| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 549, 10 March 2014
Welcome to this year's 10th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! A great deal of what our computers do happens behind the scenes. We see what happens on the surface, typically in graphical application windows, but we are generally spared the technical details of what our operating system is doing. Most of us do not think about the kernel, the application code or the network services functioning out of sight. This week we tip our hats to the developers and projects which work to make using computers easier for the rest of us. We start off by examining two server distributions which try to make system administration a point-n-click experience in the latest edition of our Server Showdown series. In our News section this week we cover an interview with Gentoo developer Sven Vermeulenm, discuss Ubuntu's call for new app developers and talk about projects being sponsored in this year's Summer of Code. Plus we cover Fedora's position on vetting code contributors and discuss Ubuntu GNOME's bid to become an official member of the Ubuntu long term support release community. We also share with you a book called Into the Core which introduces users to the power and flexibility of one of the world's smallest Linux distributions. As usual we cover the distribution releases from the past week and look ahead to exciting new developments to come. We wish you all a splendid week and happy reading!
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Server showdown - part 3
At the start of the year I began a series of reviews with a focus on open source server operating systems which would be appropriate for home and small office environments. The responses I received in the wake of these reviews were mostly positive and several people e-mailed me with requests to do more server-focused articles. I also got many requests to cover specific distributions in future reviews. The two most often requested server-oriented distributions were ClearOS and Univention Corporate Server. With that in mind I decided to spend one more week covering server distributions suitable for home and small business environments and downloaded these two distributions.
As with my previous experiments with server distributions my test equipment this week was a VirtualBox virtual machine. I gave both of the operating systems I tested 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of hard drive space in the virtual environment. Both distributions were given bridged networking access to the outside world.
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Clear Foundation is the organization behind ClearOS, a platform built using Red Hat Enterprise Linux software packages. The distribution is designed for "small and distributed organizations" and is available in Community and Professional editions, with the latter edition featuring commercial support. The ClearOS distribution is available in both 32-bit and 64-bit x86 builds and can be downloaded as a 510MB ISO file. Booting from this media brings up a menu asking if we would like to run the system installer (in order to perform an upgrade or fresh installation) or we can start a rescue environment to repair an existing system.
Taking the system installer option brings up the graphical Anaconda system installer which should be familiar to people who have used earlier versions of Fedora or Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Anaconda walks us through selecting our preferred language, confirming our keyboard's layout and setting the computer's hostname. We are asked to select our time zone from a map of the world and then we are asked to set a password on the administrator's account. Partitioning the hard disk comes next. Here we are given a few guided options which will allow us to install ClearOS on available free hard drive space, replace an existing Linux operating system, use the entire disk or we can choose to manually divide up the disk. I went with the manual partitioning option and found ClearOS supports ext2, ext3 and ext4 partitions along with LVM and RAID configurations. Partitions can be encrypted to protect our privacy. The following screen allows us to select where we want to install the project's boot loader and then Anaconda goes to work copying its files to the local hard disk. The entire installation, from start to finish, lasted about ten minutes in my test environment.
ClearOS 6.5 - the initial configuration screen
(full image size: 107kB, screen resolution 800x600 pixels)
The first time we boot into ClearOS we are brought to a graphical welcome screen. This screen displays links to where we can access network settings and the command line. There are notes displayed letting us know how to access the distribution's web-based configuration panel. I was happy to note that accessing the command line on the local machine or changing system settings required the password we set during the installation. Once I confirmed my network settings were correct I opened a web browser and pointed it at the ClearOS server. Connecting to the web portal walks us through configuring the network or confirming our existing network settings. We can set our IP address here and point ClearOS to custom DNS servers if we wish. We are then asked if we would like to install the Community edition or Professional edition of ClearOS. I opted for the Community edition. Some files were installed and then the interface set up software repositories and downloaded available security updates. This all proceeded smoothly.
The next step asks us to create an account with the Clear Foundation so that we may register our installation of ClearOS and download applications from the organization's Marketplace. I was not eager to create an account or register my installation, but these steps are not optional. I created an account easily enough, but when I attempted to register my computer the registration step failed. The system reported that it could not register me because my server was not on-line. The reported cause was obviously incorrect as I had just installed security updates and I was able to ping remote servers from the command line. I made three attempts to walk through the initial configuration process. Each time the web portal assured me I was on-line, it confirmed my DNS servers were answering, downloaded security updates and then failed to register my installation saying the system was not on-line.
ClearOS 6.5 - online registration error
(full image size: 153kB, screen resolution 1280x997 pixels)
At this point I am not sure which is worse, making registration to free software repositories mandatory or having a registration process that fails without apparent reason. Or, for that matter, gives a false reason for the failure. At any rate, as I was unable to proceed this brought my trial with ClearOS to a close.
Examining the Clear Foundation website and exploring the operating system's command line I gathered some more information for people who may wish to try ClearOS and have better luck than I getting the system up and running. ClearOS appears to be based on the latest release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux which means the current distribution will be supported through to 2017. The project does have an upgrade path and is likely to be stable during its lifetime, being based on Red Hat's flagship product. The documentation I found on the project's website is clear and fairly well detailed. It should be enough to get most people up and running. I did not find any advanced file system support in ClearOS, nor did I find Btrfs or ZFS support in the project's software repositories. All in all, ClearOS looks very promising, the installation is friendly, the web interface looks very clean and professional, but sadly the distribution failed to work for me.
- Advanced file systems (Btrfs/ZFS): 0
- Documentation: 3
- Ease of installation: 3
- Ease of maintaining/upgrading: 3
- Length of support for each release: 5
- Performance: 4
- Stability: 4
- Steps required to enable services: 0
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Univention Corporate Server 3.2
The second server distribution on my list this past week was Univention Corporate Server (UCS). The UCS platform is based on Debian and promotes itself as a "cost-effective alternative to Microsoft's server solutions". UCS is a commercial product with a free edition for personal use (for up to five users). I filled out a registration form on the UCS website in order to access their download options and grabbed the free edition for my trial, opting to take a 32-bit x86 build. I believe there are 64-bit x86 builds as well, though revisiting the download options appears to require a second registration. The ISO image I downloaded for UCS was 1.8 GB in size.
Booting from the UCS installation media brings up a text-based system installer. The installer has an unusual form of navigation where moving between on-screen elements is often done using function keys. The installer walks us through selecting our preferred language, choosing our time zone from a list and confirming our keyboard's layout. We are asked which role the UCS server will perform with options including domain controller (master), domain controller (slave), domain controller (backup), act as a member of a LDAP domain or perform as a stand alone server. I selected the last option. We are then asked to provide a hostname for the server and set a password on the root account. I found the installer is picky about our initial password, requiring at least eight characters.
Next up is partitioning the hard disk. We have the option of taking an automated partition layout, which takes over the entire disk, or we can manually divide up the disk ourselves. I found navigating the partitioning screen to be a bit awkward, but I was able to stumble through. The partition manager supports ext2, ext3 and ext4 partitions along with LVM and Btrfs volumes. Once the disk has been divided we are walked through configuring the network and I was pleased to see both IPv4 and IPv6 settings are supported. We can then select optional components to install. Some of these components include a graphical desktop environment, KVM and Xen virtualization technologies and the CUPS printing service. After that the installer asks for confirmation to proceed and copies its files to our local disk. The entire installation process took around 15 minutes in my test environment.
Univention Corporate Server 3.2 - the system installer
(full image size: 13kB, screen resolution 800x600 pixels)
The first time I tried to boot UCS the system failed to start, reporting no boot media could be found. It appeared as though no boot loader had been put in place during the installation process. I went back through the installer and this time allowed the installer to perform automated partitioning. This created LVM volumes for me and installed a boot loader. This time, when the installer was finished, I was able to boot the UCS distribution.
The UCS boot process brought me to a text console where I was shown a login prompt and advised I could access the system's web portal using the HTTPS protocol and pointing my web browser to the server. Naturally I opened a web browser and tried to reach my new server. The server did not respond. I went back to the UCS console, logged in as root and confirmed I was on-line. I was able to ping remote servers which seemed promising. UCS comes with the nmap port scanner installed by default and I did a quick scan, finding a mail service and secure shell running on my system, but no web service. In fact, I found OpenSSH and a mail service were the only network services running. I was able to login to the secure shell from my remote machine, but there was no web portal for me to access. I checked the project's documentation which appears to say the web portal should run automatically following an installation. I further tried going through the UCS trouble-shooting guide, however it is written in German, a language I cannot read. With no accessible trouble-shooting documentation and no admin console my experience was once again brought to an unfortunate halt shortly after it had begun.
For brave souls who want to try UCS despite my difficulties with the distribution I am pleased to say the project does include a good deal of detailed documentation. I was happily surprised with the amount of material covered and I suspect, had the web console worked, the documentation would have proved invaluable. UCS is Debian-based with a recent 3.10 kernel. I am not sure as to the project's life cycle, but if they track Debian's Stable branch I suspect UCS will be supported for around four years. The project does ship with some advanced file system support via Btrfs. The Btrfs features offered are not as rich as openSUSE's, but the basic utilities are there. I did not find any ZFS support in the project's repositories.
As a footnote to my time with UCS, once my trail was over I began receiving e-mails from UCS concerning their products, apparently as a result of filling out the registration form I had to complete in order to download their free edition. Getting removed fro the UCS mailing list requires filling out another form on their website.
