| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 546, 17 February 2014
Welcome to this year's 7th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! Many open-source projects benefit from sponsorship and corporate backing. Sometimes money goes toward paying the developers, other times it keeps the project's servers running and sometimes funds go toward promoting the project to the community. These days a lot of the effort which goes into popular Linux and BSD projects is backed by companies and this week we touch on some of these funded projects. First up we have a review of PC-BSD, a desktop-oriented operating system based on FreeBSD and backed by iXsystems. Next we talk about sub-projects Debian hopes to tackle this year with the help of Google's Summer of Code. We also note the reported demise of China's Red Flag Linux, talk about Ubuntu's efforts to simplify application development and usage across multiple form factors, and report on a community effort to bring Enlightenment 0.18 to Slackware Linux. Plus we talk about a comprehensive and practical guide to Red Hat's Enterprise Linux and related projects, such as Fedora and CentOS. Finally, we also present two rather unusual distributions - Android-x86, a well-engineered effort to port Google's Android mobile operating system to standard desktop computers, and NixOS, a research project and distribution that rethinks the way software packages are installed, upgraded and managed. We wish you all a pleasant week and happy reading!
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
PC-BSD 10.0 - desktop BSD for the masses?
The PC-BSD project produces a desktop oriented operating system which uses FreeBSD as a technology base. The PC-BSD team takes the latest release of FreeBSD, adds a nice, graphical installer, several convenient utilities and several pre-configured desktop environments. The result is one of the few flavours of BSD to be designed with desktop use as a primary focus. The most recent release of PC-BSD, version 10.0, includes a number of new features and is based upon FreeBSD 10.0. Some of the new items in the latest version include a more flexible backup utility, a wider range of hardware support and a text-based installer.
A few new desktop environments have been made available to PC-BSD users, including Cinnamon and GNOME 3. The GNOME 2 desktop has been replaced by its own fork, the MATE desktop. The PC-BSD system installer can now adjust more file system settings at install time, allowing the administrator to choose settings which are best suited to their environment. For example, we can tell the installer we will be placing PC-BSD on a solid state drive and the installer will disable features such as access time stamps which write frequently to the disk and reduce performance. As usual, PC-BSD features PBI packages and tools to build these packages. A PBI package is a bundle of software which, typically, includes an application and all of that application's dependencies. This allows users to transfer PBIs between machines or install PBIs when off-line without worrying about missing dependencies, all of the application's requirements are stored inside the PBI bundle.
Download and installation
This version of PC-BSD is available in just one edition, greatly narrowing the available selection of downloads compared to previous releases. The current release is available as a 3.6 GB image which can be transferred to either DVDs or USB thumb drives. The latest version of PC-BSD runs on 64-bit x86 machines only. People wishing to work with a 32-bit FreeBSD base and PC-BSD tools can install FreeBSD and add the PC-BSD specific utilities through the ports and packages system. Booting from the installation media brings up a graphical menu where we can launch the graphical system installer or the project's text installer. I opted to use the graphical installer for my trial.
The PC-BSD system installer begins by asking us to select our preferred language. Down at the bottom of the screen are a handful of icons and clicking these ever-present icons lets us access some key information. One icon allows us to configure our keyboard, another displays helpful tips on navigating the current screen of the installer. A third icon brings up an on-screen keyboard and a fourth opens a window where we can configure our network connection. The final icon brings up a page which shows us which pieces of our hardware PC-BSD can identify. Each item is marked with a check or "x" to indicate whether the hardware is working properly with the available drivers. Moving on through the installer we are asked whether we wish to set up PC-BSD as a desktop system or as a server. We have a third option which is to restore a backup of a previous PC-BSD installation. I opted to take the desktop option. We are then given the chance to customize which software packages are installed.
Most of these packages are desktop environments. For instance we can choose to install one or any of the following: KDE, MATE, LXDE and Xfce. There are also developer tools which can be installed, extra drivers and unsupported graphical interfaces such as Window Manager, Ratpoison and Openbox. Next, the installer walks us through partitioning the hard drive. PC-BSD appears to be hardwired to use ZFS as its file system as I did not find any other file system options. ZFS is quite flexible and we can specify whether we wish to enable mirroring, RAID, data compression and SSD optimizations. All of this may seem overwhelming to newcomers and, when in doubt, the defaults offered are suitable. After we configure ZFS the installer copies its files to the local hard drive and, when it is finished, we are prompted to reboot the computer.
