| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 558, 12 May 2014
Welcome to this year's 19th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! In the open-source ecosystem there is always something new being developed. The past few weeks presented technology enthusiasts will all sorts of exciting new releases, expanding the software we have on hand to work and play with. This week we explore new developments, new programs and new directions in the Linux community. We start with a first look at Red Hat's release candidate for Enterprise Linux 7. Red Hat is a giant in the open-source community and many developers and system administrators are eager to see what the company has been working on over the past few years. In the News section this week we cover Ubuntu's move to support the systemd init system and the results of the Ubuntu app competition. Plus we talk about Fedora's expanding collection of Docker containers, PC-BSD's new unified package manager and a new desktop environment that resulted from the merger of LXDE and Razor-Qt. We also examine a new desktop environment which is being developed specifically for the PC-BSD project and talk about why a new open-source desktop environment may be needed. In addition, we link to an interview with Haiku developer Paweł Dziepak. As usual, we cover new releases from the past week and look ahead to fun new developments to come. We wish you all a fantastic week and happy reading!
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Initial impressions of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 "Workstation"
It is not often that I download beta releases or release candidates. Usually I prefer to experiment with new distribution releases the same way I play hide-and-seek: giving everyone a chance to get into their proper positions before I go looking around. That being said, Red Hat is one of the biggest fish in the open-source pond. Red Hat has been very successful (and profitable) and their dedication to open-source development has made them a key player in the field of operating systems. So it was with some excitement that I broke my rule of waiting for a final release and downloaded the release candidate for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7. What follows are some of my first impressions and opinions on the release candidate. This will be less of a formal review and more of me musing on things which caught my attention.
At this time there are at least three branches of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), which include a Server edition, a Workstation edition and a Client edition. A fourth edition, called Atomic Host, is in the works. I opted to try the Workstation branch which is said to be targeting application developers. The download for the Workstation installation image is approximately 3.9GB in size and features two desktop options, GNOME 3 and KDE 4. As the download is quite large I had time to browse through the release notes. Red Hat has a tendency these days to go a bit heavy on the marketing lingo and their announcements contained phrases like "only operating system crafted for the open hybrid cloud" and other gems such as "We are on the cusp of bringing an exciting new release to the market -- one that we expect will redefine the enterprise operating system." Digging beyond these comments we find some of the interesting new features coming to RHEL. Some of the key points are:
Booting from the RHEL media brought up a graphical system installer. RHEL uses the same new Anaconda installer Fedora has been using in recent releases. The installer has a hub-based navigation system that walks us through configuring the system, partitioning the hard drive and creating a user account. Personally, I feel as though the new installer is a step backward from the installer which shipped with RHEL 6. Partly because I feel the interface is a bit awkward and partly because hub navigation makes sense if it doesn't matter which order we visit each screen. With this installer some functions are unlocked on one screen which are then used on another. For example, the time zone selection screen allows us to enable network time synchronization. However, trying to enable the network time service gives an error saying no time servers have been configured. (A quick check shows default servers are indeed configured.) The network time service cannot be activated until we visit the networking node of the installer and set up our network settings, then we can go back and enable the network time synchronizing service.
- Expanded Windows interoperability capabilities, including integration with Microsoft Active Directory domains
- Including XFS as the default file system, scaling to support file systems up to 500 TB
- Virtual machine (VM) migration from Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 hosts to Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 hosts without downtime or VM modification
- Docker containers
The RHEL system installer defaults to setting up our hard drive with logical volumes (LVM) combined with XFS. We have the option of using traditional partitions or Btrfs if we prefer. The installer allows us to select which desktop environment (KDE 4 or GNOME 3) we want, though for some reason we cannot select both desktops. While the installer copies its files to the hard drive a slide show plays, mentioning benefits to using Red Hat products. One slide in particular seems to sum up Red Hat's business model of selling support nicely when it states "When is free more expensive? When you have an enterprise to run." After the installer finishes copying its files the system reboots and we are asked to accept the product's license agreement. Most of the license is fairly typical legal protection for the company, though it does include some amusing turns of phrase such as "Red Hat may distribute third party software programs with the Programs that are not part of the Programs. These third party programs are not required to run the Programs." Once we accept the license we can opt to enable the kdump service and we are asked to register our copy of RHEL in order to gain access to software updates. Then the operating system reboots again and, when it comes back on-line, we are brought to a graphical login screen.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 - desktop settings panel and LibreOffice
(full image size: 340kB, screen resolution 1280x960 pixels)
I chose to install the KDE 4.10 desktop on my copy of RHEL and found the desktop came with a fairly standard collection of software. LibreOffice, Firefox, Dragon Player and Empathy were all present. There were text editors, an archive manager and other common desktop apps. There were configuration applications for managing printing and the system's firewall. I especially liked what Red Hat has done with their firewall utility as it is more flexible and powerful, allowing administrators to easily set up zones. Network Manager is included to help us get on-line. RHEL runs a secure shell service in the background which allows remote root logins. Personally, I am not a fan of having remote administrative access enabled by default, but it can be convenient for administrators setting up new systems. I did not find any compiler, version control software or debugging tools included by default, but I did find Java was included. In the background RHEL was running version 3.10 of the Linux kernel. As is typical for Red Hat releases there is no support for popular multimedia formats by default, video playing and mp3 support must be added later.
Another component I felt was missing was a graphical package manager. I found RHEL still uses the YUM command line package manager, which I feel is a fine tool, but I did not find any graphical front-end for handling software. Speaking of working with software packages, getting software updates and new packages requires having a Red Hat subscription. Trying to access software repositories will bring up a message informing us we first need to register our computer using a program called Subscription Manager. I went into the application menu and tried to launch the Subscription Manager application and nothing happened. After trying to launch it a few times from the graphical interface I dropped to a command line and launched the service. From the command line Subscription Manager ran without complaints. However, the Subscription Manager did tell me I could not register an account directly, I would need to visit Red Hat's website. This I did, created a new account, verified it and then tried to register my computer again. Subscription Manager failed without giving a clear explanation as to why it was not able to link my computer to my account. At time of writing the issue is ongoing.
