| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 637, 23 November 2015
Welcome to this year's 47th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
The open source community is constantly trying to build better software, exploring new features and trying new approaches. This week we cover a number of these initiatives, starting with a review of the NixOS distribution. NixOS features an unusual approach to software management, courtesy of the Nix package manager and we talk about the interesting features present in this distribution in our Feature Story. In our News column we discuss Antergos setting the stage for ZFS support, preparations in the Slackware community for a new release of the venerable distribution and two powerful new features introduced by the MINIX project. In our Questions and Answers section we talk about the challenging task of copying an operating system from one computer to another. In our Torrent Corner we share the distributions we are seeding and then we provide a list of the operating systems released last week. In our Opinion Poll we talk about encumbered codecs and ask our readers whether they use free or encumbered multimedia codecs. We wish you all an excellent week and happy reading!
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (28MB) and MP3 (21MB) formats
• Music credit: Clouds Fly With Me by Matti Paalanen
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
NixOS 15.09 and the Nix package manager
The NixOS Linux distribution is not a project which gets talked about a lot, perhaps because the project's primary focus appears to be to act as a demonstration platform for the Nix package manager rather than a practical day-to-day operating system. Personally, I think Nix, and therefore NixOS, are interesting projects and I'd like to explore them this week. To begin, I will let the NixOS website explain just what the distribution, and its unusual package manager, are all about:
"NixOS is a Linux distribution with a unique approach to package and configuration management. Built on top of the Nix package manager, it is completely declarative, makes upgrading systems reliable... NixOS has a completely declarative approach to configuration management: you write a specification of the desired configuration of your system in NixOS's modular language, and NixOS takes care of making it happen. NixOS has atomic upgrades and roll backs. It's always safe to try an upgrade or configuration change: if things go wrong, you can always roll back to the previous configuration."
The NixOS distribution is available in two editions, a text-only minimal image and a graphical edition. Both editions are available in 32-bit and 64-bit builds for the x86 architecture. I opted to try the 64-bit graphical version of NixOS which is a 965MB download. Booting from the NixOS media brings us to a text screen where we are automatically signed into the command line interface as the root user. A brief information message appears above the prompt, letting us know we can run the command "start display-manager" to launch a desktop environment.
The distribution's graphical environment turned out to be KDE 4.14. The desktop's application menu and task switching panel are placed at the bottom of the display. On the desktop we find three icons. The first icon launches the GParted partition manager, the second icon opens a virtual terminal and the third opens a copy of the NixOS manual. I highly recommend reading the manual as NixOS does not have a system installer. The manual explains how to partition the hard drive and that we must select and format a partition for the root file system. The user is instructed to confirm NixOS has an active network connection and to mount a disk partition which may be used for the root file system. We are then instructed to edit a configuration file NixOS will use to set up our new operating system. Editing this file allows us to select where the GRUB boot loader will be installed, to enable system services such as OpenSSH and CUPS and to install the KDE desktop. There is also a section where we can tweak the default user account. There is a second configuration file containing hardware information we can edit if we want to have a specific disk layout or a have particular kernel module loaded. I noted, while browsing through the hardware configuration file, that NixOS will detect whether we are running in VirtualBox and automatically enable the appropriate modules to offer VirtualBox users guest integration with the host operating system. Once we have confirmed the configuration files are correct, we run a script called "nixos-install" and wait while the system copies its files onto our hard drive. When it is finished, we are asked to set a root password for our new installation of NixOS. Then we can resume our exploration of the live desktop or reboot the computer.
NixOS 15.09 -- Accessing the on-line manual
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I would like to mention that NixOS should probably only be installed by experienced Linux users who are comfortable navigating the command line. The distribution's user manual is a handy quick reference guide, but it does not walk the user through the installation process step-by-step. The user should be familiar with formatting disk partitions from the command line, storage device names and the nano text editor, for example, before attempting to install NixOS.
When we boot into our locally installed copy of NixOS we are brought to a graphical login screen. It was at this point I ran into my one serious problem with NixOS, though I will admit to the issue being mostly my fault due to a misunderstanding of the project's manual. At the login screen we cannot sign into the root account (it is blocked from signing into a desktop environment) and the user account we created at install time does not have a password, making the user account effectively locked. I switched over to a text-based terminal where I was able to sign in as the root user. I set a password on the user account I had created, but was still unable to sign into the account. A little investigation revealed the user account's home directory was in a strange place and the login shell was "nologin" which effectively blocks all login attempts. I fixed these, but while I could sign into the account on the command line, I was still blocked from logging into a KDE session. At first this seemed to be a permissions issue, but after applying some suggested fixes and rebooting, I made an important discovery: The account, after reboot, was reset back to using "nologin" as its shell and its home directory had been changed. It was then that I realized the Nix configuration I had used during the installation was faulty and Nix was undoing my changes at each boot.
I decided to restart my trial and performed a new installation. While going through the configuration file the second time I realized my earlier mistake had been to assume optional lines in the configuration file which were commented out were the defaults, the lines needed to be uncommented to enable the desired feature. In particularly, I had to uncomment to enable a line which would cause my user account to be treated like a normal, unprivileged user. (The specific variable is "isNormalUser" and it needs to be enabled.)
This time, when I finished my second installation and rebooted, I was again brought to a login screen where I still could not login since no password was set on my user account. Once again I dropped to a command line, signed in as root and set a password on my account. At this point I was then able to log into the KDE desktop using my normal account.
