| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 545, 10 February 2014
Welcome to this year's 6th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! Linux distributions usually get most of the attention in the open-source community, dominating the news. This week we turn the spotlight on FreeBSD, a popular server operating system that is introducing some important changes. Read this week's feature review to get the details behind FreeBSD's latest release. Also on the topic of servers, we talk this week about the challenge of finding a secure server platform that is easy to administer. Ubuntu is back in the news as the development team discusses whether to replace the distribution's default file manager and, in a surprising move, NVIDIA offers open-source code to the Nouveau project. We also talk about Xubuntu as the development team puts the project's artwork for their next release on-line for the community to see. Debian was in the news too this week as the project voted as to which init system to use for the next stable release of Debian GNU/Linux. Other topics covered in this issue include roadmap and feature list of the upcoming Bodhi Linux 3.0, opinion on the never-ending issue of the stability of Arch Linux, and introduction of ReactOS, a rather impressive open-source clone of the Microsoft Windows NT operating system. We wish you all a terrific week and happy reading!
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (28MB) and MP3 (45MB) formats
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
First impressions of FreeBSD 10.0
The BSD family of operating systems is typically reputed to be conservative, stable and dependable. FreeBSD typically embodies these characteristics quite well, showcasing reliability and offering few surprises. That being said, the latest release of FreeBSD, version 10.0, introduced a few important changes which I felt deserved a look. Some of the new features shipping with FreeBSD 10.0 included support for ZFS on the root file system, TRIM and LZ4 compression support for ZFS, virtualization improvements and a new package manager. The latest version also swaps out the venerable GNU compiler for the Clang compiler on supported architectures. The 10.0 release is available for several architectures, including x86, Power PC and Sparc. I was interested in the x86 releases which can be downloaded in 32-bit or 64-bit builds. We can further narrow our selection by downloading either a CD-sized ISO or a 2.2 GB ISO image. I opted to try the larger image for my trial.
Installation and first boot
Booting from the installation media brings us to a text menu where we are asked if we would like to drop to a command line shell, launch a (text console) live environment or begin the installation process. The FreeBSD system installer is mostly a series of text menus with an occasional trip to a command line interface. Most steps in the process have sane defaults and users can generally just proceed to the next screen when in doubt of the proper configuration. The first screen asks us to confirm our computer's keyboard layout and then we are asked to provide a hostname for our computer. We are then asked which packages (documentation, games, ports and/or system source code) we would like to install. We are then given four partitioning options -- guided, an automated ZFS layout, manual using the installer or manual using command line utilities. I opted to take the automated ZFS configuration. With ZFS we can select which disk to use, optionally change the name of our data storage pool, set the size of our swap space, change disk layouts (GPT or MBR) and choose whether to enable encryption.
For the most part I tried to stick with the default settings. Some users may be interested to know that FreeBSD's installer supports RAID and mirroring for people with multiple disk drives. The following installer screens walk us through setting a password on the administrator's account, selecting our time zone from a list and configuring the network. We can also choose which system services to run, including secure shell, network time synchronization, kernel crash dumps and a dynamic CPU frequency daemon. At the end of the process we can choose to add user accounts to the system and we are given the chance to go back and change the settings we have selected. I was pretty happy with the latest iteration of the FreeBSD system installer. It worked well, offered good defaults and it completed so quickly I honestly wondered whether all the required files had been copied to my local drive or if an error had occurred -- that may be a first.
Once FreeBSD was installed I restarted the machine. FreeBSD booted in under a minute and dropped me at a text console with a login prompt. Signing into FreeBSD we are greeted by a welcoming message letting us know where we can find the project's documentation and security advisories. The system starts out using very few resources, around 10 MB of RAM and (depending on our choices at install time) around 1 GB of hard drive space. Looking around the system I found common UNIX utilities were available along with manual pages. The Clang compiler was available and the OpenSSH secure shell was running in the background. During the install process I had requested that FreeBSD set up 1GB of swap space for me, however I found the operating system did not have any swap space available to it. Further checking showed that the operating system was trying to activate a swap partition during the boot process -- a swap partition which did not exist. This seems to be a mistake on the part of the guided partition manager.
I had decided to set up FreeBSD using a ZFS data pool. During my time with FreeBSD I found that ZFS performed well and file copying and removals were performed quickly. By default ZFS is set up so that key sections of the file system are mounted as separate sub-volumes. This means that user home directories, system binaries, log files and software ports are all stored in different areas and can be handled separately. For example, we can create snapshots of system files and home directories separately and, if we need to roll back to previous versions of the file system, one group of files need not be affected when we restore a different area.
Software and package management
One attractive feature now available in FreeBSD 10.0 is the new package manager, called "pkg", which presents a unified approach to package management and provides a simplified syntax when compared against the previous FreeBSD package management utilities. The first time we run the new pkg command the system reports pkg is not fully installed and offers to download and install the package manager for us. Once pkg has been bootstrapped we find that pkg uses a similar syntax to the zypper or YUM package managers. We can perform software installations, upgrade software and remove unwanted packages. We can get lists of installed software and perform searches against the FreeBSD software repositories. As the FreeBSD ports and packages collection is a bit of a moving target, pkg allows us to lock specific packages at a specific version, preventing accidental upgrades. I found pkg worked quickly and presented lots of information while it was working, including helpful prompts.
The FreeBSD operating system, on its own, features lots of command line utilities, but it does not feature many services, nor a graphical user interface. Armed with the new pkg software manager I decided to change this. My first self-appointed task was to install the Xfce desktop environment from the project's binary package repositories. There is a meta package for Xfce which pulls in the various panels, menus and icons a desktop environment needs. These all installed cleanly, but I noticed there was an important omission. Installing the desktop environment does not install the necessary underlying X display server software. For some reason X is not considered a dependency of Xfce. The next hour was spent downloading X, trying to run the desktop, discovering X would not run, trouble-shooting X, reading the FreeBSD Handbook's entry on trouble-shooting X, manually reconfiguring X and trying again. Ultimately I never got X working quite right. Sometimes it would show me a desktop, but the interface wouldn't respond to keyboard input, or I could get keyboard input working, but X wouldn't display anything. Eventually I put X & Xfce aside and decided to focus on what FreeBSD is best known for, being a server.
Last month, when I was evaluating Linux-based server distributions, I tried setting up a few services, including secure shell and Wordpress on four GNU/Linux distributions. Since FreeBSD allows OpenSSH to be enabled at install time, I decided to focus on setting up a Wordpress service on my new FreeBSD box. At first this looked as though it would be blissfully straight forward as the FreeBSD software repositories include a Wordpress package. I installed the Wordpress package and, at the end of the process, was told to run a script to set up the Wordpress database. This seemed really convenient until I tried to run the script and found it did not exist. As it turned out, installing Wordpress only supplied the Wordpress files and didn't pull in dependencies such as a web server, database or the script file to automatically set up the Wordpress database. The phantom script referred to by the Wordpress package, as it turned out, was part of one of the database packages which I later installed.
I also downloaded the Apache web server (version 2.2) package using pkg and found the Apache server would not start, claiming it could not match my computer's hostname to an IP address. Fortunately I had seen this before and changed my hostname to something Apache would recognize as a fully qualified domain name. Thinking this should complete my Wordpress set up I tried to browse to my new website and discovered support for the PHP scripting language was not enabled in Apache by default and, for that matter, would require I re-install PHP from source code and change the port's configuration in the process. Once all of this was done I had to set up Apache and the MySQL database to start at boot time to complete the set up. It is a surprisingly long and error-prone process compared against the other server platforms I reviewed earlier in the year.
What most of my problems with FreeBSD came down to was the repeating issue that software installed using pkg did not also install all required dependencies. Some immediate dependencies might be installed, but not all the items further down the dependency chain. The above example of installing Xfce without getting X was one instance, installing Wordpress without getting a database or web server in the process was another example. On another day I installed a collection of "fortune" quotes to be displayed when I logged into my account. The fortune add-on installed properly and I could manually read its text file, but I found that the actual fortune program itself was not installed when the add-on was, it had to be found and installed separately.
Now, I suspect I may get a flood of emails from FreeBSD fans pointing out the fortune program is an optional part of the FreeBSD operating system itself rather than a port and therefore outside of the scope of the package manager. That may be true, but doesn't that make the problem worse? That means the package manager is not only installing software for which it is not checking dependencies, but also for which it cannot check dependencies. If the component is optional it really should be placed in the ports collection where it can be found by the package manager, otherwise we risk running into situations where software is broken. This does not appear to be a problem with the pkg software manager itself, but rather the underlying ports framework. Checking the dependency lists on FreeBSD's website show that the missing dependencies are not specified in the ports.
I tried running FreeBSD in two environments. The first was a VirtualBox virtual machine and the second was my desktop box (dual-core 2.8 GHz CPU, 6 GB of RAM, Radeon video card and Realtek network card). In both environments FreeBSD booted quickly, ran smoothly and remained stable. Sound worked out of the box and, with some effort, I was able to get X to work with my video card. The operating system was quite light on RAM, especially considering the many features of ZFS.
Largely due to the dependency gaps and troubles with getting third-party software up and running my impressions of FreeBSD came down to two main points. The first is that FreeBSD -- the command line tools, the kernel, the ZFS file system and installer -- is a great operating system. In both test environments FreeBSD was fast, stable and ran smoothly. I really like the work which has gone into the system installer for this release and I like that ZFS is so easy to enable and use. The documentation which comes with FreeBSD is detailed and helpful. The new package manager is fast and friendly when compared next to its predecessors. All of this means it is pretty easy to install FreeBSD, explore the system and, once it is up and running, an administrator is unlikely to encounter a broken system.
On the other hand, I got the impression that FreeBSD's ports collection does not receive the same level of care as the base operating system. Some of the available ports obviously have not been tested against a clean installation of FreeBSD to make sure all dependencies have been met. The state of the X port is, in short, unfortunate. This gap between the quality of the base FreeBSD operating system and its available ports is made all the more evident now that a quality package manager like pkg is present. It is easier than ever before to search for and install new software, but too much effort is required to hunt down dependencies and tweak the configuration of key ports. What this results in is a wonderful base operating system that is plagued by trouble once we try to add third-party functionality to it.
Another thing which stood out during my time with FreeBSD was not a feature which was there, but one which I feel was missing. FreeBSD has an amazingly useful feature, called Jails, for isolating processes in, what is essentially, a very low-resource virtual environment. There are some useful tools out there for working with jails and a jail makes running services, such as a web server, more secure. Jails also allow us to run software on our computer without affecting the rest of the operating system. What I feel is lacking is an official repository of pre-made jails. In the Linux ecosystem there is a project called Turnkey Linux which provides pre-made Linux images for common tasks such as serving web pages, running forums, running bug tracking software and hosting instant messaging software.
