| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 517, 22 July 2013
Welcome to this year's 29th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! Converting computer users from Windows to Linux isn't always an easy task, but there are distributions that try hard to recreate a Windows-like experience in Linux to make new users feel more at home in their new operating system. One of such distributions is Zorin OS. The "Lite" edition of the project's latest version is the subject of this week's review by Jesse Smith who enjoyed the experience despite not being the distribution's target market. The featured article is followed by a news section which starts with a celebratory article on the 20th anniversary of Slackware Linux, then continues with the weekend report about a security breach at UbuntuForums.org before concluding with two interesting articles about UberStudent, an Ubuntu-based distribution for students, and Raspbian, a Debian-based distro for the Raspberry Pi minicomputer. Also in this week's issue, a Questions and Answers section on the importance of the Tor anonymity network, an introduction to a distribution that features no fewer than 53 window managers on one live CD, and the usual regular sections with the weekly release roundup. Happy reading!
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (15MB) and MP3 (32MB) formats
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
First look at Zorin OS 7 "Lite"
Running a Linux-based operating system can be a wonderful experience. Linux distributions have relatively few security problems, are typically stable and are set up to have convenient access to massive amounts of gratis software. Perhaps I'm preaching to the choir here, but I feel Linux distributions offer some of the best desktop solutions available today. The problem, as I see it, is that many people either aren't aware that Linux-based solutions exist or are not comfortable transitioning from their current desktop operating system to something different. I understand the transition can be a difficult one, I made it myself and it wasn't entirely smooth -- there was definitely a learning curve going from Windows to Slackware. Fortunately there are developers out there who recognize that a lack of familiarity is one of the big hurdles to entering the Linux community and they have tackled the task of making Linux distributions that will be feel familiar to new users. One of these distributions is Zorin OS.
Zorin is a project which attempts to bridge the divide between the Windows world and Linux desktop distributions. It does this by setting up the desktop environment to be somewhat Windows-like in appearance and the project also makes it fairly easy to run Windows software by way of WINE. The Zorin project recently released Zorin OS 7 Lite. This distribution is based on Lubuntu 13.04 and ships with the LXDE desktop. The Lite edition is designed with the idea of helping people who were running Windows on lower-spec hardware keep their machines alive by way of a Linux-based solution.
Zorin OS 7 "Lite" - browsing the project's website
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The ISO image for Zorin OS Lite is 790 MB in size. Booting from this media brings us to a boot menu where we are given the option of either immediately launching the system installer or, alternatively, trying the distribution's live environment. I decided to jump directly into the installation process. Zorin uses the Ubuntu project's graphical installer and it quickly walks us through the usual steps. We select our preferred language, partition our hard drive and confirm our time zone. Then we confirm our keyboard's layout and create a user account for ourselves. The steps are all fairly straight forward and the process goes quickly. Once the installation process is complete Zorin prompts us to reboot the machine. Loading up the locally installed copy of the distribution brings us to a graphical login screen, the appearance of which brings to mind blue honeycomb. Zorin allows us to login using either our user account (created at install time) or we can login using a guest account which will be wiped clean after we logout.
When we have entered our user name we also have the option of selecting the style of our graphical interface. The default is the standard LXDE desktop with a traditional layout. In addition there are several others labeled "Netbook Desktop", "Nexus 7", "Openbox" and "LX Games". The Openbox option takes us to a completely blank graphical interface powered by the Openbox window manager. Most people probably will not want this option, but it does give us a way into the system should the default desktop become corrupted. The other session options, "Nexus 7", "LX Games" and "Netbook Desktop" all bring up variations styled after the interfaces of mobile devices. Generally these interfaces consist of large icons filling the screen and tabs along the top of the display allowing us to filter the icons displayed. Personally I didn't find these mobile-like options appealing for a desktop system and focused solely on the default LXDE offering.
Logging into LXDE we find a blue honeycomb wallpaper. The system's application menu and task switcher sit at the bottom of the display. The graphical environment is pleasantly uncluttered. A few minutes after I started poking around the application menu a window appeared and let me know updated packages were available in the distribution's repositories and the software update utility offered to download them for me. The update app shows a little information about each package and we can get further details if we so choose. While the newer software packages were downloading I noticed the update app refers to the distribution as "Ubuntu 7", an amusing combination of the parent distribution's name and Zorin 7. All updates downloaded and applied smoothly and I encountered no problems from applying updates during my week with Zorin.
The distribution comes with a small, yet effective, collection of software. We are given a copy of the Chrome web browser, the Geary e-mail client and the Pidgin instant messaging software. Zorin comes with the AbiWord word processor, a document viewer and image viewer. The Audacious music player and the GNOME front end for MPlayer are available in the application menu. Zorin comes with popular multimedia codecs and Adobe's Flash player too. There is a program available for changing the desktop's theme and layout, two graphical package managers and a utility for importing wireless networking drivers from Windows. There is a small application for working with the distribution's firewall and another for handling user accounts. Network Manager is installed for us and automatically connects us to the local network. We are provided with a text editor, archive manager and calculator along with a system monitor for watching processes. In the background we find Zorin runs on the Linux kernel, version 3.8. I think, based on past experience, the full edition of Zorin OS comes with a copy of WINE for running Windows binaries, but it is not present by default in the Lite edition.
