| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 497, 4 March 2013
Welcome to this year's 9th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! The world of Linux has seen many ambitious projects trying to build a business model around desktop Linux by charging users for the privilege of downloading the distribution. The latest arrival among them is Rebelling Linux, a new Debian-based operating system that promises great desktop computing with personal email support. But is the US$5 download worth the cost? Read Jesse Smith's review to find out what he thinks. In the news section, Ubuntu developers and users continue to argue over the merits of a rolling-release development model, Arch Linux explains the benefits of running the original distribution over some of its more user-friendly derivatives, and Debian GNU/Linux continues to march towards "Wheezy", albeit with many unexpected bumps on the road. Also in this issue, we'll take a brief look at the Steam gaming portal for Linux and we'll discuss the issues of diversity in the world of Linux distributions. Finally, we are pleased to announce that the recipient of the February 2013 DistroWatch.com donation is the Linux From Scratch project. Happy reading!
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (25MB) and MP3 (47MB) formats
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
First look at Rebellin Linux 1.00 "Adrenaline"
In recent weeks I've received several requests to review a new commercial distribution called Rebellin Linux. This project, founded by Utkarsh Sevekar, uses Debian GNU/Linux as a base and is available in two editions called "Synergy" and "Adrenaline". Synergy is put together using packages from Debian's "Stable" software repository and Adrenaline is mostly composed of packages from Debian's "Unstable" software repository. While Synergy is offered in two builds, 32-bit and 64-bit, the Adrenaline edition is available as a 32-bit build only at the time of writing.
Normally I don't review commercial distributions, at least young ones which don't offer a trial period. However, in this case Mr Sevekar contacted me and offered a free copy of Rebellin Linux for the purposes of this review. I appreciate the opportunity as I hope this review will help our readers make an informed decision about whether to lay down their money for this new distro. During this review I will be looking at the Adrenaline edition of Rebellin. The Debian project is getting close to releasing a new stable version of their distribution and I feel the Synergy edition of Rebellin, which is based on the existing Stable branch of Debian, will probably be obsolete in a few months. The ISO image for Rebellin's Adrenaline edition is approximately 1.6 GB in size. While the ISO was downloading I looked around the project's website to see what sets this distribution apart from its Debian parent and there appear to be two things. The first is the commercial aspect. It costs $5 (I believe the price is in US dollars) to download Rebellin and, in exchange for the fee, the developer provides e-mail support for his product. The second feature is Rebellin comes with support for non-free software (such as multimedia codecs and Flash) out of the box. Debian, being a project focused on software freedom, is careful not to ship certain pieces of software on their install media and Rebellin adds some of these non-free pieces to their download image.
Rebellin Linux 1.00 "Andrenaline" - productivity software
(full image size: 81kB, screen resolution 1024x768 pixels)
Booting from the Rebellin Linux media brings up a boot menu which allows us to either try the distribution's live desktop environment or launch the system's installer. The installer can be run in a few different modes, specifically "default", "expert" and "auto". Booting to the live environment also has a few options, allowing us to run either with or without PAE support. I decided to try the live environment first. Rebellin boots into a GNOME 3 desktop and, depending on the capabilities of our video card, we are either treated to the GNOME Shell or GNOME's fallback mode. Poking around the GNOME interface I found it seemed functional enough, though there didn't appear to be any way of launching the system installer from within the live environment and I decided to reboot. Easier said than done as I didn't see any shutdown/reboot option available and logging out of the desktop automatically logs us back in. I finally turned to the command line and issued a "sudo halt" to bring down the operating system. Booting from the Rebellin media again I opted to take the default install option.
The system installer walks us through a series of text screens, most of which display lists of choices from which we can select our answers. We start off by confirming our preferred language and then our location. The next screen asks us to confirm our keyboard map and then we are asked to create a hostname and domain name for our machine. The following screen gets us to set a password for the root account. After that we are asked to supply a user name for a non-root account and set a password for that account as well. We then supply our time zone. Next we get into partitioning and I found the menus which walk us through setting up partitions are not particularly intuitive, but in the end I was able to set up the partitions I wanted. The Debian installer allows us to create LVM volumes and it supports encryption. We're able to work with ext2, ext3, ext4, JFS and XFS file systems.
The new Btrfs file system does not appear to be supported. Once the disk has been divided up and we have assigned mount points to our partitions the installer copies its data to our hard drive. After the necessary files have been copied the installer asks us from which country we want to download packages. After we select a country from the list we are asked to pick a specific repository mirror within that country which will, hopefully, supply us with up to date packages. The installer then downloads package information from the selected repository and we are asked if we would like to install the GRUB boot loader. With this final step completed the system reboots itself. The default installer does have a lot of steps, but I found they were fairly straight forward and, when in doubt, the installer's prompts usually provide enough data for us to make an informed choice.
