| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 436, 19 December 2011
Welcome to this year's last issue of DistroWatch Weekly! What better way to conclude the year 2011 than with a review of Linux Mint, the distribution that dislodged Ubuntu from the number one spot in our page hit ranking just a few weeks ago? Linux Mint is a project that has been growing in stature in recent years and its bold attempt to turn GNOME 3 into a more GNOME 2-like interface has been received positively in most reviews. Jesse Smith takes a look at Linux Mint 12 and arrives at the same conclusion as many others - it is a near-perfect distro! In the news section, Ubuntu developers suggest a separate edition featuring GNOME Shell, CentOS and other Red Hat Enterprise Linux clones make final preparations before releasing their latest updates, Debian kernel hacker Ben Hutchings explains Debian's position on non-free kernel drivers, and OS News provides an interesting overview of Puppy Linux and its many spins and editions. Also in this issue, a Questions and Answers section which comments on the possibility of self-servicing an operating system by providing one's own security updates, and the usual bunch of new distribution submissions, including Viperr, a CrunchBang-like distro based on Fedora. Happy reading!
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|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
A dozen mints (a review of Linux Mint 12)|
In the past couple of years we've seen Linux Mint rise into the spotlight of the open-source community. The Mint team has gained a reputation of taking Ubuntu and making it more practical for end users. Part of this reputation comes from the useful Mint-specific applications which make backups, updates and other administrative tasks easier. Another part of the appeal to Mint is, no doubt, the project's willingness to include lots of functionality out of the box, offering codecs, Flash and various extras. I suspect they've also gained popularity from providing a classic desktop environment, which remains largely consistent across the project's various editions. The bottom line, in my experience at least, has been that Mint, in all of its editions, across most of its versions, has been solid, functional and user-friendly.
Having recently reviewed Mint's Debian edition it was tempting to simply write this review as, "Mint 12: Everything worked out of the box and they lived happily ever after." But that wouldn't be a useful nor honest way to write a review. Fortunately, there is something new and interesting in Mint 12: GNOME 3 with Mint extensions which are designed to make the GNOME 3 desktop function in a similar manner to GNOME 2. The MATE desktop, a continuation of the GNOME 2 desktop, is also included. Going into this review I decided to try running Mint 12 on the young Btrfs file system instead of the default ext4 file system to see what sort of difference, if any, it would make.
Linux Mint 12 is available as a 32-bit or 64-bit DVD. The project also provides builds on a CD which are stripped of certain multimedia codecs and applications. The CD edition is designed to be distributable in countries where software patents are a concern. Booting off the DVD we're brought to a GNOME 3 graphical desktop environment with some modifications. At the top of the screen we still find the GNOME Activities button and a system tray, but we also find an application menu and task switcher along the bottom of the display. We'll come back to the interface in a bit, but first let's look at Mint's installer.
The installer, which comes from its Ubuntu base, hasn't really changed recently. We go through the usual process of picking our preferred language, the installer confirms that our hardware meets the proper requirements and then we're given the chance to partition the disk. The partitioning section is, in my opinion, one of the better partitioning tools available. It's fairly smooth and intuitive and supports a wide range of Linux file systems. Once we're done on this screen the installer begins copying files in the background while we answer the remaining questions. We confirm our time zone and keyboard layout, and create a user account. We can also choose to enable auto-login and encryption of our home partition. If we accept the default settings we can get through the installer in just a few minutes.
On the desktop
Linux Mint comes with, effectively, three desktop environments, each of them a flavour of GNOME. The default environment is the GNOME 3 Shell with Mint extensions. What this gives us is basically the traditional Mint interface with task switcher and application menu at the bottom of the screen. The GNOME Activities menu is placed at the top of the screen. This means that the user can use the new GNOME Activities interface to switch between tasks and to launch applications and we can also use the classic application menu and task switcher as we did with GNOME 2. With Mint's extensions windows have minimize and maximize buttons and the user menu has an option to shut down the computer. The user also has the choice of turning off Mint's extensions so we can get back to a vanilla GNOME Shell experience or form our own custom desktop. It's a fairly flexible system which I found easy to customize. At first I found it a little strange to have two application menus and a third menu to logout/shutdown, but after a while I began to appreciate the duality. Once one becomes accustomed to having both the Mint menu and the Activities menu it means that we can move the mouse to whichever menu is closer. After half an hour I found the small reduction of desktop space was a fair trade for the speed and ease I had in accessing items.
