| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 540, 6 January 2014
Welcome to this year's first issue of DistroWatch Weekly! We are pleased to kick off the new year with a fresh series of reviews which focus on home and small office servers. This week follow along as Jesse Smith takes two server distributions, Superb Mini Server and SME Server, for a trial run and reports on his experience. Also in this edition of DistroWatch Weekly we will be talking about how to deal with multi-part archives and accessing files on network shares. In our News section we talk about the Ubuntu GNOME team's plans for migrating from X to a new display server, the young Hawaii desktop environment and the Maui operating system that acts as Hawaii's test platform. Plus we link to an interesting interview with Gentoo developer Sergey Popov where he talks about being a team lead and some of the challenges the project faces. Finally, we are happy to announce that the recipient of the December 2013 DistroWatch.com donation is Linux Voice, a brand-new Linux magazine to be launched shortly by four former editors of Linux Format. We wish you all a wonderful new year and happy reading!
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Server showdown (part 1)
A month ago I suggested the idea of doing a series of reviews which would focus on server distributions which would function in a home or small office environment. Typically I focus on desktop distributions, but every so often it is nice to try something different and I think most of us can benefit from running a small server. Having a server in the home (or small office) is a great way to enabled fast and easy backups of our data, it is a convenient and inexpensive way to run a web server and it enables us to synchronize our files without requiring a third-party service provider.
When I raised the idea and asked for feedback I had originally thought I would end up test driving the traditional Linux server distributions. Perhaps I am showing my age, but I had assumed people would want to run Debian GNU/Linux, CentOS, Slackware Linux or FreeBSD on their home servers. Each of these projects produces a rock-solid operating system with low resource requirements, making them ideal for low-end hardware or heavy workloads. I considered throwing in Ubuntu's Server edition due to its growing popularity, or perhaps OpenBSD as it features a very clean design. However, when the feedback started rolling in (and I got more feedback on this idea than for anything else I've done before) I quickly found readers wanted a different set of distributions to be reviewed. Superb Mini Server (SMS) easily got the most votes, followed by SME Server and openSUSE. Zentyal and ClearOS followed the leaders. It may interest readers to know that Ubuntu Server and Slackware Linux did not get any votes. CentOS, Scientific Linux and Debian only got one apiece.
What further surprised me was that several people who wrote in requested server-focused reviews of distributions which are typically either seen as desktop distributions or as cutting-edge (unstable) projects. For example, Linux Mint, Fedora and Mageia each received votes. A selection of BSD projects - FreeBSD, OpenBSD, PC-BSD and DragonFly BSD - each got a vote or two. I learned a few things from the e-mails I received. One is that people looking for reviews of home servers seem to be interested in ease of use and nice, graphical interfaces more than performance. It also seems that traditional server distributions are less appealing than people being able to run network services on their existing desktop/laptop computers. Given the results of the votes I received I decided to drop my original line-up of distributions and review the following projects from the point of view of setting up a home server: SMS, SME Server, openSUSE and Zentyal. This week we will start with SMS and SME Server.
Over the past month I've also had a chance to expand the points upon which each distribution will be evaluated. Based on my original plans and, taking into account the requests sent in, I will be judging distributions based on the following criteria: Availability and support of advanced file systems (Btrfs or ZFS) in the default install or default repositories; project documentation; ease of installation; ease of maintaining or upgrading the operating system; length of support for each release; performance; stability; number and complexity of steps required to enable services. Each distribution in this trial was run inside VirtualBox using bridged networking to make services available on the local network. Each virtual machine was set up to use a single CPU, 1 GB of RAM and a virtual hard drive. During the trials I set up each distribution to perform three services: act as a backup server, allowing files to be copied to a dedicated user account via OpenSSH; act as a Wordpress blog server using Apache, PHP and MySQL; and enable the sharing of files over the local network using Samba.
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Superb Mini Server 2.0.6
First, let's look at Superb Mini Server (SMS). The latest version of SMS is a distribution based on Slackware Linux 14.0 which can be administrated through a Webmin web-based interface. This allows for easy remote administration. The distribution is available as either an installation CD or as a live CD. I decided to work with the installation CD and found the download ISO for SMS is approximately 700 MB in size.