Zorin OS 7 "Lite" - changing the appearance of the desktop
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There are two programs listed in the application menu which I believe are unique to the Zorin distribution and deserve special mention. One is a web browser manager. This utility is quite simple. It displays icons for four web browsers (Chrome, Opera, Firefox and Midori). By clicking a button we can install or remove any one of these web browsers. It's like having a tiny package manager dedicated entirely to web browsers. I used the web browser manager a couple of times and it worked well for me. The other application that I feel deserves to be mentioned is referred to as "Zorin OS Lite Extra Software". It is similar in concept to the web browser manager and allows for the quick one-click installation of popular software. Using this tightly focused package manager we can click icons to install WINE, the VLC multimedia player, mtPaint, a spreadsheet application and a few other items. Opting to install the offered WINE package automatically installs the PlayOnLinux software too which makes it much easier for us to run third-party software built for the Windows platform.
Zorin OS comes with two graphical package managers, apart from the highly specific (and limited) software managers listed above. The first is called Software Centre. It features a nice, modern interface where we can browse bright icons representing software categories and desktop applications. We can click on entries to get a full page description of the software, complete with screen shots and user-supplied ratings. While browsing we can queue items to be installed with a click. Actions wait in the queue and are all processed in one big batch. Zorin also comes with the Synaptic package manager. Synaptic is a little less flashy and focuses more on working with individual packages instead of desktop applications. Like the Software Centre, Synaptic lets us create batches of actions to perform on packages and these actions are all processed at once. Both package managers worked smoothly for me and I encountered no problems. Most packages accessible to us are provided by the Ubuntu software repositories with a few specific items coming from the Zorin project's custom repositories. We are also connected to repositories run by Opera and Google giving us access to those companies' proprietary web browsers.
Zorin OS 7 "Lite" - browsing available software packages
(full image size: 343kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
I tried running Zorin OS Lite on my desktop computer (dual-core 2.8 GHz CPU, 6 GB of RAM, Radeon video card, Realtek network card) and found the two were a good fit. Zorin booted quickly and ran smoothly. My desktop was set to my screen's maximum resolution, sound worked out of the box and the LXDE desktop is wonderfully responsive. I also tried running Zorin in a virtual machine, courtesy of VirtualBox, and experienced similar results. In the virtual environment Zorin was fast and responsive. The distribution is fairly light, using around 100MB of RAM to run the LXDE interface.
In the past I have used earlier releases of Zorin OS, typically the project's full-featured edition. Despite some of the convenience that is achieved by the full-sized edition of Zorin OS I always felt a little out of place when I was using it. Perhaps because it has been ages since I ran Windows at home and Zorin OS is a distribution aimed at making Windows-to-Linux converts feel comfortable. Personally, I feel better having fewer connections with the Windows world. I've also felt that earlier versions of the full Zorin desktop were either a little cluttered or a bit sluggish.
My experience with Zorin's Lite edition, however, was very positive. The distribution finds a nice balance between features and performance. The distribution is easy to install and carries an interface that is both attractive and responsive. Zorin comes with several tools to ease the burden of package management, the system ships with codecs, Flash and an easy way to gain Windows compatibility. The one-click installation of PlayOnLinux and the many installation scripts that framework offers greatly reduce the work required to run Windows software on the Linux platform. During my week with the Lite edition I didn't run into any serious bugs or stability issues. It was a pleasantly smooth week and I think newcomers to the Linux community will appreciate the work put into this distribution.
|Miscellaneous News (by Ladislav Bodnar)
Slackware turns twenty, security breach at UbuntuForums.org, overview of UberStudent, Raspbian as perfect home server
Incredible as it sounds, last week marked exactly 20 years since the famous release of Slackware Linux 1.0! The modest beginnings of Patrick Volkerding's contribution to Linux started with the .99pl11 alpha kernel included on one of the distribution's 11 floppy disks (you'd need additional 13 of them if you were optimistic enough to want to turn your computer into a graphical workstation). Susan Linton looks back at Slackware's long history by citing some of the quotes from her own past reviews: "Slackware has never been accused of being cutting edge, instead opting for stability and usability. It did employ udev but I found no hardware issues other than it detecting my BIOS-disabled on-board sound before my Sound Blaster Live! Little edit of this file and that was resolved." And another one: "In the past I enjoyed Slackware for its ease of configuration, all set up nice and easy in a few start-up files. But these days, one really doesn't have to mess with that too much. I personally didn't have to change a thing. All my hardware was detected properly and functioned perfectly upon boot." Interestingly, Patrick Volkerding too must have forgotten about the unique achievement as the Slackware "Current" changelog, which happened to be updated on 16 July, makes no mention of the anniversary either.
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The otherwise quiet weekend in terms of interesting Linux-related news was rudely interrupted on Sunday with reports about a massive security compromise affecting Ubuntu's primary user forum - UbuntuForums.org. A temporary page that replaced the busy communication channel explained what happened: "Ubuntu Forums is down for maintenance. There has been a security breach on the Ubuntu Forums. The Canonical IS team is working hard as we speak to restore normal operations. This page will be updated regularly with progress reports. Unfortunately the attackers have gotten every user's local username, password, and email address from the Ubuntu Forums database. The passwords are not stored in plain text, they are stored as salted hashes. However, if you were using the same password as your Ubuntu Forums one on another service (such as email), you are strongly encouraged to change the password on the other service ASAP. Ubuntu One, Launchpad and other Ubuntu/Canonical services are NOT affected by the breach." The latest entry in the site's progress report at the time of writing confirms the unfortunate event: "Site taken down, this splash page put in place while investigation continues."