I tried running Rebellin Linux on my desktop computer (dual-core 2.8 GHz CPU, 6 GB of RAM, Radeon video card, Realtek network card) and in a virtual machine powered by VirtualBox. I was not able to get Rebellin to successfully boot on the physical machine. Quite often a distribution will require specific parameters to be passed to the Linux kernel in order to boot on this hardware, but in the case of Rebellin none of them worked. As a result my experience with Rebellin was almost entirely limited to running it in a virtual machine. While running in the virtual environment I found Rebellin performed quickly, boot times were short and the desktop was responsive. Due to the limitation of running within VirtualBox the desktop interface provided by GNOME was limited to GNOME's fallback mode, the full GNOME Shell interface was not available. While using GNOME's fallback mode I found logging into the desktop would use approximately 150 MB of memory, a fairly small footprint by modern standards. I suspect, based on my previous experience with Debian Stable, that Rebellin's Synergy edition will use even less memory. Unfortunately, I found Rebellin wouldn't make use of my full screen resolution and so my Rebellin desktop was quite small.
There was one interesting side effect which showed up when trying to boot Rebellin Linux on my physical computer. Between attempts to boot Rebellin I had logged into another distribution, visited some websites and opened documents. After closing all my applications, rebooting the machine and attempting to load Rebellin I found the machine would freeze. Just before the boot process would freeze the screen would show images of documents I had been working on in the other operating system. Obviously, even though the documents I was working on had been closed when I logged out, their images remained in memory. I don't believe I have ever seen this happen before and it was a good reminder that even encrypted documents aren't always safe from prying eyes when someone has physical access to one's computer.
Rebellin Linux boots to a graphical login screen and logging in brought me back to the GNOME fallback desktop, which closely resembles the classic GNOME 2 environment. At the top of the screen there is an application menu and, at the bottom of the display, we find the desktop's task switcher. Shortly after logging in a password prompt appeared and requested the system's root password in order to check for updates. No application window or list of updates was displayed, just the password prompt. If we give the system our password we can see network activity in progress, but no software updates are downloaded and applied to the system. At this time I decided to dig into the application menu and manually launch the operating system's software update tool. This is a simple graphical application which will display a list of available package updates and let us select which ones we want to apply.
Now, Rebellin's Adrenaline edition is based on Debian's Unstable branch, which gets regular updates so it surprised me to learn only two updates were waiting for me immediately after installing the operating system and both of these updates were related to time zone information, not applications. I closed the update app and switched over to one of Rebellin's graphical package managers, the venerable Synaptic application. Attempting to bring up repository information in Synaptic would not display the expected settings window, instead Synaptic would simply report repository information had been changed, no further details were forthcoming. Turning to the command line I opened the APT package manager's configuration files and found Rebellin, by default, connects to the Debian Stable repositories. This means the software we have at install time is mostly drawn from Debian Unstable which features relatively new versions of packages, but the package manager pulls from Stable where we find older package versions. As a side effect, most packages will not receive updates as the version numbers in Stable won't catch up to Unstable.
I e-mailed the developer about this strange configuration and he pointed me to a documentation page on the Rebellin website which contains a series of "first run" instructions, most of which explain how the user can configure GNOME Shell. At the bottom of this page are instructions for switching the repositories from which Rebellin Adrenaline pulls packages. The developer added that future versions of Rebellin will not require the user to manually configure the system's package repositories. With the proper repositories entered into my APT configuration file I once more returned to Synaptic, refreshed my local package database and found there were about 800 package updates (totaling 700MB in size) waiting to be downloaded. Attempting to download these waiting security updates produced an error saying the package database was locked. A quick check showed no other programs were using the package database. I manually removed the package manager's lock file and gave Synaptic another try. This time Synaptic downloaded all of the available updates and installed them. I was happy to find that all updates applied without further problems.
One additional note on package management - the Rebellin documentation recommends locking a package named "desktop-base" to prevent it from being updated. Synaptic respects this lock, but the dedicated update manager does not. This means it is very easy to accidentally update the package even after it has been locked. I did this toward the end of my week with Rebellin and found the only noticeable consequence was that my desktop's wallpaper changed, reverting back to displaying the Debian logo rather than Rebellin's logo.
Rebellin Linux 1.00 "Andrenaline" - browsing packages and changing settings
(full image size: 140kB, screen resolution 1024x768 pixels)
The distribution comes with applications for a wide range of tasks. In the application menu we find the Firefox web browser, the Epiphany browser, the Empathy messaging client and the Skype voice over IP client. The Deluge bittorrent client is installed for us as is the Orca screen reader. In the Office section of the menu we find the Evolution e-mail client, the LibreOffice suite and lighter productivity applications such as Gnumeric and AbiWord. Rebellin comes with the GNU Image Manipulation Program, a document viewer, the Inkscape vector image editor, the Shotwell photo manager and Blender for creating 3-D models and animations. The Audacity audio editor is included, along with the Cheese webcam utility, the Exaile media player and the OpenShot video editor. A few other multimedia apps are included, such as Rhythmbox, VLC and the Totem video player. A disc burner and audio CD ripper are installed and there are several small games included in the default installation. Rebellin comes with the GNOME settings panel, a text editor, calculator and archive manager. The Network Manager software is installed to help us get on-line and the distribution includes popular multimedia codecs out of the box. Flash is available in the default installation as is Java. In the background we find the Linux kernel, version 3.2.
