| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 500, 25 March 2013
A tentative idea that started with Issue One back in June 2003 -- with a goal to publish a weekly summary of distribution news, operating system reviews, opinions and tips -- has been going on, Monday after Monday, for nearly ten years now. So without further ado,
WELCOME TO THE
500th ISSUE OF DISTROWATCH WEEKLY!
This week's feature story is a review of the recently-released openSUSE 12.3, a major new update of one of the oldest and most popular Linux distributions of all times. Is the new openSUSE a good potential replacement for some of the more controversial recent distribution releases? Read on to find out what we think. In the news section, Ubuntu announces major changes in its release process, Debian integrates the popular "Backports" repository into its main archive, and Slackware becomes the latest distribution to replace the Oracle-controlled MySQL database with the MariaDB fork. Also in this issue, an opinion piece discussing the increasing effort by the two major players on the Linux market, Red Hat and Canonical, to introduce new standards and the effect this has on the many smaller and more traditional Linux distributions and development teams. As we look forward to the next 500 issues of DistroWatch Weekly, here is a big THANK YOU to all our writers, contributors and especially the readers who have kept us going for so long. Cheers and happy reading!
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (25MB) and MP3 (41MB) formats
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
First look at openSUSE 12.3
The openSUSE project has been around for a long time under one name or another. The community distribution attempts to be one of the best and most flexible desktop, server and cloud solutions available in the Linux ecosystem. It is a lofty goal, but the project, through the course of its long history, has generally done quite well at providing a polished Linux distribution to its users. The latest release from the project, version 12.3, appears to be mostly made up of incremental improvements. The packages in openSUSE's repositories have been upgraded, giving users access to the KDE 4.10 desktop, GNOME 3.6 and up-to-date virtualization technology. Improvements have been made to openSUSE's OpenStack cloud technology and the systemd init implementation. The project has transitioned from using MySQL to MariaDB and the project's Btrfs implementation has been updated in the hopes of offering better reliability and file system snapshot support. This version of openSUSE will receive security updates for two releases plus two months, or approximately 18 months in total based on the current release schedule.
People wishing to try the latest version of openSUSE have a number of download options. The project offers a handful of flavours, including a full DVD with a large collection of optional software, a KDE edition, a GNOME edition, a Rescue CD and there is a minimal net-install option. Each of these flavours can be had in 32-bit and 64-bit builds. I opted to download the KDE edition of openSUSE 12.3 and I found the ISO image was about 930 MB in size. Booting from the openSUSE media brings up a boot menu which will let us launch the distribution's desktop environment from the live media, launch the system installer or perform a media check. Diving into the live environment brings us to a KDE desktop. A window opens which introduces us to the distribution and provides many links to the project's documentation, help forums and to the KDE project's user documentation. Dismissing this window we find a collection of icons on the desktop. These icons act as launchers for a web browser, the system installer, the LibreOffice suite and the KInfocenter which provides us with information on our machine's hardware. At the bottom of the display we find an application menu, task switcher and system tray. I found that desktop effects were enabled by default. These are mostly subtle visual effects and the KDE desktop was quite responsive while these bits of eye-candy were enabled.
openSUSE 12.3 - the welcome screen
(full image size: 1,109kB, screen resolution 1366x768 pixels)
The openSUSE installer is a graphical application which has a great many features. Generally speaking each page of the installer gives us a simple question and we can supply answers or take the default settings. Should we wish to look deeper most pages have advanced options which allow us to tunnel further into the configuration details. This makes installing openSUSE fairly straight forward, but it also gives us a great deal of power over our initial setup. The installer walks us through accepting the license agreement and confirming our preferred language and keyboard layout. We select our time zone from a map of the world and we can optionally set the date & time.
The partitioning screen takes a singular approach, letting us check boxes to indicate which features we want for our system and the partition manager will then attempt to match our desires with a partition layout. Alternatively we can manually manage partitions and I found the installer to be very flexible. We can select almost any file system for our partitions, encryption is supported and we can even set mount flags for specific mount points. Both LVM and Btrfs are supported by the partition manager. The next page of the installer asks us to create a user account and set passwords for both our account and the root user. The final screen shows a summary of actions the installer will take and there are links next to these actions. Clicking the links bring up pages where we can alter the pending actions. For example we can swap out GRUB2 for GRUB Legacy or LILO, we can change which partitions will be formatted and other details.