Another problem which bothered me was that most times I logged into KDE a notification would appear letting me know the GNOME Shell had crashed and I had the option of filing a bug report. This puzzled me a bit as the system installer allows us to install either GNOME or KDE, but seemingly not both. Also, why would GNOME Shell be running when I signed into KDE? I'm not sure. What I did find was that trying to file a bug report walked me through several steps before I was told that the bug report could only be submitted if I had Red Hat support credentials. I am not sure why Red Hat requires this when other distributions, such as Ubuntu, simply accept all bug reports from their distribution's crash reporter, but it does make the process of filing bugs more roundabout.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 - automated crash reporting
(full image size: 371kB, screen resolution 1280x960 pixels)
In general, while I was using RHEL I found that it performed well. While the operating system was a touch slower than average to boot, the desktop was responsive and the system remained stable during my time with it. The applications included ran smoothly (with a few exceptions mentioned above) and, though the distribution used more RAM than any other desktop distribution I have previously run (approximately 560MB of memory was used at login) I found RHEL quickly handled any task I threw at it.
At first glance there are a few improvements in this version of RHEL when compared against the previous release. The firewall configuration utility, in particular, stands out as a more powerful tool this time around. Performance with this release has been good and I appreciated that KDE's file indexing service was disabled by default. The desktop was subdued, focusing more on performance than flare. Primarily, I was pleased to see Btrfs support in this release of RHEL. While the advanced file system is not used by default, it is good to see Btrfs being made available. Docker, the Linux container management software, is a great piece of technology. I suspect in the next few years most developers and system administrators will be relying heavily on Docker for testing and deploying software. It is good to see Red Hat include support for Docker in RHEL 7.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 - administration utilities
(full image size: 243kB, screen resolution 1280x960 pixels)
Other aspects of RHEL seem to be staying the same between releases. Most of the system configuration tools, the YUM package manager and general layout of the operating system appear to have remained the same. Red Hat is focused on the enterprise market and they do not want to rock the boat, for obvious reasons, so it makes sense most day-to-day functions will remain the same between releases. The systemd init service was included in this release and it does not appear to have made any significant difference in performance, service management or logging.
Unfortunately there were a few aspects of the system which feel like regressions when we compare RHEL 7 next to RHEL 6. The installer would be one example. While the new Anaconda system installer works, it feels slower and just plain awkward compared to previous versions. Having the Subscription Manager utility not work was disappointing. I remember signing up for an account with Red Hat when I tried RHEL 6 and the process then was completely painless. Trying to get up and running this time so I could access the package repositories was cumbersome. Further, this version of RHEL appears to use approximately three times more memory than the previous version. I do not think I have ever before used a Linux-based operating system which required more than 500MB of RAM to get logged into the desktop, so I hope the extra memory usage is due to debugging symbols being left on in the release candidate. Though not a problem exactly, I found it odd that the talking points for this release mention a workstation environment designed for application developers and yet the Workstation edition of RHEL did not feature a compiler or source control utilities.
Mostly though, I found myself comparing RHEL 7 to other stability-oriented distributions such as SUSE, Debian and Ubuntu LTS. And, not to sound alarmist, but I wonder if Red Hat is falling behind in terms of attractive features. Red Hat is still the clear winner when it comes to duration and quality of support, but I feel RHEL is lacking in other areas. SUSE, in particular, has fantastic administration tools and SUSE is leading the charge in providing Btrfs support. Ubuntu has great utilities for getting the operating system installed and services enabled, plus Ubuntu already has support for Docker. Debian has great stability and performance and recently gained long term support releases. Using this release candidate of RHEL makes me wonder if Red Hat is putting all of its eggs in the support contract basket and whether that is really a good idea.
Seven years ago everyone I knew in the "real world" used Red Hat Enterprise Linux or a member of the Red Hat family, such as Fedora or CentOS. Whether on the desktop or in the server room, at work or at home, all the Linux users I knew were running a member of the Red Hat family. Today, virtually everyone I know personally has migrated to members of the Ubuntu family. I know one administrator who is sticking with CentOS, but everyone else has moved on or is in the process of migrating. Red Hat is highly profitable and, certainly they are doing good things in the enterprise market, they are a powerful force in open-source. Still, I wonder if the tide has turned. This release of RHEL feels less like an effort to "redefine the enterprise operating system" and more of a holding pattern, a release catering to Red Hat's conservative enterprise business clients and, for better or worse, perhaps only to the enterprise market.
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Last week, in my review of Xubuntu, I mentioned the Parole media player would display an error whenever I attempted to play a video. The error, which indicated Xv output could not be initialized, can be corrected using a one-time command line fix. Dropping to the command line and running the command:
parole --xv false
This one time will fix the initialization issue permanently. Thanks to David McCann for writing in with this tip.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
Ubuntu adopts systemd, Fedora expands Dockerfiles support, LXQt announces debut beta, PC-BSD unveils unified package manager, Haiku interview
Following the release of Ubuntu 14.04, the distribution's developers are hard at work on new features for future releases. One of the big behind-the-scenes features expected in upcoming versions of Ubuntu is the migration from the Upstart init service to the systemd init technology. How is the migration from one init service to another going? The Martin Pitt blog reports: "I think systemd in current utopic works well enough to not break a developer's day to day work flow, so we can now start parallelizing the work of identifying packages which only have Upstart jobs and provide corresponding systemd units (or SysV scripts)." The post goes on to say that the effort to migrate to systemd is still a work in progress and there is no set release date or deadline for the migration.
The results of the Ubuntu App Showdown competition are in and the judges have announced the winners. The winning applications varied a great deal in scope and included a developer's project dashboard, a game, an application to help people navigate around Belgium and a document reader which includes a Chinese/English dictionary. Congratulations to the winners -- Boren Zhang, Jelmer Prins, Michael Spencer, Shengjing Zhu and Victor Thompson -- for their outstanding work in such a short time frame.