Linux Mint 12 - GNOME 3 Activities menu
(full image size: 231kB, screen resolution 1024x768 pixels)
The second environment provided by Linux Mint is the GNOME 3 fallback mode. The fallback mode does not benefit from extensions. When running on a machine which does not support 3D effects, the operating system automatically switches from the full GNOME 3 desktop with extensions to fallback mode, providing us with a watered-down version of the classic GNOME 2 environment. It's probably not going to appeal to most users, but it's good to see the system will drop back to the alternative interface smoothly. The third environment provided on the DVD is MATE, the desktop which is derived from GNOME 2. I didn't use MATE for long, but I found it worked exactly as I would expect GNOME 2 to work on Mint. The application menu, task switcher and system tray are placed at the bottom of the screen. Really, MATE looks and feels a lot like GNOME 3 with Mint extensions, but without the Activities bar at the top of the screen and without the need for 3D support. Fans of the GNOME 2 desktop should find themselves well at home with MATE.
Linux Mint 12 - the MATE desktop environment
(full image size: 324kB, screen resolution 1366x768 pixels)
Software updates and package management
When I first started using Mint an icon in the system tray informed me that there were software updates available. Clicking on the notification icon brings up the custom Mint updater app. This application gives us a list of the new packages available. It also provides a number in the range of 1-5 next to each package letting us know how safe the Mint team considers the upgrade. This allows us to apply updates based on testing and recommendation and to filter out packages which may introduce stability risks. I was surprised to find that just a week after Linux Mint 12 was released there were 215 updates waiting and more appeared during the week. At time of writing all updates have downloaded and installed without any problems.
Aside from the update utility, Mint comes with two graphical package managers. The first package manager is Synaptic, which is a tried-and-true application. It's probably familiar to most readers and continues to be both fast and reliable. The other package manager is called the Software Manager and it takes a simplified, more modern approach to handling packages. Users are able to burrow down through software categories to find packages. Categories and packages are represented by both a name and an icon. Each package is given a description and a popularity rating. Users can click on items to get a full description and install/remove actions can be queued with a single click. We can continue to use the Software Manager after queuing actions and we can watch the progress of actions as they are processed. It's quite user friendly and I had no problems with handling software packages using either package manager.
Linux Mint 12 - fetching software and browsing settings
(full image size: 171kB, screen resolution 1024x768 pixels)
On the topic of available software, Linux Mint comes with a good collection of default programs. The distribution provides the Firefox web browser, Thunderbird for email, Pidgin for instant messaging and Transmission for downloading torrents. LibreOffice is included, as are the GIMP, a document viewer and an image viewer. We're given the Banshee multimedia player, the VLC media player, MPlayer, the Totem movie player, a sound recorder and disc burner. (The user may feel overwhelmed by the number of ways they can watch videos.) Along with the previously mentioned media players Linux Mint comes with a full range of multimedia codecs and Flash. The distribution also supplies handy administration tools, including a firewall configuration utility, a program for testing and configuring the network, an easy backup tool and a domain blocker. Also in the menu we find a calculator, text editor, Tomboy Notes and an archive manager. We're provided with Java, the GCC and the Linux kernel, version 3.0. All in all, it makes for a wide range of functionality out of the box. The above, combined with the various desktop environments, takes up a little over 3 GB of disk space.
Linux Mint 12 - exploring firewall and filtering tools
(full image size: 310kB, screen resolution 1366x768 pixels)
Much like its Ubuntu base, the Linux Mint distribution features a guest account, which is accessible from the graphical login screen. The guest account gives the user the ability to use any of the desktop environments, create files, use programs, browse the web, etc. When the user logs out, the guest account is returned to a pristine state. The guest account cannot use sudo and can be disabled if so desired, though the method for deactivating the guest login option isn't immediately obvious.
I ran Mint 12 on two physical machines, my laptop (dual-core 2 GHz CPU, 3 GB of RAM, Intel video card) and a desktop machine (2.5 GHz CPU, 2 GB of RAM, NVIDIA video card). In both cases Mint detected all of my hardware and I encountered no hardware related issues. My Intel wireless card was picked up and audio was set to a reasonable level. When I first began using Mint I installed it using Btrfs on all partitions. This resulted in two problems, the first was that at start-up the machine would pause with the error message "Error: sparse file not allowed. Press any key to continue..." As it turns out, this is a known issue which occurs when GRUB 2 is used in combination with Btrfs. The operating system is still able to boot, but it halts, waiting for user confirmation to continue. I also found that Linux Mint was unusually slow to boot and, once logged in, applications were slow to launch.