At the end of the day I found my experience with UCS to be quite similar to the experience ClearOS gave me. Both projects have pleasant installers, good documentation, both have commercial support and both look great. Unfortunately neither worked for me in any meaningful sense, grinding to a halt after the installation and before the initial configuration could be completed.
- Advanced file systems (Btrfs/ZFS): 3
- Documentation: 4
- Ease of installation: 2
- Ease of maintaining/upgrading: 3
- Length of support for each release: 3
- Performance: 3
- Stability: 4
- Steps required to enable services: 0
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A follow-up to my Mageia 4 review
Last week I posted a review of Mageia 4. As many people correctly observed, my review was negative and reflected the frustrations I encountered during my time with the distribution. Following the review appearing on DistroWatch several people messaged me to say they had similar experiences while a handful commented they had a much better time with Mageia. One review I read recently in Linux Voice declared Mageia as being "highly recommended" and gave it four and a half stars out of five. I think this range of opinions is great. Different people with different expectations, perhaps using different editions of an operating system, on different hardware reported different results. I think that is all well and good. What really made me happy though was the response I received from multiple Mageia developers who politely asked if I would submit bug reports detailing my issues with Mageia so that they could investigate and fix the problems I had encountered. I immediately signed up for a Mageia bug tracking account and filed some reports.
This reaction on the part of the Mageia developers is an example of why I appreciate the Mageia/Mandriva community. Most times when I review one of these distributions I have a good experience and have positive things to say. On the few occasions when I have reported problems with the distributions I am typically contacted by a developer offering assistance within two days of my review appearing. That, is, in my opinion, a classy way to respond to negative comments. When I review other distributions the best I can usually hope for is a lack of response. Other times I get angry messages from developers, QA testers and the general user community. I'm not using their software correctly, they claim, or I must be mistaken or I am secretly working as an enemy of open source. Seeing community members respond in a way which is not only not hostile, but also constructive is a very positive experience for me. The Mageia/Mandriva developers have consistently encouraged open discussion in a positive manner and I commend them on their constructive attitude.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
Interview with Gentoo developer, Ubuntu announces app creation contest, Fedora discusses export restrictions, Ubuntu GNOME seeks LTS status,openSUSE approved for SoC
The Gentoo Monthly Newsletter continues its tradition of interviewing members of the Gentoo development team. This month the spotlight is turned on Sven Vermeulen. In the interview Vermeulen discusses, among other things, his start in computer programming, his work with the Gentoo project and his book, Linux Sea. When asked why he works on Gentoo when so many projects could benefit from his talents, Vermeulen talked about the flexibility of the Gentoo project: "I switch between many interest fields, and Gentoo is one of the few distributions that caters for it. If you need a responsive desktop, Gentoo can offer that. You want good support for many graphical environments? Gentoo can offer that. Need to implement a secure server: yes, Gentoo can offer that. Want to run Gentoo on a very small, lightweight device? Gentoo can offer that. Want to create a Linux router? Of course Gentoo can offer that."
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With plans for releasing Ubuntu-powered phones later this year, Canonical is hoping to expand the list of applications available to its users. With that in mind Canonical is launching the Ubuntu App Showdown, a competition in which developers will port or create applications. The company is offering prizes, including Nexus 7 devices, for the best apps submitted. One of the contest's judges, Jono Bacon, has published a list of applications he would like to see developed. His list includes a new e-mail client, social media apps and an audio recorder. Project ideas can be discussed and voted on at Reddit.
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We tend to think of open source software as existing without borders. The Internet allows almost anyone to contribute code, documentation and artwork to virtually any software project. Many contributors to the same project may never need to meet in person, greatly expanding the pool of potential developers. However, open source projects do not exist in a vacuum and some countries, such as the United States of America, place restrictions on software distribution based on a person's nationality. This brought up a touchy subject in the Fedora community last week when the question was put forward as to whether Fedora sponsors should question the nationality of a contributor. Further, should packages be accepted into Fedora if the software's developer is in a country embargoed by the United States government? The Fedora team has settled on a policy of not asking where contributors are from, stating, "Sponsors (or any other contributors) in Fedora should not make any effort to determine a contributor's nationality, country of origin, or area of residence." They go on to note that, in cases where a contributor's nationality is known to be on the embargo list, that information should be presented to Fedora's legal team.
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The Ubuntu GNOME distribution is an official flavour of Ubuntu which features the GNOME Shell as the default desktop environment. Leading up to the Ubuntu community's 14.04 release, due to launch in April, Ubuntu GNOME is hoping to become a supported, long term support release. This would mean the packages in Ubuntu GNOME would receive approximately two years of security updates, increasing the length of the distribution's life cycle up from the current nine months. For the distribution to become a long term support (LTS) release in time for the launch of version 14.04, a number of packages would need to gain official support from the Ubuntu community. The Ubuntu GNOME proposal lists the required packages.
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Each year Google sponsors a number of programming students to work on open source projects. This sponsorship program, called Google's Summer of Code, is a way to introduce students to open source and to advance key open source technologies. The openSUSE project is one of many mentoring projects this year and openSUSE appears to be focused on end user software and graphical interfaces. Some of the key openSUSE projects which may be worked on by students include improving the ownCloud file synchronization software and the MATE desktop environment. Other distributions, such as Debian, are focused on more behind-the-scenes efforts to improve portability and security. The list of sponsored organizations in this year's Summer of Code reads like a who's-who of the open source community, including Fedora, FreeBSD, Gentoo, KDE, GNOME, LibreOffice, Mozilla, OpenBSD and many more.
|Book Review (by Jesse Smith)
Into the Core: A look at Tiny Core Linux by Lauri Kasanen
"Your DVD player doesn't need to print. Your thermostat doesn't need to browse the web. The Core project is here to provide you a base to build on, one that includes nothing unnecessary," reads the back cover of Into the Core. Tiny Core is a Linux-based operating system which approaches computing with the philosophy that it makes more sense to start with very little and add required components than it does to start with many unwanted components and remove them. In the book Into the Core Lauri Kasanen explores what Tiny Core Linux is, how it works, the distribution's approach to working with software packages and how to get the most out of the diminutive operating system.
Into the Core is different from most of the technical books I review. While most of the texts I read and recommend start with very few assumptions about the knowledge of the reader, Into the Core is not here to hold our hand and start from square one. People reading Into the Core should already be comfortable using GNU/Linux operating systems and should have, according to the text, "no fear of the command line." That being said, while we are expected to be comfortable editing configuration files in a text editor and passing boot parameters to the kernel, the reader is not expected to know anything about Tiny Core Linux itself. This book is also unusual in that it focuses almost exclusively on working with the Tiny Core distribution and much of the material covered will not be transferable to other Linux-based operating systems. The book walks us through the beginning stages of working with Tiny Core, installing the operating system, setting up our data files and tweaking the initial configuration. Once we get settled in with the Tiny Core basics then the book ramps up, getting into package management, the pros and cons of certain types of configurations and how to make the most of boot parameters.
As we proceed through the book we learn how to make our own Tiny Core extensions, remastering the operating system and making our own boot codes. Along the way the internals of the Tiny Core distribution are laid bare and we are invited to explore the inner workings of this surprisingly low-resource operating system. There is a certain elegance to its simplicity and compact nature. I like how, as Kasanen walks us through the various steps of customizing Tiny Core, we are shown examples, sample output and, where appropriate, screen captures. I found these examples made the text easier to follow and kept me on track when working along with the included projects.
Which brings me to my favourite part of the book. We typically run operating systems in order to accomplish a task. Tiny Core, with its ability to breathe new life into older hardware, is no exception. The small operating system is ideal for running on an older computer in order to share files or act as a web server. The final section of Into the Core covers an array of projects we can attempt with Tiny Core, including setting up a web kiosk, creating a web server and configuring a file server. These are fun and useful projects to try if we have aging equipment lying around and we want to either tinker or create something new on a budget.
In the past I've often thought of Tiny Core as being an interesting project just for its accomplishment in being so incredibly small. The distribution earns my respect from its fine craftsmanship, its ability to be tiny. In the past I have been impressed at Tiny Core's ability to be a minimal foundation for other modules, but I never really took the time to experiment with the distribution to see what could be accomplished. This book is full of suggestions as to what we can do with Tiny Core, ranging from creating a stand-alone RDP client with less than 17MB of disk space to running a FTP server that requires less than 1MB of memory. Into the Core pops the hood on this little distribution and shows us not only what makes it tick, but how to get the most out of the technology available. I found the book to be a fascinating read and I recommend getting a copy it if you find yourself either wanting to tinker or if you simply want to get more out of less.
* * * * *
- Title: Into the Core: A look at Tiny Core Linux
- Author: Lauri Kasanen © 2014
- Publisher: Self published
- ISBN: 978-952-93-3391-2
- Length: 163 pages
- Available from: Amazon, Lulu and as a free download (PDF)
|Released Last Week
Version 4.8 of Wifislax has been released. Wifislax is Slackware-based live CD with an extensive collection of tools designed to perform various wireless connection analyses and related security tests. Like Wifislax 4.7, this latest release is also built from packages found in Slackware Linux 14.1, but several of them were deemed important enough to warrant an upgrade. The Linux kernel is at version 13.3, patched for better wireless auditing as well as the "Channel -1" bug fix. Many of the included security applications were also upgraded and several new ones were added. The two available desktops, KDE 4.10.5 and Xfce 4.10, come from the original Slackware 14.1 repository. Much work has gone into making the operating system stable for everyday use. As always, the Wifislax developers provide a number of extra modules (using the xzm extension) which make it easy to install extra software and to extend the system. See the release announcement (in Spanish only, although the distribution also supports English) for further information.