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Back in March, Scott Collier posted on his blog that he had amassed a collection of Dockerfiles (essentially build scripts for the Docker container technology) and had made them available to Fedora users. "This package provides a community contributed set of examples that can assist in learning about Docker containers. Use these examples to set up test environments using the Docker container engine." Since then, the collection of available containers has grown from a small group of examples, to a large list of useful services and applications. The list of available Docker recipes now includes the Apache web server, the Nginx web server, Python, OpenSSH, Wordpress, various databases, a DNS server and many others. People interested in trying these fine examples can install the collection of Docker files by installing the fedora-dockerfiles package.
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The open-source community is full of projects which have forked and branched away from other open-source projects. Productivity suites, desktop environments, distributions, games and media players are regularly splitting away as developers take their visions in new directions. Rarely do we get to see two separate projects come together to merge and combine resources, but that is exactly what LXDE-Qt and Razor-Qt have done. "The LXDE and Razor-qt teams are proud to announce LXQt 0.7.0, the first release of LXQt, the Qt Lightweight Desktop Environment. This beta release is considered a stable continuation of the Razor desktop." The LXQt desktop environment is a lightweight, fast desktop which combines the design of LXDE with the Qt toolkit. The first beta release of the new desktop appeared last week with packages for Ubuntu, Arch Linux, openSUSE and siduction already available. Support for FreeBSD is in the works.
LXQt 0.7.0 - the first beta release
(full image size: 309kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
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Users of the PC-BSD operating system have, in the past, faced confusion when it comes to installing and managing software packages. PC-BSD offers several methods for acquiring software, including Push Button Installer (PBI) bundles, Pkgng packages and FreeBSD ports. This, combined with multiple software repositories and package management utilities has brought about some clutter and uncertainty. The PC-BSD team is in the process of reworking their AppCafe package manager to unify the way packages from multiple sources are handled. The PC-BSD blog states, "The biggest thing you might notice right away is the 5-star rating system in the top left corner under "Firefox". In the new AppCafe clicking the stars will immediately pop-up the app’s wiki page allowing you to rate the program. We are also looking into the ability to add comments as well that will also populate into AppCafe. Also many programs (especially GUI based applications) will have screen shots in AppCafe to allow you to check them out before you download them to your system." The blog post includes screen shots of the new AppCafe layout.
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Haiku is an open-source project which continues the development of BeOS, an operating system which focuses on having a responsive, intuitive user interface. Last week an interview with Haiku kernel developer Paweł Dziepak was posted on the project's website. The interview covers a good deal of behind-the-scenes information about Haiku, the project's progress, strengths and weaknesses. Dziepak talks about the project's decision to use its own kernel, rather than adopt a third-party solution such as Linux, the pace of development and the project's outlook. "With the package manager and improvements in WebPositive system is now much better suited to everyday use. I hope that soon we will release something more official than the nightly builds. In regards of long-term development, a lot depends on how long Adrien will be able to work on WebPositive and whether it will be possible to start other contracts. Haiku has a group of loyal fans, but with no noticeable progress in the works, they will wane rather than arrive. The interview is unusually frank and realistic, benefitting from a low-level view of the Haiku project.
|Mini Feature (by Jesse Smith)
First impressions of the Lumina desktop environment
A few weeks ago DistroWatch reported that the PC-BSD project would be gaining a new desktop environment. The new desktop, called Lumina, has been designed to run on PC-BSD (and related operating systems such as FreeBSD). Lumina uses Fluxbox as its default window manager and is designed to be lightweight. Developer Ken Moore reports the Lumina desktop will be highly flexible. Following the announcement of Lumina, the first question a lot of people asked was "Why make another open-source desktop environment?" There are several reasons for the PC-BSD project to create its own desktop environment. One of the primary motivations behind the new project is the amount of time and effort it takes to port popular open-source desktop environments from Linux to the BSDs. Getting projects such as KDE and GNOME to run on the BSDs is often a labour involving of months of work. Increasingly, desktops built to work on Linux rely on functions or background services which are specific to Linux only. This means BSD developers must work around these dependencies or port additional software to their preferred operating system. Lumina is designed from scratch to work with PC-BSD and therefore avoids unwanted dependencies and clutter on the operating system.
Following the release announcement I decided to try out Lumina in its native PC-BSD habitat. At this point in time Lumina can be installed either from source code or from the PC-BSD project's Edge package repository. I chose to install Lumina from source code and, once I had sorted out the desktop's dependencies, I found Lumina was added as a session option on my login screen.
PC-BSD 10.0 - running the Lumina desktop environment
(full image size: 413kB, screen resolution 1220x978 pixels)
At this time, Lumina presents a fairly bare bones environment. Along the top of the screen we find an application menu (called the user menu), a favourites menu and a clock. Along the bottom of the screen we find a task switcher bar and a menu where we can configure this bottom bar. The background is mostly dark with some streaks of golden light. The menus are simple, grey and blocky in this early alpha release. Clicking on the user menu brings up a tree of options that are divided into three categories. At the top of the menu we find the Applications sub-menu which contains a list of installed desktop software. Below the Applications entry we find a list of folders in our home directory. At the bottom of the user menu we find menu entries which allow us to manipulate Lumina's settings or logout. At the time of writing there are not many configuration options for Lumina. We can change the desktop's wallpaper and configure the screen saver, but otherwise the environment is fairly static. Next to the user menu is the favourites menu, identified by a gold star. This menu contains links to programs and files which, in other graphical environments, would be represented by icons on our desktop. Lumina sweeps these desktop shortcuts into their own menu to make it easy for users to find their programs without cluttering up the interface.
It may be fair to say that, at this stage, Lumina does not yet look particularly feature rich or, in the case of the user menu, pleasing to the eye. However, the new desktop environment does have a few things going for it. One point in Lumina's favour is performance; Lumina is very fast to load and highly responsive. Lumina also has a few nice features, such as the favourites menu, which keep the interface from becoming cluttered. The release I tried was an early alpha and, based on my experience thus far, I have high hopes for Lumina. Right now, on my machine, it is fast, stable and easy to navigate. As far as memory consumption is concerned, Lumina seems to be roughly in the mid-range. When running the new desktop environment on PC-BSD 10.0 I found the underlying operating system and Lumina, combined, used approximately 170MB of active memory. For the sake of comparison, the LXDE desktop, running atop PC-BSD, uses approximately 120MB of active memory on the same machine.