While the issue concerning my user account I ran into was largely my fault, it does highlight a few interesting points about Nix and NixOS. Specifically that Nix doesn't just manage packages, it also handles services and user accounts. I also found that when we make changes that do not match Nix's configuration, the package manager will "correct" our changes. This means we need to adjust our thinking when it comes to how the system is managed and it also means Nix may fix problems automatically for us if the system becomes corrupted.
I tried running NixOS in two test environments, a physical desktop computer and a VirtualBox virtual machine. NixOS performed well in both environments. The distribution properly detected and used my desktop's hardware and integrated automatically into VirtualBox. The distribution was quick to boot and shut down. By default the KDE desktop runs with visual effects enabled and I found some desktop elements were slow to respond. Disabling visual effects helped gain better responsiveness. NixOS is very light on memory, using just 190MB of RAM when signed into KDE. This gives NixOS perhaps the smallest memory footprint when running KDE of any distribution I have used.
NixOS 15.09 -- Running LibreOffice after installing the suite using Nix
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The NixOS distribution ships with a minimal amount of software in the default installation. Looking through the application menu we find the Konqueror web browser, the Feb image viewer and the Dolphin file manager. The distribution ships with the KDE System Settings panel, giving us a great deal of flexibility with regards to customizing our desktop environment. The KInfoCentre application is available to show us information on our system's hardware. There is a system monitor, two text editors and the KDE Help documentation which explains how to use the desktop environment. At install time we have the option of enabling the CUPS printing software and the OpenSSH secure shell service. NixOS ships with systemd 217 and version 3.18 of the Linux kernel. It's a small collection of applications, but more software is available in the distribution's repositories and that gives us an excuse to examine the Nix package manager.
Prior to using the Nix package manager, I recommend reading the project's manual. It has some good background information and examples of how Nix works. From the point of view of the user, the Nix package manager is mostly invoked using the nix-env command line utility. The nix-env program uses a syntax similar to the rpm command on Fedora and Red Hat systems. For example, nix-env -i will install a package, nix-env -u will upgrade a package and nix-env -qa will provide a list of available packages. Additional commands can be found in the manual. I found Nix processed requests quickly and worked smoothly; I did not encounter any problems while installing, upgrading or removing software.
One quirk I did notice though was that new desktop applications, once installed, would not immediately appear in KDE's application menu. A user first had to logout and then sign back into their account for the new desktop application to appear in the menu. A nicer feature of Nix was that if I typed a command in a virtual terminal that was available in the distribution's repositories, but not yet installed on the system, a helpful message would be displayed telling me how to install the missing program.
What sets Nix apart from other package managers, such as DNF or APT, is the way it handles multiple versions of packages. When we add or change a package on NixOS, the package manager creates a new "generation" or snapshot of the installed packages. The new generation, or snapshot, is kept separate from other generations. This means each time we add or upgrade a package, Nix basically creates a new snapshot of the system. If we decide we no longer want an application we just installed, or if an upgrade broke a package on our system, we can use Nix to instantly roll back to the previous generation of packages. This functionality is similar to what openSUSE has been doing recently with Btrfs and the project's Snapper utility. Each time the administrator makes a change on the system, it creates a new snapshot and we can revert the changes by switching to the previous snapshot.
NixOS 15.09 -- Rolling back a package generation
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Nix is interesting in that we can roll forward in time as well as roll back. This is quite useful if we want to test different versions of a package to check its performance over time or if we want to see which version of a package broke. Nix will allow us to jump forward or backward in time to any point and the switch happens instantly.
Over time the many snapshots Nix maintains will eventually use up more and more disk space. This is why Nix includes a number of "garbage collection" commands which can seek out older snapshots and remove them from the operating system, freeing up space. Nix is able to remove all old snapshots, specific snapshots or any snapshot older than a certain amount of time. This means if we perform software upgrades every week, we can run a scheduled job to remove any snapshots older than a month, insuring we have both a fall back option and a clean hard drive.
Nearly two years ago I wrote about an earlier version of NixOS and the Nix package manager. At the time I was quite taken with Nix (as I still am) and asked around as to why more distributions would not adopt the package manager. One of the big concerns was that the hard drive would be filled up, or that juggling snapshots (generations) of packages would prove too complex. But in the past two years we have watched PC-BSD and openSUSE introduce file system snapshots which perform essentially the same functions and Ubuntu is rolling out Snappy which implements less mature versions of the same features Nix has been showcasing for years. It seems as though developers throughout the open source community are catching on to the idea of snapshots, generations and atomic updates, but everyone is creating their own implementation. This seems like a lot of duplication of effort when Nix is already available, has had most of the bugs worked out and can be installed on top of most existing distributions.
NixOS 15.09 -- Switching, listing and removing Nix generations
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The highlights of NixOS are that the distribution is very light on memory, showcases a very interesting and powerful package manager and the distribution does everything quickly. The package manager performs most tasks instantly and NixOS offers us a minimal platform on which to build.
There were some quirks of this distribution which took some getting used to. In my case, adjusting to the idea that Nix would manage user accounts as well as packages and that the package manager would reset "damage" to the system took an adjustment in my thinking.
I very much like the way NixOS takes the worry out of upgrading packages by placing each change in its own "generation" and I found, from the end user's point of view, NixOS worked just the same as any other Linux distribution. Setting up NixOS is not for beginners, and I do not think NixOS is intended to be used as a general purpose desktop operating system. But what NixOS does do is give us a useful playground in which to examine the Nix package manager and I think this is very interesting technology which deserves further exploration and adoption by additional distributions.