Booting from the installation disc brings us to a command line interface. We are warned up front we will need to manually partition the computer's hard drive prior to running the SMS system installer. The live environment includes the fdisk and cfdisk command line partitioning utilities. The SMS distribution, being based on Slackware, uses the Slackware system installer. The installer features a text menu interface and, while it is fairly streamlined, there are several steps. We are asked to select a root and a swap partition, a file system to use for our root partition and one of several available kernels. We are walked through configuring our network connection and then we are asked which services we would like to run.
SMS comes with many network services pre-configured for us and we can choose the ones we like from a long list. Most of the network services are enabled by default. Next, we are asked to select our time zone from a list and set a password on the administrator account. The first time I ran through the installer I noticed SMS offered the advanced Btr file system as an option and decided to use that as my root file system. Once the installer completed copying its files to my hard drive I restarted the virtual machine and found the system wouldn't boot. In fact, the boot loader (LILO) appeared to be missing. I started the installation process over from scratch, this time using the ext3 file system on my root partition. This time LILO installed properly and SMS was able to boot.
The locally installed version of SMS boots to a command line interface. For the most part we do not need to use the command line, most of the distribution's functionality is presented through a Webmin web interface which can be accessed via any web browser on the network. The Webmin interface can be located on network port 10,000. So, for example, my server named "adam" could be accessed by pointing my web browser to the address https://adam:10000. The Webmin interface isn't particularly pretty, but it is functional and easy to navigate. Webmin allows us to manage most aspects of the SMS operating system and its services. We can configure and enable/disable a long list of network services, manipulate user accounts, work with scheduled tasks, install new software and see running processes. It is a fairly extensive control panel and the web interface means we can access this collection of utilities from anywhere on the network. Should we wish to do so we can enable OpenSSH and use secure shell to access the operating system's command line, again, from anywhere on the network.
Superb Mini Server 2.0.6 - configuring the Apache HTTP web server
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The SMS project provides some documentation located on their website. The documentation is mostly in short form and, while many topics are covered, the information is typically terse. The provided notes come across as more of a quick reference guide rather than full bodied documentation. Still, it should be enough to get us started.
As I mentioned before, SMS runs most of its network services by default. These services include the OpenSSH secure shell server, Samba for sharing files over the network, there is a web server running by default and there is a phpMyAdmin service running to help us manage databases. This means most of the services I wanted to run on my virtual server were already enabled and pre-configured for me. The only thing I had to download and install manually was Wordpress and, even then, the phpMyAdmin panel came in handy when getting Wordpress configured. All in all I was impressed with the amount of functionality available out of the box. One surprise feature I enjoyed finding enabled on SMS was TorrentFlux. TorrentFlux provides users with a friendly web-based portal where we can download torrents. New torrents can be queued and enabled through the web interface and, when the torrent is done downloading, it becomes available in a pre-configured Samba share and can be accessed from anywhere. This makes it very easy to use SMS as a torrent upload/download appliance.
Superb Mini Server 2.0.6 - running TorrentFlux
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Package management, including downloading software updates, I found was easiest to do on SMS's command line. The distribution features the slapt-get command line package management utility which makes it fairly easy to download new packages, apply software updates and remove unwanted packages. The slapt-get software also makes searching the package repositories fairly straight forward. Since SMS is based on Slackware I suspect SMS releases will be supported (effectively, if not officially) for as long as the underlying Slackware release. This is a bit of good news and bad news. On the positive side, Slackware has a well-deserved reputation for stability and it is possible (if not straight forward) to upgrade from one release to the next. The down side to this is Slackware doesn't have a firm release schedule and so ongoing support and life cycles may vary. It also means the upgrade path from one release to the next will require some cryptic command-line work which will put off less experienced users.
While running SMS in a virtual machine my one serious complaint was with the operating system's performance. The distribution typically used around 30% of my host's CPU while sitting idle. Processor usage would often spike up to 100% when performing any action, even minor tasks. This meant my host's processor was typically overworked (and running hot) while I played with SMS. The distribution tended to be sluggish in the virtual machine too. Installing SMS took nearly an hour and booting the distribution to its text console took over three minutes. The distribution used approximately 370 MB of RAM while sitting idle and an installation which did not include any graphical utilities required 2 GB of hard disk space.