PC-BSD 10.0 - the LXDE desktop and application menu
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The first time we boot into PC-BSD a graphical wizard appears and offers to help us select a proper video driver and resolution for our display. We can then test various driver/resolution combinations and see which one works best for us. We are then asked to give our computer a hostname, set a password for our root account and create a regular user account. We have the option of enabling encryption on the regular user's files. With these steps completed we are presented with a graphical login screen. When we first login to our account a welcome screen appears and offers a few tips on using PC-BSD. Specifically we are shown where to access tools to get us on-line, where to go to configure data backups, where we can go to install new software and, finally, we are presented with links to the PC-BSD project's website and documentation. The welcome screen is a nice, short introduction to the project and it gave me places to start looking at features.
Before I get to PC-BSD's long list of features I would like to talk about how it ran on my test equipment. I ran PC-BSD on a desktop machine and in a VirtualBox virtual machine. VirtualBox had a little trouble with PC-BSD. In my case VirtualBox defaulted to 32-bit support and I had to tell the software PC-BSD was a 64-bit operating system. Then PC-BSD would not boot unless VirtualBox was set to support IO APIC. Once installed I could not get PC-BSD to use my display's full resolution within VirtualBox, despite the fact driver support for VirtualBox had been installed. Finally, PC-BSD constantly used 100% of my host system's CPU, whether the guest operating system was idling below 5% usage or pegged at 100%. This made running PC-BSD in the virtual environment unpractical as it made the host system sluggish and the processor run hot. I checked to see if FreeBSD would also gobble up 100% of the host's processor and found that it did not, that characteristic was unique to PC-BSD. The operating system performed better on physical hardware, using less CPU, gaining a better display resolution and generally performing smoothly. I ran PC-BSD with the lightweight LXDE user interface and found the system required approximately 120 MB of RAM. This seems to be on par with most Linux-based systems which ship with LXDE.
PC-BSD 10.0 - AppCafe and Control Panel
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Software and package management
Shortly after logging in I noticed an icon in the system tray which indicated software updates were available. Clicking on the icon brought up the PC-BSD update manager. This utility kept indicating it was checking for software updates, but never displayed any. The update application appeared to be stuck waiting for something. Going into the system's control panel and opening the software update utility allowed me to check for updates. PC-BSD actually comes with a few update utilities: a package manager which shows available package upgrades and a three-in-one panel which displays PBI updates, port/package updates and updates for the underlying operating system. While it may seem a little confusing at first to consider there are three categories of software on PC-BSD (the operating system itself, PBI stand-alone packages and more traditional third-party software packages), I found this three-in-one tool worked well and allowed me to acquire all available upgrades.
Another icon which caught my attention from its place on the desktop was the link to PC-BSD's Handbook. The project's Handbook is a user guide that spans over 300 pages. The PDF document provides detailed instructions on using the operating system. The steps shown are generally easy to follow and are accompanied by screen shots and links to further information. I found this to be a great resource. Unfortunately the PDF viewer which came with the LXDE desktop had trouble displaying some of the images embedded in the document, but the text was still very useful.
Another icon we find sitting on the desktop opens AppCafe. The PC-BSD AppCafe is a package manager which handles the installation, updating and removal of PBI packages. The interface is quite friendly and allows us to browse through categories of software and perform searches for applications. Clicking on a software package will bring up a more detailed description and a list of related software. Items can be queued for installation with a single click. Once an application has been installed we can mark it to be automatically updated if we wish. I found the AppCafe very easy to navigate and I feel this latest version is faster than previous versions of the package manager. I will say though that people who make use of PBI packages should be aware that these software bundles can be quite large. The PBI for Firefox is approximately 390 MB, for example.
This makes downloading large applications a time consuming process, a process which will hopefully be helped in the near future by a new method of building PBI bundles. People wishing to make use of smaller software packages that are installed using on-the-spot dependency resolution, can use the pkg command line package manager. The pkg package manager worked well for me. It's small, fast and the desktop software I installed with pkg worked well. Oddly enough pkg comes with two configuration files, one which connects it to FreeBSD software repositories and another which connects to PC-BSD repositories. I suspect the latter is the default source for software packages.
PC-BSD 10.0 - configuring backups with Life Preserver
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New features and utilities
Perhaps my favourite feature of PC-BSD is Life Preserver. Life Preserver is a backup tool which helps us easily schedule automated backups of our files. Life Preserver takes file system snapshots of our data at regular intervals (we can adjust the length of these intervals) and can optionally transfers backups to another computer on the network, assuming that computer is running a secure shell service. Life Preserver can be set up with a few clicks and worked well for me. Once the utility has created snapshots of our data we can use a built-in file browser and a time slider to view existing snapshots. While we can see files included in existing snapshots, I was unable to restore any files or directories using the Life Preserver file browser. I was able, however, to browse the local directories where snapshots are stored using another file manager and manually copy files out of existing snapshots, thus restoring my data.
