| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 462, 25 June 2012
Welcome to this year's 26th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! For many, Sabayon Linux represents an ideal distribution - a perfect combination of a highly up-to-date Gentoo system with a more traditional, binary package management option. The project's recent release has brought increased security from Gentoo Hardened, together with Rigo, a new graphical package browser. Susan Linton takes a first look at Sabayon 9 in this week's feature story. In the news section, Debian developers announce an imminent freeze of their testing branch in preparation for the release of "Wheezy", Mandriva launches the first round of foundation talks, PC World suggests Zorin OS 6 as a superb distribution for Linux first-timers, and Unixmen interviews Mobeen Iqbal, the lead developer of the Vinux project. Also in this week's issue, a quick tip on mounting network shares at boot time and the usual columns with a list of upcoming releases and new distro submissions. Happy reading!
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|Feature Story (by Susan Linton)
First look at Sabayon Linux 9|
Sabayon Linux is a Gentoo-based binary distribution whose goal is to provide an easy and complete desktop experience right out-of-the-box. Sabayon began life as RR4 and, if memory serves, was basically a live system that tried to install Gentoo using a familiar wizard interface. It didn't really work well. When Fabio Erculiani, founder of Sabayon, decided to go the binary route and adopt Fedora's Anaconda installer, the distro really began to take off. It usually sits in the DistroWatch Page Hit Ranking chart in the top 15 these days.
Sabayon Linux 9 was released last week, and since I'm still torn between using Mageia and Sabayon, I knew I had to at least test it. I downloaded and booted the 64-bit KDE edition.
I was struck by how soothingly simplistic the default background is in version 9, which wasn't always the case. The install proceeded without any problems, although I do have a few complaints. For example, after the user chooses the install drive, they need to choose which kind of install and "Replace Existing Linux Systems" is the default choice. I hope no one clicks through there too fast without reading closely. Another is that only the install drive showed up in Boot Loader Device. So, I was stuck installing the bootloader on the install partition and manually adding Sabayon 9 to the legacy GRUB configuration (that I was hoping to replace). No one ever accused Sabayon of being a fast booter, but how often does one restart anyway?
Sabayon Linux 9 - the default KDE desktop
(full image size: 350kB, screen resolution 1920x1080 pixels)
Rigo Application Browser
The big news this release is the new Entropy (package manager) front-end, dubbed Rigo Application Browser. Search is the main philosophy behind Rigo and as long as you know what you're looking for, it's quick and easy. It's a little harder to browse around and see what's there. For example, "games" pulls up some games and "office" finds a lot of office stuff, but "desktops" doesn't retrieve desktops. I like a straight-forward category browsing.
Sabayon Linux 9 - Rigo search result
(full image size: 240kB, screen resolution 1187x790 pixels)
Updates are handled through Rigo now too. The user is informed of any updates available and can choose to Update System, Show, or Ignore. There was only one update offered as I was testing, and I clicked Update System. Well, I sat there and sat there, and finally thought, "oh man, this thing isn't working." But when I closed out the Rigo window, I saw underneath the root password pop-up that had actually popped-under. It works real good after you give the password. However, that popping under is reproducible. In fact, it does it every time.
Sabayon Linux 9 - Rigo Notices pane
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The development team sends out little notices from time to time and users can receive them in Rigo. It makes it easy to see any issues that may come up like this LibreOffice announcement and workaround (an upstream issue, btw). Clicking More Info on any package does just that, gives all the package particulars. Show Me lets users see the command-line output from any operation. From the configuration screen one can update repositories, clean Entropy web service cache, or view any configuration files that need updating. Rigo packs a lot of functionality in a tiny space and it seems to work well. It's quicker, more responsive than Sulfur, but some will still prefer equo at the command-line for those quick installs.
Most hardware today is auto-detected and auto-configured, but I still have some old confusing hardware. One thing Sabayon could use is a hardware configuration tool. There are some individual tools, but no centralized control center or anything. First up, I have two monitors attached and the easiest way to a fresh configure is NVIDIA Settings. (Sabayon had automagically configured my graphics card to use the NVIDIA drivers.) But I couldn't get the sound on my old TV/FM card to work; I'm almost afraid it may not work with the newer kernels. Sabayon 9 ships with Linux 3.4.0. All my other hardware seems to be functioning properly.
Another new feature of Sabayon 9 is for the 32-bit user. According to the press release, those downloading 32-bit editions will get a PAE kernel "to allow systems stuck with this ancient architecture to support more than 4GB of RAM."
