| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 620, 27 July 2015
Welcome to this year's 30th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
We spend a lot of time here, at DistroWatch, talking about the GNU/Linux family of operating systems. These Linux distributions combine the Linux kernel with GNU utilities (along with various other bits of software) to create working operating systems. This week we want to change gears and talk about a more pure GNU solution, specifically Debian's GNU/Hurd platform, which combines GNU userland utilities with GNU's kernel. In our Feature Story this week we cover what it is like to run Debian's GNU/Hurd port. In our News section we talk about user friendliness and performance, beginning with a report on Ubuntu MATE's new Welcome software. We also talk about achieving easy and secure communication on the Fedora distribution and a new operating system for mobile devices that uses Plasma. Then we turn to the land of supercomputers where Linux is dominating the market. Also in this issue we share a valuable educational resource, a book called Linux Bible that walks the reader through what it takes to go from a Linux beginner to a system administrator. In our Torrent Corner we share the torrents we are seeding and then we provide a list of the new distributions released last week. In our Opinion Poll, we want to find out what backup solution works best for you. We wish you all a wonderful week and happy reading!
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Following Debian's GNU/Hurd in 2015
The Debian project is best known for its stable GNU/Linux operating system, a platform which is used as a base by over one hundred distributions. However, the Debian project is home to other operating systems, including a port of GNU's Hurd. The GNU/Hurd port combines Debian packages and package management with GNU userland software running on GNU's microkernel. The project offers this description: "The Hurd is a set of servers running on top of the GNU Mach microkernel. Together they build the base for the GNU operating system. Currently, Debian is only available for Linux and kFreeBSD, but with Debian GNU/Hurd we have started to offer GNU/Hurd as a development, server and desktop platform, too. We hope to be able to release Debian GNU/Hurd for Wheezy."
While the release date for Wheezy (Debian 7) has come and gone, the Hurd port continues to put out snapshots based on Debian's Unstable development branch. "The Hurd is under active development, but does not provide the performance and stability you would expect from a production system. Also, only about every second Debian package has been ported to the GNU/Hurd." In other words, we can install and run Debian's GNU/Hurd port, but we may run into limitations when it comes to the software we can run.
The latest snapshot of Debian GNU/Hurd, labelled "2015", offers the following release announcement: "It is with huge pleasure that the Debian GNU/Hurd team announces the release of Debian GNU/Hurd 2015. This is a snapshot of Debian `sid' at the time of the stable Debian "jessie" release (April 2015), so it is mostly based on the same sources. It is not an official Debian release, but it is an official Debian GNU/Hurd port release." The Hurd port has some limitations when it comes to hardware. According to the project's FAQ page, Debian GNU/Hurd is available for the 32-bit x86 architecture only.
The installation ISO I downloaded was 620MB in size. Booting from the Debian GNU/Hurd (hereafter referred to as simply "Hurd") media brings up a menu asking if we would like to launch a text installer, run a pseudo graphical installer, run a graphical installer, launch an expert install session or enter rescue mode. Running the pseudo graphical installer is the default option and the one I decided to use. Hurd launched a text installer which walked me through several configuration screens. I was asked to select my preferred language, provide my country or region, select my keyboard layout and set a hostname for my computer. Then I was asked to create a password for the root account, create a regular user account and select a time zone from a list. Partitioning comes next with guided and manual options available. The guided partitioning utility suggests creating a small swap partition and using ext2 for our root file system. The Hurd installer then installed its base system packages and asked if I would like to install additional software from a remote repository or from the local media. At first I tried to download packages from the on-line repository, but taking this option resulted in network errors and I had to fall back on using the packages on my local disc. We are then asked if we would like to participate in Debian's Popularity Contest. The installer next asks if we would like to install extra software with the LXDE desktop and standard system utilities being our two options. I decided to install everything. We are then asked if Hurd should install the GRUB boot loader. With these steps completed we can reboot our computer and experiment with our new copy of Hurd.
Hurd boots to a text console where we can log into the root account or the account we created during the installation procedure. Hurd, I found, uses about 130MB of memory when running the command line interface. Hurd offers us a fairly minimal command line experience. The usual GNU utilities are present along with manual pages. I did not find a compiler on the system, but otherwise the command line interface provided all the usual UNIX-like functionality.
Debian GNU/Hurd 2015 -- Running the LXDE desktop
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Early on I wanted to see if Hurd would run the LXDE desktop I had chosen to install. I found that, as the root user, I could launch a graphical environment and explore the desktop environment, but I could not access the desktop interface as a regular user. This turned out to be a known issue with Hurd and the project's documentation provides a solution. Following Hurd's documentation I was able to gain desktop access from my regular user accounts. Running a desktop environment on top of Hurd did not require much additional memory. While running LXDE on Hurd I found my system used approximately 180MB of RAM.
Hurd's LXDE desktop offers us a classic layout with task switcher, application menu and system tray placed at the bottom of the display. The background is plain black, without design or logo. The desktop loads quickly and is pleasantly responsive. Looking through the LXDE application menu we find a small collection of software. The Iceweasel web browser is available along with the GNU Image Manipulation Program, an image scanner, calculator, archive manager and text editor. There is also a file manager and some configuration apps that will assist us in changing the look and feel of the desktop.
I was pleased to find most of the applications that shipped with Hurd were completely functional and worked well. There were two exceptions, unfortunately. Both Iceweasel and the GNU Image Manipulation Program were very slow to start and Iceweasel took a long time to perform tasks. The web browser would often take 30-60 seconds to render a simple web page, which means the program works, technically, but is slow enough that running it isn't practical. Other programs, such as the text editor and virtual terminal, were responsive and worked just as they would on a Linux distribution. Another problem I encountered was, whenever I tried to logout of LXDE, the system would lock-up, necessitating a reboot.
Debian GNU/Hurd 2015 -- Customizing LXDE
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Hurd does not ship with a graphical package manager, but we do have access to the apt-get command line utility. Using the APT tools we can search for new software, acquire updates and install additional packages. During my time with Hurd there was only one package update made available and it was less than 1MB in size. The update installed without any problems. According to the Hurd website, most packages available to Debian GNU/Linux users are also available to people who run Debian's GNU/Hurd port: "As of March 2014, 79% of all Debian packages are available for Debian GNU/Hurd." I'm not sure if this information is up to date though, or perhaps my configuration was missing some repositories. In any event, while Debian's GNU/Linux branch contains over 70,000 packages, I found only 885 packages were available to me with Hurd's default configuration. This meant that I was unable to install pre-built versions of most desktop applications or services such as the Apache web browser, a mail server or FTP server. I was not able to find the OpenSSH secure shell server either, though the OpenSSH client software is available.
While I did not find a lot of software available in Hurd's repositories, what was there worked well for me. I was happy to find basic desktop software and command line tools were available to me. I did have some trouble getting the GNU compiler to install as the package manager insisted the compiler was already installed. However, I was unable to find the compiler on my system.
I generally find there are three reasons people consider running Hurd on their computers. Some people are curious, others want the theoretical stability or security gains one can get from a microkernel architecture and some people like the idea of software freedom and the license Hurd offers. I was experimenting mostly out of curiosity, though I found Debian's GNU/Hurd port held up well in providing a stable operating system. The only time I ran into any stability problems was when I was trying to logout of LXDE and Hurd would, as LXDE terminated, consistently freeze. I'm not sure if my issues were strictly software related or perhaps caused by a hardware/driver issue.
On the subject of hardware, Hurd lags a bit behind Linux in hardware support. Though the developers are trying to expand Hurd's support, the operating system has some limitations. As I've mentioned above, the Debian port is compiled exclusively for 32-bit x86 processors and compatible architectures. During my trial I was unable to get Hurd running on my desktop machine and had to resort to running Hurd in a VirtualBox virtual machine.
Some people may look over my review here and note that Debian's GNU/Hurd port lacks some functionality, some hardware support and some software packages and feel inclined to dismiss this niche operating system. Having experimented with Hurd this week, I can say I would agree Hurd is not ready for most people in most scenarios. Hurd, in its current form, does not appear to offer any benefits over Linux distributions or the BSD family of operating systems, at least not when running on desktop computers. With that being said, I do appreciate the progress the Hurd port has made so far. A few years ago I could not get Debian GNU/Hurd to boot at all, on any physical or virtual hardware. This past week I not only got Hurd to install, but it also ran a graphical desktop and I could use it to browse websites. The experience may still lag behind when compared against Debian GNU/Linux, but Hurd's developers appear to have made a great deal of progress in recent years.