Salix 14.1 "Xfce"
George Vlahavas has announced the release of Salix 14.1 "Xfce" edition, a Slackware-based distribution featuring the Xfce 4.10 desktop environment: "After a long development period Salix Xfce 14.1 is ready. There have been many and important changes since our last release. One of them is that now the 64-bit installer supports installation on (U)EFI systems. In (U)EFI enabled systems, the 64-bit release should prompt to install ELILO instead of LILO at the end of installation. GPT-partitioned hard drives are also now fully supported by both 32-bit and 64-bit installers. Another very important change is that we switched completely to sudo, abandoning the use of su by default. If you wish to give sudo privileges to any user, you should just make him a member of the wheel group. The first user that is created during the installation process automatically becomes a member of the wheel group and gets sudo privileges. Any other user that is created after that does not enter the wheel group automatically and does not get sudo privileges by default." See the release announcement for further details and links to useful documents.
Calculate Linux 13.11.1
Alexander Tratsevskiy has announced the availability of Calculate Linux 13.11.1, an updated release of the project's Gentoo-based distribution with separate editions for desktops (with KDE or Xfce), servers and media centres: "We are happy to announce the release of Calculate Linux 13.11.1. Major changes: big updates (Linux kernel 3.12, KDE 4.12.2, LibreOffice 4.1, Chromium 33); in CLDX, session lock will be performed with light-locker; Clt templates now run correctly, as we fixed the file binding problem; a new DM theme is available in CLDX; users' avatars are now supported at log-in time; pastebin on calculate-linux.org can receive colored console output via wgetpaste; the tmux tool was added to all CL distributions." Read the brief release announcement which includes a short list of applications included in each of the available editions.
Point Linux 2.3
Peter Ryzhenkov has announced the release of Point Linux 2.3, an updated build of the project's desktop Linux distribution based on Debian GNU/Linux 7.4 and featuring the MATE 1.4 desktop environment: "These release notes for Point Linux 2.3 (taya) provide an overview of the release and document the known issues with Point Linux 2.3. What's new? Point Linux 2.3 brings the new 'debian-backports' package that allows you to easily enable updates from the debian-backports repository. Changes in distribution: Firefox 27.0.1, Thunderbird 24.3.0, LibreOffice 4.1.4; new debian-backports package; up-to-date Debian packages. Changes in Point Linux installer: three checkboxes to install Compiz, enable debian-backports updates and non-free repositories during installation; US keyboard layout is not installed by default for Latin keyboard layouts." See the release notes for a brief overview of the distribution's latest stable release.
Beyond Linux From Scratch 7.5
Bruce Dubbs has announced the release of Beyond Linux From Scratch (BLFS) 7.5, a book that builds on top of the Linux From Scratch (LFS) project by adding additional desktop and server software. From the brief release announcement (as published on the lfs-announce mailing list): "The Linux From Scratch community is pleased to announce the release of Beyond Linux From Scratch (BLFS) version 7.5. This version includes approximately 750 packages beyond the base Linux From Scratch version 7.5 book. The book has over 700 significant updates from the previous version as well as numerous text and formatting changes." The BLFS 7.5 release includes a number of programming and scripting languages (PHP 5.5.9, Python 3.3.4, Ruby 2.1.0), server software (Apache httpd 2.4.7, BIND 9.9.5, Dovecot 2.2.12, Postfix 2.11.0), databases (MariaDB 10.0.8, MySQL 5.6.16, PostgreSQL 9.3.3), X.Org Server 1.15.0, desktop environments (KDE 4.12.2, the latest Xfce and LXDE), window managers (Fluxbox 1.3.5, IceWM 1.3.8), LibreOffice 4.2.0 and the usual mix of open-source software for graphics editing, multimedia playback and printing. The BLFS 7.5 book is available for online viewing as well as download in HTML format.
SparkyLinux 3.3 "LXDE", "E17", "Razor-qt"
Paweł Pijanowski has announced the release of SparkyLinux 3.3 "LXDE", "E17" and "Razor-qt" editions, a set of Debian-based distributions featuring the three lightweight desktop user interfaces: "SparkyLinux 3.3 'Annagerman' LXDE, Razor-qt and E17 is out. The new ISO images of SparkyLinux provide tons of updates, some changes and system improvements, such as: Linux kernel 3.12; all packages upgraded from Debian's 'testing' repositories as of 2014-03-04; new installer forked from LMDE/SolydXK (no support for EFI yet); new wallpaper 'Strange Nature' and artwork of GRUB, Plymouth and installer based on the wallpaper; sudo is active by default after installation; SparkyLinux default repository has been changed; new, refreshed logo. The old installer is still available in the live system and it is recommended for old machines." Read the release announcement for more details.
Linpus Linux 2.1 "Lite"
Linpus Technologies has announced the release of Linpus Linux 2.1 "Lite", a desktop Linux distribution with a customised GNOME 3 desktop and out-of-the-box support for touch screens: "Linpus announces the latest version of their Linux distro, Linpus Lite 2.1. Linpus Lite is an extremely powerful yet versatile desktop, notebook, and hybrid Linux operating system. This latest version continues with the theme of making Linpus Lite unique in its support for web applications and touch screens. It also has the following improvements: enhances power saving; brings boot time down by around 4 seconds, making it one of the quickest Linux distros avail; App center – adds system update support and many more applications; icon mode – now has native applications as well as HTML 5; can now access all open windows from bottom left corner and workspaces in top left; dual-boot with Windows 8 UEFI and secure boot on...." Here is the full release announcement.
Slackel 6.0 "Openbox"
Dimitris Tzemos has announced the release of Slackel 6.0 "Openbox" edition, a lightweight Linux distribution based on Slackware's "Current" branch: "Slackel 6.0 Openbox has been released. It includes the Linux kernel 3.10.30 and the latest updates from Slackware's 'Current' tree. Slackel 6.0 Openbox 32-bit image includes both PAE and non-PAE kernels with older hardware support. The ncurses installer includes the option to install either the LILO or the GRUB bootloader. After installation users can use the grubconfig utility to reinstall GRUB or to change the bootloader from LILO to GRUB. Users can also use update-grub to update GRUB menus any time they upgrade their kernel or install another Linux distribution. The os-prober tool is used to probe for other operating systems and to update GRUB menus. Slackel 6.0 Openbox includes the Midori 0.5.7 web browser, Claws-Mail 3.9.2...." Read the full release announcement for more details.
Joël Cugnoni has announced the release of CAELinux 2013, an Ubuntu-based distribution with a large collection of software designed for scientific tasks: "Although seriously delayed, we are pleased to announce our new release, CAELinux 2013. CAELinux 2013 is based on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS 64-bit distribution and it contains a unique suite of open-source simulation tools for FEA, CFD or multiphysics simulation, but also a large panel of other engineering software for CAD-CAM and 3D printing, electronics, mathematics and programming. CAELinux 2013 represents a complete rebuild of the distribution with up-to-date software for better support of modern hardware and significantly enhanced ease of use, and we hope that you will enjoy it. This release is available in the form of a live DVD image for AMD/Intel 64-bit CPUs that can be burned on a DVD or installed on a USB key for mobile use and testing and then installed on hard-disk for best performance." See the full release announcement for a list of features and a screenshot.
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
New distributions added to waiting list|
- bittixlinux9. bittixlinux9 is a 64-bit only Linux distribution which ships with the Xfce desktop by default.
- Raspberry Video. Raspberry Video is focused on quick-to-set-up video slideshows for the Raspberry Pi.
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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, 17 March 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)
1 • ClearOS (by greg on 2014-03-10 10:04:06 GMT from Slovenia) |
It's not a bug it's a feature :-)
Anyway it seems other had same issue a year ago and well looks like it's a feature and not a bug.:
quote: "Ah yes...you *must* have an interface defined as external...even if your ClearOS is on your LAN."
2 • ClearOS (by KI on 2014-03-10 13:30:12 GMT from Canada)
> quote: "Ah yes...you *must* have an interface defined as external...even if your ClearOS is on your LAN."
Really ? Is this the best the development team can offer ? There gotta be a better answer or else this is extremely disappointing.
3 • ClearOS (by DARREN STEWART on 2014-03-10 14:21:22 GMT from United Kingdom)
"Really ? Is this the best the development team can offer ? There gotta be a better answer or else this is extremely disappointing."
Before saying this, you've understood that this is a server offering, and you'd nominally have to have one interface that is deemed external for services?
While I enjoy the articles, I think there is a risk sometimes in making errors. A server offering should really be run on real or virtual server hardware, a couple of NIC interfaces, and so on. There is always an issue when you end up running server OS type installs on non server hardware. And there is an onus on making sure your hardware is suitable_even if you believe in open source, and trying to explore the options of lowering the cost or have other motivation.
(Not meant to be critical of the review..)