Lumina is developed using the Qt toolkit which makes it easy to port the desktop environment to other UNIX-like operating systems. I found that with a minimum number of changes to the source code I was able to get Lumina running on Ubuntu. The modifications I made were graciously accepted back into the Lumina project which means it should be possible to build and run the new desktop environment on most Linux distributions.
At this stage it is probably too soon to tell whether Lumina will become popular. There are a lot of desktop environments and window managers available in the open-source community (most of them already available to PC-BSD users) and so Lumina faces a lot of competition. At the moment I think the project has made a good start. It is stable and usable at this point and, with some new features and configuration controls, I think it could be a capable desktop environment.
|Released Last Week
Stephan Raue has announced the release of OpenELEC 4.0, a major new update of the distribution designed for media centres and built for several specialist devices, such as Raspberry Pi and Apple TV: "The OpenELEC team is proud to announce OpenELEC 4.0. The team has made a huge effort to make this one of our best releases yet. Since the OpenELEC 3.0 and 3.2.x releases, we have worked hard to improve OpenELEC in a number of areas. Some of these are visible changes, others are backend changes that aren't as visible to every user but are certainly worth mentioning. Since OpenELEC 3.2 the underlying OS and the build system have been completely reworked. One aspect of the builds that isn't visible to most users is the buildsystem; it is one of the most fundamental building blocks for OpenELEC." Read the full release announcement for more details.
John Martinson has released Robolinux 7.5.1, a new version of the Debian-based distribution with pre-configured VirtualBox for running Windows as a "guest" operating system. What's new in version 7.5.1? "Announcing the Robolinux C: drive to VM support package. This is the single most important Robolinux update in the history of Robolinux as it will significantly increase the world's number of successful Windows XP and 7 migrations to Linux. Tens of thousands of desperate Windows XP and 7 Users around the world asked Robolinux this question: 'Can you help me move my existing Windows C: drive with all its programs on my hard disk into a virtual machine?' The new Robolinux C: drive to VM support package includes everything the user needs to successfully move their existing Windows XP or 7 C: drive quickly into a highly flexible .vdi file." Visit the project's page on SourceForge site for a detailed description of the new release.
Lucas Villa Real has announced the release of GoboLinux 015, a distribution with a custom file system hierarchy that differs considerably from the traditional UNIX layout. This is the project's first stable release since March 2008. From the release announcement: "It is with pleasure that I announce the release of GoboLinux 015 - the alternative Linux distribution. After a hiatus of 6 years, we have returned with an updated set of packages and some infrastructure changes that have come for the better. Some of the major points of this release are: migration from the /System/Links hierarchy to /System/Index; embracing 'root as super user name - that should make recipes more simple to write and soften the task of preparing new releases; live USB support off the shelf; adoption of Enlightenment as the desktop environment for the first time."
GoboLinux 015 - the project's first release that features Enlightenment instead of KDE
(full image size: 1,220kB, screen resolution 1024x768 pixels)
Ubuntu Privacy Remix 12.04r1
Andreas Heinlein has announced the release of UPR (Ubuntu Privacy Remix) 12.04r1, the new stable release of the project's Ubuntu-based live CD which provides an isolated environment for personal work and for storing sensitive data: "The UPR team has published the first stable release of Ubuntu Privacy Remix 12.04r1 (code name 'Protected Pangolin'). UPR is a live system to protect from spying and data theft. The new release will be presented at LinuxTag 2014 in Berlin. UPR 12.04r1 is designed to boot on newer machines with UEFI + SecureBoot and it supports lots of new hardware, but keeps running even on old machines by using the traditional and lightweight GNOME Classic desktop environment. The goal of Ubuntu Privacy Remix is to provide an isolated working environment where sensitive data can be dealt with safely. The system installed on the computer running UPR remains untouched, UPR is not intended for permanent installation on hard disk." Here is the full release announcement.
Pidora 2014 has been released. Pidora is a Linux distribution designed for the Raspberry Pi single-board computer and based on Fedora 20. It offers a interesting and more modern alternative to the mostly Debian-based distributions that dominated the Raspberry Pi market. From the release announcement: "We're excited to announce the release of Pidora 2014 - an optimized Fedora remix for the Raspberry Pi. It is based on a brand new build of Fedora for the ARMv6 architecture with greater speed and it includes packages from the Fedora 20 package set. There are some interesting new features we'd like to highlight: rootfs-resize now works with logical partitions; Raspberry Pi kernel-devel package has been added; new Pidora 2014 splash screen and logos; improved headless mode can be used with setups lacking a monitor or display; much faster boot speed...." The release notes provide further important information.
Pidora 2014 - a Fedora-based distribution for the Raspberry Pi single-board computer
(full image size: 1,667kB, screen resolution 1920x1080 pixels)
Slackel 4.10.5 "KDE Live"
Dimitris Tzemos has announced the availability of a new Slackel release - a live DVD image featuring KDE 4.10.5 and based on Slackware Linux: "Slackel Live KDE 4.10.5 has been released. Slackel Live KDE 4.10.5 includes the current tree of Slackware Linux and KDE 4.10.5 accompanied by a very rich collection of KDE-centric software. Linux kernel is 3.10.30. Firefox 24.5.0esr is the web browser, KMail and KTorrent are the main networking applications included in this release, followed by Akregator, an RSS reader for KDE, Kopete, the KDE instant messenger and more. It comes also with OpenJRE 7u51, Rhino, IcedTea-Web, GParted. The wicd utility is used for setting up your wired or wireless networking connections. In the multimedia section, Dragon multimedia player, Clementine 1.2.1 and K3b 2.0.2 are included. The Salix codecs installer application can be used to install patent-encumbered codecs." Read the rest of the release announcement for more details.
