| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 576, 15 September 2014
Welcome to this year's 37th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! One of the most important aspects of any operating system is how accessible it is, especially to new users. Different projects take different approaches to being accessible. Some focus on making their documentation complete and easy to read, others attempt to present friendly and intuitive interfaces and some lower the bar to experimenting via live media. This week we examine projects that are improving accessibility and user friendliness. We begin with a review of the PCLinuxOS distribution, a popular fork of the Mandriva family tree. Read on to find out how the PCLinuxOS developers are making their distribution user friendly. In the News section this week we talk about Linux Mint's improving documentation and how the Debian project is teaming up with h-node to create a large database of hardware that works with Linux distributions. PC-BSD is also featured in the news, having just released a new version and the project presents us with new install media and desktop environments. The openSUSE project and Ubuntu have both been gaining new users by branching out and engaging new communities and we carry the details below. In our Questions and Answers column this week we tackle the common problem of porting software across dissimilar distributions. 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)
Initial impressions of PCLinuxOS 2014.08
I spend more time looking at the family trees of Linux distributions than I do looking at my own family tree. I find it interesting to see how distributions grow from their parent distribution, either acting as an extra layer of features which regularly re-bases itself or as a separate fork. New distributions usually tend to remain similar in most ways to their parent distro, using the same package manager and maintaining similar philosophies. When I look at the family trees of Linux distributions one project stands out more than others: PCLinuxOS.
Why I find PCLinuxOS interesting is that the project, after forking away from Mandriva, went off in its own direction, quite divorcing itself from many of Mandriva's key characteristics. The Mandriva project maintains distinct versions of its operating system, PCLinuxOS is a rolling-release distro. Mandriva uses the urpm package manager, PCLinuxOS uses an unusual combination of APT with RPM packages. Mandriva and most of its forks seem to feel staying on the cutting edge is the way to be user friendly while PCLinuxOS is conservative in its presentation. PCLinuxOS may still use many of the same components as its original parent, but its style is certainly different.
The PCLinuxOS distribution is a desktop oriented operating system which ships in a variety of editions. The main edition features the KDE desktop and there are several community spins which include LXDE, MATE and other configurations. The distribution is available in 32-bit and 64-bit x86 builds. I opted to try the main KDE edition of the distribution and downloaded the 64-bit build. The ISO for this build was approximately 1.6 GB in size.
I tried running PCLinuxOS in two environments, in a VirtualBox virtual machine and on a physical desktop machine. I found that when I tried to run the distribution on the physical machine the live environment would load and ask me to select my keyboard's layout from a menu. Once my keyboard's layout was confirmed the live environment would launch the project's graphical system installer. Closing the installer, rather than bringing me to a live desktop, would cause the computer to reboot. This was in contrast to how PCLinuxOS behaved in VirtualBox. Booting from the project's live media in the virtual machine would ask me to select my keyboard's layout and then present me with a functional KDE desktop. I could explore the KDE environment which was laid out with the application menu, task switcher and system tray at the bottom of the display. On the desktop I found icons for displaying user account credentials (for root and the common user account), bringing up documentation on how to use the system installer and there was another icon for launching the installer. I looked through the provided documentation and found it dealt briefly with how to use the system installer without going into a great deal of detail.
The distribution's system installer is a graphical application that features very few steps. We begin by diving straight into partitioning the local hard disk. If we wish, the PCLinuxOS installer will automatically divide up the disk for us. We also have the option of manually managing our partitions using a straight forward graphical interface. I found PCLinuxOS supports several file systems including ext3, ext4, JFS, XFS and ReiserFS. We can also work with RAID configurations and logical volumes. I wanted to work with LVM volumes and this required that the installer download additional packages from the project's software repositories. This means people wanting to take advantage of LVM features should have a network connection enabled prior to launching the installer. Working with LVM is beautifully simple as a LVM manager appears in its own tab on the partition manager screen and the LVM manager is laid out much the same way as the existing partitioning screen. I liked the ability to quickly switch between normal partitions and my LVM volume using tabs. This was much nicer than switching between separate windows as some installers do.
Next, the system installer offers to remove support for hardware not found on our system and then begins copying its packages to our local hard drive. Once all the required files are in place we are asked if we would like to install either the GRUB boot loader or the LILO boot loader. We are also given the chance to add entries to the boot loader's menu in case PCLinuxOS fails to detect all available operating systems. Then we are asked to reboot the computer. The first time we launch our fresh copy of PCLinuxOS we are asked to perform a few configuration steps. We are asked to set the system clock or enable network time synchronization. Next we are asked to create a password for the administrator account and then create a regular user account for ourselves. A few seconds later we find ourselves looking at a graphical login screen that features an attractive blue background.
