| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 255, 2 June 2008
Welcome to this year's 22nd issue of DistroWatch Weekly! One of the best-known and most widely-used features of FreeBSD, its CVS infrastructure designed to store all of the operating system's and userland's source code, was finally given boot last week when it was replaced with Subversion. What will this major switch mean for the FreeBSD user community? While on the surface not much will change in the foreseeable future, eventually everybody will need to get used to a new way of performing source updates. In other news, Novell reports better than expected revenue from its Linux business, Ubuntu plans universal connectivity in Intrepid Ibex, Fedora reports on the progress of integrating KDE 4 into the distribution, and BLAG's Jeff Moe explains why he continues to remove all non-free "blobs" from the Linux kernel. Also not to be missed, a first-look review of openSUSE's Zypper, probably the most advanced and comprehensive package management utility on the market. Finally, we are pleased to announce that the recipient of the DistroWatch.com May 2008 donation is the FileZilla project. Happy reading!
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openSUSE package management with Zypper
Although openSUSE (and SUSE Linux before) has had a comprehensive package management infrastructure for years, a brand new package management option was introduced in openSUSE 10.3. Called Zypper, this command-line utility has all the ingredients of other successful package managers, such as apt-get, urpmi or yum. Not only is it much faster than any graphical tool can ever be, it has the additional advantage of being available for use in scripts. I tested the utility on the current development versions of openSUSE 11.0 by using it exclusively for synchronising an installed openSUSE system with the distribution's "Factory" tree in regular intervals.
The installed system was the third beta release of openSUSE 11.0, the i386 edition, installed from the standard installation DVD. I expected to be able to use the distribution's normal upgrade mechanisms for synchronising the installed system with Factory, but surprisingly, this didn't work as expected. The reason was that, unlike Ubuntu or Fedora which automatically configure their update utilities to point to their respective development branches, openSUSE's beta releases aren't set up to follow the development in this manner. Instead, the openSUSE update sources all point to an (as yet unavailable) 11.0 final update directory.
That said, it isn't particularly difficult to modify the relevant configuration in openSUSE in order to make it point to the Factory tree. First, remove all the existing repositories (type
zypper repos to see a full list) with
zypper rr alias. When done, adding the Factory repositories can be accomplished with the following commands:
• zypper sa http://download.opensuse.org/distribution/SL-OSS-factory/inst-source/ oss
• zypper sa http://download.opensuse.org/distribution/SL-Factory-non-oss/inst-source-extra/ non-oss
Now if you run
zypper repos again, you should get an output similar to the one pictured below:
Zypper lists all package repositories in a nice tabular format.
Once setting up the Factory repositories is completed, updating the entire distribution to the latest development build is done with the following commands:
• zypper refresh
• zypper dist-upgrade
As is often the case with command-line package management tools, they come with a large number of options and arguments that can make the update process go so much smoother. As an example, if your installation includes non-free software, you will need to agree to their software licenses before installing (or upgrading) any such packages. This can be avoided with the
zypper update --auto-agree-with-licenses command. Similarly, you can avoid having to confirm certain tasks with
zypper --non-interactive update. Some of the other available options include searching for packages or exporting a complete package list into a text file in order to re-import it on another computer. Many of the commands come with extra options, which can be found in the program's comprehensive online documentation.
During my usage of Zypper over the past couple of weeks, I've learnt to appreciate the convenience it provides to the end user. There is not doubt in my mind that Zypper is the most powerful package management utility available today, with many useful options and arguments that do not exist elsewhere. While its apparent complexity could be seen as discouraging at times, once you take the time to learn the tool and to understand its intricacies you will undoubtedly appreciate the effort openSUSE developers have put into creating Zypper. It's an excellent tool for all those who wish to follow the development of openSUSE 11.0 without having to re-install the system after each alpha or beta release.
