| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 544, 3 February 2014
Welcome to this year's 5th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! Computers and their operating systems can be many things. They can be fun, educational or useful tools in the quest for knowledge. Perhaps primarily computers are here to make our lives easier, to facilitate our work, learning and play. With that in mind, this week we look at two projects which attempt to lower the bar for adopting and working with Linux. First up we have a review of a newcomer-friendly distribution called Netrunner. This project is aimed at Windows users migrating to the Linux community. Read on to find out Jesse Smith's first impressions of how well Netrunner operates. The second project we visit this week is called Distributed Shell, a utility which facilitates running commands on multiple machines from one terminal. Also in this issue of DistroWatch Weekly we check in with interesting projects moving forward, including Canonical's work on Ubuntu Touch, Debian's updates to its stable branches and the PC-BSD project's latest release. Plus, we report on openSUSE's current debate about the project's future, Gentoo's recent server woes, and link to last week's interesting announcements by Scientific Linux and Yellow Dog Linux. We wish you all a wonderful week and happy reading!
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Introducing Netrunner 13.12
The Netrunner distribution is a project based upon the Ubuntu operating system. Netrunner strives to be an easy to use desktop operating system that completes most tasks with free software while offering convenient add-ons and web-based solutions to round out the user experience. Netrunner ships with the KDE desktop to provide a mix of flexibility (for power users) and familiarity (for newcomers). The latest release of Netrunner, version 13.12, is based upon Ubuntu 13.10. The distribution comes with several appealing features, including multimedia support, Windows application compatibility via WINE and the Steam gaming portal software. Netrunner is available in just one edition and can be downloaded in 32-bit or 64-bit x86 builds. The project's installation media is approximately 1.6 GB in size.
Before I get to my experiences with the Netrunner distribution I want to briefly mention the project's website. It is, in my opinion, one of the nicer community project websites I've visited recently. Frequently I find corporate-backed distributions have websites with a lot of buzz words and little useful information whereas small community projects give only the barest information. The Netrunner site is pretty good at explaining what the distribution does, how it works, what technologies go into it and what the interface looks like. There are screen shots and videos and the pages are easy to navigate.
Netrunner 13.12 - desktop settings and documentation
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Loading the Netrunner live disc brings us to the KDE desktop. The background is soft blue. An application menu, task switcher and system tray rest at the bottom of the screen. Along the top of the display we find icons for bringing up information on our computer's hardware, launching the system installer, accessing web-based accounts and launching the Steam gaming portal. There is also an icon for opening a web browser and accessing the project's release notes. These notes include tips for installing the operating system on machines with Secure Boot, some key features and advice for new users. My first hint of trouble came about very early on when I launched the project's system installer. While the installer was loading the Plasma desktop shell crashed, causing the desktop to disappear. Plasma restarted itself, but running into a bug this early wasn't a good omen.
Netrunner's system installer is borrowed from the Kubuntu distribution and features a nice, friendly interface. The process of installing is fairly streamlined. We are walked through selecting our preferred language, then asked if we would like to divide up our hard disk using guided partitioning or manually partition the disk ourselves. Another option is to let the installer try to automate creating LVM volumes. I went with manual partitioning and found the installer supports most Linux file systems, including ext2/3/4, JFS, XFS, ReiserFS and Btrfs. I decided to install Netrunner on top of the advanced Btr file system. We can then select where to install the project's boot loader and the distribution's files begin to copy from the installation media. While the files copy we are asked to confirm our time zone, select our keyboard's layout and create a user account. The user account creation screen asks us for a password and offers to encrypt the contents of our home directory. When the installer finishes copying its files we are prompted to reboot the computer.
Loading our freshly installed copy of Netrunner brings us to a graphical login screen. Here we can sign into our user account or, optionally, sign in using a guest account. The guest account is not protected by a password and is wiped clean after each use, making it ideal for temporary users. When we login we are brought back to the KDE desktop, version 4.11. The desktop's application menu has been modified. Down the left side of the application menu are quick-launch buttons and the rest of the menu has a classic theme to it. I found this layout pleasant as I like KDE's classic menu and the addition of quick buttons was usually helpful. (The one time it wasn't helpful I had accidentally clicked the quick launch button for shutting down the system, for which there is no confirmation prompt.) Some minor visual effects are enabled on the desktop adding a dynamic feel to the interface, though nothing I found distracting.
