| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 565, 30 June 2014
Welcome to this year's 26th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! When it comes to learning a new operating system we all need to start somewhere and most of us prefer to start with a newcomer-friendly distribution. This is why so many projects present themselves as desktop-ready versions of popular, more expert-oriented distributions. There are many distributions based on Debian, Fedora, Arch Linux and others which attempt to appeal to novice Linux users. This week we focus on distributions, lessons and tutorials aimed at helping Linux newcomers get started. We begin with a review of Chakra, a semi-rolling release desktop distribution based on Arch Linux. In our News section this week we share a tutorial for getting Fedora running on the BeagleBone hobbyist computer. We also share an interview with Fedora Project Leader Matthew Miller and link to an introduction to the Linux command line and file system, provided by the openSUSE project. This week we also talk about reading and organizing e-books with open source software and talk about how Linux has taken a dominate role when it comes to running super computers. Plus we share the distribution releases from the past week and look ahead to fun new releases to come. We wish you all a terrific week and happy reading!
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Rolling Along with Chakra GNU/Linux 2014.05
The Chakra GNU/Linux distribution is a fork of Arch Linux which strives to produce a user-friendly, KDE-centric desktop operating system. The Chakra project aims to provide one desktop environment (KDE) for one hardware architecture (64-bit x86) while maintaining a semi-rolling release platform. The semi-rolling nature of Chakra means that the base of the distribution, the GNU utilities and kernel, remain fairly unchanged while the end-user applications are updated regularly. Ideally, this should provide the user with the latest open source desktop applications while maintaining a fairly solid foundation. The latest release of Chakra, version 2014.05, ships with KDE 4.13 and the 3.12 release of the Linux kernel. The latest Chakra release also features a new backup utility (Kup) and an updated version of the Octopi package manager. The project's release notes mention that Chakra's system installer, Tribe, "Does not currently officially support UEFI, RAID, LVM and GPT, although you might find some workarounds in our forums." I downloaded the one available edition of Chakra, the ISO for which was approximately 1.75 GB in size.
Booting from the Chakra media brings us to the KDE desktop. On the screen we find a welcome widget which is divided into three sections. Along the bottom of the widget are icons for launching or accessing certain features. We can use these icons to launch the system installer, access the project's website, donate to the project, see a list of available software packages and access documentation. The upper half of the widget is divided into two tabs. The first tab contains short tips and bits of trivia about Chakra and clicking on these entries provides us with a little more background information about the distribution. The second tab displays news items pulled from the Chakra website. As Chakra is somewhat a rolling-release platform things tend to change rapidly and it is nice to be able to quickly obtain news related to the distribution's development.
Chakra GNU/Linux 2014.05 - the Welcome widget and documentation
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I decided to dive straight into Chakra's system installer, Tribe. Tribe is a graphical application which shows us the project's release notes and then asks us to select our keyboard's layout. The next screen gets us to select our location in the world from a 3-D globe and this lets the installer guess our time zone and locale information. The following screen gets us to create a user account (or multiple user accounts if we so choose). The first account we create can be granted administrative privileges. Next came disk partitioning and here I can into trouble. When I tried to access the partition manager an error was displayed on my screen indicating no devices were found attached to my computer or, possibly, I did not have permission to access storage devices. I closed Tribe and manually launched the KDE Partition Manager, making sure I had administrative access when I opened the application. Once again I was told my computer had no storage devices (or I did not have the proper permissions). I soon found that by dropping to a command line interface and running the cfdisk partitioning program I could access my devices and partition my hard disk.
With my partitions set up the way I wanted them I re-launched Tribe and proceeded through its steps. At first Tribe would not allow me to assign mount points to my new partitions, so again I turned to an external partition manager, formatted the partitions and returned to Tribe. This time I was able to tell Tribe to use one partition for my root directory and another for swap space. From there Tribe asked if I would like to install packages from the live media or, alternatively, I could download fresh packages from the Chakra repositories. The off-line option installs all available packages, but the net-install option lets us pick and choose which software packages we want. I opted for the off-line procedure. Once Chakra's files are copied to the local drive we are asked to complete two more steps. The first screen gives us to the option of customizing the system's initial ramdisk, this lets us add additional features or hardware support at boot time. The second screen asks us to confirm we do wish to install the GRUB2 boot loader. After GRUB is installed we can reboot the computer.
