| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 506, 6 May 2013
Welcome to this year's 18th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! Ubuntu's latest release, while not among the most innovative or adventurous ones, continues to intrigue many casual and home users (business users are probably more comfortable with one of LTS releases). Still, many are wondering whether they should risk an upgrade to a new but rather unremarkable release whose support has been cut down to just nine months. In our feature article this week Jesse Smith takes a look at both Ubuntu and Kubuntu 13.04 and finds the latter a more pleasant experience. In the news section, Debian "Wheezy" arrives after more than two years of intense development, Mageia delays its third stable release due to installer bugs, Slackware ponders the inevitability of systemd as a service manager, and FreeBSD expands its activities thanks to record-breaking receipts of funds in 2012. Also in this issue, a link to an article comparing a number of special distributions for the Raspberry Pi, and a review of A Practical Guide to Linux Commands, Editors and Shell Programming by Mark Sobell. Finally, we are pleased to announce that the recipient of the April 2013 DistroWatch.com donation is the Internet Software Consortium's DHCP project. Happy reading!
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (28MB) and MP3 (51MB) formats
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
First looks at Ubuntu and Kubuntu 13.04
Ubuntu is one of the most widely used Linux distributions alive today. It and its many derivatives and off-shoots are used by millions of people all around the world. As such when Canonical releases a new version of Ubuntu it sends ripples throughout the open source community. The latest release of Ubuntu, version 13.04, arrived on April 25. A lot of rumours circulated over the past six months as to what would make it into the new release, whether Ubuntu would move to a rolling release model and what would happen with the Unity Dash. Now that Ubuntu 13.04 is here we can find out what direction Canonical has decided to take with its popular distribution.
As it turns out Ubuntu 13.04 is a relatively calm release. According to the project's release notes most of the effort put into the new version was focused on minor improvements. Canonical reports Unity has received some polish, the desktop should perform better and effort has been made to reduce the distribution's memory footprint. Rather than moving to a rolling release model Canonical has decided to cut the length of their support life cycle. Versions of Ubuntu which are not long term support releases will only receive 9 months of support as opposed to 18 months. The release notes also point out that the Wubi Windows installer, which allows users to install Ubuntu alongside Windows without repartitioning the hard drive, has been dropped for this version. It seems as though Canonical is trimming down support and features for this cycle and focusing on making Unity a more attractive desktop. Though not native to the main Ubuntu edition, there is a new flavour of Ubuntu available which focuses on the GNOME 3 desktop. The Ubuntu GNOME project is now an official community branch of Ubuntu and this can only be good news for GNOME fans.
Ubuntu 13.04 - the system installer
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Ubuntu is available in a few different editions, the main two being Desktop and Server. These editions are available in both 32-bit builds and 64-bit builds. The Desktop edition, which is the one I am interested in this week, can be downloaded as a 795MB ISO image. Booting from the media brings up a graphical environment and gives us the option of either exploring the Ubuntu live desktop or launching the distribution's system installer. Ubuntu's installer starts out by letting us select our preferred language and then we are given the option to download available security updates. We can also choose to install third-party software such as Adobe's Flash player and mp3 support. I ran into an odd bug where the installer indicated I was not on-line and would not let me download security updates during the installation process, however Network Manager indicated I was connected to the Internet.
Moving forward we get into partitioning our hard disk. The Ubuntu installer is quite friendly when it comes to partitioning and will offer to automatically set up partitions using available free space. Alternatively we can manually partition our disk and the installer provides a very friendly partition manager which I find is nicely streamlined. Ubuntu's installer supports ext2, ext3, ext4, FAT, JFS, XFS and ReiserFS partitions. We can also choose to make use of volume management through either Btrfs or LVM. I opted to use Btrfs for my root file system. Up next we confirm our time zone from a map of the world and select our keyboard's layout from a list. The following screen asks us to create a user account and set a password on the account. We have the option of enabling encryption on our files and automatic logins can also be enabled on this screen. From there the installer displays a slide show of the distribution's key features while the system copies files to the hard drive.
Once the installer finished its work I was prompted to reboot the system. Upon loading my local copy of Ubuntu for the first time I encountered an error saying "sparse file not allowed". This error appears sometimes when using Btrfs file systems and I didn't worry too much about it. However, when I hit Enter to continue the boot process the system locked up. I was unable to get the system to complete its boot process. Using the live media I went back through the install process again, this time opting to use the ext3 file system instead of Btrfs and, once the installer finished, I was able to reboot the system and was brought to a graphical login screen. The login screen will allow us to sign in using a regular user account, a guest account (which has no password) or we can sign into a remote server if we have enabled remote logins using our e-mail account.
Ubuntu 13.04 - Unity's Dash and shopping lens
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Logging into our account brings us to the Unity desktop. Down the left side of the display we find the Dash menu and a series of quick-launch buttons. In the upper-right corner of the screen is the system tray and notification area. The default background is a mixture of purple and orange. Shortly after I logged in a window popped up to tell me my preferred language was not set up for full support and a trip to the settings panel would correct this. I followed the steps indicated which guided me to the Language Support module of the System Settings panel. Here I found the missing items were writing aids, such as spell check packages which are used by LibreOffice and the Thunderbird e-mail client. I added the additional software needed for full language support. It was while I was doing this I noticed Unity was quite slow to respond.