With FreeBSD jails it should be possible to make and redistribute templates of jails that do these same things. The FreeNAS and PC-BSD projects, both based on FreeBSD, supply a few vanilla jail templates for people who wish to experiment with ports or who want to have a clean container in which to set up services. However, neither of these projects, nor FreeBSD, appear to have a collection of Turnkey-style jails for specific tasks, such as hosting a Wordpress site, running a media server or a TorrentFlux host. The powerful technology included in FreeBSD, along with the operating system's combination of stability and low resource usage, seems ideal for this sort of pre-fabricated container solution. I hope such an idea is adopted as I think it would be great to be able to run a command like "pkg install-jail amp_server" and have an appropriate jail created on the host operating system.
- Advanced file systems (Btrfs/ZFS): 4
- Documentation: 5
- Ease of installation: 4
- Ease of maintaining/upgrading: 3
- Length of support for each release: 3
- Performance: 5
- Stability: 5
- Steps required to enable services: 1
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A few additional notes on SME Server
Following my review of the SME Server distribution, John Crisp emailed me and introduced himself as "El Presidente" of Koozali SME Server, the not-for-profit running the SME Server project. Mr Crisp offered some additional notes and comments he felt would be helpful should I wish to revisit the SME Server distribution in the future. I thought his comments were both fair and informative and, with his permission, I am including some of his notes below:
"Our website does have a huge amount of documentation, but obviously you found that hard to find/navigate. I am going to look at seeing if we can get more "context sensitive" links to either local or server based help built into each area of the server manager. Speaking of which, I know the console looks limited, but you can actually get to a text-based version of the server manager and access everything with a local text browser. I use it a lot.
File systems: the new version 9 [of SME Server] (currently at beta 3 and based on CentOS 6.x), should have ext4. I am not sure what the scenario is with Btrfs or ZFS, but will talk to the developers about it as it is an interesting comment. We hope that version 9 will be launched sometime later this year.
Upgrading from CentOS 5 to CentOS 6: Everyone will have a problem with this due to problems with RPM package signatures (if I remember correctly). This is due to changes at RHEL and CentOS, not us. The CentOS default upgrade recommendation is to back up and restore. It is possible to upgrade, but very tricky and not recommended.
As far as the future is concerned we have tried to concentrate on moving the system pretty well "as is" to v9 / CentOS 6 and only changing things where necessary due to the base system. We hope that we can then turn our attention to some more exciting stuff: new server-manager panel and full LDAP integration. There is a lot we want to do, but that depends a lot on the help we get!
To get version 9 out we really need as many people as possible to get involved, be that installing and testing, verifying bugs, reporting bugs, writing code, editing wiki documents etc. It doesn't matter about your experience level -- please contact us if you would like to help and we will be more than happy to assist people get started."
I would like to thank Mr Crisp for his insightful feedback.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith and Ladislav Bodnar)
Debian votes for systemd, Ubuntu considers own file manager, Xubuntu shows off new artwork, Bodhi unveils 3.0 roadmap, NVIDIA contributes to open-source drivers, Arch Linux and stability
Last week the developers of Debian GNU/Linux went to the polls over an important issue - whether the world's largest community distribution of Linux should adopt a new init system, such as systemd or Upstart. The init system is responsible for getting the operating system into a usable state at boot time and managing system services. After much debate over the benefits of systemd and Upstart by fans of the two init systems, it appears as though the next Debian Stable release will use systemd by default. This means that Debian will join other distributions such as Fedora, openSUSE and Arch Linux in using systemd while Upstart usage remains primarily in the Ubuntu family of distributions.
* * * * *
Some fans of the Nautilus file manager have been upset lately with the development team's choice to remove certain key features, such as dual pane file views. Oliver Grawert raised the idea of swapping out Nautilus from future versions of the Ubuntu distribution in favour of a new file manager which might better suit the needs of Ubuntu users. His mailing list post suggests developers collect a list of required features a file manager should have and look at alternative file managers as possible replacements for Nautilus. Some people saw this proposal and jumped to conclusions, assuming Ubuntu 14.04 would no longer ship with Nautilus as the default file manager. In response to the rumours, Ubuntu developer Jono Bacon took to Google+ to assure people that no decision has yet been made: "There are a set of considerations that we assess when determining which default apps to ship. This includes features, quality, integration, stability, and the health of the upstream. The Ubuntu Desktop team takes these considerations into account when making a decision, and the decision is always discussed out in the open at UDS and on [the] Ubuntu-desktop [mailing list]. What is important to note is that the decision has not been made yet. We are not even close."
* * * * *
While a great deal of the open-source community focuses on code development, many of our first impressions of an operating system come from its appearance and layout. Often times the design choices which go into a project are the work of artists rather than coders. The Xubuntu project gave a nod to the artistic members of its community last week by showcasing some of the new artwork which will appear in Xubuntu 14.04. "In a discussion lasting over two hours, we looked at and discussed all wallpapers in question. It has to be mentioned that one of our criteria was to end up with a diverse set of wallpapers, as in: Xubuntu isn't only 'all blue'. Today, we would like to present the winners and outline quickly what we like about them or why they were chosen." The favoured images can be found on the Xubuntu news page
* * * * *
With the upcoming release of Ubuntu 14.04, a special version that will be supported with security update for five years, many of the Ubuntu-based projects that follow the long-term support branch will spring into action. One of them is Bodhi Linux, a distribution building a highly customised desktop with the Enlightenment window manager. Last week founder Jeff Hoogland published a tentative feature plan and roadmap leading to Bodhi 3.0.0: "This coming year will mark our third major release - Bodhi Linux 3.0.0. First, let's cover a few FAQs I've been getting regarding this new major release. Q: Will you continue to support non-PAE Processors? A: Yep. I do not currently know which kernel version we will be using on our non-PAE disc, but we will continue producing an ISO image that works on older non-PAE computers. Q: Which version of Enlightenment will you use? A: Unless I am able to beat E18 into a form I am confident is consumable for 'normal' users Bodhi 3.0.0 will continue to use the E17 desktop by default. Regardless of which desktop we ship with by default - both desktops will be easily accessible/swappable in our repositories." Bodhi 3.0.0 is slated for final release at the end of June.
* * * * *
In a surprise move, NVIDIA, the notoriously proprietary company, has contributed code to open-source driver development. Alexandre Courbot posted source code patches for Nouveau, a project which creates open-source drivers for NVIDIA video cards. The patches are for GK20A, a Kepler-based GPU that will be used in Tegra K1 chips. Courbot wrote: "I guess my [NVIDIA] email address might surprise some of you, so let me anticipate some questions you might have. Yes, this work is endorsed by NVIDIA. Several other NVIDIAns, including core GPU experts, have provided significant technical guidance and will continue their involvement." This unusual move has pleased Linux founder Linux Torvalds who raised "a thumb for NVIDIA" on his personal Google Plus page. Hopefully this is one of many more open-source contributions from NVIDIA.
* * * * *
Arch Linux, one of the few genuine rolling-release distributions that one can install and continuously keep up-to-date, has become a very popular operating system among the more knowledgeable Linux users who like that cutting-edge experience. But how does this never-ending upgrade process impact the stability of the distribution? In "Opinion: Arch Linux and Stability", author Andrew Powell summarises his experiences with running Arch: "So long as some care is taken and you don't rush in and do something silly without any knowledge or consulting that amazingly good and famous Arch Wiki, things should go okay and be quite stable. But occasionally, they won't. Of course when it comes to updates and bugs/instability creeping into software, it can happen in any operating system out there. But with Arch Linux, it is bleeding edge and the updates tend to come pretty fast, plus the distribution is meant to be more hands-on in its approach, so there is that little bit extra risk. Whether the pros of Arch outweigh some of these cons, is purely dependent on you and your tastes or requirements in a Linux distribution."
|Tips and Tricks (by Jesse Smith)
Putting server security first
Looking-for-security asks: I am really glad you did your server showdown reviews. That said, I've still got some unresolved questions. Maybe you can answer these as an extension to your server showdown, or maybe it would be better done as a similar but separate series of articles? I'm looking for a "secure communications server for the rest of us", a hardened secure communications platform that a complete novice can set up and be reasonably sure that it is as secure as possible from intrusion. Personally, I want secure, encrypted email, and secure, encrypted instant messaging, maybe also some website hosting, maybe also some file sharing.
The typical process for getting to a secure server seems to be: Start from an insecure distribution, secure ad-nausium (a failure-prone process due to the nearly infinite steps required to implement a never-ending list of security recommendations) and activate server features. What I am looking for is more along the lines of: Start from a "secure by default" distribution, with all possible security features already enabled. Then use some convenient interface to turn on the server features, which also turns off only those security features required for the feature to function (a manageable, finite step process).
I really want this sort of Linux server appliance that is secure and hardened, and doesn't need a sea of configuration changes to make as secure as possible, but is still easy to reliably set up what I need, and not requiring me to be overly concerned about whether I have mangled the server security in the process of turning things on.
DistroWatch answers: You raise an interesting problem and I think you are going to run into is that secure is usually the opposite of convenient. You want to set up a server that just installs, you click a few buttons to enable features (or run a few commands) and it "just works". Which is great, a server like SMS or Zentyal will do that for you, Zentyal especially is designed for that. The problem though is that, by being easy, such distributions are not, by their nature, secure. Secure systems such as OpenBSD or Tails are designed to not have convenient features because such systems are almost universally insecure.
I feel your best bet is probably to get a fairly convenient system (like Zentyal) and make sure you enable the firewall and enable email transmission encryption. Maybe visit their community forums and get suggestions on the easiest way to do the other things you want. That would give you the easy setup and relatively finite steps of an appliance distribution. On the other end of the scale, if your primary interest is security, then you might want to look at OpenBSD, one of the few operating systems which is pretty much guaranteed to be secure by default. It takes more time and effort to set up OpenBSD and there is a sharp learning curve, but it will start you off with security-on-by-default. Alternatively you might want to look at Turnkey Linux, which packages services as appliances. These are designed to be more convenient than secure (typically), but they turn the operating system into a module. Running a series of these on separate machines may be more secure (on the whole) than trying to run many services all on one operating system.
One word of warning, if I may. You mention secure web hosting and encrypted email. Such things are only as secure as the weakest link, which means your emails may be encrypted going out to other people, but chances are no one is going to send you encrypted emails in return (or know how to open your encrypted messages). Your web server may be secure (have HTTPS enabled and be patched against known threats), but that won't save you from a SQL attack if your server-side code is sloppy. Sharing files securely can be difficult too because your files are only as safe as the weakest password/authentication system your users may utilize. This is why security is hard (and often at odds with convenience), there are a lot of pieces to a modern operating system and, as you add functionality, you add potential security weaknesses.