One of the first things I did with Netrunner was open the Driver Manager application and attempt to download the third-party drivers which were recommended for me. The application brought up a progress bar and I watched it slowly grow to 70% completion, at which point it stopped. I let Driver Manager run for a while, but after half an hour I realized the program just wasn't going to finish what it had started. I forced the window to close and, from that point, I suffered a series of frustrations whenever I tried to install or update packages. Any transaction would get stuck, once again, at 70%, but no error message was shown. A trip to the command line and working with apt-get showed the underlying dpkg package manager was confused and needed me to run the command "dpkg --configure -a". Once this was done all of my updates and applications I had tried to install before were applied to the system. From then on all my work with software packages went smoothly.
Netrunner 13.12 - additional drivers and web-based package management
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This seems like a good time to talk about Netrunner's many software management utilities which vary a great deal while apparently all using the same back-end for compatibility. In the list of package managers we find Synaptic, which is a great, classic software manager that focuses on a package-oriented approach. It's a flexible package manager that works quickly and handles transactions in batches. There is the Muon Update Manager which shows us a summary of available updates, allowing us to select which packages we want to upgrade. We also find the Muon Package Manager which is a lot like Synaptic in its style, though I feel Muon's interface is a touch more friendly and a bit simplified when compared next to Synaptic's. Also we have Muon Discover, which is a more modern package manager that allows us to browse software categories and interact with bright, colourful icons. While Muon Discover performed slower for me than the other package managers mentioned above, it does have some nice perks. Aside from easy navigation, Muon Discover clearly shows user supplied ratings of packages and big screen shots.
Installations can be initiated with a single click. Also, in Muon Discover we do not need to open a package's description page to install the software, we can hover our mouse over the program's icon and an Install button will appear -- a short-cut I greatly appreciated. Apart from these local package managers, and their apt-get back-end, there is a web-based service called JacknJoe. This site basically acts like a web-based version of Muon Discover, letting us browse categories of software, click on icons to get details on packages and supplying a one-click avenue for installing software. While the JacknJoe website works, I was hesitant to use it. The site doesn't contain much in the way of information as to who runs the site or where packages displayed on the website come from. I'm not sure if it is a front-end to Ubuntu's repositories or if it is an independent repository. I did a few web searches and couldn't come up with many references or explanations for JacknJoe other than this other author asking the same questions I was.
Looking through Netrunner's application menu we find the Firefox web browser with AdBlock, Flash support and a media downloader. The LibreOffice suite is installed for us as are the Skype video chat client, the Thunderbird e-mail client and the FileZilla file transfer application. The Pidgin instant messaging software is installed for us along with the Transmission bittorrent client, the GNU Image Manipulation Program and the Karbon vector drawing program. We also find the Clementine music player, the Kdenlive video editing software, the VLC multimedia player, the k3b disc burning software and a full range of multimedia codecs. In addition, we find the KDE System Settings panel for adjusting the look and feel of the interface, the KDE partition manager and a collection of small games. The Steam software portal is provided for us along with the WINE Windows compatibility software. An app for managing wireless drivers built for Windows is supplied as is the VirtualBox virtual machine software. Digging further we find the KPPP dial-up software and Network Manager for getting on-line. The desktop environment comes with a text editor, archive manager, virtual calculator and accessibility tools. Under the hood, Netrunner sports the Linux kernel, version 3.11.
As I mentioned above, Netrunner comes with the WINE compatibility software. The distribution also comes with WINE Tricks, which is a handy utility that helps us download and install certain popular proprietary software packages. I tried to install a handful of these packages using the point-n-click WINE Tricks wizard and found some installed and ran properly and some didn't. Still, having any software automatically downloaded and installed without manually hunting down the software's website, downloading the correct file and configuring WINE to work with that package is a good thing, in my opinion. Another interesting piece of software that comes with Netrunner is Web Accounts. The Web Accounts software is designed to let us tie our social media or e-mail accounts (such as GMail and Facebook) to our local user account. Personally, I'm paranoid enough to not like the idea of attaching Google- or Facebook-based accounts to my local profile, but I gave it a try. Each attempt to supply my credentials to the Web Accounts software resulted in the program crashing, so I eventually gave up and moved on to other things.