Opening a new application or bringing up Unity's Dash required around five seconds or more. When switching between two open application windows the time it took for one window to fade into the background and the other window to be drawn was about four seconds. The current version of Ubuntu does not include 2-D support for Unity, users are forced to use a 3-D environment and this means users must have suitable video drivers which support 3-D drawing. Since I was in the System Settings panel already I went into the Software & Updates module and selected the box which would install third-party drivers which might improve performance. The software appeared to download without any problems, but then the system locked up before the installation finished, forcing me to power off the computer and boot again.
On my second attempt to acquire the necessary video support the third-party drivers I wanted installed and I rebooted the computer. When the system came back on-line I found the desktop was still slow to respond and performance had not improved considerably. At this point I had to make a choice as to whether or not I should keep using Ubuntu (and face a week of several second lag following all keyboard and mouse input) or I could switch to a different distribution. I decided to move to Kubuntu, which I hoped would offer better performance while staying within the Ubuntu family.
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The Kubuntu distribution uses the same package repositories available to Ubuntu users while focusing on the KDE desktop environment. The distribution comes in both 32-bit and 64-bit builds and the Kubuntu download image is 960MB in size. As the Kubuntu and Ubuntu distributions are based on the same technology my initial impressions were much the same. Booting from the Kubuntu media brings us to a screen asking if we would like to run a live desktop from the installation media or if we would like to launch the system installer. The installer walks us through the same steps previously outlined and then copies its files to the local hard disk. The one difference I noted was with the visual appearance of the two installers. Ubuntu's installer reminds me of mobile interfaces while Kubuntu's installer looks more like a classic desktop application. Where the Ubuntu installer, and desktop in general, appear to be designed to look colourful and fun, Kubuntu's interface generally looks conservative and professional.
Kubuntu 13.04 - the installer and release notes
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I installed Kubuntu with the Btrfs advanced file system. As with my experience with Ubuntu when I booted Kubuntu an error message appeared saying "sparse file not allowed". When I pressed Enter to continue the boot process Kubuntu brought me to a colourful graphical login screen. Kubuntu allows us to login with a regular user account or a guest account, the remote account option offered by Ubuntu is not available. Logging in brings up the KDE 4.10 desktop which is laid out in the traditional manner. Our application menu, task switcher and system tray sit at the bottom of the screen. The desktop is empty and decorated with eye catching colours.
Kubuntu comes with a small collection of useful software, most of which fits in with the distribution's focus on KDE/Qt software. In the application menu we find the Rekonq web browser, KMail, a remote desktop client and the KTorrent bittorrent software. Network Manager and the KPPP dial-up software are included to help us get on-line. For playing videos we are given Dragon Player and Amarok is provided for playing audio files. To go along with these media applications Kubuntu gives us the option at install time to include popular multimedia codecs. The distribution includes the Okular document viewer, the LibreOffice suite and the Calligra productivity suite. Users are able to make use of a desktop calculator, a text editor and note taking apps. Some accessibility tools are included in the distribution, including utilities to help us use the mouse and magnify parts of the screen.
For managing the look and feel of the desktop the KDE System Settings panel is included and this gives us fine tuned control over the entire graphical interface. In the background we find the Linux kernel, version 3.8. Kubuntu doesn't, by default, include one of the more popular web browsers, but there is an item in the application menu called the Firefox Browser Installer. Usually I'm wary of tools which install applications in non-standard ways, but Kubuntu gets around that. Running the Firefox installer actually launches the distribution's package manager and brings up an information page for the Firefox package. This makes Firefox easy to find for new users while keeping the browser's installation process integrated with the operating system's normal package manager. It's an approach I think most users will find appealing.
Kubuntu 13.04 - application and package management
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Kubuntu comes with two graphical package managers. The first one, the Muon Software Centre, takes an application-centric approach to dealing with software. We are presented with a nice, web-like interface. We can browse for software by category or by name. Applications are displayed with a colourful icon, description and user-supplied rating. We can click on packages to bring up more detailed information and see a screen shot. Adding or removing an application from the system is as simple as clicking a button and, while software is being installed, we can continue browsing for other packages. One feature of the Software Centre I like is, once an installation has successfully completed, a Start button will appear at the top of the Software Centre's window. Clicking the button opens the program we just installed, saving us from digging through the application menu. The Muon Package Manager, Kubuntu's second front-end for software management, takes a more package-oriented approach. This program resembles Synaptic in both its layout and its focus for working on the individual package level. Both programs worked well for me and, during my trial, I encountered no problems with either. Package transactions happened quickly and I found both graphical front-ends put a friendly face on software management.
When I was using the openSUSE distribution I became fond of a tool which links Btrfs to the operating system's package manager. While Kubuntu doesn't come with a tool like this installed by default, there is a utility which can be downloaded from the repositories. The apt-btrfs-snapshot package, once installed, will take file system snapshots each time a package is installed or removed. This means that if we make a package change which introduces problems to the system we can roll back to an older snapshot of the system. While Kubuntu's Btrfs utilities aren't as integrated nor as user friendly as openSUSE's it does give the user some insurance against boot or performance problems introduced by changes to the system's software.