The standard desktop versions of Sabayon usually ship with lots of handy applications, although the list seems to be shrinking more and more as time goes on. The KDE version includes things like Gwenview, Chromium, Clementine, XBMC, VLC Media Player, and Yakuake. I had to install LibreOffice, Firefox, KMail, and GIMP. Of course, all that was really easy with Rigo! You'll probably find your favorites in the repositories too because that's one of Sabayon's best selling points. They have a very large repository of additional software and, in fact, it's probably one of the best. I rarely attempt to find something that isn't in there.
Sabayon Linux 9 - LibreOffice, Chromium, VLC, and Dolphin
(full image size: 1,305kB, screen resolution 1680x1050 pixels)
Users can choose between GNOME 3.2.3, KDE 4.8.3, and Xfce 4.10. As a KDE user and someone who's been using Mageia 1 for a year, I've been anxious to test newer versions of KDE. I've been hearing some good things about KDE 4.8.x. My main concern was Kmail, but fortunately, the talk of KDE's recent improvements proved accurate. Kontact crashed a couple of times while importing and moving folders around, but under normal operation it seems stable (if not exactly quirk-free). Akregator also seems stable so far, but I've learned not to turn my back on that one.
Sabayon Linux has been for quite a while a top-flight distribution and version 9 only adds to that reputation. The new package management GUI has a modern or trendy feel to it that could appeal to the younger set, while others might miss advanced features. I worried about the integration of Gentoo Hardened, but I haven't detected any weirdness from it as of yet. The KDE desktop seems stable so far, which is always a selling point. Everything about Sabayon is easy enough for a newcomer, as easy as any other, unless they have some hardware that needs manual configuration. For me, it just feels like going /home.
|Miscellaneous News (by Ladislav Bodnar)
Debian 7.0 freeze, Mandriva foundation talks, overview of Zorin OS, Vinux interview
The next stable release of Debian GNU/Linux, version 7.0 and code-named "Wheezy", is still some distance away on the time horizon, but with the increasing use of the magic word "freeze" on the Debian mailing lists, we sense that the time is approaching fast. The H Online has set a rough release time as "early 2013": "The Debian release team has announced that on 30 June, the Debian project will stop the automatic migration of packages from unstable to testing; with this move, the development of Debian 7.0 (Wheezy), which is currently being prepared in testing, will be frozen. During the freeze phase, no further major changes will be integrated into the Linux distribution and work will instead focus mainly on bug fixes. As during the completion of the current version, Debian 6.0 (Squeeze), the freeze process will be gradual; if developers still need to update packages, the release team has said that it will adopt a liberal acceptance policy in the early stages. Details on this procedure are to follow. Debian 7 is roughly scheduled to arrive in early 2013 and is planned to be based on version 3.2 of the Linux kernel."
* * * * *
Still staying on the excellent The H Online website, but turning our attention to Mandriva Linux. The latest news concerning the troubled company and project is that the first meeting of interested parties on forming a Mandriva foundation, a community organisation that will oversee the development of the distribution, was held last week in Paris: "Moving forward on plans to create a foundation for the Mandriva Linux distribution, the first meeting of interested parties has taken place in Paris. Charles-H. Schulz, who was recently brought on by Mandriva to coordinate the community's taking over of Mandriva Linux development, wrote on the Mandriva blog that the meeting was 'fruitful' and that 'All in all, this has been a fantastic day'. The aim of the process is, says Schulz, to create an inclusive, independent, meritocratic and transparent foundation that's strong enough to sustain the project. He says that the work on the 'essential building blocks', such as infrastructure and governance, has now started and the discussions will move to the mailing lists and forums. 'You, the community, are now in charge' Schulz says in closing."
* * * * *
Attracting non-technical users to Linux has never an easy task, mainly due to the platform's reputation as a hard-to-use and unintuitive system that requires a long learning curve. But with the growing number of distributions catering to this difficult market, there is hope that newcomers to Linux will be able to find their ideal starting point. One promising project which specifically targets Windows users is Zorin OS. And it is doing an excellent job; according to Katherine Noyes at PCWorld, the just-released Zorin OS 6 makes the transition very easy: "Making that switch has never been easier thanks to supremely user-friendly options like Ubuntu Linux and Linux Mint, but there's also a lesser-known Linux flavor that's designed specifically to offer an easy transition from Microsoft's operating system. Zorin OS is an Ubuntu-based Linux distribution that actually bills itself as 'the gateway to Linux for Windows users.' I wrote about the free and open-source operating system once back in 2010, but just this week a brand-new version 6 made its début. If you're accustomed to Windows but are feeling anxious about Windows 8 and all the changes it will bring, Zorin OS 6 could be just what you need."