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The UberStudent distribution, while probably not one of the most widely-used operating systems in the universe, is a very useful tool, especially if you are a student and need to have good open-source educational programs ready at your fingertips. Last week TechWorld's Rohan Pearce wrote an interesting overview of the UberStudent project with explanatory quotes from project founder Stephen Ewen: "What differentiates UberStudent from other Linux distribution designed for tertiary education is that it delivers 'pedagogical cohesion' says Stephen Ewen. 'Standard Linux desktops are barebones,' partly due to the legacy of having to fit on a single CD, says Ewen, 'and in a lot of ways assume you already know Linux, or else have weeks or even months to climb a learning curve to learn how to customise it for a particular task set.' By contrast the Linux distribution that Ewen is at the helm of -- the education-focused UberStudent -- 'responds by providing a complete, out-of-the-box system not just for doing every day home computing tasks, as does a standard desktop, but for learning, doing, and teaching the core academic skills required to excel in higher education, regardless of the academic major. Those core areas are research and writing, studying, and self-management,' Ewen adds."
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In this day and age many of us use a simple home server for sharing files, streaming videos or performing various specialist tasks. With the recent arrival of low-cost ARM-based computer boards, the price for owning a simple server has come down to historic lows as a €30 Raspberry Pi could be all that's needed to cover most users' needs. Linux Journal's Brian Trapp explains how to set up the hardware and how to install Raspbian (a Debian-based distribution developed specifically for the Pi) to function as a perfect home server: "For a home server, you'll need a medium-size SD Flash card for local storage. It's possible to use a USB thumbdrive for booting, but that would use up one of the two precious USB slots. The Flash storage card doesn't need to be large, but the faster the better. I chose a name-brand SD card with an 8 GB capacity and class 10 speed rating. For backups and multimedia files, a large hard drive with a USB dock is a must. I chose a 1.5 TB hard drive and a Calvary EN-CAHDD-D 2-bay USB 2.0 hard drive dock. This dock has a feature to run two drives in RAID-0 mode, which could be useful someday. Finally, the RPi doesn't come with a power supply, but most smartphone chargers supply the required 5V over micro USB. To see if the RPi was fussy about the power source, I swapped through three different micro-USB cell-phone chargers for power supplies. I tried each one for about a week, with no issues on any of the units."
|Question and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
What is Tor and why is it important
Why-Tor asks: In your review of Whonix you mention that the distribution connects to Tor. What is Tor and why is it important for maintaining privacy?
DistroWatch answers: Tor is a network of computers which is designed in such a way as to prevent surveillance software from figuring out who is talking to who and, perhaps more importantly, from where. Usually when we visit a website or a chat room there is a traceable connection formed between us and the remote service. This means anyone watching the traffic being passed across the network can figure out two things: 1. Approximately where we are physically in the world. 2. That a connection has been made between our computer and another specific service.
There are a few reasons we might not want this. Some websites will filter connections from specific parts of the world. On-line stores may adjust prices based upon the location of the person visiting the website. Using Tor allows us to mask our real location. Other people may wish to hide their connection making it harder to tell with whom they are in communication. This can be useful for whistle blowers or people living in countries which discourage freedom of expression. I may not want anyone listening to my network traffic to know my political leanings, for example, and therefore use Tor when visiting political websites.
When we connect to the Tor network data passed to and from our computer does not go directly to its destination. Instead our network traffic goes to one computer in the Tor network, then gets passed to another computer and, after bouncing around a little, leaves the Tor network and heads for its destination. While bouncing around inside the Tor network our data is temporarily encrypted to prevent people from identifying its contents so long as it remains inside Tor's internal network.
In a lot of ways using Tor is like passing notes in a classroom. If we scribble a note to a friend, get up and walk across the room to give it to the other person everyone can see exactly who we are communicating with and where the note passer was sitting. The instructor can easily intercept us and instantly knows exactly who to scold. A safer approach would be to write a note and pass it to the person next to us, who then passes it to another person, who passes it to another person who then passes it to the final person. If the note is intercepted partway through the chain it's going to be difficult to tell who originally wrote it (assuming we didn't sign our name). And not signing our name is an important aspect of using Tor. The Tor network can help hide our location and our associations, but that privacy goes out the window the minute we hand out our name or address or login credentials. Signing into a website or identifying ourselves while using Tor is the Internet equivalent of going to a masquerade ball and handing out business cards.
The Tor network can help keep us anonymous and it can hide our associations to a point, but it's important to use Tor with other recommended security practices. Besides not identifying ourselves it is also a good idea to use encryption on our connections to limit the effectiveness of intercepting our digital notes. It may also be possible to identify a person on the network by things like their web browser's fingerprint. In short, Tor is a very useful utility and one part of an array of tools for staying anonymous and protected on-line.
|Released Last Week
PCLinuxOS 2013.07 "KDE MiniMe", "LXDE", "MATE"
New maintenance releases for three editions of the PCLinuxOS distribution were announced yesterday. Featuring a minimalist KDE, as well as LXDE and MATE desktops, the new version is available for both 32-bit and 64-bit computer systems. From the PCLinuxOS 2013.07 "KDE MiniMe" announcement: "Maintenance release - PCLinuxOS KDE-MiniME 2013.07. KDE 4.10.5, Linux kernel 3.4.52, PulseAudio enabled by default." From the PCLinuxOS 2013.07 "LXDE" announcement: "Maintenance release - PCLinuxOS LXDE 2013.07. LXDE panel bug-fixes, Linux kernel 3.4.52, volume control panel applet added, PulseAudio enabled by default." From the PCLinuxOS 2013.0715 "MATE" announcement: "Maintenance release - PCLinuxOS MATE 2013.0715. MATE 1.6.x, Linux kernel 3.4.52, PulseAudio enabled by default. All of the MATE desktop applications plus Firefox, Thunderbird, Pidgin...."