Kubuntu 13.04 - changing desktop settings
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I ran both Kubuntu and Ubuntu on a desktop machine (dual-core 2.8 GHz CPU, 6 GB of RAM, Realtek network card, Radeon video card). With both distributions I found sound worked out of the box, I had no trouble getting on-line and my screen was set to its maximum resolution. But while Kubuntu ran quickly and the desktop was quite responsive, I found Ubuntu was sluggish and slow to react to input. I found that when sitting idle on the desktop Ubuntu used approximately 210MB of RAM and Kubuntu used about 240MB of memory. I ran both distributions in a VirtualBox virtual machine and found the virtual environment provided a nearly identical experience to running the distributions on physical hardware. As is to be expected both distros ran a little slower in the virtual environment, but otherwise there was no difference.
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I had two remarkably different experiences with these two distributions this week and so I would like to share my closing thoughts on these two projects separately. First, let's look at Ubuntu. Honestly, I'm a little surprised Canonical pushed the 13.04 release out the door. The latest version of Ubuntu doesn't bring many desirable changes to the table and, in fact, includes a number of changes which I'm sure will be unpopular. Perhaps the most obvious step backward is the move to decrease the life cycle of non-LTS releases from 18 months to 9 months. In addition, dropping the Wubi Windows installer for this release is unfortunate timing given all of the press hype circulating right now about how consumers are ignoring Windows 8. Alternative operating systems have a potential foot in the door here and it would be a shame to lose any opportunities. The Btrfs bug which pauses the boot process was also unwelcome.
However, for me, the worst part of my experience with Ubuntu was Unity. As I've stated in the past the general design of Unity is something I can live with, but the implementation is not. Unity absolutely crawls on my desktop machine (and in a virtual machine). I believe it was a poor choice for Canonical to force Unity users to have 3-D graphics support as finding the right hardware/drivers for 3-D support on Linux can be a challenge. This move is all the more curious since Ubuntu previously supported a 2-D mode of Unity which worked fairly well. Last, but not least, on my list of complaints is Canonical's insistence on keeping the Dash shopping lens which records the user's key strokes and serves up ads from Amazon. While the feature can be disabled, having such a blatant privacy invasion turned on by default strikes me as a poor idea. In addition, the feature is visually distracting. When I open the Dash and search for "office" I want to get to my productivity suite, not see ads for popular television shows. In exchange for these problems, what positive features does Ubuntu 13.04 have? We get some updated packages, such as LibreOffice 4.0 and a slightly smaller memory footprint. It hardly feels like a good exchange for Ubuntu's user base.
Kubuntu 13.04, while providing the same low-level software, gave me a much more pleasant experience. Since Kubuntu shares its package base with Ubuntu its support cycle has also been shortened. Kubuntu also gave me the unfortunate Btrfs-related error at start-up. However, Kubuntu gave me a very responsive graphical environment, an application menu which was free from advertisements and the distribution did not insist I install third-party drivers just to use my desktop. The 4.10 release of KDE has really brought a high level of performance and polish to the desktop experience and I found myself thinking it is a shame Kubuntu 13.04 is only supported for 9 months. A longer release cycle might have convinced me to keep the distribution installed on my computers. I particularly like how the Muon Software Centre has come along, it feels faster and more stable now compared with past releases. I also like that Kubuntu has embraced the concept of the guest account, making it easier for us to hand over our computer to friends. Now there isn't any need to set up an extra account or clean up the digital footprints left behind.
Both distributions I tried this week feel like small stepping stones on the road to something bigger. That something may be a long term support release or it might be Mir, the display server Canonical plans to ship toward the end of 2013. We are given some updated software at which to look, but I suspect the interesting stuff is still behind the curtain and I believe many of us won't mind skipping this release while we wait for the next big thing.
|Miscellaneous News (by Ladislav Bodnar)
Review of Debian 7.0, Mageia 3 delay, Slackware on systemd, FreeBSD activity expansion, Raspberry Pi distro test
As promised, the much-anticipated new stable version of Debian GNU/Linux was released over the weekend. Although the 27 months that passed since the project's last stable release did result in a huge number of updated packages and many other improvements, the general feeling about the distribution did not change much. Available for many architectures and extremely well-tested, if somewhat raw and outdated in terms of components and general look & feel - that has been the stereotypical view of many reviewers in the past and "Wheezy" doesn't try to be different in this respect. In one of the first reviews, Unixmen's Chris Jones concludes: "Debian is a hard beast to rate and it really depends on what you plan to do with it as to how it performs. As mentioned, out-of-the-box it's all bare essentials everywhere you look. It's even up to the user to update the APT source file with the repositories of their choice. Otherwise, you will not be able to install anything as it ships with only the Debian updates repository enabled. Debian 7.0 has an uncanny ability to feel raw yet ready, stable, polished and perfect all at the same time. Of all the different varieties of Linux (and UNIX) distributions that I have tested over the years, only Debian has the ability to give this impression. Being just short of 20 years in existence, Debian deserves respect. And Debian 7.0 'Wheezy' earns its respect in all the right ways."
