution runs from a live USB thumb drive.
- ubuntuBSD. ubuntuBSD combines the installer and utilities of Ubuntu with the kernel and file system support of FreeBSD.
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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, 28 March 2016. To contact the authors please send e-mail to:
- Jesse Smith (feedback, questions and suggestions: distribution reviews/submissions, questions and answers, tips and tricks)
- Ladislav Bodnar (feedback, questions, donations, comments)
|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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SparkyLinux is a lightweight, fast and simple Linux distribution designed for both old and new computers featuring customised Enlightenment and LXDE desktops. It has been built on the "testing" branch of Debian GNU/Linux.