Netrunner 13.12 - setting up Web Accounts
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I tried working with Netrunner on a desktop machine (dual-core 2.8 GHz CPU, 6 GB of RAM, Radeon video card and Realtek network card) and found the distribution performed well. The system booted quickly, my display was set to its maximum resolution and I had no trouble getting on-line or playing audio files. The desktop was fairly responsive, not fast, but it performed well enough to keep me happy. The distribution is a bit on the heavy side, using approximately 330MB of RAM on my test machine. I tried operating Netrunner in a VirtualBox virtual machine too and ran into two minor problems. The first was that the KDE interface was a bit sluggish in the virtual environment, even with visual effects disabled. The second issue was I could not drag scrollbars in the virtual machine. When browsing websites or reading text documents I could click at the top or bottom of a scroll bar to page through the document and I could use my mouse wheel to scan through the document, but I could not click-and-drag a scrollbar in any application. I tried a few other distributions in VirtualBox on the same equipment just to confirm this issue is specific to Netrunner and, based on my tests so far, it is.
Netrunner 13.12 - browsing hardware information
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What my experiences from this past week with Netrunner really boiled down to were two things. On the one hand there are certainly bugs in the operating system as I've pointed out above. The Driver Manager bungled software management for me for a while, Web Accounts didn't work for me at all and WINE Tricks worked around half the time for me. The distribution comes with, in my opinion, about three too many package managers and I really don't see the point in the web-based JacknJoe package manager since it does not appear to have any exclusive software bundles. Performance was acceptable, but not great with Netrunner and the distribution may lag on older equipment. All that being said, I came away with a mostly positive opinion of Netrunner because the project does several things well. Having a pleasant website with useful documentation that is easy to find is a good starting point. The desktop and application menus are a pleasant combination of classic and modern, managing to be familiar while improving on the traditional desktop design. The system installer is one of the better installers I have used recently which makes for a good early impression.
The distribution comes with a lot of functionality out of the box, including multimedia support, productivity software and WINE. I found the application menu, while presenting a lot of functionality, was not bogged down with too many options (package managers aside). I like that there are programs for a wide array of people, ranging from LibreOffice and e-mail, to web browsers and social media software, to fun games and development tools. A lot of functionality is pressed into the 1.6GB download. The desktop's theme is attractive, the software packaged is modern and I feel Netrunner will be a complete operating system with no configuration or hassle for most people. In short, I feel Netrunner does several things right and the problems I ran into have more to do with the specific implementations of certain programs rather than the design of the distribution as a whole. In general, Netrunner performs well, brings a lot of functionality to the table and manages to look good too. I think it will appeal to many people, especially those new to the Linux community.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith and Ladislav Bodnar)
openSUSE community debates future without paid developers, running Ubuntu Touch in emulator, Debian updates stable images, PC-BSD launches version 10.0, Gentoo and Yellow Dog updates
It seems that the openSUSE distribution is going through another release crisis. After it was decided that paid SUSE developers will no longer work on the free openSUSE distribution, the community has been trying to figure out how to continue developing the distro without any paid staff. Last week's mailing list post by Robert Schweikert opens a discussion on how to move forward: "Thanks to the openSUSE team for the hard work they have put forth in the past to turning the release crank - it is much appreciated. I think the time has come to move forward and deal with the new situation. As of right now we still have a release cycle of 8 month. That would put us into May for openSUSE 13.2. This brings about two questions. Given the current situation can we meet a May release date? Do we skip the May release and move to a yearly cycle and release 13.2 in November of 2014? During last year's discussions there were a number of people favoring a yearly release cycle. We have to make a decision - stick to 8 months or move to 12 months?"
* * * * *
The developers at Canonical continue in their quest to spread the Ubuntu operating system across devices of all shapes and sizes, from servers to laptops to phones. Some people may be curious as to how the smartphone edition of Ubuntu, called Ubuntu Touch, will work. One way to explore Ubuntu Touch is to run it in an emulator. David Planella has a blog post on installing and setting up the Ubuntu Touch emulator on a desktop machine: "While the final emulator is still work in progress, this month we are also going to see a big push in finishing all the pieces to make it a first-class citizen for development, both for the platform itself and for app developers. However, as it stands today, the emulator is already functional, so I've decided to prepare a quick-start guide to highlight the great work the Foundations and Phonedations teams (along with many other contributors) are producing to make it possible."