The first couple of times I went through the installer I tried to set up a Btrfs volume as I had the last time I experimented with openSUSE. It was one of the features I enjoyed most when using openSUSE last year, but this time I wasn't able to get the installer to configure the advanced file system. I tried with a few different layouts and with simply handing the entire free disk space over to the installer's guided partitioning wizard, but each time I was shown an error saying Btrfs couldn't be set up. I finally gave in and set up my system using the ext3 file system instead. The installer copied its files to my hard drive quite quickly, only taking a few minutes. When the installer finished it offered to reboot the machine.
openSUSE 12.3 - running the graphical installer
(full image size: 1,161kB, screen resolution 1366x768 pixels)
Aside from the errors I ran into while setting up openSUSE I ran into an additional issue, namely hardware support. At first I attempted to load openSUSE on my desktop machine (dual-core 2.8 GHz CPU, 6 GB of RAM, Radeon video card, Realtek network card) and, initially, I had trouble getting the distribution to boot. Disabling kernel mode setting I was able to get openSUSE to boot, but only to a text console; I was not able to access the desktop or graphical installer. Switching to my laptop (dual-core 2 GHz, 4 GB of RAM, Intel video card, Intel wireless card) I ran to into lock-ups the first two times I attempted to boot from the live media. The third time I attempted to load openSUSE on my laptop the operating system brought me to the live desktop without any problems and without any adjustments made on my part. In addition to running openSUSE on my laptop I also ran the distribution in a VirtualBox virtual machine. In both environments I found openSUSE ran quickly, boot times were short and the desktop was very responsive, even with file indexing and visual effects enabled. The operating system was light on resources, using approximately 225 MB of memory while logged into the KDE desktop.
Booting openSUSE brings us to a graphical login screen. The first time a user logs in they see the same welcome screen we encountered on the live media. Icons for launching popular applications sit on the desktop and the background is mostly dark and subtle. Shortly after logging in a small notification appeared in the corner of the screen letting me know package updates were available in the repositories. Clicking on this notice brings up the Apper package manager and it displays a list of packages waiting to be downloaded. We can select which items we wish to upgrade and then Apper goes to work, downloading and applying the updates, all the while showing us progress information. It's a smooth experience, made smoother than we might normally expect of Linux distributions as we are not prompted for a password or privilege escalation prior to the new packages being installed. Apart from handling updates Apper also functions as the distribution's primary graphical package manager. Using Apper we can browse through software categories using a simple web-like interface. We can mark packages for installation or removal with the click of a button. Queued actions are handled in batches by Apper. I found the package manager worked quickly and I encountered no problems with it.
openSUSE 12.3 - downloading package updates
(full image size: 277kB, screen resolution 1366x768 pixels)
I did, however, run into a problem when trying to play multimedia files. There are audio and video applications present in openSUSE's default installation, but no non-free codecs. The system will offer to hunt down these codecs when we attempt to play media files, but this doesn't help us as the codecs are not packaged in the main repositories. Enabling media playback is a rather roundabout process which leads us through several pages of the openSUSE wiki, downloading the necessary community repository information, enabling these repositories and then confirming we will choose to trust the third-party package signing keys. It is not a user-friendly process and even doing it properly takes us through about eight screens. Once the community repository is enabled the system will offer to download the codecs. In my case what actually happened was the package manager downloaded the codecs, Flash support and about 970MB of additional packages, including the "screen" utility, several command line shells, the Python scripting language and LibreOffice updates. It was a long, slow download with a lot of extra software attached to it, but I did (in the end) end up with multimedia and Flash support.
The KDE edition of openSUSE comes with a useful collection of software. We're given the Firefox and Konqueror web browsers. The Kopete and Konversation chat clients are installed for us as is the LibreOffice suite. The Okular document viewer is available to us. The KTorrent bittorrent client is installed by default as is the Marble virtual globe. The KDE System Settings panel is available to help us configure the graphical interface and the YaST configuration utility lets us administer the rest of the operating system. There are accessibility features available, including an app to assist users in manipulating the mouse, another magnifies the screen and there is a virtual keyboard in the default installation. I found two privacy tools, KGpg and the Kleopatra utility, these both deal with security keys and encryption. The Network Manager utility assists us in getting on-line and there are the usual small apps for editing text files, managing archives, crunching numbers and taking notes. Java is available to us and I found the system runs both a mail service and secure shell by default. Behind the scenes openSUSE runs on the Linux kernel, version 3.7. I found when trying to run a command from the system's console, when the command was not available, the system would to try to locate the missing program in the distribution's repositories.