One more feature I feel deserves a nod is the Warden. On FreeBSD there are lightweight containers, called jails, which act like low-resource virtual machines. These containers are ideal for running network services as an exploit which corrupts the jail will not take over the rest of the operating system. PC-BSD extends this concept with the Warden. The Warden is a graphical user interface which manages, creates and destroys jails. A jail may be a regular, minimal FreeBSD system or, alternatively, PC-BSD offers jails that come with minimal Gentoo or Debian systems built into them. This allows us, in theory, to run a GNU/Linux operating system within a container on PC-BSD. In practice I found that while the FreeBSD style jail worked very well, I was not able to get the Linux distribution jails to run. Still, the jail is a powerful tool and is further augmented by PC-BSD's ability to take snapshots of jails, creating restore points for us should the jail need to be rescued.
PC-BSD 10.0 - updating all software and working with jails
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By default PC-BSD does not appear to ship with many end-user desktop applications. The project provides a great selection of system administration tools and several desktop environments, but leaves us with a fairly bare application menu. At least that was my experience with the LXDE-centric install I performed. PC-BSD ships with some basic graphical tools, including a text editor, archive manager, multimedia player and PDF viewer. I found multimedia codecs were available right from the start and, when I installed Firefox, Flash support was included. While the application menu might be relatively empty, lots of software is available through the AppCafe and the pkg software manager.
Generally speaking I was happy with this release of PC-BSD. The project always has interesting tools to showcase and some concepts which I find appealing. I quite like that PC-BSD supplies both dependency-proof PBI bundles alongside smaller, interdependent packages. Having the Warden available makes for easy management of jails and I really like the ZFS-based utilities, especially Life Preserver. The system installer worked quite well for me and I found that it offered reasonable defaults, which probably makes PC-BSD the easiest BSD flavour to install I have encountered to date.
While the operating system did not run smoothly in a virtual machine for me, it did perform reasonably well on my desktop computer. In fact, given PC-BSD's 64-bit only nature and powerful admin tools, I suspect this project is aimed almost exclusively at high-end desktop and laptop systems and is probably not developed with virtual machines or low-end equipment in mind. And I think it may be that PC-BSD's one serious weak spot is hardware. The project's FreeBSD base does not have quite the range of supported hardware some other operating systems have and I suspect this will be the one stumbling block for people looking to try PC-BSD. Otherwise the array of administration tools, the easy package management, clear documentation and the central control panel make PC-BSD 10.0 a very enticing desktop operating system and I recommend giving it a try.
* * * * *
Hardware used in this review
My physical test equipment for this review was a desktop HP Pavilon p6 Series with the following specifications:
- Processor: Dual-core 2.8 GHz AMD A4-3420 APU
- Storage: 500 GB Hitachi hard drive
- Memory: 6 GB of RAM
- Networking: Realtek RTL8111 wired network card
- Display: AMD Radeon HD 6410D video card
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith and Ladislav Bodnar)
Red Flag closes doors, Ubuntu switches to systemd, Debian prepares for Summer of Code, SlackE18 releases Enlightenment packages for Slackware, KDE welcomes new designers
Red Flag Linux, one of the oldest and better-known Asian Linux distributions, has reportedly closed down. According to this article published last week by Hong Kong's South China Morning Post, the Beijing-based company formally terminated all the employment contracts last Monday: "The situation for Red Flag had deteriorated so much that the company could not even meet water and electricity payments on its Haidian district building in December. Red Flag's 150 employees, who have not been paid since April last year, are now trying to claim a combined sum of about 15 million yuan (HK$19 million) from the company's largest shareholder, the Software Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences." See also this TechWeb article (in Chinese) which includes a photo of a notice posted on the company's entrance door. If these reports are confirmed and Red Flag does indeed close down, its Linux distribution won't be the only victim; Asianux, an international cooperation project led by Red Flag, as well as Qomo Linux, Red Flag's community distro, will surely bite the dust as well.
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Red Flag's apparent inability to produce a competitive and profitable Linux product contrasts sharply with the world's most successful Linux company - the USA-based Red Hat, Inc. Launched just a few years earlier than its Chinese counterpart, the enterprise with headquarters in Raleigh now has revenues exceeding one billion US dollars and over 6,000 employees around the globe. So how is it possible that, of the two companies offering similar products and services, one strives while the other fails? "Why There Will Never Be Another Red Hat", an article by TechCrunch's Peter Levine, attempts to provide some clues: "Red Hat is a fantastic company, and a pioneer in successfully commercializing open source. However, beyond Red Hat the effort has largely been a failure from a business standpoint. Consider that the 'support' model has been around for 20 years, and other than Red Hat there are no public standalone companies that have been able to offer an alternative to their proprietary counterpart. When you compare the market cap and revenue of Red Hat to Microsoft or Amazon or Oracle, even Red Hat starts to look like a lukewarm success. The overwhelming success of Linux is disproportionate to the performance of Red Hat."