After a few days of this, I re-installed Mint using the default ext4 file system for all partitions and found that boot times were greatly reduced and programs launched faster. Given the performance problems I noticed, the GRUB 2 error and Btrfs' lack of a file system check program, it's probably best not to use Btrfs on anything other than a test machine. During my trial of Linux Mint I also ran the distribution in a virtual machine. I found that the system would operate as long as it had 256 MB of memory to use, though more is obviously desirable for most tasks.
It's hard not to be impressed with what Linux Mint has accomplished with this release. The developers have not only taken Ubuntu and made it more attractive to end users, but they've also greatly improved on GNOME Shell. The extensions and customized design give the shell all the benefits of running GNOME 3 with all of the options and abilities of GNOME 2. Additionally, users are able to seamlessly switch over to MATE for an authentic GNOME 2 experience. As usual, Linux Mint worked on all of my hardware without any problems, all codecs and extras were available out of the box and the distribution comes with a strong set of default applications.
The only issues I ran into were a result of going out of my way to use Brtfs instead of the default ext4 file system, once I switched back to ext4 everything functioned faster and without error. The project has a huge repository of 36,000 packages, everything feels responsive and free from error and the installer worked well. I was able to login and immediately get to work without configuring anything or hunting down additional software. I'm of the opinion that Linux Mint has raised the standard for Linux distributions yet again and my only regret is that the various community editions featuring LXDE, KDE, etc have not yet become available alongside the main edition.
|Miscellaneous News (by Ladislav Bodnar)
Ubuntu's GNOME Shell edition, RHEL clones readying 6.2 release, interview with Debian's Ben Hutchings, Puppy Linux overview
Ubuntu's Unity desktop has received all sorts of marks in the Linux media and blogs; despite that, the distribution's management insists that it is the interface of the future and that the majority of Ubuntu users are happy with Unity. Still, there are signs of lingering doubts, at least among some of the developers. Last week Sebastien Bacher suggested on the ubuntu-desktop mailing list that "it would be really cool if a team stepped up to maintain a derivative ISO image with GNOME Shell by default." Joey Sneddon reports in "Developers Suggest Ubuntu Spin Using GNOME Shell by Default": "Ubuntu Desktop team has asked for help in the creation of an Ubuntu derivative that uses 'GNOME Shell by default'. The creation of a 'Gnobuntell' (as no-one but me is calling it) would require the assembly of a committed team of developers capable of maintaining it. It's presently unclear how or where such an ISO image would be distributed, or what branding would be used, but its creation would go part way to appeasing the minority of user who are unhappy with Ubuntu's default Unity desktop shipping by default." Among the many Ubuntu derivatives in existence, there are already projects that cater for users who prefer GNOME Shell to Unity; these include Ubuntu GNOME Shell Remix and LinuxLex OS (both currently on the DistroWatch's waiting list) and Linux Mint 12 which offers a pure GNOME Shell option by turning off the custom Mint extensions.
* * * * *
With the release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.2 two weeks ago, all eyes now turn towards the "clones" to see which one will be the first to deliver. PUIAS Linux has seemingly won the race by announcing 6.2 last week, but only "netinstall" images are currently available for download. Oracle Linux 6.2 was also announced last week, but at the time of writing the company's download page still only lists DVD images for version 6.1. The Scientific Linux project is in the early alpha stage of testing 6.2. And what about CentOS, the most popular of them all? Last week there was a brief period when the project's main download server got populated with ISO images for 6.2, but these were later withdrawn and the 6.2 directory deleted. A last-minute bug? In any case, if you are looking for a free enterprise-class server, CentOS isn't the only option. As Steven Rosenberg reports, "Debian and Ubuntu deserve consideration, too": "I've built a couple of servers lately -- nothing mission-critical, mind you, but critical to my own work, and I chose the Linux distribution I know best, Debian GNU/Linux. Not only is every stable release of Debian pretty much a 'long-term-support' release given the roughly every-two-years rhythm of stable Debian releases, but the Debian security team is top-notch. They're always right there with needed patches for critical components of the system."