Hurd may not be ready for widespread use yet, but it feels so close in virtually every test I ran. Package management is there, the installer is there and working, a minimal desktop environment is in place, some modern (and complex) applications run on Hurd. I do not think we can be far away from a time when Debian GNU/Hurd is offered as an official branch of the Debian project, capable of running on desktop and server systems alike. I look forward to such a time because I feel friendly competition and choices are of great benefit to our community.
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Hardware used in this review
My physical test equipment for this review was a desktop HP Pavilon p6 Series with the following specifications:
- Processor: Dual-core 2.8GHz AMD A4-3420 APU
- Storage: 500GB Hitachi hard drive
- Memory: 6GB of RAM
- Networking: Realtek RTL8111 wired network card
- Display: AMD Radeon HD 6410D video card
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
Ubuntu MATE tests new Welcome program, using Telegram on Fedora, Plasma for phones and Linux running on supercomputers
The Ubuntu MATE team is working to make their community edition of Ubuntu more welcoming to new users. With that in mind, the project has introduced a new PPA featuring a Welcome application. Martin Wimpress posted on Google Plus, writing: "I've published a new version of Ubuntu MATE Welcome in the PPAs for 14.04, 15.04 and 15.10. Please come and test, particularly the Software Install feature. Ubuntu MATE Welcome won't pop up by default when installed outside of Ubiquity, so you'll find it in Applications -> System -> Ubuntu MATE Welcome. This version adds a few more applications to the Software section and now reflects the installation status immediately after performing an install or remove operation. I've also added setup for complex input methods for Chinese, Japanese and Korean." If you would like to help the team test their new greeter, there are installation instructions included in the announcement.
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Telegram is an enticing new messaging platform which features an open protocol, large file transfers and encryption. The Telegram platform is also free of charge and open to automated programs (called bots). The Fedora Magazine talks about Telegram and how to use the communication software on Fedora. "The desktop client has all the bells and whistles of Telegram. It includes group chats, emoticons, stickers, and sending/receiving files. However, it lacks one important feature: secret chats which provide end-to-end encryption and were ranked by EFF at 7/7 points." The article includes installation instructions for people who wish to try out Telegram on the Fedora distribution.
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Over the past few years we have heard a lot about Ubuntu Touch, a branch of the Ubuntu operating system designed to run on mobile devices. More recently, a project called Plasma Mobile has presented itself as a way to run Kubuntu on mobile phones. The young project uses the KWin window manager, Plasma Mobile for the user interface and the Wayland display server. The operating system is designed to be entirely open, essentially giving users the ability to run Kubuntu on a mobile ARM-powered device. The operating system, which reportedly works on Nexus 5 handhelds, is said to support a wide variety of applications, including: "Plasma apps, Ubuntu Touch (.click) apps, GNOME apps (e.g. GnomeChess), X11 (e.g. xmame) and possibly other Qt-based apps like Sailfish OS or Nemo. Packages can be installed by `apt-get install packagename'."
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People who are interested in supercomputers will not be surprised to know the world's fastest computers typically run Linux. In fact, a recent article on Tech Drive-in claims 486 of the fastest 500 computers in the world run one Linux distribution or another. So which distribution does the world's fastest computer run? As it turns out, the answer is Ubuntu Kylin, a Chinese language variant of the popular Ubuntu distribution. "Linux's absolute domination of the world's most sophisticated supercomputers doesn't come as a surprise. In fact, the enterprise sector had long embraced the Linux ecosystem with open arms. So much so that, the world's fastest supercomputer runs a Chinese derivative of Ubuntu called Ubuntu Kylin, as revealed by Mark Shuttleworth himself during his keynote speech at OpenStack Summit. Ubuntu Kylin is now an official Ubuntu flavour." Further information on the operating systems run on supercomputers and the hardware vendors who provide the world's quickest computers can be found in the article.
|Book Review (by Jesse Smith)
Linux Bible (Ninth Edition)
The nice people over at Wiley were kind enough to send me a copy of one of their new educational textbooks, Linux Bible (Ninth Edition). The lengthy tome bills itself as "The comprehensive, tutorial resource," and its author, Christopher Negus, covers a massive amount of material relating to GNU/Linux distributions, how they work and how to use them. No stone is left unturned and the book's 27 chapters deal with everything from installing a Linux distribution to managing packages, exploring the Linux command line, working with services, setting up a web server, securing the operating system, adding services to systemd, managing disks, working with SELinux and writing shell scripts. The list goes on and the amount of material in Linux Bible is quite impressive and it is easy to see why the text needs to be 912 pages in length.
It would probably take another book to summarize all of the subjects covered in this book so I'm going to focus on general impressions and patterns I observed while reading through Linux Bible. One of the first things I noticed was each chapter has a summary and a list of exercises at its conclusion. I really like it when educational books do this as these questions and exercises at the end of each chapter are a good way to test one's knowledge of the subject matter just taught. Learning from a book does not need to be a passive experience where the reader soaks up information and hopes it sticks. I like it when books engage the reader and enable us to put our new skills to the test and Linux Bible does this well.
Another thing I eventually noticed about Linux Bible is the book takes a different approach to organizing material than most other Linux textbooks I have read. Typically I find authors will start with some simple concepts and slowly build on top of them. For instance, an author might introduce running programs from the command line, add in some basic directory navigation, add running two commands together and then work up to creating a shell script. Negus has a different style where each chapter acts as a sort of container for one topic. Generally speaking, I found Linux Bible would cover one specific topic in depth, quickly diving into deeper and more complex examples. Then the author moves on to the next topic, starting simply and then quickly exploring more complex aspects of the second topic. As an example, one of the early chapters deals with installing Linux from the comfort of a graphical interface. A lot of the material is pretty point-n-click at first. Toward the end of the chapter on installing Linux the author explores such sub-topics as file system layouts and LVM volumes, though we have not talked about file systems yet. By the end of the chapter we are configuring GRUB by hand. Then the section on installing Linux is done and the next page begins the chapter on package management where we start with an explanation of what a package file is. A few chapters later we circle back around to file systems, how to create a partition and what sets Btrfs, ext4 and LVM apart. So, if a reader is confused by the reference to LVM in regards to installing Linux in Chapter 9, the subject of LVM is covered in detail in Chapter 12.
Newcomers to Linux might find this modular approach to learning Linux a little intimidating, but I think this style of organization makes Linux Bible a good resource for more experienced users. It means each subject is compartmentalized and it is easier to use Linux Bible as a quick reference as whatever we want to know on a given subject is contained in one location.
Which brings me to another point, this book is not for the faint of heart. A lot of topics are covered in depth quickly. This book seems to assume we have some past computing experience, either from working with Linux as a desktop user or perhaps from being a Windows system administrator. In fact, the book sometimes uses Windows as a reference point when introducing new topics.
Something else which stands out is that Negus is a Red Hat employee, a Red Hat Certified Instructor, a Red Hat Certified Examiner and a Red Hat Certified Architect. As one might imagine, Linux Bible focuses primarily on Red Hat technology and Red Hat's defaults. This means the book generally assumes we are using GNOME, SELinux, RPM packages and systemd. A lot of Linux software is distribution agnostic and shell commands and shell scripts will often work across multiple distributions. However, I feel it is worth pointing out that Negus does tend to assume we are using a copy of Fedora or Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) to learn and perform the examples in his book. Sometimes Negus will place asides in the book with tips for using other distributions, particularly Ubuntu. As an example, the book might tell us to run "yum install john" and then add an aside saying the same task can be completed on Ubuntu using "sudo apt-get install john". However, we do not always have these asides to guide us. People following along on other distributions will soon notice some configuration files are in different locations, some programs have different names and some security technology works differently. Experienced Linux users will be able to adjust to these little differences, but people learning Linux for the first time should probably acquire a copy of Fedora or CentOS to get the most out of Linux Bible.
As I mentioned before, this is the ninth edition of Linux Bible and the book has been around for quite some time, in one form or another. The text has been updated over the years to keep it relevant. Still, with the rapid pace of software development, some material will be dated just months after the book is sent to the publisher. As an example, the text refers to using the "YUM" command on Fedora to manage packages. However, by the time I got my copy of Linux Bible, "YUM" was being phased out in favour of the "DNF" package manager. Sometimes references to similar concepts on Windows make references to Windows XP or earlier versions of the Microsoft operating system. The concepts are still valid, but the specific commands or implementations have changed. I do not think this will be an issue for new readers, but I do think it is worth noting just how fast operating systems evolve and how much can change in just a short time.