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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)
Antergos introduces ZFS support, MINIX unveils new features and Slackware prepares for beta
The Antergos distribution released a minor update to the project's installation media last week. Though the new media contains just two changes, one of them introduces an interesting new feature: "ZFS kernel modules were added in preparation for ZFS support in Cnchi v0.14." Out of the box support for ZFS, an advanced file system, is rare in Linux distributions. Antergos adopting ZFS opens the door to other interesting features such as file system snapshots, multi-disk storage pools and rolling back broken software updates.
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The MINIX operating system is a relatively small project and it is not often we hear about the lightweight operating system and the work its developers are doing. However, this past week the MINIX team announced two very exciting new features which will improve security and low-level software updates on the MINIX operating system. The first of the two new features is live updating. MINIX uses a microkernel which means system services and device drivers are run as separate components from the core kernel. These components, such as hardware drivers, can now be updated on a live system without requiring a reboot. "A live update is an update to a software component while it is active, allowing the component's code and data to be changed without affecting the environment around it. The MINIX3 live update functionality allows such updates to be applied to its system services: the usermode server and driver processes that, in addition to the microkernel, make up the operating system. As a result, these services can be updated at run time without requiring a system reboot."
The second interesting feature is the ability to shuffle data in memory to make its location virtually impossible to predict. This is similar to address space layout randomization (ASLR) which randomizes the initial location of data in memory. In this instance, the MINIX developers have taken things a step further and made it possible to keep shuffling the contents of memory, making it even harder for attackers to compromise the system. "Live rerandomization consists of randomizing the internal address space layout of a component at run time. While the concept of ASR or ASLR - Address Space (Layout) Randomization - is well known, most implementations are rather limited: they perform such randomization only once, when starting a process; they merely randomize the base location of entire process regions, for example the process stack; and, they apply the concept to user processes only. In contrast, the MINIX3 live rerandomization can randomize the address space layout of operating system services, as often as desired, and with fine granularity. In order to achieve this, the live rerandomization makes use of live updates." Further information on both of these new features can be found in the MINIX project's announcement.
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It has been over two years since the Slackware project last put out a stable release. However, looking through the project's changelog it is clear the developers have been constantly at work and it seems as though a new version of the venerable distribution is on the horizon. The changelog has a recent entry which reads, "Please enjoy `almost a beta.' Sorry we missed Friday the 13th this time." The Alien Pastures blog comments on some of the highlights now in Slackware's development branch. "Yet another 200+ lines of updates in the ChangeLog.txt of Slackware-current. It's obvious that Pat has been watching the LinuxQuestions threads closely. And we are again very bleeding edge, with the GNU Compiler Collection 5.2.0! The update of tigervnc (in ./extra with fltk as a new dependency) as well as the addition of the squashfs-tools are Pat's nod to the Live version of Slackware that is in the making here at home. The Live ISO can now be created with and by Slackware-current without the need for third-party software."
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Transferring an operating system to another computer
Creating-clones asks: Can I install/copy the operating system on one computer to another and have it work exactly the same?
DistroWatch answers: Often times, yes, you can. Assuming the hardware on both computers is supported by the operating system and assuming the hard drive on the second computer is the same size or larger than the hard drive in the computer you were using originally, there are some tools to transfer an operating system from one computer to another.
I think the easiest way to transfer a Linux distribution from one computer to another is to use a dedicated utility like Clonezilla Live and a spare hard drive or NAS. The spare hard drive will store a digital copy of the operating system we want to transfer to the new computer. Typically, the procedure is to insert the Clonezilla disc into the first computer where you already have an operating system running. Boot off the disc and follow the prompts which will ask whether you want to make a copy of the whole disk or just a single partition. Clonezilla will ask where it should put the copy of your disk and we point Clonezilla toward the spare hard drive.
Clonezilla will make an exact copy of the data from the first computer on the spare drive. Then we can put the Clonezilla disc into the second computer and Clonezilla will walk us through the reverse process of copying the operating system from the spare disk onto the second computer.
In my experience the process usually works well, but it will fail if the destination computer has a smaller hard drive than the first computer did, since there is not enough room to store the entire copy. Once Clonezilla has transferred the digital copy of your first hard drive into the new computer, you should be able to boot and use the second computer just as you did the original.
There are some small problems I have run into. For example, if your original computer used a static IP address, the second computer will try to use the same IP and that can cause problems with communicating over the network. Also, if the second computer has a larger hard drive than the original then you will need to resize the disk partitions after the transfer is complete if you want to be able to access the extra storage space.
The Clonezilla project has documentation with step-by-step screen shots to guide users through the process. I also recommend practising with a spare computer or a virtual machine to get a feel for the experience before trying it on computers used on a day-to-day basis.
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Past Questions and Answers columns can be found in our Q&A Archive.
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: 134
- Total data uploaded: 20.6TB
|Released Last Week
Univention corporate Server 4.1-0
The developers of Univention Corporate Server (UCS), a Debian-based server distribution with Active Directory compatible domain services, have published a new release. The new version, Univention Corporate Server 4.1-0, features updates to a number of key packages, including the Linux kernel and Samba, and also includes support for Docker contains in the distribution's App Center. "The Univention App Center integrates the container technology Docker. With Docker, it is possible to run Apps separately and encapsulated from each other. This increases the security of the UCS domain and reduces the dependencies of the Apps on other software libraries. The integration of Docker is transparent to the users. The App Center will automatically perform the start-up and configuration of the Docker containers. The Univention App Center's usability has been improved further. Apps are now displayed more clearly. The App detail pages have been cleaned up and supplemented by a rating in the categories Vendor Supported, Popularity's Award and Editor's Award. The classification is based on data such as the installation base of the Apps or the maintenance behaviour of the app providers. Thus, the transparency and comparability of Apps are increased." Further details can be found in the project's release announcement and in the release notes.