4 • Ubuntu should stop developing Unity (by Eric on 2014-03-10 14:34:44 GMT from Canada)
Ubuntu should stop developing Unity and do a gnome-shell customization like what numix has started and cinnamon has done to vanilla gnome. Cononical is ambitions but they're just wasting money on these fools errands trying to differentiate themselves as bad FOSS citizens by always going out on their own tangent.
5 • @2 (by Tony B on 2014-03-10 14:38:38 GMT from Canada)
The installation manual does clearly specify that you must have 1 interface as external.
To quote it:
"On a standalone system, your network card should be configured with an external role, not a LAN role "
This isn't a bug or a feature - this is just the way they set things up and they clearly state that in the Install Manual - IP Settings.
6 • RE:I don't think so. (by Garon on 2014-03-10 14:48:58 GMT from United States)
In my opinion Unity is vastly superior to Gnome shell and Cinnamon. If you realized what Canonical is doing then you would know WHY they developed Unity in the first place. People who want Gnome shell can use Ubuntu GNOME.
7 • RE-#4 (by Whatever on 2014-03-10 15:49:24 GMT from United States)
There is not one word mentioned in this weekly about Unity so what is your point? I'm quite sure "Cononical" couldn't care less about your opinion, and almost positive you don't use or hardly know anything about Unity anyway, let alone the company's books, business plan, or standing as a FOSS citizen.
8 • Reviews and Mageia (by vw72 on 2014-03-10 16:11:40 GMT from United States)
First, I'd like to say that I really like the ratings listed at the end of the reviews in this week's DW. As you mentioned in your comments about Mageia, different reviewers have different expectations, which can often lead to widely different reviews. This is true not only between different reviewers, but also, the expectations of each distro can be quite different.
I think the ratings listed after this week's reviews are a step in the right direction to make the DW reviews more objective (of course reviews are always subjective, so maybe I should say more consistent).
I think it would be useful, to expand the ratings just a bit so that they are weighted and then the weights combined to give a final score. For instance, is ease of installation more or less important than performance and depending on the answer, then that item has a higher weight, so it's points figure in more prominently in the overall score.
The advantage in doing this, I believe, is that it will help remove biases from the various distros and expectations. Maybe my distro of choice is really A and I don't care for B much at all. However, using a rating and overall score, it is the final number that determines the "value." Of course, different users may value things differently and as such, with the individual scores, they can re-weight them for their own use.
Anyway, just a thought and kudos on another great issue!
9 • @8 followup (by vw72 on 2014-03-10 16:17:04 GMT from United States)
After re-reading my post, I thought that a better example to exemplify what I am trying to get at would be desktop preference (instead of the distro A and B example).
Maybe one distro emphasizes Gnome and another KDE and KDE is the reviewer's preferred desktop. Let's say the Gnome distro does everything pretty much spot on, but because of the dislike of Gnome, gets a poorer review than a good but inferior KDE distro. Assigning a lower weight to the default desktop versus performance or stability, would minimize the bias we all have towards different desktop environments.
That is just an example of why weighting would be useful, there are many other areas besides desktops. Anyway, my last statement still stands: Kudos on another great issue!
10 • @6 GS and Unity (by vw72 on 2014-03-10 16:26:32 GMT from United States)
Canonical chose Unity because it fits in better with their vision of where they want Ubuntu to go. That doesn't mean that Unity is better than gnome-shell, unless you share that vision.
Also, Ubuntu Gnome is a step in the right direction for those who want to use Ubuntu but with gnome-shell. The problem is that the Ubuntu developers modify quite a bit of the underlying Gnome pieces, so that even runing Ubuntu Gnome, a user doesn't get all of Gnome. Recently, Ubuntu announced that it was going to fork some of the Gnome pieces, particularly the settings manager, which eases this problem to a degree. Now Ubuntu Gnome can use the Gnome settings manager and Ubuntu can use the forked Ubuntu settings manager. The reason this only eases the problem instead of solving it is because the settings manager isn't the only Ubuntu modified gnome piece. But, it is a step in the right direction.
With regards to which is better desktop Unity or GS, or even KDE or one of the other desktops, none of us can answer that for anybody else. Ultimately, it depends on how much the user's needs and expectations are in line with the developers. If yours are aligned with Ubuntu's then Unity is a good choice. However, if not, there are many others to choose from. OTOH, if Ubuntu's vision is not your own, but you really like Unity, then your choices are significantly more limited.
In the end, whether one desktop is better than another, is a lot like beauty. It's in the eye of the beholder.
11 • Fedora 'export considerations' (by Adam Williamson on 2014-03-10 16:49:51 GMT from Canada)
"The Fedora team has settled on a policy of not asking where contributors are from"
That's not exactly the right characterization. We didn't just "settle on it" and it's not a "policy". FESCo referred the question to the Fedora legal team as a request for legal advice, they further forwarded it to Red Hat's lawyers, and the text posted in the FESCo meeting is the legal advice from Red Hat's legal department quoted verbatim. It's not really a policy: it's legal advice.
12 • Mageia response (by Bosco on 2014-03-10 17:52:20 GMT from United States)
"This reaction on the part of the Mageia developers is an example of why I appreciate the Mageia/Mandriva community."
i.e., a professional response.
"Other times I get angry messages from developers, QA testers and the general user community. I'm not using their software correctly, they claim, or I must be mistaken or I am secretly working as an enemy of open source."
13 • Export or import? (by Somewhat Reticent on 2014-03-10 19:38:51 GMT from United States)
If code is coming _from_ an embargoed country, that's import, not export.
Export regulations generally involve trade - buying or selling, not contribution or for-free distribution.
14 • @4, 13 (by Arkanabar on 2014-03-10 20:44:02 GMT from United States)
I don't know if you understand the Unity use case, which is to develop a (nearly) unified UX/UI and completely unified API for desktop, laptop, netbook, tablet, and phone. While Unity isn't to my taste as a desktop UI, I think that it's pretty good at what it's supposed to be, far more so than Metro.
15 • Your experience with Mageia 4 (by RJA on 2014-03-10 21:06:16 GMT from United States)
Apper crashing reminds me of the epic fail of Muon on Oneiric Ocelot, where it locked up, which was worse than the worst Windows version!
16 • @ 4 - Useless DEs (by M.Z. on 2014-03-10 21:54:41 GMT from United States)
Well for that matter all Gtk based desktops would probably be better off if Gnome admitted that they screwed up the their desktop too badly for their project to continue to live & stopped trying to ship Gnome 3 as a full DE. They could benefit the community by continuing to ensure that a system is in place to develop DEs based on Gnome tech, which could help Cinnamon & a number of other Gnome spin off projects, and they could continue to develop a 'new shell' type of Gtk desktop mode as well for the few who like it. Just as long as such a desktop mode was flexible & could coexist with more traditional forms of desktop on the Gtk platform the Gnome folks could continue their weird little experiment indefinitely; however, if they totally changed their focus everyone on their platform would benefit & they would regain some good will from all those they've pissed off. Of course that will probably never happen, just like Ubuntu will probably never give up on it's Unity spyware scheme, so it is a bit futile to speculate about such things, isn't it?
17 • eOS (by Ari Torres on 2014-03-10 22:23:10 GMT from United States)
I have been Distro hopping for a while but mainly used Ubuntu and think that Unity is a good thing but also think that Ubuntu is over bloated with too much crap that is not even needed. I have finally found Love with Linux and it is also Ubuntu related (eOS Luna or Elementary OS) that is the most beautiful,powerful and simple Distro I have seen in years. I have so many pictures that would like to show you guys that is not fun. Elementary OS Luna based on Ubuntu 12.04 is AWESOME! Beautiful,Fast,Stable,easy to use,simple,etc,etc,etc.
That's my pick and I will stay there for a long time.Now I changed few things like removed Midori and Installed Chrome and Firefox,Remove Geary Mail and installed Thunderbird,Installed Cheese,Brasero,Skype,Libre Office 4.2,etc,etc,etc
Cutest Distro ever. Ari Torres.
18 • Mageia response and submitting bug reports (by Will B on 2014-03-11 00:44:36 GMT from United States)
It's really encouraging to hear that the Mageia folks are responding in this manner. I guess I personally shy away from submitting bug reports as my previous experience doing so was very discouraging. Maybe I need to reconsider?? :-)
19 • Into the Core: (by Kent Porter on 2014-03-11 03:05:00 GMT from United States)
Into the Core:
The book was well written and a treat to read. I enjoyed re-reading the articles and cool projects. Good work Lauri, and a nice review, Jesse.
20 • Re: ClearOS (by kneekoo on 2014-03-11 04:27:48 GMT from Romania)
The installer should inform of critical things such as the mandatory external interface. And by critical I mean something that won't allow you to properly finish the setup.
It's not a RTFM issue but the setup clearly needs a minor improvement, so people can get their server up and running, then they're on their own configuring it by the book.
21 • @20 installer (by greg on 2014-03-11 07:25:38 GMT from Slovenia)
As i understood the review - one can use the OS, however one can not add more utilities and services.
i am not sure if it's critical (i expect this works if you install on real hardware), however i agree user could be informed about this in installer.
22 • Gnome and elementary (by Wolf on 2014-03-11 09:27:39 GMT from Germany)
@16 Gnome didn't screw up they simplified things to an extent where many of you Desktop jugglers aren't comfy with cause where are all those ring'a'ding ding dings that normally take hours to set up so that my Desktop just look the same as it always did! I admit I will never take the time to befuddle any KDE Desktop, just too many options no one really needs but are plain fun to have!