Debian GNU/Linux 7.0 - the project's first stable release in over two years
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Mageia was another distribution expected to arrive last week, but the developers pulled the plug at the last minute, largely due to some release-critical bugs found in the installer. Anne Nicolas explains in this blog post: "After some thought and discussions it was decided to delay the Mageia 3 final release until the 18th of May. We still have some release-blocker bugs to fix, meaning bugs which cannot be fixed after release through updates. They are mainly to do with the installer, hardware detection and the installation media. We could say, 'Mageia will be released when it's ready', but we would look like a copycat. Packagers and the QA team are on the case and doing all the hard work so that you have a great Mageia 3 release! Thank you for all your testing and bug reports. We are a community and you are an important part of it. You have helped to make Mageia. If you would like to get more involved in making Mageia, please do so. Take a look here for some ideas, there are all sorts of teams to join and you don't need to be overly technical to get involved. You would be very welcome."
* * * * *
The systemd service manager, originally developed by Fedora but now slowly making its way into other Linux distributions, is a controversial software component that some non-Fedora distro developers seem to dislike as something disruptive and departing from the established UNIX practices. But modern trends are sometimes hard to ignore and even the most conservative among Linux distributions, such as Slackware Linux, need to adapt to the changing world of Linux development. Slackware founder Patrick Volkerding's recent comments illustrate the dilemma faced by many distro developers: "Concerning systemd, I do like the idea of a faster boot time (obviously), but I also like controlling the start-up of the system with shell scripts that are readable, and I'm guessing that's what most Slackware users prefer too. I don't spend all day rebooting my machine, and having looked at systemd config files it seems to me a very foreign way of controlling a system to me, and attempting to control services, sockets, devices, mounts, etc., all within one daemon flies in the face of the UNIX concept of doing one thing and doing it well. To the typical end user, if this results in a faster boot then mission accomplished. With udev being phased out in favor of systemd performing those tasks we'll have to make the decision at some point between whether we want to try to maintain udev ourselves, have systemd replace just udev's functions, or if we want the whole kit and caboodle....""
* * * * *
The concept of open-source software where large volunteer communities create excellent solutions that are often superior (not to mention free of charge) to proprietary software, has resulted in a much better world (at least that's what we think). Just imagine what the Internet would be like if we were forced to run our websites on expensive and buggy Microsoft servers! As a token of appreciation for the great work done by volunteer developers, many users of free software choose to donate money to the projects they enjoy most. And unlikely as it may sound, this method of financing is actually quite successful. As an example, last year the FreeBSD Foundation expected to raise half a million dollars, but instead they received a total of US$770,000! This success has resulted in an expansion of FreeBSD's activities. iTWire's Sam Varghese reports: "Veteran FreeBSD developer Marshall McKusick told iTWire that for starters, three new technical staff had been recruited to the foundation. Two more will be recruited during the course of the year. McKusick said work on five new TCP congestion control algorithms for FreeBSD had been already completed. 'Each congestion control algorithm is implemented as a loadable kernel module. Algorithms can be selected to suit the application/network characteristics and requirements of the host's installation,' he said. Additionally, work had been also completed to bring the IPv6 subsystem to performance parity with its IPv4 counterpart."
* * * * *
Of the many low-cost, ARM-based computer boards available today, Raspberry Pi has emerged as the most popular by far. If you are lucky enough to have become an owner of one (the manufacturer has had much trouble in producing enough boards to cover the enormous demand!), then the next question is which Linux distribution would be the best to suit your particular needs. TuxRadar is here to help, thanks to its "Distro Super Test - Raspberry Pi Edition": "The Raspberry Pi has been out for over a year now, and in that time the number of distributions for the device has grown considerably compared to the few available at launch. The function of these distributions has also expanded, with the desktop operating systems making way for media centres and thin clients. Today, we're focusing on the desktop distros, comparing six of the best to find out exactly what their strengths and weaknesses are. All but one of the operating systems in this test use armhf, 'hard float', and are optimised for the ARMv6 processor that powers the Pi. Reportedly this can result in floating-point operations speeding up by a factor of ten, so are such distros generally a better choice to get the most out of the Raspberry Pi? We'll be using a pretty varied mix of distros in the test, from the Debian-based Raspbian to the source-built Gentoo and everything in between." And the winner is Raspbian (but do read the whole article to find out more).
|Book Reviews (by Jesse Smith)
A Practical Guide to Linux Commands, Editors and Shell Programming
There are times I'll find a book which introduces Linux or programming or trouble-shooting servers and be impressed. There are a lot of good texts floating around out there whether you want to get your first taste of the Linux desktop, wish to learn how to use the command line or want to figure out why your e-mail server has gone off-line. However, there are very few times I pick up an educational book and ask myself, "Why, oh why, didn't we have this textbook in school?" The book A Practical Guide to Linux Commands, Editors and Shell Programming by Mark G. Sobell falls into this elite category.
The book starts out with a little history with regards to GNU/Linux, then explains a bit of how the command line works and then eases us into doing things like opening manual pages and copying files. As the book advances we march into increasingly advanced topics such as alternative shells, shell scripting, managing databases, synchronizing files between computers, security and package management. There are chapters covering simple Python and Perl programming and, perhaps best of all, an extensive command quick reference (similar to Linux man pages) with detailed examples to show us how the commands should be used. The text is over 1,000 pages in length and none of it is wasted, every page contains practical reference information, examples and clear explanations.