For more information:
FreeBSD moves to Subversion, Novell reports growing Linux business, Ubuntu plans universal connectivity, Fedora outlines KDE plans, BLAG and Granular interviews
There can't be many FreeBSD users who are not familiar with the project's omnipresent CVS infrastructure, including its famous "cvsup" and "csup" commands. Times are changing, however. Last week, after some 12 years of usage and nearly 180,000 commits, the FreeBSD project officially switched to Subversion: "The day has finally come - FreeBSD is using Subversion instead of CVS for the base source tree! Congratulations to everyone involved, especially Peter Wemm. This move was discussed extensively during the DevSummit at BSDCan 2008; there have been many issues with CVS over the years, most of which are minor enough to be overlooked, but some of which are just nasty (the inability of CVS to move/rename files, bad handling of branching in the event of constant new development and additions to the directory tree, non-atomic commits) and have frequently required manual interventions in the CVS repository." Of course, the big bang switch to Subversion doesn't mean that "cvsup" and "csup" will stop working instantly, but those users who are just starting with FreeBSD or those who wish to move ahead with times should start learning about "svnsync" and other, more modern tools.
* * * * *
Reporting the financial results for its second fiscal quarter of 2008, Novell announced that its Linux business was up by 31% when compared to the same period of the previous year: "Novell saw its Linux business top US$29 million in its second fiscal quarter of 2008 (US$30 million in total Open Platform Solutions revenue), up 31 percent over the same period a year ago, with other business units also seeing healthy growth. Only its Workgroup business unit continues to founder, down 1 percent in the period that ended April 30." In the meantime, the continued rivalry between Novell and its main Linux competitor, Red Hat, continued to generate some interesting exchanges. Replying to a question about Red Hat's exit from the desktop market, Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian remarked last week: "I wouldn't attribute any of it to them exiting the market because technically, they would have had to put a product out there to enter the market, which they never got done." Both vendors continue to focus on the established enterprise business, rather than attempting to develop offerings for a mass-market, commercially-supported Linux desktop for consumers, concludes InternetNews in its report.
* * * * *
Barely a few weeks have passed since the release of Ubuntu 8.04, but ITWire has already launched a discussion about the likely features in Intrepid Ibex, Ubuntu's next release, due in October 2008: "Ubuntu, arguably the most popular Linux distribution today, came out with its 8.04 release last month, dubbed Hardy Heron. That's passé now; here's the low down on what the future holds this October with Ubuntu 8.10, Intrepid Ibex." So what is likely to receive plenty of attention? Universal connectivity: "The intention of pervasive Internet access on trains and the like also suggests support must be included for increasingly-popular 3G modems. I struggled to make my Telstra NextG modem work with my ASUS Eee PC; it required a lot of 'modprobes' and recompiling of kernel sources. Imagine how tremendous it would be to replace the custom ASUS edition of Xandros with Intrepid Ibex and have a tiny super-light ultra-portable laptop that works anywhere."
* * * * *
The KDE desktop implementation in Fedora has been a hit and miss in all of its recent releases, but never more obvious than in Fedora 9 where the only option is the feature-incomplete KDE 4.0.3. Luckily, the Fedora developers are aware of the problems and keep working on acceptable solutions. Rahul Sundaram: "The many interface changes bring their own set of problems. Icons and files on the desktop only have rudimentary support by design, yet there is no better replacement ready. You cannot drag and drop or copy paste files, nor can you use the context menu to open a file with a alternative program. When you delete icons from the desktop, they are not actually deleted but merely hidden for the current session and reappear on your next login. Panel widgets cannot be relocated within the panel easily. There is no way to remove the plasmoid handler from the desktop. With the Oxygen theme, the difference between an active window and the passive windows are too subtle."
* * * * *
Finally, two interviews with the project leaders of two distributions which don't often find themselves featuring in the headlines, but which certainly have their dedicated followers. The first one is a talk with Jeff Moe, the founder of the Fedora-based BLAG Linux And GNU: "Jeff Moe is a 37-year old self-employed father. Better known as 'jebba', he is the main developer behind the 100% free distribution BLAG (for BLAG Linux And GNU). He is also leading a couple of other Free software projects." One of the special features of BLAG Linux And GNU is its kernel, specially modified to remove any non-free "blobs": "Q: gNewSense has just released a new version based on Ubuntu Hardy Heron. They chose to replace Ubuntu's kernel with 'linux-libre'. Has any other distribution (Ututo maybe?) shown interest in using your kernel? A: Alexandre Oliva (Red Hat compiler engineer) has shown interest in getting it into Fedora. I'm not sure what's up with Ututo, but dyne:bolic will almost certainly use it in their next main release. I talk to 'jaromil' from dyne:bolic and Brian Brazil from gNewSense frequently."