PCLinuxOS 2014.08 - configuring and monitoring a network connection
(full image size: 319kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
When we first sign into our user account we are greeted by a window which tells us PCLinuxOS is a rolling release distribution and we should update the system regularly. Steps are shown explaining how to do this using the Synaptic package manager. When this window is closed another opens. This second window shows us detailed information with regards to launching Synaptic, finding available software updates and installing these updates. The documentation warns us we should perform regular system updates with the Synaptic package manager and that upgrading the operating system from the command line is not the recommended method of installing updates. Shortly after reading this documentation an icon appeared in the KDE system tray letting me know software updates were available. Right-clicking on this notification icon gives us the option of launching Synaptic. The update notification icon has a few other options such as refreshing our package database or checking the PCLinuxOS project's Twitter feed for news. Clicking the Twitter option brings up a window that displays news and announcements from the PCLinuxOS team.
Getting back to Synaptic, the graphical package manager performed well during my trial. During my week with PCLinuxOS I used Synaptic to download new software, upgrade over 80 packages and remove a few items. The venerable package manager performed all of the tasks I gave it without any problems. Synaptic may not have the eye candy and smooth interface some modern package manages display, but it does work quickly and without any unpleasant surprises.
While I was using PCLinuxOS the distribution performed well, both in the virtual environment and on physical hardware. The operating system boots quickly and the KDE desktop is responsive. I found the distribution presented an attractive interface while keeping visual effects turned off. This made for a desktop that was nice to look at without being distracting. Running on physical hardware PCLinuxOS automatically set up a network connection, sound worked and my screen was set to its maximum resolution. When running in the virtual machine I found the distribution did not properly detect my screen resolution, even when I made sure VirtualBox's guest module was loaded. I soon found my screen's resolution could be adjusted to match my hardware via the distribution's Control Centre. PCLinuxOS used around 430MB of memory when sitting at the KDE desktop.
PCLinuxOS 2014.08 - running Google Earth
(full image size: 1,028kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
The PCLinuxOS distribution ships with a massive amount of desktop software, much too many programs to list here without expanding this review into War and Peace proportions. Some of the highlights include Firefox with Flash support, Google Earth, Filezilla, a Dropbox client, the KPPP dial-up software, KMail, KTorrent, Skype and Thunderbird. LibreOffice is installed for us along with the Calibre e-book library manager. There are several small games, a document viewer and a few image editors, including Inkscape, KolourPaint and the GNU Image Manipulation Program. There is a Documentation Portal which lists many documentation and support resources provided by the PCLinuxOS project. Selecting an item from the list opens our web browser to the specified resource. KMyMoney is included along with the K3b disc burning software, a text editor and the Ark archiving utility.
The distribution ships with several multimedia applications including the KsCD audio disc player, the VLC media player, Dragon Player and the JuK audio player. The distribution offers a full range of multimedia codecs, enabling us to play a wide array of media. PCLinuxOS ships with the Kamerka webcam utility, Java and the GNU Compiler Collection. In the background we find a secure shell server running, though the default firewall configuration blocks all incoming network connections. There are several educational applications and even a program whose sole function is to hide/show the KDE cashew button that typically displays in the upper-right corner of the desktop. In the background we find the Linux kernel, version 3.15.
PCLinuxOS 2014.08 - the Synaptic package manager
(full image size: 374kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Of all the many software packages PCLinuxOS ships with I felt a few stood out. It is rare to see a Linux distribution offer Google Earth in the default installation. I felt the feature was welcome, if only because people sometimes ask me if they can still run Google Earth after I install Linux for them. Another feature which stood out was the My LiveCD utility. This program takes a snapshot of the operating system and saves it in an image we can them burn to a DVD. This command line program can be very useful if we want to take our operating system with us when we travel or if we want to create a re-spin of PCLinuxOS to demo software to others. One final point which caught my attention was that, by default, the distribution does not ship with manual pages. Old timers, such as myself, use man pages as our primary source of documentation and it is not often I find a distribution without the man package installed. The man package is available in the project's repositories.