There are many aspects of A Practical Guide To Linux I greatly appreciated and it's difficult to go over all of the points without trying to recreate, or at least summarize, the contents of the book. There are a few key areas I'd like to focus on where I feel Mr Sobell really goes above and beyond in his sharing of Linux knowledge. The first is the careful way in which the author builds from the ground up. The book starts out with some UNIX history and we are then walked through introductions to BSD, GNU and, finally, the Linux kernel. The chapters covering BASH and TC Shell include historical information which helps to put the lessons in context. Modern Linux distributions and their tools are deeply rooted in tradition and it can be difficult for a new user to step onto the scene and understand the organization and design of the system. Giving everything historical context helps the reader both understand and appreciate the design of a modern Linux distribution.
A second aspect of the book I enjoyed was the presentation of common mistakes. Quite often documentation lays out situations in which everything works properly and, as we all know, computers frequently do not behave the way we wish them to. Mr Sobell throws in the occasional example of things going wrong and offers explanations as to why a command failed and what to do to correct the problem. This is especially helpful in the MySQL and rsync sections. These two technologies are very powerful and their syntax can become quite complex. Having examples of common mistakes and problems included in the chapters will help guide people through these tricky areas of system administration.
The third thing I greatly appreciated about this book was the detail in which it addressed the functionality of specific commands. The text contains a chapter which is dedicated to providing a quick reference to UNIX and GNU command line programs. Each command is given a description, the possible command line arguments are laid out and we are given clear and detailed examples. This makes the chapter essentially a more detailed and clear version of the man(ual) pages which accompany most Linux distributions. If you look up the manual pages of classic GNU utilities on your distribution right now you will find many of them include only one brief line explaining what the command does and most of the manual pages do not include examples of the command's usage. The book provides more complete explanations and we get to see examples of how the command is to be used, which removes a good deal of the guess work that often accompanies manual page reading.
And, finally, I appreciate that this book takes a different approach to being platform agnostic. Often times when a UNIX or Linux textbook claims to be operating system neutral it means nothing is included in the book which is not true across all the major distributions. Mr Sobell takes a different approach. His book covers popular Linux distributions and OS X. Some features are unique to one platform and these are clearly marked. Also, where there are small differences between one platform and another these are also clearly noted. For example, Linux uses a file called /etc/passwd to store user account information. The OS X operating system uses an alternative technology, Open Directory, for most of its handling of user accounts. This is clearly mentioned in the parts of the book which talk about the Linux passwd file and the reader is directed to where they can read a detailed description of Open Directory in an appendix dedicated to OS X-specific technology. It also doesn't matter if we are using a distribution which uses YUM or APT to handle package management, both technologies are covered. This gives A Practical Guide to Linux an inclusive approach to diversity rather than an exclusive approach. It means people, such as myself, who distro hop a lot are covered regardless of which platform we use.
All in all, A Practical Guide to Linux Commands, Editors and Shell Programming is a remarkably detailed and thorough book which walks us through using the command line, editors and scripting straight from step one through to complex usage. No stone is left unturned along the journey and we are exposed to configuration files, shell variables, history and handy system administration tools. The examples are practical, the explanations are clear and I think the book is a great asset, both to people just starting out using the command line and for people who want a handy reference. I will say that the text isn't for the faint of heart. While Sobell starts off by laying a foundation of knowledge before building upon it, the book does assume we are here to learn, to get our hands dirty. This book is less of an introduction to the Linux command line as it is an instructional textbook, suitable for classrooms as well as the server room. I believe this book was written for people who want to become experts in the field of using Linux and UNIX systems, not for people who just want to dip their toes in the water. If you are looking for a way to expand your command line knowledge, this is the book that can take you from zero experience with the Linux command line through to becoming an expert. It is well worth a read if you wish to master the power of your Linux distribution.
* * * * *
- Title: A Practical Guide to Linux Commands, Editors and Shell Programming (Third Edition)
- Author: Mark G. Sobell, © 2012
- Publisher: Prentice Hall
- ISBN: 0-13-308504-X
- Length: 1154 pages
- Available from: InformIT and Amazon.com
|Released Last Week
DragonFly BSD 3.4.1
Justin Sherrill has announced the release of DragonFly BSD 3.4.1, a UNIX-like operating system created in 2003 as a fork of FreeBSD 4.8: "Version 3.4 of DragonFly BSD is officially out." Big ticket items of the release include: "Experimental packaging system - dports uses the FreeBSD ports system to build ports for DragonFly and uses pkgng to manage the binary packages produced from those ports; The DragonFly snapshots are built using dports and also have Xfce for the desktop; performance improvements under extreme load - improvements in poudriere performance, tmpfs performance and CPU usage; new default compiler - the two base compilers have swapped roles, GCC 4.7, introduced as an alternative compiler with release 3.2, is now the primary compiler used to build DragonFly; new USB stack - USB4BSD." See the brief release announcement and read the detailed release notes for a full list of new features and improvements.
Clonezilla Live 2.1.1-25
Steven Shiau has announced the release of an updated version of Clonezilla Live, a specialist live CD designed for disk cloning: "This release of Clonezilla Live (2.1.1-25) includes minor enhancements and bug fixes. Enhancements and changes: the underlying GNU/Linux operating system was upgraded, this release is based on the Debian 'Sid' repository as of 2013-04-20); Linux kernel was updated to 3.2.41; Partclone was updated to 0.2.60; The drbl package was updated to 2.3.28 and Clonezilla was updated to 3.3.40; sample file 'custom-ocs-1' was updated; the MAC address of a network card will be shown when configuring the network settings. Bug fixes: a bug which caused the first menu to continue even after it was cancelled; when using 'select_in_client' mode the post-run action is now correctly passed to PXE clients...." The release announcement.