* * * * *
The second interview is with Anurag Bhandari, the founder and project leader of the PCLinuxOS-based Granular Linux: "Q: What exactly is Granular Linux? What does the name Granular signify?A: Granular is an easy-to-use Linux distribution aimed at desktop users and newbies in the world of Linux. It can also be a good choice for regular Linux users. The name 'Granular' signifies one of the reasons behind the creation of this distro, that is, 'customizability'. Granular was intended to be able to get easily customized by the end user. An overall customization can only be achieved by customizing the individual components (granules). And for that, KDE is an excellent option, combined with the various options provided with Granular. Hence the word Granular." And a little personal info about the founder of Granular Linux: "I am a computer engineering student heading towards my fourth and last year at the National Institute of Technology, Jalandhar, India. I am pursuing my B.Tech degree there. I am a resident of Jalandhar, Punjab."
Granular Linux 1.0 preview offers a sneak peek at the upcoming version 1.0, due for release next month.
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|Released Last Week
Bluewhite64 Linux 12.1 "Live DVD"
Attila Craciun has announced the availability of the "LiveDVD" edition of Bluewhite64 Linux 12.1, an unofficial port of Slackware Linux to the x86_64 architecture: "I am delighted to announce the availability of Bluewhite64 Linux 12.1 'LiveDVD' and Bluewhite64 Linux 12.1 'LiveUSB'. The new Bluewhite64 Linux 12.1 LiveDVD includes the stable SMP Linux kernel 22.214.171.124 with advanced features and performance. The LiveDVD is designed to bring a modern Linux desktop to the AMD64/EM64T architectures; it includes a modularized X.Org 126.96.36.199 (7.3) with Compiz, the award-winning KDE 3.5.9 in 65 languages, OpenOffice.org 2.3, Firefox 188.8.131.52 (Flash-ready) and Konqueror (Flash and Java-ready) web browsers, Thunderbird 184.108.40.206 and KMail 1.9.9 mail clients, Swaret 1.6.3 and Qtswaret 0.1.5 package managers, IA32 emulation to run 32-bit programs, and many more server and desktop programs and tools." Here is the full release announcement.
SystemRescueCd 1.0.3, a Gentoo-based live CD designed for disk partitioning and data rescue tasks, has been released. From the changelog: "Updated the default kernel to Linux 220.127.116.11 with Reiser4; updated the alternative kernel to Linux 18.104.22.168 with Reiser4; switched from Unionfs to Aufs (another union file system); boot from network via PXE or with docache now works with as little as 256 MB of RAM; updated the btrfs file system support to 0.14 (kernel patch and utilities); updated the graphical environment to xorg-server version 1.4; updated NTFS-3G to 1.2506 (NTFS full read and write support); updated GParted to 0.3.7; improved fonts in the graphical environment (X.Org and Xvesa); added support for 256-byte inode in ext3 file system in GRUB 0.97; added a PDF viewer (ePDFView); fixed shell problem with the serial console."
Epidemic GNU/Linux 2.1
Epidemic GNU/Linux is an easy-to-use, Debian-based desktop distribution created in Brazil. An updated version 2.1 was announced yesterday. With this release, the project's developers focused primarily on bug fixes, stability and speed improvements, and general polish. Some the improvements include: Easy Channel, a graphical utility for installing proprietary applications and non-free media codecs; Enetwork, a network configuration tool; a new version of the Epidemic installer; integration of Compiz Fusion with several 3D plugins; an i686-optimised Linux kernel 2.6.24 with a number of patches for wireless network cards and other hardware devices; improved support for webcams; Aufs file system on live CD; read-write support for NTFS partitions; various artwork and theme updates. Please visit the distribution's home page (in Portuguese) to read the release announcement and to take a look at some screenshots.