PCLinuxOS 2014.08 - the KDE System Settings panel
(full image size: 458kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
The distribution ships with two control panels. The first is the KDE System Settings panel which assists the user in changing the look and feel of the desktop environment. I feel the System Settings panel is the heart of the KDE desktop and it allows for an amazing degree of flexibility when configuring the graphical interface. The second control panel is the PCLinuxOS Control Centre which deals more with the underlying operating system. PCLinuxOS's Control Centre is very user friendly and nicely organized into categories of functionality. Using the Control Centre we can manage the computer's hardware, configure network shares, share network connections, enable fine-grained security measures and change boot options. We can enable automatic login, configure web proxies, work with DNS settings, configure the secure shell service, enable a FTP server and set up a web server. We can tweak authentication methods, create user accounts, partition hard drives and change video card settings. It is a wonderfully flexible control panel and all of the modules I used were beginner friendly. All of the modules worked well too and I encountered no problems with the Control Centre.
PCLinuxOS 2014.08 - the control centre
(full image size: 481kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Earlier I mentioned that PCLinuxOS strikes me as being an unusual distribution in some ways, especially when compared with other distributions which grew out of the Mandriva family. PCLinuxOS is perhaps a bit odd in that it is a rolling release distribution, but at the same time the tone of the project is conservative. There isn't a lot of eye candy or flash or experimental features. The distribution has a calm approach, a traditional looking desktop that is attractive without being trendy. The operating system appears to be stable while maintaining a rolling release style of package management.
The distribution throws a lot of software at the user right from the start. The application menu is full of useful software and we are not left wanting any functionality. This may be a little overwhelming for newcomers when they first start digging through the application menu, but once one gets used to the organization of the applications it is fairly easy to find the software we want.
There wasn't a lot which really stood out while I was using PCLinuxOS. I didn't encounter any serious bugs or problems, the distribution performed quickly and it was stable during my trial. I was really happy with the Control Centre, which is polished, functional and very friendly. I liked the system installer which makes partitioning straight forward while allowing expert users additional flexibility if it is needed. In general, everything about PCLinuxOS was, in a word: good. The system installer worked well, the package manager worked well, the distribution ships with lots of great software and the default applications all seem to be popular and useful items. Performance was good and there were very few distractions while I was working.
I'm not sure I would recommend PCLinuxOS to a complete Linux novice, the distribution has a lot of features and flexibility that might be overwhelming. However, for someone who has become comfortable using a Linux distribution geared toward novice users, someone who has graduated a step beyond newcomer status, I think PCLinuxOS is an excellent choice. The distribution has a lot of functionality, is friendly and has a conservative rolling release nature while means it can probably be run for a long time without re-installing it. If you haven't tried PCLinuxOS before I think you are missing out on a good experience.
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Hardware used in this review
My physical test equipment for this review was a desktop HP Pavilon p6 Series with the following specifications:
- Processor: Dual-core 2.8 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
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith and Ladislav Bodnar)
Mint improves documentation, Debian contributes to hardware database, PC-BSD introduces CD media, openSUSE reports on Factory interest, Ubuntu gains adoption in Europe, Bodhi project leader quits
The Linux Mint team has been hard at work on the upcoming release of Linux Mint "Debian" edition which will be based on Debian 8.0. The Mint developers are also working on a few other helpful features users will soon be able to access. One of these features is the ability to change the appearance of specific directories in the Nemo file manager. This makes navigating and finding key directories easier. Mint is also working on improving their documentation: "The 'Official User Guide' is now automatically generated to various formats such as PDF, ePUB, HTML, translated in various languages on Launchpad and integrated within the OS as a Yelp DocBook guide. In Linux Mint 17.1 you should therefore see it in your own language by just pressing F1. We're also tying various parts of the OS with the help system to give better contextual help. Pressing F1 in the Update Manager for instance will show the appropriate relevant paragraph on Software Updates."
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The Debian GNU/Linux project is teaming up with the Free Software Foundation (FSF) and h-node to build a database of hardware that works with GNU/Linux distributions without the need for proprietary software. The Debian website has more details: "While other databases list hardware that is technically compatible with GNU/Linux, h-node lists hardware as compatible only if it does not require any proprietary software or firmware. Information about hardware that flunks this test is also included, so users know what to avoid. The database lists individual components, like wifi and video cards, as well as complete notebook systems. The compatibility information comes from users testing hardware on systems running only free software. Previously, h-node site guidelines required they be running one of the FSF's endorsed distributions. While the FSF does not include Debian on this list because the Debian project provides a repository of non-free software, the FSF does acknowledge that Debian's main repository, which by default is the only place packages come from, is completely free." As Debian is more widely used than the distributions on the FSF's list of endorsed distributions this move will likely expand h-node's hardware database quite a bit.