Zorin OS 6 - an Ubuntu-based distribution for newcomers to Linux
(full image size: 633kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
* * * * *
Our recent feature story on accessibility has given much needed attention to the less fortunate citizens among us - those who need special software for making use of computers. Luckily, the Linux world seems to be one step ahead in this area and several distributions exist that cater for blind or otherwise handicapped users. One of them is Vinux. Last week Unixmen interviewed Mobeen Iqbal, the lead developer of this specialist Ubuntu-based distribution: "Vinux was initially born out of a frustration with the default accessibility support provided by mainstream Linux distributions such as Ubuntu, Fedora and openSUSE. Although all three of these distributions did provide the Orca Screen Reader and Magnifier, it was not configured to start automatically, its performance was poor and many vital applications were still inaccessible. This meant that a visually impaired user could only really use these distributions if they knew how to start and/or configure Orca already. Even if they got it working it was very unresponsive and unstable, and they had to be comfortable using the terminal to get most administrative tasks done. This effectively meant that these distributions were all but inaccessible to any visually impaired user who was new to Linux."
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Mounting network shares at boot
Automatic-connection asks: I mapped (mounted) a remote network share, but when I reboot the computer it disappears. Is there a way to make the link to my shared network folder permanent?
DistroWatch answers: Yes, indeed, network shares can be set up to mount automatically. There are just a few steps to perform to get the desired effect. The first thing we should do is put a couple of things in place in our home directory. The remote share will need a directory where we can attach it to our system. In this case I'm going to create a folder in my home directory called Shared:
Also in the home directory we should create a file with our credentials for accessing the remote share. In this example I'm going to assume the remote share is a Samba share. In my home directory I create a file called MyCredentials and place the following two lines inside the file:
Then I make sure I'm the only user who can access the file by changing its permissions:
chmod 600 MyCredentials
The next step is to add an entry to our /etc/fstab file. This file contains a list of all the file systems our operating system recognizes and instructs the system where to mount these file systems. By default we will probably find at least three entries in our /etc/fstab file, one for the root (/) file system, one for swap space and one for the /proc directory. What we will need to do is add an additional line which will instruct our operating system how to handle the remote share.
The first item on the line will be the location of the share on our network and the second item will be the location where we wish to mount the share. The third field specifies the type of share and then we provide a few parameters telling the OS how to go about connecting to the share. Really, the only required part of this forth field is the location of our credentials file we created in the previous step:
//remotebox/myshare /home/jesse/Shared smbfs credentials=/home/jesse/MyCredentials,noatime,nofail 0 0
If we were connecting to a NFS share rather than a Samba share a similar line would work, but with the file system type, "smbfs", changed to "nfs". Once the appropriate line has been added to our /etc/fstab file we can test to make sure it works by running:
The Just Linux website has more details on the various options which can be used when mounting Samba shares and the NFS manual page has examples and options for automatically connecting to NFS shares.
|Released Last Week
Zorin OS 6
Artyom Zorin has announced the release of Zorin OS 6, an Ubuntu-based distribution created with beginning Linux users in mind: "The Zorin OS team is proud to release Zorin OS 6 'Core' and 'Ultimate', the latest version of our operating system designed for Windows users and those who are dissatisfied with the Unity and GNOME Shell offerings. At the core of Zorin OS 6 lies our new and unique desktop environment named 'Zorin Desktop'. We also include our innovative Zorin Look Changer which allows users to choose between the Windows 7, XP and GNOME 2 graphical interfaces in Core as well as the Mac OS X, Unity and Windows 2000 interfaces in Zorin OS Ultimate. Zorin Desktop embraces all of the latest and greatest open-source software and technologies such as GTK+ 3 and other software applications from the GNOME 3 software stack, all without affecting the familiarity, usability and customizability of the desktop and retaining the Compiz window manager." See the full release announcement for more information.
Superb Mini Server 1.6.6
Superb Mini Server (SMS) 1.6.6, a new version of the project's Slackware-based distribution for servers, has been released: "Superb Mini Server version 1.6.6 released (Linux kernel 3.2.20). It's that time again, we have a new kernel, a lot of upgrades, security fixes and some new features. For our default web server we keep Apache HTTPD 2.2.22 and PHP 5.3.14, once again, to maintain stability and compatibility. New PHP 5.4.4 and HTTPD 2.4.2 packages are available though, under testing in Extra if someone wants to use them. MySQL has been upgraded to the 5.5.x branch so it needs your attention. If you are upgrading, be sure to backup your /var/lib/mysql folder containing your MySQL databases and restore it after and run mysql_upgrade. Perl has also been upgraded to 5.16, so if you have Perl modules installed by yourself, I would recommend that you remove them and install them again." See the release announcement for more warnings and recommendations.