Kai Hendry has announced the release of Webconverger 21.0, an updated version of the project's Debian-based distribution for Internet-only kiosks and similar deployments: "Webconverger 21 release. Firefox 22 and Flash security updates; fixed an issue whereby the installer would not show up on a small subset of machines; upgraded to syslinux 6 which should make the boot experience slightly smoother; re-introduced support for allowing pop-ups via the prefs= API; prefs= API has been beefed up so you can practically script Firefox to do whatever you want using autoconfig files; removed the proprietary Google Talk plugin in favour of WebRTC; TTF Liberation fonts are back to improve compatibility with Windows renderings. In other news we are working on a Webconverger Raspberry PI port, finally. With the caveat that it will only be used in web signage use cases (Neon) and not as a kiosk browsing machine. We were recently interviewed about Neon if you want to learn more." Here is the brief release announcement with a screenshots.
Salix OS 14.0.1 "Xfce"
George Vlahavas has announced the release of Salix OS 14.0.1 "Xfce" edition, a Slackware-based distribution featuring the latest Xfce desktop environment: "Salix Xfce 14.0.1 is ready. There have been a lot of updates in the 14.0 branch, including several security updates that prompted this new release. Salix Xfce 14.0.1 is based on Xfce 4.10 and it comes with an updated 3.2.45 kernel that fixes several security issues, LibreOffice updated to version 4.x, Java security updates, an update to Midori, our main browser, to version 0.5.2 along with an updated Webkit engine that includes a lot of stability fixes, plus a lot more security updates to several packages like Flash plugin, Pidgin, Perl, X.Org etc. A couple of minor bugs that were also present after the original 14.0 release are fixed now. Also, the screensaver is disabled by default now, as it seems there were a few cases with some graphics cards acting up with certain 3D screensavers." Read the rest of the release announcement for further information.
OLPC OS 13.2.0
Daniel Drake has announced the release of OLPC OS 13.2.0, a Fedora-based Linux distribution developed under the initiative of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project to provide children in developing countries with low-cost laptops: "We're pleased to announce the release of OLPC OS 13.2.0 for XO-1, XO-1.5, XO-1.75 and XO-4. OLPC OS 13.2.0 is a new software release focusing on cleaning up a few edges from our previous release, and finishing off support for the new XO-4 laptop. Features: XO-4 power management is now stable and enabled by default; Bluetooth support as a purchase option; in the Clock activity, you can now use the touchscreen to drag the clock hands to another time, a useful exercise for learning about time; drop-down lists are sub-optimal for touch, they have been replaced by more intuitive and touch-friendly UI elements in Record; the pinch-to-zoom touch gestures in Image Viewer behave much better than before...." Read the release announcement and release notes for more details.
DEFT Linux 8
Stefano Fratepietro has announced the release of DEFT Linux 8, a Lubuntu-based distribution and live DVD featuring a collection of open-source tools for digital forensics and penetration testing: "Dear guys, we did our best to turn the DEFT 8 beta version into stable -- also by listening to your precious suggestions and feedback -- and here we are. You can download the DEFT 8 final stable ISO image (which now includes DART 2). The stable version has been checked against common bugs but we are human and pretty busy with our jobs so if we missed something, just drop a line to bug at deftlinux.net and we'll collect suggestions and bug fixes for the next release. A big thank to the DEFT team and to all the supporters. Stay tuned, because much more is yet to come, such as the release of the DEFT 8 virtual appliance (a pre-configured virtual machine you will be able to launch on your workstation by means of VMware Workstation or VMPlayer or Virtualbox); the DEFT 8 user manual; the updated website." Here is the brief release announcement.
DEFT Linux 8 - a distribution for digital forensics and penetration testing
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Linux Mint 15 "KDE"
Clement Lefebvre has announced the release of the "KDE" edition of Linux Mint 15: "The team is proud to announce the release of Linux Mint 15 'Olivia' KDE. KDE is a vibrant, innovative, advanced, modern looking and full-featured desktop environment. This edition features all the improvements from the latest Linux Mint release on top of KDE 4.10. Here are a few examples of what is new in KDE 4.10: a new screen locker makes Workspaces more secure; KWin now detects some virtual machines and enables OpenGL compositing if possible; the proprietary AMD driver now has OpenGL 2 support; printer setup, maintenance and job control are improved with a new implementation of the Print Manager; Dolphin has seen many bug fixes, improvements and new features, e.g. transferring files to and from a phone or other mobile device has become easier with support for MTP devices, which show up in the Places panel." Continue reading the release announcement and the what's new page for more information.
Patrick d'Emmabuntüs has announced the availability of the updated build of Emmabuntüs, a Xubuntu-based distribution designed specifically for refurbished computers given to humanitarian organisations: "The Emmabuntüs team is pleased to announce the fourth maintenance release of Emmabuntüs 2 1.05 based on Xubuntu 12.04.2. This distribution was designed to facilitate the refurbishing of computers given to humanitarian organizations and to promote the discovery of Linux by beginners, but also to extend the life of the equipment and to reduce waste caused by over-consumption of raw materials. This update is delivered to improve the use of Emmabuntüs 2 and allow JerryClan Ivory Coast easily recondition machines and develop a Jerry/Emmabuntüs set of services. This service is based on a free mobile tracking application by SMS for tuberculosis patients, as well as M-Pregnancy for monitoring pregnancies and pregnant women." Read the rest of the release announcement for more details.