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Canonical, the company behind the popular Ubuntu distribution, has been pushing the idea of "convergence". Convergence, in this case, meaning applications and user interfaces should be familiar and consistent across multiple devices and platforms, whether these devices are desktop computers, notebooks or mobile phones. One aspect of Canonical's planned convergence is that application developers should be able to create applications which use the same code across all Ubuntu devices. This would remove the need for a developer to write one application for the desktop and another app for mobile devices, greatly reducing the amount of work required to support multiple platforms. Jono Bacon has a video demonstrating an application running on three different devices, all powered by the same underlying code.
Other changes are coming soon to Ubuntu. Last week we reported on Debian's vote to switch from its classic init system to the newer systemd technology. The Ubuntu distribution is built upon Debian technology and this raised the question as to whether Ubuntu would continue using its own Upstart init technology or switch to systemd in order to keep in line with Debian. In a blog post Mark Shuttleworth, Ubuntu's founder, declared Ubuntu will stay close to Debian and adopt systemd: "Upstart has served Ubuntu extremely well -- it gave us a great competitive advantage at a time when things became very dynamic in the kernel, it's been very stable (it is after all the init used in both Ubuntu and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 and has set a high standard for Canonical-lead software quality of which I am proud. Nevertheless, the decision is for systemd, and given that Ubuntu is quite centrally a member of the Debian family, that's a decision we support. I will ask members of the Ubuntu community to help to implement this decision efficiently, bringing systemd into both Debian and Ubuntu safely and expeditiously." The Ubuntu distribution will likely transition to systemd after the 14.04 long-term support release in April.
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Each year Google picks a group of open-source projects and students to sponsor. The Google program, called the Summer of Code, is a great way for students to get hands-on experience with real-world projects. It is also a good way for open-source projects to develop new features and engage future developers. The Debian GNU/Linux distribution is already getting ready to work with students and the Debian team is putting together potential projects which may benefit Debian users and coders. Many of the proposed summer projects deal with the Clang compiler and associated libraries or error detection, indicating the Debian team wants to build an even more robust, adaptable distribution.
* * * * *
In terms of officially supported software, Slackware Linux is a comparatively small distribution, preferring to leave any non-essential (and troublesome) software to the community to provide any relevant packages. One of such communities is Jerome Pinot's SlackE which builds binary packages of the Enlightenment window manager for Slackware Linux. The project has recently launched its latest version - SlackE18: "After several months of maturing, I'm finally publishing my E18 packages for Slackware Linux. You will find the EFL 1.8.5, elementary 1.8.4 and Enlightenment 0.18.3. Most of the modules are broken and have been removed but I added a few EFL-related applications. E18 is not much than an upgrade to E17. But on the packaging side, many things have changed. The biggest part is the merge of all the EFL in one build system, the change in theme and configuration files and a lot of breakages in modules." The Enlightenment 0.18.3 packages for the i486, x86_64 and even arm editions of Slackware Linux are available from the project's SourceForge page. The installation instructions are here.
* * * * *
The KDE desktop environment is quite a feat of open-source development. The highly flexible interface allows users to configure the desktop interface to better suits their needs, making KDE popular among people who like to adjust their user interface to match their workflows. However, one of KDE's drawbacks is that its default look and the layout of some of its core applications are not always appealing to end-users. Making a better default user experience is one of the things the new KDE Visual Design Group plans to address. "KDE has a history of gathering some of the best and the brightest developers creating stunning works of engineering and programming, but visually we were lacking," reports the project's website. The team plans to "help refine visuals and interface in cooperation with developers, interface designers and the KDE marketing team." The open-source community often focuses on code rather than design and project member Jens Reuterbery suggests the bar for contributions should be lower for designers: "We want to bridge the divide between designers and developers within KDE, make the community effort structured and easy to participate for designers." Artists and designers who wish to contribute to the project are encouraged to visit the Visual Design Group's forum.
|Book Review (by Jesse Smith)
Book review: A Practical Guide to Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise Linux (7th Edition) by Mark G. Sobell
There are thousands of pieces to a modern operating system. Any given server or workstation might have hundreds of configuration files, thousands of binary applications, dozens of log files and a seemingly endless list of features, security components and scripts. It is a lot to take in and it is easy for someone new to system administration to feel overwhelmed. I am happy to report that for users and administrators of Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) machines there is help. I recently had a chance to pick up (with some straining in my arm muscles) Mark Sobell's extensive "A Practical Guide to Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise Linux (7th Edition)". With a title this long you might not be surprised to learn that the tome is over 1,400 pages in length and covers just about everything you ever wanted to know (or perhaps hadn't even thought to wonder) about Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Fedora and related distributions such as CentOS.
