| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 569, 28 July 2014
Welcome to this year's 30th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! We want a lot of things from our operating systems. A good operating system should be fast, reliable, secure and easy to use. One project which attempts to embody all these operating system virtues is Deepin, an Ubuntu-based distribution featuring a custom desktop environment and several unique applications. Read our feature review below to find out how well Deepin performs. In the News section this week we discuss the Fedora team's push to help users find answers to their technical questions and the interesting parts of FreeBSD's quarterly report. We also talk about using LibreSSL as a drop-in replacement to OpenSSL and the potential security risks involved with downloading packages over an unencrypted connection. Plus we cover the distribution releases of the past week and look ahead to fun, new developments to come. We wish you all a wonderful week and happy reading!
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
First impressions of Deepin 2014
The Deepin Linux distribution is based on the Ubuntu operating system and features several unique features and additions. The project's website states: "Deepin is a Linux distribution that aims to provide an elegant, user-friendly, safe and stable operating system for global users. Based on HTML5 technologies, [the] Deepin team has developed a series of new special software, such as Deepin Desktop Environment, Deepin Music Player, DPlayer, Deepin Software Center."
The distribution's latest release, version 2014, ships with some intriguing features, including a custom system installer, friendly software centre, custom control centre, UEFI support and the Deepin Desktop Environment (version 2.0). The project's release notes also mention that running Deepin in a virtual machine is not recommended: "Since Compiz is used as the window manager in Deepin 2014 and its performance is poor in a virtual machine, Deepin 2014 is strongly recommended to be installed directly in the real machine, so that the gorgeous effect of which can be truly experienced. To completely solve this problem, we have planned to develop a new window manager to replace Compiz in the future releases."
Deepin 2014 is available in 32-bit and 64-bit x86 builds. The download image for the distribution is approximately 1.5 GB in size. Booting from the project's live media brings up a menu we can navigate with either the keyboard or the mouse pointer. The menu asks us to select our preferred language from a list. Once our language has been selected the system boots to a desktop interface with a starry sky in the background. On the desktop we find an icon for launching the project's system installer. At the bottom of the screen we find a quick-launch bar filled with icons for commonly accessed applications. There are also buttons for bringing up the distribution's application menu and settings panel on this launch bar.
Deepin 2014 - application menu
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The Deepin system installer is one of the fastest and most simple to use installers I have encountered. When it starts up we are presented with a screen which asks us to create a user name and password for ourselves. We can also create a name for our computer on this screen. In the upper-right corner of this first screen is an icon for changing our keyboard's layout (my keyboard was properly set up without my help) and a second icon brings up a map of the world where we can set our time zone. Again, my time zone was properly detected so many users can probably ignore these two optional steps. The second screen of the installer asks where we would like to install Deepin and allows us to select a region of our hard disk. Should we wish to customize our installation there is an "Expert" button on this page which opens a partition manager which resembles the partition manager featured in Ubuntu's system installer. The Deepin installer supports Btrfs, JFS, XFS, ReiserFS and the ext2/3/4 file systems. The Expert screen further allows us to choose where to install Deepin's boot loader, the default location being the first hard drive. After these steps are completed the system installer copies its files to our local hard drive and, when it is finished, we are prompted to reboot the computer.
When Deepin boots we are shown an animated boot screen where the word "Deepin" fills with waves of water. Then we are brought to a login screen where the background is an animated star field. The first time we login we are greeted by a welcome screen which offers to show us some of the features of the Deepin Desktop Environment. The interactive tutorial walks us through how to access the desktop's full screen application menu, how to move icons around the menu and add program launchers to the desktop. We are also shown the interface's "hot corner" shortcuts and the distribution's control panel. I'll talk about these features more shortly, for now I just want to acknowledge the distribution's friendly tutorial - it's a nice introduction to a desktop environment I was not familiar with prior to this review.
As I mentioned above, the Deepin Desktop Environment features a full screen application menu. This menu contains a grid of icons we can scroll through. The icons are divided into categories of software rather than being placed in alphabetical order and navigation buttons on the left side of the menu let us jump to any software category. We can type search terms to help us find items faster. One aspect of the menu I appreciated was that we can move items we use frequently to the top of the menu (the Favourites area). We can also right-click on an application's icon and place it on our desktop. Having too many icons on the desktop can make for a cluttered work environment and Deepin allows us to group multiple icons into desktop containers, similar to the way the Android operating system lets users group app launchers. The desktop features hot corners and moving our mouse pointer to the corners of the desktop enables us to bring up the application menu, minimize all open windows and bring up the distribution's settings panel.
Deepin 2014 - settings panel
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The settings panel I feel deserves special mention. While most Linux distributions feature a control centre that can be opened in its own window, Deepin features a control panel that acts like a widget, growing out of the right side of the screen. All desktop settings can be accessed via this panel without opening new windows, the settings we are interested in simply expand and other categories of settings minimize. This makes navigating the system settings very quick and fluid.