I would also like to point out that security is often a matter of ongoing processes rather than a set state. The question mentioned finding a distribution with "all possible security features already enabled". There are virtually limitless possible steps in adding layers of security to an operating system and many of them require vigilance. This is why it is difficult to find a fully functional operating system that is close to "secure by default". There are all sorts of account management tools, intrusion detection and access controls (such as SELinux or AppArmor) that may be added to a system to improve its security beyond a set of bare defaults.
|Released Last Week
Chakra GNU/Linux 2014.02
Neophytos Kolokotronis has announced the release of Chakra GNU/Linux 2014.02, the latest stable version of the project's Linux distribution, originally forked from Arch Linux, featuring the KDE 4.12.1 desktop: "The Chakra project team is delighted to announce the first release of Chakra 'Curie'. Curie is the name of a series of Chakra releases that follows the KDE Software Compilation 4.12 series. This new release includes some refinements as well as new features and updates: Chakra provides the first in a series of monthly stabilization updates to the KDE 4.12 series: 4.12.1; KDE Workspaces has been patched to display the width or height (depending on orientation) of Plasma panels when resizing them; we now provide KDE Connect, which aims at making your computer aware and seamlessly integrated with all your devices; enabled login/logout sounds...." Read the rest of the release announcement for more information and a screenshot.
Chakra GNU/Linux 2014.02 - the default KDE desktop
(full image size: 1,543kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Zorin OS 8 "Educational"
Artyom Zorin has announced the release of Zorin OS 8 "Educational" edition, an updated version of the project's specialist edition designed primarily for educational institutions: "The Zorin OS team has released Zorin OS 8 Educational, the education-oriented edition of our operating system designed for new Linux users. We have introduced a myriad of changes in Zorin OS including updated software, improvements to the user interface and entirely new software. As always, Zorin OS 8 uses the Zorin Desktop environment with Zorin Menu for unparalleled customization and the Zorin Look Changer for ultimate ease of use. We also include our Zorin Web Browser Manager to ease the installation of web browsers. In addition, we have now made it super easy to install the Zorin World Community Grid program in Zorin OS 8 to help humanity. Zorin OS 8 is based on Ubuntu 13.10." Here is the brief release announcement.
Tails 0.22.1.1, an updated release of the Debian-based distribution and live CD pre-configured for anonymous web browsing, has been released: "Tails, The Amnesic Incognito Live System, version 0.22.1, is out. All users must upgrade as soon as possible as this release fixes numerous security issues. Notable user-visible changes include: security fixes - upgrade the web browser to 24.3.0esr, upgrade the system NSS to 3.14.5, workaround to a browser size fingerprinting issue by using small icons in the web browser's navigation toolbar, upgrade Pidgin to 2.10.8; major improvements - check for upgrades availability using Tails Upgrader and propose to apply an incremental upgrade whenever possible; install Linux kernel 3.12.6; bug fixes - fix the keybindings problem introduced in 0.22, fix the Unsafe Browser problem introduced in 0.22...." Here is the complete release announcement with known issues and upgrade instructions.
Untangle NG Firewall 10.1
Untangle has announced the release of version 10.1 of Untangle NG Firewall (a product formerly known as "Untangle Gateway"), a Debian-based specialist distribution for firewalls and gateways: "Untangle, Inc., a network software and appliance company, today launched version 10.1 of its Next Generation Firewall software, a critical upgrade for disaster recovery support for small and medium businesses." One of the major changes of this release is that the applications are now pre-installed: "In 10.1 and the future, the applications will be preinstalled on the appliance or installed with the CD or USB key along with the platform. This makes the installation much quicker and simpler. Now when the user logs in for the first time they will register this server with their Untangle account and then they can install the applications. No download is required." Read the press release and check out the detailed changelog for a full list of changes and new features.
Colin Watson has announced the release of Ubuntu 12.04.4, the latest of the distribution's live and installation images that include all recent security and bug-fix updates. This is Ubuntu's LTS (long-term support) release, providing security updates until 2017. From the release announcement: "The Ubuntu team is pleased to announce the release of Ubuntu 12.04.4 LTS for its Desktop, Server, Cloud, and Core products, as well as other flavours of Ubuntu with long-term support. As with 12.04.3, 12.04.4 contains an updated kernel and X stack for new installations on x86 architectures. As usual, this point release includes many updates, and updated installation media has been provided so that fewer updates will need to be downloaded after installation." Please read also the release notes for more information.
Scientific Linux 6.5 "Live"
Urs Beyerle has announced the release of "Live" editions of Scientific Linux 6.5, a distribution built from source packages for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.5 but enhanced with extra software applications for use in academic and scientific environments: "Scientific Linux 6.5 LiveCD, LiveMiniCD and LiveDVD are officially released. Changes since 6.4: software based on Scientific Linux 6.5; CUPS, Pidgin, Brasero, Qt, Gcalctool, gdisk, LFTP, spice-client, minicom and nc were removed from 'LiveCD' to save disk space. Notes: the live images are based on the Fedora LiveCD tools; if you install LiveCD to hard drive, the installation of the live image is done by Anaconda similar to the normal SL6 installation, all changes done during LiveCD usage are lost; you can install LiveCD on an USB stick with persistent changes using liveusb-creator included in sl-addons." See the full release announcement for further information.
Jordan Hubbard has announced the release of FreeNAS 9.2.1, an updated version of the project's free network-attached storage (NAS) system based on FreeBSD and the ZFS file system: "After one beta, two release candidates, and many nightly builds (which many of you tested, to our everlasting gratitude) we are, as always, proud to announce the public availability of FreeNAS 9.2.1-RELEASE. FreeNAS 9.2.0 was a great release, and we're pleased to say that FreeNAS 9.2.1 is even better. Since 9.2.0 was released, we have fixed over 189 bugs, added new features, polished the UI, and improved the performance of FreeNAS even further. The documentation has also been updated for 9.2.1, though the source code is still a useful reference for features like the web API, which comes with several examples in the source tree. For the first time, we are also publishing an errata list for 9.2.1 so people will know about known issues that were not deemed severe enough to be 'show stoppers' for this release." Read the rest of the release announcement which includes detailed release notes.
Version 12.04.4 of LXLE, a respin of Lubuntu designed for older computers, has been released: "After patiently waiting for Ubuntu to officially announce their 12.04.4 update and once the number of seeders of LXLE grew to an adequate level to 'serve' it, LXLE 12.04.4 has been released. This particular release builds on the idea that many 'at idle' processes can be replaced by 'on demand' solutions, such as weather, battery, updates, power management, etc. It also introduces microcode kernel updates for your processor and preload, a readahead daemon, by default. Notable new features: LXLE PPA enabled by default; updated core LXDE components; updated BleachBit, Catfish, MiniTube; updated Elementary icon set; added Steam, VokoScreen, Schedule Tasks; GNOME Commander replaced with Sunflower; Fast Forecast replaced with Typhoon; GDiskDump replaced with Startup Disk Creator; enhanced Firefox and bookmarks toolbar...." See the full release announcement for more information and a video overview.
Sam Geeraerts has announced the release of gNewSense 3.1, a minor update of the project's Debian-based Linux distribution built strictly from free software as defined by Richard Stallman's Free Software Foundation: "Hi, I'm pleased to announce the release of gNewSense 3.1. This is a minor update to the current stable version with code name 'Parkes'. These are the most important changes: the correct country-specific package repository (instead of the beta one) is set at installation time; NetworkManager is included on the live image by default; the expert installer no longer suggests to install Debian's non-free repository. Current users of gNewSense 3.0 don't have to reinstall as they get all the updates automatically. However, they should fix their repository configuration. That repository will be disabled next week, in order to start development on gNewSense 4. I urge you to update your software sources to the correct ones as soon as possible." Here is the brief release announcement.
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
New distributions added to database|
* * * * *
New distributions added to waiting list
- BASIS. BASIS is a desktop Linux distribution based on openSUSE and built with SUSE Studio.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 17 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)
If you've enjoyed this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly, please consider sending us a tip.
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1 • Re FreeBSD review (by EarlyBird on 2014-02-10 09:10:11 GMT from Canada) |
Thanks for doing that review on FreeBSD 10. Was thinking about tinkering with it, but haven't had a chance to see if the onsite documentation has been updated to reflect the changes in version 10. Your review should help eliminate some unexpected nasties. One always expects these when tinkering with something new and unfamiliar; you at least help show where the potential problems are and this is REALLY appreciated. Don't know if you realize when recieving criticism about your reviews, that even if there are shortcomings, we appreciate having some "OTHER" guy (ie. YOU) being the guinea pig. It's safer than (figuratively) blowing up our own systems.
Now the next step would be to download the ISOs; but which? Lots of used "hand-me-down" pcs (from offices, end of leases, handouts from relatives, etc.) are dual-core intel products with at least 4 gigs of memory. That means we want to download the 64bit iso rather than i386. FreeBSD offers a full i386 DVD iso, and an AMD64. The ia64 ISO is noticeably smaller. The related PCBSD, which would seem to be the ideal beginners starting point, only had an AMD64 iso available. Considering how much more widely available multicore intel boards are available free, used, or otherwise, it seems strange that many distros seem to favour AMD64. Is there perhaps an historical reason for this (maybe previously available support or some such thing?).
Suggestions for future reviews along these lines might include how the different distros handle GPT partitioning, and tips for doing this manually with tools like cgdisk. Maybe also a refresher on BSD terminology (eg- seem to recall they refer to disk "slices" rather than partitions?)
Finally, how to reward our author for his continuing efforts? I THINK guinea pigs like carrots? Now off to find a "sacrificial PC" to test BSD on (to the tune of "We're off to see the Wizard...."
(in case anyone is wondering, it's 4:00 am - guess I AM off my rocker; certainly too early to have toked anything!)
2 • 1 • Re FreeBSD review (by EarlyBird on 2014-02-10 09:10:11 GMT from Canada) (by a69 on 2014-02-10 10:10:02 GMT from Bulgaria)
You are wrong about architecture naming. AMD64 stands for 64 bit Intel AND AMD CPUs. It was AMD that first introduced the 64 bit x86 instruction, hence they are named so. All AMD64 isos will run just fine on Intel CPUs.
3 • 1 • Re FreeBSD review (by greenpossum on 2014-02-10 11:41:35 GMT from Australia)
a69 is correct about the origin of the AMD64 arch. AMD developed the instruction set and subsequently licensed it to Intel. Some distributions, notably Debian and Ubuntu, adopted the AMD64 label before the Linux world settled for x86_64 (as opposed to x86), thus giving the slightly mistaken impression that an AMD64 CPU is required. These days, except for some low end and mobile processors, Intel and AMD x86 processors are 64-bit capable.