What immediately stands out about this "practical guide" is that it is amazingly detailed. In fact, about the first 50 pages are dedicated to explaining what the book is about and the many subjects which will be covered. After that, the next few sections of the book talk about the history of GNU/Linux and then there is a chapter on things to do, check or consider before beginning an installation of Fedora or RHEL. Mr Sobell leaves no stoned unturned, walking us step-by-step through installing a Fedora/RHEL system, working with software packages, the layout of the file system, what a command line is.... The list goes on. This book begins with virtually no assumptions about our knowledge and eases us into working with the command line, writing shell scripts, configuring network services, trouble-shooting problems, working with file sharing and even programming in Python is covered.
Chances are if you ever wanted to do anything with a Linux distribution, this book covers how to do it, in detail, with helpful tips on things to try or things not to do. The book also features URLs to places on-line where we can find further documentation should we need it. Want to know how to configure Network Manager to use a static IP address? See page 641. Would you like to know everything you need to do to set up and customize a web server? Then flip to page 931, there is an entire chapter dedicated to the task. Would you like to know how to create command line short-cuts? Then see page 394. Chances are if you have questions about Linux-based operating systems, using them or configuring them, the answer is in this book.
Besides Sobell's thorough coverage of all things Linux, what really stood out about the book was that it feels like a college textbook. The material is typically presented in progressive order and, at the end of each chapter, there are exercises for people who would like to test their knowledge. Personally, I like this style, perhaps because it feels familiar, or possibly because the exercises at the end of each section got me thinking on the best ways to approach problems. I appreciated that the book wasn't just tossing out information and moving on, but actually getting the reader to consider the material covered and how to make use of new knowledge. I also like the tips included in most chapters. Throughout the book, especially early on, the text has little asides with tips relevant to the topic being discussed. For example, there is a section on working with the FTP protocol and an accompanying tip explains why FTP is considered insecure and in which situations we may want to use it. These short asides give depth to the text, serving as words of wisdom to readers. In a way the bulk of the book shows us what we can do and the additional tips tell us why we might want to (or not want to) do those things.
Reading through the book I found most of it, probably in excess of 90%, applicable to the majority of Linux distributions and, for that matter, much of the material covered will be practical for BSD users too. Only a few parts of the book are specific to Red Hat's family of distributions and most of these deal with either package management or working with systemd to manipulate background services. The rest of the text, particularly those dealing with command line utilities and scripting, are pretty much universal. For this reason I feel the book will be useful not just to Red Hat and Fedora users, but to the wider Linux community as a whole.
If I had to complain about any aspect of the text, I might say that some subjects are, in my opinion, given more focus than other, more interesting ones. However, interest in particular topics is subjective and I am sure there are people out there grateful for the detail in which pattern matching on the command line is presented. I also questioned the order in which some subjects are presented. As an example, working with secure shell and secure file transfers are touched on before plain FTP. There isn't anything wrong with this approach, exactly, but I suspect readers might find working with plain FTP followed by the more complex SFTP easier than the reverse. However, people are free to read chapters in any order, so there is nothing preventing readers from tackling the material in the order of their choosing.
Which, actually, brings me to one final aspect of the book I very much enjoyed, specifically that it reads in places like a web document. That is to say, the book is full of references (links) to other parts of the book which cover topics in more detail. As an example, the chapter on working with file system directories mentions the special character "~" which is used as a short-cut to our home directory. The text mentions that more information on the "~" symbol and how it works can be found in a later chapter, on page 407. These references, internal to the book itself, appear throughout the text and it makes chasing down the details of topics easier without letting the flow of text get bogged down with unnecessary details.
All in all, Sobell tackles a massive subject, the vast details of a Linux operating system, and manages to keep the material clear, interesting and engaging. At times the book is, by necessity, a dry read -- we are talking about the inner workings of an operating system which can be abstract and complex. Still, I like how the material is presented, I found Sobell's style to be smooth and the material is amazingly detailed and, as the title suggests, practical. If you want to know how to get the most out of your Red Hat, Fedora or CentOS system, then this one of the best texts available, in my opinion.