I tried running Deepin on a desktop computer and, despite the warnings against virtual machines, I installed Deepin inside VirtualBox. On physical hardware the distribution performed very well. It booted quickly, the desktop was responsive and the system was stable. I found networking and sound worked out of the box and my screen was automatically set to its maximum resolution. When running in VirtualBox the experience was as the project's team warned. Deepin runs slowly in the virtual environment. The distribution does work inside VirtualBox and can be used, but the desktop is slow to respond. In both environments I found Deepin required approximately 400 MB of memory.
Deepin 2014 - the Deepin Store package manager
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The Deepin distribution has a multiple purpose package manager which has a similar look and feel to Ubuntu's Software Centre, though Deepin's graphical software manager seems to have a less cluttered interface. The package manager is divided into tabs which let us search for software, view installed items, see and install available package upgrades and watch actions in progress. While browsing for new software we can look through desktop applications that are arranged by category or we can search for items using key words. I used the package manager, called Deepin Store, to locate a few items and install them. I also used Deepin Store to download and install 25 software updates (totalling 64MB in size). These actions were all handled quickly and without any problems.
The distribution features a second application which acts a bit like a package manager. This second program, called Deepin Games, works in a similar fashion to Valve's Steam gaming portal. It allows us to browse and search for games. Clicking on a game's title causes the game to download and launch on our machine. So far as I can tell, the games are not installed locally the same way packages are installed (games do not appear in our application menu). Once we close a game we are returned to the Deepin Games application. Should we wish to return to games we have played before, Deepin Games keeps track of items we have launched before and these previously played games can be quickly located in a tab called "My Games". Though I did not spend much time with Deepin Games, the items I did play worked well and the games I tried were free to play. I feel Deepin Games is more or less equivalent to Steam or PlayOnLinux, though Deepin Games ran faster on my test machine.
Deepin ships with a useful collection of desktop software, much of it custom made for the distribution. We are given the Google Chrome web browser, the HexChat IRC client, the Pidgin instant messenger software and the Skype voice-over-IP client. Thunderbird is available for working with e-mail and a remote desktop client is included for us. The LibreOffice productivity suite is available along with an image viewer and PDF document viewer. Deepin ships with popular multimedia codecs and media players, specifically Deepin Movie for watching videos and Deepin Music for playing audio files. Flash is also available by default. The distribution provides the Brasero disc burning software, the ChmSee document viewer, a printer management app and a system process monitor.
Deepin provides an application for utilizing wireless drivers built for Windows, an archive manager, a text editor and a virtual calculator. We also find a program in the application menu called Deepin Translator which I assume translates lines of text. However, whenever I tried to launch Deepin Translator the program crashed and displayed an error regarding the D-Bus service. While using Deepin I found some additional features, such as pressing the F4 key would open a full screen terminal window. Pressing F4 again dismissed the terminal. The distribution ships with the GNU Compiler Collection and the Linux kernel, version 3.13. I found that trying to run an application in a virtual terminal when the application was not installed would cause a message to be displayed letting us know how to install the missing program.
Deepin 2014 - various desktop applications
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After a few days of using Deepin what really made an impression on me was how natural the experience felt. Going into this review I was not familiar with the Deepin Desktop Environment and, while I had briefly used Deepin in the past, it was long ago. I was not familiar with Deepin's current package manager, multimedia utilities, system installer, settings panel or other components. Yet, despite my ignorance concerning Deepin going into this review, there was virtually no learning curve. The Deepin utilities and desktop environment are very polished, stable and surprisingly intuitive.
I suspect I felt so immediately at home with Deepin because the distribution's interface appears to have taken the best aspects of other systems and improved upon them. For example, the application menu feels more responsive and has a nicer layout than ROSA's application menu or the GNOME Activities screen. The Deepin Desktop Environment carries some of the same features as Unity, yet feels more responsive and (during my time) was more stable than early releases of the Unity desktop. Deepin nicely combines the better aspects of the traditional desktop design (desktop icons, launch bar and window management) with mobile-style features such as the full screen launch menu and desktop icon containers.
Another aspect of Deepin I enjoyed was the way the distribution tended to keep things out of the way without restricting the user. For example, we can get through the system installer in just two screens, providing four pieces of information (user name, computer name, password and disk region we want to hand over to Deepin). That brevity is quite nice. At the same time, the system installer allows us to adjust settings and customize our installation in the same way Linux Mint or Mageia might, but we need only see those options if we want to access them. In a similar vein, the Deepin Store and settings panel are very nicely trimmed down and easy to navigate. Yet, while these components have been streamlined, they are not lacking any significant features so far as I can see. Likewise, not many desktop applications are installed for us by default, but there is a good deal of functionality present. Deepin's core theme appears to be giving us power without giving us clutter.