Perhaps what I enjoyed most about this book was the amazing level of detail the author sometimes explores. There are command parameters and obscure configuration options presented in Linux Bible I have never encountered before in my 15+ years of working with Linux systems. The attention to detail, especially, when it comes to shell scripting, working with systemd and setting up network services (such as the Apache web server) is truly impressive. As an example, in the section on setting up the vsftpd service the author explores enabling user accounts and then adds the observation that system accounts may be blocked from logging in due to a setting in SELinux. This sort of restriction could cause an administrator to waste hours trying to find out why vsftpd was not working as expected. Thank to Negus, the potential problem is addressed up front with an added reference to exploring SELinux's configuration in Chapter 24 if we need more information on enabling vsftpd logins. The book is full of little gems, pearls of experience, that are invaluable.
Someone asked me a few weeks ago what textbooks were available to a self-starter who wanted to become a Linux system administrator. Since Red Hat technology is used in a lot of organizations, especially in North America, I would definitely recommend RHEL as a starting point and there are not many books that will explore, share and test RHEL knowledge the way Linux Bible does.
* * * * *
- Title: Linux Bible (Ninth Edition)
- Author: Christopher Negus
- Published by: Wiley
- Pages: 912
- ISBN-10: 1118999878
- ISBN-13: 978-1-118-99987-5
- Available from: Wiley and Amazon
Bittorrent is a great way to transfer large files, particularly open source operating system images, from one place to another. Most bittorrent clients recover from dropped connections automatically, check the integrity of files and can re-download corrupted bits of data without starting a download over from scratch. These characteristics make bittorrent well suited for distributing open source operating systems, particularly to regions where Internet connections are slow or unstable.
Many Linux and BSD projects offer bittorrent as a download option, partly for the reasons listed above and partly because bittorrent's peer-to-peer nature takes some of the strain off the project's servers. However, some projects do not offer bittorrent as a download option. There can be several reasons for excluding bittorrent as an option. Some projects do not have enough time or volunteers, some may be restricted by their web host provider's terms of service. Whatever the reason, the lack of a bittorrent option puts more strain on a distribution's bandwidth and may prevent some people from downloading their preferred open source operating system.
With this in mind, DistroWatch plans to give back to the open source community by hosting and seeding bittorrent files. For now, we are hosting a small number of distribution torrents, listed below. The list of torrents offered will be updated each week and we invite readers to e-mail us with suggestions as to which distributions we should be hosting. When you message us, please place the word "Torrent" in the subject line, make sure to include a link to the ISO file you want us to seed. To help us maintain and grow this free service, please consider making a donation.
The table below provides a list of torrents we currently host. If you do not currently have a bittorrent client capable of handling the linked files, we suggest installing either the Transmission or KTorrent bittorrent clients.
Archives of our previously seeded torrents may be found here. All torrents we make available here are also listed on the very useful Linux Tracker website. Thanks to Linux Tracker we are able to share the following torrent statistics.
Torrent Corner statistics:
- Total torrents seeded: 88
- Total downloads completed: 46,252
- Total data uploaded: 9.2TB
|Released Last Week
The developers of Neptune, a desktop oriented distribution based on Debian, have announced the launch of Neptune 4.4. The new release updates several key components, including parts of the graphics stack, offering better video card support and better performance. Improvements have also been introduced to the partition manager, enabling users to manipulate btrfs volumes. "This version features a new LTS kernel 3.18.16 which delivers better and more modern hardware support. We also did the biggest update in the graphics stack since Neptune 4.0 by upgrading to X.Org Server 1.17 and Mesa 10.5.8. This brings in support for modern graphic cards and better 3D performance. Old chips like voodoo or sis however aren't supported any more. We updated the HPlip driver to support newer HP printers. We improved the user interface by introducing a new modern looking font as well as bigger scrollbars." Additional information and screen shots are available in the project's release announcement.
Neptune 4.4 -- Running the KDE desktop
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Calculate Linux 14.16.2 "MATE"
The developers of Calculate Linux have announced the release of a new edition of the Gentoo-based distribution. The new desktop branch of Calculate features the MATE desktop environment. "We are very happy that such a wonderful project as GNOME 2 is not dead and continues its development under a new name. We have long been eyeing the project, and finally decided to release a new distribution with it. Meet Calculate Linux Desktop MATE (CLDM), the third in our family of desktop Calculate Linux provides full-time jobs in the office and at home. Desktop customization: traditionally made in the style of Calculate Linux. It's integrated to work with the server Calculate Directory Server. The software includes an office suite LibreOffice 18.104.22.168, web browser Chromium 43.0.2357.130, email client Claws-Mail 3.11.1, the message manager Pidgin 2.10.11, the editor GIMP 2.8.14, video player SMplayer 14.9.0, audio player Clementine 1.2.3 and other software, including the standard applications of MATE 1.8. Distribution uses common repository of binary packages, which today has more than 1,800 pieces, as well as Portage, being backward compatible with Gentoo." The new edition is available in 32-bit and 64-bit builds. Further information and screen shots can be found in the release announcement.
BackBox Linux 4.3
Raffaele Forte has announced the release of BackBox Linux 4.3, the latest stable build of the project's Ubuntu-based distribution containing a collection of utilities designed to perform penetration testing and forensic analysis tasks: "The BackBox Team is pleased to announce the updated release of BackBox Linux, version 4.3. This release includes features such as Linux kernel 3.16 and Ruby 2.1. What's new? Preinstalled Linux kernel 3.16; new Ubuntu 14.04.2 base; Ruby 2.1; installer with LVM and full disk encryption options; handy Thunar custom actions; RAM wipe at shutdown/reboot; system improvements; upstream components; bug corrections; performance boost; improved anonymous mode; predisposition to ARM architecture (armhf Debian packages); predisposition to BackBox Cloud platform; new and updated hacking tools: beef-project, btscanner, dirs3arch, metasploit-framework, ophcrack, setoolkit, tor, weevely, wpscan." Read the rest of the release announcement for more information, system requirements and upgrade instructions.
John Martinson has announced the release of Robolinux 8.1, a major new release of the distribution that features an optional (and commercial) virtual machine pack for running Windows alongside Robolinux. This is the first version based on Debian GNU/Linux 8 "Jessie", with the only available desktop environment being Cinnamon. From the release announcement: "Robolinux is pleased and excited to announce its brand new Robolinux 'Cinnamon Raptor' version 8.1 LTS 2020 OS which is based on the rock-solid Debian 8 stable source code sporting the 3.16 Linux kernel. It has far better graphics and audio quality, boots up and runs much faster than Debian 7 and is also compatible with newer hardware, drivers and most notably the Intel Haswell chipset. Robolinux Cinnamon Raptor user interface is extremely fast, beautiful and very easy to use. An enormous amount of time and effort went into optimizing and tweaking Robolinux so that Linux beginners and advanced users will be very pleased. For example we fixed the Debian 8.1 update notifier issue. As usual, both the 32-bit and 64-bit variants come with dozens of one-click WiFi, video and printer driver installers. A completely new Stealth VM was written capable of running Windows 10 virus-free inside Robolinux."
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.7
Red Hat has announced the availability of an updated version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6. The latest version, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.7, provides both updated installation media for Red Hat's customers and a few new features. The release announcement lists some of the new improvements to Red Hat's main product line: "One example is clufter, a tool for analyzing and transforming cluster configuration formats. Available as a technology preview, clufter enables system administrators to update existing high-availability configurations to run on the latest high-availability tools from Red Hat. LVM Cache is now a fully supported feature, allowing users to maximize the performance benefits of SSD-based storage for their business needs while limiting associated costs." The product's release notes include many more details and a list of known issues. The company has also provided a series of more detailed technical notes for people who would like to see changes broken down by package and security advisory.