In general, I would say SMS is for people who are fairly experienced when it comes to Linux. The installer isn't all that novice-friendly and administrators will have to use the command line from time to time. The documentation is helpful, but terse and most package management will require command line knowledge. On the plus side, SMS comes with the very friendly and powerful Webmin administration interface. This interface lets us control and configure services is a way that is fairly intuitive and there are lots of options. The distribution was stable during my trial and, given its Slackware base, would probably always remain stable. I liked that so many network services were available right from the start and everything was pre-configured for us, so there is very little to do once the installer finishes copying its files. SMS strikes an unusual balance. Setting up and maintaining the underlying operating system requires some experience (and patience) while managing the end-user services is surprisingly easy.
- Advanced file systems (Btrfs/ZFS): 2
- Documentation: 3
- Ease of installation: 2
- Ease of maintaining/upgrading: 3
- Length of support for each release: 3
- Performance: 2
- Stability: 5
- Steps required to enable services: 4
* * * * *
SME Server 8.0
SME Server is a distribution targeted at small and medium business environments. The distribution sports a web interface for server management and also features a text-based administration console for local configuration. The project's latest stable release uses CentOS 5.8 as a base. CentOS 5.x is starting to show its age at this point and future SME Server versions are expected to switch to CentOS 6.x. The SME Server is available as a 653MB download. The project features a wiki with documentation for users and administrators. I found the available notes to be useful, though a bit terse. The documentation appears to be a quick reference guide, designed to augment the documentation supplied by CentOS, rather than act as a complete guide.
Booting from the SME Server installation disc brings up a series of text-based menus. We are asked if we would like to check the integrity of our installation media and then asked to choose a preferred language and confirm our keyboard's layout. We are then asked to select our time zone from a list. From there the system installer asks for permission to format and take over our entire hard drive. This approach, taking over the entire drive, seems to be the only way SME Server works and so I let the distribution have complete control over its virtual machine. The installer formats the local drive with the ext3 file system and then copies its packages from the installation media to the hard drive.
We are then asked to reboot the computer and, once again, a text-based wizard appears and guides us through configuring our server. We are asked to set a password on the root account and create a name for our server. We are then asked to manually input the static IP address our server will use (using a dynamic address does not appear to be an option). In addition we are asked to provide the server's netmask and tell the wizard whether the server will be used as a stand-alone server or as an Internet gateway for other machines. We can optionally enable DHCP and DNS services to be used by the other machines on our network. With those steps completed we are brought to a text console where we can login.
From the text console we can login as either "root" or as the "admin" user, both accounts use the same password we set up during the installation process. Logging in as the "admin" user brings up the text-based administration console. This console is a bit limited in its functionality. We can use it to check the uptime of the server, confirm our network connection is active, view the project's license and perform backups to a USB drive. We can also shutdown or reboot the operating system from this console. Given the small feature set of the text console we are more likely to make use of the distribution's web-based administration console. This web-based interface can be accessed by pointing a web browser to our server and adding the suffix "/server-manager".
For example, to access my server, named "brutus", I connected to the URL https://brutus/server-manager. I quickly discovered that the web-based interface does not work with the Opera web browser. It does, however, work with Firefox. The web interface gives us the ability to set up user accounts on the server, enable (and configure) secure shell access and change our network configuration. We can also work with the distribution's anti-virus software, enable port forwarding, configure e-mail and enable disk quotas for our users. I found the web interface to be fairly user friendly and pleasant to look at. However, unlike the SMS web interface, SME Server does not provide a nice way for us to enable and configure additional services. To add more services and set them up it seems we need to secure shell our way into the server and work from the command line.
SME Server 8.0 - web administration interface
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Looking at SME Server's default configuration it seems most services are not enabled or not configured by default. For example, both Samba and secure shell are installed for us. However, OpenSSH is not running by default and Samba does not have any shares configured by default. I found OpenSSH can be enabled and configured through the web interface, but I had to configure Samba manually to enable file sharing over the network. Additional software and services can be added to the distribution using the YUM command line package manager. YUM has a simple syntax and I found it worked quickly when I wanted to download software updates or install new packages. Digging through the distribution's repositories I was not able to find any support for Btrfs or ZFS, nor was I able to find a package for Wordpress and I ended up installing the blogging software manually from the upstream project.
As SME Server is based on the CentOS 5.x series the distribution should continue to receive support (if unofficially) through to 2017. After that I suspect, based on the documentation I could find, upgrading to a new version of SME will require a fresh installation. The distribution does come with a backup/restore option to assist us in upgrades and recovery. Both the text- and web-based administration tools feature an option to backup our files and configuration. The installer features a restore option, allowing us to set up a new server with the same settings and files as the original.