One further characteristic of Deepin I appreciated was that the distribution has some flare and eye candy when the user is idle, but the distribution is not distracting while we are using it. For instance, while booting, shutting down and waiting for a user to login, Deepin shows simple animations. It is a way to entertain the user while we sit and wait. However, once we get logged into our account, the pretty animations stop and Deepin removes distractions, giving us a clean work space. There are no wobbly icons in the launch tray, no flashy animations as windows close or slow fade-outs when we switch between tasks.
Finally, I want to acknowledge that I was worried going into this review that there might be a language barrier. Deepin, while based on Ubuntu, is developed in China and I had concerns that some Deepin-specific components might not display clear English. As it turns out, almost all of the English text I saw during my time with Deepin was clear and without error. Deepin may be native to China, but care has been taken to make the translations fluent. I think during my week with Deepin I saw only one line of text which did not appear to be written by a native English speaker and, even then, the meaning was quite clear.
What I took away from my time with Deepin is the distribution runs well, is stable, offers a good deal of functionality out of the box and is very user friendly. The developers have done a great job of mixing concepts from various desktop and mobile operating systems to create something which is paradoxically both unique and familiar. The Deepin Desktop Environment is quite stable and, on physical hardware, responsive. Deepin is easy to set up, easy to use, features a great deal of software through its repositories and, thanks to its Ubuntu base, should be able to run most third-party Linux software. I am impressed with what Deepin has to offer and recommend giving it a try.
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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 2.8 GHz AMD A4-3420 APU
- Storage: 500 GB Hitachi hard drive
- Memory: 6 GB of RAM
- Networking: Realtek RTL8111 wired network card
- Display: AMD Radeon HD 6410D video card
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Related story: Interview with Deepin project leader Wang Yong (DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 556, April 2014)
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith and Ladislav Bodnar)
Fedora Magazine encourages people to join Ask Fedora, Gentoo developer weighs in on using LibreSSL, FreeBSD team issues quarterly report, Ubuntu launches 8th edition of The Official Ubuntu Book
Many people, not just software developers, want to contribute to open source projects. However, for someone who does not code or have system administration skills it can be hard to know how to assist the larger community. The Fedora project is encouraging people of all skill sets and levels of ability to get involved on the Ask Fedora website. Ask Fedora functions in a similar manner to user discussion forums, but with a particular focus on asking questions and getting assistance. The Fedora Magazine has a post explaining how Ask Fedora works: "Ask Fedora is an instance of the Askbot Q&A website. It's similar to Stack Exchange if you've used it. The idea is for people to ask questions and for any one that can help to answer these questions. While asking and answering questions, you earn karma and badges, you vote on these questions and answers and as more and more people use the site and learn in the process, it becomes a self sustaining knowledge base -- new folks can look through existing questions for information." Voting on posts helps people find useful information as helpful posts gain more points and more attention.
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Following the fork of the OpenSSL encryption library and the creation of the LibreSSL project, many people in the open source community have been talking about migrating to the new (and potentially more secure) LibreSSL software. This raises a number of questions such as whether LibreSSL can serve as a drop-in replacement to OpenSSL, whether the two libraries can co-exist and whether people should be switching to LibreSSL right away. One Gentoo developer, Diego Elio Pettenò, addressed some of these questions in a blog post in which he discusses using LibreSSL as a drop-in replacement to OpenSSL. He gets right to the point, declaring: "Let me state this here, boldly: you should never, ever, for no reason, use shared objects from different major/minor OpenSSL versions or implementations (such as LibreSSL) as a drop-in replacement for one another." Most people will probably be best off waiting until distributions adopt and package LibreSSL before trying to use the new library.
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The FreeBSD project released its most recent quarterly report last week. Among the updated projects, Summer of Code reports and updates on the new PKG package manager were two pieces of especially good news for FreeBSD fans. The first is that FreeBSD releases will have an officially supported life cycle of five years: "In May, a new release policy was published and presented at the BSDCan developer conference by John Baldwin. The idea is that each major release branch (for example, 10.X) is guaranteed to be supported for at least five years, but individual point releases on each branch, like 10.0-RELEASE, will be issued at regular intervals and only the latest point release will be supported." The second bit of news is that FreeBSD is improving support for embedded devices and ARM boards such as the Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone. The FreeBSD developers are also working on cloud images that will be compatible with Amazon's EC2, Compute Engine and Azure. This will make it easier to set up cloud instances of FreeBSD on popular hosts.
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Besides providing a popular operating system for desktops and servers, the Ubuntu project has always been very keen on delivering great documentation - be it an online Wiki system or a regularly updated manual. The Official Ubuntu Book, now in its 8th edition and covering the new Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, was released last week. One of the authors, Elizabeth Krumbach Joseph, blogs about the event: "I had the great opportunity to work with Matthew Helmke, José Antonio Rey and Debra Williams of Pearson on the 8th edition of The Official Ubuntu Book. In addition to the obvious task of updating content, one of our most important tasks was working to 'future-proof' the book more by doing rewrites in a way that would make sure the content of the book was going to be useful until the next long-term support release, in 2016. This meant a fair amount of content refactoring, less specifics when it came to members of teams and lots of goodies for folks looking to become power users of Unity." The Official Ubuntu Book, 8th Edition is available from InformIT (US$31.99), Amazon (US$28.51, C$26.45, £23.54, €27.57) and other bookstores.