Recent news about Debian extending security support for its "oldstable" release (version 6.0 "Squeeze") was warmly greeted by many system administrators who wanted to postpone the upgrades of their installations. In fact, this move by Debian was a response to numerous demands by large companies with many servers and their promises to sponsor Debian's security experts. Unfortunately, many of these promises have yet to materialise and Debian's security support for "Squeeze" is still underfunded. Raphaël Hertzog reports: "We have not yet reached our minimal goal of funding the equivalent of a half-time position. And it shows in the results, the dla-needed.txt still shows around 30 open issues. This is slightly better than the state two months ago but we can improve a lot on the average time to push out a security update. To have an idea of the relative importance of the contributions of the paid developers, I counted the number of uploads made by Thorsten and Holger since July: of 40 updates, they took care of 19 of them, so about the half." While the author clearly appreciates all the active sponsors, he also appeals to those companies that promised to help, but haven't done anything about it: "Quite a few companies that promised help (and got mentioned in the press release) have not delivered the promised help yet."
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The PC-BSD project released its quarterly software update last week and there were a few key points of interest in the new release. PC-BSD typically releases fairly large ISO images, suitable for USB or DVD media, but this release included a CD-size image suitable for performing minimal or server installs. Version 10.0.3 of PC-BSD also supports full disk encryption. As the project's blog states: "This update includes a number of important bug-fixes, as well as newer packages and desktops. Packages such as Chromium 37.0.2062.94, Cinnamon 2.2.14, Lumina 0.6.2 and more. This release also includes a CD-sized ISO of TrueOS, for users who want to install a server without X."
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In August we reported the openSUSE project was making their Factory repository into a proper rolling release distribution. This made Factory more than just a collection of cutting edge software, the repository could now be considered a proper distribution on its own. How have people reacted to openSUSE's new rolling release branch? The project's blog claims over 6,000 installations of Factory have been performed and there has been a strong increase in the repository's popularity. "We can observe a big increase of the number of users in Factory during this July and August (from 1952 in June to 5969 at the end of August). Factory nearly tripled the number of installations."
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The Ubuntu distribution is becoming increasingly popular in Europe. At the University of Nantes in France the distribution was deployed on over 1,700 computers on the campus. These Ubuntu installs replace Microsoft Windows as the operating system of choice. The report states, "As Yann Dupont, Head of infrastructure management at the university's IT and digital services department, explained 'We support open-source solutions and have long been using Ubuntu. In switching our desktop computers to Ubuntu, we have reduced our total cost of ownership in a significant and meaningful way. We also like the freedom it gives us from licensing fees and the ease with which we can deploy and manage Ubuntu systems -- and because it's so easy to use, we had no problems with users accepting the new software. Productivity was unaffected.'"
Ubuntu has also gained adoption in Turin, Italy. The capital city government of the Piedmontese region hopes to save approximately six million euros by switching to the Ubuntu distribution rather than upgrading their ageing installations of Windows. As ZDNet reports: "The move will mean installing the open-source operating system on 8,300 PCs, which will generate an immediate saving of roughly €300 per machine (almost €2.5m altogether, made up from the cost of Windows and Office licences) - a sum that will grow over the years as the need for the renewal of proprietary software licences vanishes, and the employees get used to the new machines."
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Finally, sad news for the fans of Bodhi Linux, one of the few Linux distribution with exclusive focus on integrating the Enlightenment desktop into an existing distro. Jeff Hoogland, the founder and project manager of this unique project, has decided to abandon Bodhi Linux: "I am sure anyone who has been following the Bodhi project has taken note that the 3.0.0 release timeline has not happened as expected. Due to a variety of reasons I would like to announce today that I will no longer be actively developing Bodhi Linux." All is not lost though; as part of the blog post, there is also an appeal to find a replacement who'd continue with the development: "With that being said, even though I no longer have the bandwidth to actively develop Bodhi, I know many enjoy using the project. So if you are reading this and have an interest in picking up where I am leaving off, please contact me. All Bodhi related code can be found on my GitHub page and I am more than happy to help guide you in the right direction with how things work as you are getting started."
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Running applications across Linux distributions
There is a scenario I see too often. One person is running Linux distribution ABC and other person is running Linux distribution XYZ. The first person, usually me in these situations, is running an application they would like to share with the second person. However, the second person is running a distribution that has a different package repository that does not feature the same software, they may not even have a compatible package manager, making sharing the application difficult.
What can we do in this situation? Well, if we are very lucky the upstream project might have pre-built binary packages that will work on multiple Linux distributions. We might be able to direct our friend to the project's website and have them download the proper file and, hopefully, there won't be any extra dependencies to worry about. If we are slightly less lucky the upstream project may supply archives of their source code and have a clear list of dependencies that are available on the second person's distribution. This may very well work if the other person is comfortable hunting down dependencies and compiling software from source code, but those people are rare, even in the Linux community. In short, if the software we want the other person to run is not in their distribution's repository, our options for getting them to run the same application we have are limited. At least this has typically been the case.