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
|DistroWatch.com News (by Ladislav Bodnar)
New distributions added to database|
- LinuxBBQ. LinuxBBQ is a multi-purpose operating system based on Debian's "unstable" branch and spiced up with kernels and tools from siduction, Grml and Linux Mint. LinuxBBQ offers different flavours and desktops which are released as "editions" (with no version numbers) and which can be customised and remixed by the user. The individual editions are built to include most major desktop environments (with the exception of GNOME) and there is a special edition offering a choice of no fewer than 53 window managers - everything from aewm to xmonad.
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New distributions added to waiting list
- Birds Linux. Birds Linux is a Sabayon-based distribution designed for students of technical and vocational schools.
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DistroWatch database summary
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This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 29 July 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)
1 • Happy birthday Slackware (by Niki Kovacs on 2013-07-22 09:42:54 GMT from France) |
I've written a short piece about Slackware to celebrate its 20th birthday.
2 • Slackware Birithday! (by kc1di on 2013-07-22 10:09:31 GMT from United States)
Ditto @ #1 congratulations on 20 great years of Slackware.
3 • Slackware (by danmery on 2013-07-22 10:22:07 GMT from United States)
HAPPY BIRTHDAY GUYS !!!!!!
4 • Happy 20th Slackware (by bewbies on 2013-07-22 10:24:50 GMT from United States)
Truth be told, I still haven't gotten around to trying Slackware yet. I've only been using Linux for about 2.5 years now and have tried most of the major distributions listed here at Distrowatch except Slackware and Gentoo. I think I'll give Slackware a try in honor of its 20th anniversary. Congrats to Pat Volkerding and the Slackware community.
5 • LinuxBBQ (by uz64 on 2013-07-22 11:14:32 GMT from United States)
This distro sounds like an interesting experiment. I have an interest in window managers and a live CD with practically all of them would make trying them all out easy. Their web site is great; reading it provided me with some quality entertainment I have to admit. Gotta love a distribution with the balls to name its releases with titles like Threesome, Gangbang, CLIt, Boner, Virgin, Cameltoe, etc. It's nice to see every once in a while something that doesn't take names too seriously and actually has a sense of humor. I'll definitely be keeping an eye on this one.
And happy birthday Slackware!
6 • Zorin OS Lite (by Carl Smuck on 2013-07-22 12:35:16 GMT from United States)
I tried out Zorin OS Lite for a little while and it worked fine when I used it in the default mode. However, when I switched to the Mac OSX look it became really buggy. I then replaced the Zorin OS Lite with Peppermint OS4 which is built on the same base and it is much more stable.
7 • UbuntuForums attack vector? (by Rahim on 2013-07-22 13:12:01 GMT from Ecuador)
Any information yet about the attack vector used against UbuntuForums? Would it be a vulnerability in their forum software (they used Vbulletin, right?) or the database server or the core OS? Or was it some sort of social engineering attack or a bad apple in the development team?
8 • Zorin (by Bam on 2013-07-22 13:57:31 GMT from United States)
I have used Zorin and it is a good O/S as is Peppermint O/S. I however prefer the Unity interface. I have found that a distro which use Ubuntu as a base usually perform very well.
Great review Jesse.
9 • Forum software (by LinuxMan on 2013-07-22 14:23:37 GMT from United States)
Only the forums were affected. The default security scheme for Vbulletin seems to be the problem. But again if a person follows the proper security practice while online and when using public forums then there will be no problems for the user. A new password should be used for every thing a person would log into while online. It would be even better to use a good password manager.Canonical did drop the ball when setting up security on VBulletin but in the end it's the user who is responsible for the security of their computer system and it's usage.
10 • @7 UbuntuForums attack (by vw72 on 2013-07-22 14:29:31 GMT from United States)
Evidently they were running an outdated version of vBulletin and the admin panel was left unprotected. At least that is what was reported on the OMG site.
11 • Ubuntu forums breach (by David Smith on 2013-07-22 15:11:18 GMT from Canada)
Apple Developer web site was also hacked, and is still down. See article on CNET. It's become fairly common and across the board, so difficult to point fingers at this or that company/technology as 'inferior'. Obviously some are better and some aren't so great, but it seems not much will stop a determined hacker these days.
12 • Zorn (by Bill on 2013-07-22 15:43:48 GMT from United States)
Over the last few years I have installed Zorn OS on a good number of my friends and family's computers due to their constant problems with Windows. All of them were able to convert over with very few issues. The biggest problem was getting them to use the software center. They just couldn't believe they could just download software for free and not have to worry about being attacked.
Nice Review Jesse.
13 • @12 (by Bam on 2013-07-22 17:48:54 GMT from United States)
David I agree 100%. The Dept of Defense has been hacked and numerous other government sites. You also read of banks being hacked, particular Bank of America.
So, Ubuntu,Apple Microsoft,it seems no one is safe from determined hacker(s)
14 • @11, Only one way to stop them. (by LinuxMan on 2013-07-22 17:50:22 GMT from United States)
I saw the story about Apple on Ars Technica. You are correct. It is very hard to stop a determined hacker these days. That is one of the reasons that I say a good security scheme is necessary. We all know this or at least everyone here should know this. It's sad that we live in a world in which we have to watch out backs like this, but it is what it is, so we have to make do. I do believe a hacker can be stopped and not just slowed down. It seems that this is everyone's problem to contend with.