Chakra boots to a graphical login screen decorated by a plain, grey background. When we sign in to our account we are greeted by a configuration wizard which walks us through setting up our desktop environment. Configuration steps include selecting which common folders (Downloads, Music, Pictures, Video) to place in our home directory, which KDE theme we would like to use and which wallpaper should be featured. We are asked what style of application menu we like, with options including the Kickoff theme, the Classic KDE application menu, the Lancelot menu or a mobile-style full-screen menu filled with icons. We can optionally set the meta/super key on our keyboard to open the application menu. We can tell the configuration wizard how often we wish to check for software updates and whether to enable printing software and Bluetooth support. We are asked if we would like to enable the operating system's firewall and if we would like to run an anti-virus scanner.
With these steps completed we are shown a screen with buttons where we can launch the KDE System Settings panel, open the KDE project's documentation or open the documentation portion of Chakra's website. Pressing either of the documentation buttons opens the Rekonq web browser to the appropriate page. I ran through the first-run configuration wizard a couple of times while setting up multiple accounts. The first time through I asked for the Classic style application menu and received the Kickoff style instead. The following times I ran through the wizard I, again, asked for the Classic theme and received it. Of course we can change the default application menu at any time by right-clicking on its button or adding a new widget to the KDE taskbar.
I tried to run Chakra GNU/Linux in two environments, a VirtualBox virtual machine and a desktop computer. In both environments Chakra booted up quickly, tasks were completed quickly and the desktop was always responsive, even with file indexing and visual effects enabled. The operating system used about 380MB of memory when logged into the KDE desktop. I was happy to see this relatively low level of RAM usage after my time with Red Hat Enterprise Linux and OpenMandriva where memory usage was almost double what Chakra requires. Chakra properly detected all of my hardware and the underlying operating system remained stable during my week with the distribution. One quirk I ran into was that, during the installation, I set aside a swap partition for Chakra to use. However, possibly because I did not manually run the mkswap program on the swap partition, Chakra did not recognize my swap partition. I ended up manually adding my swap partition to Chakra's fstab file post-install.
Chakra GNU/Linux 2014.05 - the desktop settings panel and package management
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Chakra GNU/Linux 2014.05 comes with a large collection of desktop software and all of it appears to be built using the Qt toolkit. Looking through the application menu we find the Rekonq web browser, the Konversation chat client and the KGet download manager. The Calligra productivity suite is installed for us along with the Okular document viewer and the Gwenview image viewer. In the multimedia section we find the Amarok music player, the k3b disc burning software, the Kdenlive video editor and a Youtube video viewer. Dragon Player is available for watching videos and there is a utility for downloading music from Amazon. Chakra comes with a Flickr client, the Marble virtual globe and the Qt Designer application for developers.
A section of the application menu is reserved for links to key elements of the Chakra website such as the bug tracker, forum and documentation. There are system administration utilities for creating backups of files, configuring printers and managing user accounts. Chakra comes with the Yakuake drop-down command line console, an archive manager, text editor and virtual calculator. The KGpg encryption and key management software is available for us. To help us get on-line Chakra ships with Network Manager and the KPPP dial-up networking application. I did not find Java nor Flash available in the default install, but we can find these in Chakra's Extra software repository. The GNU Compiler Collection is available in the default install and, in the background, I found the 3.12 release of the Linux kernel.