The YaST configuration manager has always been a shining star in openSUSE's sky. The graphical portal allows us to configure all aspects of the operating system from the comfort of a well organized graphical interface. There are a lot of options to choose from, but they are arranged clearly and the YaST family of tools do a nice job of providing both power and ease of use. I found the YaST tools worked well and they grant a lot of power to the system administrator, giving us control over all the distribution's services, security, networking and packages. I did run into a few cases where YaST's utilities would produce an error indicating a new configuration couldn't be saved, but I found closing the control centre, going back and trying a second time always gave me the desired results. One unexpected characteristic of openSUSE's default configuration is all user accounts are granted sudo privileges by default. This is handy in a home environment, but probably isn't what we want in more complex situations. The YaST control centre dedicates a module to managing sudo and the default behaviour is easy to change should we require a more restricted security policy.
openSUSE 12.3 - the YaST configuration centre
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One thing which surprised me in the wake of openSUSE 12.3's launch wasn't technical in nature, but perhaps political. A few years back the Fedora team introduced a policy change in their distribution which would allow regular users to install updates without administrator privileges. There was quite a strong (and negative) reaction from the Linux community over the issue and the change was eventually reversed. On the other hand openSUSE allows users, even users without any sort of admin or sudo access, to install updates in the same manner and I have yet to hear a peep from the community over the issue. There appears to be a double standard here and I have to wonder why openSUSE gets a pass while Fedora does not over the same feature.
While getting openSUSE up and running I ran into several speed bumps involving hardware support, enabling multimedia support and an inability to use Btrfs and the associated Btrfs features. These problems make me think the current version of openSUSE could have benefited from additional quality assurance checks. It certainly wasn't the same simple install-and-go experience I enjoyed with version 12.2 of the distribution. However, once the pieces were in place the distribution provided a surprisingly smooth, fast and pleasant experience. The operating system boots quickly and runs fast. Even with all the desktop features enabled the system is responsive and KDE 4.10 is quite polished. There were a few minor glitches when using the YaST configuration panel, but overall YaST is still one of the better configuration tools in the Linux community. I really like the detailed documentation provided by openSUSE, the welcome screen and the attention to little details. The openSUSE project is really ideal for users who want a balance between power and ease of use and the entire system appears focused on the idea that things should be easy without removing control form the user. It's a fine line to walk, but I think the openSUSE developers have done a good job.
|Miscellaneous News (by Ladislav Bodnar)
Ubuntu approves major release changes, Debian integrates backports into main archive, Slackware replaces MySQL with MariaDB
Discussions over possible changes in the Ubuntu release process continued last week. From the user's point of view one of the less positive outcomes was the decision to halve support length for non-LTS releases: "In a meeting of the Ubuntu Technical Board last night, the technical leadership of Canonical's Linux distribution decided to halve the support time for non-LTS releases to nine months. The reduction in support for non-LTS releases from 18 to nine months should give the developers more time to concentrate on testing the packages to which users will be able to upgrade between major releases. No decisions have been taken, apparently, on how the up-to-date packages will be delivered to users; the Technical Board only decided to 'enable users to continuously track the development focus of Ubuntu without having to explicitly upgrade'. The implementation details are expected to be worked out in the next few weeks." Ubuntu Fridge has a very good summary of the changes.
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As happens regularly during the advanced stages of "freeze" in the development of Debian GNU/Linux, speculations about an imminent stable release have started hitting Linux news sites. Last week it was The H Online that came up with a suggestion of a possible release of Debian 7.0 on the Easter weekend: "The Debian release team is entering the hot phase of the upcoming Debian 7.0 'Wheezy' release. The list of release-critical bugs has been shortened to less than a hundred, and for approximately half of those, the developers have already decided to ignore the problems in question or to drop the packages if patches will not be submitted soon. However, the developers will only accept small patches that fix the problem in question and do not touch other parts of the system as they are trying to move ahead with the release. A release candidate for the new Debian Installer has been available for over a month. Taking the current progress into account, it is possible that Debian Wheezy could be released over the Easter holidays." That would be this weekend starting on Friday, 29 March.
A more factual and no less interesting news from the Debian project came from Debian developer Francesca Ciceri who announced the integration of Debian backports into the main Debian archive: "The Debian project is pleased to announce that the backports service for the next stable release, Debian GNU/Linux 7.0 (code name 'Wheezy') will be part of the main archive. Backports are packages mostly from the testing distribution (and in few cases from unstable too, e.g. security updates) recompiled in a stable environment so that they will run without new libraries (whenever it is possible) on the Debian stable distribution. While as for now this service was provided on a separated archive, starting with wheezy-backports the packages will be accessible from the regular pool. The users of Wheezy will have to add to their sources.list file this entry: deb http://ftp.debian.org/debian/ wheezy-backports main. All users of the service are invited to check their regular mirror if it carries backports and pull from there. Please note that this change does not affect the current stable release - Debian GNU/Linux 6.0 (code name 'Squeeze')."