Sabayon Linux 13.04
Fabio Erculiani has announced the release of Sabayon Linux 13.04, a desktop distribution with a choice of GNOME, KDE, MATE of Xfce desktops, based on Gentoo Linux: "Sabayon 13.04 is a modern and easy-to-use Linux distribution based on Gentoo, following an extreme yet reliable rolling-release model. This is a monthly release generated, tested and published by our build servers containing the latest and greatest collection of software available in the Entropy repositories. Linux kernel 3.8.8 with BFQ iosched and ZFS, GNOME 3.6.3, KDE 4.10.2, MATE 1.6, Xfce 4.10, LibreOffice 4.0, production-ready UEFI support and experimental systemd support are just some of the things you will find inside the box." Read the full release announcement for more details.
Stuart Henderson has announced the release of OpenBSD 5.3, a free, multi-platform operating system with a strong focus on security and meticulous code review: "We are pleased to announce the official release of OpenBSD 5.3. This is our 33rd release on CD-ROM (and 34th via FTP). As in our previous releases, 5.3 provides significant improvements, including new features, in nearly all areas of the system: improved hardware support, including new driver oce(4) for Emulex OneConnect 10Gb Ethernet adapters, new driver rtsx(4) for the Realtek RTS5209 card reader; OpenSMTPD 5.3; OpenSSH 6.2; over 7,800 ports, major performance and stability improvements in the package build process. Some highlights: GNOME 3.6.2, KDE 3.5.10, Xenocara (based on X.Org 7.7 with X.Org Server 1.12.3 + patches...." Read the OpenBSD 5.3 release page which for a long list of improvements.
Parted Magic 2013_05_01
Patrick Verner has announced the release of Parted Magic 2013_05_01, an updated release of a live CD containing useful tools for data rescue and disk management tasks: "The Parted Magic project is proud to announce another stable release of the popular partitioning and system rescue environment. This has been by far the most ambitious release of Parted Magic to date. EFI booting support from CDROM has been greatly improved. Erase Disk has a new menu with translations. The f2fs-tools package has been added, you an also create a f2fs with GParted. A new 'forcevesa' kernel command-line option has been added, this works with cards like the MGA G200* series; the Parted Magic Wipe Free Space GUI has been translated. We have created a simple GTK+ GUI for chntpw, it should make changing Windows passwords much easier. The X.Org Server has been upgraded to 1.14.1." See the project's news page for the full release announcement.
Ian Firns has announced the release of Korora 18, a Fedora-based distribution with a large number of tweaks, tools and extras for improved user friendliness: "We have decided to make the existing beta release of Korora (Flo) 18 the final version, as the beta period did not reveal any major issues which warranted a new build. The existing beta images have simply been renamed, so if you already have the beta you also have the final release. Derived from Fedora 18, this release comes with the usual Korora extras out of the box, such as: Adobe Flash plugin; experimental support for Valve's Steam client; unburden-home-dir, which moves cache files (like in Firefox profiles) onto RAMFS at login; undistract-me, which pops up a GUI notification when a terminal command has completed; tweaked KDE and GNOME base systems; experimental support for Cinnamon desktop in GNOME; third-party repositories...." Read the rest of the release announcement for known issues and upgrade instructions.
Stephan Raue has announced the release of OpenELEC 3.0.2, a bug-fix and security update of the project's specialist Linux distribution featuring XBMC, the open-source entertainment media hub: "The OpenELEC team is proud to release OpenELEC 3.0.2! This is a maintenance release with some bug and security fixes since OpenELEC 3.0.1. You must upgrade from any previous 2.9x.x or 3.x release to 3.0.2. Changelog: update to XBMC 12.2, MySQL 5.1.68; RPi - add SPI device support; added DVB adapter Terratec H5 Rev3 to em28xx driver; add support for DVB_USB_CXUSB; add P54 network driver; replace BusyBox free with real free from procps-ng; add proper less to image (disable BusyBox less); installer - make system partition per default 256 MB...." Read the rest of the release announcement for a full changelog.
Debian GNU/Linux 7.0
Debian GNU/Linux 7.0, a new stable version of the world's largest Linux distribution, has been released: "After many months of constant development, the Debian project is proud to present its new stable version 7.0. This new version of Debian includes various interesting features such as multiarch support, several specific tools to deploy private clouds, an improved installer, and a complete set of multimedia codecs and front-ends which remove the need for third-party repositories. Multiarch support, one of the main release goals for Wheezy, will allow Debian users to install packages from multiple architectures on the same machine. This means that you can now, for the first time, install both 32- and 64-bit software on the same machine and have all the relevant dependencies correctly resolved, automatically." Read the release announcement for basic information and check out the release notes for technical details.