* * * * *
Speaking about Debian GNU/Linux, here is a link to an interesting interview with Ben Hutchings, member of the Debian kernel team: "Ben Hutchings is a rather unassuming guy, but hiding behind his hat, there's a real kernel hacker who backports new drivers for the kernel in Debian stable so that our flagship release supports very recent hardware." One of the touchy issues with any Debian release is the project's policy to provide free software only in the default install. But what about those users who want to include non-free kernel modules in their systems? "Q: Do you believe that Debian has done enough to make it easy for users to install the non-free firmwares that they need? A: The installer, the Linux binary packages and initramfs-tools will warn about specific files that may be needed but are missing. Users who have enabled the non-free section should then be able to find the necessary package with apt-cache search, because each of the binaries built from the firmware-nonfree source package includes driver and file names within its description. For the installer, there is a single tarball that provides everything. We could make this easier, but I think we have gone about as far as we can while following the Debian Social Contract and Debian policy."
* * * * *
Finally, a link to an article by Howard Fosdick at OSNews, giving an overview of Puppy Linux. From "Puppy Has A Litter": "Puppy Linux was first released by Australian developer Barry Kauler in 2005. Since then this community distribution has gone through five releases, with the current crop of 5.x versions coming out starting in late 2010. Puppy is a general-purpose distro that bundles a full range of applications. It's easy to use. What makes it unusual is that it offers high performance on minimal hardware. It is fully functional on lightweight netbooks, thin clients, and older computers. Puppy uses specific technologies to make this happen. For example, it runs from memory by default; it excludes all but the mandatory functions, services, and daemons; its default GUI is the lightweight JWM; and its bundled applications are all selected for low-resource consumption. While there are competing distros that run on low-end hardware -- such as Lubuntu, SliTaz, Tiny Core Linux, and others -- Puppy is probably unique in that it specifically tests and runs on older equipment. If you've ever tried running Linux on an ageing computer, you know that lightweight distribution and older computer are two different requirements. Puppy fulfills both."
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Solo-Security asks: For operating systems and distributions that provide little or no timely security updates, is it possible to maintain a relatively secure desktop system anyway, even if it means a lot of work? There are a number of operating systems I would like to run on my computer, but as far as I can see they pose a security hazard: Solaris, OpenIndiana, OpenBSD and, perhaps, DragonFly BSD and NetBSD. Solaris, though it is free to download for what might be roughly called "non-commercial purposes", does not supply any security updates at all unless you get a support contract with them, one that is prohibitively expensive. OpenIndiana, on the other hand, ostensibly provides security updates for free, but in practice this has not worked out. The latest OpenBSD that just shipped had Firefox 5. They recommend you use packages instead of ports, but where are you supposed to get, for example, Firefox 8 from? I was thinking if you are behind a hardware firewall/router, your own machine has no ports open, and has a software firewall to boot, you can achieve a fair amount of security merely by installing the latest versions of Firefox, Thunderbird, and Flash, especially if you install NoScript on Firefox, etc. So I guess what I am really asking here is, what attack vectors will not be taken into account by the procedure (or similar) I am suggesting?
DistroWatch answers: Let's break this down into a few separate points. First, let's look at the operating systems you are hoping to run and the tasks you have in mind. You say you're looking for a desktop system which will have no open ports, so no network services, yet all of the operating systems you list are primarily server operating systems. While these operating systems can be used on desktop machines that's obviously not their area of focus. If you wanted to run a website or host network storage I would say the above projects are good options, but they're near the bottom of my list for desktop machines. My point is that unless you have a really good reason for wanting to run one of these on your desktop I think you are using the wrong tool for the job. If you simply want to experiment with these systems as desktops you can run them in a virtual environment to negate the security risk. Or, if you're determined to try a BSD-style operating system as your primary desktop, consider using a project designed for that purpose, such as PC-BSD or GhostBSD.
Second, you suggest keeping your system secure by keeping up to date with the Internet-facing applications you use most (Firefox, Thunderbird, Flash) and that's a good start. But there are other considerations to make. For example, you may have the latest version of Firefox, but is Firefox (or Thunderbird) relying on another library to display images, play sounds, etc? You may be running the latest, patched web browser, but it's possible that the library which is processing JPEG images is out of date and vulnerable. If you're using Thunderbird you're probably getting attachments, are you going to be opening images, word processing documents, spreadsheets, PDFs? Those will be handled by outside applications which should also be kept up to date. Will you be playing music or watching videos? If so, those programs should be updated too. My point is keeping the main Internet-facing programs up to date is the tip of the iceberg. Those applications' dependencies and any other programs which will touch content from the Internet (and the dependencies of those programs) also need to be kept up to date with security patches. It doesn't take long for "maintaining a few applications" to branch into "maintaining a few hundred separate packages."