* * * * *
The recent surprise announcement about CentOS developers joining Red Hat as paid employees has left many wondering about the future of other Red Hat Enterprise Linux clones, such as Scientific Linux. After some internal as well as external discussions with the above-mentioned parties, Connie Sieh finally issued a statement committing to the distribution's continued development, but also hinting at a possibility of developing the upcoming Scientific Linux 7 as a "CentOS variant": "Fermilab and CERN remain committed to the original goal of Scientific Linux: providing a stable, well-supported, open-source platform which meets the needs of high-energy physics experiments. The fact that this platform is used by people outside of that community is something we appreciate and will be a factor in any decisions going forward. There are still many questions to pursue as the details of CentOS Special Interest Groups continue to evolve. The anticipated release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 presents an opportunity to consider forming/joining a CentOS Special Interest Group and producing Scientific Linux 7 as a CentOS variant. The variant structure may allow greater flexibility in adapting the distribution to scientific needs."
* * * * *
The Debian project will soon be releasing minor point releases to its past two latest stable versions, 'Squeeze' and 'Wheezy'. These updates do not represent new versions of Debian, but rather present updated ISO images with security updates for existing releases. The new Wheezy images are scheduled to be available starting February 8th: "The next point release for 'Wheezy' (7.4) is scheduled for Saturday February 8th. Stable NEW will be frozen during the preceding weekend. As usual, base-files can be uploaded at any point before the freeze." The updated 'Squeeze' images will be available for download the following week, on the 15th of February. Both of these updates represent Debian's ongoing commitment to users who like to maintain conservative, stable operating systems.
* * * * *
Another new release is that of PC-BSD 10.0. The FreeBSD-based project is sporting a few new features, including faster start-up times for PBI packages, packages for the GNOME 3, Cinnamon and MATE desktop environments and better support for ATI video cards. There is also a text-based installer for server machines. Josh Smith posted the following on the project's blog: "Joe Maloney has been working tirelessly to get GNOME 3 into PC-BSD, and has been a huge help getting this Behemoth DE into a usable state. Anyone who is interested in using and testing GNOME 3 (it is still unsupported at this time) make sure to thank Joe for all the hard work he's been putting in. PBI’s have undergone even more detailed optimization further increasing their startup times. More tweaks and optimizations have been committed to PCDM, a firewall manager, and ATI Hybrid graphics laptops." For a complete feature list of this FreeBSD-based desktop operating system see the project's wiki.
* * * * *
Computers break, it is an unfortunate fact of life. Sometimes a system going down can impact a lot of people, as when the Gentoo overlays server went off-line on January 10. The Gentoo newsletter covers the project's progress as they discovered what was working, what was not and the steps they took to get overlays.gentoo.org back on-line. "After importing the data into a new, empty overlays setup provisioned by our configuration management and a quick test of a few repositories, I was glad to be able to announce the service restoration. Sadly, the bad patch we've been going through wasn't over yet: Several of the repositories showed corruption which forced us to start looking into the backup and merge the recovered live state with a backup taken a few hours before the outage. Having suffered from all these little setbacks, on Saturday we were able to finally fully restore the service." The latest monthly newsletter has more details and a photo of the rescued hard drives. In an effort to keep Gentoo users informed of outages and repair progress, the Gentoo project maintains a status page that shows which services are available along with reports from the team working to fix issues.
* * * * *
Once the most popular distribution developed exclusively for PowerPC computers, the Fedora-based Yellow Dog Linux has been in terminal decline ever since Apple's surprise switch to the Intel architecture back in 2006. Although the project continued to make new releases, its website infrastructure has been slowly eroding due to lack of maintenance and updates. Last week, Fixstars, the company that owns Yellow Dog Linux, also announced the upcoming closure of its premium YDL.net web portal: "Dear YDL.net user. Since the creation of YDL.net service nearly a decade ago, many new and much improved email, calendar, and blog services have been made available which are able to eclipse Fixstars offerings in terms of both reliability, ease of use, and number of features. As such Fixstars has decided to discontinue the YDL.net email, blog, and calendar features as it has become no longer feasible to host these services. We understand that this is a inconvenience to many of you and we will attempt to delay the discontinuation of service until March 2014 although server failure may occur, resulting in the loss of user data." Is this the definite end of Yellow Dog as a Linux distribution?
|Tips and Tricks (by Jesse Smith)
Running the same command in multiple places
Many of us have multiple computers, I'm sure several of us administer multiple machines, often in our own homes. At times it is very useful to be able to perform the same task on more than one computer at a time. Perhaps we want to run a script which does some semi-automatic cleaning of our hard drive, or maybe we want to just make sure each of our computers is on-line, perhaps we want to run some kind of test or install available software upgrades. Whatever the purpose may be it is an inconvenience to login into each computer in turn to perform the same action over and over again. One way to avoid the extra work of logging into each computer one at a time is to use Distributed Shell -- sometimes referred to as Dancer's Shell or simply dsh.