Epidemic GNU/Linux - a Brazilian desktop distribution based on Debian's testing branch
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Foresight Linux 2.0.2
Ken VanDine has announced the release of Foresight Linux 2.0.2, an rPath-based desktop distribution featuring the latest GNOME technologies: "Announcing the release of Foresight Linux 2.0.2 GNOME edition. Some highlights: GNOME 2.22.2; GNOME Display Manager 2.22; 22.214.171.124 kernel; NetworkManager, more stable than ever; Mono 2.0 beta (now uses less memory); Banshee 1.0 beta. Foresight GNOME edition is a Linux distribution for your desktop that features a rolling release schedule that always keeps your desktop up to date; a revolutionary package manager, Conary; the latest GNOME desktop environment and an innovative set of excellent, up-to-date packages." Read the release announcement and release notes for further details.
DeLi Linux 0.8.0
Henry Jensen has announced the release of DeLi Linux 0.8.0, a light-weight desktop distribution designed for computers with as little as 32 MB of RAM: "DeLi Linux 0.8.0 is the next big step and the first release of the 0.8.x branch. The main focus of the 0.8.x series will be internationalisation. The biggest changes are: switched to UTF-8 as the default encoding; dropped GTK+ 1.x, switched to GTK+ 2.x (2.10); switched to the 'pacman' package manager (from Arch Linux); Netsurf or Skipstone as web browsers; AbiWord 2.4.6 with ODT plugin and Gnumeric 1.6.3; Linux kernel 126.96.36.199, now with LSI Logic support (important for VMware guests). Unfortunately, the hardware requirements had to be raised: for running the GUI at least 32 MB of RAM are recommended; a MMX capable processor is recommended for multimedia applications; a full installation with all applications requires about 750 MB space on hard disk." Here is the full release announcement.
Myah OS 3.0
Jeremiah Cheatham has announced the release of Myah OS 3.0, a complete desktop Linux distribution with Xfce and a variety of administration tools: "The long-awaited Myah OS 3.0 is here. 3.0 has been in development since 2006 right after the release of version 2.3. This release is a complete Linux solution for personal computers. It is created to do just about anything right out of the box without any hassle. There is full support for watching and editing videos. If you like music you can tune into online stations or even record your own. You can also write you own web pages or even use the IDE to start developing software. Myah OS also comes with a complete set of system tools to help with administration. Adding packages is a simple and easy task. Myah will also let you know when there are updates available." Read the rest of the release announcement for more information.
Myah OS 3.0 - a complete desktop Linux distribution with excellent package management infrastructure.
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* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
May 2008 donation: FileZilla receives US$400.00|
We are pleased to announce that the recipient of the May 2008 DistroWatch.com donation is FileZilla, a cross-platform, open-source FTP client for Linux, Mac OS X and Windows, released under the General Public Licence. It receives US$400.00 in cash.
Developed in Germany by Tim Kosse, the FileZilla client provides an impressive list of useful features, including the following: "Support for FTP, FTP over SSL/TLS (FTPS) and SSH File Transfer Protocol (SFTP); available in many languages; supports resume and transfer of large files (4 GB and above); powerful site manager and transfer queue; drag and drop support; configurable speed limits; file name filters; network configuration wizard; remote file editing; keep-alive; FTP proxy support." FileZilla is an excellent replacement for some of the traditional open-source FTP clients which are no longer in active development, such as gFTP. Linux.com published a good overview of FileZilla in August 2007.
As always, this monthly donations programme is a joint initiative between DistroWatch and two online shops selling low-cost CDs and DVDs with Linux, BSD and other open source software - LinuxCD.org and OSDisc.com. These vendors contributed US$50.00 each towards this month's donation to FileZilla.
Here is the list of projects that received a DistroWatch donation since the launch of the programme (figures in US dollars):
Since the launch of the Donations Programme in March 2004, DistroWatch has donated a total of US$17,683 to various open source software projects.