Is it possible to maintain a secure desktop operating system without support from the distribution? Technically it may be possible, but it's not practical. The operating systems which do not provide regular security updates for you are typically the more obscure (or simply less popular) projects. This means that upstream application and library projects aren't likely to provide binaries for you and you will end up patching and compiling all of your software and many of the dependencies. You're looking at a lot of packages and a lot of patches you will have to maintain on your own. To keep things patched in a timely manner you'll probably want to subscribe to a series of security mailing lists and maybe set up your own build system. It's a lot of work and your machine will be burning a lot of CPU cycles compiling software. You will probably be more secure and a lot less busy if you stick to projects which both cater to the desktop crowd and provide timely updates.
Should someone wish to install one of the operating systems listed above and maintain it as a desktop system, I would recommend joining the project's "ports" mailing list. The people on those lists can give a good deal of insight into how all the pieces of a desktop system fit together. They may also welcome someone who is willing to maintain cutting-edge ports of applications like Firefox and Thunderbird. You may find it's easier to work with them to the benefit of the community than to branch away and work solo.
|Released Last Week
Puppy Linux 5.3.1 "Slacko"
Barry Kauler has announced the release of Puppy Linux 5.3.1, a minor update and bug-fix release of the project's flagship distribution: "Slacko Puppy Linux 5.3.1 is a bug-fix release of the recent 5.3. It has binary compatibility with Slackware 13.37, which simply means that it is a Puppy built with packages from the Slackware, Salix and Slacky repositories. The main version has kernel 220.127.116.11 compiled with Aufs, layered file system support, in the typical Puppy manner. There is also a PAE_HIGHMEM version to cater for machines with large amounts of RAM. Both ISO images have SCSI boot support. The Seamonkey suite is the default browser and email suite, but Firefox Aurora, Chromium, Opera, Netsurf, Iron, Dillo and Links are only a few clicks away. Slickpet is a cut-down version of Quickpet to get a few handy applications without diving into the well-stocked Puppy package manager." See the release announcement and release notes for more details.
Untangle Gateway 9.1
Dirk Morris has announced the release of Untangle Gateway 9.1, an updated version of the project's specialist Debian-based distribution for firewalls and gateways: "Untangle 9.1. With this release, we have made enhancements and fixes to the platform itself and to a number of applications. Changelog: the application order in the rack has been revised; event logs have been reimplemented, columns have been added, improvement improved, and options added; many usability improvements in the installation and setup wizards; application downloads now show progress correctly; many application settings have been moved from PostgreSQL to files; local directory users are now saved in a file; BerkeleyDB has been removed; DHCP renewing no longer restarts networking (nor disrupt VPN connections); SIP helper is now disabled by default; improve start-up time." Here is the complete changelog with more detailed notes.
Pear OS 3.0
David Tavares has announced the release of Pear OS 3.0, an Ubuntu-based desktop distribution with a Mac OS X-like look and feel (as well as slogan): "Pear OS 3.0 'Panther' available. From the desktop you see when you start up your PC to the applications you use every day, everything is designed to be simple and intuitive. Of course, making amazing things simple requires some seriously advanced technologies, and Pear OS is loaded with them. Working and playing on a PC is all about applications, so Pear OS makes it simple to find and open those applications fast. The Dock is a handy place on your desktop for storing and launching your favorite applications, and it makes switching between them a breeze." The release announcement doesn't offer any details, but the product page has some screenshots alongside much marketing talk.
Pear OS 3.0 - GNOME Shell customised to resemble Mac OS X
(full image size: 1,345kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
GParted LiveCD 0.11.0-2
Steven Shiau has released a new version of GParted Live, a specialist utility live CD, based on Debian GNU/Linux, with graphical tools for disk management and data recovery tasks. Version 0.11.0-2 comes with updated GParted, the latest Linux kernel, GRUB 2, Dillo 3.0.2 as a simple and lightweight web browser, and the usual round of package updates from Debian's "testing" branch. From the changelog: "This is GParted Live 0.11.0-2. New in this release: the underlying GNU/Linux operating system is based on the Debian 'Sid' repository as of 2011-12-14; new GParted release 0.11.0; Linux kernel has been updated to 3.1.5-1; program NTFS-3G has been updated to 2011.10.9AR; GRUB 2 instead of GRUB 1 is included in the release since most of the modern distributions use GRUB 2 already."