Basically what I have found, following nearly a week of using Rebellin's Adrenaline edition, is that the project is very similar to its Debian base. In fact, with all software updates applied the distro's branding even reverts back to the Debian artwork. Rebellin does not feature any special packages and the project does not maintain its own repositories, nor does it appear to include any additional software not found in Debian's repositories. Basically this distribution gives us a Debian system with a slightly different selection of default applications. The operating system is fast, stable and the amount of available software in the repositories is huge, as one would expect from Debian. Essentially I believe there are two ways of looking at Rebellin. The first is that Rebellin is Debian with added multimedia support out of the box and e-mail support. The other way to look at this distribution is Rebellin is Debian you have to pay for with more initial configuration steps and a few extra bugs. Personally I suspect anyone who is able to navigate through Debian's installer and manually edit their repository configuration files will probably be able to get by with community support provided via Debian's forums and won't need the dedicated e-mail support.
* * * * *
I'd like to shift gears for a moment and talk about another commercial product which has been introduced recently to the Linux community. The stable release of Steam, the gaming portal, launched a few weeks ago. This game distribution software has the potential to bring a lot of new and entertaining games (especially big commercial games) to Linux desktop users. Gaming is often seen a weak spot in the GNU/Linux armour and I think Steam being ported to Linux may finally put that issue to rest as dozens of new titles are already available to Linux users. I've been running Steam for a month or so now and I've found it to be a pretty good experience thus far. There were a few minor annoyances while Steam was still in beta, but those problems have been ironed out and there have been no serious bugs in my experience. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Valve, the company behind Steam, is not only supporting Linux, but they are also activity encouraging people to give Linux (specifically Ubuntu) a try. Apart from Ubuntu and related derivative projects, some other Linux distributions have introduced support for the Steam platform. These adventurous distributions include Fuduntu and Korora.
Valve's Steam store
(full image size: 1,017kB, screen resolution 1280x1000 pixels)
Open source purists may not appreciate the arrival of Valve's closed source technology; however, I suspect people who have been dual booting in order to play games will enjoy the convenience of playing games on their favourite operating system. I certainly like the prospect of having additional options and an abundance of inexpensive entertainment.
|Miscellaneous News (by Ladislav Bodnar)
Seven exciting "Raring" features, Ubuntu's rolling-release arguments, Arch Linux versus Arch-based spin-offs, Debian "Wheezy" status
Despite the lack of official alpha releases, the Ubuntu development team is hard at work in order to bring us the latest and greatest; Ubuntu 13.04 final is just seven weeks away now. Jun Auza summarises the seven impressive features expected in "Raring Ringtail": "Ubuntu 13.04 (code-named 'Raring Ringtail'), although not a long-term support (LTS) release, will bring along some major changes to the Ubuntu operating system. With the proposed improvements in Dash, one of Shuttleworth's major goals, that is bringing the web and the desktop together, will get a shot in the arm. Undoubtedly, Ubuntu 13.04 marks a crucial release for Canonical. Their new project on the other hand, which is bringing Ubuntu to smartphones, is in heavy development. But the busy developers at Canonical are making sure that their core product gets all the attention it deserves. Ubuntu 13.04, apart from bringing new features to the user, will also come with a more polished and refined look that will hopefully put it head-to-head with Microsoft's convoluted Windows 8 desktop. Here are some of the best features that are either expected to land or have already landed in Ubuntu 13.04."
The issue of Ubuntu possibly switching to a rolling-release development model (where the installed operating system will get continuous daily software updates instead of the current model where the distribution is only updated once every six months) has once again stirred emotions and prompted heated exchanges in the blogosphere. First, it was Canonical's Vice President for Ubuntu Engineering Rick Spencer who tabled an official proposal: "I think we should keep LTS releases, but starting now, stop doing interim releases and start a rolling release. ... A rolling release instead of interim releases will benefit users, community members, and developers." Then it was Ubuntu Member and Ask Ubuntu Moderator Oli Warner who put together convincing arguments against the change: "Developers don't know what they're building for. Users barely know what they're running on. Triagers need to work five times as hard to track down which version of which software a bug is coming from. What happens to bugs after the new release comes out? How on earth do you plan a multi-month project (e.g. migrating Upstart to Systemd) when you have no way to freeze and force everything else to fit around you?" Which side of the argument are you on? Please discuss below.
* * * * *
Speaking about the rolling-release model, the ever popular Arch Linux is a proof that the concept is feasible, even though most distributions clearly prefer the traditional release cycle method. But the continued insistence of Arch developers to adhere to the distribution's original KISS (keep it simple, stupid) principles, has resulted in a growing number of more "user-friendly" Arch forks, as well as some tension between the parent project and some of its derivatives. Jason Wryan has written an excellent post explaining Arch's raison d'être for those hesitating between the real Arch and one of the "easier" spin-offs: "If you think that you can just skip the whole tiresome RTFM thing by downloading a derivative and installing that, how exactly do you expect to be able to run a rolling-release distro that has, on average, a couple of significant changes every year? Sooner or later you are going to have to come to terms with the responsibility that is an integral part of this type of rolling release and, if you have installed it yourself, you will be much better placed to be able to build on that understanding and broaden and deepen your knowledge of your system."