I found SME Server's performance while running in the virtual machine to be quite good, certainly better than SMS. While SME was working, serving up files or downloading upgrades, for example, the distribution used approximately 30% of my host computer's CPU. While sitting idle SME Server only used about 10% of the host's processing power. The distribution responded quickly and ran smoothly. The installation took less than half an hour and boot times were under two minutes. I did not experience any stability issues with SME Server during my trial. SME Server required approximately 1.6 GB of disk space for a fresh installation and the operating system used about 310 MB of RAM when running its default services. The only time I noticed any lag from the distribution was shortly after the initial installation was completed. SME Server ran the YUM package manager to refresh its package repository information and FreshClam was run at the same time to update the anti-virus definition database. Both these tasks finished after a few minutes.
In general I found SME Server to be fairly easy to get up and running. Aside from the steps for configuring the network, most of the installation is pretty much automated and fast. The problem I found with SME Server was that, once the distribution had been installed, it was fairly bare bones. Adding new services and doing any sort of configuration work always seemed to bring me back to the command line. There was not a lot of documentation to assist, at least not from the project's own website, and some nice features such as Btrfs were missing. I do like that SME Server is based on CentOS and has a backup/restore feature as it means the project has a long life cycle and upgrades should be fairly painless.
- Advanced file systems (Btrfs/ZFS): 0
- Documentation: 3
- Ease of installation: 3
- Ease of maintaining/upgrading: 3
- Length of support for each release: 4
- Performance: 4
- Stability: 5
- Steps required to enable services: 2
* * * * *
I started my series on home and small business servers with these two distributions because I suspected they would be fairly similar, making for an easy comparison. However, while both projects feature a conservative base (Slackware Linux and CentOS) and while both projects feature command line interfaces and web administration consoles, the two projects are oddly dissimilar. Where SMS has a somewhat lengthy and flexible system installer, SME Server has a streamlined and rigid installer. The SMS distribution has a wonderfully rich and friendly web interface where SME has a more focused web interface that didn't work with my primary web browser. The SMS distribution comes with lots of services enabled by default and they are mostly configured to work out of the box.
The SME Server project supplies a more locked-down distribution where we need to manually enable services. This means SME is probably more secure by default, but it also results in more work for the administrator. In the VirtualBox virtual machine I found SME Server used a lot less CPU resources than SMS, though I suspect, had I been running both distributions on physical hardware, this gap would have closed or even been reversed. Neither distribution supplied Btrfs or ZFS support out of the box, though SMS does offer Btrfs utilities should we wish to add additional disks and try formating them with Btrfs. Unfortunately it seems Btrfs cannot be safely configured at install time. Both distributions sit on stable bases, though I feel SME features a nicer upgrade path with its backup/restore feature and its several years of upstream support.
After playing with both distributions I have to say both have strengths and weaknesses. I probably wouldn't fall over myself recommending either of them to most home users as both distributions require a bit of technical knowledge to set up and configure. If pressed I believe SMS may be the better option for most home users. While its installation process is a bit more involved, the extensive web interface and many pre-installed services make SMS more pleasant to run.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
Ubuntu GNOME's display server roadmap, new release of Hawaii desktop, interview with Gentoo developer Sergey Popov
With the arrival of new display servers such as Wayland and Mir, planned for later this year, there have been questions as to which distributions will adopt which technology. The Ubuntu GNOME team is the latest to lay out their roadmap for adopting a new display server. Their answer indicates they are in no rush to move away from the traditional X display technology: "The whole MIR vs Wayland thing is entirely irrelevant for now. Ubuntu 14.04 is using X and it is not going to just disappear overnight! Ubuntu GNOME 14.10 will likely continue using X, even if Ubuntu switches to Mir. At some point in the distant future we will probably switch to Wayland, but right now its not even close to being ready."
* * * * *
The Maui project is an open source, Linux-based operating system which acts as a platform for the development of the Hawaii desktop. Hawaii is a modern desktop environment, based on the Qt toolkit, the same toolkit used to develop the popular KDE desktop. Maui uses several modern technologies including systemd, Wayland and QtQuick in an effort to create a flexible, unified, high-performance user interface. Version 0.20 of the Hawaii desktop was released on December 27. People interested in experimenting with Hawaii can download the source code. Alternatively, users of Arch Linux can download and install pre-built Hawaii packages.