Kororaa Linux 16
Chris Smart has announced the release of Kororaa Linux 16, a Fedora-based distribution with separate KDE and GNOME editions, both featuring a large number of user-friendly enhancements: "It was a little while in coming, but it was worth the wait! It is my pleasure to announce the release of Kororaa 16 (code name 'Chum') which is now available for download. Derived from Fedora 16, this updated release comes with the usual Kororaa extras, such as: tweaked KDE 4.7, GNOME 3.2 and base systems; third-party repositories (Adobe, Chrome, RPMFusion, VirtualBox); Firefox 8 as the default web browser (with integration theme for KDE); Firefox extensions included (Adblock Plus, DownThemAll, Flashblock, Xclear); micro-blogging client (Choqok for KDE, Empathy for GNOME); full multimedia support...." See the release announcement for additional information and screenshots.
Kororaa Linux 16 - the default desktop of the KDE edition
(full image size: 947kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Chakra GNU/Linux 2011.12
Phil Miller has announced the release of Chakra GNU/Linux 2011.12, a KDE-centric desktop distribution originally forked from Arch Linux: "The Chakra development team is proud to announce the third and final release of 'Edn', Chakra GNU/Linux featuring Linux 3.1 and KDE 4.7. Edn has followed the KDE 4.7 releases, and with KDE 4.8 a new name will be used. With this release KDE is updated to 4.7.4, kernel to Linux 3.1.4. The sound group has been rebuild/updated, latest network management and Mesa stack are also included. With this release we offer: KDE 4.7.4 Linux kernel 3.1.4 (18.104.22.168 optional); updated sound-stack; DVD image, including all locales and a nice selection of applications; tomoyo-tools 2.5 added to a default install, for more security options; wqy-microhei became the new default font for Chinese, Japanese and Korean; QtWebkit 2.2...." Here is the full release announcement.
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
New distributions added to database
* * * * *
New distributions added to waiting list
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. To all those readers who celebrate the upcoming holidays the DistroWatch team would like to wish you a peaceful festive season and a very happy and prosperous New Year! DistroWatch Weekly will return on Monday, 2 January 2012.
Jesse Smith and Ladislav Bodnar
If you've enjoyed this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly, please consider sending us a tip.
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|Linux Foundation Training
|• Issue 739 (2017-11-20): Fedora 27, cross-distro software ports, Ubuntu on Samsung phones, Red Hat supports ARM, Parabola continues 32-bit support|
|• Issue 738 (2017-11-13): SparkyLinux 5.1, rumours about spyware, Slax considers init software, Arch drops 32-bit packages, overview of LineageOS|
|• Issue 737 (2017-11-06): BeeFree OS 18.1.2, quick tips to fix common problems, Slax returning, Solus plans MATE and software management improvements|
|• Issue 736 (2017-10-30): Ubuntu 17.10, "what if" security questions, Linux Mint to support Flatpak, NetBSD kernel memory protection|
|• Issue 735 (2017-10-23): ArchLabs Minimo, building software with Ravenports, WPA security patch, Parabola creates OpenRC spin|
|• Issue 734 (2017-10-16): Star 1.0.1, running the Linux-libre kernel, Ubuntu MATE experiments with snaps, Debian releases new install media, Purism reaches funding goal|
|• Issue 733 (2017-10-09): KaOS 2017.09, 32-bit prematurely obsoleted, Qubes security features, IPFire updates Apache|
|• Issue 732 (2017-10-02): ClonOS, reducing Snap package size, Ubuntu dropping 32-bit Desktop, partitioning disks for ZFS|
|• Issue 731 (2017-09-25): BackSlash Linux Olaf, W3C adding DRM to web standards, Wayland support arrives in Mir, Debian experimenting with AppArmor|
|• Issue 730 (2017-09-18): Mageia 6, running a completely free OS, HAMMER2 file system in DragonFly BSD's installer, Manjaro to ship pre-installed on laptops|