ROSA R6 "Desktop Fresh"
Ekaterina Lopukhova has announced the release of ROSA R6 "Desktop Fresh" edition, a desktop Linux distribution featuring a customised KDE 4.14.8 desktop: "The ROSA company gladly presents ROSA Desktop Fresh R6, the number 6 in the 'R' lineup of the free ROSA distributions with the KDE desktop as the main graphical environment. As always, the distro presents a vast collection of games and emulators and the Steam platform package along with a standard suite of audio and video communications software including the newest version of Skype. All modern video formats are supported. The distribution includes the fresh LibreOffice version, the full TeX suite for true nerds as well, along with best Linux desktop publishing, text editing and WYSISYG software. The LAMP/C++/ environment packages are waiting to be installed by true hackers. The distribution is based on the ROSA 2014.1 platform which includes two years support (till Q3 of 2016). A few more releases based on this platform are expected to be presented for the users in the future." See the release notes for more information and a list of package updates.
ROSA R6 "Desktop Fresh" -- The default desktop environment
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Anyone who has deleted a file in error or experienced a hard drive failure knows the importance of regular backups. Modern computers can store a lot of data and making timely and complete backups can be tedious if the right tool is not used. This week we would like to know what technology, if any, you are using to create backups of your files. Are you a fan of optical discs, remote servers, tape drives, perhaps one of each? Please share your preferred archiving method in the comments section.
You can see the results of last week's poll on codes of conduct here.
June 2015 DistroWatch.com donation: hdparm
We are pleased to announce the recipient of the June 2015 DistroWatch.com donation is hdparm. The project receives US$350.00 in cash.
The hdparm software is used to get and set drive parameters for ATA and SATA hard drives. The project's Wikipedia page explains: hdparm is a command line program for Linux to set and view ATA hard disk drive hardware parameters. It can set parameters such as drive caches, sleep mode, power management, acoustic management, and DMA settings. GParted and Parted Magic both include hdparm. Changing hardware parameters from sub-optimal conservative defaults to their optimal settings can improve performance greatly. For example, turning on DMA can, in some instances, double or triple data throughput." Further information and usage examples are available on this page.
Launched in 2004, this monthly donations programme is a DistroWatch initiative to support free and open-source software projects and operating systems with cash contributions. Readers are welcome to nominate their favourite project for future donations. Those readers who wish to contribute towards these donations, please use our advertising page to make a payment (PayPal, credit cards, Yandex Money and crypto currencies are accepted). Here is the list of the projects that have received a DistroWatch donation since the launch of the programme (figures in US dollars):
Since the launch of the Donations Program in March 2004, DistroWatch has donated a total of US$44,175 to various open-source software projects.
- 2004: GnuCash ($250), Quanta Plus ($200), PCLinuxOS ($300), The GIMP ($300), Vidalinux ($200), Fluxbox ($200), K3b ($350), Arch Linux ($300), Kile KDE LaTeX Editor ($100) and UNICEF - Tsunami Relief Operation ($340)
- 2005: Vim ($250), AbiWord ($220), BitTorrent ($300), NDISwrapper ($250), Audacity ($250), Debian GNU/Linux ($420), GNOME ($425), Enlightenment ($250), MPlayer ($400), Amarok ($300), KANOTIX ($250) and Cacti ($375)
- 2006: Gambas ($250), Krusader ($250), FreeBSD Foundation ($450), GParted ($360), Doxygen ($260), LilyPond ($250), Lua ($250), Gentoo Linux ($500), Blender ($500), Puppy Linux ($350), Inkscape ($350), Cape Linux Users Group ($130), Mandriva Linux ($405, a Powerpack competition), Digikam ($408) and Sabayon Linux ($450)
- 2007: GQview ($250), Kaffeine ($250), sidux ($350), CentOS ($400), LyX ($350), VectorLinux ($350), KTorrent ($400), FreeNAS ($350), lighttpd ($400), Damn Small Linux ($350), NimbleX ($450), MEPIS Linux ($300), Zenwalk Linux ($300)
- 2008: VLC ($350), Frugalware Linux ($340), cURL ($300), GSPCA ($400), FileZilla ($400), MythDora ($500), Linux Mint ($400), Parsix GNU/Linux ($300), Miro ($300), GoblinX ($250), Dillo ($150), LXDE ($250)
- 2009: Openbox ($250), Wolvix GNU/Linux ($200), smxi ($200), Python ($300), SliTaz GNU/Linux ($200), LiVES ($300), Osmo ($300), LMMS ($250), KompoZer ($360), OpenSSH ($350), Parted Magic ($350) and Krita ($285)
- 2010: Qimo 4 Kids ($250), Squid ($250), Libre Graphics Meeting ($300), Bacula ($250), FileZilla ($300), GCompris ($352), Xiph.org ($250), Clonezilla ($250), Debian Multimedia ($280), Geany ($300), Mageia ($470), gtkpod ($300)
- 2011: CGSecurity ($300), OpenShot ($300), Imagination ($250), Calibre ($300), RIPLinuX ($300), Midori ($310), vsftpd ($300), OpenShot ($350), Trinity Desktop Environment ($300), LibreCAD ($300), LiVES ($300), Transmission ($250)
- 2012: GnuPG ($350), ImageMagick ($350), GNU ddrescue ($350), Slackware Linux ($500), MATE ($250), LibreCAD ($250), BleachBit ($350), cherrytree ($260), Zim ($335), nginx ($250), LFTP ($250), Remastersys ($300)
- 2013: MariaDB ($300), Linux From Scratch ($350), GhostBSD ($340), DHCP ($300), DOSBox ($250), awesome ($300), DVDStyler ($280), Tor ($350), Tiny Tiny RSS ($350), FreeType ($300), GNU Octave ($300), Linux Voice ($510)
- 2014: QupZilla ($250), Pitivi ($370), MediaGoblin ($350), TrueCrypt ($300), Krita ($340), SME Server ($350), OpenStreetMap ($350), iTALC ($350), KDE ($400), The Document Foundation ($400), Tails ($350)
- 2015: AWStats ($300), Haiku ($300), Xiph.Org ($300), GIMP ($350), Kodi ($300), Devuan ($300), hdparm ($350)
* * * * *
Distributions added to waiting list
- HardenedBSD. HardenedBSD is a security-enhanced fork of FreeBSD. The HardenedBSD Project is implementing many exploit mitigation and security technologies on top of FreeBSD. The project started with Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR) as an initial focal point and is now implementing further exploit mitigation techniques.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 3 August 2015. 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)
1 • Backups (by Brad on 2015-07-27 01:41:22 GMT from North America) |
I regularly backup to two external HD - on one, I backup the contents of /home using Grsync. Next, I boot my laptop into Windows 8.1, and perform a File History backup and a system image backup to an NTFS partition on the first external HD. Finally, I boot my laptop with Clonezilla, and clone all 11 partitions (several Linux distros and Windows) to a separate external HD.
Two reasons for all the backups - my laptop has an SSD HD, and I want to be sure to be able to recover from failure. Secondly, I cut my sysadmin "teeth" on VMS. I was taught early on to use the "belt and suspenders" approach. In general, it's worked well for me.
2 • Neptune OS (by Bob Carroll on 2015-07-27 01:53:13 GMT from North America)
Based on positive past reviews, I was looking forward to evaluating NeptuneOS 4.4 for possible inclusion in a new 64-bit Gooplusplus USB Multiboot collection to be released in August.
Unfortunately, Neptune 4.4 was one of those rare Linux distros that simply refused to work when using YUMI Multiboot software no matter how I tried to mess with boot parameters, etc.
64-bit distros that will be included: Linux Mint 17.2, SolydX 201506, Ubuntu Mate 15.04, Zorin 10 Core, Fatdog64 7.01, KXStudio 14.04.02, Porteus 3.1 KDE, Slitaz 5.0 RC3, TweakOS 1.1, TinyCore 6.3, OpenElec XBMC, and a few utilty and rescue distros.
3 • Backups (by Dr_CR on 2015-07-27 02:07:36 GMT from North America)
I would imagine anyone with a NAS would also be backing that up e.g. to an external hard drive, so I wonder how many "A combination of the above" are backing up to their own server or to the cloud.
As a side note, if your looking into backup options, I'll put in a plug for rsnapshot.
4 • Backups (by wrkerr on 2015-07-27 02:26:16 GMT from North America)
Currently I use cloud storage for backing up all important data, though I'm in the process of investigating setting up my own server to store everything. I'm favoring the idea of buying a spacious internal drive and setting up an OwnCloud server on my main system, so I can easily access all my files from any computer or Android device.