@17 I'll second that elementary OS is easy, stable and fun to work with, so I have it on since it came out. But I have to admit there is a distro which seems just as beutiful and stable and fun I'm tempted to put it on this machine maybe you can put it on a stick and try for yourself? It's PinguyOs and it works on a 13.10 Base for the moment. It works like a charm
23 • Unity (by Joe on 2014-03-11 10:53:00 GMT from Mexico)
Unity borns in the visionary mind of Cannonical's leader to fill the fture avalanche of movils, tablets and intelligent phones with the clear intention of to have a unified (Unity) OS for desktops, laptops, tablets, minitablets and phones. Unfortunately Mr. Suttleworth did not also continue developing the gnome 2 fealing with a gnome 2 fork. Certainly the old gnome 2 Ubuntu and Cannonical's philosophy were the core of Linux world explotion. In the last year Cannonicals had recognized the error of the traumatic rupture with Gnome and now is allowing Gnome shell and an independent fork of Gnome2 like Mate.
24 • RE:10, You are correct (by Garon on 2014-03-11 12:49:46 GMT from United States)
"Canonical chose Unity because it fits in better with their vision of where they want Ubuntu to go. That doesn't mean that Unity is better than gnome-shell, unless you share that vision."
You are absolutely right. I stand corrected.
25 • Unity fiasco (by imageek5 on 2014-03-11 14:23:51 GMT from Mexico)
Unity is to Linux what WIndows 8 is to Microsoft - basically a fiasco.
It's a fallacy that you can have the same UI for smart phones, tablets, laptops and desktops because each type of device is used for different tasks and different environments.
Doesn't everybody with half a brain know that a touch screen UI is rather awkward on a non-touch screen?
Recent versions of Gnome are no better. Most of the customizations and things users could configure from past versions have been locked by developers. Lately I'm having fun with xfce. Unlike recent iterations of Gnome, xfce lets me customize everything and doesn't crash out randomly several times per day.
Now if I can only get wireless and video support for my laptop I'll be very happy.
26 • @13 -- Both Sudanese Imports & Exports Are Banned (by joncr on 2014-03-11 14:22:08 GMT from United States)
I wondered, as well, but the relevant law implementing the Sudanese sanctions program essentially bans both U.S. import and export of goods of Sudanese origins. I.e., a trade embargo.
That would mean the contribution of code from a sanctioned country -- the import -- is prohibited. It also means that the transhipment or re-exportation of that product to any country -- as would take place if the code is included in Fedora -- is also prohibited.
In short, in the U.S., you cannot import from Sudan, you cannot export to Sudan, and you can't transfer goods or services of Sudanese origin to a third country, or the other way around.
Code from Sudan that is included in Fedora could, potentially, fall afoul of all three prohibitions.
I don't know if Fedora's stance would actually stand up in court since an argument could obviously be made that they should reasonably have been expected to know the country of origin, but, instead, went out of their way to remain ignorant of it. But, that's why Red Hat has a legal staff.
27 • @25 -- You're Making Unwarranted Assumptions (by joncr on 2014-03-11 14:37:10 GMT from United States)
You are making unwarranted assumptions by projecting your own opinions and preferences on everyone else.
Not everyone thinks Unity and Gnome Shell are touch screen interfaces, or that they would even function well in that environment.
Not everyone judges a Linux interface by the number and range of customization options offered. Many users prefer to use something that, out of the box, comes close to satisfying their preferences, rather than being compelled to expend time making something they see as presentable out of something that looks like an unusable mishmash to them.
It's common for people to project their views like this, and it is common for people to think everyone is Linux should just agree on everything. But, that's wrong and impossible.
28 • Unity fiasco (by fernbap on 2014-03-11 15:02:18 GMT from Portugal)
Although I agree that Gnome 3 is a fiasco, i don't think the same about Unity. Canonical has very clear ideas and Unity fits in them.
Gnome 3 just simply diesn't have what it takes to make a decent DE. One example is the ideas behind the design of the new Nautilus.
Anyone that thinks that, for using a file manager, one doesn't need information about space available in the device in use, must be insane (that goes for Dolphin as well, btw). Mint, obviously, forked nautilus in order to have something usefull in their Cinnamon desktop.
"Unlike recent iterations of Gnome, xfce lets me customize everything"
I know, that would be the obvious move. However, nowadays Mate got rid of its teething problems, which means that Mate, comparing to XFCE, is faster, lighter, more polished and much more customizable than XFCE.
More and more distros are adding a Mate spin. Which makes XFCE kind of obsolete...
29 • Unity, Gnome3, KDE, etc. (by gregzeng on 2014-03-11 15:14:43 GMT from Australia)
@22 suggests we try Gnome3 (Pinguy), @23, 24, etc try to deal with Unity. @9, 10 etc try to cope with KDE. I'm surprised that so many like the overhead costs of running Compiz (Unity, etc).
Gnome3 was very immature when I last tried it; few addons; will Pinguy Beta3, again now. Unity is a poor clone of Docky IMHO. KDE is very mature but needs better addons, like GKRELL. All of them lack a save-settings, default-setting-reset, or a setting-save for re-installation.
The purist distros avoid most things non-open-source, so miss out so much, like necessary codecs. It's tedious & highly demanding to add the stuff needed to make purist distros workable. ATM I'm on Netrunner (KDE), but using GKRELL for real time performance monitoring, as well as some KDE widgets.
If I had a lightweight computer, I use an XFCE-based Ubuntu-based distro, but with GKRELL, & perhaps Docky.
30 • Hardware makes a difference. (by Garon on 2014-03-11 15:58:32 GMT from United States)
I see your point talking about overhead. Of course hardware does make a difference. On one laptop and one of my desktops I run Unity and there's no problems with performance. On another one of my laptops I run elementary os because it runs better on a slower machine. KDE is fine and I like it but it can also be power hungry. I don't like Docky but I do like Unity. Strange isn't it. :)
31 • Embargo - It's about money (by Somewhat Reticent on 2014-03-11 16:31:29 GMT from United States)
Where's the prohibition of free software or services to or from other countries (with the possible exception of military-grade encryption, of course)? Trade embargoes are about money - fees, transactions, trade.
Contributed code isn't encrypted binary blobs, is it?
Are contributors paid?
The US realized how foolish it is to disrupt free communication in 2010.
Where's the embargo on assisting free communication?
Where's the embargo on software provided without charge, whether operating systems or drivers?
Why all this FUD?
32 • @13 @26 @31 (by Adam Williamson on 2014-03-11 17:58:10 GMT from Canada)
As the ticket says:
"Export rules are very hard and very complicated (and they change from time to time)."
If you're not a lawyer with experience in this specific area...your opinion is not going to be of much use. We'll take our legal advice from the lawyers. :)
33 • @27 - touch inspired (by M.Z. on 2014-03-12 07:42:44 GMT from United States)
I believe that a unified interface for all devices is one of the stated goals of the Unity project and there is certainly a variant of Unity that is called by the same name as the Unity desktop on Ubuntu phones. This of course means that anyone who doesn't think Unity is made for touch screens doesn't understand what is going on at Canonical. As for Gnome 3, well it may not be a touch based interface but most people agree that it is very much inspired & influenced by touch UI trends. Gnome 3 has lots of big icons & buttons and a launch screen inspired by smart phone interfaces of the past few years. It is also a very ungainly & awkward interface by default, at least for anyone accustomed to most modern PC desktops.
To make matters far worse the Gnome folks locked down version 3 to a far greater extent than any previous version, and in effect spat in the face of users accustomed to the old versions of Gnome. Some half measures were made, but in the end the Gnome devs decided that a bold reinvention of the UI was more important than what most users & distros wanted, and if they allowed people to easily customize their DE the bold new vision of the team would break down. Of course if the new version of Gnome did provide something close to the tastes of old Gnome users out of the box then your statement on customization would be relevant, but we all know that Gnome 3 is a strange alien way of doing things. There wasn't even any basic panel configuration left in Gnome 3, and there were a host of other bizarre changes. It would all have been fine if Gnome didn't have an established track record as a mainstream DE, but radical changes to a UI that can't be undone are a piss poor design choice and the enthusiasm for both Windows 8 and Gnome 3 prove that. Reinventing the wheel can be a very useful and interesting exercise for someone to take on, but coming from a well established software project it is more of a great way to piss of established users than anything else.
34 • Univention Corporate Server (by Ingo Steuwer on 2014-03-12 10:32:52 GMT from Germany)
regarding your problems accessing the web interface: Did you choose a "Domaincontroller Master" as system role for your test? This is the first role to be installed (if needed, further servers can be installed with other roles).
For easier testing/deploy, you will find also preinstalled images for different hypervisors that comes with a GUI for the setup.
btw: the "registration" for the download is optional
Ingo Steuwer / Univention
35 • Unity (by Koroshiya Itchy on 2014-03-12 13:53:13 GMT from Belgium)
I basically agree with @33. The idea of a single interface for all devices, or a DE to rule them all, is a good commercial strategy for Canonical. They want to sell Ubuntu preinstalled in mobile devices and what doe they have to offer? A small but significant user base which is familiar with Unity on the desktop.