Puppy Linux 6.3
Barry Kauler has announced the release of a new version of the Puppy Linux distribution. Puppy Linux provides users with a lightweight, installable live CD which strives to be easy to use. The new release, Puppy Linux 6.3, is built from Slackware packages and is available in 32-bit and 64-bit builds. "It has been awhile since the last announcement of an official release of Puppy Linux, 6.0.3 `Tahrpup', starting with 6.0 in October 2014. Mick Amadio, the coordinator for Puppy built from Slackware 14.1 binary packages, has brought Puppy to a new release, version 6.3. This is distinct from Puppy 6.0.x, which is built from Ubuntu Trusty Tahr binary packages, coordinated by Phil Broughton. Mick coordinated Puppy 5.7.x which is also built with Slackware packages. For the first time, Puppy is released in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions." Further information on the new Puppy Linux release can be found in the project's release announcement. There are also release notes for the 32-bit and 64-bit builds.
Puppy Linux 6.3 -- Exploring the application menu
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Black Lab Linux 7.0
The Black Lab Linux project has announced a new release of its commercial offerings. The new release, Black Lab Linux 7.0, ships with the Xfce 4.12 desktop, LibreOffice 5, version 5 of the GNU Compiler Collection, WINE and version 3.19.0 of the Linux kernel. "Today we are announcing the release of Black Lab Linux 7.0. Over the past 6 months we have released several betas, presented 4 release candidates, and generally done a ton of work, culminating in Black Lab 7, our vision of what the best Linux desktop should be. Black Lab Linux 7 introduces many improvements to the core system and improves many OS functions of the OS from wireless connectivity to power management to general hardware support. Other improvements include (but are not limited to): Kernel 3.19.0-33, full XFS Filesystem support, full exFAT support, Xfce 4.12, new deskbar layout, LibreOffice 5, Chromium web browser, Pepper Flash plugin..." Further information on the release, its minimal hardware rquirements and purchasing options can be found in the project's release notes.
Bodhi Linux 3.1.1
Jeff Hoogland has announced the release of Bodhi Linux 3.1.1, an updated build of the Ubuntu-based distribution featuring a customised Enlightenment desktop called "Moksha": "Today the Bodhi team and I are releasing an unscheduled bug fix release in version number 3.1.1. The 3.1.0 release we released back in August had an issue where users were not always prompted automatically for wireless passwords when connecting to encrypted networks. This lead to enough confusion and user frustration that we feel it warrants an updated install image now as opposed to waiting for our scheduled 3.2.0 release early 2016. In addition to the wireless bug fix, this release includes all package updates that have been released since August as well as a web application launcher of the Bodhi AppCenter. Existing users need to simply run their system updates to bring their current 3.1.0 install to this latest version." Here is the brief release announcement with a screenshot.
Bodhi Linux 3.1.1 -- Running the Moksha desktop environment
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Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.2
Red Hat has announced the availability of a new upgrade to the company's Enterprise Linux line of products. The new release, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.2, is a relatively small update to the 7.x series and addresses known bugs and errata. "Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.2 includes new features and capabilities that focus on security, networking, and system administration, along with a continued emphasis on enterprise-ready tooling for the development and deployment of Linux container-based applications. In addition, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.2 includes compatibility with the new Red Hat Insights, an add-on operational analytics offering designed to increase IT efficiency and reduce downtime through the proactive identification of known risks and technical issues." Information and links to downloads (for Red Hat subscribers) can be found in the brief release announcement. Detailed information on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.2 can be found in the company's release notes.
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Using encumbered codecs
The distribution of many popular multimedia codecs is restricted by licensing and/or software patents. This means open source operating systems which operate in countries where software patents exist face a difficult choice: providing their users with multimedia support may place these open source projects in legal difficulty while not providing multimedia functionality may alienate potential users.
There are media technologies available, such as Ogg Vorbis which are freely available and can be distributed without legal consequences. While legally, and often technically, appealing, these free codecs generally have not gained traction with the general public.
This week we would like to know if any of our readers have dedicated themselves to using patent-free and freely licensed multimedia codecs. Please leave us a comment with your thoughts on multimedia support and how you feel distributions should deal with non-free codecs.
You can see the results of last week's poll on Wayland and Mir usage here. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
The podcast and its RSS feed have returned
As many of our long term readers may know, DistroWatch Weekly used to be available as a podcast, handy for those who like to listen to their news rather than read it. The talented Bruce Patterson put these podcasts together and was the voice of DistroWatch for several years.
However, other projects come along and Bruce had to move on to other things last year. Some of you mentioned enjoying the podcast and asked if we could bring it back. I am happy to report Michael DeGuzis from the Libre Geek website has volunteered his time, energy and voice to produce a weekly podcast for us where he covers the news, reviews and Questions & Answers columns.
Michael has done six podcasts for us to date and shows no sign of fatigue so we set up an RSS feed for people who want to keep up with his DistroWatch Weekly podcasts. Links to the audio files will also be available at the top of each Weekly and on the DistroWatch front page in the Latest Podcasts column.