5 • Backup (by bison on 2015-07-27 02:38:14 GMT from North America)
Other: USB flash drives. These are external, but I think it would be a stretch calling them "hard drives."
6 • re; backups (by tom joad on 2015-07-27 03:11:23 GMT from Europe)
The most important and needed files go to the cloud. I duplicate that back up on an internal hard drive. And I use a mix of CD's and zip drives too for back up. Zip drives have gotten to be very affordable as well as relatively large. I like the concept of redundancy for back ups too.
I do a case by case for backups too. I don't do the grand system wide scheduled backup. Nevertheless, I do back up on a frequent basis the stuff I need. CYA I always say.
7 • Backups (by Andy Figueroa on 2015-07-27 04:07:34 GMT from North America)
Although I "voted" External Hard Drive, the truth is that I use a combination of secondary internal hard drive & external hard drive, using scripts run by crontab nighly to create TAR gzipped archives in different rotating locations daily and weekly.
Mission critical files at the school I support are also backed up over both the internal network (NFS) and Internet to redundant locations.
8 • Re: Backups (by hobbitland on 2015-07-27 05:07:29 GMT from Europe)
I also backup to two external HDD but they have a single 256bit AES encrypted ext4 partition.
I use my own written Python3 "mirror.py" to backup. It only copies only changed files. There is no rebooting in my backup procedure. Backing up OS is waste of time, backup your data and not using complex backup software make sit easy to recover data using any OS or a live USB stick.
I also use my own written "index.py" to index files with md5sum, size and time (integer). Backup is no good if you cannot verify the data.
9 • Backups (by Ken on 2015-07-27 05:08:22 GMT from Oceania)
A combination. You really need a multi-choice widget. I have RAID to cover disk failure for a while, daily backup to NAS, weekly backup to external HDDs and weekly backup of personal files to a DVD-RW. I also give an encrypted DVD to offsite storage now and then. Backup to cloud would take too much upload quota, but I sometimes store encrypted copies of key files in the cloud when travelling.
10 • Backups (by Sondar on 2015-07-27 06:52:03 GMT from Europe)
Clonzilla onto an identical hard drive, caddy system and spare PC alongside. Problem means a delay of seconds at most. Don't forget to re-clone the replacement drive.
11 • Windows Prediction Proven False (by Scott James on 2015-07-27 07:58:33 GMT from Planet Mars)
I am the guy who left Windows for Linux, then went back to Windows. My third
laptop had WIndows 10 Beta on it, but that's expired, so I put Ubuntu back on it. That is why I thought about you guys.
A note: I thought Linux would be a lot more popular by now. But, SmartPhone and Android OS' are getting more attention now, placing Linux's priority for developers under them.
I predicted years ago that Linux would one day be as popular as Windows. I was wrong. Windows keeps getting better and better, and other OS'' are getting more popular. While Linux is getting its niche, its going to be a long time before it is recognized as a major competitor to Windows and other OS'.
If I had to make a new prediction today, it would be that Linux is going to be going through many changes in order to accommodate the needs of the many.
I really want to put Windows on my third laptop. Linux will do for now, I guess.
12 • Backup to floppy + @11 Windows Prediction Proven False (by far2fish on 2015-07-27 08:42:53 GMT from Europe)
I was amazed to see a few people still use floppy disks to do backup. Frankly I doubt I have seen a computer with a floppy drive since the last century.
@11 Windows Prediction Proven False
> I predicted years ago that Linux would one day be as popular as Windows. I was wrong. Windows keeps getting better and better, and other OS'' are getting more popular. While Linux is getting its niche, its going to be a long time before it is recognized as a major competitor to Windows and other OS'.
I understand you mean on the desktop, because on the server side Linux is just as popular as Windows.
13 • popularity contest @11& @12 (by greg on 2015-07-27 09:07:22 GMT from Europe)
yes he ment desktop. in other parts Linux kernel + a good UI have been sucessfull. but desktop... it's like there is no investment into it. GUI imporved a lot but there are often so many ridiculous errors that should never be in an OS. we can see here from reading the reviews (if you don't have time to try them out) how bizzare are the bugs and how often this should be resolved with normal use testing. but these are maybe more edge cases in distros. more stuff pops up even in mainstream options. suddenly you are dealing with things you would never deal with in Windows. and unless you know how to do it it involves plenty of learning... usualyl for problme in Windows there is some small program or something you would just run and it would make a fix. in Linux you often need to still write the program (or script).
in any case more desktop exposure is good as these ridiculous cases get fixed. and i do hope the share increases at least a bit as some solutions in Linux are just briliant.
14 • Linux testing (by Brad on 2015-07-27 09:45:02 GMT from North America)
@13 - I think the reason for some of the bugs is *because* Linux is such a niche OS on the desktop. There are very few "testers", and they tend to be followers of the distro being tested. Corner-cases and bizarre usage patterns only come to light when new users stumble on the distro, and bring their own, "new" perspective to the flavor.
15 • Backup (by Platypus on 2015-07-27 10:31:57 GMT from Oceania)
I backup with Grsync to both an internal and portable external drive - the latter I hide securely.
How often do people back up? I usually backup weekly.
16 • Data backup (by cykodrone on 2015-07-27 11:19:47 GMT from North America)
I voted other because my OSes reside on SSDs and I back up files on 2 HDDs, I only 'edit' the first HDD and use luckyBackup to 'mirror' the first HDD to the second. Occasionally I get un-lazy and burn important stuff to optical disk. Can't never have too many backups, poop happens.
17 • Linux Testing (by dragonmouth on 2015-07-27 11:33:49 GMT from North America)
@Brad & Greg - since you guys seem to be accomplished linux users, have you ever thought of becoming official testers? With so few Linux testers around, an addition of even two more (you guys) would be of great help.
18 • Testing, testing...is this on??? (by Brad on 2015-07-27 12:12:54 GMT from North America)
I actually went as far as running down the release note "checklist" for LM 17.2 Cinnamon when it went RC (last month?). Everything worked "perfectly" for me, and I reported such to the developers.
However, I noticed a number of folks picking out rather arcane bugs; many of them related to NVidia graphics, and most reported by folks who looked to be new to the distro - hence, my earlier post. The LM devs got more useful info from those folks (including a test-bed with Nvidia graphics) than they got from me, an admitted LM fan for a number of years.
I'm willing to help, but my free time is very limited, and my skill-set may be lacking in a number of areas.
19 • Linux backup (by rebelxt on 2015-07-27 12:32:43 GMT from North America)
I use a combination of internal HDD, external harddrive, and cloud. Critical files go to the cloud when they change (SpiderOak). User file changes are backed up to internal HDD daily (rsync). Partitions are backed up to internal HDD monthly (dd). Comprehensive external harddrive backups are stored offsite semiannually.
20 • Are The Hurd and systemd compatible? (by Paraquat on 2015-07-27 12:45:14 GMT from Asia)
The Hurd has always interested me, but I've never installed it because it's never been ready for prime time. And from Jessie's review, it's still not ready, though I'm glad to hear that it's improving.
One thing I have to wonder about - How can Debian square The Hurd with systemd? After all, my understanding is that systemd is Linux specific - it can't work with another OS's kernel. Some I'm wondering how The Hurd's developers are working around that? Are they able to build some sort of systemd compatibility layer? Or are they using an older (pre-systemd) Debian as their base?
21 • Debian Hurd and systemd (by Jesse on 2015-07-27 12:55:37 GMT from North America)
@20: You are correct, systemd is a Linux-only technology. Debian ports, such as Hurd and kFreeBSD, use alternative init software. If systemd compatibility is required, they probably use the systemd-shim software to allow components to run.
22 • stop pretending it's 2005 (by Tim Dowd on 2015-07-27 14:13:45 GMT from Planet Mars)
@13 @14- comments like these are very tiresome for those of us who use desktop Linux. There are not "so many ridiculous errors" in any of the major desktop distributions. I use several Linuxes at home (Debian, Ubuntu MATE, and for the kid DouDou, which is a really cool niche distro for small children) and Windows 7 at work. Both Windows 7 and Debian/Ubuntu/Mint (and I would guess openSuse, which I used to love, and probably Arch and Fedora) just work the way they're supposed to. The difference is that the Linuxes are free and that they take an interest in having limited hardware run well, whereas Windows (like Android) gets its money from selling new hardware and is perfectly happy if your 5 year old computer stops working. In this house we have 10 year old computers getting real work done with no more errors than a Windows computer would have, and web browsers that don't take 5 minutes to open.