15 • RPi "s perfect home server is interesting, but (by dbrion on 2013-07-22 17:58:39 GMT from France)
As the author, in its introduction, write, it is not such glamorous.
Building a home server from an old PC (but there are energy issues) or having it given / sold at hidden prices from an ISP make it somewhat redundant : "the simple joy of trying something new! " is sot such simple, becaus e I do not think it is such new....
As RPi has a graphical processor, it is not optimal w/r energy use -and it cannot be removed!- ; : it may be good, it cannot be optimal....
OTOH, RPi can be very good at image procesing (but Black Bone can be better -it is now about as expensive, has better connector and a slightly fster proc-) http://blog.oscarliang.net/raspberry-pi-face-recognition-opencv/ , some video display http://www.raspberrypi.org/archives/3545. As it is popular, it is likely that hardware cards -no need to design/simulate/test/solder it one self- will be/are developped and tested by a large number of people (this conteracts the fact that I do not trust its connectors), and that kernel modules will be developped... but I am not sure.
There are two strange things with RPi:
it (with BB, PCduinon and other ARM based cards) is now less expensive than Arduino, a popular 8 bit -mostly- microcontroller card/IDE;
programming it (and more generally, ARMs) without linux kernel -people making very fast videos with Beagle Bone remove Linux kernel, which adds .. lags- is
than programming a 8 bit controller; as, for most tasks, 20 ms latencies are quite OK, most electronic oriented users will ... keep the GNUlinux kernel (and learn how to program with GNUlinux with their PS -it is likely their PC is a Windows one...)
16 • The forums breach (by cflow on 2013-07-22 18:05:39 GMT from United States)
Well, I had to change passwords for my own security all throughout my accounts...
As for what happened, this would have been an awesome story for The H to create. But it's incredibly sad that the news site is going to close down. Its open source reports were the best of any linux/technology site I've ever known. I don't know if any other site could come close to its objectivity and coverage.
17 • RE: The H (by LinuxMan on 2013-07-22 18:59:13 GMT from United States)
Yes it is sad that The H is shutting down. By the way, " this would have been an awesome story for The H to create." just struck me funny. lol. I believe I know what you mean but a good news site investigates and then reports the story. Yes, The H would have done well with this one.
18 • Zorin OS Lite review (by Bobintoronto on 2013-07-22 20:48:06 GMT from Canada)
What would have been more useful would have been a review of how Zorin OS Lite runs on let's say a +/- 2 GHz. Pentium IV (or AMD equivalent) machine with let's say 512 MB RAM and an on board graphics chip.
That's the vintage of computer that one would want to save from the landfill once Windows XP support ends in April.
I don't find reviews of "lite" Linux distros that were tested on relatively current hardware to be particularly helpful.
BTW, I'm testing "AntiX" on a 1.0 GHz. PIII...so far,so good.
19 • @ 18 Zorin Lite (by Rev_Don on 2013-07-22 23:50:28 GMT from United States)
While I agree that it would have been useful to test Zorin Lite on an older single core system, that isn't always practical. Do you know for a fact that Jesse even has an older computer with specs that you mentioned to test it on?
But Zorin 7 Lite is essentially a Themed Lubuntu 13.04 with a couple of custom scripts. If Lubuntu will run on the system then there is a 99.9% chance that Z7L will as well.
But anyone wanting to replace XP with Linux as a full time OS on an everyday machine isn't going to want a short term release version like that anyway, especially a Linux beginner. The last thing they need is to have to re-install, configure, and tweak their OS every 6 to 8 months. They would be much better off with a LTS release, and that would mean Zorin 6 which I know for a fact works quite well on P4s (even slower socket 423 models) and Socket 462 AMD systems with onboard graphics and 512 megs of ram as I've tried it on them.
Haven't tried 7 though as I don't waste my time on short term releases that aren't supported for at least 18 months like we used to have. It simply isn't worth the time or trouble to do so now. .
20 • Re: The H (by Thomas Mueller on 2013-07-23 02:12:58 GMT from United States)
I regularly visited The H (www.h-online.com), so I too read about it shutting down.
If you can read German, you can get the same information, and more at heise online (www.heise.de). With the demise of The H, I expect to visit heise online more often. You can even subscribe to their free daily e-newsletter.
21 • Slackware turns twenty (by Didier Spaier on 2013-07-23 06:22:44 GMT from France)
Patrick Volkerding didn't forget about that unique achievement, see this thread on Linux Questions' Slackware forum:
I hope Patrick will maintain Slackware at its best at least 20 more years!
22 • Ubuntu hack (by DrCR on 2013-07-23 09:15:24 GMT from United States)
What sort of hash, does anyone know? A salted hash is not a lot better than cleartext if not done right.
23 • Zorin Reveiw (by Les on 2013-07-23 20:26:44 GMT from United States)
You use to test on a laptop also, what happened that you no longer do that? I feel it is important as an OS and behave differently on a laptop. Condsider including that again if you can.
24 • Ubuntu kickstarter for edge (by meanpt on 2013-07-23 21:37:30 GMT from Portugal)
Suddenly ubuntu wants 32 million to start the Edge business, sold as a phone plus a desktop. Lets get it straight: one only gets a phone against seven hundred plus taxes, but no desktop nor a dock. By the way, why on Earth would I want a desktop, and even worse, a desktop powered by an ubuntu phone? Should I get rid of my beloved notebook and get a desktop? Really?