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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, 30 November 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)
- Michael DeGuzis of Libre Geek (podcast)
1 • transfer operating systems to another PC (by SlaxFan on 2015-11-23 01:38:32 GMT from North America) |
One comment to add: This works well with Linux but not with the closed operating systems. They try to lock to the hardware to prevent you from doing what you want and need to do with the hardware you paid for. Another huge plus for open source!
2 • Re # 1 transfer OS to other hardware. Slax fan. (by erinis on 2015-11-23 02:04:07 GMT from North America)
Yes that's true yet can be circumvented and has little to do with the software. Having installed Linux on a Mac Mini years ago along with BSD and keeping my Snow leopard intact got me thinking and now it's all on a USB stick thanks to Linux Mint USB image writer and some eventful persistence. Linux is full of surprises. Enjoy
3 • Copying OS to new computer (by Erick Brunzell on 2015-11-23 02:36:34 GMT from North America)
A few suggestions:
(1) Consider architecture. Maybe your old computer was using 32 bit but your new computer would perform better with a 64 bit OS. Are both computers standard BIOS capable? Or is the old computer BIOS w/MS-DOS and the new one is UEFI w/GPT? In either of these instances just perform a fresh install on the new computer and transfer only the data.
(2) Test the OS you plan to transfer using a live DVD/USB, preferably the same version as you plan to transfer if one exists for that distro. Obviously you'll need to use live media to perform the transfer anyway.
(3) When possible simply remove the drive from the old computer and connect it to the new computer either externally or internally. Then Gparted makes the job easy for most Linux OS's and USB 3.0 is reasonably fast. Of course dd is very efficient but if you need to ask how to use dd I'd recommend avoiding it.
(4) If both the old and new computers are going to exist on the same network you'll need to change the host name on the hew computer so plan for this in advance. The method for doing so can vary from distro to distro.
(5) If any proprietary drivers (such as nVidia or Radeon) are in use on the old computer disable them before performing the transfer. This should allow most modern Linux OS's to "auto-detect" the proper FOSS drivers when booting the new hardware.
(6) Perhaps really more of a (5b) as it plays into the same drivers narrative - any hardware specific modified files should also be removed, or if the old computer is still to be used just rename (mv) those files before the transfer and then mv them back into operational position when you put the drive back into the old computer.
(7) Always plan on the worst outcome and create a full backup of the old drive before proceeding! It's like insurance - as long as you pay the premiums you'll never need it, but the one time your coverage lapses is when disaster will strike.
(8) Do NOT try booting the new system with both the old and new drives connected when the transfer is complete! Both will be using the same UUID's as well as having the same boot files.
4 • Codec poll (by pcninja on 2015-11-23 03:03:35 GMT from North America)
Since both are open-source, I use both kinds.
5 • KDE / MINIX / Codecs (by Will B on 2015-11-23 03:09:49 GMT from North America)
== KDE ==
Only 190 MB running KDE? That, truly, is a miracle! I have never seen it that low before. I wonder what things they tweaked to get it that low...?
== MINIX ==
I'm still waiting for MINIX to have Xorg packages. Seems like the last major version had them, but not the latest. Sad. I really want to try Xorg out on it.
== Codecs ==
My preference is to use only 'unencumbered' codecs when possible, but we do live in a world where both Apple and Microsoft live, so sometimes the 'ugly' and 'bad' gstreamer packages are necessary. I personally try to save stuff in ogg format unless it's for a Windows-using customer (yeah, I know about vlc, but customers don't, and they aren't all that savvy about installing stuff).
6 • OS transfer / Slackware beta (by Microlinux on 2015-11-23 06:11:34 GMT from Europe)
G4L (Ghost 4 Linux) and G4U (Ghost 4 Unix) work very well in transferring an OS from one PC to another, and I'm using these all the time, with a preference for G4L.
Slackware 14.2 beta is excellent news. Plus, the move from udev to Gentoo's eudev will allow it to keep the systemd nonsense out in the foreseeable future.
7 • NixOS, the most outstanding distro.....!! (by Hsyn Guzelaydin on 2015-11-23 06:53:25 GMT from North America)
I truly enjoyed reading this edition of DW Weekly's review of NixOS as i found NixOS to be one of the most outstanding distros with a cutting-edge originality amongst countless (and growing) distros out there.
Besides NixOS, GoboLinux is another outstanding distro which is highly advanced with unorthodox features.
Similarly, OpenIndiana, Voyager, NuTyX and Exe GNU/Linux are equally outstanding distros with uniquely wonderful features.
I hope DW Weekly sometime covers those outstanding distros, too.
8 • @6 Slackware 14.2 and our classical troll generator technology (by Frederic Bezies on 2015-11-23 08:30:00 GMT from Europe)
Indeed, Slackware 14.2 beta (or so) is a great news. Too bad, KDE 4 display is kinda broken :(
Systemd is nonsense ? For you maybe. For me, I don't care as long as my computer is working. I don't mind if my distribution is running with systemd, openRC or runit.
Eudev ? Great news. At least Slackware developers are "smarter" and don't want to lost time writing a new "udev" software.
Looks like Slackware could be followed by some distributions which are pulling out systemd.
9 • #8 (by jadecat09 on 2015-11-23 09:07:24 GMT from Europe)
Too bad, KDE 4 display is kinda broken :(
How exactly? Not for me it isn't.
10 • @9 KDE subtly broken :) (by Frederic Bezies on 2015-11-23 09:16:38 GMT from Europe)
It is a subtle bug. Just look at bottom bar. There are two konqueror icons instead of one.
Beside this, it is as always with Slackware : changes are not really "end user friendly" but more in-depth one, like a brand new kernel (4.1 instead of 3.10) and so on.