These days there is an excellent solution for transferring application between computers running different flavours of Linux. This solution is called CDE, for Code, Data and Environment. What CDE does is give us a method for taking an application that is running on our computer, packaging it up with all of its dependencies and configuration files and transferring this portable package to another person's computer. Creating the portable CDE package takes just two commands and the resulting archive can be opened and run on almost any computer running a GNU/Linux operating system.
How does it work? What happens is CDE takes an application and all its dependencies and configuration files and places these items in a directory. This directory can be archived and moved to another machine. Once on another computer, the archive can be run in an isolated environment, a sort of container where all the components needed are already in place.
I downloaded the CDE application and went through the manual, taking the opportunity to package a couple of programs. The steps are fairly simple and the following is an example of me transferring the game Atomic Tanks (atanks) from one computer to another:
The above command runs the atanks application and begins building a directory where all of the components of Atomic Tanks are stored. When the program exits, we are left with a directory called cde-package. We can then create an archive of atanks and all of its dependencies:
tar czf atanks-archive.tar.gz cde-package
This creates a compressed archive file we can transfer to another computer. This could be done via e-mail for small packages or cloud storage or secure file transfer, depending on the environment. Once the second person has the atanks-archive.tar.gz file on their computer they can use whatever method they like best to unpack the archive. Inside they will find the cde-package directory. Inside that they will find a file called atanks.cde which they can run. As an example, the command line could be used as follows:
tar xzf atanks-archive.tar.gz
One important piece of information I found is that all the files the ported application needs are stored under a directory called cde-root inside the archive. If we want to know exactly which files have been transferred we can find them in this sub-directory. The person who receives the archive can venture into this directory to explore the files and run them.
I found that CDE did a good job of working for me, transferring files between distributions. I only tried a few small applications, but these ran on the target machine without any problems and without any extra work on my part. The receiving machine doesn't even need to have a copy of CDE installed, the archive just runs on its own. There was one side-effect of this form of packaging which I think is important to mention. Since CDE packages configuration files and, for that matter, I believe it packages any files the target software opens, this means CDE will happily package configuration files it finds in our home directory. If we run CDE on an application which opens files in our home directory or if our application accesses a database we use privately, it is entirely possible CDE will bundle these personal files up and add them to the archive. For this reason, if you use CDE to transfer software, take a look in the cde-root directory of the archive you plan to send and make sure no private files have been packaged along with the library files and other dependencies.
CDE is small, portable and makes it very easy to share software with people who run very different flavours of Linux. It is easy to tweak the CDE archives in order to add or remove files after CDE finishes its work and the person who receives our archive does not need to handle dependencies or install any software. This makes CDE a very convenient solution when we need to port functionality between computers and even different Linux distributions.
|Released Last Week
Kris Moore has announced the release of PC-BSD 10.0.3, the latest quarterly update of the desktop-oriented operating system based on FreeBSD 10: "The PC-BSD team is pleased to announce the availability of the next PC-BSD quarterly package update, version 10.0.3. This update includes a number of important bug fixes, as well as newer packages and desktops. Packages, such as Chromium 37.0.2062.94, Cinnamon 2.2.14, Lumina 0.6.2 and more. This release also includes a CD-sized ISO image of TrueOS, for users who want to install a server without X. PC-BSD notable changes: NVIDIA Driver 340.24; pkg 1.3.7; various fixes to the Appcafe Qt UI; bug fixes to Warden / jail creation; fixed a bug with USB media not always being bootable; fixed several issues with X.Org setup; improved boot environments to allow 'beadm activate' to set default...." Read the rest of the release announcement for more information and upgrade instructions.
Q4OS is a lightweight and minimalist desktop Linux distribution featuring the Trinity desktop (a fork of KDE 3.5), based on Debian's stable branch. Version 0.5.18, a minor update with some security fixes, was announced yesterday: "New update of the Q4OS distribution, version 0.5.18, is available. The new version includes several security updates and updated packages. Lookswitcher, the tool to easily switch between classical and modern user interfaces, has been rewritten and bunch of GUI improvements have been made. Script for APT database lock detection has been ported to the C programming language. Prepared underlying API for easy installation of recent application versions from the backports repository and automatic detection of national environment and language. Q4OS is now stable enough to be recommended for everyday use." Here is the brief release announcement.