4 • cpu naming (by greg on 2014-02-10 12:36:22 GMT from Slovenia)
you will also notice ARM images eventhough the CPU are not really made by ARM. the images work on those that are compatible with the specific ARM version. he who made it first - claimed it (the name i mean...).
5 • @1, @2, @3: Linux only for the elite, please (by gregzeng on 2014-02-10 13:12:50 GMT from Australia)
Linux distros & developers often wrongly label their productions when claiming to be compatible for a CPU: 32bit, 32bit-PAE & 64bit. Only 32bit cannot use more than about 4GB of RAM. Hopefully there are no operating systems that work only on Intel's first 64bit CPU, before it adopted AMD64 architecture.
The comment on the review of the SME Server distribution: "problems with RPM package signatures (if I remember correctly). This is due to changes at RHEL and CentOS, not us." -- introduces another anti-Linux feature.
When installing the coder's latest version of software (e.g. Crossover, wine & virtualbox), I found the .deb apps fit into Debian-originated distros better than the .rpm apps fitting into very many RPM distros. When users move from Apple or Microsoft operating systems, this GUI-hostility of Linux is very discouraging.
Judging from the anti-GUI comments last week's DW, there are many coders who want to keep Linux restricted to the elitist 2%-insiders-only. We, the non-elite, need the installers for both the operating systems and the apps which will auto-sense our hardware at the motherboard level: 32 or 64 bit; 4+GB memory or not; and autosense if the distro is RPM/ DEB based. Until then, Linux is restricted to elitists who need dependent slaves.
6 • autosense (by greg on 2014-02-10 13:26:03 GMT from Slovenia)
not even windows will sense if you have 32bit CPU or 64bit CPU. in fact some even dumb it all down for example win 7 starter will work on max 2GB :-/ furthermore you can run 32bit quite nicely on 64bit CPU in fact i do this on 3 older mashcines. they have low ram so 64bit would just occupy more ram while performance gain won't be as big.
nonetheless i too feel that things that can be done by computer should be done by computer. there is no need for the user to do things if computer can make them faster and more efficient by themselves. i am talking about hardware recognition and installing propper drivers.
7 • #5 CLI (by zykoda on 2014-02-10 13:50:50 GMT from United Kingdom)
There is no elitist "conspiracy" about using CLI. It is just that a GUI is less flexible, more of an overhead, more likely to have bugs and often long winded to achieve what a sequence of possibly Tee'd, piped and scripted commands can achieve in a few lines. Open up the mindset, let a further level of abstraction play its game in this universe of subtle and infinite complexity. We are all elite!
8 • FreeBSD package dependencies (by AnklefaceWroughtlandmire on 2014-02-10 14:03:43 GMT from Ecuador)
I have no experience at all with FreeBSD, but the comment in the review about missing Apache and MySQL dependencies for Wordpress didn't strike me as a very good idea. These days there is a gradual move away from Apache and Oracle MySQL in favor of Nginx and MariaDB. I think that many users (including myself) would be irritated if they were forced to install Apache and MySQL just to install Wordpress. But this is just one example of why the whole chain of package dependencies should generally not be forced unless there is absolutely no other alternative. For example, the issue mentioned with the missing Xorg dependency for XFCE is probably a good example of a required component that really has no other alternative, so it probably should have been included as a dependency of XFCE. Not usually the case with most server apps, though.
9 • systemd & arch (by schultzter on 2014-02-10 14:31:08 GMT from Canada)
I switched to Arch for systemd and it's great to see Debian adopting it now. Systemd is awesome!!!
10 • FreeBSD dependencies, NVIDIA (by Vukota on 2014-02-10 15:46:32 GMT from United States)
Its no surprise that "regular" people love PC-BSD and only hard core geeks prefer FreeBSD. I was always put off by dependency issues in FreeBSD. I would only keep it around until it didn't start to fail miserably because of the failed dependencies and I was fed up by chasing what was broken. Yes, you can fix it, but it is time consuming and time is money, so until FreeBSD hard core geeks doesn't get old enough and fix the broken system, I will try to stay away from it (will eventually check from time to time if things changed).
About NVIDIA, I am not surprised. I was always betting they will do it one day and they have my thumbs up too. On the end of the day they are in a hardware business, not that much software, and they showed their commitment in supporting Linux, and I will show mine by buying their hardware.
11 • FreeBSD and X (by Steve Masta on 2014-02-10 16:37:10 GMT from United States)
I also made the mistake of installing XFCE with the thought it would also install an X server. If I had read the Handbook first, I would've saved some time. Installing and configuring xorg was a simple matter of installing the package and then enabling hald and dbus in rc.conf. After that xorg configured itself for my Intel G41 chipset. Overall I'm quite pleased with 10.0
12 • ReactOS (by DavidEF on 2014-02-10 16:54:40 GMT from United States)
Glad to see ReactOS making a debut on DistroWatch! I'm hoping it gets lots of support so development can accelerate quickly! I've been using Linux for years, and it serves me much better than Windows ever did, but I've got friends and family members who need specific applications that are not available for Linux (yet) and ReactOS would be perfect for them when it becomes full-featured enough. Even when it just gets to beta, it will already be better than any Windows version I've used. They also have a kickstarter project that could use some support, because it will bring in some cash-flow whereby they may pay developers to work on ReactOS full time. Here's to a brighter future for all of us, including soon-to-be FORMER Windows users who may not be able to use Linux full time.
13 • NVIDIA and Nouveau (by DavidEF on 2014-02-10 17:06:38 GMT from United States)
Like others have said, I expected that one day NVIDIA might contribute to Nouveau. I really felt like it was just a matter of time and maybe a small tangle of ownerships that they weren't ready yet to detangle, or for some reason couldn't. But, ever since they worked together with Valve to optimize their drivers for gaming on Linux, I knew it wouldn't be long. I've always liked NVIDIA hardware best, and thought they did the best job of supporting Linux, even though their drivers were proprietary. They really do deserve thumbs up!
14 • ReactOS (by M.Z. on 2014-02-10 17:19:39 GMT from United States)
Good to see ReactOS added to Distrowatch. It caught my eye several years ago, but I haven't paid much attention to it since. I thought it was also interesting that it both expanded the 'Other OS' count from the search page by 25%, & took fourth in the weekly page hit rankings. It would be nice to see something usable from the React team, although I'm guessing it could be a while.
15 • systemd on Debian (by Charles Burge on 2014-02-10 18:04:43 GMT from United States)
Like poster #9, I'm happy to see Debian switching to systemd. I initially had some trepidation when Arch made the switch, but I've grown to really like it.
Regarding Arch itself, I've been using it for about 18 months, including the ARM version on my Raspberry Pi to run a LAMP server. Whenever significant changes are pushed, the website provides excellent documentation. I was able to make the switch from MYSQL to MariaDB without a hitch. Arch may not be suitable for a production server in a business environment, but as a home sever (web, media, NAS, etc.) it works really well even on minimal hardware.
16 • nVidia finally wisening up (by GNUday on 2014-02-10 20:28:53 GMT from Canada)
I've been a customer nVidia for years, been Windows free for years too, I was considering changing to AMD because of nVidia's attitude, they may have just escaped my wallet's guillotine, time will tell.
17 • Debian chose systemd (by Jeff on 2014-02-11 01:03:37 GMT from United States)
Of the possible choices it is probably the best.
Certainly better than upstart which would have forced Debian developers to sign on for non-free software.
The Canonical CLA is not about freedom but ownership.
18 • ReactOS and FreeBSD (by Thomas Mueller on 2014-02-11 02:56:42 GMT from United States)
Finding ReactOS being added to the database is a pleasant surprise. I'd like to see how it works and if I can build it from source code using the ROSBE (ReactOS Build Environment) Unix version from FreeBSD. One problem is where to install it to, since my hard disk is GPT-partitioned, which ReactOS, like OpenBSD, does not support, and I am not sure whether ReactOS could be installed and run on a USB stick, 4 GB or 8 GB. Another problem is lack of support for file systems other than FAT16/32, meaning not good on large partitions. I might be able to build ReactOS updates and applications using ReactOS/Windows tools under Wine from FreeBSD or Linux.
I've built, from source code, FreeBSD 10.0 prerelease and 11-current for both i386 and amd64, which I intend to keep updating, but have not yet built and installed X on these systems. One problem with X may be inability to return to a text console, which is also a problem with NetBSD and modular (pkgsrc) Xorg. FreeBSD 11-current offers a newcons that may enable returning from X to text console, and I want to try that. Large part of the reason for using i386 is MS-Windows functionality through Wine.
19 • packages and init wars (by :wq on 2014-02-11 04:19:50 GMT from United States)
@5 "When installing the coder's latest version of software (e.g. Crossover, wine & virtualbox), I found the .deb apps fit into Debian-originated distros better than the .rpm apps fitting into very many RPM distros."
I'm going to quote the second to last entry in the Ark Linux blog (http://arklinux.wordpress.com/2009/06/02/another-look-at-linux-packaging-systems/, which presumably was written by bero, though there is no name attached to the entry) which, while addressing a different subject, is somewhat apropos in that it speaks to a difference regarding DEB- and RPM-based ecosystems.
"The problems people commonly talk about when saying rpm sucks are often not related to rpm — e.g. the “dependency mess” is caused by people trying to mix packages from Ark, Fedora, SuSE, Mandriva, Yoper, … – all of which are different core systems, using different package naming conventions, and slightly different filesystem layouts.
dpkg would have the exact same problem – if someone actually used it to build a fresh distribution with dpkg that didn’t share Debian’s core system (or something close to it), you’d run into the exact same thing as soon as people tried to mix packages from that new distribution with one of the traditional Debian derivates."
RPMs should be distro-agnostic, but it doesn't always work out that way in practice.
@all RE:OpenRC/systemd/SysVinit/Upstart battle royal- I would just like to express my thanks that commentary on DistroWatch has, as much as I can remember, steered clear of FUD and trolling since bug #727708 was first filed in Oct. I'm sure there are many passionate opinions on the subject.
20 • FreeBSD Review (by EarlyBird on 2014-02-11 04:34:34 GMT from Canada)
To 2, 3, 4, and 5 above:
Thanks for the information. Didn't realize the architecture landscape was so muddled. If most AMD AND Intel multicore boards will work with an install of the FreeBSD AMD64 ISO, that still doesn't answer why there are also IA64 ISOs available for download from the same site. Maybe the answer was staring at me somewhere on the site and I missed it?
Funny thing about perception: One can be looking right at something and not see it, but (as an example doing it aurally), listen to a tune with a sour note (eg - Frank Sinatra's rendition of New York New York) and it sticks out as painfully obvious. Google "persistence of blindness" for more on this - could maybe save you a traffic ticket one day (has some interesting implications for how NOT to design highways!). Strange using "Google" as a verb....