11 • I try Og Vorbis first. (by Roy H Huddleston on 2015-11-23 09:57:35 GMT from North America)
Since Streamtuner uses OGG and DistroWatch as well I try Og Vorbis first. But if it requires something else to play I will try something else.
12 • MP3 codec (by sam on 2015-11-23 10:34:42 GMT from Europe)
All the patents on MP3 playback have expired now right?
13 • NixOS (by Niko Z. on 2015-11-23 10:53:23 GMT from Asia)
"Nearly two years ago I wrote about an earlier version of NixOS and the Nix package manager. At the time I was quite taken with Nix (as I still am) and asked around as to why more distributions would not adopt the package manager."
I have spent some time with NixOS and it is really an interesting distribution. One of the problems that I've encountered is that the package manager changes standard directory names into unpredictable long strings. Navigating system directories from command line or a file manager becomes quite a chore. Furthermore, many programs (ex. LaTex) have a host of plugins that could be manually installed in specific directories and look for them there. Scrambling directory paths becomes a challenge then. Perhaps, if NixOS became a new standard it could deal with every specific plugin as well, but that sort of sounds like 'one ring to rule them all' type situation, whereby any direct manual interaction with system settings and packages is nearly impossible and everything has to be configured through NixOS package manager alone. Not a palatable proposal for many Linux enthusiasts who like to directly tinker with their system's innards.
This is not meant as a critique of NixOS, I do think it has a lot of remarkable features, and hats of to people investing their expertise in developing it, but IMHO the lack of widespread adoption has some credible reasons behind it as well.
14 • Codecs (by Jim on 2015-11-23 13:20:23 GMT from North America)
With respect to unencumbered (open source & free) vs. encumbered (proprietary) codecs, my outlook is the same as it is for software. I PREFER the open source variety, unless a proprietary package suits my needs BETTER. All things being equal, open source will ALWAYS get the nod. While I would prefer to be 100% open source with codecs, the fact is that open source codecs are not recognized on all my media devices (to be fair, perhaps this is a device manufacturer issue, and now that I know better, I will consider codec compatibility before I make my purchase of proprietary hardware. Open source hardware would be preferred, but that is another topic for another poll!). So while I would prefer Ogg Vorbis and/or FLAC for audio, and Theora for video, the fact is that MP3 seems to be universal for audio and MP4 seems to be universal for video. Anything that goes on my media server is either MP3 or MP4 for universal compatibility, and to avoid CPU cycles being wasted on transcoding.
15 • Experiences Transferring Operating Systems (by Ben Myers on 2015-11-23 13:26:05 GMT from North America)
A couple of years ago, I acquired one of the first solid state drives in a 3.5" form factor. I installed 64-bit Linux Mint on it to use for testing computers. As long as the processor is 64-bit capable, it has booted up and run on any computer to which I attach it. In short, most any Linux distro will boot up without a complaint on a computer with hardware fully supported by the distro.
I have succeeded and failed (both) in moving a hard drive with Windows from a dead computer to a living one. Complete success requires intimate knowledge of chipsets and Windows Vista or earlier. Beginning with Windows 7, when one activates Windows, the Microsoft borg assimilates the hardware configuration data including the motherboard serial number. In effect, the Windows product key gets tied to the serial number. The only way out is to call the Microsoft toll-free number and to whine and plead as to why you need to activate the copy of Windows on a different computer. This can meet with mixed success. Moving expensive products like Office, Adobe Creative Suite or AutoCAD from computer to computer is also tightly managed by the companies that collect the big bucks.
16 • Codec Usage (by wrkerr on 2015-11-23 14:04:17 GMT from North America)
Generally I use Vorbis or FLAC for audio, and VP8 for video. I'm hoping something usable and better than VP8 for video comes from either the Daala or Alliance for Open Media project soon.
17 • #10 (by jadecat09 on 2015-11-23 15:27:21 GMT from Europe)
If you choose, for example, FireFox and Dolphin File Manager under Default Applications in System Settings. The next time you login/bootup the Konqueror icons are changed.
If you want to be more up to date with Slackware use 'current'. Also remember that Slackware is not aimed necessarily at being "end-user friendly" but KISS.
18 • @8 Slackware's init system and eudev (by Microlinux on 2015-11-23 15:45:12 GMT from Europe)
The word "nonsense" was just a polite misquote. Here's the original quote from Slackware developer Eric Hameleers' blog about the introduction of eudev: "Basically eudev contains the udev code as found in the systemd sources, but then stripped from all standards-violating systemd crap and with a sane build system."
19 • Slackware prepares for beta (by Philip Lacroix on 2015-11-23 17:12:34 GMT from Europe)
The upgrade from udev to eudev was indeed very smooth, and the very few glitches were promptly fixed by Pat Volkerding. BTW, it's great to see him actively monitoring the forum. It's also nice to see that eudev supports a split /usr filesystem layout, which didn't seem to be the case with udev. The overall result is indeed very clean and sane.
20 • @18 : eudev and slackware live release notes. (by Frederic Bezies on 2015-11-23 17:44:58 GMT from Europe)
I read this and found it a little... How to say this ? I don't know. War declaration to udev developers ? :D
You can hate a technology. Calling it crap is the worse thing to do here. I'm just thinking as a end user here who just want to have a working distribution. Init war is just as useless as editors war.
My 2 cents here, of course.