While playing with Chakra GNU/Linux 2014.05 I ran into a number of issues, mostly with applications failing to launch. The Youtubeview application and the QmlViewer application both failed to launch. The Marble virtual globe application refused to run during my tests and the Flickrview application also failed to work. I found I could play audio files without any problems in both test environments, but video files would only play when I ran Chakra on physical hardware. Attempting to play video files within VirtualBox caused the player to display a second or two of video and then stop. Typically video files play smoothly in my virtual machines so this glitch was unprecedented. All other applications ran smoothly and worked well for me.
Chakra GNU/Linux ships with the Octopi graphical software manager which acts as a front-end to the underlying pacman command line package manager. Octopi displays packages (both available ones and installed items) in an alphabetical list. Icons next to each package indicate the status of the package on our system. Clicking on a package's name displays a brief summary of the package's contents in a pane at the bottom of the window. Right-clicking on a package enables us to install or remove the selected item. Octopi has a few other features such as searching for packages by name, filtering packages based on status and managing software repositories.
I found the repository management feature especially welcome as one of the first things I wanted to do was to enable the Extra software repository. Enabling the additional repository can be accomplished by clicking a check box. The Extra repository contains software built with the GTK library and features such items as Firefox, the GNU Image Manipulation Program and Flash. I found Octopi worked fairly well. It might seem a bit bare bones as far as the interface is concerned, but it worked quickly. The only problem I ran into was that, after refreshing the Octopi software database, I was unable to click the package upgrade button, it was disabled. Dropping to the command line and running pacman myself I was able to fetch and install available software updates.
Chakra GNU/Linux 2014.05 - running various desktop applications
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There are some distributions I look forward to trying more than others and Chakra GNU/Linux is certainly one project I look forward to reviewing. Mostly, I find, because I am never sure what I am walking into. The Chakra project, with its semi-rolling release nature, is an unpredictable beast. Sometimes things go very smoothly and, with other releases, the experience is filled with unwelcome quirks. This past week was somewhere in the middle as far as successful experiences go. One could say that most aspects of Chakra 2014.05 worked most of the time. For instance, most of the steps in the installer went well, except for disk partitioning where my experience quickly got complicated. The Octopi package manager worked well most of the time, except when it came to performing software upgrades. Most of the applications worked well, except for the ones I listed above.
Chakra provides most of the software I want to use, but the project's focus on software purity means we are often given (in my opinion) sub-optimal tools to perform our tasks. I will say that I am pleased the developers have eased up a little in their approach to software purity. Having GTK-based packages in a separate repository that can be managed from the package manager is preferable to having a separate package manager and isolated software bundles for GTK-based applications as was done in early releases of Chakra.
Chakra GNU/Linux does some things quite well. For people who want a fast and clean KDE experience, Chakra is quite a good choice. For people who want to experiment with the Arch approach to system administration and maintenance without a lot of time invested into setting up the operating system, Chakra is also a good choice. Where I find Chakra does not hold up as well is with quality assurance, there are often small quirks or broken applications. Chakra does stay close to the cutting edge and, while this makes for a fresh and exciting experience, one does need to be prepared for the occasional surprise.
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Hardware used in this review
My physical test equipment for this review was a desktop HP Pavilon p6 Series with the following specifications:
- Processor: Dual-core 2.8 GHz AMD A4-3420 APU
- Storage: 500 GB Hitachi hard drive
- Memory: 6 GB of RAM
- Networking: Realtek RTL8111 wired network card
- Display: AMD Radeon HD 6410D video card
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
Installing Fedora on BeagleBone, interview with Fedora's Matthew Miller, learning Linux file system, Linux on super computers
Working with small, inexpensive computers has been a booming hobby in recent years. Educational hardware such as the Raspberry Pi and the BeagleBone are cheap and run open source software, making them ideal for hobbyists and students alike. Niko Roussos is a fan of the BeagleBone Black and the Fedora distribution. In a blog post he discusses how to set up the BeagleBone to run a Fedora image: "Flashing Fedora to BB is not that difficult. The tricky part is that Fedora comes with an "initial setup" screen, which requires an HDMI monitor and a keyboard at least on first run so you can set some basic things (like root password). I wanted to do some modifications to the Fedora image, and get through this "initial setup" screen prior to flashing it on the BB. Inspired by Ebal's post, I thought Qemu as a perfect tool for this job..."