21 • @20 (by :wq on 2014-02-11 04:41:47 GMT from United States)
"The x86-64 specification is distinct from the Intel Itanium (formerly IA-64) architecture, which is not compatible on the native instruction set level with the x86 architecture."
22 • RE 20 • FreeBSD Review (by EarlyBird on 2014-02-11 04:34:34 GMT from Canada) (by LateBird on 2014-02-11 09:01:05 GMT from Germany)
"Itanium is a family of 64-bit Intel microprocessors that implement the Intel Itanium architecture (formerly called IA-64). Intel markets the processors for enterprise servers and high-performance computing systems. The Itanium architecture originated at Hewlett-Packard (HP), and was later jointly developed by HP and Intel." from Wikipedia
23 • @9 systemd & debian (by pogo on 2014-02-11 09:10:43 GMT from Italy)
>I switched to Arch for systemd and it's great to see Debian adopting it now. Systemd is awesome!!!
okay but ... I do not know what to think after reading this: https://igurublog.wordpress.com/2014/01/25/gtk-fesses-up-this-aint-for-you-qt-takes-over-the-world
24 • @23 systemd and debian (by piruthiviraj on 2014-02-11 12:33:11 GMT from India)
If you are smart enough you probably should read this https://lists.debian.org/debian-ctte/2013/12/msg00234.html conclusion. Otherwise you should understand at least the systemd and upstart design by yourself to make an informed decision.
The blog you have linked is full of hatred and no substance. The author of that blog has been previously involved in controversies(arch package signing) and he
specifically flames open source project contributors with his biased views and until now his contributions were mostly limited to a file manager he developed which is hardly used and other than that he spreads FUD among the weaker linux community who are unable to look beyond his deceptive talk. Please do not take his word for truth. Seek your own truth!
25 • Re FreeBSD review - followup (by EarlyBird on 2014-02-11 14:19:22 GMT from Canada)
To: 21, 22 re my @ 20 Also thanks to 2, 3, 4, and 5....
Thanks for clarifying that point. So if I have this straight, IA64 = Itanium, and this IS an exception to instruction set compatibility. In pretty much all other cases, the regular AMD64 ISO is the one to pick for multicore motherboards with 4 gigs or more of RAM.
Funny; read the review on FreeBSD, and ended up learning the forgotten history of motherboard architecture. At the rate of migration to mobile platforms, guess pretty soon we'll mostly be using mostly ARM platform. Funny thing about that platform; there seem to be five main suppliers (eg. -TI, Samsung, etc.), but although they seem to be instruction set compatible, at the hardware level, they are still pin incompatible. That is, I can't just take a TI chip, and plug it into a Samsung socket. Same thing with LCD display chips. Vendor "lock-in"? What ever happened to Doctor Who's ideal of being able to travel to any planet, and know you can plug gizmo A into thingamabob B, and you won't blow up? Thanks everyone. Time for me to turn off the PC, and watch an episode of Big Bang. Oh wait, those characters don't have trouble with technology; they have trouble with social interaction. Lets see what happens if we try to have an iPad socially interact with a Samsung Galaxy (answer: lawsuit).
26 • @24 systemd and debian (by pogo on 2014-02-11 15:36:58 GMT from Italy)
I should thank you for the link you suggest to me, except that by clicking the phrase "this jackass from Stanford" by a comment from IgnorantGuru I have already been directed to the same page! Really funny! :-D
and.. I also want to tell you that the "file manager he developed which is hardly used" is one of the best and smart and functional program I've ever found and used in the past 10 years on Linux (in addition to manage my files better than any other I also use it as DE for Openbox with huge satisfaction from almost a couple of years now!)
and so .. the truth that I have found seems very different from yours.......
27 • FreeBSD dependencies (by Oko on 2014-02-11 16:01:10 GMT from United States)
One in a serious of very disingenuous reviews of BSD family operating systems. Implying that the newest FreeBSD binary packaging tool pkgin ported from NetBSD (oh by the way FreeBSD had a binary packaing tool pkg for about 20 years now) can not resolve dependencies is an insult to intelligence any serious Unix user. PHP is not Apache dependency as it is not needed to run or compile Apache. Many people have no need for PHP enabled Apache. Apache is not dependency for Wordpress as there are many other web servers (Nginx user here). These reviews are designed to discourage potential users from trying BSDs. After reviewing DragonFly without using Hammer and OpenBSD as a desktop OS running two window managers at the same time expectations we very low anyway.
28 • @18: ReactOS and file systems (by Kazlu on 2014-02-11 17:46:27 GMT from France)
I have no solution fot GPT support, but as far as file system support is concerned in ReactOS, what about Explore2fs? Its goal is to acces ext2/ext3 partitions in Windows, so I suppose it should work in ReactOS. A ReactOS FAT32 system partition and an ext3 data partition should do the trick. I have no experience with ReactOS or Explore2fs, it's just an idea.
I just discovered ReactOS. At first I thought it was a useless effort lasting for too many years, but after all, why not. That's how GNU started. Driver support for uncommon material in a libre OS is an interesting thing, provided one stays protected against Windows malware. I am curious to see if Distrowatch can attract interest to this project.
29 • @26 RE: IG Blog (by Anonymous Coward on 2014-02-11 18:28:13 GMT from United States)
I whole-heartedly agree with you on this position, philosophically.
The blog you linked to is some good stuff. I've heard of the guy before but never followed him. Well, that's about to change.....
thank you for the link!
30 • @23 - ignorance is bliss (by M.Z. on 2014-02-11 18:54:11 GMT from United States)
The post you link to seems to be from a raving idiot, although he does have enough sense to admit that he is ignorant in his name. Why think about such things at all? For one thing he implies that making Qt work on Android instantly makes the whole Qt project 'Google's bitch', but he obviously doesn't know that KDE has the right to release all of Qt with a BSD license & blow up the Qt business model if the owners of Qt ever really do something to mess up the open source projects that use the toolkit. He seems to have an irrational fear & paranoia about the destruction of his preferred way of doing things, not unlike certain tinfoil hat wearing political groups. I think he can only hurt open source by ranting in foolish ways that make RMS seem tame & sensible. Ignore him & we'll all be better off.
31 • @26 systemd and debian (by piruthiviraj on 2014-02-12 04:33:53 GMT from India)
SpaceFM is hardly used when you compare Nautilus,dolphin,caja,nemo. You have found it useful and its good for you but that doesn't make any of the authors sentiments about systemd will be shared largely by the open-source contributors. If you don't like systemd there is definitely alternate init options available, but the list is shrinking by time.
32 • Distoitus (by jefboyardee on 2014-02-12 04:40:33 GMT from United States)
I'm just a tinkerer that got tired of Windows and went exploring, to Linux of course, that being the only place a PC user can explore. I spent quite a while learning how to burn ISO DVDs, edit my MBR, install distros alongside and on flash, and keep my W7HP intact.
I've tried about ten distros and have come to a conclusion. As quirky as Windows is, the distro developers are so busy trying to outdo each other that they're missing the point: to make Linux so easy to use that no one in their right mind would actually spend money on the next version of Windows.
I always have about ten little helper programs when I run Windows, just to make the experience meet my needs. I can't find any of them on any distro, and if I can, I have to enter a bunch of terminal code to make them work, usually every time I boot. I and millions more hate entering code. That's exactly why each version of Windows leaned harder on improving GUI interaction and pushing DOS aside. So...
Pick one distro and ditch the others. Assign the developers of the ditched distros to find out what Windows does and learn how to make it better and easier. Put your heads together and create an operating system that make Windows look as silly it is. It doesn't even have to be free.
I understand that Linux is already used for many business situations because it's much stronger at its core. So make it friendly, and I and those millions will come running. Meanwhile, I'll just tinker with it now and then...
33 • @19 dpkg (by Jeff on 2014-02-12 06:51:06 GMT from United States)
Want the same problems with dpkg and deb ?
Mix Ubuntu with Debian.
34 • @32 (by M.Z. on 2014-02-12 07:15:58 GMT from United States)
I think Windows 8, & more importantly consumer reaction to Windows 8 is all the proof one needs to prove your theory of incremental improvements in the Windows GUI to be incorrect in at least some cases. I don't know what your missing in Linux that you have in Windows, but as a counterpoint I'd say that there are features in Linux, both desktop GUI and otherwise that I'd miss if I were forced to only use Windows again. I really would not want to do that though, because I really don't want or need a closed source desktop. Just to name a couple of things, I like virtual desktops/workspaces a great deal, and the simplicity & ease of updating all software at once has become something of a 'must have' for me. Also I love the degree of customization available in many open source DEs. Given that you didn't offer any specifics I have no idea how Windows could be better than desktops like KDE or Cinnamon, but you could make suggestions to Mint here:
Or look up your preferred distro/DE & contact them. Oh, & in case you didn't know your 'one distro to rule them all' idea has been suggested a million times before, & it will likely never happen given the nature of open source projects. Everyone has their own ideas & will implement them on their own given enough time & resources. I think several projects like Linux Mint are already more or less ready to compete with Windows as an easy to use alternative; however, both monopoly power & economic/consumer momentum are far harder to change than you seem to think they are. That is unless of course a few million users or a few percentage points of market share is all you mean in which case Linux is already there.
35 • Chromebook - Re:#30 (by silent on 2014-02-12 07:26:08 GMT from Hungary)
Is it possible to buy a chromebook with Linux installed on it? Or at least without any operating system? Why is it made more complicated to install Linux on a chromebook with Intel CPU than installing Linux on an ordinary notebook? When chromebook is switched to developer mode in order to install another operating system, why is local data deleted? But after all, even Windows can be installed on a chromebook after some ..., I mean web search. Reading is bliss, thinking is bliss, creating is bliss. Long live Mr. RMS! Not because I always agree with him, but because of his 'uncompromising stubbornness' and 'brutal honesty'. (Wikipedia).
36 • RMS - re #35 (by M.Z. on 2014-02-12 07:36:31 GMT from United States)
RMS has his moments & we all owe him a lot, but I'm sure as hell not going to make things as hard on myself as he wants me to in order to maintain some purely free software ideal of his. The brutal honesty can be a big plus though.
37 • "One distro to rule them all" (by Kazlu on 2014-02-12 09:43:35 GMT from France)
What you say is interesting. I would like very much a little more detail about your distribution trials, so I can know better what a GNU/Linux beginner is missing. Could you tell us which distributions you tried and what you missed in those? What, more specifically, did you find hard to do in distributions that are designed to be easy-to-use, such as Ubuntu and Linux Mint?