* * * * *
- Title: A Practical Guide to Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise Linux (7th Edition)
- Author: Mark G. Sobell
- Publisher: Prentice Hall
- ISBN: 0-13-347743-6
- Length: 1,416 pages
- Available from: InformIT, Amazon and other bookstores.
|Released Last Week
Jacque Raymer has announced the release of MakuluLinux 5.0, a major new release of the Debian-based desktop distribution featuring the Xfce desktop environment: "MakuluLinux Xfce 5.0, built on a strong Debian base, offers users not only stability and speed, but now also provides a much more effective modern animated desktop environment. Pre-compiled with hundreds of themes and wallpapers, users can really take full advantage of configuring their desktop to their liking. Dual menus now allow users to either click bottom left of the desktop to make use of the familiar whisker menu or click bottom right and make use of the fancy mouse-driven slingshot launcher. MakuluLinux Xfce 5.0 is also the first release to show off the newly revamped Makulu Installer. Based on Debian 'Testing' and PAE-enabled Linux kernel 3.12. Major software changes: GIMP replaced by MyPaint 1.1; WINE 1.4.1 replaced by WINE 1.6.x...." Read the rest of the release announcement for detailed information and release notes.
MakuluLinux 5.0 - the default Xfce desktop
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Zenwalk Linux 7.4
Jean-Philippe Guillemin has announced the release of Zenwalk Linux 7.4. This is the project's first stable release since October 2012 and an important update of the Slackware-based desktop Linux distribution with the latest development build of the Xfce desktop. From the release announcement: "The Xfce desktop environment has been updated version 4.12 git, providing a good overview of the upcoming 4.12 final. This intermediate version has been fully tested during four months and the result can already be considered very stable (a few components of the Xfce 4.10 have been kept for stability). Several applications of previous Zenwalk releases have been replaced - MPlayer is now the multimedia player (instead of Totem), LXDM is the display manager (instead of GDM), Xfburn is the CD/DVD burner (instead of Brasero), Geeqie is now the image viewer. As usual most packages have been updated: LibreOffice 4.1.3, GIMP 2.8.10, Firefox 27.0, Thunderbird 24.3.0, Linux kernel 3.10.25 with performance tweaks."
Ahmad Haris has announced the release of BlankOn 9.0. BlankOn is a modern Indonesian Linux distribution with GNOME 3 and a custom desktop shell called "Manokwari", based on Debian's "Testing" branch. New features of the release include: various improvements to the Manokwari desktop; contextual dynamic desktop that changes depending on activities performed; LibreOffice 4.1.4 office suite; a complete set of graphics and multimedia applications, including gThumb, GIMP, Inkscape and VLC; a new application centre called Warsi for intuitive installation of additional software packages; Geo.BlankOn, a digital cooperation platform to develop cluster software and provide geospatial data (e.g. traffic congestion, flood spots or tourist information) to support a variety of computer systems; introduction of Maleo a development tool for creating HTML 5 applications for deployment on desktop computers and mobile devices; Linux kernel 3.12.9; Chromium 31 web browser.... Read the complete release announcement (in Indonesian) for more information and screenshots.
BlankOn 9.0 - an Indonesian distribution based on Debian's "Testing" branch
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
New distributions added to database|
- Android-x86. Android-x86 is an unofficial initiative to port Google's Android mobile operating system to run on devices powered by Intel and AMD x86 processors, rather than RISC-based ARM chips. The project began as a series of patches to the Android source code to enable Android to run on various netbooks and ultra-mobile PCs, particularly the ASUS Eee PC.
Android-x86 4.4 RC1 - for those who'd like to run Google's Android on their PCs
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- NixOS. NixOS is an independently developed GNU/Linux distribution that aims to improve the state of the art in system configuration management. In NixOS, the entire operating system, including the kernel, applications, system packages and configuration files, are built by the Nix package manager. Nix stores all packages in isolation from each other; a as result there are no /bin, /sbin, /lib or /usr directories and all packages are kept in /nix/store instead. Other innovative features of NixOS include reliable upgrades, rollbacks, reproducible system configurations, source-based model with binaries, and multi-user package management. Although NixOS is a research project, it is a functional and usable operating system that includes hardware detection, KDE as the default desktop, and systemd for managing system services.
NixOS 13.10 - a distribution with a custom package manager and many unique features
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New distributions added to waiting list
- ArchAssault. The ArchAssault Project is an Arch Linux derivative for penetration testers and security professionals.
- ArchBSD. ArchBSD is a lightweight and flexible BSD® distribution that tries to keep the technical aspects of the operating system simple.
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DistroWatch database summary
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This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 24 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.