Sabayon Linux 14.05
Fabio Erculiani has announced the release of Sabayon Linux 14.05, the latest version of the Gentoo-based distribution available in GNOME, KDE and Xfce desktop flavours: "Sabayon 14.05 is a modern and easy to use Linux distribution based on Gentoo, following an extreme, yet reliable, rolling-release model. This is a monthly release generated, tested and published to mirrors by our build servers containing the latest and greatest collection of software available in the Entropy repositories. Sabayon developers have the funny habit of packaging all the latest stuff that is in the Gentoo repositories and make it available as soon as possible to our users. If you are looking for the latest KDE, GNOME or LibreOffice, the chances that it's in the repos already are very high." Here is the complete release announcement.
Ron Ropp has announced the release of wattOS R8, a set of minimalist Debian-based distributions with a choice of LXDE, MATE or Openbox desktop user interfaces: "The wattOS team is pleased to announce the release of the new version of wattOS - release 8 - (also known as R8). After 5 years of being an Ubuntu-based distro, we have made the change to Debian. Specifically Debian 'Wheezy' as the base, with some backports thrown in (for example a newer kernel), and in a couple of small places a little 'Jessie' where warranted. But for the most part, its Debian 'Wheezy' as a base to build from. The additional tweaks include the addition of the expected things to make it easy to use as a live CD or install CD. So a reasonably complete desktop for all editions that includes things like support for multiple wireless chipsets, Flash inclusion, printing support...." See the release announcement for more information.
wattOS R8 - the "Microwatt" edition now comes with Openbox
(full image size: 1,491kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Greenie Linux 14.04.1
Stanislav Hoferek has announced the release of Greenie Linux 14.04.1, a Lubuntu-based desktop Linux distribution with special focus and tools designed for book writers: "Greenie, a Slovak/Czech distribution based on Ubuntu (okay, this time on Lubuntu) is back. At approximately 1 GB it uses Linux kernel 3.13, the LXDE environment, a few common programs (VLC, Firefox, etc) and of course those programs which are the reason this system was built for. The new Greenie, named internally as 'MoReWrite' which is a strange acronym for 'Modify, Read and Write', focuses mostly on ebooks and documents. If you read, edit, write, translate or convert books, all the necessary tools are on this single medium. We can mention the LibreOffice suite, PDF viewers (including programs for editing PDF), programs for undisturbed writing, tools for converting various kinds of ebooks, and everything for production of ebooks, such as creating cover and formatting." Here is the full release announcement with a screenshot.
IPFire 2.15 Core 77
Michael Tremer has announced the release of IPFire 2.13 Core 77, a new version of the specialist Linux distribution designed for firewalls. This is the project's first release of the 2.15 series and it's a major update. From the release announcement: "This is the official release announcement of IPFire 2.15 (Core Update 77). It is the release with the most changes since the beginning of the IPFire 2 series. Those changes include major work on the base of the system, security has been improved in lots of ways and there are many changes regarding the user interface. The firewall GUI has been in development for over a year now and has been massively extended so that almost everything is possible now. There are groups which make creating rules for multiple hosts or services very easy and help you to hold your nerves, even with complex rule sets. All your rules will be automatically converted, but we recommend to double check that everything works as intended."
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
New distributions added to database|
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New distributions added to waiting list
- Blu Linux. Blu Linux is an Ubuntu-based distribution for the desktop.
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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, 19 May 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 • LXQt is also already available in OpenMandriva (by Bero on 2014-05-12 09:53:42 GMT from Germany) |
OpenMandriva Cooker already contains LXQt 0.7.0 as well.
2 • Red Hat's Market *Is* the Enterprise Market (by joncr on 2014-05-12 12:23:15 GMT from United States)
The target market for RHEL *is* the enterprise, not the desktop. The desktop is there for enterprise customers who need it, primarily for employees who need to run in-house apps. Releatively few people will use RHEL 7 as a general purpose Linux desktop, and most of those won't buy subscriptions, they will just use CentOS 7.
Assessing the success or failure of an RHEL 7 pre-release effort by anecdotal evidence among personal acquaintances is pointless and sure to be inaccurate. The way to measure it is by looking at its adoption rate after release and at Red Hat's stock price, revenue, and profits.
3 • Ubuntu taking control again (by Bill on 2014-05-12 14:30:29 GMT from United States)
Okay, so I downloaded Lubuntu 14.04 LTS and installed the Mate DE with emerald themes. I've been running it happily for a week now. Yesterday I noticed
the Update icon flashing so I took a look and it said, "Ubuntu Base,"
had an update. But after updating, I found out that Ubuntu had changed my Firefox home page to Ubuntu Google, and changed my search bar from DuckDuckGo to Ubuntu Google Search. wtf?
I knew they were spying with the Dash which I don't have on my computer, but now they reach right into my home and change my home page and search bar. Geez! If I had wanted Microsoft I would have installed it.
I guess it's time to dump Ubuntu for real and install a Debian distro like Point Linux. At least they let you own your own computer!
4 • LXQt (by Koroshiya Itchy on 2014-05-12 16:30:11 GMT from Belgium)
The availability of LXQt is great news. Now we will have a two decent GTK-based DEs (Mate and Xfce) and two decent QT-based DEs (LXQt and KDE).
In the QT side of things duplicity seems justified because LXQt is a lightweight DE whereas KDE is a full-featured heavyweight DE.
However, provided that both Mate and Xfce are lightweight, would suggesting a merge seem reasonable?
5 • @3 Ububtu...m @4 (by fernbap on 2014-05-12 18:39:09 GMT from Portugal)
I can tell about my own experience. I installed Mate on top of both Lubuntu and Xubuntu. Comparing the 2, it didn't take long for me to ditch Lubuntu + Mate and keep Xubuntu + Mate, perhaps because XFCE has much more in common with Mate than LXDE.
So far, i have done all updates and nothing of the sort happened to me, which in part explains why Xubuntu is getting so popular. I still prefer Mate, though.
"However, provided that both Mate and Xfce are lightweight, would suggesting a merge seem reasonable?"
Probably not. I think none of them has anything to offer to the other, but that is just my opinion.
It would be more likely for them to move to GTK3, but i don't see it happening in the hear future.
6 • Mate, Xfce and GTK3 (by Jeff on 2014-05-12 21:41:31 GMT from United States)
Mate and Xfce moving to GTK3 would be the ruin of both projects.
Each new release of GTK3 purposely breaks the previous ones.