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Encrypted package downloads
Not-tipping-my-hand asks: When I download packages in Ubuntu it shows that the connection is made over plain HTTP. Isn't it possible for people to snoop on my connection and see what packages I am installing? Could someone even alter a package I am installing, compromising my system? Why aren't packages installed over HTTPS? Are there any distributions which do use a secure connection?
DistroWatch answers: First, let us take a look at whether it is possible for someone to monitor your connection to your distribution's software repository. In theory, yes it is possible for someone to listen in and monitor HTTP connections, including those to your distribution's software repository. This means someone could potentially learn what software you are installing on your computer. As to whether someone could alter a package as you are downloading it, that is less likely. Most distributions digitally sign their packages. This means the package manager on your computer will examine the software you are downloading and check to see if it has been altered since it left the repository. The digital signature check means it is highly unlikely someone could substitute their own, compromised package for a legitimate package. However, it is, in theory, possible an attacker could cause you to download and install an older version of a legitimate package, one with known security problems. It would still, technically, be a package from your distribution, but one which was out of date and vulnerable to attack.
Knowing monitoring your connection is possible and some attacks are, in theory, possible, why do distributions offer plain HTTP connections instead of the more secure HTTPS variety? I suspect the answer basically boils down to three things. First, it is slightly faster to establish insecure connections. When you are rapidly connecting to multiple mirrors and downloading dozens of packages, making a speedy connection is a nice feature. Second, setting up security takes more time and resources and the package manager should have some way of identifying whether a server's security certificate can be trusted. All of this is more work for the repository maintainers and distribution developers. Finally, package signing prevents most attacks against packages in transit. The likelihood of someone attacking you with older versions of software are relatively low as there are many other, easier and faster methods of attack.
All that being said, package managers can typically make use of HTTPS connections so long as the package repository mirror it is connecting to also supports HTTPS connections. The popular APT and YUM package managers can connect to software repositories which feature HTTPS support. I tried enabling HTTPS connections in my package manager recently and quickly found that repository mirrors generally do not enable HTTPS support which means that while the package managers support HTTPS connections, the servers holding the packages do not. Most are unlikely to add support for HTTPS given the trade-off between the work required to enable this feature and the potential benefits.
Still, if you would like to push for more secure connections, you can get in contact with your distribution's mirror maintainers. Distributions often have a mailing list or IRC channel where you can get in touch with mirror administrators and the idea of improving HTTPS support can be discussed there.
|Released Last Week
Kali Linux 1.0.8
Mati Aharoni has announced the release of Kali Linux 1.0.8, a minor update of the project's Debian-based distribution with specialist tools for penetration testing and forensic analysis: "The long awaited Kali Linux USB EFI boot support feature has been added to our binary ISO builds, which has prompted this early Kali Linux 1.0.8 release. This new feature simplifies getting Kali installed and running on more recent hardware which requires EFI as well as various Apple MacBook Air and Retina models. Besides the addition of EFI support, there is a whole array of tool updates and fixes that have accumulated over the past couple of months. As this new release focuses almost entirely on the EFI capable ISO image, Offensive Security won't be releasing additional ARM or VMWare images with 1.0.8. As usual, you don't need to re-download Kali if you've got it installed, and apt-get update && apt-get dist-upgrade should do the job." Read the rest of the release announcement for further information.
An updated version of Tails, a Debian-based distribution known for its strong privacy features and pre-configured for anonymous web browsing, has been released: "Tails, The Amnesic Incognito Live System, version 1.1, is out. All users must upgrade as soon as possible - this release fixes numerous security issues. Notable user-visible changes include: re-base on Debian 7.0 'Wheezy'; upgrade thousands of packages; migrate to GNOME 3 'fallback' mode; install LibreOffice instead of OpenOffice.org; UEFI boot support, which should make it possible to boot Tails on modern hardware and Apple computers; replace the Windows XP camouflage with a Windows 8 camouflage; bring back VirtualBox guest modules, installed from Wheezy backports, full functionality is only available when using the 32-bit kernel. Fix write access to boot medium via udisks; upgrade the web browser to 24.7.0esr...." Here is the full release announcement with a list of known issues.br/>
Tails 1.1 - default desktop and Getting Started guide
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Oracle Linux 7.0
Oracle has announced the release of Oracle Linux 7.0, a distribution rebuilt from source code of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7, but featuring a custom "unbreakable" kernel: "Oracle is pleased to announce the general availability of Oracle Linux 7. Oracle Linux 7 offers the latest innovations and improvements to support customers and partners in developing and deploying business critical applications across the data center and into the cloud. Features include: Btrfs Oracle Linux 7; XFS; Linux Containers (LXC); DTrace; Ksplice for zero-downtime kernel security updates and bug fixes; Xen enhancements; Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel (UEK) 3; systemd, a new service and system manager; GRUB 2 as the default bootloader with support for additional firmware types, such as UEFI; support for in-place upgrades from Oracle Linux 6.5 to Oracle Linux 7." Read the release announcement, the official press release and the detailed release notes for further information.