Stefan Lippers-Hollmann has announced the release of aptosid 2013-01, a modern desktop Linux distribution with a choice of KDE or Xfce desktops and the latest Linux kernel, based on Debian's "unstable" branch: "We have the pleasure to announce the immediate availability of the aptosid 2013-01 "Hesperides" release. New features are in particular kernel 3.9 and numerous integration and stabilisation fixes. Special focus has been cast upon improving system compatibility with various UEFI systems and the Ivy-Bridge architecture; basic Haswell support should now be complete. Kernel 3.9 doesn't only improve and stabilise hardware support for newer devices, it also improves power-saving approaches for libata targets." Read the detailed release notes for more information, system requirements and upgrade instructions.
aptosid 2013-01 - featuring the KDE 4.8 desktop from Debian's "unstable" repository
(full image size: 543kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Kwort Linux 4
David Cortarello has announced the release of Kwort Linux 4, a lightweight CRUX-based distribution (now for 64-bit systems only) with Openbox and a custom package manager called kpkg: "Kwort Linux 4 is finally here. For those who don't know, Kwort 4 is a full x86_64 system. In the last couple of week we've been testing Kwort 4 hard to see if everything is 'stable-enough'. This new version is actually pretty awesome, fast, stable, and with the simplicity that has always characterized Kwort. Because of the architecture switch, we have everything rebuilt from scratch, from the toolchain to the latest X11 application. And of course, our package mirror is already populated with some useful packages. Now, the most significant technical aspects: Linux kernel 3.8.5; Chromium 25.0.1364.97; Firefox 20.0; LibreOffice 4.0.1. Our new installation system, as the system in general got a significant speed up because of the architecture upgrade. Of course, our system remains light and clean as Kwort users like it." Visit the distribution's home page to read the full release announcement.
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
|DistroWatch.com News (by Ladislav Bodnar)
April 2013 DistroWatch.com donation: DHCP|
We are happy to announce that the recipient of the April 2013 DistroWatch.com donation is Internet Systems Consortium's DHCP, the most widely-used open-source DHCP implementation on the Internet. It receives US$300 in cash.
What exactly is Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP)? According to the explanation on the project's website, "ISC DHCP is open source software that implements the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocols for connection to a local network. It is a reference implementation of those protocols, but it is also production-grade software, suitable for use in high-volume and high-reliability applications. DHCP is available for free download under the terms of the ISC License, a BSD style license. DHCP is an Internet-standard protocol by which a computer can be connected to a local network, ask to be given configuration information, and receive from a server enough information to configure itself as a member of that network." Besides DHCP, Internet Systems Consortium also develops BIND, open-source software that implements the Domain Name System (DNS) protocols for the Internet.
Launched in 2004, this monthly donations programme is a DistroWatch initiative to support free and open-source software projects and operating systems with cash contributions. Readers are welcome to nominate their favourite project for future donations. Those readers who wish to contribute towards these donations, please use our advertising page to make a payment (PayPal, credit cards and Bitcoins 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$35,275 to various open-source software projects.
- 2004: GnuCash ($250), Quanta Plus ($200), PCLinuxOS ($300), The GIMP ($300), Vidalinux ($200), Fluxbox ($200), K3b ($350), Arch Linux ($300), Kile KDE LaTeX Editor ($100) and UNICEF - Tsunami Relief Operation ($340)
- 2005: Vim ($250), AbiWord ($220), BitTorrent ($300), NDISwrapper ($250), Audacity ($250), Debian GNU/Linux ($420), GNOME ($425), Enlightenment ($250), MPlayer ($400), Amarok ($300), KANOTIX ($250) and Cacti ($375)
- 2006: Gambas ($250), Krusader ($250), FreeBSD Foundation ($450), GParted ($360), Doxygen ($260), LilyPond ($250), Lua ($250), Gentoo Linux ($500), Blender ($500), Puppy Linux ($350), Inkscape ($350), Cape Linux Users Group ($130), Mandriva Linux ($405, a Powerpack competition), Digikam ($408) and Sabayon Linux ($450)
- 2007: GQview ($250), Kaffeine ($250), sidux ($350), CentOS ($400), LyX ($350), VectorLinux ($350), KTorrent ($400), FreeNAS ($350), lighttpd ($400), Damn Small Linux ($350), NimbleX ($450), MEPIS Linux ($300), Zenwalk Linux ($300)
- 2008: VLC ($350), Frugalware Linux ($340), cURL ($300), GSPCA ($400), FileZilla ($400), MythDora ($500), Linux Mint ($400), Parsix GNU/Linux ($300), Miro ($300), GoblinX ($250), Dillo ($150), LXDE ($250)
- 2009: Openbox ($250), Wolvix GNU/Linux ($200), smxi ($200), Python ($300), SliTaz GNU/Linux ($200), LiVES ($300), Osmo ($300), LMMS ($250), KompoZer ($360), OpenSSH ($350), Parted Magic ($350) and Krita ($285)
- 2010: Qimo 4 Kids ($250), Squid ($250), Libre Graphics Meeting ($300), Bacula ($250), FileZilla ($300), GCompris ($352), Xiph.org ($250), Clonezilla ($250), Debian Multimedia ($280), Geany ($300), Mageia ($470), gtkpod ($300)
- 2011: CGSecurity ($300), OpenShot ($300), Imagination ($250), Calibre ($300), RIPLinuX ($300), Midori ($310), vsftpd ($300), OpenShot ($350), Trinity Desktop Environment ($300), LibreCAD ($300), LiVES ($300), Transmission ($250)
- 2012: GnuPG ($350), ImageMagick ($350), GNU ddrescue ($350), Slackware Linux ($500), MATE ($250), LibreCAD ($250), BleachBit ($350), cherrytree ($260), Zim ($335), nginx ($250), LFTP ($250), Remastersys ($300)
- 2013: MariaDB ($300), Linux From Scratch ($350), GhostBSD ($340), DHCP ($300)
* * * * *
New distributions added to waiting list
- Australis. Australis is a desktop Linux distribution based on the latest Ubuntu LTS (long-term support) release and featuring the most recent version of the MATE desktop environment.