Salix OS 13.37 "Live MATE"
George Vlahavas has announced the release of Salix OS 13.37 "Live MATE" edition, a Slackware-based live CD featuring the MATE desktop: "Salix Live MATE 13.37 has been officially released and is available in both 32-bit and 64-bit architectures. This is another live release created using SaLT (Salix Live Technology) a new powerful system of live tools for Slackware-based distributions, developed in-house. This is also the first-ever Salix release to incorporate isohybrid technology. The Salix Live MATE 13.37 release, mirrors our previous 'standard installation' MATE release in terms of featured software. The MATE 1.2 desktop environment is included. MATE will be extremely familiar to every previous GNOME 2 user, as it is a direct fork of it, providing the user with all the functionality and work patterns they were accustomed to. All major GNOME 2 desktop applications have been ported and have been renamed." Read the full release announcement for additional details.
ROSA 2012 "LXDE"
Konstantin Kochereshkin has announced the release of ROSA 2012 "LXDE" edition, a Mandriva Linux fork featuring the lightweight LXDE desktop environment: "We are glad to announce the release of our community LXDE edition - ROSA LXDE 2012 LTS. The distro is based on ROSA Marathon packages and is 100% compatible with it. The only and main difference is the default graphic environment which is LXDE - Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment. This community release is designed primarily for users with old legacy hardware. Software versions: Linux kernel 3.0.28, LXPanel based on LXPanelx with some improvements from ROSA, PCManFM 0.9.10, LibreOffice, main European locales, Firefox 10, VLC 2, DeaDBeeF 0.5.2, LXDE Control Center, audio and video codecs by default." See the release announcement for system requirements and screenshots.
Snowlinux 2 "KDE"
Lars Torben Kremer has announced the release of Snowlinux 2 "KDE" edition, a Debian-based distribution showcasing the KDE 4.4.5 desktop: "The team is proud to announce the release of Snowlinux 2 'Ice' KDE. It comes with the Qt 4 theme Fushigi Plasma, the Icon set was set to Snowlinux Metal and the system font is Ubuntu by default. Also present in this edition is an improved live installer which detects country, offers keyboard variants and uses UUID in fstab. It has installed a firewall called gufw. To improve the difference between user and root terminal the terminal colors were introduced. To be more out-of-the-box OpenJDK 6 Java has been made available in the default installation. Snowlinux 2 'Ice' KDE comes with the Chromium browser, Icedove, Banshee, Shotwell." Here is the brief release announcement with a screenshot.
Clemens Toennies has announced the release of Netrunner 4.2, a Kubuntu-based distribution providing the very latest KDE 4.8.3 desktop: "Netrunner 4.2 'Dryland' - second edition released. These are some of the new features: KDE 4.8.3; Firefox KDE integration, GIMP 2.8 and Skype 4.0; Samba Mounter for easy NAS setup; web accounts for integrating your social accounts; Runners ID for free and libre cloud storage and music streaming; Muon Discover. Since this is a hybrid ISO, you can for example use UNetbootin or imagewriter for putting Netrunner on a USB stick. For 64-bit machines with EFI you may experience a crash during installation when trying to install the bootloader, it is advised to use imagewriter, as it does use another bootloader, which makes the ISO install fine." See the release announcement and release notes for more information.
Netrunner 4.2 - a Kubuntu-based distribution with latest KDE desktop
(full image size: 1,545kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.3
Red Hat has announced the release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.3, the latest update of the company's enterprise-class operating system: "Red Hat is proud to announce the global availability of the next minor release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system platform, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.3. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.3 includes enhancements and new capabilities providing rich functionality particularly in the areas of developer tools, virtualization, security, scalability, file systems, and storage. Highlighted below is a small subset of the new features and enhancements in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.3. In addition to OpenJDK 6 support in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6, the newly introduced OpenJDK 7 allows customers running Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.3 to develop and test with the latest version of open source Java." Read the release announcement and release notes for a detailed description of the product.