25 • Zorin OS Lite review (by Bobintoronto on 2013-07-24 01:14:54 GMT from Canada)
If one of my activities was reviewing "lite" GNU/Linux distros for a high traffic GNU/Linux review site I'd want to have a "clunker" computer or two to test them on. They're not exactly difficult to find...I've got a basement full of old hardware.
I agree that I'd want to install some kind of LTS distro on any machine being used by a non-technical newbie.
26 • Zorin OS 7 Rev Don (by Chanath on 2013-07-24 07:47:57 GMT from Sri Lanka)
"But Zorin 7 Lite is essentially a Themed Lubuntu 13.04 with a couple of custom scripts."
True. All Zorin OS distros are like that. The Awn dock, DockbarX can be installed, from Webupd8 website. The only script to make the Awn dock have a Windows looking task bar applet--awn-applet-indicator3--you can download it from the Launchpad. The "jumping" windows as in Kwin can be had from Compiz Animations. You can either keep or uninstall Unity, if you want. Those Look-changer and Website-changer are old as Lucid. Other than that, its only Ubuntu with window themes, gtk themes and a set of icons. The plus point in making your own respin is that you can have Unity DE too, whereas you just can't install Unity in Zorin Os7 that easily.
With Lubuntu available, I won't download Zorin Lite--sorry, Zorin fans--Lubuntu being the most polished Lxde distro I've seen yet.
Actually, I have Ubuntu 13.04 with Awn dock, Awn DockbarX extension, indicator3 applet and also a desktop session named AWN. This session can be renamed, for example called Chanath Desktop. If one knows how to use the Terminal, at least basically, this is quite easy to do.
27 • @26 Zorin OS 7 (by Chanath on 2013-07-24 07:57:24 GMT from Sri Lanka)
One more addition the above.
This Awn-applet-indicator3 is from Zorin OS Packages of Launchpad, and that's the only application I have from Zorin. I mean its not absolutely needed, but it takes less space than a bunch of Awn applets. This applet has one problem, it only works in flat position--if you want to use 3D, it looks bad.
28 • RE:Canonical (by LinuxMan on 2013-07-24 11:49:17 GMT from United States)
@24, Nope, Ubuntu will be the os running on the Edge phone. Canonical are the ones that are raising the money. People make the mistake that Canonical and Ubuntu are the same. They are not. Canonical sponsors and develops the Ubuntu distribution. The Next is not a desktop. It is a smartphone, small but powerful enough to be hooked to a monitor, keyboard, etc. and can be used as a desktop if a person so desires. At 600.00 to 800.00 US dollars, and with the extras, like the damage proof screen, the price of the phone is comparable to other smartphones. I'm not sure what this has to do with your notebook, or the reason for your rant, but this is the business of smartphones.
29 • Re: 28 by LinuxMan (by Leo on 2013-07-24 14:32:50 GMT from United States)
I fully agree. I think the tricky part is subsidizing, most people get a subsidized phone through their carrier, so the cost they (we) "see" is a smal fraction of the real phone cost (of course, we pay through the nose for the service through the life of the contract).
If I could have a dual boot phone that I connect to a monitor and do regular laptop stuff, it doesn't replace a laptop in full, but I could eliminate the need for one computer at home. Leave a monitor sitting at a desk, and just connect the phone to it when i need it, and use a bluetooth keyboard to type. And still pick up phone calls if I get called while working. This is a terrific tool. If I can get my cell phone provider to offer me that for a regular smartphone price, I am ALL in.
30 • Simplicity Slacky Puppy (by capricornus on 2013-07-24 15:35:13 GMT from France)
Another Puppy that won't take a walk in a VirtualBox with me. In that Box, Mint 15 XFCE is still performing outstandingly.
31 • Chromebook - anyone else installed Debian or Ubuntu via "crouton" yet? (by Andy Prough on 2013-07-24 18:24:42 GMT from United States)
I've installed ARM versions of both Ubuntu and Debian onto my Chromebook via a cool little opensource chroot environment builder called "crouton" (https://github.com/dnschneid/crouton).
I'm very impressed with this implementation. Installation of the target chroot environment is very fast (about 10 minutes), and you get your choice of distros (Debian or Ubuntu) and choice of desktops (XFCE, LXDE, KDE, Unity, Gnome). I've found KDE is a bit more stable than XFCE or LMDE, haven't tried Unity or Gnome.
32 • demise of XP/old hardware (by Dave Postles on 2013-07-24 22:13:50 GMT from United Kingdom)
Perhaps Slitaz? It installs quickly, loads quickly, runs in minimal RAM, and has a decent repository. I'm using it on an old netbook.
33 • XP computers (by Somewhat Reticent on 2013-07-25 02:31:39 GMT from United States)
A lot of hardware produced (and software) over the last decades will not do well with Win7's "XP-mode", even with specs well beyond minimum for XP. Even though many distros should perform well on these, many manufacturers built in non-standard features that make using other software more challenging than coping with their paltry support. Either it "just works", or it doesn't - and finding out how to cope may be like searching for a needle among a haystack of pins.
These computers likely consume more electricity than new computers, but it may take a lot to justify replacement cost. Recycling electronics isn't 100%; much goes into landfill, more materials must be mined and processed to make new units.