Adam Conrad has announced the release of Ubuntu 14.04.1, the first maintenance update of the popular distribution's current stable release: "The Ubuntu team is pleased to announce the release of Ubuntu 14.04.1 LTS (long-term support) for its Desktop, Server, Cloud, and Core products, as well as other flavours of Ubuntu with long-term support. As usual, this point release includes many updates, and updated installation media has been provided so that fewer updates will need to be downloaded after installation. These include security updates and corrections for other high-impact bugs, with a focus on maintaining stability and compatibility with Ubuntu 14.04 LTS. Kubuntu 14.04.1 LTS, Edubuntu 14.04.1 LTS, Xubuntu 14.04.1 LTS, Mythbuntu 14.04.1 LTS, Ubuntu GNOME 14.04.1 LTS, Lubuntu 14.04.1 LTS, Ubuntu Kylin 14.04.1 LTS, and Ubuntu Studio 14.04.1 LTS are also now available." Read the release announcement for more details.
Alex Polvi has announced the release of CoreOS 367.1.0, the first stable release of the specialist Linux distribution for servers and clusters: "First off, happy sysadmin day. We think we have a pretty good sysadmin surprise in store for you today as we are announcing the CoreOS stable release channel. Starting today, you can begin running CoreOS in production. This version is the most tested, secure and reliable version available for users wanting to run CoreOS. This is a huge milestone for us. Since our first alpha release in August 2013: 191 releases have been tagged; tested on hundreds of thousands of servers on the alpha and beta channels; supported on 10+ platforms, ranging from bare metal to being primary images on Rackspace and Google. CoreOS 367.1.0 includes the following: Linux kernel 3.15.2; Docker 1.0.1; support on all major cloud providers, including Rackspace Cloud...." Read the release announcement and the quick start guide to learn more.
Salix 14.1 "Openbox"
George Vlahavas has announced the release of Salix 14.1 "Openbox" edition, a lightweight Slackware-based distribution featuring with Openbox as the default window manager: "Salix Openbox 14.1 brings the Openbox window manager, teamed with fbpanel and SpaceFM to create a fast and flexible desktop environment. This is the most lightweight edition we have so far among our 14.1 releases and everything has been tweaked to provide a desktop experience comparable to other Salix editions. The development of this edition involved a long and rigorous period of testing and the final release has evolved a lot since the first beta. This release comes in both 32-bit and 64-bit flavours, with both fitting comfortably within the size of a single CD. The 32-bit flavour is also our first 14.1 release that supports i486, non-PAE capable systems by using the respective kernel, although the default is still the i686 PAE SMP kernel." Here is the full release announcement.
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
|DistroWatch.com News (by Ladislav Bodnar)
DistroWatch.com visitor platform and browsers statistics|
A couple of months ago the OSNews.com website published their most recent platform and browser statistics. I thought it would be interesting to compare their figures with those of DistroWatch.com. OSNews is, of course, a more general technology news site than DistroWatch, covering all operating systems rather than focusing only on the free and open-source ones as we do. Nevertheless, it is likely visited by technical users interested in new technologies. The statistics at OSNews do indeed reflect this as more than 21% of the website's visitors use Linux to access it while only 47% of all visitors come with Windows. On DistroWatch.com, these figures are even more biased towards free and open-source operating systems, with Linux having over 46% and Windows less than 43%. This is a fairly recent change; up until 2013 the Windows-using visitors clearly topped the statistics.
Even more remarkable are this site's browsers statistics. When I started DistroWatch.com back in 2001, the MSIE-using visitors, who had a 92% market share, shunned any competing browsers. Today, the percentage of users who visit this website with Microsoft's flagship web browser stands at a whopping 2.7%! Yes, fewer than three of every 100 visitors of DistroWatch.com are here with MSIE! Mozilla's Firefox has a 55% share, with Google Chrome a distant second at just under 29%. This, again, is more dramatic than the OSNews figures where Firefox and Chrome run neck and neck at around 38% each and where Internet Explorer has a 5.5% market share.
Naturally, a widely-visited general website, such as Wikipedia, will have much more "correct" figures of OS and browser usage as it is visited by all interest groups. Here, the popular encyclopedia's visitor statistics for June 2014 show Windows user at just over 40% of the total, while those using Linux (including Android) had a 13% market share. When it comes to browsers, Chrome visitors dominate with nearly 25%. Those using Microsoft's browser were noticeably more prominent at Wikipedia than either at OSNews or DistroWatch - they had a market share of just over 9%.