Matthew Miller recently took over the role of Fedora Project Leader and Linux.com is carrying an interview with Fedora's new leader. Miller talks about the changes coming to Fedora 21 later this year, how Fedora plans to stay relevant and his long term goals: "Other open source communities would also like to see the distribution become more enterprise friendly as the faster moving, more experimental upstream version to Red Hat Enterprise Linux," the article states. "Fedora 21 will be the first tangible step in this direction with the release split into three variations: cloud, server and desktop. They'll all be built out of a shared repository and have the same release schedule." In addition, Miller is interested in improving communication and making Fedora more newcomer friendly, saying: "Some of our mailing lists are downright hostile, and that has to change, especially because it doesn't actually reflect the reality of our community as a whole."
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The Linux command line is a powerful and complex tool. While being able to use the command line can be of great help to Linux users, learning the ins and outs of Linux shells is daunting. The openSUSE news blog is running a series of tutorials for people who want to try out the Linux command line and have no previous experience with the technology. Last week's post deals with the Linux file system, the purpose of each directory and how to navigate them.
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For the past decade Linux has been a powerful force in the world of super computers. Never before has that fact been more apparent than now. The Linux kernel is currently used to power 485 of the world's fastest 500 super computers. As ZDNet reports, "In the latest contest, not only did Linux dominate, but Linux showed that is slowly pushing out all its competitors. In the June 2014 Top 500 supercomputer list, the top open-source operating system set a new high with 485 systems out of the fastest 500 running Linux. In other words 97 percent of the fastest computers in the world are based on Linux. Of the remaining 16, 13 run Unix. They appear to be running IBM AIX since they're all running on IBM Power processors."
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Reading-between-the-lines asks: What open-source software can you recommend for managing e-books?
DistroWatch answers: When dealing with e-books, it is hard to beat Calibre. Calibre is an open-source, cross-platform application that allows the user to organize e-books into libraries, similar to the way most music players organize audio files. Calibre lets us tag books, create multiple libraries (sort of like play-lists) and double-clicking on a book in our library will open it in an appropriate document viewer. Calibre also interfaces with e-book readers. Plugging a mobile e-reader into our computer will cause Calibre to check to see which books in our library are already stored on the mobile device and mark these items with a small icon. When an e-reader is attached to our computer a button will appear in Calibre that allows us to send locally stored e-books to the mobile device.
Calibre, from my experience with the application, appears to support virtually every e-reader currently on the market and will even convert books in our library into a format better suited to our mobile device. Calibre has a nice interface and good documentation.
For people looking for something that is a bit more simple, perhaps just for reading e-books rather than managing them, I recommend FBReader. Like Calibre, FBReader is a cross-platform open source (GPL) application. However, while Calibre is the Swiss Army knife of e-book management, FBReader's scope simply includes being a document viewer for e-books. The application focuses on opening a text and then getting out of the way so we can start reading. FBReader supports a wide variety of book formats and allows us to adjust the font size, background colour and scrolling behaviour. FBReader does offer a library feature where we can organize our books, though the library feature is presented as more of a side-attraction while the main interface acts much like a dedicated mobile e-reader device.
|Released Last Week
Linux Mint 17 "KDE"
Clement Lefebvre has announced the release of Linux Mint 17 "KDE" edition: "The team is proud to announce the release of Linux Mint 17 'Qiana' KDE. Linux Mint 17 is a long-term support release which will be supported until 2019. It comes with updated software and it brings refinements and many new features to make your desktop even more comfortable to use. The Update Manager was hugely improved. It shows more information, it looks better, it feels faster, and it gets less in your way. It no longer needs to reload itself in root mode when you click on it. It no longer checks for an Internet connection or waits for the network manager and it no longer locks the APT cache at session startup. The UI was improved, the icons were modified a bit and the changelog retrieval is now much faster and more reliable." Please refer to the release announcement, the release notes and the what's new page for further information.