* * * * *
One of the major highlights of 2013, at least in the world of Linux distributions, will undoubtedly be the stable release of Debian GNU/Linux 7.0, code name "Wheezy". So where do we stand in terms of getting the release ready? Niels Thykier gives us an update: "According to UDD, we are down to 204 release-critical (RC) bugs (down from 249, since my last post). It is not quite the 2.4 RC bugs per day - actually it is about 1.1 RC bug a day. Unfortunately, we do not appear to be fixing bugs faster than we are reporting them at the moment. If you look at Richard Hartmann's post from last week, then we had 206 RC bugs left. Even worse, we appear to have regressed between week 7 and 8 of this year (194 to 206). If you want the Wheezy release to happen soon, please consider helping us by providing bug fixes that comply with the Wheezy freeze policy. If the pace of RC bug fixes do not pick up, the alternative is that the release team 'deals' with the bugs. Note that 'deals' generally falls into one of 2 categories. Either we defer/ignore the problem for Wheezy or we remove affected packages from testing. Particularly, if we have to remove packages, they may take reverse dependencies with them as collateral damage."
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Questions about justification and diversity of Linux distributions
Who-needs-a-reason asks: I think your review of SparkyLinux was a bit harsh, especially the part about justification. Since when does a Linux distribution have to justify its existence?
DistroWatch answers: Linux distributions do not need to justify their existence. I believe one of the benefits of working with free and open source software is that anyone can take the pieces and rework them into a new form and share their vision with the rest of the world. It was certainly not my intent to suggest the developers behind SparkyLinux need to justify their creation. What I wrote in my review of the distribution was "I quite like distro diversity and I'm not one to complain about being spoiled for choice. Yet the fact remains, I couldn't figure out exactly what SparkyLinux is trying to accomplish." By which I didn't mean to imply the developers had to justify their distribution. What I was trying to get across was that I didn't know why the distribution had been created and I wasn't sure how it was meant to be used.
Most of the major distributions have some sort of mission statement or description of what the project aims to do well. The Linux Mint project has an excellent About page, Ubuntu dedicates an entire section of their website to detailing reasons for using their operating system, the openSUSE team has a good explanation for why we might use their software. This makes the above projects fairly easy to evaluate as we have something against which to measure them. The SparkyLinux website very briefly states what the project is, but not what its aims are. This makes the project difficult to evaluate as it is hard to measure success without goals.
* * * * *
Looking-for-something-new asks: You mentioned you like diversity in existing distributions, but is there a distro you want to see made that doesn't exist, yet?
DistroWatch answers: I'm not sure if there is a new distribution I would like to see created, but there are existing features out there which exist in some projects which I would like to see ported to other projects. For example, I really like Mageia's control panel and would love to see it (or at least its interface) adopted by other distributions. Both the openSUSE and the PC-BSD projects have excellent support for advanced file systems (Btrfs and ZFS respectively) and those tools would be very welcome in other projects. I would like to see Ubuntu's Software Centre and One client-side software ported to other distributions. I think it would be great if more effort was put into supporting cross-distribution packages so that a developer could build one self-contained binary package and have it work across distributions and even integrate into the package management system. Right now there are several cross-platform package formats, but they are rarely used and not all that well supported by the various distributions.
Right now I feel as though selecting one distribution to install means gaining some great features while giving up on others. Enjoying the wide-spread support of Ubuntu and its features means not having openSUSE's great YaST configuration system, running openSUSE means accepting a shorter support cycle, moving to CentOS with its long term support means having old desktop applications. Choosing a Linux distribution is like playing rock-paper-scissors, each project has advantages and missing features. My ideal would be cross pollination, bringing the best features of the existing projects to all the other projects.
|Released Last Week
A new version of Tails, a Debian-based live DVD focusing on user's privacy and anonymity while browsing the world wide web, has been released: "Tails, The Amnesic Incognito Live System, version 0.17, is out. All users must upgrade as soon as possible. Notable user-visible changes include: Install the KeePassX password manager with a configuration and documentation that makes it easy to persist the password database; upgrade to Iceweasel 17.0.3esr; do not allow listing all available fonts; improve default spellchecker dictionary selection; disable the add-ons automatic update feature; remove NoScript click-to-play confirmation; synchronise some preferences set by Torbutton to be ready when it stops setting these; disable navigation timing; disable SPDY...." A more detailed changelog, including the list of bug fixes and minor improvements can be found in the release announcement.
Manjaro Linux 0.8.4
Philip Müller has announced the release of Manjaro Linux 0.8.4, a Arch-based Linux distribution with a choice of Xfce, Cinnamon and Openbox desktop user interfaces: "More features, more refinements, and more user-friendliness characterises the release of Manjaro 0.8.4. While the most immediately noticeable difference will likely be the introduction of a new look developed especially for the Manjaro desktop environments, the most significant development will be found in the official introduction of Pamac, a user-friendly Pacman interface developed in-house by the Manjaro team. Replacing the Kalu, Pacman-GUI, and Package Browser applications, Pamac makes it faster and easier than ever before to update the system, search for, and install software." Read the full release announcement for information about new features and screenshots.