The concept behind Distributed Shell is fairly simple. We give the dsh program a command we want to perform on multiple computers and, usually, a list of computers where we want the command performed. The dsh program then attempts to contact each of the remote computers and runs the command on each one. The only thing we need to do on the remote machine to make dsh work is make sure the remote computer is running the secure shell service. For example, let us say I have two remote servers I want to check on and see what their basic status is. One remote computer is called nancy and the other one is called kevin. To check on their current uptimes and load averages I can run the following command:
dsh -m nancy -m kevin uptime
In this example the "-m" flag tells dsh which machines to contact and the trailing argument is the command I want to run on the remote computers. In my case what I get back are the following two lines, the first from host nancy and the second from kevin:
11:13:13 up 9 days, 18:33, 0 users, load average: 0.02, 0.06, 0.05
Should we have a lot of computers we want to work with we probably do not want to specify each remote computer on the command line every time we run the command. To get around this we can add each computer we wish to contact to the /etc/dsh/machines.list file, placing one computer's name on each line. By default the machines.list file contains just one entry, that of our local computer. With this file full of computer names we can then run a command like the following to get the uptime of every computer in the list:
10:08:51 up 166 days, 14:36, 0 users, load average: 0.00, 0.00, 0.00
dsh -a uptime
The names of remote machines can be just the name of the remote host (as shown above) or we can supply IP addresses. We can also specify a username for each remote computer if our username on the remote machine is different. For instance, the following command checks the kernel version on remote machines nancy and kevin using alternative usernames:
dsh -m jesse@nancy -m susan@kevin -- uname -r
Where necessary dsh will prompt us for a password for the remote machines. By default, the dsh command attempts to contact all remote computers at the same time. This can be convenient and fast, especially if we just have a handful of computers on which to work. However, in some cases (such as when a large number of computers is involved) we may wish to have dsh contact one machine at a time and wait for its task to complete before moving onto the next computer. To do that we can specify the "-w" flag. For example, the following command checks to see who is logged into each remote machine in our /etc/dsh/machines.list file. Each computer is contacted one at a time:
dsh -w -a -- who
Finally, you can open a remote shell session on multiple computers and interact with each shell at the same time. This can be helpful if you need to perform more complex tasks where interaction is required. To do this we tell dsh to run in interactive mode by specifying the "-i" flag and launch a shell on each remote computer:
dsh -m nancy -m kevin -i -c -- /bin/bash
The dsh command is one of those tools that, when you are an administrator, comes in handy on a regular bases and can save a great deal of time over the course of a career.
|Released Last Week
Zorin OS 8
Artyom Zorin has announced the release of Zorin OS 8, a brand-new release from the project that caters primarily to new Linux converts with a custom desktop user interface based on GNOME Shell: "The Zorin OS team is excited to announce the release of Zorin OS 8 Core and Ultimate. We have introduced a myriad of changes in Zorin OS including updated software, improvements to the user interface and entirely new software. Zorin OS 8 includes a simpler and more beautiful music player, the Empathy instant messaging client as well as the Zorin theme changer. We have created a beautiful new dark theme in complement to a new and improved light theme. We have created a simple tool to switch between the two quickly and easily. We have revamped the look of the bootloader so that switching between operating systems looks better than ever. As always, Zorin OS 8 uses the Zorin desktop environment with Zorin Menu for unparalleled customization." Here is the brief release announcement with a screenshot.