Pinguy OS 12.04
Antoni Norman has announced the release of Pinguy OS 12.04, an Ubuntu-based desktop Linux distribution with a customised GNOME Shell user interface: "Here is the final release of Pinguy OS 12.04 LTS. We have fully embraced GNOME Shell here and wanted a modern, updated site to go with the new look of the desktop. In this release we have: Linux Kernel 3.2, GNOME 3.4.1, WINE 1.5.6, Skype 4.0, TeamViewer 7, XBMC-PVR 11.0 Eden, GNOME Shell Extension Updater and everything else that was present in the previous beta release. The GDM login is now themed to match the desktop. The distro comes with two menus - Cardapio (eefault) but also includes the Axe menu that is disabled." Read the release announcement which includes notes about known issues, including one about a problematic VLC player.
Pinguy OS 12.04 - an Ubuntu-based distribution featuring GNOME Shell
(full image size: 515kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Pure OS 5.0
Marc Poirette has announced the release of PureOS 5.0, a multilingual live DVD/USB based on Debian's testing branch and featuring the GNOME 3 desktop: "PureOS 5.0. PureOS 5.0 is a multilingual live DVD/USB based on Debian testing with GNOME. Main features: Linux kernel 3.3.6, GNOME 3.4.2. Office: LibreOffice 3.5.4 - Calc, Draw, Impress and Writer. Internet: Iceweasel 13.0, Icedove 10.0, Transmission, FileZilla. Multimedia: Banshee, VLC, Brasero. Graphics: GIMP 2.8.0, Evince, Eye of GNOME. System: GParted, smxi/sgfxi scripts, scripts and Nautilus actions for modules management - activate, debs2lzm, debs2lzm-file, dir2lzm, lzm2dir et find2lzm." See the release announcement which includes the full list of packages included on the live DVD image and artwork credentials.
Ferdinand Thommes has announced the release of siduction 12.1.1, a minor update of the project's 12.1 version released a month ago, based on Debian's unstable branch: "Today we released the first fix release of siduction 2012.1 'Desperado', called 2012.1.1 'Desperado Reloaded'. Besides small enhancements the main reason for this fix release was to ship the full set of KDE SC 4.8.4. This version is shipped with three desktop environments - KDE SC, Xfce and LXDE, all in 32-bit and 64-bit variants. The released images are a snapshot of Debian 'Unstable' from 2012-06-24. They are enhanced with some useful packages and scripts, our own installer and a custom-patched version of the linux-kernel 3.4.4, accompanied by X.Org Server 1.12.1." See the release notes for further details.
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
New distributions added to waiting list
- BootMed. BootMed Plus, a commercial Linux-based live CD, is an easy-to-use recovery toolkit made with the average computer user in mind.
- Dracon Comodos Linux. Dracon Comodos Linux is an Ubuntu-based distribution featuring penetration testing tools for security auditors and a collection of defence tools, such as honeyspots, firewalls and system IPS/IDS. It also includes forensics and reverse-engineering tools that are useful for auditing cyber crime.
- Linutop OS. Linutop OS is optimised and secured Linux distribution based on Ubuntu. It is dedicated to Internet access, media playing, desktop or appliance use.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 2 July 2012. To contact the authors please send email to:
- Susan Linton (feedback on this week's review of Sabayon Linux)
- Jesse Smith (feedback, questions and suggestions: distribution reviews, questions and answers, tips and tricks)
- Ladislav Bodnar (feedback, questions, suggestions and corrections: news, donations, distribution submissions, comments)
- Bruce Patterson (feedback and suggestions: podcast edition)
If you've enjoyed this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly, please consider sending us a tip.
(Tips this week: 0, value: US$0.00)
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|• Issue 654 (2016-03-28): PCLinuxOS 2016.03, Using signatures to create a web of trust, Arch Linux rolls out Pacman update, GuixSD packages GNOME|
|• Issue 653 (2016-03-21): Antergos 2016.02.21, Debian prepares for election, a Unix-like OS written in Rust, watching Netflix on FreeBSD|
|• Issue 652 (2016-03-14): ReactOS 0.4.0, Debian swaps Iceweasel for Firefox, Fedora moving forward with Wayland, Verifying ISO files|
|• Issue 651 (2016-03-07): Korora 23, Linux Mint improves security, Ubuntu MATE on Raspberry Pi 3 computers, trying different file systems|
|• Issue 650 (2016-02-29): Haiku in 2016, running Android apps on GNU/Linux, 30 years of MINIX, Fedora plans Atomic Workstation|
|• Issue 649 (2016-02-22): Zorin OS 11, openSUSE launches new editions, Linux Mint website compromised, sandboxing applications using Firejail|
|• Issue 648 (2016-02-15): XStream Desktop 153, Raspbian unveils OpenGL feature, free hardware, Ikey Doherty talks desktop design|
|• Full list of all issues|