Manjaro Linux 0.8.4 - now with a new graphical package management tool
(full image size: 1,797kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Clonezilla Live 2.1.0-26
Steven Shiau has announced the release of Clonezilla Live 2.1.0-26, a new stable build of the project's live CD with specialist open-source tools for disk cloning tasks: "Stable Clonezilla Live (2.1.0-26) released. This release includes major enhancements and bug fixes: the underlying GNU/Linux operating system was upgraded, this release is based on the Debian 'Sid' repository as of 2013-02-26; Linux kernel was updated to 3.2.39; multipath devices are now supported natively; the blkdev.list info file was added in the image directory; Xen disk was added as a supported device; the Partclone package was updated to 0.2.58, an issue with imaging JFS partitions larger than 50 GB was fixed; added '-m 1024' option to Partclone, this should increase the imaging efficiency; the udisks package was added the packages list...." Read the rest of the release announcement for a complete changelog.
Zorin OS 6.2 "Core", "Ultimate"
Artyom Zorin has announced the release of Zorin OS 6.2 "Core" and "Ultimate" editions. Although both are based on Ubuntu 12.04, only the "Core" variant can be had for free while the "Ultimate" edition, with extra tools and enhancements, is a commercial product that cost €10 to download. From the release announcement: "The Zorin OS team is pleased to announce the release of Zorin OS 6.2 Core and Ultimate, our operating system designed for Windows users. Zorin OS 6.2 builds on top of our popular previous release of Zorin OS 6.1 with newly updated software, a newer kernel and Zorin Menu. Zorin Menu is our continuation of the GnoMenu start menu software which has been included in every version of Zorin OS before. The first release of Zorin Menu, included in Zorin OS 6.2 for the first time, provides lots of bug fixes to ameliorate the overall stability of Zorin OS. As Zorin OS 6.2 is based on Ubuntu 12.04 it is an LTS (long-term support) release, provided with software updates until April 2017."
Michael Prokop has announced the release of Grml 2013.02, a Debian-based live CD with a collection of specialist GNU/Linux software, tools and scripts designed for system administrators: "We just released Grml 2013.02 'Grumpy Grinch'. This release brings the Grml tools towards the upcoming Debian stable release ('Wheezy'), provides up-to-date hardware support and fixes known bugs from the previous Grml release. New features: ssh boot option - display SSH server key fingerprints; grml-hwinfo - added support for lsscsi, iscsiadm, Proxmox, libvirt, OpenVZ, VServer information retrieval, swapon, mdadm, LVM + dmsetup, now using 'lspci -nn' for lspci output; grml-live - handling firmware related packages in GRMLBASE, added uuid-runtime to GRMLBASE; grml-network - netcardconfig provides support to scan for available wireless networks...." Read the release notes for a list of new features and important changes.
Jay Klepacs has announced the release of aLinux 15.0, an independently developed distribution (formerly known ad Peanut Linux) designed for ageing computers and featuring the KDE 3.5.10 desktop: "aLinux 15.0 released, updates the graphical installer, dialogues, etc., easier to install. Same old system but with just enough updates to be 'usable'. KDE 3.5.10, X.Org 7.7, glibc 2.17, GCC 4.7.2, Linux kernel 18.104.22.168, Perl 5.16.2, Skype 22.214.171.124 (MSN and Windows Live support). Main web browser is Firefox 17.0.1. Distro is optimized for i686 now. Kopete has been removed and replaced with Pidgin messenger. It's still a distro aimed at computers from the past (mine included), so if you're looking for the latest bleeding edge, you won't find it here, but if you're looking for something a bit more complete from a past 'yesterday' operating system that still manages to work in 2013, this may suit you." Here is the brief release announcement.
Roberto Dohnert has announced the release of OS4 13.3, an updated version of the project's Xubuntu-based desktop Linux distribution: "Today we are pleased to announce the update of OS4 OpenDesktop. OpenDesktop is the leading provider of cutting-edge Linux desktop technology to the masses. With this release we encompass stability and functionality. Some of the changes we have made in OS4 OpenDesktop 13.3 is that we have cleaned it up quite a bit, so legacy kernels and older versions of software have been removed. Some of the improvements in OS4 OpenDesktop 13.3 are: over 300 application and system updates; Google Chrome 25; Linux kernel 3.2; Cheese webcam booth for webcam users; Google Voice web application which provides SMS and telephony services to OS4; disk utility to manage partitions and prepare partitions for installation...." Read the rest of the release announcement for further details and a screenshot.
Linux Caixa Mágica 19
Linux Caixa Mágica 19 has been released. Linux Caixa Mágica is a Portuguese Linux distribution based on Ubuntu and featuring the latest GNOME 3 desktop with GNOME Shell. The most important features of this release are software updates to GNOME 3.6, LibreOffice 3.6.2, Linux kernel 3.5, Mozilla Firefox 19.0 and Google Chrome 24.0.1312.56, as well as a new version of the Portuguese citizen card software program with support for digital signatures of PDF files. Another interesting new feature is the introduction of Caixa Mágica TopApps, a one-click, web-based software installation tool. This version offers a possibility to upgrade directly from Caixa Mágica 18, while Wubi, a utility designed to install the distribution from Windows, is also available. Read the brief release announcement (in Portuguese) for more details, a screenshot and relevant links.