Zorin OS - the default desktop user interface with Zorin Desktop
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Simplicity Linux 14.1
David Purse has announced the release of Simplicity Linux 14.1, the latest update of the lightweight (with LXDE) Puppy-based distribution for desktops, media centres and netbooks: "We're proud to announce the release of Simplicity Linux 14.1. It is based on 'Slacko' Puppy 5.6 but it replaces JWM with LXDE and has Firefox ESR 24.0 as the default browser with the Cocoon proxy added. If you are worried about your privacy, sign up for an account, otherwise it does nothing, and is completely optional. It's something we personally use, and have found really useful, so we thought we would bundle it. Desktop 14.1 is our fullest featured release to date. You get Skype, LibreOffice, Java, Flash, MPlayer, Firefox, OnLive, WINE and other software preinstalled. If you are after a full-featured version of Simplicity Linux, this is the version you will want to download." Read the rest of the release announcement for more information.
Manuel Bouyer has announced the release of NetBSD 6.1.3, the latest stable version of the project that develops a functional operating system for nearly 50 processor architectures: "The NetBSD Project is pleased to announce NetBSD 6.1.3, the third security/bugfix update of the NetBSD 6.1 release branch. It represents a selected subset of fixes deemed important for security or stability reasons. Please note that all fixes in the prior security and bug-fix updates (NetBSD 6.0.1, 6.0.2, 6.0.3 and 6.0.4), as well as those in 6.1.1 and 6.1.3, are also in 6.1.3. Changes between 6.1.3 and 6.1.3: security fixes - use after free in Xserver handling of ImageText requests, embryonic TCP sockets local DoS, router advertisement sysctl local denial of service, memory leak when trying to execute bogus ELF binaries...." Read the detailed release notes for a more complete list of changes and links to relevant documents.
Tiny Core Linux 5.1 "piCore"
Béla Markus has announced the release of "piCore", an edition of Tiny Core Linux for the Raspberry Pi single-board computer: "Team Tiny Core is pleased to announce the availability of piCore 5.1, the Raspberry Pi port of Tiny Core Linux. It is an independent system architected by Robert Shingledecker and now developed by a small team of developers with strong community support. Tiny Core Linux is not a traditional distribution but a toolkit to create your own customized system. It offers not only flexibility, small footprint but a very recent kernel and set of applications making it ideal for custom systems, appliances as well as to learn Linux, matching Raspberry Pi perfectly. Main features: Linux kernel 3.12.7 with sound DAC support, BusyBox 1.22.1, eglibc 2.18, X.Org 7.7, zswap (compressed swap in RAM), zram (compressed RAM), Linaro 4.8-2013.11 (GCC 4.8.3) toolchain." Read the rest of the release announcement for more information.
Kris Moore has announced the release of PC-BSD 10.0, a major new version of the project's desktop operating system based on FreeBSD 10.0: "PC-BSD 10.0-RELEASE is now available for download. Notable features: includes FreeBSD 10.0-RELEASE; updated KMS/AMD driver support; ISO file is a hybrid USB file which can be 'dd'-ed to a USB media; new text-based installer; able to select between GRUB/BSD loaders during installation; new desktops - GNOME 3, MATE (replaces GNOME 2) and Cinnamon. Online updating to 10.0-RELEASE is now available for users running 9.2-RELEASE systems. As with any upgrade, please make sure to backup your critical data beforehand. To get started, first ensure that your packages and world and kernel are up-to-date and then apply the update to 10.0 using the following command at a root prompt..." Read the release announcement and visit the what's new page for a detailed list of changes and upgrade information.
PC-BSD 10.0 - supporting a number of new desktop environments
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Quirky 6.0 "Tahr"
Barry Kauler has announced the release of Quirky 6.0 "Tahr" edition. This is a small and experimental live CD which, unlike the the original Quirky 6.0 released last month, is binary compatible with "Trusty Tahr", Ubuntu's current development tree. From the release announcement: "You have heard of Trusty Tahr. Well, this is Quirky Tahr, another exciting release in the Quirky 6 series of Quirky, a very quirky experimental Linux distribution. Quirky Tahr is Quirky, with the same phenomenal upgrade and recovery features, optimisation for running in Flash memory, simplicity and ease-of-use, except built with Ubuntu Trusty Tahr binary DEB packages to provide compatibility with the large Ubuntu package repository - which the Quirky Package Manager can install from. Quirky 6.0, built from packages compiled in T2, started the ball rolling and there were steady improvements - these are in Quirky Tahr 6.0, plus a lot of debugging and refinement to get the DEB packages to 'play nice' in the Quirky environment." See also the release notes for further information.