I second #34 M.Z. on a few points in his response. Indeed, a lot of distros are made only on people's free time, meaning they won't be forced into anything, they will just do what they want, how they think is the best. What makes it a popular distro is that the point of it's author(s) is relevant and shared by others. Moreover, I don't even think it would be a good idea to have only one GNU/Linux distro. For example, the Arch Linux way is, in my opinion, probably the best possible way to have a high quality system. But Arch is not for me, since I have neither enough knowledge nor enough time to manage an Arch system. I could acquire the knowledge... if I had more time :D But I don't think Arch should disappear. Not for me, but good for others, so long live Arch Linux. I use Manjaro and Xubuntu, depending of my use of the concerned computers, and find myself very happy with them.
That being said, there are not just community distributions. Some distros are put together by companies for commercial purposes, therefore they set quality requirements, ease of use being one of them. I think of Red Hat and SUSE, commercial distros that you have to pay for, but which come with user support. They are mainly geared towards the business world, but I suppose it could be okay for a home user, though I'm not sure of it and never tried it. Then you have Ubuntu, which is designed for home users and to be easy to use, which is also free but you can get support from the producing company (Canonical) for a fee. And you even have community distros that put ease of use and user requirements on top of their priorities, like Linux Mint.
I agree the multitude of distros can cause some confusion and dividing forces is less productive. However, there is no way to gather people around a single distribution since they want different things. What is possible is to implement different things while still using open source code and libre software, so that everyone can use every piece of software. Inter-operability is not always here, that's true, however it does not work that bad, a lot of software is available in a lot of distros and not just in one. Instead of "one distro to rule them all", what the GNU/Linux world might need is one big easy-to-use distro which would be as easily accessible as Windows (meaning it comes preinstalled on as many computers as Windows). A flagship distro that gathers people around it, users, hardware manufacturers, software creators, etc. All that while still using libre software, so that compatilibity with sister systems is possible. And then, if you think this flagship distro is nice but not exactly what you need, you can explore other ones, but it would be enough for people that just want to use their computer to get things done. I think Ubuntu could be that flagship. It is on the way, but a lot of people still are not aware that something else than windows is possible on a computer. Of course Ubuntu has its problems and Canonical too, but honestly there are not even comparable to the problems of Windows and Mac OS and the behaviors of Microsoft and Apple. People dissatisfied with Ubuntu can already switch to another distro and probably know how. For others, Ubuntu is a good place to be... or to start. As long as Ubuntu proposes a complete and easy-to-use system, as long as it stays libre software making it possible for others to replace parts of the system by others, that's fine to me and I hope Ubuntu can hold that flagship role, especially with the coming end of Windows XP and the recent birth of this young monster called Windows 8.
38 • On Debian's choosing of a new Init-System (by Pierre on 2014-02-12 10:14:25 GMT from Germany)
The Debian project has NOT yet made a decision on a new Init system!
Sure, there is a good chance that systemd will be the final choice but currently there still is a (heated) discussion ongoing about the change for the upcoming Debian release.
And although systemd seems to be winning, upstart still has a lot of proponents within the Debian leadership and among the Debian developers.
Sad to see openrc to get too little attention because it would be a very nice alternative and fit perfectly into the Debian concepts - at least in my eyes.
39 • ReactOS (by GNUday on 2014-02-12 11:52:31 GMT from Canada)
Downloaded the live CD (0.3.16) for schizz n giggles, wouldn't boot on both Intel and AMD 64-bit machines in my home, on the Intel, it just froze in a black screen, on the AMD, it showed a few lines of executables, then froze. Did I miss something, a boot line edit perhaps?
40 • ReactOS (by GNUday on 2014-02-12 11:52:31 GMT from Canada) (by Jymm on 2014-02-12 12:37:00 GMT from United States)
Same thing here, but I joined the forum to get the answer.. If you are using a Linux machine, even a dual boot Linux/Windows with GRUB, Reactos will not boot. You have to have a C: drive. That means either a clean install on machine formatted to FAT 32 or booting your CD or USB on a windows machine. Good Luck.
41 • Distoitus (by jefboyardee on 2014-02-12 04:40:33 GMT from United States) (by Jymm on 2014-02-12 12:50:36 GMT from United States)
I disagree a bit with you on this subject. I would not want just one distro. I love some of the differences. That said, I think Linux does need some standardization. I think a default file format, whether .deb or . rpm would help. If we want support from hardware manufacturers we need that. Right now if a hardware manufacturer wanted to include a Linux install CD to really let you use all the features of your for example, printer, he would need to include 32 and 64 bit files and drivers, in at the least ,deb and .rpm files. They would also have to support upgrades so the installation would not break on OS updates. Probably not going to happen. Strong hardware support is to me, the key to getting others to try Linux. As long as compiling, extracting tar balls and finding missing drivers remains part of Linux, new users will remain hard to find.
42 • @41 (by Kazlu on 2014-02-12 13:38:16 GMT from France)
Actually it is worse than that: choosing RPM or DEB and throw the other won't be enough. Take the RPM side of the Force for example: Fedora, Mageia and openSUSE use them, among others (including their derivatives of course). But an RPM package designed for Fedora won't necessary work with openSUSE and the others. That's because even if the package standard is the same, packages in openSUSE may not be in the same version than they are in Fedora, or maybe some directories are not handled the same way, or whatever I'm not aware of (not really an expert here). Thas is also true when talking about a release or another of Fedora (you can swap Fedora and openSUSE for any RPM-based distro). So you are absolutely right about the difficulty to port software. Yet some open source and even closed source software manage to do it (eg. Skype). It is easier when libre software is used since the packagers of the distro take care of that, not the developpers of the initial software (provided the packagers care about the given software).
But if I'm not mistaken (please tell me if I am), that does not apply to hardware support. If there is one thing ALL GNU/Linux distro have in common, that's the Linux kernel. At most, every distro uses a given kernel minor release, eventually patched. Since it is modular, one can add or remove drivers to the kernel, even closed source binary modules. That means a hardware manufacturer only has to make a driver for each release of the Linux kernel in order to be supported by EVERY GNU/Linux distribution. Maybe a 32bit and a 64bit edition but I'm not even sure. That being said I think Ubuntu uses a modified kernel but I don't know in what extent.
43 • @39, 40, ReactOS (by AliasMarlowe on 2014-02-12 14:46:01 GMT from Finland)
Have you tried installing it in a VM? I ran the ReactOS ISO to install it in a VMware VM, and so far, it's OK (at least, it boots and runs a few of its applets).
44 • Distro unity, not  (by Somewhat Reticent on 2014-02-12 19:46:45 GMT from United States)
If there is one thing ALL GNU/Linux distro have in common, that's the Linux "kernel." A Linux kernel, yes. Which one, not in common. Tweaked, also not in common.
45 • @ 41 "I think a default file format, whether .deb or .rpm would help." (by :wq on 2014-02-12 22:14:10 GMT from United States)
There kind of already is. The Linux Standards Base (http://www.linuxfoundation.org/collaborate/workgroups/lsb) preferences the RPM file format. "The LSB also defines a standard packaging format to allow portable installation of applications. The packaging format specified is a subset of RPM v3. Although packages of this format must be able to install on a compliant runtime (distribution), this does not mandate that the implementation needs to use the rpm program or database. Debian based distributions, which use the .deb format, can use programs such as alien to convert and install LSB compliant software." "To ensure applications will be able to install successfully, the LSB specifies the RPM file format as the best possible solution. It is the responsibility of the LSB Certified Runtime Environment (aka: operating system or Linux distribution) to be able to install RPM packaged applications."
But the community is probably never going to coalesce around one file format, and that may become less and less of a noticeable difference between distros anyway, as developers rethink how programs are delivered to the end user. In the meantime, there are efforts like FPM (https://github.com/jordansissel/fpm).
46 • What is Linux missing that Windows has? (by imageek5 on 2014-02-13 05:03:29 GMT from United States)
Software wise Linux lacks is 100% compatibility with Microsoft Office. I use Open Office and more recently Libre Office for all my documents except those work related docs which I must share with others. I've tried WINE etc. with mixed results. For this reason alone I will most likely run dual boot on at least one machine in perpetuity, but hey it would be nice if Skype and Pulse played nice together (good luck with that). Even before Pulse Skype had big Linux issues that predate the Microsoft takeover.
Hardware wise? Well it'd be nice to see Linux be more compatible with WPA2 and Wireless hardware in general, also common video cards. I get there will be obscure or old hardware out there but those should be outliers not the rule. Wireless especially is basic functionality these days.
For example why does Tails (based on debian) work with my wireless card, and the Debian installer work with my wireless card connecting without issue to a wpa2 network but an actual installed copy of Debian with the proper wpa2 key typed in can't connect thinking it's the wrong password? Or for that matter several recent versions and respins of ubuntu? The key is correct, but wicd or network manager and/or the wpasupplicant are so buggy they are an embarrassment.
But instead of focusing on basic functionality developers quibble about counterintuitive guis and releasing "new" editions that are actually massive regressions. Why is that?
47 • Linux Missing? Don't think so. (by Charles on 2014-02-13 06:22:09 GMT from Mexico)
Office, Skype, are proprietary garbage, and malware (NSA), NEVER GNU / Linux will be 100% compatible with such crap. Also, for more you try, microsoft makes every effort never achieved.
Those who try, wasting their time. It is easier and better for our community, to use only 100% free software.
48 • @46 (by Kazlu on 2014-02-13 08:49:41 GMT from France)
I won't deny what you say, but how could it be GNU/Linux developpers fault? For Office, Microsoft makes its file format obscure and always in motion on purpose so people have no choice but to purchase the newest version of Office. Unsupported hardware is unsupported because manufacturers don't care about Linux and do not provide drivers, be it open source or closed source. Have you noticed that Android devices are not particularly known for their lack of hardware support? Curiously, Android uses the Linux kernel, where the drivers are!
That does not solve the problem. Just don't blame the wrong people.
49 • @46@48 (by greg on 2014-02-13 11:49:26 GMT from Slovenia)
1. you may want to try Kingsoft office or is it WPS now? it's closed source and they have linux version. anyway should be more if not fully compatible with MS office. the issue is as mentioned that the MS format is not really an open format (contrary to what MS claims). if they gave format specs out then almost no one would buy their expencive office programme. instead not only they keep it closed they also change it every 2 or 3 years forcing the users to upgrade for no good reason. i could write text just as good in word 2003 as i can in 2013.
in my experience office 2007 (word, excel and powerpoint) work good in wine.
2. with linux compatible hardware the wi-fi problems do not exist. as mentioned you should ask manufacturers why they do not release propper drivers forcing opensource community to hack the hardware and reverse engineer. i have similar issue that is mentioned here using wi-fi example with sound. works in live OS but often stops upon install. it seems that driver is ment for a simialr chip than is used. it could be ther eis no driver for my chip. guess who's fault is that?