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New distributions added to database
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New distributions added to waiting list
- DSLR. DSLR is a small, 64-bit "libre" Linux distribution in the spirit of Damn Small Linux, targeted at advanced users. It's a lightweight operating system that comes pre-loaded with many useful applications.
- Peach OSI. Peach OSI is an Ubuntu-based desktop Linux distribution with an OS X-like user interface.
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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, 4 August 2014. 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)
1 • GOG.com Now Supports Linux! (by Matti on 2014-07-28 09:26:57 GMT from Finland) |
You missed one important news from last week. GOG.com now officially supports Linux. Rather than wait until they had 100 games on launch day they decided to launch early with just 50 games. You can now get DRM-free games in either distro-independent tar.gz archives or DEB files for Ubuntu and Mint LTS. Don't want to spend a dime to try them out? There are two free games you can try out just by registering. Dragonsphere and Stargunner, both first time on Linux!
DISCLAIMER: I am not affiliated with GOG.com. Just an eager fan.
2 • (by dbrion1 on 2014-07-28 09:21:39 GMT from France)
Browser figures and links are interestiong, but wikipedia's audience are students, sometimes teachers (to know how their students cheat?) other profession use it less routinely. This is consisten with the great rank of "smart" "phone"-derived (a young audience) ..
. I noticed that, in an assistance site http://www.avrfreaks.net/index.php?name=PNphpBB2&file=index (like stackexchange or, maybe, Fedora Ask) people were often encouraged to have a look at wikipedia before asking questions (would find more elaborated answers on trival? questions) . From my estimations, in periods where trivial questions were asked (exams?) wikipedia was recommended with the same frequency than Reading The Holy Manual or asking one's teacher...
Most cybercafés, in France, ban MSIE (as a web browser) in favor of chrome or FF (it takes time -> money to live with MSIE malfunctions) though they keep XP/7...
3 • BlachArch (by steph on 2014-07-28 12:11:02 GMT from France)
Does BlachArch live DVD runs on Virtualbox ?
I tried to use it through Yumi & Vmware Workstation with no success ..
4 • GOG Linux games (by Jesse on 2014-07-28 13:45:29 GMT from Canada)
@1: It wasn't so much that we missed GOG.com's debut of Linux games, but that I felt it wasn't ready to announce yet. I tried to sign up and download a couple of Linux titles and ran into multiple problems (with purchasing, with downloading, with getting support). GOG may officially support Linux, but their site still lacks some support and documentation and not all of their supported titles work yet.
I personally think GOG is moving in the right direction with wanting to support Linux, but they have a ways to go before I will direct people to their offerings.
5 • Deepin review (by Garon on 2014-07-28 14:20:36 GMT from United States)
Well Jessie, Your review of Deepin has been one of the nicest ones so far. I've read several others that have so been so nice to Deepin. I was wondering if you hold off reading other reviews of a distro that you are going to review just so you won't have a tainted opinion? It seems that way to me. Anyway I've downloaded Deepin and when trying it out I didn't really have any problems at all. Seems to be a very nice distro. Nice review also.
6 • Re: Encrypted package downloads... (by Vukota on 2014-07-28 14:27:50 GMT from United States)
Interesting reasons, but I am not convinced correct ones. Usually your network will be bottleneck, not your CPU power to decrypt packages. Its like saying we are not going to use HTTPS sites, because they are very slow. You did not mention cost and hassle to setup HTTPS. Usually it requires SSL certificate which you have to purchase and renew yearly. It also requires (not on modern browsers, but because of it it still does) dedicated IP usually v4, which will cost you additional money (monthly or yearly) and their price is going up, since there are no more v4 available IPs (ISPs have limited number of them and that is it). Who is willing to pay and manually maintain on ongoing base something that is supposed to be free and maintenance free at the first place?
Now, if distributions are willing to use none standard ports and/or protocols with SSL (and self signed certificates), that would be a different story,
7 • Deepin (by mike on 2014-07-28 14:31:13 GMT from Canada)
I'm a distro hopper, lol, so am constantly trying new ones. I had used Deepin 2013 and at the time had no issues with it.
I tried Deepin 2014 this past weekend and it wasn't for me.
I love the eye candy. All the icons, user interface etc. Its great to look at. But I found it a bit laggy and hesitant at times. I also had difficulty connecting to the internet for some reason and couldn't download anything.
Maybe it was just my settings, I don't know.
8 • Browser stats... (by Vukota on 2014-07-28 14:37:39 GMT from United States)
Interesting observation, but back in a day, I was hiding my real OS/browser with browser extensions that were faking signature as IE. With latest IE version, can your statistical software tell the difference? Nowadays roles changed and IE is faking signature and hiding as "other" browsers.