- 2004: GnuCash ($250), Quanta Plus ($200), PCLinuxOS ($300), The GIMP ($300), Vidalinux ($200), Fluxbox ($200), K3b ($350), Arch Linux ($300), Kile KDE LaTeX Editor ($100) and UNICEF - Tsunami Relief Operation ($340)
- 2005: Vim ($250), AbiWord ($220), BitTorrent ($300), NdisWrapper ($250), Audacity ($250), Debian GNU/Linux ($420), GNOME ($425), Enlightenment ($250), MPlayer ($400), Amarok ($300), KANOTIX ($250) and Cacti ($375)
- 2006: Gambas ($250), Krusader ($250), FreeBSD Foundation ($450), GParted ($360), Doxygen ($260), LilyPond ($250), Lua ($250), Gentoo Linux ($500), Blender ($500), Puppy Linux ($350), Inkscape ($350), Cape Linux Users Group ($130), Mandriva Linux ($405, a Powerpack competition), Digikam ($408) and SabayonLinux ($450)
- 2007: GQview ($250), Kaffeine ($250), sidux ($350), CentOS ($400), LyX ($350), VectorLinux ($350), KTorrent ($400), FreeNAS ($350), lighttpd ($400), Damn Small Linux ($350), NimbleX ($450), MEPIS Linux ($300), Zenwalk Linux ($300)
- 2008: VLC ($350), Frugalware Linux ($340), cURL ($300), GSPCA (Linux webcam support) ($400), FileZilla ($400)
* * * * *
New distributions added to waiting list
- BSDanywhere. BSDanywhere is a bootable live CD image based on OpenBSD. It consists of the entire OpenBSD base system (without compiler) plus graphical desktop (Enlightenment), an unrepresentative collection of software, automatic hardware detection, and support for many graphics cards, sound cards, SCSI and USB devices as well as other peripherals. BSDanywhere can be used as a productive UNIX system for the desktop, educational CD, rescue system or hardware testing platform.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
And this concludes the latest issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 9 June 2008.
|• Issue 569 (2014-07-28): Deepin 2014, Ask Fedora, Gentoo and LibreSSL, encrypted package downloads|
|• Issue 568 (2014-07-21): Antergos 2014.06.24, Mint based on Debian stable, upgrading CentOS, BinaryTides|
|• Issue 567 (2014-07-14): Manjaro 0.8.10, PC-BSD jails, Debian and glibc, Fedora's DNF, Xiki and Opera 24|
|• Issue 566 (2014-07-07): LXLE 14.04, OpenBSD's SimpleDE, openSUSE artwork, home security basics|
|• Issue 565 (2014-06-30): Chakra 2014.05, Fedora on BeagleBone, Matthew Miller interview, e-book readers|
|• Issue 564 (2014-06-23): Antergos 2014.05.26 and Q4OS 0.5.11, Debian LTS and glibc, Fedora DNF|
|• Issue 563 (2014-06-16): Mint 17, CentOS 7 pre-release, Debian MATE, accessing encrypted content|
|• Issue 562 (2014-06-09): GoboLinux 015, Gentoo interview, Fedora leader change, climagic tricks|
|• Issue 561 (2014-06-02): OpenMandriva 2014.0, Debian GNU/Hurd, Lubuntu and LXQt, Final Term, TrueCrypt|
|• Issue 560 (2014-05-26): KaOS 2014.04, Wayland and KDE 5 on Fedora, distros with commercial support, DenyHosts|
|• Issue 559 (2014-05-19): VortexBox 2.3, LTS-only Linux Mint, FreeBSD 11 ambitions, KDE 5 beta|
|• Issue 558 (2014-05-12): RHEL 7 Workstation impressions, LXQt and Lumina, Haiku interview|
|• Issue 557 (2014-05-05): Xubuntu 14.04, Ubuntu 14.10 roadmap, Fedora Workstation, ownCloud|
|• Issue 556 (2014-04-28): Ubuntu 14.04, LibreSSL, Lumina desktop, Deepin interview|
|• Issue 555 (2014-04-21): Robolinux 7.4.2, Ubuntu release day stats, Debian security, Porteus update|
|• Issue 554 (2014-04-14): Review of FreeNAS, OpenSSL bug, Fedora.next, Robolinux Stealth VM, measuring memory|
|• Issue 553 (2014-04-07): Puppy 5.7 "Slacko", end of Ubuntu One, file encryption with GPG|
|• Issue 552 (2014-03-31): Tanglu 1.0, Ubuntu GNOME LTS, SliTaz for ARM|