* * * * *
The recently-launched Gentoo Monthly Newsletter is a great source of technical information regarding ongoing developments, bug tracking and security. It is also a great way to get to know members of the talented Gentoo development team. The latest newsletter features a chat with Sergey Popov, a developer and team leader in the Gentoo community. Popov talks about his background, his entry into open source, the challenges of maintaining multiple architectures and how to become part of the Gentoo team. To people who are considering working on Gentoo Popov says, "Learn the developer documentation. Do not be scared of the quizzes. Improve your skills. Last one is a constant process, you can not relax when you become a Gentoo developer - it's just the beginning for your future progress."
|Statistics (by Ladislav Bodnar)
DistroWatch Page Hit Ranking statistics in 2012 and 2013
Although far from being a reliable method for determining distribution usage, the DistroWatch Page Hit Ranking statistic is perhaps an indicator of trends and shifts in the world of free operating system, at least among the visitors of this website. So as always this time of the year, we once again take a brief look at the movers and shakers of the distro world in the annual comparison table. Who was up and who was down during the past twelve months?
Unsurprisingly, Linux Mint gets the top spot for the third year running. The popular Ubuntu-based distribution keeps going from strength to strength, as confirmed by a long list of positive reviews after each new release. The project's quality control is also becoming legendary. In the interest of sharing and openness, it would be fantastic if they were willing to publish a detailed guide on steps performed during their QA process - this would certainly benefit many other distribution projects and, by extension, us, the users. Still, there will be challenges in the coming months and years, stemming primarily from the shifting focus and dramatic changes planned for the future releases of Ubuntu. It will be interesting to see how the project will cope with these while trying to satisfy the ever growing user base. But, for now at least, Mint looks great and we hope it continues marching along its successful path for many more years to come!
Which distributions were most noticed in 2013? The winner here is clearly Manjaro Linux. Climbing from a lowly 52nd spot in 2012 to the 8th in 2013 is a remarkable effort, likely brought about by the excellent idea of combining a well-tested and stable Arch Linux base (with its rolling-release development model) with a few user-friendly enhancements that seem to appeal to many users. The simple and low-fat CrunchBang Linux also continues its well-deserved march towards the higher echelons of the table, while elementary OS, an Ubuntu-based distribution with a OS X-style desktop interface has received much praise in the Linux media. Other distributions making the top 25 for the first time include the new SparkyLinux and the lightweight Linux Lite, together with Kali Linux, a specialist distribution designed for penetration testing and computer forensics. Interestingly, Kubuntu has regained quite a bit of popularity during the past year when it returned to the top 25 for the first time since 2010.
And the losers? For the very first time in the history of DistroWatch, Gentoo Linux is not in the top 25. Some of the readers might remember that, back in the Daniel Robbins era, it was a darling of distro users, finishing at number three in 2002 and always in the top ten until 2007. But as the Linux user base increased, many less technical adopters were likely attracted by more user-friendly distributions, leaving the highly technical nature of the compile-everything-from-source distro behind. Also falling out from the top 25 last year were Ultimate Edition, Chakra GNU/Linux and ROSA. It's worth noting that two successful distributions that found themselves in the top 25 in 2012 were surprisingly discontinued in 2013 - these were SolusOS and Fuduntu.
As always, the disclaimer. The DistroWatch Page Hit Ranking statistics shouldn't be taken too seriously - they are a fun way of looking at what's hot and what's not among this site's visitors, but they almost certainly do not reflect install base or distribution quality.
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
More multi-part archives and network shares
Making-divided-archives asks: Your column [on multi-part archives] had great information on dividing files across multiple DVDs. Someone posted in the comments section that tar has the -M (--multi-volume) capability, but the man page does not explain how to use the -M switch. Can you provide a few examples with more detail?
DistroWatch answers: The tar command does indeed include an option for dividing an archive. into multiple pieces. The tar command has traditionally worked with tape archives and so the program's manner of dividing archives into multiple parts may seem strange at first if you are accustomed to working with regular files. The tar command, when passed the --multi-volume (or -M) parameter, will try to write its archive to a file (or device) until it runs out of room. Then tar will stop and wait for the signal to proceed. Using the --tape-length (or -L) parameter we can specify the exact size of the destination device or file.