21 • eudev (by frodopogo on 2015-11-23 18:30:59 GMT from North America)
He was quoting from Eric Hameleers, and as I understand it, he's saying that eudev is GOOD and is getting back to the better way of writing an init file. He's saying that the it's the additions made by the systemd developers are that are c***.
So it's systemd that was being disrespected, not eudev.
I do agree with you that it's best to avoid such hostile language.
22 • Several (by Fossilizing Dinosaur on 2015-11-23 19:27:36 GMT from North America)
Directory names resembling shortened URLs for package name; decryption required for human-readability (and perhaps automated collision-avoidance), encryption/hash for source adaptation? Interesting. Reminds me of ServerD*s dependency on XML for automated server management.
"…my earlier mistake had been to assume optional lines in the configuration file which were commented out were the defaults…" I suspect a conflated-flipped-bit here. My initial assumption would be that commented-out items are all options/non-default.
Like the natural expectation that a freshly-installed app would appear in the current session's menu, I suggest these indicate potential documentation improvement.
Are its "snapshots" of package organization, of all packages (de-duplicated?), of the entire OS, or of all apps+config/settings+userdata?
Can Nix save different branches of development as well? (Oo, revision-control crossover!?)
Speaking of which, isn't there a difference between copying just OS+apps, and/or optionally including configuration settings, versus just wholesale inclusion of everything (even userdata)?
Microsoft tied their OS licensing to motherboards well before 7 (conflating re-partitioning a hard drive with "hardware change!" was mere FUD, user harassment and hacker "window"); for simple motherboard replacement transfer (in my experience) no whining is needed. But then, what of W'8-on-a-stick!?
Slackware-Live release notes
I was disappointed to see no hyperlink to the standards mentioned ...
23 • Covered Windows 10 with Mint 17.2 (by Jordan on 2015-11-23 19:29:03 GMT from North America)
Destroyed Windows 10 on my newer laptop. It first had Windows 8. I'm used to
changing hard drives to do Linux computing on the same machine (never have
been a dual boot freak).
This time I DESTROYED Windows. It's taken me 20 years almost exactly, as I
began the Linux journey in '96 with RedHat 5. Always went back to Windows or
made sure I had a spare hard drive.
It's just time. Overdue. Time to commit to and support Linux and not look back
at that huge piece of spyware called Windows 10. Turning off the various choices
one can find in that OS does NOT stop the stream of data being sent to MS, as I
read at various knowledgeable sites.
Also have to stay off of Chrome. Similar issues.
24 • Codecs (by libresociety on 2015-11-23 19:45:33 GMT from Asia)
My legal jurisdiction does not recognise software patents, so MPEG codecs are not encumbered for me. I use libre software to decode MPEG files.
But in the spirit of internationalist solidarity, I do not *create* new files using codecs that are encumbered in other legal jurisdictions. I encode new content in VP8 and Vorbis, which is the combination I see as being the most widely supported at the moment. Will probably play around with VP9 soon.
25 • Codecs (by GittyUp on 2015-11-23 23:19:51 GMT from North America)
I use about 90% of the time freely licensed codecs (hope to be 100%). Audio for lossy is Ogg (Vorbis) or Opus (both far superior to MP3) and for lossless audio, FLAC. Video for the container, MKV and the video codecs are x264/x265, but prefer VP8/VP9. The encoders for VP8 need a little work for quality and A LOT of work for the speed of encoding. 2 bits
26 • off-topic (by dick on 2015-11-24 00:12:27 GMT from North America)
Sorry... if this is off-topic and misplaced;
but, this is only list I know of with Arch-gurus graced.
Artha ... is a handy writer's tool
that helps make erudite... even uncouth-fool.
Would someone who knows what to do
please add "Artha" to the AUR too.
27 • @26 Artha (by linuxista on 2015-11-24 05:22:06 GMT from North America)
I've had Artha installed for a few years now from the AUR. Just type "yaourt artha" and choose the only entry that comes up and you're good.
28 • Back in Slack (by d-wave on 2015-11-24 05:45:46 GMT from North America)
Yeah! ALMOST A BETA! I'm pretty excited about Slackware's progress towards a new release. I'm not sure why though, 'cause I could always just run current if I wanted to be up to date... Hmm. I guess a shiny, new, official release is just more fun.
Also, glad to hear that the transition to eudev went well. Say what you will about me, but I'm not a fan of systemd, and I'm glad that there are still alternatives available. People speak of fragmentation in the community like it's a bad thing, but I believe that there's power in choice.
Uhh... All Hail Slackware!
29 • OS transfer (by Andy Figueroa on 2015-11-24 06:00:40 GMT from North America)
One can often just make a compressed tarball of the Linux OS and then untar it into a clean partition. Edit any necessary startup files such as /etc/fstab, install grub and voila. I do this frequently with my Gentoo installations.
30 • Codecs (by Zork on 2015-11-24 09:10:08 GMT from Oceania)
Bit of a "No-Brainer" this poll...
Most people will use whatever works for the media they have. Doesn't matter if it's Proprietary or Open Source, it's a matter of "I want to see/hear this NOW!!!"
I truly can't imagine someone actually going "Oh, it's an mp3/mpeg/wmf etc... Better not play it then..."
31 • Codecs (by Hoos on 2015-11-25 05:09:35 GMT from Asia)
Like post 24, my jurisdiction does not recognise software patents.
However, much as I would like to play only unencumbered formats, the reality is you have to use what works.
My car's music player can't play FLAC or Ogg Vorbis. So I have the same music tracks in both FLAC for the home/mobile devices, and mp3 for the car.