Caixa Mágica 19 - a Portuguese Linux distribution GNOME Shell, based on Ubuntu
(full image size: 496kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Parted Magic 2013_02_28
Patrick Verner has announced the release of Parted Magic 2013_02_28, a new version of the project's Linux-based live CD with open-source tools and utilities designed for disk management and data rescue tasks: "The Parted Magic project is proud to announce another stable release of the popular partitioning and system rescue environment. Since the last release many new improvements and updates have taking place. Parted Magic now supports booting from EFI BIOS. The kernel has been upgraded to Linux 3.7.9 with fixes for the bug bricking Samsung laptops using EFI and the samsung-laptop module. It's safe to use EFI and Parted Magic in this release. The chntpw utility has been added to the boot menu once again. A new kernel command line option 'wicd' allows easy switch between NetworkManager and wicd." Visit the project's news page to read the remainder of the release announcement.
Barry Kauler, the founder of Puppy Linux, has released a new stable build of Quirky, a minimalist distribution that attempts to explore new avenues and implement unusual ideas. This release of Quirky doesn't come as live CD image, but rather as a single kernel file that needs to be downloaded and then booted via an existing bootloader (instructions included). From the release notes: "It has been a very long time since the last official release of Quirky. Yes, despite the rather odd version number, this is a new public official release of Quirky. These are two ideas/features to play with in Quirky 5.4.91: absolutely everything built into a single (126 MB) file; f2fs (Flash Friendly File System). The idea was developed by the Linux kernel developers, in which an 'initial file system' can be built into the kernel. Various people, including myself, toyed with building all of Puppy into the kernel."
Linux From Scratch 7.3
Bruce Dubbs has announced the release of Linux From Scratch (LFS) 7.3, a book of instructions on how to build a base Linux system from scratch from an existing Linux system or a live CD: "The Linux From Scratch community is pleased to announce the release of LFS Version 7.3. It is a major release with toolchain updates to Binutils 2.23.1, glibc 2.17 and GCC 4.7.2. In total, 31 packages were updated from LFS 7.2 and changes to bootscripts and text have been made throughout the book." Other major updates in this release include Linux kernel 3.8.1, Coreutils 8.21, kmod 12, Perl 5.16.2, TCL 8.6.0, Texinfo 5.0 and udev 197 (extracted from systemd 197). Visit the project's news page to read the release announcement and check out the changelog for a full list of changes, fixes and package updates.
Puppy Linux 5.5 "Wary", "Racy"
Barry Kauler has announced the release of Puppy Linux 5.5 "Wary" and "Racy" editions, special Puppy builds targeting (not only) older computer systems: "Wary, our edition of Puppy for older computers, has now reach version 5.5 (along with Racy, that we think of as 'Wary on steroids', intended for not-so-old hardware). Most of the system libraries and some major applications have not been upgraded since 5.3, but a lot of smaller applications and utilities have, notably those created 'in house' by our very enthusiastic developers. What really has progressed significantly since 5.3 is the Woof infrastructure, bringing a plethora of bug fixes and enhancements. These improvements have made it imperative to release a new Wary (and Racy). Note that Wary 5.5 has the same old 126.96.36.199 kernel (configured for uniprocessor i486 CPU)." See the release announcement for more information.
Marc Poirette has announced the release of PureOS 7.0, a Debian-based desktop Linux distribution with a choice of GNOME or Openbox desktop user interfaces: "PureOS 7.0 is a GNU/Linux live distribution based on Debian's 'testing' branch, multilingual, installable and built with the new Linux Live Kit scripts. It is available in two editions (GNOME and Openbox) as ZIP images for live USB only. Features common to both editions: Linux kernel 3.6.11; Chromium, GParted, Synaptic; scripts for modules management (dir2pb, pb2dir, pure activate and deactivate, deb2pb and debs2pb); smxi and sgfxi scripts. The Openbox edition weighs only 356 MB; it was designed to serve as a basis for the design of the live USB image customized by adding modules. The GNOME edition is more complete (supports scanners and printers) and it weighs 642 MB." Here is the brief release announcement.
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
February 2013 DistroWatch.com donation: Linux From Scratch|
We are happy to announce that the recipient of the February 2013 DistroWatch.com donation is Linux From Scratch, a community project providing a comprehensive book of step-by-step instructions on how to build a base Linux system from source code. It receives US$350.00 in cash.
Linux From Scratch was created by Gerard Beekmans back in 1999. The book's 1.0 version, released on 16 December 1999 and still available from the project's museum section, included instructions on how to build a Linux system using the then brand-new Linux kernel 2.0.38 and the glibc 2.0.7pre6 toolchain, all compiled with one of the available versions of the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) - the stable 188.8.131.52 or the experimental 2.95.3. The book only lasted four days and was replaced with a bug-fixed version 1.1. New releases followed fast and minor updates were sometimes made available on a weekly basis. Nowadays the project is much more mature and sedate, with new versions arriving at roughly six-month intervals. For more information about Linux From Scratch please visit its website and wiki pages.
Launched in 2004, this monthly donations programme is a DistroWatch initiative to support free and open-source software projects and operating systems with cash contributions. Readers are welcome to nominate their favourite project for future donations. Those readers who wish to contribute towards these donations, please use our advertising page to make a payment (PayPal and credit cards are accepted). Here is the list of the projects that have received a DistroWatch donation since the launch of the programme (figures in US dollars):
Since the launch of the Donations Program in March 2004, DistroWatch has donated a total of US$34,635 to various open-source software projects.