- BlueStar Linux. BlueStar Linux is a new desktop distribution based on Arch Linux.
- Xiaopan OS. Xiaopan OS is an easy-to-use live Linux distribution that includes a number of advanced hacking tools to penetrate WPA / WPA2 / WPS / WEP wireless networks. Based on Tiny Core Linux, it has a slick graphical user interface requiring no need for typing Linux commands. Xiaopan OS is compatible with Windows, OS X and Linux.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 13 May 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 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|
|• Issue 535 (2013-11-25): GhostBSD 3.5, Debian and MATE, Ubuntu 14.04 features, security updates|
|• Issue 534 (2013-11-18): Review of OpenBSD 5.4, Fedora on ARM, menu names vs command-line names|
|• Issue 533 (2013-11-11): Point Linux 2.2, Pisi update, Debian and Xfce, Bruno Cornec interview|
|• Issue 532 (2013-11-04): Ubuntu and Kubuntu 13.10, Debian's init, FreeBSD's PKG-NG, Linux on ARM|
|• Issue 531 (2013-10-28): PC-BSD 9.2, openSUSE testing, nftables, upgrade pros and cons|
|• Issue 530 (2013-10-21): Kwheezy 1.2, DPL interview, Zenwalk's future, keeping up with vulnerabilities|
|• Issue 529 (2013-10-14): Ubuntu's Mir, dmesg and photorec tips, Tiny Tiny RSS|
|• Issue 528 (2013-10-07): Semplice 5, Haiku package management, Klaus Knopper interview, making custom distro|
|• Issue 527 (2013-09-30): Tiny Core Linux 5.0, SteamOS, moving operating system to new computer|
|• Issue 526 (2013-09-23): Look at ArchBang 2013.09.01, BSD Now, kernel stats, command-line tips|
|• Issue 525 (2013-09-16): The Official Ubuntu Server Book, FreeBSD 10 and OpenBSD 5.4, Skype alternatives|
|• Issue 524 (2013-09-09): Look at LXLE 12.04.3, Ubuntu's new package format, Secure Boot and dual-booting|
|• Issue 523 (2013-09-02): OpenIndiana 151a8, openSUSE "Evergreen", GNOME and DuckDuckGo, running apps from RAM|
|• Issue 522 (2013-08-26): Look at gNewSense 3.0, Ubuntu Edge fundraising failure, exploring GPL|
|• Issue 521 (2013-08-19): Review of Korora 19, Fedora considers return to "Core", Haiku package management|
|• Issue 520 (2013-08-12): Salix OS 14.0.1 "KDE", Xubuntu experiments with XMir, managing passwords with KeePass|
|• Issue 519 (2013-08-05): Review of Porteus 2.0, Kubuntu lays out plans for Wayland adoption, adjusting system swappiness|
|• Issue 518 (2013-07-29): MidnightBSD 0.4, Razor-qt, Ubuntu Edge, mounting infected drives|
|• Issue 517 (2013-07-22): Zorin OS 7 "Lite", Slackware turns 20, UbuntuForums compromise, Raspbian as home server, Tor|
|• Issue 516 (2013-07-15): Review of Fedora 19 "KDE", Shuttleworth on Mir, Seth Vidal, Kingsoft Office for Linux|
|• Issue 515 (2013-07-08): Whonix 0.5.6 and Deepin 12.12, MintBox, processor capabilities, distros for Raspberry Pi|
|• Issue 514 (2013-07-01): Peppermint Four, Mir, Mandriva forks, ThinkPenguin on libre hardware|
|• Issue 513 (2013-06-24): Look at ROSA, PC-BSD updates, Xen4CentOS6, Slacko vs Precise, Mageia interview, shells|
|• Issue 512 (2013-06-17): Trisquel 6.0, RHEL 7 with GNOME Classic, from Linux to FreeBSD, first look at Wayland|
|• Issue 511 (2013-06-10): Mint 15 impressions, GNOME Classic, Ubuntu Community portal, Absolute OpenBSD|
|• Issue 510 (2013-06-03): Impressions of aptosid 2013-01, Wayland comes to Raspberry Pi, maintaining DNS settings|
|• Issue 509 (2013-05-27): Mageia 3, Debian GNU/Hurd, RebeccaBlackOS with Wayland, ports|
|• Issue 508 (2013-05-20): Review of Debian 7.0, interviews with Clement Lefebvre and Gaël Duval, scripting with xdotool|
|• Issue 507 (2013-05-13): Impressions of Calculate Linux, 13.4, Ubuntu's portable packages, mintDrivers|
|• Issue 506 (2013-05-06): Ubuntu and Kubuntu 13.04, Debian "Wheezy", Slackware on systemd, distros for Raspberry Pi|
|• Full list of all issues|