Mate and Xfce would be constantly chasing a moving and elusive target.
What really needs done is forking GTK2 so the Gnome devs can play their little games without bothering everyone else.
GTK GIMP Tool Kit (it predates Gnome)
GTK3 Gnome Tool Kit
7 • wattOS (by cykodrone on 2014-05-12 22:46:47 GMT from Canada)
I dug an old P4 1.7GHz (OCed to 2GHz) out of the closet and tried the live 32-bit Openbox version, I have to say I was very impressed, it ran like a new-ish computer, a few programs opened slow-ish but that's to be expected. I think this project is doing a great service by keeping aging computers out of landfills. I am also very pleased they decided to go with a Debian base. I was so impressed I downloaded (via bit torrent) ALL their versions to give 'em a whirl. I'm dying to see how the 32-bit Mate and LXDE versions will fare on the P4.
8 • Lumina (by joe f. on 2014-05-12 23:39:29 GMT from United States)
I understand the desire for the BSD Desktop Lumina, but really, why make Fluxbox look like an oddly configured XFCE? Seems to miss the point -- at least the points that make me use it.
9 • @2 "Red Hat's Market" (by Wil on 2014-05-13 08:16:50 GMT from United States)
You're mistaking Jesse's expression of sentiment, for a prospectus. Whent it was an aside to a review. You in fact corroborate his feelings. Kudos for your support if not for your tone, LOL.
10 • Attractive features @9 (by Koroshiya Itchy on 2014-05-13 09:58:35 GMT from Belgium)
Jessie Smith does not specify very clearly which are those "attractive features" that he is missing in in RHEL7. He just mentions administrative tools and Btrfs.
By "administrative tools" I guess he refers to graphical interfaces to those tools. I have used RHEL for years in the past and I never found myself wishing more GUI administrative tools than those provided. In fact, given that the intended users of RHEL are either system administrators or professionals with good IT support in their companies, those GUIs are, for the most, irrelevant. I myself have hardly ever used them (including when working with SuSE, which comes with great GUIs for all kind of tools).
So my guess is that RetHat, as the successful business it is, knows its customers well and focus its efforts on the features that are more relevant for them. Bling-bling does not seem to be one of them.
As for Btrfs, for many, it is not still mature enough for professional use. That said, any system administrator who wants to use it, will certainly find his way to do it, be it with RHEL or with any other system based on the Linux kernel.
The ideal filesystem for RH would probably be ZFS, but, provided that is not possible for legal reasons, XFS looks to me like a sane default.
I agree with @2 that one should not judge a professional OS from a home user perspective.
Finally, the comparison with Ubuntu, with its loose quality standards, is completely out of place. With all its bling-bling, Canonical is not a profitable company. Red Hat is. So, who is doing things right?
11 • Lumina (by Barnabyh on 2014-05-13 12:55:23 GMT from Serbia)
The Lumina desktop looks like an attractive project, I'm looking forward to be running it on Slackware one day. It should not be too difficult if it's written for FreeBSD and can be adapted to work on Ubuntu too.
Seems like a happy medium between Xfce and Openbox and may be my future desktop.
12 • enterprise systems (by greg on 2014-05-13 13:57:41 GMT from Slovenia)
yeah those Enteprise editions seem to be aimed at companies still using WinXP and that don't mind using MS office 2003 or osme other old stuff. others tend to move ahead implement and use new features etc. Red hat is obviously doing it right in recognising such a segment and making profit from it.
but sitll it's not just new features that are available in newer versions of software it's also the bugfixes. i am not sure if they are at least porting all those. i mean using newer libre office gives you bigger/better MS Office compatibility. so if you are a red hat only company working with other windows companies - how do you then benefit from running old Libre office?
13 • @3, It must just be Lubuntu. (by Garon on 2014-05-13 15:03:11 GMT from United States)
Very strange that you had that problem Bill. It hasn't happened to me on any of my installs. My main system runs Ubuntu 14.04 and my search is still DuckDuckGo, and none of my home pages have changed on any of my browsers or on any of the installs I have done. Also it's strange that you have had spy problems with Dash when I don't. Of course I don't use Lubuntu so I can't say what that development group has done. Why don't you ask them and then let us know what they say about it. Also always check what your system wants to update. You should never blindly download and install something when you don't know what it is.
14 • @13 blind updates (by Kazlu on 2014-05-13 15:57:30 GMT from France)
"You should never blindly download and install something when you don't know what it is."
That would leave a lot of people, including me, ignoring updates because they don't know each and every package in their system. Very risky. I always quickly check which packages are updated to be informed, but if I don't know a package I update it anyway. You gotta trust your distro editors there, especially a stable one like it's the case here with Ubuntu, else build your own distro. Plus Bill says the updated "package" is "Ubuntu base". If details could be shown (I don't know that), the concerned package would probably be "Firefox". Not applying these updates would mean risking security of the OS.
That being said, if the update is just labeled "Ubuntu base" without the possibility to show the details, that's a problem since you cannot even know what is updated.
Very strange problem indeed, it seems your Firefox has returned to its default configuration. Anyone else saw that?
15 • MATE and Xfce (by Kazlu on 2014-05-13 16:09:09 GMT from France)
I don't think a merge is likely. They are two GTK+2 lightweight DEs, but they have a different philosophy. Xfce is designed to be modular (components are kept as independant as possible) whereas GNOME2 (and therefore MATE) was designed to be a set of interdependant tools communicating and using one another.
I tried both and they actually feel different. I found MATE well done but I missed the configurability of Xfce, espacially in the panel. Plus I found no replacement for Whisker Menu which is a game changer (I tried Mint Menu but did not like it).
I'm not saying Xfce is better than MATE. MATE is easy to use and well done, it behaves well and is fast, it has just the right tools for most everyday needs. It's just not my cup of tea. Xfce is.
16 • Ubuntu @ 13 + 14 (by Bill on 2014-05-13 19:39:51 GMT from United States)
There was another "Ubuntu Base" update this morning, and everything is okay, nothing changed in Firefox. I DID notify Canonical about it, but haven't heard back yet. I will see if I can open that Ubuntu Base update next time to see what maybe inside, not sure if I can peek there or not.