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The growing list of Linux distribution replacing the Oracle-control MySQL database with a fork called MariaDB expanded over the weekend with the addition of Slackware Linux. From "Slackware switching to the MariaDB database": "The big news here is the removal of MySQL in favor of MariaDB. This shouldn't really be a surprise on any level. The poll on LQ showed a large majority of our users were in favor of the change. It's my belief that the MariaDB Foundation will do a better job with the code, be more responsive to security concerns, and be more willing to work with the open source community. And while I don't think there is currently any issue with MySQL's licensing of the community edition for commercial uses, several threads on LQ showed that there is confusion about this, whereas with MariaDB the freedom to use the software is quite clear. Thanks are due to Heinz Wiesinger for his work on transitioning the build script, testing, and getting us all behind this move. He's been working with MariaDB (and their developers) for several years now." Also, don't miss the extensive changelog of Slackware "Current" (the distribution's development branch), with an unusually large number of new entries during the past week.
|Opinions (by Jesse Smith)
The growing divide
People often regard Linux (or GNU/Linux, if you prefer) as an operating system. When asked "What operating system do you run?" many of us, myself included, are likely to reply, "Linux". I believe this concept of Linux as a single operating system to be a generalization at best and, at worst, inaccurate. The label GNU/Linux really refers to a family of operating systems, each with their own distinct quirks, rules, package management utilities and installers. Sometimes these differences are good as they allow for friendly competition and variety, allowing each user to find an operating system which fits their ideal. At other times these differences make extra work for developers, reduce the spread of software products and force users to give up some features in order to enjoy others.
I believe most of the problems this variety causes come not from upstream software projects, but rather from ambitious distributions. Distributions often develop in-house utilities for their users and keep those utilities in-house, which makes them harder to adapt to other distributions. While any distribution can package a distro-agnostic project such as LibreOffice or Firefox (indeed distributions can work closely with these neutral upstream projects), software projects which are kept "downstream", maintained by the developers of a single distribution, ultimately cause fragmentation and result in users losing out on important features. Let's take a look at some examples.
The YaST configuration tool has been included in the openSUSE distribution for years, yet efforts to port this configuration manager to other distributions have typically failed. Likewise porting Mandriva's Control Centre has met with similar road blocks. Various projects first introduced by Ubuntu have generally failed to spread. The Unity desktop environment and One client software have given developers working with other distributions many headaches.
These little incompatibilities between Linux distributions have existed for years and aren't anything new. Most of us have learned to live with them, accepting that running one distribution and enjoying its perks means giving up on other attractive features. What concerns me now is that these incompatibilities not only appear to both be growing in number, but might be introduced deliberately. Looking at the systemd project, as an example, we're seeing the new init system being attached to other projects, including udev and possibly the GNOME desktop. Many Linux and BSD developers have expressed concern that this will limit GNOME and udev functionality to Linux distributions which swap out their existing init system for systemd. In fact it is an issue Gentoo's development team has taken quite seriously, resulting in a fork of udev. The move has also effectively blocked GNOME Shell from making an appearance in the BSD community.
These examples certainly show the existence of incompatibilities, but they don't demonstrate deliberate fragmentation of the open source community, and I did suggest fragmentation might be caused on purpose, so let's look at another example. Canonical recently announced they had decided the new Wayland compositor might not be the solution they had originally hoped it would be and so Canonical introduced a new product, Mir. Now Wayland had not been widely adapted up to that point. Some initial work had been done to make Qt and GTK+ applications work with Wayland, but this functionality wasn't included by default. Both toolkits had added Wayland support as a possible add-on option developers could turn on and test. In short, Wayland was receiving a lukewarm welcome from the community as a whole.
At least it was until Canonical announced the launch of Mir, a potential competitor to Wayland. A week after the announcement went public, this post was made to the GNOME mailing list stating: "The recent Mir announcement makes it a bit more urgent that we put our weight behind Wayland and help it reach its full potential." The post suggests GNOME should support Wayland before the end of 2013 and it's probably not a coincidence this is the same time-line proposed by Canonical for getting Unity working with Mir. I personally think it is also interesting to note the proposed push to get GNOME working with Wayland comes from Matthias Clasen, a Fedora contributor with an @redhat.com e-mail address. I suspect in the final quarter of 2013 we will see an interesting and problematic fork in the road where GNOME runs on top of Wayland on Fedora, Unity runs on top of Mir on Ubuntu and other distributions not based on either of these projects will be running their desktop environments on top of standard X.