The problem is that, when most people did not think that a touchscreen-oriented DE was not so good for the desktop as is a desktop-oriented DE, the Canonical answer was treating them as fools: "no, no you are wrong, you are just conservative bigots unable to cope with innovation and progress".
That is why so many got upset. I think Canonical would have been better off by just being honest and say: "OK, we know that Unity is not an optimal DE for the desktop for it is designed for mobile devices, however, at the end of the day you will see the advantages of a unique interface".
I do not. But that kind of discourse would have been more honest and convincing.
36 • @35 (by jaws222 on 2014-03-12 16:44:43 GMT from United States)
Canonical would love to be the Microsoft Windows of the Linux world. Who wouldn't? ($$$$) So I can understand having one DE ala Windows. However, there are many who do not like Unity and I also see why. In my opinion you have Openbox, XFCE, LXDE, KDE, MATE, Cinnamon, Enlightenment and some others that are better and more customizable DE's. I have used Unity and have no problem with it, but it's not my DE of choice.
37 • Ubuntu-Unity and Gnome-3-Shell (by Fossilizing Dinosaur on 2014-03-12 17:04:57 GMT from United States)
Both are Canonical-sponsored touch-screen-oriented look-and-feels whose developers have tried to push desktop-environment users to adapt to the next input-device technology. In the age of Brand Identification via Look-and-Feel, what value would incorporating so similar a DE add?
At what cost to the Brand?
Wouldn't incorporating Maté as an option for those without a touchscreen would be less disruptive?
38 • The DE world is richer than ever before (by Kazlu on 2014-03-12 17:28:04 GMT from France)
Interesting to se that many different points of view here. Unity enthusiasts, Xfce fans, KDE unconditionals, MATE users... Even fans of specific DEs like are the Pinguy's and eOS's GNOME-based DEs. As long as everyone finds something that suits them, that's great. However I find it odd to see so much DE bashing. This whole discussion came out of nowhere from the weekly events (maybe the sole mention of Ubuntu GNOME?), it's just some recurrent hot topic in the GNU/Linux world these days. That's fine to talk about it, but why simply mentioning what you dislike or find unhelpful/counterproductive in a DE instead of calling it bullshit?
Now I can understand the argument of #33 M.Z. when he says that changing completely a DE's logic is disturbing, especially when we are talking about GNOME 2, a DE used by so many users, particularly less advanced ones. Indeed, why change something that works well for something we have to relearn the use? However, saying that GNOME Shell or especially Unity are not adapted for desktop because they look like a touch-screen compliant interface is not an argument, besides not being true. Maybe you find these UIs are not adapted to desktops because they change habits, I don't know. But in oder to state they are not adapted to desktops, name at least one reason, something that is less practical to do with Unity than with GNOME 2. And don't say "find the application menu", that is just the way used by GNOME 2 to launch an application; instead, compare something comparable, like launching an application.
I will apply that request to myself by explaining why I'm not using either Unity or GNOME Shell: Although at first I was also disturbed by Unity when it came out and quickly looked for a replacement solution, later I figured I did not give Unity a chance. I just I blamed it for, well, not being GNOME 2. Since it was just a different way of doing things, I could at least try it to see how things get done there, just like I did a few years later when I tried Ubuntu although I was used to Windows. I spend a little more time with it and found the UI was well thought. There were some good ideas: I appreciated to be able to launch applications by hitting the super key and typing the first few letters of its name, as well as the room spared on the screen since the menu bar and the window top border were fused, and some other things. On the other hand, I found unpractical that menus were still in the top of the screen when a window was not maximized, and the lack of customization possibilities. But That could be ok. My big problem was performance: Unity was really slow, especially since I had recently tasted the speed and responsiveness of LXDE. Maybe because of hardware acceleration. Anyway, on my computer, it was and is still the case: Unity is quite nice, but too slow, so I use something else. About the same experience with GNOME Shell. I am a happy Xfce user, it gives me what I need and I'm productive with it. Unity and GNOME Shell are not for me, but I have no doubt it fits for others. I totally agree with what #27 joncr said.
Unity *looks* like a touch-screen compliant interface, but it's not *meant* for touch-screens. See what the interface of Ubuntu for phones looks like, and how it behaves: it is *similar* in appearance to Unity for desktop, it has similarities in its behaviour, but it's *not* the same. Unity, with its dash, shows its best with a keyboard. How could a keyboard-driven UI be designed for a touch-screen?
39 • Facts Please (by Garon on 2014-03-12 18:54:03 GMT from United States)
"no, no you are wrong, you are just conservative bigots unable to cope with innovation and progress" I'll have to see it for myself before I believe someone said that. Citation please.
Nope, Canonical is a sponsor of the Gnome Foundation. So is Debian, Redhat, IBM, The Linux Foundation, and many more. Furthermore Mate can be installed in Ubuntu if that is what you want.
Another thing that is funny about all of these desktop environment discussions. People here talk like they are locked down as if they were using an Apple product. That is simply not true. If Unity is not made for you its best to move on to something else, and you should. It's easy to see that the people who complain about Unity the most don't use it. There is a difference between constructive criticism and just plain downright bitching. Constructive criticism is something you listen to. Bitching is something you ignore. Why would anyone want to waste energy on something they care nothing about. Just to be bitching I guess...
40 • @39 Facts Please (by fernbap on 2014-03-12 19:31:34 GMT from Portugal)
"People here talk like they are locked down as if they were using an Apple product"
I think you are missing the poiht completely.
"There is a difference between constructive criticism and just plain downright bitching"
You are absolutely right. You want facts, and so here they are:
Gnome 2 was a product that moswt Linux users used and liked. Ubuntu itself owes a lot to Gnome 2, and used it as the de facto Linux DE, which it was.
And then, Gnome developers decided to abandon it completelyu, replacing it by a product that very few like and use.
That is not freedom of choice. That is reducing the choice. Depending on the gnome developers, Mate would never be a reality.
In short, i think that it is legitimate for people to feel robbed.
41 • @38 - Unity & Gnome (by M.Z. on 2014-03-12 19:40:09 GMT from United States)
I'd certainly agree that Unity on the desktop is a desktop oriented product, and that despite that fact that there is some degree of combined desktop & touch work being done on Unity it remains a desktop that is more usable on PCs than Gnome 3 is for most users. Of course that is faint praise; however, my main problem with Unity is that it seems to have been intended from the beginning to be a piece of spyware. At least that's the impression I get from the piss poor GUI menu system & the degree to which Canonical made things quicker & easier to do via keyboard search prior to using the search function to cram advertisements down your throat. I probably could have forgiven them on some level if they had not half assed the fix. If they would just ask nicely during the installation to include search advertisements in the Dash I wouldn't mind their commercial intentions at all; however, they only fixed part of the spyware issues. As it stands I would still actively discourage anyone from using anything called 'Ubuntu' on any computing device they own.
On the topic of what #27 said about Gnome, well yes I totally agree that people have different tastes & trying to do something new can be a very good thing; however, it was a very bad decision to offer this thing called 'Gnome 3' as a replacement for the old Gnome desktop. The folks at Gnome could have started a new side project, or perhaps even totally re-branded the project, but they decided to push out a DE that is horrible for the vast majority of desktop users and to do so under the name Gnome as though nothing had changed. It was a fundamentally bad move, and it will continue to piss off people who used and liked the old Gnome for some time to come. I didn't love Gnome 2, but I did like it & I still don't understand what the Gnome people are thinking. Done some other way the new shell made by the Gnome folks would have been a really neat addition to the Linux desktop space, but they way it was actually done was a giant middle finger to existing users. Gnome has earned all the hate they get.
42 • @39 (by jaws222 on 2014-03-12 20:44:48 GMT from United States)
"That is simply not true. If Unity is not made for you its best to move on to something else"
I believe a lot are. Ubuntu was a good starting point to gain knowledge of Linux, but I'm finding with Debian, especially some of the Unstable/Testing distros, they seem to simply be better distros, Solydxk, Semplice,Siduction and Point Linux are great examples. And Crunchbang will always be king!
43 • US trade restrictions (by Andrew Perkins on 2014-03-12 21:43:12 GMT from Canada)
According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, the US goods trade surplus with Sudan was $49 million in 2012. In other words, those two countries bought lots of merchandise from each other. Yet, at the same time, it wasn't clear if a Sudanese programmer could send a few lines of code to a software project like Fedora.
Here are other exemples found in the pantheon of political stupidity :
- in 1994, Bruce Schneier published a book on cryptography. It contained source code and a CD. The US regulators said that the book could be exported all over the world, but not the CD. To which somebody replied that it was a stupid law, seeing that the content of the CD was written in the book itself. Regulators assumed that foreigners were all illiterate.
- in the UK, recently, MI5 suspected Katia Zatuliveter to be a russian spy. The proof according to MI5 : she spoke english, russian women can't speak english, therefore Katia had to be an FSB agent.
- in an arab country, an imam once gave a sermon about the disposal of sewage during the Middle Ages. His government threatened to imprison him because he led people to believe that their current sewage system wasn't working.
The list goes on and on, which makes me wonder if politicians are all crack addicts...
44 • Disingenuous Unlimited (by Fossilizing Dinosaur on 2014-03-13 00:51:42 GMT from United States)
The drug of choice for politicians is (the illusion of) power. Study politics, and you'll find that groups of people are strange and dangerous creatures indeed, often more psychopathic than sociopathic corporations. Such behavior should not be casually pattern-matched to drug abuse.