(Tips this week: 0, value: US$0.00)
|Linux Foundation Training
|• Issue 738 (2017-11-13): SparkyLinux 5.1, rumours about spyware, Slax considers init software, Arch drops 32-bit packages, overview of LineageOS|
|• Issue 737 (2017-11-06): BeeFree OS 18.1.2, quick tips to fix common problems, Slax returning, Solus plans MATE and software management improvements|
|• Issue 736 (2017-10-30): Ubuntu 17.10, "what if" security questions, Linux Mint to support Flatpak, NetBSD kernel memory protection|
|• Issue 735 (2017-10-23): ArchLabs Minimo, building software with Ravenports, WPA security patch, Parabola creates OpenRC spin|
|• Issue 734 (2017-10-16): Star 1.0.1, running the Linux-libre kernel, Ubuntu MATE experiments with snaps, Debian releases new install media, Purism reaches funding goal|
|• Issue 733 (2017-10-09): KaOS 2017.09, 32-bit prematurely obsoleted, Qubes security features, IPFire updates Apache|
|• Issue 732 (2017-10-02): ClonOS, reducing Snap package size, Ubuntu dropping 32-bit Desktop, partitioning disks for ZFS|
|• Issue 731 (2017-09-25): BackSlash Linux Olaf, W3C adding DRM to web standards, Wayland support arrives in Mir, Debian experimenting with AppArmor|
|• Issue 730 (2017-09-18): Mageia 6, running a completely free OS, HAMMER2 file system in DragonFly BSD's installer, Manjaro to ship pre-installed on laptops|
|• Issue 729 (2017-09-11): Parabola GNU/Linux-libre, running Plex Media Server on a Raspberry Pi, Tails feature roadmap, a cross-platform ports build system|
|• Issue 728 (2017-09-04): Nitrux 1.0.2, SUSE creates new community repository, remote desktop tools for GNOME on Wayland, using Void source packages|
|• Issue 727 (2017-08-28): Cucumber Linux 1.0, using Flatpak vs Snap, GNOME previews Settings panel, SUSE reaffirms commitment to Btrfs|
|• Issue 726 (2017-08-21): Redcore Linux 1706, Solus adds Snap support, KaOS getting hardened kernel, rolling releases and BSD|
|• Issue 725 (2017-08-14): openSUSE 42.3, Debian considers Flatpak for backports, changes coming to Ubuntu 17.10, the state of gaming on Linux|
|• Issue 724 (2017-08-07): SwagArch 2017.06, Myths about Unity, Mir and Ubuntu Touch, Manjaro OpenRC becomes its own distro, Debian debates future of live ISOs|
|• Issue 723 (2017-07-31): UBOS 11, transferring packages between systems, Ubuntu MATE's HUD, GNUstep releases first update in seven years|
|• Issue 722 (2017-07-24): Calculate Linux 17.6, logging sudo usage, Remix OS discontinued, interview with Chris Lamb, Debian 9.1 released|
|• Issue 721 (2017-07-17): Fedora 26, finding source based distributions, installing DragonFly BSD using Orca, Yunit packages ported to Ubuntu 16.04|
|• Issue 720 (2017-07-10): Peppermint OS 8, gathering system information with osquery, new features coming to openSUSE, Tails fixes networking bug|
|• Issue 719 (2017-07-03): Manjaro 17.0.2, tracking ISO files, Ubuntu MATE unveils new features, Qubes tests Admin API, Fedora's Atomic Host gets new life cycle|
|• Issue 718 (2017-06-26): Debian 9, support for older hardware, Debian updates live media, Ubuntu's new networking tool, openSUSE gains MP3 support|
|• Issue 717 (2017-06-19): SharkLinux, combining commands in the shell, Debian 9 flavours released, OpenBSD improving kernel security, UBports releases first OTA update|
|• Issue 716 (2017-06-12): Slackel 7.0, Ubuntu working with GNOME on HiDPI, openSUSE 42.3 using rolling development model, exploring kernel blobs|
|• Issue 715 (2017-06-05): Devuan 1.0.0, answering questions on systemd, Linux Mint plans 18.2 beta, Yunit/Unity 8 ported to Debian|
|• Issue 714 (2017-05-29): Void, enabling Wake-on-LAN, Solus packages KDE, Debian 9 release date, Ubuntu automated bug reports|
|• Issue 713 (2017-05-22): ROSA Fresh R9, Fedora's new networking features, FreeBSD's Quarterly Report, UBports opens app store, Parsix to shut down, SELinux overview|
|• Issue 712 (2017-05-15): NixOS 17.03, Alpha Litebook running elementary OS, Canonical considers going public, Solus improves Bluetooth support|
|• Issue 711 (2017-05-08): 4MLinux 21.0, checking file system fragmentation, new Mint and Haiku features, pfSense roadmap, OpenBSD offers first syspatch updates|