There are two reasons it is often easier to create one giant archive and then use the split command to divide the archive into manageable chunks rather than using the tar command's built in splitter. The first is that tar, by default, assumes all parts of the archive should be written to the same file or device, for example /dev/tape. Telling tar to use different file names requires a little additional work on our part. We either need to babysit the archiving process and specify a new name for each piece of the archive, or we need to work out the total size of the archive in advance and specify names for each part on the command line. The second reason we might not want to use tar is, when dealing with multi-part archives, tar cannot compress the data. This means more storage space will be used than if we were to compress one archive and divide it later into different pieces.
Here is an example where we divide one large directory, containing 6 GB of data, into two archives that may be burned to DVDs. Each archive file will be 4 GB in size or smaller. In practice, this will give us two archive files, one which is 4 GB in size and one that is approximately 2 GB in size:
tar c --tape-length=4G --file=archive1.tar --file=archive2.tar one-large-directory
Now, if we do not know how large the source data is and therefore do not know how many smaller archive files we will need to create, we can run an interactive process where we manually input the name of each archive piece. For example:
tar c --tape-length=4G --file=archive1.tar one-large-directory
Note in the above example the tar command stops and asks us what to do when it finishes working on the first small archive file. Pressing "y" here will over-write the first archive1.tar file with a new file of the same name. Instead I type "n archive2.tar" to begin writing the second part of the archive. This avoids over-writing the first archive segment and we end up with two files, archive1.tar and archive2.tar.
Prepare volume #2 for `archive1.tar' and hit return: n archive2.tar
To restore our original data from the multi-part archive we can run the following tar command:
tar x --multi-volume --file=archive1.tar --file=archive2.tar
This will extract the combined contents of the two archive files we made in the above step. This will re-create one-large-directory with our 6 GB of data.
* * * * *
Reaching-for-the-file asks:I use the GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) quite a bit on my installation of Linux Mint "KDE" edition. Using the GIMP's open file dialog I am unable to browse my local NAS (a Buffalo box running Samba). I can open a file on the NAS using Dolphin, which is my current workaround. When I searched on-line for this same problem it seems to be well known that GTK+/GNOME apps cannot or will not work with SMB as well as KDE/Qt apps can. I also came across a "hack" called KGtk which will patch GTK+ apps to use the KDE file browser, but I cannot get it to work on my system. Has anyone forked GIMP so that it can use SMB?
DistroWatch answers: Over the years any number of people have suggested a fork of the GIMP. Some have desired a different user interface, some wanted a different toolkit to be used and some simply did not like the name. However, for better or worse, I am not aware of any successful forks of the GIMP project, including better support for network shares or not. What I would suggest doing, in this case, is tackling the problem from the other direction. Rather than trying to make GIMP (or a similar image editor) work with the network share, perhaps it would be better to make the network share work with all of your desktop applications.
Linux distributions have the convenient feature of being able to treat a remote network share as though it were a local directory on your hard drive. This can be done when you login by running the smbmount or mount commands. Let us assume that you have a remote storage box, such as a NAS, on the network and this remote machine is called remote-computer. Let us also assume you would like to access a remote share, called sharename, and you want to make those files available via your /mnt/local-directory path. You can do that a few ways via the command line:
smbmount //remote-computer/sharename /mnt/local-directory
mount -t cifs -o username=susan //remote-computer/sharename /mnt/local-directory
These lines can be placed in a script and run when you login, giving you access to remote files as though they were stored locally, placed in /mnt/local-directory. Applications running on your desktop should not care whether the file is on a remote share or saved locally, using this method the files all appear to be part of the same file system.
|Released During Last Two Weeks
Arne Exton has announced the release of ExTiX 14, an Ubuntu-based distribution with a customised GNOME 3.10 desktop environment: "News about ExTiX 14. The ExTiX ISO image is now a hybrid image which means that it can very easily be transferred (copied) to a USB pen drive. You can then even run ExTiX from the USB stick and save all your system changes on the stick. You will enjoy persistence. I've found two scripts which make the installation to USB very simple. Another big improvement is that ExTiX 14 can run from RAM. Use boot alternative 2 (Copy to RAM). When the system has booted up you can remove the disc (DVD) or USB stick. You'll need at least 2 GB RAM to run ExTiX that way. ExTiX is now more stable than ever. All packages have been upgraded to the latest version by 2013-12-23." Visit the distribution's home page to read the full release announcement.