Why might this be problematic? Well, aside from the likelihood of new bugs being introduced with the arrival of fresh software there is also the question of video drivers. Linux distributions already suffer from poor video driver support and dividing that limited support three ways isn't going to help. While it should be relatively easy to make existing open source drivers work across X, Wayland and Mir, closed source drivers (those needed for 3-D support and gaming) do not yet work with Wayland or Mir. It's already hard enough to get companies like AMD and NVIDIA to support Linux when they are asked to support the X graphic stack, are these companies going to volunteer to support three different display systems in the small desktop Linux market? Might they only support one or two of the display options and, if so, which ones?
Increasingly we are seeing the Linux community divided into camps, not just the classic RPM vs DEB and GNOME vs KDE camps of the past. The chasms are growing wider, dividing the community into separate groups using different init processes, display systems and access controls. It is my concern as both a developer and a user that we are seeing a division of the Linux community into multiple separate communities. We appear to have the Fedora/Red Hat camp on one side, the Ubuntu/Canonical camp on the other and we have many other distributions stuck in the middle, faced with an uncomfortable choice. Should they join one camp or the other, or perhaps try to stick with existing technology which will slowly lose support as the big players move away? This concerns me as it appears that Linux distributions are not only becoming less compatible with each other, they may be forming new operating system families. Might we see GNU/Linux go from being one family of similar operating systems to being divided into three or more separate entities? I certainly hope not, but right now it looks like the two community members with the most money both want to take their balls and go home.
|Released Last Week
Nanni Bassetti has announced the release of CAINE 4.0, an Ubuntu-based distribution with specialist utilities for forensic analysis and penetration testing: "CAINE and NBCAINE 4.0 'Pulsar' are out. Changelog: Linux kernel 3.2, LibreOffice 4.0.1, Sqliteman, remote file system mounter, sdparm, netdiscover, NirSoft Launcher with FTK imager and sysinternals tools, new RBFstab and Mounter. Rbfstab is a utility that is activated during boot or when a device is plugged in. It writes read-only entries to /etc/fstab so devices are safely mounted for forensic imaging and examination. It is self installing with 'rbfstab -i' and can be disabled with 'rbfstab -r'. It contains many improvements over past rebuildfstab incarnations. Rebuildfstab is a traditional means for read-only mounting in forensics-orient distributions." Visit the project's home page to read the complete changelog and to see some screenshots.
Paweł Pijanowski has announced the release of SparkyLinux 2.1, a Debian-based desktop Linux distribution with a choice of Enlightenment, LXDE, MATE or Openbox desktops user interfaces: "I am happy to announce the final versions of SparkyLinux 'Eris' 2.1 E17/LXDE, 2.1 MATE edition and update of 2.1.1 Ultra edition. The ISO images provide bug fixes, updates and new features. All new images of SparkyLinux 'Eris' have been synchronised between themselves and all packages upgraded from Debian testing repository as of 2013-03-15. The new live system provides: Linux kernel 3.2.39; minor bugs fixes; live system on USB stick fixes; full system installation on USB stick; new set of wallpapers. The live system's user name is 'live', password 'live'." Here is the brief release announcement with a screenshot.
SparkyLinux 2.1 - a Debian-based lighteweight distribution for the desktop
(full image size: 836kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Clonezilla Live 2.1.1-7
Steven Shiau has announced the availability of a new stable release of Clonezilla Live, version 2.1.1-7, a specialist live CD with useful open-source disk-cloning utilities: "Stable Clonezilla Live (2.1.1-7) released. This release of Clonezilla Live includes minor enhancements and bug fixes: the underlying GNU/Linux operating system has been upgraded, this release is based on the Debian 'Sid' repository as of 2013-03-14); Partclone has been updated to 0.2.59; Clonezilla is now able to image MINIX; the keyutils program has been added; the grub-install command is no longer run for grub 1 on an ext4 file system when grub-install is from Debian, this prevents a potential indefinite hang; a prompt about skipping re-installing grub 1 in ocs-functions has been improved...." Read the rest of the release announcement for a complete changelog.