|• Issue 729 (2017-09-11): Parabola GNU/Linux-libre, running Plex Media Server on a Raspberry Pi, Tails feature roadmap, a cross-platform ports build system|
|• Issue 728 (2017-09-04): Nitrux 1.0.2, SUSE creates new community repository, remote desktop tools for GNOME on Wayland, using Void source packages|
|• Issue 727 (2017-08-28): Cucumber Linux 1.0, using Flatpak vs Snap, GNOME previews Settings panel, SUSE reaffirms commitment to Btrfs|
|• Issue 726 (2017-08-21): Redcore Linux 1706, Solus adds Snap support, KaOS getting hardened kernel, rolling releases and BSD|
|• Issue 725 (2017-08-14): openSUSE 42.3, Debian considers Flatpak for backports, changes coming to Ubuntu 17.10, the state of gaming on Linux|
|• Issue 724 (2017-08-07): SwagArch 2017.06, Myths about Unity, Mir and Ubuntu Touch, Manjaro OpenRC becomes its own distro, Debian debates future of live ISOs|
|• Issue 723 (2017-07-31): UBOS 11, transferring packages between systems, Ubuntu MATE's HUD, GNUstep releases first update in seven years|
|• Issue 722 (2017-07-24): Calculate Linux 17.6, logging sudo usage, Remix OS discontinued, interview with Chris Lamb, Debian 9.1 released|
|• Issue 721 (2017-07-17): Fedora 26, finding source based distributions, installing DragonFly BSD using Orca, Yunit packages ported to Ubuntu 16.04|
|• Issue 720 (2017-07-10): Peppermint OS 8, gathering system information with osquery, new features coming to openSUSE, Tails fixes networking bug|
|• Issue 719 (2017-07-03): Manjaro 17.0.2, tracking ISO files, Ubuntu MATE unveils new features, Qubes tests Admin API, Fedora's Atomic Host gets new life cycle|
|• Issue 718 (2017-06-26): Debian 9, support for older hardware, Debian updates live media, Ubuntu's new networking tool, openSUSE gains MP3 support|
|• Issue 717 (2017-06-19): SharkLinux, combining commands in the shell, Debian 9 flavours released, OpenBSD improving kernel security, UBports releases first OTA update|
|• Issue 716 (2017-06-12): Slackel 7.0, Ubuntu working with GNOME on HiDPI, openSUSE 42.3 using rolling development model, exploring kernel blobs|
|• Issue 715 (2017-06-05): Devuan 1.0.0, answering questions on systemd, Linux Mint plans 18.2 beta, Yunit/Unity 8 ported to Debian|
|• Issue 714 (2017-05-29): Void, enabling Wake-on-LAN, Solus packages KDE, Debian 9 release date, Ubuntu automated bug reports|
|• Issue 713 (2017-05-22): ROSA Fresh R9, Fedora's new networking features, FreeBSD's Quarterly Report, UBports opens app store, Parsix to shut down, SELinux overview|
|• Issue 712 (2017-05-15): NixOS 17.03, Alpha Litebook running elementary OS, Canonical considers going public, Solus improves Bluetooth support|
|• Issue 711 (2017-05-08): 4MLinux 21.0, checking file system fragmentation, new Mint and Haiku features, pfSense roadmap, OpenBSD offers first syspatch updates|
|• Issue 710 (2017-05-01): TrueOS 2017-02-22, Debian ported to RISC-V, Halium to unify mobile GNU/Linux, Anbox runs Android apps on GNU/Linux, using ZFS on the root file system|
|• Issue 709 (2017-04-24): Ubuntu 17.04, Korora testing new software manager, Ubuntu migrates to Wayland, running Nix package manager on alternative distributions|
|• Issue 708 (2017-04-17): Maui Linux 17.03, Snaps run on Fedora, Void adopts Flatpak, running Android apps on GNU/Linux, Debian elects Project Leader|
|• Issue 707 (2017-04-10): PCLinuxOS 2017.03, Canonical stops Unity development, OpenBSD on a Raspberry Pi, setting up a VPN for privacy|
|• Issue 706 (2017-04-03): Super Grub2 Disk, Snap packages of deepin applications, Subgraph OS routes network traffic for one application, announcements from Linux Mint|
|• Issue 705 (2017-03-27): Minimal Linux Live, sharing control of the operating system, new KaOS features, Uplos32 provides 32-bit fork of PCLinuxOS|
|• Issue 704 (2017-03-20): ToarusOS 1.0.4, Linux Mint's security record, Debian starts Project Leader election, Ubuntu 12.04 reaches end-of-life|