17 • @3, @16 - Ubuntu vs. firefox; upgraded packages (by eco2geek on 2014-05-14 02:49:15 GMT from United States)
There's an Ubuntu extension for Firefox named, aptly enough, "Ubuntu Firefox Modifications". (Check Firefox's extensions manager for it.) Disable it if you like. Or uninstall it.
You can google it to find out exactly what it does. There's tons of information about it online.
Ubuntu installs this extension when it installs Firefox, and upgrades it when it requires upgrading. My guess would be that you already had Google as a search provider, and the recent Firefox upgrade (to version 29) just reset it. Duck Duck Go was most likely still there.
There is no "Ubuntu Google Search". Your searches go to Google, although they are identified as coming from an Ubuntu-branded version of Firefox. All of which you can tell by looking at the URL bar after doing a search from the home page.
As far as upgrades go, the Software Updater allows you to see the descriptions of all the packages you're installing. That's why there's an arrow next to "Details of updates." Try clicking on it.
If you really want to see the names of the packages that are being installed, and find out what each package does, and you're not comfortable with the command line, use Synaptic to upgrade your computer instead, and search for the package names before you do the upgrade.
And, of course, there's the command line.
18 • The State of Enlightenment? (by RollMeAway on 2014-05-14 04:16:52 GMT from United States)
Does anyone have a clue?
After 10 yr. of development, I was excited when e17 was released.
I expected the devs to flesh it out, maybe even create a usable file manager?
Instead it is a constant stream of new releases: e17.xxx then e18.xxx now e19.xxx.
Each point release breaks all themes and addon modules, until the creators of the
theme and modules re-compile and release new version.
It seems those creators of themes and addon modules are tired of playing catch up? I know I am.
Does anyone know what the objectives of the enlightenment developers are?
Any links to their philosophy or what their goal is would be much appreciated.
19 • Ubuntu extension (by Bill on 2014-05-14 21:33:38 GMT from United States)
@17 Ubuntu extension. I took your advise and siabled the ubuntu extension. I did not realize they had added it so I thank you. While I am comfortable with synaptic, I'm still learning on the cl.
20 • Enlightening the Enlightenment Foundation (by Somewhat Reticent on 2014-05-14 21:58:19 GMT from United States)
Lemmings leap into water, geeks fix (improve!) unbroken (lousy!) things - in this case, a toolset. This aspect of human nature makes sabotage relatively easy, so easy that several organizations repeatedly apply this process to their own toolsets.
That said, the Enlightenment Foundation Libraries have the potential (and ambition*) to design an elegant & efficient UI/WM/DE toolset. They just need 3 or more years between releases to give users thereof time to actually use it ... and, of course, accumulate resistance to incompatible changes ... (perhaps macro-conversion?) ... only after, that is, completion of the documentation, the target DE's apps (re-inventing wheels yet again?), and all of the libraries' modules, of course.
Meanwhile it makes a great creativity outlet for UI/WM/DE-toolset-developer (playground), and provides excellent exercise for over-energized distro-developers.
Imagine supporting all that creativity with funding (and internal sabotage?) from, say, the Core Infrastructure Initiative, Gnomes, the Unity group ...
21 • Heavy or light? (by Col. Panek on 2014-05-14 23:47:09 GMT from United States)
You see a lot of rumors about the "heaviness" of different distros and desktops. I'm running openSUSE KDE which is supposed to be "heavy" yet I use less memory than, say, Mint Cinnamon. Has anybody done a decent comparison of the main desktops and tabulated the results? Sometimes I want all the eye candy I can get, sometimes I need a minimalist one to fit an older machine. Seldom are memory requirements given by the distros.
22 • @19 -- Have fun learning... (by eco2geek on 2014-05-15 01:13:51 GMT from United States)
...but you might want to re-think that comparison to Microsoft you made.
There's many things you could criticize Canonical for, but they produce distros that are based on free and open-source software, and give them away -- completely unlike Microsoft.
23 • @21 Memory use (by Jeff on 2014-05-15 04:10:25 GMT from United States)
This seems to be fairly recent:
One thing I found interesting, TDE (Trinity based on KDE 3.5) uses less than half as much RAM as Razor-Qt
24 • @23: Razor-Qt (by AleCon on 2014-05-15 07:55:45 GMT from Italy)
Not sure I can agree with those results: perhaps there are other factor linked to the distro in use. Anyway Razor-Qt is no more. It is going to be replaced by LXQt that look rather promising as a lightweight DE
25 • @15 Xfce and Mate (by cykodrone on 2014-05-15 08:21:00 GMT from Canada)
I agree and I hope they don't merge too, I love Xfce the way it is now and hope it only gets better, merging with Mate would probably be a step backwards. Doesn't Xfce comply with FOSS DE guidelines where as Mate doesn't so much? Mate is Gnome 2.x on life support, it had its day in the sun, time to move on.
Re: LXQt, interesting project, I hope it goes places, I for one would love a lightweight alternative to KDE.
26 • Firefox and other Extensions (by Garon on 2014-05-15 16:07:50 GMT from United States)
Sorry, I always use the command line or Synaptic when I update. I need to remember that not everyone does that. Everyone is correct about the Firefox extensions and removing them. If you have ever used Mint and some others, they also have extensions for the browsers they use. Also I automatically disable the online search functions when I install so I never really think about it anymore. At least in the future it will be opt-in instead of opt-out.
27 • @22 comparison to Microsoft (by Jeff on 2014-05-15 18:35:08 GMT from United States)
Maybe you should read the Canonical Licensing Agreement, which has developers giving their intellectual property rights to Canonical.
Open source ?
Or the first step toward proprietary ?
28 • DEs weight and speed (by Kazlu on 2014-05-15 22:13:46 GMT from France)
@21: KDE is indeed heavy compared to other DEs, meaning is uses more RAM. That does not mean it's slower than others. The link #23 posted shows than KDE uses more RAM than GNOME Shell or Unity, but on my computer is runs much faster. RAM usage becomes important only when you have little of it, on an old computer for example. Besides, KDE uses still less RAM than Firefox with a couple of open tabs :)
@21: these measurements were made with raw DEs, as provided by the devs. Most distros adapt it, tweak it and complement it with other packages. If you compare the RAM usage of, say, the Xfce editions of several distros, the results will vary a lot.