Malcolm Davenport has announced the release of AsteriskNOW 3.0, a complete, CentOS-based Linux distribution with Asterisk telephony software, DAHDI driver framework and FreePBX administrative GUI: "AsteriskNOW 3.0. Today, a major update to AsteriskNOW is available. The older 2.x version is now replaced by the new AsteriskNOW 3.0. With the 3.0 release, many improvements are available including: a new version of Asterisk (11 instead of 1.8); a new distribution (CentOS 6.4 instead of CentOS 5.x); a new version of FreePBX (2.11beta instead of 2.10); a re-written Digium phones add-on module with many more options; fixes for numerous issues, including the call detail records problem in the 2.x version." Here is the brief release announcement.
Josh Paetzel has announced the release of FreeNAS 8.3.1, an open-source storage platform that supports sharing across Windows, Apple, and UNIX-like systems: "The FreeNAS development team is pleased to announce the immediate availability of FreeNAS 8.3.1-RELEASE. FreeNAS 8.3.1 is based on FreeBSD 8.3 with version 28 of the ZFS file system, and features volume based encryption for ZFS. There have been no major changes between 8.3.1-RC1 and RELEASE, mostly bug fixes and minor usability improvements to the GUI. Please familiarize yourself extensively with the encryption features of FreeNAS before using them. Doing the wrong thing can end up in a state where the volume is hidden behind very difficult-to-break AES 256 encryption. Many modern CPUs feature hardware support for encryption. If hardware support is available FreeNAS will use it." Read the rest of the release announcement for further information and useful links to documentation pages.
GParted Live 0.15.0-1
Curtis Gedak has announced the release of GParted Live version 0.15.0-1, a utility live CD with specialist tools for hard disk management and data rescue tasks: "The GParted team is proud to announce a new stable release of GParted Live. The biggest change with this release comes from enhancements to GParted that track live updates of command execution progress in the details section of the apply operations window. Other items of note include: move operations are twice as fast as in prior versions; proper cancel support has been added; volume label length is now based on file system type; unallocated space is selected by default; Linux kernel updated to 3.2.39; based on the Debian Sid repository as of 2013-03-20." Visit the project's news page to read the release announcement.
Slackel 2.0 "Openbox"
Dimitris Tzemos has announced the release of Slackel 2.0 "Openbox" edition, a lightweight desktop Linux distribution based on Slackware's "Current" branch: "Slackel Openbox 2.0 has been released. Slackel is based on Slackware and Salix. It uses the excellent Salix tools and Salix packages. A collection of two Openbox ISO images are immediately available, including 32-bit and 64-bit installation images that can be burned to a CD. Slackel Openbox 2.0 includes the current tree of Slackware and Openbox 3.5.0 accompanied by a very rich collection of software. Linux kernel is 3.7.10. The Midori 0.4.8 web browser, Claws-Mail 3.8.1 and Transmission are the main networking applications included in this release. SpaceFM is the file manager. It comes also with OpenJRE 7u9, Rhino, Icedtea-web, Pidgin and gFTP." Read the rest of the release announcement for more information.
Linux Mint 201303 "Debian"
Eleven months after the last release, a brand-new version of Linux Mint "Debian" edition (with MATE and Cinnamon, but no Xfce this time) is out: "The team is proud to announce the release of LMDE 201303. Highlights: Update Pack 6; MATE 1.4 and Cinnamon 1.6; installer improvements (graphical time zone and keyboard selection, support for installation on multiple hard disk drives, slideshow, webcam and face picture support); device driver manager; Plymouth splash screen. LMDE in brief: Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE) is a semi-rolling distribution based on Debian 'Testing'. It's available in both 32-bit and 64-bit variants as a live DVD with MATE or Cinnamon. The purpose of LMDE is to look identical to the main edition and to provide the same functionality while using Debian as a base." Here is the full release announcement with screenshots, additional notes and a FAQ.
An updated version of Tails, a Debian-based live DVD with focus on user's privacy and anonymity on the Internet, has been released: "Tails, The Amnesic Incognito Live System, version 0.17.1, is out. All users must upgrade as soon as possible. Notable user-visible changes include: Upgrade to Iceweasel 17.0.4esr; update Linux kernel to 3.2.39, which includes better support for graphics adapter backported from Linux kernel 3.4.29; temporarily drop the Rendition display driver. Bug fixes: remove Indymedia IRC account until we ship a version of Pidgin with SASL support. Known issue: the VirtualBox support in Tails 0.17.1 is not as good as it could be. The next Tails release (0.17.2) is scheduled for April 9, it will be a minor, bug-fix release." Here is the full release announcement with a link to a complete changelog.
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
New distributions added to waiting list|
- calamariOS. calamariOS is an openSUSE-based Linux distribution optimised for desktop use. It comes with a choice of GNOME, KDE, Xfce and Enlightenment desktop user interfaces.