|• Issue 703 (2017-03-13): SolydXK 201701, CloudReady, Solus announces new features, KDE Connect sends text messages from desktop, openSUSE's YaST module for Let's Encrypt|
|• Issue 702 (2017-03-06): Fatdog64 Linux, elementary OS bundled with new netbook, Haiku announces new features, security and the size of a distro's development team|
|• Issue 701 (2017-02-27): OBRevenge 2017.02, Mageia 6 delays, NetBSD reproducible builds, questions about swap space, trying to steam video on a Raspberry Pi|
|• Issue 700 (2017-02-20): RaspBSD, Debian replaces Icedove with Thunderbird, Fedora's licensing guidlines, tips for switching shells, finding battery charge, getting IP address and killing processes|
|• Issue 699 (2017-02-13): Clear Linux, GhostBSD network utility ported to FreeBSD, Ubuntu coming to Fairphone, elementary OS crowd funding an app store|
|• Issue 698 (2017-02-06): Solus 2017.01.01, comparing containers with portable applicatins, Tails dropping 32-bit support, Debian Stretch enters freeze|
|• Issue 697 (2017-01-30): Subgraph OS 2016.12.30, running Ubuntu on an Android phone, Arch Linux phasing out 32-bit support, Linux Mint testing updated LMDE media|
|• Issue 696 (2017-01-23): GoboLinux 016, remotely running desktop applications, Solus adopting Flatpak, KDE neon using Calamares, TrueOS tests OpenRC|
|• Issue 695 (2017-01-16): Zorin OS 12, Peppermint team fixes installer bug, Debian refreshes Jessie media, Ubuntu improves low graphics mode, Exciting things coming in 2017|
|• Issue 694 (2017-01-09): MX Linux 16, Fedora considers systemd security features, DragonFly BSD to support massive swap space, Ubuntu Touch roadmap, Puppy's newsletter, sudo's password prompt|
|• Issue 693 (2017-01-02): Comparing small distros, fig language, video driver comparsion, Debian+PIXEL, Wayland on FreeBSD|
|• Issue 692 (2016-12-19): Bodhi Linux 4.0.0, Cappsule containers, Calculate's new Utilities package, Solus and Ubuntu MATE build new application menu|
|• Issue 691 (2016-12-12): SalentOS 1.0, openSUSE improves YaST, Fedora considers slower release cycle, KDE neon gets LTS branch|
|• Issue 690 (2016-12-05): Fedora 25, Ubuntu adopts rolling HWE kernel, running Android apps on GNU/Linux, Haiku working toward EFI support|
|• Issue 689 (2016-11-28): openSUSE 42.2, Fedora's upgrade path, plans for Korora 25, transitioning from PC-BSD to TrueOS, Webconverger's reproducible builds|
|• Issue 688 (2016-11-21): Endless OS 3.0.5, KDE neon fixes security hole, FreeBSD's Quarterly Status Report, Rolling release trial #2 concludes|
|• Full list of all issues|
|Random Distribution |
SolydX and SolydK are Debian-based distributions with the Xfce and KDE desktops respectively. SolydXK aims to be simple to use, providing an environment that is both stable and secure. SolydXK is an open-source alternative for small businesses, non-profit organisations and home users. The project started as an unofficial variant of Linux Mint's "Debian" edition with KDE as the default desktop, but it was later given its own identity as SolydK. SolydX was added after Linux Mint dropped its Debian-based flavour that used the Xfce desktop.
|Tips, Tricks, Myths and Q&As |
|Tips and tricks: Extracting package lists from various distributions|
|Tips and tricks: Advanced file systems, network traffic, running a script at login/logout|
|Tips and tricks: Check free disk space, wait for a process, command line spell-check, shutdown PC when CPU gets hot|
|Tips and tricks: GRUB Customizer|
|Questions and answers: Menus, short-cuts and accessibility|
|Myths and misunderstandings: The value of version numbers|
|Tips and tricks: Basename, for loop, dirname, aliases, bash history, xsel clipboard|
|Questions and answers: Top ten killer applications|
|Tips and tricks: Gathering system information with osquery|
|Questions and answers: Finding software licensing information|
|More Tips & Tricks and Questions & Answers|