Parsix GNU/Linux 5.0r1
Alan Baghumian has announced the availability of the first update build of Parsix GNU/Linux 5.0, a desktop Linux distribution with GNOME 3.8 based on Debian's "stable" branch: "We are proud to announce that an updated version of Parsix GNU/Linux 5.0, code name 'Lombardo', is available now. Parsix GNU/Linux 5.0 ships with GNOME 3.8.3 desktop environment and Linux 3.8.13 kernel built on top of a rock solid Debian 'Wheezy' (7.0) platform. This version has been synchronized with Debian repositories as of December 21, 2013 and contains additional bug fixes and updates released to the Parsix repositories. We are actively working on Parsix GNU/Linux 6.0, code name 'Trev', and we are hoping to release a testing version within the next week or two. Happy release!" Read the brief release announcement and visit the more detailed release notes page for further details.
SparkyLinux 3.2 "GameOver"
Paweł Pijanowski has announced the release of SparkyLinux 3.2 "GameOver" edition, a Debian-based distributions for gamers: "SparkyLinux 3.2 'GameOver' is out. It has been built on top of SparkyLinux 3.2 'Annagerman' and it's fully compatible with Debian 'Jessie'. SparkyLinux 'GameOver' is a special edition of our distro targeted at game players. 'GameOver' 3.2 offers: access to games compiled for the Linux platform; access to 'popular' and 'modern' games via Steam and Desura platforms; access to many games created for MS Windows platform via WINE and PlayOnLinux; access to 'old' games created for machines via emulators What's under the hood of GameOver 3.2: Linux kernel 3.11.10; all packages upgraded from Debian's testing repositories as of 2013-12-22; LXDE 0.5.5, Openbox 3.5.2, PCManFM 1.1.2 and a few important applications; 3rd party applications - Steam, Desura and Dropbox clients; WINE 1.4.1 and PlayOnLinux 4.2.1...." Read the rest of the release announcement for more details.
ROSA 2012-R2 "Desktop Fresh LXDE"
Alexander Kazancev has announced the release of ROSA 2012 R2 "Desktop Fresh LXDE" edition, an updated build of the project's lightweight distribution for the desktop: "The ROSA company presents a new update pack in the 'R' lineup — the ROSA Desktop Fresh R2 LXDE. The ROSA Desktop Fresh R2 LXDE is based on the Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment and the ROSA Desktop Fresh R2 code base. This LXDE edition meets all the criteria for being simple and beautiful - the simplicity of the GUI brings the maximum work speed. The desktop is based on the GTK+ 2 framework, but some of the components use the most recent GTK+ 3 and GNOME 3 updates. The ROSA Desktop Fresh R2 LXDE features: all recent code and packages updates available by 24 December 2013; the LXDE base components have been updated to their latest stable versions: PCManFM 1.1.2, LXPanel 0.6.1...." Here is the complete release announcement.
On the last day of 2013, Ferdinand Thommes announced the release of siduction 13.2.0, a Linux distribution based on Debian's "Unstable" branch. This release has taken a step into the possible future of Debian and implemented systemd as the new init system. From the release announcement: "We are very happy to present to you the final release of siduction 2013.2 - December. Since the release of the RC we have ironed out some nasty bugs with language-packs, Unicode handling in the installer and stabilization within systemd. We believe, that there is no release-critical bug left, so here we go. siduction 2013.2 - December is shipped with 5 desktop environments: KDE SC, XFCE, LXDE, Razor-Qt and GNOME, all in 32- and 64-bit variants. The released images are a snapshot of Debian unstable, which also goes by the name of Sid, from 2013-12-30. They are enhanced with some useful packages and scripts, our own installer and a custom patched version of the linux-kernel 3.12, accompanied by X-Server 1.14.5-1."
The first release announcement of the new year has been published by Barry Kauler who presents the new Quirky 6.1. Quirky is a minimalist distribution (and a fork of Puppy Linux) that attempts to explore new avenues and implement unusual ideas. From the release announcement: "Quirky 6.0 started the ball rolling with the feature set proposed for the 6.x series, now 6.1 adds the comprehensive upgrade, downgrade, rollback and recovery mechanisms. In essence, these are in three sections: rigorous handling of package uninstallation, such that the system can never be broken; system snapshots, with history, allowing recovery to any earlier state; simple version upgrade, with service packs." Compared to Quirky 6.0 the package set remains the same except the Linux kernel which has been upgraded to version 3.12.6. Here are the release notes which explain the new features in some details and provide installation and upgrade instructions.