- Tanglu. Tanglu is a new Linux distribution based on Debian's "Testing" branch, closely following the Debian development. It will have a 6-months release cycle and its target audience are Linux desktop users.
- YouTube Remote Controller OS. YouTube Remote Controller OS is a Linux-based operating system which displays a remotely-controlled YouTube view.
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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, 1 April 2013. To contact the authors please send email to:
- Jesse Smith (feedback, questions and suggestions: distribution reviews, questions and answers, tips and tricks)
- Ladislav Bodnar (feedback, questions, suggestions and corrections: news, donations, distribution submissions, comments)
- Bruce Patterson (feedback and suggestions: podcast edition)
|• Issue 666 (2016-06-20): Comparing more live update methods, Ubuntu's snap packages, Antergos drops 32-bit media, GeckoLinux unveils Rolling edition, learning Linux resources|
|• Issue 665 (2016-06-13): BunsenLabs Linux Hydrogen, Fedora 24 delayed, NetBSD grows in size, Clonezilla questions|
|• Issue 664 (2016-06-06): Sabayon 16.05, Debian updates install media, the cost of free software, Qubes explains secure build process|
|• Issue 663 (2016-05-30): Comparing live update methods, Ubuntu MATE's progress, distros debate systemd change, DistroWatch turns 15|
|• Issue 662 (2016-05-23): Clonezilla Live, new Fedora community repository, DragonFlyBSD runs Wayland, a live edition of Slackware and kernel components|
|• Issue 661 (2016-05-16): FreeBSD 10.3, OpenMandriva adopts Clang, Debian adds ZFS packages, PCLinuxOS drops 32-bit and comparing CentOS with RHEL|
|• Issue 660 (2016-05-09): Ubuntu MATE 16.04, Mint's xapps, FreeBSD Quarterly Report, Debian updates 32-bit support, addressing GPL violations|
|• Issue 659 (2016-05-02): Ubuntu 16.04, compiling custom kernels, Cinnamon 3.0, Sabayon launches ARM build, Devuan ships Beta release|
|• Issue 658 (2016-04-25): Kali Linux 2016.1, elementary OS 0.3.2, Debian elects Project Leader, Fedora 24 feature preview, Nard reaches 1.0|
|• Issue 657 (2016-04-18): Redox, Linux Mint improves update manager, planned Fedora 24 features, Ubuntu 16.04 getting Snappy packages|
|• Issue 656 (2016-04-11): Qubes OS 3.1, Whonix offers bug bounties, Puppy's family tree, setting up disk partitions and running bash on Windows|
|• Issue 655 (2016-04-04): Parsix 8.5, Sabayon's Community repository, Red Hat offers free subscriptions, Ubuntu tablets, command line tips|
|• Issue 654 (2016-03-28): PCLinuxOS 2016.03, Using signatures to create a web of trust, Arch Linux rolls out Pacman update, GuixSD packages GNOME|
|• Issue 653 (2016-03-21): Antergos 2016.02.21, Debian prepares for election, a Unix-like OS written in Rust, watching Netflix on FreeBSD|
|• Issue 652 (2016-03-14): ReactOS 0.4.0, Debian swaps Iceweasel for Firefox, Fedora moving forward with Wayland, Verifying ISO files|
|• Issue 651 (2016-03-07): Korora 23, Linux Mint improves security, Ubuntu MATE on Raspberry Pi 3 computers, trying different file systems|
|• Issue 650 (2016-02-29): Haiku in 2016, running Android apps on GNU/Linux, 30 years of MINIX, Fedora plans Atomic Workstation|
|• Issue 649 (2016-02-22): Zorin OS 11, openSUSE launches new editions, Linux Mint website compromised, sandboxing applications using Firejail|
|• Issue 648 (2016-02-15): XStream Desktop 153, Raspbian unveils OpenGL feature, free hardware, Ikey Doherty talks desktop design|
|• Issue 647 (2016-02-08): Tails 2.0, KDE project launches Neon, Manjaro unveils ARM support, FreeBSD's quarterly report|
|• Issue 646 (2016-02-01): deepin 15, Mint plans X-Apps, FreeBSD to support boot environments, logging into the desktop as root|
|• Issue 645 (2016-01-25): Linux Mint 17.3 "Xfce", Chromixium changes its name, Ubuntu tablets coming soon, Linux vs BSD comparision|