|• Issue 551 (2014-03-24): Linux Mint "Debian" 201403, call for end to proprietary firmware, LVM|
|• Issue 550 (2014-03-17): Review of NixOS 13.10, Lubuntu seeking feedback, Android-x86 4.4-rc1 impressions|
|• Issue 549 (2014-03-10): ClearOS 6.5 and UCS 3.2, Gentoo interview, Ubuntu app contest, Into the Core|
|• Issue 548 (2014-03-03): Review of Mageia 4, FreeBSD console driver, filtering web content, Pitivi fundraiser|
|• Issue 547 (2014-02-24): Chakra 2014.02, Ubuntu privacy, preventing unwanted remote logins|
|• Issue 546 (2014-02-17): Review of PC-BSD 10.0, Red Flag closure, Ubuntu and systemd, SlackE18, Fedora book review|
|• Issue 545 (2014-02-10): Impressions of FreeBSD 10.0, Debian votes systemd, Ubuntu file manager, server security|
|• Issue 544 (2014-02-03): Netrunner 13.12, openSUSE future, Ubuntu Touch in emulator, running commands in multiple places|
|• Issue 543 (2014-01-27): Review of Korora 20, FreeBSD 10.0, DNF, ZFS rescue CD, Bridge Linux interview|
|• Issue 542 (2014-01-20): QupZilla, Ubuntu with MATE, Arch on Raspberry Pi, best applications|
|• Issue 541 (2014-01-13): openSUSE 13.1 and Zentyal 3.3, CentOS joins Red Hat, Bodhi on Chromebooks|
|• Issue 540 (2014-01-06): SMS 2.0.6 and SME Server 8.0, Hawaii desktop, PHR statistics 2013, more on multi-part archives|
|• Issue 539 (2013-12-23): Centrych 12.04.3, Fedora 20 and its spins, dividing archives across multiple discs|
|• Issue 538 (2013-12-16): Mint 16 review, RHEL and CentOS 7 plans, SteamOS, Windows XP replacement suggestions|
|• Issue 537 (2013-12-09): OpenMandriva 2013.0, Gentoo developer interview, project Neon, Linux Mint and security|
|• Issue 536 (2013-12-02): Impressions of openSUSE 13.1, Ubuntu Touch, FreeBSD 10 delay, troubleshooting OS lock-ups|
|• Issue 535 (2013-11-25): GhostBSD 3.5, Debian and MATE, Ubuntu 14.04 features, security updates|
|• Issue 534 (2013-11-18): Review of OpenBSD 5.4, Fedora on ARM, menu names vs command-line names|
|• Issue 533 (2013-11-11): Point Linux 2.2, Pisi update, Debian and Xfce, Bruno Cornec interview|
|• Issue 532 (2013-11-04): Ubuntu and Kubuntu 13.10, Debian's init, FreeBSD's PKG-NG, Linux on ARM|
|• Issue 531 (2013-10-28): PC-BSD 9.2, openSUSE testing, nftables, upgrade pros and cons|
|• Issue 530 (2013-10-21): Kwheezy 1.2, DPL interview, Zenwalk's future, keeping up with vulnerabilities|
|• Issue 529 (2013-10-14): Ubuntu's Mir, dmesg and photorec tips, Tiny Tiny RSS|
|• Issue 528 (2013-10-07): Semplice 5, Haiku package management, Klaus Knopper interview, making custom distro|
|• Issue 527 (2013-09-30): Tiny Core Linux 5.0, SteamOS, moving operating system to new computer|
|• Issue 526 (2013-09-23): Look at ArchBang 2013.09.01, BSD Now, kernel stats, command-line tips|
|• Issue 525 (2013-09-16): The Official Ubuntu Server Book, FreeBSD 10 and OpenBSD 5.4, Skype alternatives|
|• Issue 524 (2013-09-09): Look at LXLE 12.04.3, Ubuntu's new package format, Secure Boot and dual-booting|
|• Issue 523 (2013-09-02): OpenIndiana 151a8, openSUSE "Evergreen", GNOME and DuckDuckGo, running apps from RAM|
|• Issue 522 (2013-08-26): Look at gNewSense 3.0, Ubuntu Edge fundraising failure, exploring GPL|
|• Issue 521 (2013-08-19): Review of Korora 19, Fedora considers return to "Core", Haiku package management|
|• Issue 520 (2013-08-12): Salix OS 14.0.1 "KDE", Xubuntu experiments with XMir, managing passwords with KeePass|
|• Issue 519 (2013-08-05): Review of Porteus 2.0, Kubuntu lays out plans for Wayland adoption, adjusting system swappiness|
|• Full list of all issues|