Many legislators are lawyers creating job security for their own. Over time, in the continual effort to appear to be "doing something", they pile layer upon redundant layer of duplicate laws, and institute bureaucracies for further replication of rules and regulations. (I refer, of course, to "the US") Of course, such bureaucracies also occur in the private sector.
45 • Easy peasy (by Robert on 2014-03-13 01:54:48 GMT from United States)
There is a new Alpha release of 2.0 I think it lives up to it's name.
46 • GoboLinux - Keeps-It-Short-&-Simple (by Somewhat Reticent on 2014-03-13 04:29:43 GMT from United States)
Why isn't this "The Arch Way"? Just Sayin' ...
47 • @39 (by Koroshiya Itchy on 2014-03-13 08:04:50 GMT from Belgium)
It was not a quotation, but the bottom line of Canonical's arrogant attitude about any criticism they receive. Such as:
48 • @41 Unity and GNOME (by Kazlu on 2014-03-13 12:26:21 GMT from France)
You make good points. Concerning Unity, I agree the fact that it is designed for desktop and not for touch-screen does not make it good intrinsically, I just wanted to ask for valid arguments for/against it, like yours. I suppose Canonical wants Unity to be trendy to attract new users, and the more the better. If it works and Ubuntu gains market share, great. I suppose Ubuntu may drag unexperienced users, that's good as long as they still allow demanding users to swap the DE for another one. At least Canonical deciders think that's the way to go, that's not my job so I won't pretend it works or not for dragging users. However, I agree the default behaviour of mixing local and web (tracked) searches is wrong. I'm not a fan of the "ask at installation" solution - because if the user is asked about too many things at installation, he/she will get bored, but there are oher ways. At least splitting local and web searches for example, and not searching the web on a local search by default.
Concerning GNOME, again, your point is good. In my opinion, it is even worse than for Canonical. GNOME is not a commercial product and one of the FOSS' great strengths is choice. Or should be. And then this. If I remember correctly, the GNOME developpers said that the GNOME 2 code had become too hard to maintain and they would be starting from a fresh and clean basis. That was the occasion to make another DE with a new paradigm. But look what the MATE developpers have done! I don't know how hard it was but according to users like #28 fernbap the result is great, both on the usability and performance sides! As far as the UI is concerned, we can look at what KDE has done: use Homerun for a menu and you have something that suddenly comes close the GNOME Shell behaviour. But that did not *replaced* the traditional way. Are there KDE with Homerun users here who might want to share their experience?
49 • @48 Unity and GNOME (by mandog on 2014-03-13 15:56:59 GMT from Peru)
Its nothing to do with touch-screens its because its new?
Its more to do with people need to complain. xfce used the be slated. Then KDE4 came out so it was slated, then Gnome3, and unity, and they are slated, if you go back and check statistics you may find the same people that slated xfce also slated KDE4 then Gnome3 and Unity.
Xfce is a good distro antiquated but does the job to the user
KDE4 is more about look i've got a cube and loads of toys to play with again good if thats what you need to play all day.
Unity is again a good choice if you want to pretend your with the big boys
Gnome3 is a simple set-up easy to use desktop that really works well if that's what you want.
Then there is Openbox wm you can do every thing that the big boys would like to do thats get work done not play with cubes, or play big boys, try the latest extension.
To sum it up what ever you choose to use is your choice and your choice only
they all do the job they were designed to do no more no less + they are free
50 • @49 complaining (by Kazlu on 2014-03-13 17:13:59 GMT from France)
"Its nothing to do with touch-screens its because its new?"
I am not sure what you meant by this. All I said is that Unity is not meant for touch-screens, it is meant for desktops. Although it's correct it is also meant to look similar to it's touch-screen compliant counterpart. But that does not make it a good or a bad DE in itself.
As for complaining, I'm not complaining about any DE in itself. Read my previous posts. No DE, be it Unity, GNOME Shell, KDE, Xfce, wm-only Openbox or any other is good or bad for everything. Like you said, "they all do the job they were designed to do". That being said, Unity has a specific problem being the dash that sends all your requests to external web servers. That's not a usability, quality or even trend matter, but a privacy problem. Also, GNOME Shell was introduced in replacement of GNOME 2 which was dropped, forcing people to switch in order to keep a maintained DE even if the logic of it changed drastically. The problem was not the DE in itself, it was the forcing out of GNOME 2 which has probably disturbed a lot less experienced GNOME 2 users. When Xfce or KDE came out, people may have said those were bullshit, I don't know. But you were not forced to switch.
51 • @50 complaining (by mandog on 2014-03-13 17:49:28 GMT from Peru)
My reply was not aimed at you but readers in general.
So did not KDE do the same when they dropped KDE3 and when they dropped KDE2 so what is the difference.
Or in peoples minds gnome2 should stay another 10 years? it was antiquated Mate is antiquated and has to adopt Gtk3 to survive the same problem that Gnome faced the only difference being Gnome solves the problems for them the same goes for XFCE really looks its age, if it wants to stay with the rest it has to use gtk3 or move to qt.
The thing is complain as people may Gnome KDE are the innovators others jut leach there code to keep up.
No unity/Gnome are not meant for touch screens they are made for wide-screens that 99.9% of screens made today and in the foreseeable future time goes forward does not stop or go back. as I said they all do what they say on the box remember the majority of users only use a computer to surf the net irrispective to what they try to lead you to believe.
52 • More DE Stuff (by M.Z. on 2014-03-13 18:10:56 GMT from United States)
On the subject of Gnome, yes it does seem that Gnome 2 could have still been viable given the success that Mate seems to have had in improving the old code. That being said there was still room to change & improve things the way that Cinnamon has done, but the folks over at Mint/Cinnamon did their new Gtk 3 desktop in a way that respects users & lets them make their desktop act the way they want it to act. The way things were done on Gnome 3 & Unity changing certain important defaults is a choir, if it can be done at all. It may be true that most desktops don't need to be able to configure everything under the sun like in KDE, but making it so hard for the normal version of Gnome 3 to act in a traditional manner was just stupid.
@ 49 & 50
When it comes to complaining about change in general, well yes there is some degree of problem with that; however, I would argue that Gnome 3 was a bigger problem. I remember some discussion over KDE 4 when I started using Linux, and because of those discussions I decided to wait & try KDE 4 when it was fully baked. That is actually why I ended up using Gnome for a while. There were a few mistakes made in rolling out KDE 4, and people were legitimately annoyed at the quality of early versions of KDE 4, but any fundamental changes in behaviour made available in KDE 4 could be undone or turned on with relative ease. The Gnome folks took note of the hostility generated by 'beta under another label' quality of KDE 4.0 and tried hard to avoid that problem while creating whole new sets of problems.
The Gnome team took the attitude that said something like - 'you will have to fundamentally change the way you do computing to continue to use the new version of our product'. There were some efforts to make the change gradual, but all new versions of Gnome would eventually act in the same strange new way so the message to users was clearly - 'we think this is better so get used to it or go away'. This is a piss poor attitude for an open source project that should be focused on the community of users that it had established. I personally filed a bug report encouraging a few changes I had heard proposed elsewhere & received back a reply that said something like 'were not going in that direction'. Then a few versions of Gnome later I get another message saying how everything was better now, which was fairly laughable no matter how well intended it was. I know Gnome didn't actually force anyone to change to their new desktop immediately and that there were always other options, but I do believe that very much abandoned the entire user base of people who were satisfied with their product.
53 • @36, jaws222 / Who was first? (by GNUpeace on 2014-03-13 19:12:23 GMT from Mexico)
"Canonical would love to be the Microsoft Windows of the Linux world"
These totally wrong, and besides, we're tired of such lies.
In Desktop OS's, The new DE paradigm, Unity in Ubuntu was first implemented in 2011, and Metro was implemented in Windows 8, the next 2012 year.
1. MS hired the best Compiz developers to implement their own version (copy?) Compiz (aero). Implications? Compiz dead end develop (except Compiz-Unity).
2. UAC is a copy of SUDO.
3. Many etc.
Why not say better than Windows wants to be like Ubuntu (GNU / Linux) in many respects? Has logic.
54 • Old Desktop Environment? (by Koroshiya Itchy on 2014-03-14 09:10:41 GMT from Belgium)
Could anyone please explain to me what does it mean that a given DE is old? Does it mean it is not functional anymore? Does it mean it lacks some essential functionality that people need in order to work productively?
I am a professional and I have three screens in my workstation. I have tried Unity and Gnome 3 and I do not see any advantage whatsoever over other desktops. They waste resources and they get a lot more in your way than other DEs do.
The only advantage I could foresee, as stated before, is providing the same user experience in your desktop and mobile devices. For me, this is irrelevant. I am fine having a DE for the desktop and a completely different one for the smartphone. No problem at all. In fact, I tend to prefer a tool that is optimised for each device and use.
For the desktop, I like Xfce and I like Mate. If I wanted shortcuts I would use something like Ratpoison. I am currently using Mate and, apart from a couple of small bugs, I find it perfect. Is it old? I do not know, but, who cares? This is just about getting the job done.
55 • Old is overrated (by fernbap on 2014-03-14 18:02:46 GMT from Portugal)
I think it is just a myth. "new stuff" is not "better stuff". The only thing that matters is wether the "new stuff" gets the job done.