Peppermint OS Five
Kendall Weaver has announced the release of Peppermint OS Five, a Lubuntu-based lightweight and easy-to-use desktop Linux distribution: "Peppermint OS LLC is excited to announce the launch of our latest operating system, Peppermint Five. Lightweight and designed for speed, Peppermint Five delivers on that promise whether using software on your desktop, online, or using cloud-based applications. Highlights: built on a long-term support (LTS) code base, Ubuntu 14.04; Peppermint Ice is our in-house built SSB manager, it has been rewritten from scratch and is now significantly more stable and more feature rich than past versions; we've fixed a number of upstream bugs present in Lubuntu, the specific project we fork from; Peppermint-Light is our new window manager and widget theme designed to offer a clean and relatively flat look and feel." Read the rest of the release announcement for a list of features and other information.
Peppermint OS Five - a lightweight distribution based on Lubuntu
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Kris Moore has announced the release of PC-BSD 10.0.2, a quarterly update of the project's desktop-oriented operating system based on FreeBSD: "The PC-BSD team is pleased to announce the availability of the next PC-BSD quarterly update, version 10.0.2. This update includes a number of important bug fixes, as well as newer packages and desktops, such as KDE 4.12.5, Cinnamon 2.2.13, GNOME 3.12.2 and more. This release also includes an alpha release of the new Lumina desktop which is being developed on PC-BSD. Other notable changes: revamped AppCafe and PBI subsystems, integrated fully with FreeBSD's PKGNG; AppCafe support for application screenshots, 5-Star rating system and comments integrated with our Wiki; unified various UI elements and keyboard shortcuts; integrated package clean-up functionality into AppCafe / PBI system...." Continue to the release announcement for full details and upgrade instructions.
Leszek Lesner has announced the release of Neptune 4.0 (formerly known as ZevenOS "Neptune" edition), an updated release of the project's Debian-based distribution with KDE 4.13.2 as the default desktop: "The Neptune team is proud to present the release of Neptune 4.0, code name 'It's all about you'. This version focuses on user requests and it brings a bunch of new ground-breaking changes, like Linux kernel 3.13.11, KDE SC 4.13.2, systemd 204, Encode 3.0, Recffmpeg 1.8.5, LibreOffice 4.2, Chromium 35, default Btrfs, a brand new design and so much more. We modernized the look and feel of Neptune without loosing the touch of simplicity and easy going with the introduction of our new design. We aimed to create a distraction-free desktop experience. The base of Neptune 4.0 is the Linux kernel 3.13.11 with bunch of new drivers, fixes and support of new hardware." Read the rest of the release announcement for further information.
Neptune 4.0 - the default KDE desktop
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Parsix GNU/Linux 6.0r1
Alan Baghumian has announced the availability of an updated build of Parsix GNU/Linux, version 6.0r1, a distribution based on the latest stable release of Debian GNU/Linux and featuring the GNOME 3.10 desktop: "We are proud to announce the immediate availability of Parsix GNU/Linux 6.0r1, code name 'Trev'. This is the first re-spin of the Parsix GNU/Linux 6.0 series and it merges security and bug fix updates as of June 22, 2014. Trev 6.0r1 ships with GNOME Shell 3.10.3 and updated Linux 3.12.20 based kernel, built on top of the rock-solid Debian 'Wheezy' (7.0) platform. All base packages have been synchronized with Debian 'Wheezy' repositories as of June 1, 2014. Main changes: X.Org Server 1.14.5, GNU Iceweasel 30.0, Chromium Browser 35.0, LibreOffice 3.5.4, VirtualBox 4.3.10, VLC 2.0.6...." Read the release announcement and release notes for more details.