23 • Surprised at the lack of Tape Backups (by SilentSam on 2015-07-27 15:01:46 GMT from North America)
I was fairly certain most SysAdmins still back up using tape... I know I do. Tape is still the cheapest and most secure and reliable method to backup, when you need the ability to roll back to specific dates for files.
If you have a good tape rotation, then you can feel at ease.
I use a combination of Amanda Backup for this, and various tar / rsync scripts to back up to network storage as well.
24 • RE 22 even in 2005, linux desktops were not that bad (by dbrion on 2015-07-27 15:07:50 GMT from Europe)
and, if one did not work, one could choose another (ex : if one does not like gnome, one can choose between kde/LXDE/XFCE : it is very unlikely they are all broken/unpleasant at the same time)
There is another thing in your post which worries me : windows does not sell hardware (in contrast, Intel has hired linus t....) . Many hardware producers support GNUlinux (Atmel, Renesas http://www.timesys.com/supported/processors/renesas , Intel say) One can get 6 years old years windows computers -children prefer them, as it is like their friend's- : as far as they do not get viruses , why not? If they get viruses, I will install Mageia5+LXDE, which I find pleasant and not too resource consuming.
25 • Huh? (by Jordan on 2015-07-27 15:34:37 GMT from North America)
So all this talk and analysis in here is about 1.6 percent of the OS market share?
I had no idea we were still that small. Haven't grown at all, it appears.
26 • MATE and Gnome 2 (by jaslar on 2015-07-27 16:06:54 GMT from North America)
I have a question perhaps you experts can help me with. I know that there are lots of underlying changes that have gone into Gnome 3. Do I understand correctly that MATE requires Gnome 2, whereas Cinnamon is based on Gnome 3? If we Linux users choose a Gnome 2-based distro, what's the downside? Are we shunting ourselves out of the development of the latest LibreOffice, browsers, etc.?
27 • Mate (by David on 2015-07-27 17:04:31 GMT from Europe)
Mate was developed from Gnome 2, but it is now completely independent. There are now downsides, as applications like browsers and office suites will run on any desktop. Using Mate is no more a problem than using Xfce or KDE.
28 • Backups (by Bill S on 2015-07-27 17:54:13 GMT from North America)
I have 5 external Hard Drives which I use to backup several systems while I am booting up 8 different OS's. But for my main system with 4 partitions, I back it up to
1) an external HD I can grab in case of emergency, and 2) I have a Hard Drive Networked for the whole house to use 4 computers and a laptop. The software I use and highly recommend is TeraByte Image for Linux. I've used it for years and completely rely on it. I've used it when I had HD failure from these Wester Digitals and it saved my bacon. Also, I can make a backup of the system I am currently running from inside the system. TeraByte it's great. I chose a Combination of the above.
29 • windows is dependent on new hardware sales (by Tim Dowd on 2015-07-27 18:10:46 GMT from Planet Mars)
@ 24- Microsoft isn't a hardware company (although now it is, with the admittedly pretty cool Surface) but they're the number one OEM operating system installed on computers. Given that most people don't see a reason to upgrade past Windows 7 (and unless they had forced a huge number of users to upgrade past XP they wouldn't have) selling new computers is certainly part of their business model.
I'm not really even blaming Microsoft- they're not nearly the worst at obsoleting old hardware. In fact, they provide support for machines that are quite long in the tooth. My 8 year old Dell with a Core Duo inside it was running Windows 7 great until IT decided it was too old and replaced it without asking me if I wanted that. But I'm running Pentium 4s and a Centrino Duo at home that work great with Ubuntu MATE- there's no incentive for Microsoft to support such machines.
Far and away the worst obsoleters on the market today are the Android hardware manufacturers. NPR was reporting today that there's a security hole where a texted video can entirely take control of your handset. Clearly that's a huge deal. Google's made the patch, but they're admitting that 50% of phones might not get an update because the manufacturers and network providers just want you to buy a new phone and thus don't support 2 or 3 year old devices. That's simply outrageous.
I have no explanation on why desktop Linux marketshare is so low, other than that people don't know about it and don't see any reason to not keep their computer in its default state. But that's why I think comments like 13 need to be addressed quickly, because it's just not true that it's hard to use or makes your life more difficult. The only luck I've had getting people to try Linux are people that are angry at a computer they feel like should still be working, and they're usually pretty happy once they've got Linux on there. That's why I think odd distributions like Dou Dou that fit a niche market might be really important- there's really not a better way to convince the average person that Linux isn't hard when there's a distro aimed at a 2 year old that they can try by just putting it in the DVD drive and rebooting.
30 • Backups (by a on 2015-07-27 19:32:36 GMT from Europe)
I backup regularly to an internal HDD. Occasionally to an external HDD, and rarely to a distant server for the most important files. Not happy with it but setting up a proper backup system is annoying.
31 • Huh? 1.6%? (by Robert Pogson on 2015-07-27 19:38:37 GMT from North America)
Jordan wrote about 1.6%.
That's a strange number if you look at the distribution of that usage. According to StatCounter, on Sunday:
So, while GNU/Linux is in the doldrums on average these days there are many bright spots. In India, the level is higher weekdays at ~2% because governments and schools use it. Much of Europe was over 3% in Q1. GNU/Linux has made huge progress on the desktop and it continues.
32 • Backup options (by mikef90000 on 2015-07-27 21:54:24 GMT from North America)
In the day of 1TB+ hard drives, I find it astounding that anyone can consider floppy disks, obsolete ZIP media or even CDs for backup.
I use several external hard drives in different locations, one is a 2.5 inch HDD that mostly lives in my safe deposit box. Some special data will make it onto DVD, just in case.
Most home computers have Windows as they are preinstalled with it, and of course some people have a strict application compatibility need. So many people aren't even interested in free training that would make them more productive and not fear making trivial changes to the default settings.
OTOH saying Windows is 'better' is extremely subjective; I have come to hate the ever more cluttered, inflexible desktop interface compared to XFCE and the like. The few Windows apps I need run in a Windows virtual machine just fine.
33 • Backup (by stefan on 2015-07-27 22:09:59 GMT from Europe)
There are two things to backup: system and data. To get both, i clone my system, on other hardware, and the clone clones the data. Except for one: while the production-system holds the backup of the clone-config as data, the clone holds the backup of the production-config as data. The difference comes in through changing the system. i change the clone to test, if it fails, i can get the backup from production. In case of success, i backp the change on production, implement it there, and if it fails, i can restore from the clone. If it works, i backup on clone, and both are the same again.
34 • Win vs Linux war is over (by GrzegorzW on 2015-07-28 00:33:06 GMT from Europe)
I totally agree with @22. I use Linux for my personal computing since 2007 and also on 3 other computers used by my family - all diferent Ubuntu flavors, all did not saw frexh installs since 12.04 when I set them up, and all did not experince any seroius failures. I also use Win 7 at work - which is also very stable. My opinion is that let people use Windows if they are heppy with it - it is not bad system. I will not push anybody to use Linux only beacause I like it, it gives more freedom or has some features I care - it is not enough. If you are not particularly interested in cmputer technologies - there are better things to do than changing/learning new OS.
Actually I even DON'T want Linux to became mainstream operating system used by computer novices, because with that there came all kinds of viruses, malwares. sywares etc. and last thing I want to do is to bloat my systems with antivirus programs.
BTW: Jesse - Backup to floppies - is that delayed April fool :)
35 • Debian kFreeBSD (by cykodrone on 2015-07-28 00:41:28 GMT from North America)
"Currently, Debian is only available for Linux and kFreeBSD"
Although the kFreeBSD version of Debian is still available, sadly it's not an official port of Debian anymore, just sayin'.
36 • Backups (by Thomas Mueller on 2015-07-28 02:13:26 GMT from North America)
USB sticks are a part of my backup media; one could even use SD cards. I also use external hard drive (USB 3.0; I would like to see more eSATA options) and plan to use NAS, have that partly set up. Software I use most often is rsync. I would not backup big downloads because when I would need it and not have it, I could redownload an updated version with http or ftp, cvs, svn, git or other as appropriate.
One can even backup an open-source OS installation including added software built from FreeBSD ports, NetBSD pkgsrc, or other package-management system.