- 2004: GnuCash ($250), Quanta Plus ($200), PCLinuxOS ($300), The GIMP ($300), Vidalinux ($200), Fluxbox ($200), K3b ($350), Arch Linux ($300), Kile KDE LaTeX Editor ($100) and UNICEF - Tsunami Relief Operation ($340)
- 2005: Vim ($250), AbiWord ($220), BitTorrent ($300), NDISwrapper ($250), Audacity ($250), Debian GNU/Linux ($420), GNOME ($425), Enlightenment ($250), MPlayer ($400), Amarok ($300), KANOTIX ($250) and Cacti ($375)
- 2006: Gambas ($250), Krusader ($250), FreeBSD Foundation ($450), GParted ($360), Doxygen ($260), LilyPond ($250), Lua ($250), Gentoo Linux ($500), Blender ($500), Puppy Linux ($350), Inkscape ($350), Cape Linux Users Group ($130), Mandriva Linux ($405, a Powerpack competition), Digikam ($408) and Sabayon Linux ($450)
- 2007: GQview ($250), Kaffeine ($250), sidux ($350), CentOS ($400), LyX ($350), VectorLinux ($350), KTorrent ($400), FreeNAS ($350), lighttpd ($400), Damn Small Linux ($350), NimbleX ($450), MEPIS Linux ($300), Zenwalk Linux ($300)
- 2008: VLC ($350), Frugalware Linux ($340), cURL ($300), GSPCA ($400), FileZilla ($400), MythDora ($500), Linux Mint ($400), Parsix GNU/Linux ($300), Miro ($300), GoblinX ($250), Dillo ($150), LXDE ($250)
- 2009: Openbox ($250), Wolvix GNU/Linux ($200), smxi ($200), Python ($300), SliTaz GNU/Linux ($200), LiVES ($300), Osmo ($300), LMMS ($250), KompoZer ($360), OpenSSH ($350), Parted Magic ($350) and Krita ($285)
- 2010: Qimo 4 Kids ($250), Squid ($250), Libre Graphics Meeting ($300), Bacula ($250), FileZilla ($300), GCompris ($352), Xiph.org ($250), Clonezilla ($250), Debian Multimedia ($280), Geany ($300), Mageia ($470), gtkpod ($300)
- 2011: CGSecurity ($300), OpenShot ($300), Imagination ($250), Calibre ($300), RIPLinuX ($300), Midori ($310), vsftpd ($300), OpenShot ($350), Trinity Desktop Environment ($300), LibreCAD ($300), LiVES ($300), Transmission ($250)
- 2012: GnuPG ($350), ImageMagick ($350), GNU ddrescue ($350), Slackware Linux ($500), MATE ($250), LibreCAD ($250), BleachBit ($350), cherrytree ($260), Zim ($335), nginx ($250), LFTP ($250), Remastersys ($300)
- 2013: MariaDB ($300), Linux From Scratch ($350)
* * * * *
New distributions added to waiting list
- Shell-Linux. Shell-Linux is a small Linux distribution built from Micro Core Linux 2.5 with many user-friendly features. It is released under the General Public License version 2 (GPL2).
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 11 March 2013. To contact the authors please send email to:
- Jesse Smith (feedback, questions and suggestions: distribution reviews, questions and answers, tips and tricks)
- Ladislav Bodnar (feedback, questions, suggestions and corrections: news, donations, distribution submissions, comments)
- Bruce Patterson (feedback and suggestions: podcast edition)
|• Issue 585 (2014-11-17): openSUSE 13.2, PC-BSD's "roles", MATE + Compiz on Mint, cleaning package cache|
|• Issue 584 (2014-11-10): OpenMandriva 2014.1, Debian freeze, trickle, systemd and boot times|
|• Issue 583 (2014-11-03): Ubuntu 14.10, ownCloud, Kylin interview, The Book of PF, Elive's commercial ways|
|• Issue 582 (2014-10-27): GhostBSD 4.0, Tumbleweed and Factory merge, systemd and fork of Debian|
|• Issue 581 (2014-10-20): SparkyLinux 3.5, Fedora's graphics stack, Debian and systemd, OpenBSD 5.6|
|• Issue 580 (2014-10-13): Rolling releases, Arch as best distro, GNOME on Wayland, MINIX 3.3.0|
|• Issue 579 (2014-10-06): PC-BSD 10.0.3, Debian's Jessie freeze, setting up home server|
|• Issue 578 (2014-09-29): Calculate 14, Debian's default desktop, Shellshock vulnerability, practical Tiny Core|
|• Issue 577 (2014-09-22): SymphonyOS 14.1, FreeBSD drops pkg_add, MINIX on ARM, GNU screen|
|• Issue 576 (2014-09-15): PCLinuxOS 2014.08, Mint's documentation, Debian's hardware database, CDE|
|• Issue 575 (2014-09-08): Porteus 3.0.1, Fedora's blivet-gui, Red Hat's Docker, systemd|
|• Issue 574 (2014-09-01): Ubuntu Kylin 14.04, Haiku and Linux kernel, Wayland support, Lumina, Bash completion|