9 • Deepin (by vaithy on 2014-07-28 14:40:29 GMT from India)
I am one of the early bird that enjoy Deepin 12 but afterwards, it seems, deepin developers are trying more focused to UI instead of functionality...Deepin,in my opinion is,'a Princes with such beauty' , but cann't anyone touch her! what a pity!
10 • Deepin LibreOffice or Kingsoft? (by Jason on 2014-07-28 15:05:47 GMT from United States)
Your review mentioned the included office suite as LibreOffice, but what is listed on the distro info page is Kingsoft, is that just LibreOffice repackaged?
11 • Deepin Review (by DavidEF on 2014-07-28 15:10:34 GMT from United States)
I don't think I've ever read such a glowing review of an OS! If I have, I didn't notice, or at least don't remember. I used to distro hop, but always ended up back at Ubuntu again. Finally, I decided I was just going to stick around Ubuntu and occasionally try out a new Mint release for kicks and giggles. But this review makes me REALLY want to try out Deepin for myself. I like Ubuntu. I like Unity. But, there are a few things that bother me. If Deepin can win me over, it will be the first OS to actually de-seat Ubuntu at my house since 2005, when Ubuntu was the first Linux OS to successfully install on my computer.
12 • Reviews, Deepin and Office suite (by Jesse on 2014-07-28 15:43:11 GMT from Canada)
>> " I was wondering if you hold off reading other reviews of a distro that you are going to review just so you won't have a tainted opinion?"
I almost never read reviews of distributions I plan to review myself. Most times I will avoid visiting a project's forum too as people will flood a forum with first impressions following a release. There have been a few, rare exceptions, but I try to review distributions in an information bubble to avoid tainting the experience.
The exception to this bubble comes from people writing to me to ask me to review a distribution. People will often praise (or complain) about a project they want to see reviewed and this can cause me to look at specific features or problems I might not otherwise find.
>> "Your review mentioned the included office suite as LibreOffice, but what is listed on the distro info page is Kingsoft, is that just LibreOffice repackaged?"
No, Kingsoft and LibreOffice are completely different productivity suites. Kingsoft is closed-source, cross-platform and deals almost exclusively in Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents. It is very good at maintaining MS-Office compatiblity, but lacks many of the applications and file formats LibreOffice supports.
13 • Good distro for old laptop? (by Koro on 2014-07-28 17:40:42 GMT from Belgium)
I have an old notebook equipped with an 1.8 GHz AMD Sempron (therefore 32-bit), 1024 MB of RAM and a deprecated ATI Radeon Xpress 200M graphics card.
This thing is barely able to run Windows XP SP3. For the last few years it has been running Debian Squeeze (old stable) 32-bits with Gnome2 and it works fine.
Now I am considering upgrading to a more current system. It should be extremely light-weight, very stable and have a solid and reliable package manager with packages aplenty. Nice looks and ease-of-use are also important criteria (the laptop is not for me).
I was considering Debian (but it needs some configuration and I am short of time), Crunchbang (but I would need to add desktop icons and a main menu) and Peppermint (most likely the first thing I will try). Also LXLE looks good but they say is heavier than Peppermint or Crunchbang.
I would be glad to hear other suggestions.
14 • Deepin (by Somo on 2014-07-28 18:39:57 GMT from United States)
It's odd how people can see things so differently. I wanted to like Deepin but I found it unusable. The interface, rather than taking the best of other window managers, is an odd conglomeration of confusing patchwork. It's like a Frankenstein. Somehow, everything does manage to look nice though. Not for me but maybe for someone.
15 • @6: encrypted package downloads (by Pearson on 2014-07-28 18:48:38 GMT from United States)
> Usually your network will be bottleneck
I think the encryption overhead is on the server side. I've read that servers incur a fairly small overhead per encrypted connection, but that overhead multiplied by hundreds/thousands of connections per minute (second?) starts becoming noticeable to the clients.
16 • Re: visitor platform and browsers statistics (by cykodrone on 2014-07-28 19:26:42 GMT from Canada)
This "Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:24.0) Gecko/20140429 Firefox/24.0 Iceweasel/24.5.0" from here: https://wiki.debian.org/Iceweasel means what? The browser identifiers are listed in preferred order?
Regardless, it was interesting reading, some of us love stats. :D
17 • @13 (by kc1di on 2014-07-28 19:37:58 GMT from United States)
I would give Lubuntu or LXLE a try
18 • @13 • Good distro for old laptop? (by pep on 2014-07-28 19:39:36 GMT from United States)
From your comment, you seem quite familiar with Debian, I therefore recommend AntiX. It is VERY light weight (50-80MB logged in, depending on graphics drivers, and very responsive), but all of Debian's goodness is there along with a very reasonable selection of OTB packages. It will run very well on your hardware.
LXLE, although heavier (~100MB, quite responsive) is more polished and strikes an excellent balance between usefulness and resource usage. Great OTB package selection. It will also run quite well on your hardware.