37 • Hurd and Backups (by Will B on 2015-07-28 02:16:36 GMT from North America)
Jesse, thanks for the GNU/Hurd review! :-) I tried it recently and found it to be slow in pretty much the same way you did. I do hope they develop it at a faster pace, because like you, I like to see different options out there beyond just Linux and BSD.
Backups - I use an internal drive that I connect before backups, then disconnect afterward, so it's not 'online' all the time (and that's a little safer). My primary backup method, however, is rsync to my home server. It's FreeBSD 10.1 running ZFS mirrored on two 2TB drives. It works great for my needs, provided I don't do anything silly when I'm SSH'd in. ;-)
I think 'cloud' backups are good for some things, and I do a limited rsync with a server instance running with a 'cloud' provider, but I don't trust anyone else to treat my data properly. Maybe I'm paranoid, maybe I'm crazy, but that's my stance on it.
38 • Why Linux is not more popular (by RollMeAway on 2015-07-28 03:10:47 GMT from North America)
Main reason is consumers cannot readily buy a computer with linux installed and ready to use. Most places you can buy such are even more expensive than windows and require much searching to even find.
Most consumers would not have a clue on how to install windows.
Next reason is, what is linux. Is it PClinux running kde? is it Centos running gnome2? Is it Ubuntu running Unity? etc and so on. Linux does not have a single face. Any given windows version pretty much looks and works the same on all computers.
Another reason is maintenance. Upgrading in particular, requires some competence on most all flavors of linux. It is typically automated on windows with little or no user attention.
39 • Why Linux is not more popular (by LinuxuserNZ on 2015-07-28 06:00:02 GMT from Oceania)
@38. " Upgrading in particular, requires some competence on most all flavors of Linux."
Yep. back up your personal data or if a proactive user you have a separate /home partition. My Linux of choice lets me know there is an upgrade available. I click the icon, click "yes, upgrade now" and carry on using system. Depending on Internet connection, maybe 40 min later nearly all done. reboot required to initialise new kernel and desktop if required.
" It is typically automated on windows with little or no user attention. "
I usually have at least a spare 4 hours or so to install a new Windows from disk and drivers including reboots -thats if the new OS works with my hardware.
Then the really fun part, installing the required software and finding it wont work on the new OS.
40 • backup (by aqua on 2015-07-28 13:17:51 GMT from North America)
I use bitbucket + dropbox + bittorrent sync for my backup. I have a home server, so bittorrent sync always has a machine to sync with.
41 • why linux is not more popular (by lupus on 2015-07-28 18:55:00 GMT from Europe)
My most recent update on a i5 machine with ssd took me about an hour to update windows. At first there was 6 required and 7 optional updates.
And directly after that there was another required update.
I had to reboot the machine twice in that process.
I hate it and if it wasn't for my brother in law with his startup firm I wouldn't undergo such an ordeal. All my other machines run different flavours of Linux and even the oldest one (core2duo, 2gig Ram, no ssd, UBUNTU) gets an update in under 20 Minutes, while you can reliably work with the machine and if there is no new kernel you even don't have to reboot.
To me it is an enigma why Linux isn't more popular. I'll recommend it to everyone and if they are general users they need their time to get used to it but after that they normally don't look back.
42 • Low linux usage (by Jordan on 2015-07-28 18:57:05 GMT from North America)
Hmm.. the "people don't know about it" and the "people can't readily buy a linux machine" both sound like Microsoft victories. Their scorched earth maarketing strategy is no longer in the news, and was only in a few trade pubs, as I recall. Could be mistaken about that.
Mac aside, there is a "Windows is computing" meme out there.
Sad. But if that hard nosed approach by Gates and crew had failed (remember the SuSE green boxes at Best Buy?), I have the feeling that Mac is computing would have been the result.
43 • Backups & DEs (by M.Z. on 2015-07-28 20:19:17 GMT from Planet Mars)
Much like # 5 my backup plans usually involve moving most of my important files to my USB drive, which usually transfers files between my main PC & laptop where I would most likely need them. I generally end up with at least 3 copies of my important stuff on my PC laptop & transfer device (either USB or mp3 player) & I don't worry too much about the rest. I do occasionally try to make a 4th copy on the /data partition of my old PC, though I don't do that as regularly as I probably should. I also don't worry too much because if anything goes wrong on most of my systems I can just nuke & pave over the OS partition & reconnect to the /data partition.
@26 - DEs
As #27 states, there is no difference at all from a standpoint of application compatibility. All the different desktops on Linux & similar systems are all about changing the look & feel things that a user notices & providing different ways of interacting with your PC. The two main families of DEs are Qt based ones (KDE & LXQt) & Gtk based ones (Gnome, MATE & Cinnamon), & you should be able to run apps across all of them with minimal problems. The only real penalty you pay for running a Qt app on a Gtk DE or vice versa is a few extra MB of RAM used to load a few extra bits of software in the background. The only other potential issue is having some issues with ugly backup themes pop up. For me the theme issue has happened a few times with Gtk apps in Qt desktops, though it could potentially become an issue on old Gtk2 desktops like MATE eventually. Don't worry about software compatibility, just bear in mind the potential for minor theme problems based on you DE of choice. In my experience the problem is rare & doesn't affect functionality.
44 • Linux market share (by frodopogo on 2015-07-28 20:34:06 GMT from North America)
I'm a musician, and occasionally on the music forums I frequent, Windows users talk about anti-virus solutions. I always mention Linux, since it is immune to all the Windows viruses that are such a plague. And the silence in response is deafening. It's like it's something they are not willing to consider. Well, occasionally I get a single response from another Linux user, and we seldom use the same distro!
When I mentioned I used Linux, one local musician who specializes in snarky comments said: "Linux- that's so NINETIES!" Which means that his concept of Linux is something EXCLUSIVELY command-line oriented- right? (I wasn't using Linux back then, but that's the impression I've gotten.) All the development of Linux since then towards user-friendliness is as if it had never happened. And I don't think he's alone, in fact, I think if most people even think of Linux at all, they think of it as user UNfriendly software.
And if they have worked in a corporate situation, that might not help at all, because Linux is what those IT techs use, and therefore it seems out of reach.
I admit, I started using Linux because another musician started using Ubuntu, and he was no computer geek, and I recognized the name myself, so I thought maybe there was a Linux version that was user-friendly enough that I might be interested. So I did a search, and came here, but I didn't like the brown theme Ubuntu was using at the time, and I've got to have the panel across the bottom, so Mint it was.
But then.... I'm a bit of a maverick. I really tend to avoid following the crowd.
(But I've learned that with computers, you can't be TOO much of a maverick if you want support of some kind.)
Most people however have this thing about "name brands", whether musical instruments, or cars, or computers and their operating systems. It's not unusual for only a few names to dominate. Most people don't want to think too hard about making a purchase, and I guess they figure, if I recognize the brand name, it's been around a while, and it must be good.
One of the counter-intuitive things about open source software is that the names can change. Libre Office is essentially now what Open Office was. Mageia is essentially what Mandriva was. There is continuity, in a way more continuity than you'd get with a corporate product, but the name has changed, and that flies in the face of brand name psychology. That forces people to do a little research to find out where the continuity is, because the name won't tell you.
45 • Backups (by Ron on 2015-07-28 21:16:00 GMT from North America)
Backup to a USB hard drive installed in a dual outlet electrical box. Use a cable from computer to wall plate with USB drive installed behind the plate. Burglars foiled!
46 • Please drop the 'Beginners' tag (by Aqua Fyre on 2015-07-29 01:03:59 GMT from Oceania)
Why insist on labeling some distros as for 'Beginners' ?
Linux has moved on considerably since the early days where users had to set out partition tables etc by hand.
Perhaps a better label would be 'friendly'. But since almost all Linux developers are seeking to attract users : such a friendly interface and accessibility to services; is what all Linux users want. regardless of whether they are experienced or new to Linux.
The new generation of computer / tablet / device users are pretty savvy when it comes to operating systems : & they are the increasingly relevant part of the consumer market.
Quite frankly, if Linux doesn't want to end up in a cul-de-sac of increasing irrelevance : it needs to redefine itself. And that starts with labels.
Calling a distro suitable for 'beginners' is not only condescending, but completely out of touch with what most users want from Linux.
Proof : take a look at Mint, Elementary, ChaletOS etc. These are the distros that are moving ahead because they happily embrace both novices and experienced users of Linux.