|• Issue 573 (2014-08-25): SolydXK 201407, VPN gateway with FreeBSD, Ubuntu MATE, Raspbian, trusting binary packages|
|• Issue 572 (2014-08-18): ZFSguru 10.1, Fedora's Flock, beta installer for "Jessie", Ubuntu Core, rolling releases|
|• Issue 571 (2014-08-11): HandyLinux 1.6, LMDE update, default desktop in "Jessie", running out of disk space|
|• Issue 570 (2014-08-04): Neptune 4, Kubuntu's KDE Plasma 5, FreeBSD and UEFI, Linux servers|
|• Issue 569 (2014-07-28): Deepin 2014, Ask Fedora, Gentoo and LibreSSL, encrypted package downloads|
|• Issue 568 (2014-07-21): Antergos 2014.06.24, Mint based on Debian stable, upgrading CentOS, BinaryTides|
|• Issue 567 (2014-07-14): Manjaro 0.8.10, PC-BSD jails, Debian and glibc, Fedora's DNF, Xiki and Opera 24|
|• Issue 566 (2014-07-07): LXLE 14.04, OpenBSD's SimpleDE, openSUSE artwork, home security basics|
|• Issue 565 (2014-06-30): Chakra 2014.05, Fedora on BeagleBone, Matthew Miller interview, e-book readers|
|• Issue 564 (2014-06-23): Antergos 2014.05.26 and Q4OS 0.5.11, Debian LTS and glibc, Fedora DNF|
|• Issue 563 (2014-06-16): Mint 17, CentOS 7 pre-release, Debian MATE, accessing encrypted content|
|• Issue 562 (2014-06-09): GoboLinux 015, Gentoo interview, Fedora leader change, climagic tricks|
|• Issue 561 (2014-06-02): OpenMandriva 2014.0, Debian GNU/Hurd, Lubuntu and LXQt, Final Term, TrueCrypt|
|• Issue 560 (2014-05-26): KaOS 2014.04, Wayland and KDE 5 on Fedora, distros with commercial support, DenyHosts|
|• Issue 559 (2014-05-19): VortexBox 2.3, LTS-only Linux Mint, FreeBSD 11 ambitions, KDE 5 beta|
|• Issue 558 (2014-05-12): RHEL 7 Workstation impressions, LXQt and Lumina, Haiku interview|
|• Issue 557 (2014-05-05): Xubuntu 14.04, Ubuntu 14.10 roadmap, Fedora Workstation, ownCloud|
|• Issue 556 (2014-04-28): Ubuntu 14.04, LibreSSL, Lumina desktop, Deepin interview|
|• Issue 555 (2014-04-21): Robolinux 7.4.2, Ubuntu release day stats, Debian security, Porteus update|
|• Issue 554 (2014-04-14): Review of FreeNAS, OpenSSL bug, Fedora.next, Robolinux Stealth VM, measuring memory|
|• Issue 553 (2014-04-07): Puppy 5.7 "Slacko", end of Ubuntu One, file encryption with GPG|
|• Issue 552 (2014-03-31): Tanglu 1.0, Ubuntu GNOME LTS, SliTaz for ARM|
|• Issue 551 (2014-03-24): Linux Mint "Debian" 201403, call for end to proprietary firmware, LVM|
|• Issue 550 (2014-03-17): Review of NixOS 13.10, Lubuntu seeking feedback, Android-x86 4.4-rc1 impressions|
|• Issue 549 (2014-03-10): ClearOS 6.5 and UCS 3.2, Gentoo interview, Ubuntu app contest, Into the Core|
|• Issue 548 (2014-03-03): Review of Mageia 4, FreeBSD console driver, filtering web content, Pitivi fundraiser|
|• Issue 547 (2014-02-24): Chakra 2014.02, Ubuntu privacy, preventing unwanted remote logins|
|• Issue 546 (2014-02-17): Review of PC-BSD 10.0, Red Flag closure, Ubuntu and systemd, SlackE18, Fedora book review|
|• Issue 545 (2014-02-10): Impressions of FreeBSD 10.0, Debian votes systemd, Ubuntu file manager, server security|
|• Issue 544 (2014-02-03): Netrunner 13.12, openSUSE future, Ubuntu Touch in emulator, running commands in multiple places|
|• Issue 543 (2014-01-27): Review of Korora 20, FreeBSD 10.0, DNF, ZFS rescue CD, Bridge Linux interview|
|• Issue 542 (2014-01-20): QupZilla, Ubuntu with MATE, Arch on Raspberry Pi, best applications|
|• Issue 541 (2014-01-13): openSUSE 13.1 and Zentyal 3.3, CentOS joins Red Hat, Bodhi on Chromebooks|
|• Issue 540 (2014-01-06): SMS 2.0.6 and SME Server 8.0, Hawaii desktop, PHR statistics 2013, more on multi-part archives|
|• Issue 539 (2013-12-23): Centrych 12.04.3, Fedora 20 and its spins, dividing archives across multiple discs|
|• Issue 538 (2013-12-16): Mint 16 review, RHEL and CentOS 7 plans, SteamOS, Windows XP replacement suggestions|
|• Issue 537 (2013-12-09): OpenMandriva 2013.0, Gentoo developer interview, project Neon, Linux Mint and security|
|• Issue 536 (2013-12-02): Impressions of openSUSE 13.1, Ubuntu Touch, FreeBSD 10 delay, troubleshooting OS lock-ups|
|• Full list of all issues|