Hope it helps.
19 • @13 - Distro recommendation (by Uncle Slacky on 2014-07-28 20:08:37 GMT from France)
Following on from @18's suggestion of AntiX, its stablemate MX-14 is very nice too (I'm using it at the moment).
20 • Good distro for old laptop (by fernbap on 2014-07-28 20:15:52 GMT from Portugal)
Try Point Linux first. If it gets too slow, there is always crunchbang.
21 • @13 • Good distro for old laptop? (by Koro on 2014-07-28 20:31:30 GMT from Belgium)
Thank you for all the answers. I have been considering all of them plus a few others (such as Puppy derivatives).
I have discarded LXLE because the latest version does not have a 32-bit edition (and it seems it is not going to have it).
I have also discarded MX-14 because the recommended system specs are a bit too high.
I have discarded Lubuntu because Peppermint is a Lubuntu derivative that offers more stuff out of the box at a relatively small cost in terms of RAM footprint.
I have also discarded DPup derivatives because there are poorly documented and therefore it is hard to know what to expect.
This leaves me with AntiX and Peppermint. The first seems more light-weight and the second more polished. I will be trying both in a couple of days.
22 • @13: distro for old laptop (by Jason Hsu on 2014-07-28 21:08:53 GMT from United States)
Out of all of the distros you and others have mentioned, I recommend CrunchBang Linux the most. Providing a desktop is easy. Just install LXDE and follow the procedure at http://crunchbanglinux.org/wiki/howto/add_desktop_icons . The Debian Stable base is why I prefer CrunchBang Linux over antiX Linux and Linux Mint Debian Edition (both of which are based on Debian Testing).
Linux Mint Debian Edition, antiX Linux, and Puppy Linux are also good. If you use LMDE, use the MATE edition, because MATE is lighter than Cinnamon.
If your computer is that slow with Windows XP (and not just because of Windows rot), then the Ubuntu derivatives are probably too slow for your computer as well. Ubuntu has a heavy overhead and has grown to be just as heavy as Windows Vista/7/8. The difference between a Debian base and a Ubuntu base is far greater than the difference between LXDE and Xfce, MATE, etc.
23 • Re: Good distro for old laptop? (by cykodrone on 2014-07-28 21:41:12 GMT from Canada)
wattOS, based on Debian, lots of pre-configuration, lightweight. I would never suggest anything based on Canonical's bloat for old hardware, regardless of their Amazon data mining partnership.
24 • old laptop ideas (by M.Z. on 2014-07-28 22:07:16 GMT from United States)
I think XFCE offerers a decent looking desktop that isn't too heavy. You might consider the XFCE version of Mint, or perhaps you could install the XFCE version of Magia via their main install disc. Both are available in 32 bit and seemed very user friendly to me, and according to the Mint folks 1 GB is a good amount to run their XFCE desktop. I think either would be worth checking out.
25 • @13, Distro for Old Laptops (by Rev_Don on 2014-07-28 22:57:28 GMT from United States)
Aside from some of the other recommendations, Linux Lite would be a good choice as I've run it on a similar specced system.
Just about anything with the XFCE or LXDE desktop should work quite well. But personally my choice for a laptop (or desktop) with those specs would be Point Linux based on Debian with the Mate desktop (Mate is essentially updated Gnome 2). I've been successfully running Point on systems with even lower specs than your laptop with good performance. Fairly easy to install with good hardware support out of the box.
26 • Deepin (by vaithy on 2014-07-28 23:20:17 GMT from India)
Hi, If any of Deepin user that suffering from "disappearing 'Control Center' after updates, open the Terminal and past the following lines,
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade -y && sudo apt-get --reinstall install dde-meta-en && sudo reboot
Thanks for Deepin English forum
27 • AMD notes (by Somewhat Reticent on 2014-07-29 01:23:27 GMT from United States)
Depending on model, Sempron could be 32-bit or 64-bit. (Booting Radeon Xpress 200M may want nomodeset or radeon.modeset=0 .-)
Itchy errs in claiming LXLE has no 32-bit version - they're using the 12.04.# series, since it's "more compatible with vintage hardware".
28 • @13 • Good distro for old laptop? (by jurassic_ on 2014-07-29 01:46:43 GMT from Brazil)
@13 • Good distro for old laptop? I sugest my current machine setup: Slackware 14.1 plus kde-3.10 from Slackware 13.xx. Yes it works out of the box! Just install packages A AP L N X XAP from Slack 14.1 and KDE 3.10 from Slack 13.xx. Minor tweaks here and there, but all works nicely. It will make your friends think you have a modern OS installed jus because KDE 3.10 is fully configurable! KDE 4 (and 5) plus gnome 3 are bloated and unusable and a shot in the foot of the FreeSoftware enforce. Please pass this forward.
Number of Comments: 28
|• 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|