Video - I do not create video content and hardly watch much. Thus I just watch in whatever format the video comes in.
32 • Nix package snapshot VS Snappy, PC-BAS, openSUSE (by Kazlu on 2015-11-25 11:56:21 GMT from Europe)
"But in the past two years we have watched PC-BSD and openSUSE introduce file system snapshots which perform essentially the same functions and Ubuntu is rolling out Snappy which implements less mature versions of the same features Nix has been showcasing for years."
Although the comparrison of Nix and Snappy is valid, what PC-BSD and openSUSE do is technically different. The idea is also to do snapshots alright, but where with Nix and Snappy you do package snapshots, with PC-BSD and openSUSE you perform snapshots of all your partition, of all your files. This includes user data and config files. This is not the same idea and it has some consequences, pros and cons in both cases. For example, what immediately appears to me is that Nix snapshots allow you to rollback a single package and not all the packages that have been updated since the last snapshot. On the other hand, file system snapshots may be suitable for data partitions to prevent mistakes or even corruptions (diminishing the need of a dustbin). It also allows you to rollback if only a configuration change breaks your system (with no associated package upgrade), provided you made a snapshot before making your change. I find interesting that different roads are explored. Time will tell if one logic will prevail over the other of if the two will coexist.
33 • Free vs. encumbered codecs (by Thomas Mueller on 2015-11-26 03:24:36 GMT from North America)
Regarding the poll question, I find it difficult to keep track of all, especially since I build software applications with ports (FreeBSD) and pkgsrc (NetBSD). Individual codecs are pulled in as dependencies or options when building a package like vlc, mplayer, mplayer2 or mpv.
34 • Co-Dec s (by Somewhat Reticent on 2015-11-26 07:35:17 GMT from North America)
I thought patent encumbrance was for stimulating foreign exchange ...
Number of Comments: 34
|• Issue 637 (2015-11-23): NixOS 15.09, Antergos introduces ZFS support, MINIX shares new features, copying an OS to a new computer|
|• Issue 636 (2015-11-16): openSUSE 42.1, Fedora uses Wayland by default, Debian replaces live CD project, Steam consoles launch|
|• Issue 635 (2015-11-09): Fedora 23, Cinnamon 2.8 released, a Fedora KDE packager quits, Red Hat signs deal with Microsoft|
|• Issue 634 (2015-11-02): Ubuntu 15.10, Chakra upgrades to Plasma 5, OpenMandriva plans new editions, MINIX plans conference|
|• Issue 633 (2015-10-26): GhostBSD 10.1, Bodhi Linux to get new settings panel, Fedora 23 delayed, creating live image of existing OS|
|• Issue 632 (2015-10-19): Linux Lite 2.6, 32-bit build of CentOS, OpenBSD turns 20, Bodhi Linux releases AppPack|
|• Issue 631 (2015-10-12): Parsix 8.0, Manjaro seeks new artwork, sending commands to multiple servers, Debian drops LSB support|
|• Issue 630 (2015-10-05): Android-x86 4.4-r3, Ubuntu's new installer, Raspbian defaults to GUI interface, cleaning out dot files|
|• Issue 629 (2015-09-28): Open source desktops and touch interfaces, locking down user accounts, OpenMandriva opens gaming documentation|
|• Issue 628 (2015-09-21): Neptune 4.4, changes to pfSense, Pinguy OS releases updated ISO images, accessing hard disk images|
|• Issue 627 (2015-09-14): Mageia 5, Snappy co-exists with Debian packages, creating PDF/A documents, Antergos previews Poodle|
|• Issue 626 (2015-09-07): Status of Wayland and Mir, Cinnamon improvements, an OpenBSD hypervisor, HAMMER2 gets deduplication|
|• Issue 625 (2015-08-31): OpenELEC 5.0.8, Fedora's new Wayland features, Tails releases update, the LILO boot loader|
|• Issue 624 (2015-08-24): Zorin OS 10, Sabayon's new features, Solus seeks funding, Debian turns 22, new PC-BSD repository|
|• Issue 623 (2015-08-17): VectorLinux 7.1, Ubuntu One source released, Moksha Desktop ships in Bodhi, Fedora developers debate Chromium|
|• Issue 622 (2015-08-10): antiX 15, Fedora tests kdbus, Debian tracks UEFI issues, word processors for the CLI|
|• Issue 621 (2015-08-03): Point Linux 3.0, Debian drops Sparc, Fedora package stats, VirtualBox 5.0|
|• Issue 620 (2015-07-27): Debian GNU/Hurd 2015, Linux Bible, Ubuntu MATE gets new Welcome app, Telegram on Fedora, Plasma Mobile|
|• Issue 619 (2015-07-20): SolydXK 201506, Tanglu's new bug tracker, FSF and Canonical negotiate licensing, Haiku unveils new init system|
|• Issue 618 (2015-07-13): Semplice Linux 7, openSUSE derivatives, Debian adopts GCC 5, Docker ported to FreeBSD|
|• Issue 617 (2015-07-06): Alpine linux 3.2.0, Fedora on MIPS CPUs, Solus offers daily builds, Ubuntu migrating to Snappy|
|• Issue 616 (2015-06-29): MidnightBSD 0.6, openSUSE's "42", encryption added to the ext4 file system, FreeBSD on a Raspberry Pi|
|• Issue 615 (2015-06-22): Raspbian 2015, Fedora works around Intel driver issue, openSUSE adopts GCC 5, frozen desktop while copying files|
|• 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|
|• Full list of all issues|
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