Q4OS 0.5.18 - the default Trinity desktop
(full image size: 362kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Michael Tremer has announced the release of IPFire 2.15 Core 82, a new stable release of the specialist distribution designed for firewalls: "This is the official release announcement for IPFire 2.15 Core Update 82. This Core Update's main features are the inclusion of the crowd-funded Windows Active Directory Single Sign-On Web Proxy and the option to disable masquerading (NAT) on the local networking interfaces. In addition to that, several system libraries and tools have been updated, and minor bugs have been fixed. Proper and secure authentication against the Squid web proxy has not been possible in IPFire before. The 'Windows' authentication has been broken for a long time since there were bigger changes in the Windows Domain Controllers. This update adopts IPFire to the new and secure Active Directory authentication interfaces which use the SMB and Kerberos protocols." Read the rest of the release announcement for a more detailed changelog.
Slackel 6.0.2 "Openbox"
Dimitris Tzemos has announced the release of Slackel 6.0.2 "Openbox" edition, an updated build of the project's lightweight Slackware-based Linux distribution: "Slackel 6.0.2 Openbox has been released. This is an update release. Includes the Linux kernel 3.14.18 and latest updates from Slackware's 'Current' tree. Slackel 6.0.2 Openbox 32-bit includes both PAE and non-PAE kernels with older hardware support. The ncurses installer includes the option to install LILO or GRUB boot loaders. After installation users can use the grubconfig utility to reinstall GRUB or to change the boot loader from LILO to GRUB. Users can also use update-grub to update GRUB menus any time they upgrade their kernel or install another Linux distribution. The os-prober tool is used to probe for other operating systems and to update the GRUB menus. Slackel 6.0.2 Openbox includes the Midori 0.5.8 web browser, Claws-Mail 3.9.2, Transmission, SpaceFM, OpenJRE 7u51_31, Pidgin 2.10.9, gFTP 2.0.19, AbiWord 3.0.0, Gnumeric 1.12.2...." 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
New distributions added to database|
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New distributions added to waiting list
- Console OS. Console OS is an Android-based distribution for desktop computers, currently in fund-raising stage and without a release.
- Micro-R OS. Micro-R OS is an Ubuntu-based distribution for French speaking users. The project's website is in French.
- SELKS. SELKS is both live and installable network security management project based on Debian GNU/Linux, implementing and focusing on a complete and ready-to-use Suricata IDS/IPS ecosystem with its own graphic rule manager.
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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, 22 September 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 • PCLinuxOS (by kc1di on 2014-09-15 09:28:46 GMT from United States) |
Thanks for the review- I've used PCLinuxOS off and on over the years and it has never failed to give me a good desktop experience.
in fact installed the lxde edition on an old laptop and gave it to my Grandson a few years back and he is still using it. every day.
only problem I've ever had with it is the 64 bit release will not allow me to run wine with 32 bit program that I must used for work. though they have the 32 bit libs available it just does not seem to work with my set up. But other than that it's a solid and pleasant to use Distro.
Did I mention it has a very good forum and magazine also.
2 • Bodhi (enlightenment) (by Robertd on 2014-09-15 09:46:51 GMT from United States)
Sad days indeed! Not that I used Bodhi exclusively, but any interest in furthering enlightenment is appreciated.
3 • About PCLinuxOS (by César on 2014-09-15 10:41:53 GMT from Chile)
The recent past week i install the "last" PCLinuxOS, KDE 64 bits flavour, the system running smooth, well, but when i update the system, every one of the different repository (i use all the repos in synaptic) are too slow, very slow, slow than a big fat snail. For example, in Debian i have up to 1 mb/sec in the download process, in PCLinuxOS only a 17 kb/s!!!. Nothing to do.
In my personal experience, for use a Mandriva "son", is much better Mageia, more speed, more performance, more modern look and the remember of Mandriva in every aspect.
Saludos from Santiago de Chile.
4 • PCLinuxOS (by Fencemeister717 on 2014-09-15 10:43:39 GMT from United States)
Thanks for the great PCLinuxOS article! Since my first experience with Linux, around 2001 (Corel Linux) I have tried litterally hundreds of flavors. My first experience with it was PClinuxOS 2007. Since then I have used it as my daily OS. While I still continue to try out other flavors often, to this very day I have not found a more satisfying and all around reliable version of Linux. My solution to the possibly excessive amount of apps is to install the "KDE Mini" version and add whatever it is you personally need. The Live USB Creator makes cloning it a breeze!
5 • PcLinuxOS (by ChrisW on 2014-09-15 11:23:01 GMT from Nicaragua)
PCLinuxOS is 1 of the very few distros that I have Installed and needed very little intervention to have system that has run pretty much faultlessly for 3 yrs ...The help in the forums has always been friendly and the first rolling release I have used and despite all the talesof mpending woe people spout about rolling release this Distro can prove them wrong..