3. Android is poor example since it too comes preloaded. and trying to get the vanilla vesion on certain phones won't work (no drivers etc).
50 • @49 (by Kazlu on 2014-02-13 11:58:56 GMT from France)
About Android: my point exactly. If manufacturers want it, if they see interest in it, they can provide drivers for Linux (Android), even closed source.
51 • Linux Missing (by fernbap on 2014-02-13 16:35:21 GMT from Portugal)
Well, i think it is a well known fact that Microsoft keeps his standards as moving targets so that no other software can remain compatible all the time.
The issue is not a problem with those that can't be compatible, the issue is ethical, and is mostly the windows user's fault.
Everyone is compatible with certain formats. like DOC or DOCX for texts, XLS for spreadsheets, etc. All Windows offices can use and export those formats. so it falls to the windows user the responsibility of producing documents that everyone can read and use. If he doesn't, then it is his fault, specially after he is aware of the problem, that is in fact an unethical policy from Microsoft.
It is time for people to start demanding office users to use compatible formats, instead of self-deluding themselves into believing that something is better only because it's new.
52 • RANT: Linux needs a rethink! (by Suomynona on 2014-02-13 21:57:27 GMT from United States)
Thanks once again for another informative edition of Distrowatch. I often come here to see what's happening in the Linux world (as well as other "open" platforms). And reading the current edition, I was struck by an interesting conclusion to the whole "distro" thing -- THEY'RE ALL GETTING IT WRONG! (Sorry - no bold key.)
Just looking at the SME Server notes where SME's "El Presedente" felt the need to address their (arguably) buggy distro, it got me thinking. Why do we let these "developers" constantly add/subtract the things that they like when we (users) can probably do it ourselves? (Not just post-install through things like repository's either.)
Looking at the Ubuntu news and realizing that people are starting to once again hate it, all because of simple things like changes in Nautilus, I can't help wonder why we submit to this kind of overlord dictatorship of a developer to make us use these things when we can probably assemble our OWN flavor before ever installing the OS. IOW, why pack so much "junk" into an ever increasing bloated .iso when only a few things may be necessary? (And yes, I am aware of certain distro's that allow for "network install," including Ubuntu. That's not the point.)
Why not develop some kind of "pre install" app (easily used on all OS's) that will allow a user to include/exclude whatever he/she feels is necessary BEFORE any installation disk ever hits the computer? Why not let the users decide what they want and allow them to make their own .iso rather than stuffing a distro full of tons of silly junk like wallpapers and apps that will probably never even be seen? At the very least, why not allow a user some sort of way to EDIT an .iso to include/exclude the junk they know they will/won't be needing/wanting?
Yes, this probably means making some kind of app for Windows/Mac as well as other OS's. Hopefully, it would allow a person to pick and choose the packages they want from somewhere other than some anonymous repository. But more than that, I would hope any such tool also allows for kernel recompiling to include or exclude any kind of support! For example; Don't like Nautilus? No problem! Just incorporate Dolphin (or whatever) instead. Don't need support for the latest Xeon CPU? No problem! Just recompile the kernel to not include it and/or include whatever you do want (like exclusive support for an ancient 8-bit Motorola CPU). I mean, all this stuff is already ava
So rather than let a few (untalented) cooks spoil our soup, why not demand the tools to make our own? I'm sure the cooks might appreciate it too.
So far as I know, no such tool(s) exist. And I'm sure it will take some real effort from some of the more talented coders out there to make one. Frankly, it will take some real effort by individuals who not only have this talent but can also THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX! (Sorry - no bold key.)
53 • Level of comments here are disgraceful (by Miklos on 2014-02-14 04:14:14 GMT from Taiwan)
The amount of FreeBSD bashing in the comments is astounding.
First off - forcing dependencies on you where you have obvious choices is a bad thing - the reviewer asked to install Wordpress not Wordpress and a complete FAMP stack. Now there is room for the pkgng system to alert you that you should install AMP (or NPP etc.) to use it.
Secondly - the people complaining about ports have obviously not spent 5 mins trying to understand it - a Google search on using FreeBSD ports will tell you that there are plethora of tools to make it easy for everyone - my personal favorite is 'portmaster' and the first thing I install on any FreeBSD machine (pre 10.0) - it automates all dependencies and you still get the benefit of installing every part from source which is WAY better than installing binary packages and always will be.
So whenever you lambaste FreeBSD for dependency issues you are actually just showing off your own ineptitude.
54 • @52 building your distro (by Kazlu on 2014-02-14 08:34:25 GMT from France)
What you describe is what Slax did not so long ago. I tried but when I wanted to add a package in my custom ISO, dependancies were not added. I had to do everything manually and it was veeeery long and the website was not really adapted to that. Since every dependancy I added seemed to add more dependancies and the list kept growing, I gave up. Slax does not do this anymore. I don't know why and I won't try to assume anything, I have no knowledge of the Slax policy and I don't know people behind it. You may want to check Porteus, they do something like that but the choice is basic: you get to choose your architecture (32/64 bits), your desktop, web browser, graphic card driver, and two or three other things. Maybe not the level of customization you're looking for, but the only one I know which does it like that and lets you download the ISO after that.
You say "And yes, I am aware of certain distro's that allow for "network install," including Ubuntu. That's not the point." Is it not? That's precisely the point of Ubuntu network install and you're guided to select your software. What exactly do you want that is not provided by this kind of network install?
Finally, what you describe is what you want, but probably not what everybody wants. A lot of people just want something that works out of the box without having to think about which file manager to choose between A) and B), maybe they don't even know what is the difference. I personnaly trust people you make distributions to select a coherent package of software that works together. Eventually, post install I replace a couple of software by ones of my choosing, not a big deal. And faster that selecting every app myself. I am not saying your request is irrelevant, but if I understand it correctly, I suppose it would require a lot of effort from distro authors for nor so many asking for it, with the risk that people make a non optimal software selection (like apps working with GTK+2, GTK+3 and Qt) resulting in a heavy, ugly and maybe buggy result, blaming the distro authors for that.
55 • @53 (by Kazlu on 2014-02-14 08:57:27 GMT from France)
"you still get the benefit of installing every part from source which is WAY better than installing binary packages and always will be"
Could you be more specific? I use Manjaro and install most of my software from binaries, with the exception of FreeFileSync build from source from the AUR. I think the frequency of updates with the quite long time needed for compiling does not play in favor of the "from source" model. For one software it is OK, but for all of them it would require too much time to be useful in my opinion (I do not have that much time to spend maintaining my OS). What are the benefits of building from source in your opinion?
56 • From source (by Miklos on 2014-02-14 11:30:35 GMT from Taiwan)
Building from source has besides using your specific compiler optimizations the ability to select which features you want to enable/disable for your software - especially on FreeBSD. And reducing/increasing features in software you install impacts dependencies greatly.
To make it easier to related to - not all options are enabled/disabled in your software and they can only be enabled/disabled during compilation - so if you want to optimize your system, binary based installs are bad, that is the downside to a faster installation.
On FreeBSD using ports you can manage everything you want through portmaster and it's issuing 3 commands to keep your system up to date on FreeBSD and two of them can be run via cron.
57 • Ports (by Koroshiya Itchy on 2014-02-14 14:50:40 GMT from Belgium)
I have been using Funtoo, a Gentoo derivative which also uses the FreeBSD ports system, for over six months now. Before, I had tried for shorter periods of time Gentoo itself and PC-BSD.
My opinion on the ports system is that it works remarkably well given the complexity of the task. I will certainly miss the ability of optimising the system and of selecting the features you want for each application. But yesterday, I started to migrate back to Debian.
Why, with Funtoo I was spending too much time just managing my systems. There is always a small issue here and there and, even if I have managed to solve or workaround almost all of them, it takes too much time and effort.
That said, I have enjoyed the experience and learned a lot. Now managing Debian seems trivial.
By migrating to a source-based system I wanted to check whether or not the performance boost (I run demanding calculations 7/7 and 24/24). That boost would be somewhere between negligible and a more impressive 20%.
However, man time is more valuable (both monetary and existentially) than machine time. If, in the best case scenario, I win 20% of machine time but waste more than 200% more human time, it is not a good business. Unless, of course, if you can afford having a dedicated professional just to do that...
58 • @ 52 • RANT: Linux needs a rethink! - Suomynona (by Czanat on 2014-02-14 19:01:03 GMT from Poland)
> Looking at the Ubuntu news and realizing that people are starting to once again hate it, all because of simple things like changes in Nautilus, I can't help wonder why we submit to this kind of overlord dictatorship of a developer to make us use these things when we can probably assemble our OWN flavor before ever installing the OS. <
Well, the "users" shouldn't get so angry about simple things like "changes" in Nautilus, and also about "having" to use Unity. You just don't have to use Nautilus, or even Unity, you can just change uninstall them, if you really don't want them. This "idea" of uninstalling apps and installing other apps goes for other ditros too.
59 • #57 Demanding calcs. (by zykoda on 2014-02-14 20:22:19 GMT from United Kingdom)
Maybe using nvidia cuda or PVM could help? cut time from 24/7. Depends on the problems and methods and how much parallelism there is! (Amdahl's law). I have in the past seen solutions literally 1000's of times quicker by adopting different methods: (should they be available!). The odd few percent gained? from system source compilation has never been been worth the investment of time or money. Some years ago my own attempts to use Gentoo from source cost days (pentium 133 MHz) to compile and install a fairly basic system. To be sure there are 3-4GHz processors etc... now which help ~30 fold.
60 • @49 (@46@48) MS Office on WINE (by Pmulax on 2014-02-14 23:23:03 GMT from Spain)
I've also had good experiences using MS Office 2007 on WINE, at least using the latest versions: no freezes, good font rendering, decent speed...the only drawback I notice are the limited printing options, which I don't need becuase, if I'm using MS's suite it's because I have to send a 100% compatible Word/Excel file.
But given a choice, I prefer LibreOffice, not only because I've now grown quite used to it's interface (in spite of it's ugly icons), but because I don't feel completely at ease using a document format that, though it assures it's "open", only identifies the main body of it's documents as "like Office 2003", and hides it under a "XML" jacket. No wonder many european agencies/councils/users are turning to true open-source alternatives.
61 • FreeBSD pkgng (by M.Z. on 2014-02-14 23:43:29 GMT from United States)
So your saying it's ignorant to install a package & expect it to work? If I install a package in Linux I expect the freaking software to work at least 99% of the time of both .deb & .rpm systems. I suppose there could be some special cases where power users want to do something not involving default dependencies; however, I would say that not alerting users & defaulting to pulling in all dependencies is just bad design. It seems to me that the smart way to install software is to get all the packages you need so that 90+% of users can immediately get to work with the default install. Who the hell really thinks it's smart to not bring in any dependencies & just leave users to fight with half installed software that doesn't actually do anything?