I know, GTK1 is "old" and GTK3 is "new". But what matters to me is how GTK3 is being used. Is it being used to make _better_ stuff or not? So far, it isn't. I just don't care how better GTK3 "stuff" could be, but the fact is that the GTK3 "stuff" still has to prove it.
Inovation is not sacrificing everything in the altar of "new". And "new" is not inevitable.
Ome example: when MS came out with that monster called Vista, most users hated it and DEMANDED free downgrades to XP. Even after win7 came out, XP continued to be supported for long.
So: sure, XP is "old", but it did the job well for most users, better than the "new" stuff.
MS, at least, kept supporting XP. The Gnome developers didn't, neither did Ubuntu, nor Fedora. It is clear what the corporative thought is: Desktop market is not growing, wilst Table market is growing. So, let's forget Desktop PCs and develop for tablets.
56 • Gnome 3 (by Jeff on 2014-03-15 00:29:09 GMT from United States)
The developers of Gnome 3 intend the users to have NO freedom to customize it in any way, this is clear from their own internal documents and also communications with others.
Each version is purposely made to break APIs from previous versions, this is intended to prevent themes from working and/or to frustrate theme designers.
The intent is to protect the Gnome 3 "brand", to force Gnome 3 to be uniformly recognizable.
The side effect of this is to make GTK 3 a mess, leading many to move to Qt.
57 • RE: 55 (by Landor on 2014-03-15 00:31:48 GMT from Canada)
So far it isn't? That's only an opinion, not a fact.
How many holes and bugs are in the lauded older versions?
All anyone here talks about is what they want, and how this doesn't work the way something used to. Let me tell you, most of the stuff that everyone's crying about being left behind had a lot of their own problems. The only (partial)exception to this rule is KDE. Once hit 3.12 or thereabout, it was a great compilation. That said, it was flawed and needed a lot of work, and still does.
Why do you use a closed source company as a reference point when it comes to FLOSS? What difference does it make what any (what I like to now call) "Pay As You Go" company does? Is that some kind of bearing or guide for what this community should do? I would certainly hope not, given the completely different models and scopes of their offerings. Let's be totally honest though, while you're espousing the merits of said company for continuing support for a bug-ridden pile of crap that the version was, let's not forget the reason they continued support was a) for monetary gain (think netbooks) and b) because anything the offered after it was even worse. Let's leave being a fanbois of closed source operating systems at the door please.
Keep your stick on the ice...
58 • RE: 57 (by fernbap on 2014-03-15 01:44:19 GMT from Portugal)
"So far it isn't? That's only an opinion, not a fact"
If you count user acceptance as objective data, it is a fact.
" What difference does it make what any (what I like to now call) "Pay As You Go" company does?"
And you missed my point completely. I used that example to show that EVEN MS had to aknowledge the lack of acceptance for its new products and acted in order to keep a (less bad) alternative open to its users. Even MS showed more respect for its users than the Gnome developers....
59 • Unity: Canonical's "Vista" venture (by gregzeng on 2014-03-15 07:25:10 GMT from Australia)
@54 has links to DE compared, but no mention of Unity DE there. Unity is very crippled, compared to Linux's Docky, AWN, XFCE, KDE, ... in that it offers (when I last tried it) one-only 'dock-bar' (not 4+ dock bars), of one size, on only the left edge. The Unity dock-bar is hard to hide; cannot be moved to any other three edges, hard to understand. It is Canonical's "Vista" venture.
My Windows (3rd-party docks only), XFCE, KDE, & Android dock-bars can be on any or all four sides, GUI-manipulated, flexi-sized, flexi-hidden. Canonical's Unity is so anti-user, compared to its competitors, IMO.
Luckily Ubuntu is not just the extremist Unity, but also includes KDE, XFCE, LXDE, E17, Mate & Cinnamon derivatives. If Unity is ever to be friendly, it must allow a user-adjusting choice of placement, sizes, colors, & permanency of the dock bar.
60 • NFP: Distrowatch Internal only: Opera incompatibility (by gregzeng on 2014-03-15 07:34:19 GMT from Australia)
This message is being composed on Firefox (latest version, with very many add-ons).
Opera browser cannot now allow the "Submit-Comment" box to show. I turned off my Opera add-ons. No change. Have you altered this page so that Opera browser is now giving a false reading of it?
I tested this on all of my Ubuntu-derivative distros; I multi-boot 8 of them (plus 2x Win7) from the one SSD. The fault is only with Opera 12.x.
61 • #60 Opera 12.16 (by zykoda on 2014-03-15 08:07:42 GMT from United Kingdom)
I second that on Linux mint 9 32bit. Display mode appears not to act correctly as well. Opera has sometimes had slightly different actions for some web sites! Would use qupzilla, but it needs later libraries than standard mint 9 has installed. Choice can be useful!
62 • @59 Unity (by Koroshiya Itchy on 2014-03-15 18:23:28 GMT from Belgium)
In fact, Unity is mentioned. It is the second most RAM-hungry DE right after, and very close to, KDE.
63 • @#60 (by Jordan on 2014-03-15 18:27:00 GMT from United States)
64 • PearOS disappeared from the web (by ILoveLinux on 2014-03-15 20:31:32 GMT from Germany)
Seems like we lost a family member - Pear OS. Neither the home page http://pearlinux.fr/ nor the user forums http://pearlinux.org are online any more, and it's also no longer hosted on most SourceForge mirrors. but I found this: http://techrights.org/2014/01/24/pear-os/
The article suggests that Apple may have taken it down, due to Pear OS resembling the Apple GUI too much.
I tried it once, and I found it to be pretty resource hungry, and it did have it's share of glitches. But I must admit - the interface looked very, very polished, and it had a very interesting set of tools, like Backup My Pear.
Shame it's gone really...
Does anybody know more about its disappearance?
65 • @25 & 27 (by GNUday on 2014-03-16 01:46:42 GMT from Canada)
@25...I agree with you, the new DE 'styles' make you do more (clicks, excessive cursor travel, i.e. smacking corners, etc) to get the same done and are more locked down (no window resizing, minimizing out of the box, WTH is that?). It's also a circus on the eyes, windows, multi-desktop view and bizarrely oversized icons flying all over the place, it's supposed to be a WORKspace, not a dizzying 'funhouse' like a child's mobile spun excessively fast.
@27...It would seem the majority who are rejecting the new DE styles on PCs prove you wrong, just because you type something here doesn't make you right either.
66 • @65.37 the majority (by mandog on 2014-03-16 14:04:31 GMT from Peru)
So who is this majority you speak of show the facts or keep your opinion to yourself.
learn to use the keyboard as it should be used then you will not have these problem you talk of.
@37 you are very right people seem to think that they talk for the majority because they like or dislike this or that?
The same goes for the poster that posts here every week sometime multiple posts
slagging of Gnome shell man you need to get a life of really do or go and seek professional help. nobody cares what desktop you like or dislike you say you are a competent user then you should be able to learn and use any desktop environment in just a few minuet's, today's desktops are made so that even kids from third word countries can learn them in hrs, they are all so simple to use unless the brain is stuck in the last century that is!
67 • @66 (by M.Z. on 2014-03-16 16:37:01 GMT from United States)
I'm not sure who you're talking about, but personal insults really bring down the quality of the discussion much more than any comment on the quality of modern DE's, so thanks for making it far worse that whoever your complaining about did.
68 • Which majority? (by Somewhat Reticent on 2014-03-16 20:39:46 GMT from United States)
A majority of complainers may be a vocal minority.
Corporations often aim to please those soon parted from their money, who may be well-entertained by the many gestures and clicks between user and function, just like in a video-game - a majority of buyers who vote with dollars.
69 • DE design (by Jeff on 2014-03-16 21:07:51 GMT from United States)
There is one thing which has been overlooked.
The Windows 95 desktop was the result of millions of US dollars of research in how people really use computers.
People have not changed all that much in the 19 years since then.
A desktop which works much the same still suits the needs of users.
One of the most basic programming rules is "Do not reinvent the wheel."
70 • "... and leave the driving to us" (by Fossilizing Dinosaur on 2014-03-16 22:17:28 GMT from United States)
I remember my guardian saying, "keep your hands off the wheel, and watch the movie." It's about control. Paradigm shift.
71 • @66 (by GNUday on 2014-03-17 01:21:50 GMT from Canada)
You are very rude, and I don't have to prove anything to you with links or otherwise, the obvious lack of popularity of Unity and Gnome 3.x speak for themselves.
FYI, I have used every OS except Apple's, I haven't used Windows in years and have tried every DE known to man, even ran KDE for the longest time, I now run Debian Wheezy Xfce, I briefly tried Unity and Gnome 3.x, not my cup of tea, seems to be yours.
As for your keyboard comment, are you saying Unity and Gnome 3.x are keyboard-centric? Isn't that an obvious step backwards, after all Gnunity (lol) is supposed to be touch-screen-centric, and you have the nerve to imply I am clueless!
72 • A Query (by William "Bill" NICHOLL on 2014-03-17 05:14:02 GMT from Australia)
Could you please advise who or what the organisation is that offers free downloads of books etc. I would like to download the occasional book or document as they are of interest, but have found that the organisation wants to know everything about you and I am afraid they look like a pestering organisation.
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