I have recently installed a PClinuxOS openbox version a community member developed and am enjoying that greatly
6 • CDE (by corneliu on 2014-09-15 12:13:54 GMT from Canada)
All good, but it seems to me that there will be cases where dependency libraries will be loaded in memory two times (once for this particular application and once for the rest of the system).
It would be nice if there existed a universal online repository with CDE packages where any company could submit their software and any Linux user could download any application.
7 • Massive linux migration (by Joselo on 2014-09-15 12:28:20 GMT from Mexico)
The marvelous chage of paradigma is really possible. Like it was confirMed at Nante University of France.
8 • CDE (by Pearson on 2014-09-15 12:33:04 GMT from United States)
CDE looks interesting. I haven't looked at their site yet, so I wonder how it determines the files to package? If it's doing the equivalent of using strace(1) and copying whichever files are used, I could see some privacy issues (my ~/.foo.rc may have username/password combos). I could also see problems with large and/or complex software (if I don't exercise a certain feature when making the package, some configuration files or libraries might not be loaded).
Still, I'll look at their site. It looks quite interesting!
9 • PClinuxOs (by PCLinuxOSUser on 2014-09-15 13:17:27 GMT from Canada)
Good review of PCLinuxOS.
I use PCLinuxOS 64 bit since its first release. Install on my main desktop, I never encounter any problems since. Of course, these must be updated regularly. I make 4 upgrade linux kernel without worry. I love PCLinuxOS 64 because it offers the best of two worlds. The stability of the packets and the Rolling Mode Release.
What people should know is this: LibreOffice has its own manager update. Calibre and also Vitualbox.
Honestly I look for default on PCLinuxOS and I cannot find.
PCLinuxOS is a mature LinuxDistro
10 • PCL (by Snazzy on 2014-09-15 14:19:10 GMT from United Kingdom)
Not a regular user myself (having an up-to-date copy at all times, though), have to echo the above favourable reports and applaud another excellent Jesse review. Excepting only his reservation about letting loose newcomers. This is the only OS I load for youngsters and proverbial elderly ladies of a nervous disposition (elderly gents are generally provided with Mint). Almost everyone is familiar with Android and Wonkydoze these days, so the transition, albeit with 30mins hand-holding, has proved virtually painless, subject to an occasional call as I emerge dripping from the shower...
11 • PCLinuxOS (by jaws222 on 2014-09-15 14:50:00 GMT from United States)
I downloaded the latest PCLinuxOS 64-Bit Mate version to my laptop last week and it runs like a dream. I've been using PCL on and off for the last few years and always ran into issues with the Samab Server. The recent Mate version seems to have Samba running right out of the box.
12 • #8 followup - CDE (by Pearson on 2014-09-15 15:27:10 GMT from United States)
My second concern actually is addressed on the CDE site:
An astute reader will notice that CDE packages might be incomplete since they only contain the files accessed on executed paths. It's easy to manually augment packages with additional files to make them complete.
I guess I qualify as "astute" ;-)
13 • Master Distro Database for Matching Hardware (by Brian Rosenau on 2014-09-15 15:33:25 GMT from United States)
As I was reading through the new and upcoming distributions, I had a thought. Maybe this has already been accomplished, but it would be fantastic if there were some kind of database tool (or web-based front end to such) whereby all the criteria for major (and even minor) distributions could be aligned with other filters associated with hardware. In short, I would input what computer hardware I was using (CPU type and speed, RAM, and video card/chip, etc.) so my computer would be matched against distributions that would support it outright... This would greatly simplify a great deal of reading along with trial and error to see which distributions would give me the greatest hope of success.
Does something like this exist? If not, is someone willing to create such a usefull tool set? Just food for thought...
14 • PCLinuxOS (by Pedro Schwartz on 2014-09-15 16:05:50 GMT from United States)
Delightfully puzzling, I have been running the KDE version
of 2014 on a 64Gb Sandisk flash drive for quite a while. No
"persistence" or special apps, etc.. just installed it to that
drive and it has been running fine, updating etc.
Other distros won't do that for long, with the notable exceptions
of the ones that do feature a persistence scheme.
15 • Bodhi (by Tim Wilkins on 2014-09-15 17:43:56 GMT from United States)
I noticed that Sparky Linux is doing a spin with E 18 and E 19 development. It is not as solid as Bodhi, in my opinion, but a person can still run Enlightenment.
I really love the way Enlightenment works. It is great for my purposes.