Scientific Linux 6.5
Connie Sieh has announced the release of Scientific Linux 6.5, a distribution built from source package for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.5 with extra software designed for use in scientific and academic environments: "Scientific Linux 6.5 is officially released for i686/x86_64. As a reminder, the SL6x repository always points to the most recent release. The SL6x repository has been updated to SL6.5 at this time. Users of the Scientific Linux 6x repository should run 'yum clean expire-cache'. This should allow yum to notice the updated metadata within the 6x repository. Major differences from Scientific Linux 6.4: OpenAFS has been updated to version 220.127.116.11 from openafs.org - this package may have some issues, please note there is a possibility for system panic under certain conditions; alpine 2.10 - updated to more recent version (from Fedora); yum-autoupdate-2 6.3 - bug fixes for extra, useless reporting, remove the obsolete augeas lense." Read the release announcement and release notes for more information.
SparkyLinux 3.2.1 "Xfce"
Paweł Pijanowski has announced the release of SparkyLinux 3.2 "Xfce" edition, the latest addition to the growing number of the project's family of Debian-based distributions: "SparkyLinux 3.2.1 Xfce is based on the 3.2 release and it's fully compatible with Debian 'Jessie'. SparkyLinux 'Xfce' has a few new features which will also be added to the next SparkyLinux release. So what is under the hood? Linux kernel 3.12; all packages upgraded from Debian's testing repositories as of 2014-01-29; Xfce 4.10; the same set of tools and applications which can be found in all SparkyLinux spins; added a boot-repair tool; added Plymouth with a Sparky theme; the uGet download manager has been upgraded from Debian's 'Sid' repository, it uses aria2 for downloading files as default; Iceweasel has been synchronised with uGet via the FlashGot add-on – downloading big files has never been so easy; added the Hotot microblogging client...." Here is the full release announcement.
ROSA 2012 R2 "Desktop Fresh GNOME"
Ekaterina Lopukhova has announced the release of ROSA 2012 R2 "Desktop Fresh GNOME" edition, an updated release of the project's desktop Linux distribution with GNOME 3.8: "ROSA company proudly presents the ROSA Desktop Fresh GNOME R2, the distribution based on the GNOME 3 desktop environment and the ROSA Desktop Fresh R2 code base. GNOME 3 modern desktop is the default GDM option, but users who do not wish to switch to the GNOME 3 GUI and desktop features, would want to switch to the GNOME Classic. GNOME Classic is the desktop environment targeted to users who prefer more traditional desktop experience. While based on GNOME 3 technologies, it provides the Applications and Places menus on the top bar, and a window list at the bottom of the screen. Last, but not least, we're presenting our own 'GNOME FallBack' mode." Read the rest of the release announcement for more details.
Mageia 4, the latest stable version of the popular distribution forked in 2010 from Mandriva Linux, has been released: "Right on time, and just in time for the first day of FOSDEM 2014, we have the great pleasure of announcing Mageia 4. We're still having a great time doing this together and we hope you enjoy this release as much as we've enjoyed making it. Major new features: updates to RPM 4.11 and urpmi, which has been given a thorough Mageia turnout and cleanup; Linux kernel 3.12 and systemd 208; GRUB is the default bootloader, GRUB 2 is available for testing; revamped package groupings for installation and rpmdrake; KDE 4.11, GNOME 3.10 and Xfce 4.10 desktops; LibreOffice 4.1.3; experimental UEFI support; FullHD+ resolution support." Read the release announcement and check out the detailed release notes to learn more.
Mageia 4 - the project's fourth stable release
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Toutou Linux 2014
Jean-Jacques Moulinier has announced the release of Toutou Linux 2014, an updated release of new version of the project's Puppy-based distribution designed French-speaking users. This is an update to version 5.5 "Wolx" released in November 2013. It is primarily designed for those users who preferred the simplicity and familiarity of the 4.x series of Toutou Linux. Compared to the 4.x series, several applications have been replaced, notably the SeaMonkey 2.21 browser which has become too heavy for a lightweight distribution (30 MB compressed and 51 MB when decompressed). It has been replaced by Opera 12.16 (14 MB compressed and 26 MB once decompressed). Otherwise this latest version continues to use the Openbox window manager with LXPanel as the default taskbar. Upgrades from previous versions are not supported. Visit the distribution's home page (in French) for more information about the new release.
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
New distributions added to database|
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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, 10 February 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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