Have there been all that many patches or fixes lately? Will the end of Microsoft support cause computers still running XP to crash? Will it be noticed or missed? Does anyone expect ReactOS to be viable by next April?
34 • @ XP computers (by greg on 2013-07-25 07:42:08 GMT from Slovenia)
I plan to continue using XP. However i will also install linux on separate partition. somehow it might be safer for onlien banking (i just hope it will work). For pro banking (company) i will use win7 starter. those chips work in windows only (no mac or linux - stupid state bank!)
At work we have P4 with 1 GB RAM. they just install win 7 on them.sometimes i wish they increase dthe ram to 2 GB otherwise win7 works relatively normally. only it eats a bit more ram (about 200 MB) than xp. i hear win 8 uses less than win 7.
35 • XP (by Dave Postles on 2013-07-25 08:36:17 GMT from United Kingdom)
Presumably the issue is whether there remain security holes which can be exploited by hackers, which will not now be patched by security updates?
36 • XP "required" - or maybe not; migration thoughts (by Somewhat Reticent on 2013-07-25 17:20:16 GMT from United States)
I believe Windows was designed to support anti-malware services; Microsoft certainly dragged their feet regarding some known deficiencies; I haven't heard of any recent bugfixes.
Perhaps the question is whether Microsoft will pass the baton gracefully, or serve the short-sighted interests of other businesses. And whether support for software running on this popular platform will continue - will Microsoft even allow it? Would there be some increased liability?
Mozilla Firefox with Sun Java sufficed for an online video lecture class, even though the teacher was certain I'd need Microsoft software. I suspect corporations prefer to trust other corporations, just as humans find it easier to trust other humans. Defects & restriction mandates.
For cautious XP holdouts:
PenDriveLinux provides the live testing tools YUMI and UUI,
GRUB2Win at SourceForge provides for gentle multiboot installs; is there a similar facility based on SysLinux?
Some distros can install directly onto a USB flash pen-drive stick, avoiding hard drives altogether, though some operations may start or run slower. And then, a second hard drive could eventually become a backup archive ...
37 • XP (by Rev_Don on 2013-07-25 22:37:05 GMT from United States)
One of the problems with replacing XP with Linux is many of these old XP boxes don't support booting from a USB device making the use of Live USB's with Persistence difficult, if not downright impossible, especially for new Linux users, or those with limited computing skills.
And some that will boot from a CD won't boot from a DVD. With so many distros getting too large to fit on a CD, it's becoming more difficult to keep them running.
I've been telling all of my clients, friends, family, etc. that if you have a single core processor they need to replace the computer not just XP. With desktops as cheap as they are now, it's not worth it to try and stretch another couple of years out of anything that old. Essentially, if it won't run Windows 7 or Debian Stable, and run it well replace it. Those are the only two options I'm going with. They all tend to complain about how slow things are on these computers anyway, even after installing a GOOD distro of Linux on it so I just refuse to waste my time with them any longer. If they can do it themselves for the most part, I'll assist them, but I won't install some fly by night, short term supported for only a few months distro for them as I don't want to have to do it all over again in a few months when support runs out.
That short release/support cycle is one of the things holding Linux back as far as I'm concerned. EVERY release should be a LONG TERM SUPPORT Release of at least 2 years or be a rolling release.
38 • Boot USB without BIOS support? Done. (by Somewhat Reticent on 2013-07-26 02:38:29 GMT from United States)
For the adamant, Hiren's BootCD includes the Plop boot manager in its many utilities, which facilitates chain-boot from USB without BIOS support. Of course, a BIOS update might mitigate this. Or a custom BIOS upgrade. Or swapping in a motherboard upgrade. In rare cases, adding a circuit or two.
I agree some software is too bloated to perform well on older hardware. Perhaps that would adjust a client's definition of a "GOOD" distro? Of course, even with the most efficient OS, there's also data bloat (like on the www).
I agree support is a factor that must be considered with any ware; including documentation readability and navigability, packaging and compilation tools and options, API standards, backup/restore, ...
39 • i use floppy (by greg on 2013-07-26 08:30:48 GMT from Slovenia)
i use floppy disk with PLOP to boot old mashcines that can't boot directly from usb.
anyway i have single core with 2 GB ram. plan to upgrade to 4 GB. winXP runs quite fast. Kubutnu runs even faster. so there is no need to invest 300 or 400 EUR in new dekstop which might not even be that much faster than current one. i mean if current one performs well (watching movies, playing some older games. etc., web) there is no need to change it. before i planned to get a better CPU and increase ram to 8GB. but now they don't sell CPU with my socket anymore and DDR2 ram became expencive. oh well it will serve as long as it can and then hopefully some more as ifle server. the power usage is not that bad on this CPU.
40 • boot usb without bios support (by notsure on 2013-07-26 19:59:35 GMT from United States)
you can always install lilo/grub to the harddrive, then make an option to boot sda1 and sda2, if you're not talking about nomadic purposes
41 • Boot USB (by fernbap on 2013-07-26 20:48:41 GMT from Portugal)
I find the issue a bit out of the picture.
Most of those old machines, if not all, will boot from a CD/DVD driver. CD/DVD drivers are cheap, in fact as cheat as a 32 GB USB stick.
There is no reason why you wouldn't get a IDE DVD drive, burn an image and boot from the DVD in order to install a Linux distro. You can even remove the DVD drive afterwards in order to use it on another old box.
Discussing how to boot from UŜB? Or even from a floppy? Really? On which world are you living?
Number of Comments: 41
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