Like I said : time to drop the 'Beginner's label as it comes across as condescending and irrelevant to most Linux users.
47 • Beginners Tag (by lashely on 2015-07-29 05:54:05 GMT from North America)
@46: Agree whole heartedly, "user friendly" would be a better term. While there are many distros which require a much more advanced user to even intsall the distro, Linux has plenty to offer. Debian has came a great distance in a short period, being a stable, robust distro and certainly easy to install and I consider it very user friendly. Also there is ubuntu, which is very easy and good for children. Linux has something for everybody, I highly recommend Debian, sophisticated but not difficult. It is my most recommened "user friendly" distro.
48 • @41 why linux is not more popular (by far2fish on 2015-07-29 08:53:15 GMT from Europe)
The author Neal Stephenson has written a quite amusing essay about the OS wars called "In the Beginning was the Command Line". Worth a read :)
One issue with switching from Windows/OS X to Linux full time, which I struggled with personally for several years. is the lack of support for a lot of gadgets that requires you to have a computer with the said two operating systems. For instance I had a smart phone who could not get updates OTA - only through a desktop application. Same issue with an older tablet. For some reason I could never get that to work through Windows in VirtualBox even with full USB passthrough. Before that I had a portable media which would not mount on Linux, and syncing did not work through VirtualBox. I also had a HR watch that needed to upload training data through a computer. Did not work. Later I bought a new HR watch that could upload data through USB passthrough in VirtualBox. Finally I had a digical camera that would not mount on Linux either. No problems through VirtualBox to Windows though.
Finally there is gaming. Several mainstream games are now available on Linux, but that was not the case a few years ago. Then add all the issues with getting stable drivers for non-Intel GPUs on Linux. And gaming through Wine was never as smooth as gaming on Windows using the same hardware.
No wonder so few people are able to switch 100% to Linux.
I have been using Linux on/off for over 10 years, but was not able to switch to it full time on the desktop more than a couple of years ago - after a modern smart phone is finally replacing all my old gadgets.
Number of Comments: 48
|• Issue 620 (2015-07-27): Debian GNU/Hurd 2015, Linux Bible, Ubuntu MATE gets new Welcome app, Telegram on Fedora, Plasma Mobile|
|• Issue 619 (2015-07-20): SolydXK 201506, Tanglu's new bug tracker, FSF and Canonical negotiate licensing, Haiku unveils new init system|
|• Issue 618 (2015-07-13): Semplice Linux 7, openSUSE derivatives, Debian adopts GCC 5, Docker ported to FreeBSD|
|• Issue 617 (2015-07-06): Alpine linux 3.2.0, Fedora on MIPS CPUs, Solus offers daily builds, Ubuntu migrating to Snappy|
|• Issue 616 (2015-06-29): MidnightBSD 0.6, openSUSE's "42", encryption added to the ext4 file system, FreeBSD on a Raspberry Pi|
|• Issue 615 (2015-06-22): Raspbian 2015, Fedora works around Intel driver issue, openSUSE adopts GCC 5, frozen desktop while copying files|
|• Issue 614 (2015-06-15): Chromixium OS 1.0, Debian 8.1 released, OpenBSD running in the cloud, sudo myths|
|• Issue 613 (2015-06-08): Fedora 22, Cinnamon 2.6 released, FreeBSD's history, working around Secure Boot|
|• Issue 612 (2015-06-01): Manjaro OpenRC, Debian, Devuan and systemd, Fedora 22 released, Mandriva closes its doors|
|• Issue 611 (2015-05-25): Kubuntu 15.04, openSUSE adopts Plasma 5, Ubuntu's Snappy, words from Debian's Neil McGovern|
|• Issue 610 (2015-05-18): NethServer 6.6, interview with Neil McGovern, CentOS supports AArach64, Foresight discontinued|
|• Issue 609 (2015-05-11): OpenIndiana 2015.03, LXLE 14.04, PC-BSD Current, creating ISO images, Ask A Leader with Peter Ganten|
|• Issue 608 (2015-05-04): Debian 8.0, Bodhi forks Enlightenment, new Debian GNU/Hurd release, distribution release frequency|
|• Issue 607 (2015-04-27): Ubuntu 15.04, Chapeau 21, Debian 8.0 features, Fedora 22 Beta details|
|• Issue 606 (2015-04-20): Linux Mint 2 "LMDE", Matthew Miller, Debian's new Project Leader, Evolve OS name change|
|• Issue 605 (2015-04-13): SuperX 3.0, HAMMER2 features, Linux 4.0, Vince Pooley, Google Code closing|
|• Issue 604 (2015-04-06): Void 20150221, Haiku's commercial partners, Debian release date, Tumbleweed features|
|• Issue 603 (2015-03-30): Tails 1.3, LibreOffice Online, Linux Firewalls book review, Kubuntu with Plasma 5|
|• Issue 602 (2015-03-23): Bodhi Linux 3.0.0, distro popularity, OpenBSD's new web server, GNU Manifesto turns 30|
|• Issue 601 (2015-03-16): Ubuntu MATE 14.10, modern distros for old hardware, AppArmor in Debian, Fedora 22 Alpha|
|• Issue 600 (2015-03-09): Korora 21, distro diversity, Ubuntu gets systemd, PC-BSD security features|
|• Issue 599 (2015-03-02): Sabayon 15.02, creating good passwords, new YaST modules, LMDE preview
|• Issue 598 (2015-02-23): Netrunner 14.1, Vivaldi web browser, Debian election, Cinnamon improvements|
|• Issue 597 (2015-02-16): MakuluLinux MCDE 2.0, Ubuntu phones launch, m0n0wall ceases development, live Linux updates|
|• Issue 596 (2015-02-09): ArchBSD 2014.09.04, encrypted e-mail, Fedora upgrade stats, FreeBSD's support policy|
|• Issue 595 (2015-02-02): ExTiX 15.1, Destroying encrypted data, openSUSE election, OSDisc statistics|
|• Issue 594 (2015-01-26): KaOS 2014.12, Commercial distros, Snappy Ubuntu, PackageKit fixes|
|• Issue 593 (2015-01-19): ReactOS 0.3.17, Unity on Mir, Bluetooth support, openSUSE election|
|• Issue 592 (2015-01-12): Mint 17.1, load averages, binary logs, GNOME Software|
|• Issue 591 (2015-01-05): Manjaro 0.8.11, systemd, Devuan, Torrent Corner|
|• Issue 590 (2014-12-22): Fedora 21, Ubuntu phone, expanding ZFS storage, Able2Extract|
|• Issue 589 (2014-12-15): Parsix 7.0, Ubuntu "Snappy", PC-BSD upgrades, How Linux Works|
|• Issue 588 (2014-12-08): PC-BSD 10.2, rolling-release Ubuntu GNOME, Bitrig, systemd|
|• Issue 587 (2014-12-01): Trisquel 7.0, Kubuntu 14.10 "Plasma5", FreeBSD on 64-bit ARM, Jolla and UbuTab|
|• Issue 586 (2014-11-24): Scientific Linux 7.0, Debian and systemd, Ubuntu MATE, application-level firewalls|
|• Issue 585 (2014-11-17): openSUSE 13.2, PC-BSD's "roles", MATE + Compiz on Mint, cleaning package cache|
|• Issue 584 (2014-11-10): OpenMandriva 2014.1, Debian freeze, trickle, systemd and boot times|
|• Issue 583 (2014-11-03): Ubuntu 14.10, ownCloud, Kylin interview, The Book of PF, Elive's commercial ways|
|• Issue 582 (2014-10-27): GhostBSD 4.0, Tumbleweed and Factory merge, systemd and fork of Debian|
|• Issue 581 (2014-10-20): SparkyLinux 3.5, Fedora's graphics stack, Debian and systemd, OpenBSD 5.6|
|• Issue 580 (2014-10-13): Rolling releases, Arch as best distro, GNOME on Wayland, MINIX 3.3.0|
|• Issue 579 (2014-10-06): PC-BSD 10.0.3, Debian's Jessie freeze, setting up home server|
|• Issue 578 (2014-09-29): Calculate 14, Debian's default desktop, Shellshock vulnerability, practical Tiny Core|
|• Issue 577 (2014-09-22): SymphonyOS 14.1, FreeBSD drops pkg_add, MINIX on ARM, GNU screen|
|• 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|
|• Full list of all issues|