In PCLinuxOS, Mint, and Debian installing something with dependencies brings up a dialogue saying something like 'the following dependencies will also be installed', & if you want to you I think can uncheck the install boxes in some way or another. Frankly I'm surprised that a BSD user in 2014 would attack the intelligence of the user based on people not wanting to dig through dependency issues for every software install. How is it not 100 times smarter to give sane defaults that make things work when you install something? Perhaps you have a great fondness for BSD, but that doesn't mean it is with out fault or that pointing out where your preferred OS is weak compared to other systems is necessarily an 'attack from an inept user'. The pkg system is new & likely incomplete compared to other package managers, and likely still has a few more bugs than other systems as well. The BSD package manager can be improved & could even raise the bar for other software installing systems, but of course that would depend on the BSD developers being willing to meet & exceed higher expectations rather than attack constructive criticism.
62 • They(we) all do it (by Somewhat Reticent on 2014-02-15 02:05:55 GMT from United States)
When development tools and libraries are constantly bombarded with incompatible "upgrades", the inevitable result is "dependency hell". Even Microsoft upgrades aren't 100% compatible with Office ####; no OS is immune.
Of course, as storage space becomes cheaper, one solution is to package all dependencies with each app ...
63 • @57 FreeBSD ports and Gentoo/Funtoo (by Thomas Mueller on 2014-02-15 02:17:02 GMT from United States)
That article (57) sent me to www.funtoo.org, and I couldn't find any hint that they use FreeBSD ports. Funtoo and gentoo use portage, which may be largely inspired by FreeBSD ports. OpenBSD has a FreeBSD-like ports system, and DragonFlyBSD has been switching from NetBSD pkgsrc to FreeBSD-style ports, though both OpenBSD and DragonFlyBSD modify the build recipes to accommodate the differences between the BSDs.
64 • @63 re:Ports (by Koroshiya Itchy on 2014-02-15 11:40:29 GMT from Belgium)
I did not say they use FreeBSD ports. They use a port system, that, if I am not mistaken, was originally ported from FreeBSD. In fact, the main reason for Gentoo to be developed was precisely porting the FreeBSD ports system to GNU/Linux.
Of course, it is a different thing. However, running PC-BSD, which, to the best of my knowledge, uses a pure FreeBSD ports system, I found pretty much the same kind of issues than with the Gentoo ports systems. Maybe FreeBSD ports are more reliable than Gentoo ports, but I am not experienced/knowledgeable enough to tell the difference.
But, please, do not get me wrong. I love the ports system (both of them). Be I a server administrator, I would most likely be using Gentoo or FreeBSD (provided my hardware were compatible, which is the other big issue nowadays). However, not being a server administrator, I find it too time consuming, because for me the computer is just a number-crunching tool and my job is just analyzing the output from all that number crunching and not administrating the computing infrastructure.
One, off-topic question, can you install CUDA in order to profit from GPU accelerators in FreeBSD?
65 • systemd has been chosen by Debian (by Jeff on 2014-02-15 18:03:19 GMT from United States)
Yes, systemd has been chosen by Debian, even Mark Shuttleworth has acknowledged this and has announced that Ubuntu will switch to systemd.
66 • ReactOS/Androidx86 (by GeronL on 2014-02-15 22:53:40 GMT from United States)
These OS efforts are interesting, I hope they both succeed. While they and BSD might not be Linux in the strict definition I like the idea of variety and choice in the matter of desktop OS's.
67 • aka happy medium, optimal middle ground, best compromise (by benton on 2014-02-16 06:52:27 GMT from United States)
dear Suomynona, although I agree that most Debian derivatives and Ubuntu derivatives are MUCH too bloated for my taste, I respect the "good intentions" of the distromakers. It's much easier for you or I to weed out the I'll-never-use applications (and the eye-crampy wallpaper, and themes, and iconsets, and fonts, etc.) than it would be for novice "desktop" user to find and install all that stuff.
FYI, there _are_ tools available which enable us to rebuild a custom iso after making our changes. Mint just announced they are withdrawing the MintConstructor tool from distribution, but forks of it are still available at github. For Debian and derivatives, the "refractasnapshot" tool (available from debian sid repository or from github) is an excellent tool. I'm not familiar with current Ubuntu-specific tools, but google search "creating a customized Ubuntu iso" indicates that several do exist.
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|• Issue 665 (2016-06-13): BunsenLabs Linux Hydrogen, Fedora 24 delayed, NetBSD grows in size, Clonezilla questions|
|• Issue 664 (2016-06-06): Sabayon 16.05, Debian updates install media, the cost of free software, Qubes explains secure build process|
|• Issue 663 (2016-05-30): Comparing live update methods, Ubuntu MATE's progress, distros debate systemd change, DistroWatch turns 15|
|• Issue 662 (2016-05-23): Clonezilla Live, new Fedora community repository, DragonFlyBSD runs Wayland, a live edition of Slackware and kernel components|
|• Issue 661 (2016-05-16): FreeBSD 10.3, OpenMandriva adopts Clang, Debian adds ZFS packages, PCLinuxOS drops 32-bit and comparing CentOS with RHEL|
|• Issue 660 (2016-05-09): Ubuntu MATE 16.04, Mint's xapps, FreeBSD Quarterly Report, Debian updates 32-bit support, addressing GPL violations|
|• Issue 659 (2016-05-02): Ubuntu 16.04, compiling custom kernels, Cinnamon 3.0, Sabayon launches ARM build, Devuan ships Beta release|
|• Issue 658 (2016-04-25): Kali Linux 2016.1, elementary OS 0.3.2, Debian elects Project Leader, Fedora 24 feature preview, Nard reaches 1.0|
|• Issue 657 (2016-04-18): Redox, Linux Mint improves update manager, planned Fedora 24 features, Ubuntu 16.04 getting Snappy packages|
|• Issue 656 (2016-04-11): Qubes OS 3.1, Whonix offers bug bounties, Puppy's family tree, setting up disk partitions and running bash on Windows|
|• Issue 655 (2016-04-04): Parsix 8.5, Sabayon's Community repository, Red Hat offers free subscriptions, Ubuntu tablets, command line tips|
|• Issue 654 (2016-03-28): PCLinuxOS 2016.03, Using signatures to create a web of trust, Arch Linux rolls out Pacman update, GuixSD packages GNOME|
|• Issue 653 (2016-03-21): Antergos 2016.02.21, Debian prepares for election, a Unix-like OS written in Rust, watching Netflix on FreeBSD|
|• Issue 652 (2016-03-14): ReactOS 0.4.0, Debian swaps Iceweasel for Firefox, Fedora moving forward with Wayland, Verifying ISO files|
|• Issue 651 (2016-03-07): Korora 23, Linux Mint improves security, Ubuntu MATE on Raspberry Pi 3 computers, trying different file systems|
|• Issue 650 (2016-02-29): Haiku in 2016, running Android apps on GNU/Linux, 30 years of MINIX, Fedora plans Atomic Workstation|
|• Issue 649 (2016-02-22): Zorin OS 11, openSUSE launches new editions, Linux Mint website compromised, sandboxing applications using Firejail|
|• Issue 648 (2016-02-15): XStream Desktop 153, Raspbian unveils OpenGL feature, free hardware, Ikey Doherty talks desktop design|
|• Issue 647 (2016-02-08): Tails 2.0, KDE project launches Neon, Manjaro unveils ARM support, FreeBSD's quarterly report|
|• Issue 646 (2016-02-01): deepin 15, Mint plans X-Apps, FreeBSD to support boot environments, logging into the desktop as root|
|• Issue 645 (2016-01-25): Linux Mint 17.3 "Xfce", Chromixium changes its name, Ubuntu tablets coming soon, Linux vs BSD comparision|
|• Issue 644 (2016-01-18): Kwort 4.3, Sabayon tests ARM images, Slackware adopts PulseAudio, running Linux without GNU software|
|• Issue 643 (2016-01-11): Solus 1.0, Mint provide upgrade path to 17.3, Fedora developers work on stability, running the LXQt desktop|
|• Issue 642 (2016-01-04): paldo GNU/Linux, vetting distro repositories, Fedora plans to adopt GCC 6, Ian Murdock passes|
|• Issue 641 (2015-12-21): Arch Linux, Qubes OS to ship on Librem laptops, ALT offers start kit images, the spread of systemd and launchd|
|• Issue 640 (2015-12-14): Chakra GNU/Linux 2015.11, removing meta-data from files, Ubuntu to remove on-line dash searches|
|• Issue 639 (2015-12-07): OpenBSD 5.8, openSUSE gathers Summer of Code proposals, running WINE on a live disc, Enlightenment adds Wayland support|
|• Issue 638 (2015-11-30): Qubes OS 3.0, KaOS with Plasma, NetBSD 7.0, Fedora seeks Wayland testers, scheduling tasks|
|• Issue 637 (2015-11-23): NixOS 15.09, Antergos introduces ZFS support, MINIX shares new features, copying an OS to a new computer|
|• Issue 636 (2015-11-16): openSUSE 42.1, Fedora uses Wayland by default, Debian replaces live CD project, Steam consoles launch|
|• Issue 635 (2015-11-09): Fedora 23, Cinnamon 2.8 released, a Fedora KDE packager quits, Red Hat signs deal with Microsoft|
|• Issue 634 (2015-11-02): Ubuntu 15.10, Chakra upgrades to Plasma 5, OpenMandriva plans new editions, MINIX plans conference|
|• Issue 633 (2015-10-26): GhostBSD 10.1, Bodhi Linux to get new settings panel, Fedora 23 delayed, creating live image of existing OS|
|• Issue 632 (2015-10-19): Linux Lite 2.6, 32-bit build of CentOS, OpenBSD turns 20, Bodhi Linux releases AppPack|
|• Issue 631 (2015-10-12): Parsix 8.0, Manjaro seeks new artwork, sending commands to multiple servers, Debian drops LSB support|
|• Issue 630 (2015-10-05): Android-x86 4.4-r3, Ubuntu's new installer, Raspbian defaults to GUI interface, cleaning out dot files|
|• Issue 629 (2015-09-28): Open source desktops and touch interfaces, locking down user accounts, OpenMandriva opens gaming documentation|
|• Issue 628 (2015-09-21): Neptune 4.4, changes to pfSense, Pinguy OS releases updated ISO images, accessing hard disk images|
|• Issue 627 (2015-09-14): Mageia 5, Snappy co-exists with Debian packages, creating PDF/A documents, Antergos previews Poodle|
|• Full list of all issues|
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