Jared Dillard has announced the release of pfSense 2.1.4, a free network firewall distribution based on FreeBSD: "2.1.4 follows very shortly after 2.1.3 and is primarily a security release. Packages also had their own independent fixes and need updating. During the firmware update process the packages will be re-installed properly. Otherwise, uninstall and then re-install packages to ensure that the latest version of the binaries is in use. Other fixes: patch for Captive Portal pipeno leaking issue which leads to the 'Maximum login reached' on Captive Portal; remove text not relevant to Allowed IPs on the Captive Portal; remove units from burst as it is always specified in bytes; add column for internal port on UPnP status page; make listening on interface rather than IP optional for UPnP...." See the release announcement and release notes for more details.
Linux Mint 17 "Xfce"
Clement Lefebvre has announced the release of Linux Mint 17 "Xfce" edition: "The team is proud to announce the release of Linux Mint 17 'Qiana' Xfce. Linux Mint 17 is a long term support release which will be supported until 2019. It comes with updated software and brings refinements and many new features to make your desktop even more comfortable to use. The Update Manager was hugely improved. It shows more information, it looks better, it feels faster, and it gets less in your way. It no longer needs to reload itself in root mode when you click on it. It no longer checks for an Internet connection or waits for the network manager and it no longer locks the APT cache at session startup. Linux Mint 17 features Xfce 4.10, MDM 1.6, a Linux kernel 3.13 and an Ubuntu 14.04 package base." See the release announcement, the release notes and the what's new page for further details.
Kai Hendry has announced the release of Webconverger 25.0, the latest version of the specialist distribution for web kiosks, based on stable Debian GNU/Linux 7.0: "Webconverger 25 release. Highlights of this 25.0 signed and tagged release, making Webconverger an even better web kiosk: new super simple whitelist= filtering option; new numlock API, to assist deployments in banks and such for numpad data entry; incorporated Firefox 29/30-based Australis user interface refresh, being very careful to minimise its impact on our conservative user base; downsized 397 MB to 375 MB, losing around 22 MB; NVIDIA video card support restored with the Nouveau driver; various SSL and flash security updates." Read the full release announcement which includes a link to a raw changelog on GitHub.
SparkyLinux 3.4 "MATE", "Xfce", "Base"
Paweł Pijanowski has announced the release of SparkyLinux 3.4 "MATE", "Xfce" and "Base" (Openbox) editions, a set of Debian-based distributions with several lightweight desktop user interfaces: "SparkyLinux 3.4 'Annagerman' MATE, Xfce and Base (Openbox) is out. As usually, the new ISO images of SparkyLinux provide tons of updates, some changes and system improvements, such as: Linux kernel 3.14; all packages upgraded from Debian's 'Testing' repository as of 2014-06-23; MATE 1.8; Openbox 3.5.2; Xfce 4.10; support for installation on machines with EFI; systemd is the default init system now; menu of Openbox (Base edition) has got a few extra scripts; added new package - hardinfo; teamviewer has been updated up to version 9. New application in SparkyLinux repository: sparky-live-usb-creator – a tool for creating bootable live USB disks, it's a GUI front-end for the 'dd' command." Here is the brief release announcement.
John Martinson has announced the release of Robolinux 7.5.4, a new update of the project's Debian-based distribution that comes with a pre-configured VirtualBox for running Windows as a "guest" operating system: "We've been listening to our user base and have delivered many popular upgrades plus expert tech support for Robolinux version 7.5.4. New features: now you can now run Netflix in Robolinux, the necessary Silverlight emulator plugin has been added to the Robolinux 'Proprietary & Other Software Installers' so the user can install it in just one click; the powerful and very popular Linux Plex Media Server has been added to the Robolinux 'Proprietary & Other Software Installers'; Skype has been updated to the newest version 4.3; the excellent Kdenlive video editor has been added; we updated UNetbootin to the newest version which fixes the older version DVD error bug...." The announcement with a full list of new features can be found on the project's SourceForge page.