29 • @ 21 Re: memory requiremts (by cykodrone on 2014-05-15 22:44:22 GMT from Canada)
Distros not stating memory requirements is not true, they almost all do, sometimes you have to dig a little on their websites. Even this site has a search tool: http://distrowatch.com/search.php ...under Distribution Category, drop it down and select 'old computers', just make sure you wind up with the right bit version(s), 32 or 64. I personally run Debian Xfce stable 7.x 64-bit, I love it, backports and non-free enabled (no PPAs), and I'm a seasoned distro hopper/tester. Xfce is customizable, just install themes, etc, it's a blast, Greybird and Agualemon blend together well.
30 • @27 - That's something you can criticize Canonical for (by eco2geek on 2014-05-15 23:01:13 GMT from United States)
That's something you can definitely criticize Canonical for.
Now go ask Microsoft whether or not they ask their employees about who owns the license to the code they produce.
Even selling code under a proprietary license is understandable; you yourself probably wouldn't want to work for free. But don't forget Microsoft's history of anti-competitive practices, the way they spread FUD about Linux, and their robber-baron mentality. Once Canonical starts doing all that, then you'll have a valid comparison.
31 • Whats so great about Fluxbox? Vs OpenBox. Just Curious. (by JD on 2014-05-16 03:05:54 GMT from )
I am not trying to start any kind of flame war or offend anyone but I hear so much about fluxbox and see it being used alot lately. However in my own testing I am disapointed with it compared to Openbox. Am I missing something? are they both simular? just diffrent config files? Fluxbox seems harder to configure to me. but I could be wrong. anyway thanks.
32 • Spoiled desktop user (by RollMeAway on 2014-05-16 04:13:26 GMT from United States)
For many many years, I have had the ability to have an application window remember its position and size, so next time I open it, it is in the same place and same size as last time. First seen by me in my win98 days.
Of all the variety of desktops in linux, only kde3, kde4 and enlightenment have this capability. If you know of others please post.
I have tried devilspie ( and gdevilspie), an application that claims to provide this function on any desktop. Tried it on several different distros and different desktops. I cannot get it to work.
I guess the majority of users do not tire of their apps opening in a tiny box in the middle of the screen, or some even a random corner of the screen.
I would think having to resize and reposition every app a user opens would have made this capability more universal.
Does the majority of users only open one app and go full screen?
33 • @32 window position and size (by Kazlu on 2014-05-16 09:23:41 GMT from France)
Usually I use only maximized windows (not full screen) and just alt-tab between them. Very occasionally I need a couple of windows side by side, but wen my task is over I go maximized again. For the sake of experience I tried to open and close VLC several times changing position and size in Manjaro Xfce and it remembers it. Same thing for Thunar. I suppose it is a configurable option somewhere in config files and most distros you tried did not use it that way, considering a default position and size is a better behaviour. Pure assumption though.
34 • @32, Majority of users? (by Garon on 2014-05-16 12:22:43 GMT from United States)
@27, "Maybe you should read the Canonical Licensing Agreement, which has developers giving their intellectual property rights to Canonical."
Really??? At least the user doesn't have to pay for the tools that are developed by the company. (SEE ROBOLINUX) I'm not saying that RoboLinux is doing anything wrong but if you work for a company and develop for them then you will lose your intellectual properly rights. Study up a little bit on what open source and free means and how it's used, and the GPL also. There are a lot of gray areas and a lot of different ways things can be done.
@32, "I guess the majority of users do not tire of their apps opening in a tiny box in the middle of the screen, or some even a random corner of the screen."
How do you know the majority of users have this problem? I don't have this problem and it seems that Kazlu doesn't have this problem. What I like is a standard size, or default size and position and then I can change it to my liking, for the time being. I surely wouldn't want the application window to stay where I had it last, or how I had it last. That would cause a total mess on a desktop. I also like virtual desktops, multiple monitors, and side by side. Everything can be controlled by config files.
35 • @32 remembering size-location (by cykodrone on 2014-05-16 12:44:54 GMT from Canada)
I absolutely agree, you would think a simple option in 'system settings' to turn it on or off globally would be available, even in KDE you have to navigate a special right-click menu to get certain windows to behave, this has perplexed me too, it's not like I'm low on SSD space (far from it) to store the window size-location data, lol. I am by no means a code-writer but after years of experience, it doesn't look like it would be that difficult to make this option available and work, *scratching head*.
36 • @30 (by Jeff on 2014-05-16 13:48:47 GMT from United States)
If you work for Microsoft you are an employee, it is to be expected that the work which the company pays you to do for them is the property of the company.
If you are a free/open source software developer (an unpaid volunteer) working on open source software then why should a company own the work that you do ?
37 • Canonical Ltd. contributor agreements - not ownership (by Somewhat Reticent on 2014-05-16 14:49:46 GMT from United States)
Just so we're clear, Canonical Ltd changed from copyright assignment to copyright permission back in 2011. Refer to Project Harmony.
38 • @31 (by Jeff on 2014-05-16 16:40:43 GMT from United States)
The config files for Fluxbox are plain text
The config files for Openbox are XML.
When I edit plain text, I have no problem.
When I try to edit XML manually, it makes me feel like a dyslexic with a migraine.
So to change Openbox I use GUI tools, which is ironic for something that is supposed to be simpler purer (geekier ?)
39 • @36 - Canonical has employees too, you know... (by eco2geek on 2014-05-17 00:47:00 GMT from United States)
...and they write open-source software.
40 • Re: Mate, foot in mouth (by cykodrone on 2014-05-19 00:13:24 GMT from Canada)
I am posting this from the live wattOS 64-bit Mate version, I have to say, I'm pleasantly surprised at the theme customizations and one thing Xfce doesn't have out of the box...sounds, I love system sounds, I am used to aural as well as visual feedback. I'm liking Mate enough to possibly start using it.
Number of Comments: 40
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