16 • @3 César - enabe all repositor (by Ika on 2014-09-15 18:07:06 GMT from Spain)
What's your reason to enable ALL repositories? It is highly NOT recommended to do so. Only one repo. Besides enabling more than one is completely useless as all repos have the same packages. So?
17 • PCLinuxOS (by Crow on 2014-09-15 18:14:52 GMT from Mexico)
Thank you Jesse Smith for such a straight, honest review.
The PCLinuxOS community helps a lot, so does the monthly magazine, I'm from social sciences, the graphical interface is my place most of the time, CLI is beyond my abilities unless someone gives me detailed instructions. I guess I always be an eternal newbie.
I've been running PCLinuxOS everyday at work for the last 6 years, it's stability helped me to deliver work always on time, something the other guys running Windows couldn't do. I even made a remaster using LXDE with educational software for special ed kids and the tools PCLinuxOS provide made that a breeze.
Thank you again and keep the good work.
18 • PCLOS (by Harold Williams on 2014-09-15 18:49:37 GMT from )
Been running PCLOS KDE 32 bit for several years. It is my day-to-day OS. I have also installed the 64 bit version with my Win 7 desktop. The forum is first rate and helpful. Texstar seems to be always on watch for any problems that crop up. Good review; spot on.
19 • PCLinux, 6 years now and highly recommended. (by Tony on 2014-09-15 19:22:58 GMT from United Kingdom)
PCLinuxOS, been using it about 6 years now. Occasionally I go off and try another distro like Mint, Puppy, etc etc.(both very good distros), but I always come back to PCLinuxOS within a short period. Why? Because it works! It's the most stable (I use it as my only work machine for my business), easy to use, the forums and developers are friendly and knowledgeable, great magazine and it is also surprisingly fast especially the x64 variants.
I'm sure lots of people will suggest others and I have tried literally hundreds of versions and varieties. I am no Linux expert, I don't want to have to fiddle around for hours (unless it's for fun). PCLinuxOS like any distro does get problems) but they are few and get solved (Certainly no worse than what I had before I moved to Linux) and for that reason alone I would highly recommend it.
20 • Q4OS (by Leandro on 2014-09-15 19:45:53 GMT from Chile)
I did the unattended install of Q4OS only to reach the login screen not knowing what the login info is. Can anybody say what it is, please?
21 • @20 (by jaws222 on 2014-09-15 19:50:49 GMT from United States)
'I did the unattended install of Q4OS only to reach the login screen not knowing what the login info is. Can anybody say what it is, please?"
Weird, I didn't see anything in the documentation. Try the following:
22 • PCLinuxOS (by Oso Loco on 2014-09-15 20:17:25 GMT from Ecuador)
PCLinuxOS is definitely an underrated distro. I have tried several rolling distros, and PCLinuxOS is one of the most stable ones (if not the most stable, period).
23 • CDE (by Mark Moon on 2014-09-15 23:16:16 GMT from United States)
CDE-Gobolinux. Not so far apart.
24 • Best of PCLinuxOS... (by whitespiral on 2014-09-16 03:53:57 GMT from Mexico)
Best of PCLinuxOS... no systemd in sight. :-D
25 • Q4OS, etc. (by Kragle von Schnitzelbank on 2014-09-16 08:39:50 GMT from United States)
Per user manual - setup:
"Predefined user with empty password will be created, system will ask user to change the password immediately after first login."
I remember the Makulu dev had some choice words about Enlightenment. Perhaps over time it will mature?
CDE reminds me of 0install, done one app at a time, partly.
I didn't see a way to search the H-node database for hardware that works.
Number of Comments: 25
|• Issue 576 (2014-09-15): PCLinuxOS 2014.08, Mint's documentation, Debian's hardware database, CDE|
|• Issue 575 (2014-09-08): Porteus 3.0.1, Fedora's blivet-gui, Red Hat's Docker, systemd|
|• Issue 574 (2014-09-01): Ubuntu Kylin 14.04, Haiku and Linux kernel, Wayland support, Lumina, Bash completion|
|• Issue 573 (2014-08-25): SolydXK 201407, VPN gateway with FreeBSD, Ubuntu MATE, Raspbian, trusting binary packages|
|• Issue 572 (2014-08-18): ZFSguru 10.1, Fedora's Flock, beta installer for "Jessie", Ubuntu Core, rolling releases|
|• Issue 571 (2014-08-11): HandyLinux 1.6, LMDE update, default desktop in "Jessie", running out of disk space|
|• Issue 570 (2014-08-04): Neptune 4, Kubuntu's KDE Plasma 5, FreeBSD and UEFI, Linux servers|
|• 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|
|• Full list of all issues|