|• Issue 644 (2016-01-18): Kwort 4.3, Sabayon tests ARM images, Slackware adopts PulseAudio, running Linux without GNU software|
|• Issue 643 (2016-01-11): Solus 1.0, Mint provide upgrade path to 17.3, Fedora developers work on stability, running the LXQt desktop|
|• Issue 642 (2016-01-04): paldo GNU/Linux, vetting distro repositories, Fedora plans to adopt GCC 6, Ian Murdock passes|
|• Issue 641 (2015-12-21): Arch Linux, Qubes OS to ship on Librem laptops, ALT offers start kit images, the spread of systemd and launchd|
|• Issue 640 (2015-12-14): Chakra GNU/Linux 2015.11, removing meta-data from files, Ubuntu to remove on-line dash searches|
|• Issue 639 (2015-12-07): OpenBSD 5.8, openSUSE gathers Summer of Code proposals, running WINE on a live disc, Enlightenment adds Wayland support|
|• Issue 638 (2015-11-30): Qubes OS 3.0, KaOS with Plasma, NetBSD 7.0, Fedora seeks Wayland testers, scheduling tasks|
|• Issue 637 (2015-11-23): NixOS 15.09, Antergos introduces ZFS support, MINIX shares new features, copying an OS to a new computer|
|• Issue 636 (2015-11-16): openSUSE 42.1, Fedora uses Wayland by default, Debian replaces live CD project, Steam consoles launch|
|• Issue 635 (2015-11-09): Fedora 23, Cinnamon 2.8 released, a Fedora KDE packager quits, Red Hat signs deal with Microsoft|
|• Issue 634 (2015-11-02): Ubuntu 15.10, Chakra upgrades to Plasma 5, OpenMandriva plans new editions, MINIX plans conference|
|• Issue 633 (2015-10-26): GhostBSD 10.1, Bodhi Linux to get new settings panel, Fedora 23 delayed, creating live image of existing OS|
|• Issue 632 (2015-10-19): Linux Lite 2.6, 32-bit build of CentOS, OpenBSD turns 20, Bodhi Linux releases AppPack|
|• Issue 631 (2015-10-12): Parsix 8.0, Manjaro seeks new artwork, sending commands to multiple servers, Debian drops LSB support|
|• Issue 630 (2015-10-05): Android-x86 4.4-r3, Ubuntu's new installer, Raspbian defaults to GUI interface, cleaning out dot files|
|• Issue 629 (2015-09-28): Open source desktops and touch interfaces, locking down user accounts, OpenMandriva opens gaming documentation|
|• Issue 628 (2015-09-21): Neptune 4.4, changes to pfSense, Pinguy OS releases updated ISO images, accessing hard disk images|
|• Issue 627 (2015-09-14): Mageia 5, Snappy co-exists with Debian packages, creating PDF/A documents, Antergos previews Poodle|
|• Issue 626 (2015-09-07): Status of Wayland and Mir, Cinnamon improvements, an OpenBSD hypervisor, HAMMER2 gets deduplication|
|• Issue 625 (2015-08-31): OpenELEC 5.0.8, Fedora's new Wayland features, Tails releases update, the LILO boot loader|
|• Issue 624 (2015-08-24): Zorin OS 10, Sabayon's new features, Solus seeks funding, Debian turns 22, new PC-BSD repository|
|• Issue 623 (2015-08-17): VectorLinux 7.1, Ubuntu One source released, Moksha Desktop ships in Bodhi, Fedora developers debate Chromium|
|• Issue 622 (2015-08-10): antiX 15, Fedora tests kdbus, Debian tracks UEFI issues, word processors for the CLI|
|• Issue 621 (2015-08-03): Point Linux 3.0, Debian drops Sparc, Fedora package stats, VirtualBox 5.0|
|• Issue 620 (2015-07-27): Debian GNU/Hurd 2015, Linux Bible, Ubuntu MATE gets new Welcome app, Telegram on Fedora, Plasma Mobile|
|• Issue 619 (2015-07-20): SolydXK 201506, Tanglu's new bug tracker, FSF and Canonical negotiate licensing, Haiku unveils new init system|
|• Issue 618 (2015-07-13): Semplice Linux 7, openSUSE derivatives, Debian adopts GCC 5, Docker ported to FreeBSD|
|• Issue 617 (2015-07-06): Alpine linux 3.2.0, Fedora on MIPS CPUs, Solus offers daily builds, Ubuntu migrating to Snappy|
|• Issue 616 (2015-06-29): MidnightBSD 0.6, openSUSE's "42", encryption added to the ext4 file system, FreeBSD on a Raspberry Pi|
|• Issue 615 (2015-06-22): Raspbian 2015, Fedora works around Intel driver issue, openSUSE adopts GCC 5, frozen desktop while copying files|
|• Full list of all issues|
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