|• Issue 710 (2017-05-01): TrueOS 2017-02-22, Debian ported to RISC-V, Halium to unify mobile GNU/Linux, Anbox runs Android apps on GNU/Linux, using ZFS on the root file system|
|• Issue 709 (2017-04-24): Ubuntu 17.04, Korora testing new software manager, Ubuntu migrates to Wayland, running Nix package manager on alternative distributions|
|• Issue 708 (2017-04-17): Maui Linux 17.03, Snaps run on Fedora, Void adopts Flatpak, running Android apps on GNU/Linux, Debian elects Project Leader|
|• Issue 707 (2017-04-10): PCLinuxOS 2017.03, Canonical stops Unity development, OpenBSD on a Raspberry Pi, setting up a VPN for privacy|
|• Issue 706 (2017-04-03): Super Grub2 Disk, Snap packages of deepin applications, Subgraph OS routes network traffic for one application, announcements from Linux Mint|
|• Issue 705 (2017-03-27): Minimal Linux Live, sharing control of the operating system, new KaOS features, Uplos32 provides 32-bit fork of PCLinuxOS|
|• Issue 704 (2017-03-20): ToarusOS 1.0.4, Linux Mint's security record, Debian starts Project Leader election, Ubuntu 12.04 reaches end-of-life|
|• Issue 703 (2017-03-13): SolydXK 201701, CloudReady, Solus announces new features, KDE Connect sends text messages from desktop, openSUSE's YaST module for Let's Encrypt|
|• Issue 702 (2017-03-06): Fatdog64 Linux, elementary OS bundled with new netbook, Haiku announces new features, security and the size of a distro's development team|
|• Issue 701 (2017-02-27): OBRevenge 2017.02, Mageia 6 delays, NetBSD reproducible builds, questions about swap space, trying to steam video on a Raspberry Pi|
|• Issue 700 (2017-02-20): RaspBSD, Debian replaces Icedove with Thunderbird, Fedora's licensing guidlines, tips for switching shells, finding battery charge, getting IP address and killing processes|
|• Issue 699 (2017-02-13): Clear Linux, GhostBSD network utility ported to FreeBSD, Ubuntu coming to Fairphone, elementary OS crowd funding an app store|
|• Issue 698 (2017-02-06): Solus 2017.01.01, comparing containers with portable applicatins, Tails dropping 32-bit support, Debian Stretch enters freeze|
|• Issue 697 (2017-01-30): Subgraph OS 2016.12.30, running Ubuntu on an Android phone, Arch Linux phasing out 32-bit support, Linux Mint testing updated LMDE media|
|• Issue 696 (2017-01-23): GoboLinux 016, remotely running desktop applications, Solus adopting Flatpak, KDE neon using Calamares, TrueOS tests OpenRC|
|• Issue 695 (2017-01-16): Zorin OS 12, Peppermint team fixes installer bug, Debian refreshes Jessie media, Ubuntu improves low graphics mode, Exciting things coming in 2017|
|• Issue 694 (2017-01-09): MX Linux 16, Fedora considers systemd security features, DragonFly BSD to support massive swap space, Ubuntu Touch roadmap, Puppy's newsletter, sudo's password prompt|
|• Issue 693 (2017-01-02): Comparing small distros, fig language, video driver comparsion, Debian+PIXEL, Wayland on FreeBSD|
|• Issue 692 (2016-12-19): Bodhi Linux 4.0.0, Cappsule containers, Calculate's new Utilities package, Solus and Ubuntu MATE build new application menu|
|• Issue 691 (2016-12-12): SalentOS 1.0, openSUSE improves YaST, Fedora considers slower release cycle, KDE neon gets LTS branch|
|• Issue 690 (2016-12-05): Fedora 25, Ubuntu adopts rolling HWE kernel, running Android apps on GNU/Linux, Haiku working toward EFI support|
|• Issue 689 (2016-11-28): openSUSE 42.2, Fedora's upgrade path, plans for Korora 25, transitioning from PC-BSD to TrueOS, Webconverger's reproducible builds|
|• Issue 688 (2016-11-21): Endless OS 3.0.5, KDE neon fixes security hole, FreeBSD's Quarterly Status Report, Rolling release trial #2 concludes|
|• Issue 687 (2016-11-14): NAS4Free 10.3.0.3, Fedora gains MP3 playback, budgie-remix becomes Ubuntu Budgie, Ubuntu flavours compared, Rolling release trial #2|
|• Full list of all issues|
|Random Distribution |
A product sponsored by the Free Software Foundation, gNewSense is a Debian-based Linux distribution released without any proprietary and non-free components, and several enhancements. Notably, all proprietary firmware, restricted modules and Debian logos are removed. The goal of the project is to produce a totally free ("libre") Linux distribution.