AV Linux 6.0.2
Glen MacArthur has announced the release of AV Linux 6.0.2, a new build of the project's Debian-based distribution with a large collection of audio and video production software: "This new 6.0.2 version contains significant changes including a complete new customized Xfce 4.10 desktop environment, the 'pipelight' browser plugin giving access to DRM Silverlight content (i.e. Netflix) through your web browser, embarrassingly copious amounts of great LV2 audio plugins, updated FFADO drivers, additional handy Nautilus scripts, exfat-fuse support, MTP smartphone and tablet support, updated and improved documentation, LibreOffice 4.1, and the very best multimedia content creation applications all updated, tested and provided ready to use. Enjoy the latest Ardour, Mixbus (demo), linuxDSP (demos), Qtractor, Carla, DISTRHO plugins, X42 plugins and much more." Read the rest of the release announcement for more information and a screenshot of the default desktop.
Parted Magic 2014_01_04
Patrick Verner has announced the release of Parted Magic 2014_01_04, a new version of the project's commercial distribution with specialist tools for disk management and data rescue tasks: "This version of Parted Magic updates many programs, introduces a few news one, and adds a new module system. The most notable program updates include Linux kernel 3.12.6, ClamTK 5.01, File Roller 3.10.0, Mozilla Firefox 26.0, and GParted 0.17.0. A few programs where added. These include: Gpointing Device Settings, Rdiff Backup, Wimlib, PCRegEdit and a ton of new Perl modules for the ClamTK upgrade. We have come up with a new module system that drastically reduces the amount of RAM needed to use extra programs. The new module system works exactly like the old system. You simply place our new .sqfm packages into the pmagic/pmodules folder and they merge into the existing RAM disk without using the extra RAM needed in the uncompressed form." Visit the project's news 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)
December 2013 DistroWatch.com donation: Linux Voice|
We are pleased to announce that the recipient of the December 2013 DistroWatch.com donation is Linux Voice, a Linux magazine launched recently by former editors of Linux Format - Graham Morrison, Andrew Gregory, Mike Saunders and Ben Everard. The project receives £300.00 in cash.
The new (print and digital) magazine was announced on 17 November and, as seems to be the norm these days, crowd-funding was deemed the best way to get the project off the ground. The target of £90,000 was reached within a month of the campaign and the final figure raised at the deadline was a very pleasant £127,603! Certainly not a bad achievement, defying many sceptics who found the idea of a new print magazine in the Internet era an outdated concept. And as a matter of fact, the magazine has already reached 2,000 subscribers: "We already have over 2,000 subscribers thanks to the Indiegogo campaign, but we're just getting started. We've opened a new online Linux Voice shop where you can buy print or digital subscriptions – the first issue is planned for February. Thanks again for supporting us. If you have any questions, just drop us a line in the comments!" Visit LinuxVoice.com to learn about the concept, watch promotional videos or buy a subscription.
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, Yandex Money 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$37,915 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), DOSBox ($250), awesome ($300), DVDStyler ($280), Tor ($350), Tiny Tiny RSS ($350), FreeType ($300), GNU Octave ($300), Linux Voice ($510)
* * * * *
New distributions added to waiting list
DistroWatch database summary
- Chapeau Linux. Chapeau Linux is a Fedora-based distribution which includes Flash, BluRay support, Steam and PlayOnLinux in the default installation.
- DMDc. DMDc is a Debian-based distribution featuring the MATE desktop environment.
- Gajj. Gajj is a Linux distribution based on Ubuntu and Linux Mint which features a lot of software provided in the default install.
- JustBrowsing. JustBrowsing is a live CD which provides a simplified user experience by running a web browser as the operating system's only application. Firefox and Chrome web browsers are available.
- Parrot Security OS. Parrot Security OS is an operating system designed to perform security and penetration tests, forensic analysis or to act in anonimity.
- XStreamOS. XStreamOS is a desktop and server distribution built upon the Illumos kernel and utilizing the ZFS advanced file system.
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 13 January 2014. 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|
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