SME Server 9.0
Ian Wells has announced the release of SME Server 9.0, the first stable release of the project's server oriented distribution that is based on CentOS 6: "The SME Server development team is pleased to announce the release of SME Server 9.0 which is based on CentOS 6.5. SME Server is the leading Linux distribution for small and medium enterprises. SME Server is brought to you by Koozali Foundation, Inc., a non-profit corporation that exists to provide marketing and legal support for SME Server. It is with the deepest regret we have to inform you that on Wednesday 11th June Chris Burnat passed away. He was one of the most ardent supporters of Koozali SME Server and we all owe him an enormous debt of gratitude. We dedicate this release of SME Server 9.0 to Chris. Without him it would be nowhere near ready. If you download and use it, please remember him and his work, and that of all the other contributors who work tirelessly to make Koozali SME as good as it is." Here is the full release announcement.
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
May 2014 DistroWatch.com donation: Krita|
We are pleased to announce that the recipient of the May 2014 DistroWatch.com donation is Krita, a raster graphics editor for KDE. The project receives €240.00 in cash.
What is Krita? The project's FAQ page describes the software in the following words: "Krita is a KDE program for sketching and painting, offering an end–to–end solution for creating digital painting files from scratch by masters. Fields of painting that Krita explicitly supports are concept art, creation of comics and textures for rendering. Modelled on existing real-world painting materials and workflows, Krita supports creative working by getting out of the way and with a snappy response. Note that when we say 'Krita is a KDE program', that doesn't mean you need to run the Plasma Desktop to run Krita. It means that Krita as a project is proud to be part of the wonderful KDE community and uses the great framework technology that the KDE community develops. You can run Krita on Windows, GNOME, Xfce, and if you spend some effort even on OS X." The Krita features page further illustrates the capabilities of the application.
Launched in 2004, this monthly donations programme is a DistroWatch initiative to support free and open-source software projects and operating systems with cash contributions. Readers are welcome to nominate their favourite project for future donations. Those readers who wish to contribute towards these donations, please use our advertising page to make a payment (PayPal, credit cards, Yandex Money and Bitcoins are accepted). Here is the list of the projects that have received a DistroWatch donation since the launch of the programme (figures in US dollars):
Since the launch of the Donations Program in March 2004, DistroWatch has donated a total of US$39,775 to various open-source software projects.
- 2004: GnuCash ($250), Quanta Plus ($200), PCLinuxOS ($300), The GIMP ($300), Vidalinux ($200), Fluxbox ($200), K3b ($350), Arch Linux ($300), Kile KDE LaTeX Editor ($100) and UNICEF - Tsunami Relief Operation ($340)
- 2005: Vim ($250), AbiWord ($220), BitTorrent ($300), NDISwrapper ($250), Audacity ($250), Debian GNU/Linux ($420), GNOME ($425), Enlightenment ($250), MPlayer ($400), Amarok ($300), KANOTIX ($250) and Cacti ($375)
- 2006: Gambas ($250), Krusader ($250), FreeBSD Foundation ($450), GParted ($360), Doxygen ($260), LilyPond ($250), Lua ($250), Gentoo Linux ($500), Blender ($500), Puppy Linux ($350), Inkscape ($350), Cape Linux Users Group ($130), Mandriva Linux ($405, a Powerpack competition), Digikam ($408) and Sabayon Linux ($450)
- 2007: GQview ($250), Kaffeine ($250), sidux ($350), CentOS ($400), LyX ($350), VectorLinux ($350), KTorrent ($400), FreeNAS ($350), lighttpd ($400), Damn Small Linux ($350), NimbleX ($450), MEPIS Linux ($300), Zenwalk Linux ($300)
- 2008: VLC ($350), Frugalware Linux ($340), cURL ($300), GSPCA ($400), FileZilla ($400), MythDora ($500), Linux Mint ($400), Parsix GNU/Linux ($300), Miro ($300), GoblinX ($250), Dillo ($150), LXDE ($250)
- 2009: Openbox ($250), Wolvix GNU/Linux ($200), smxi ($200), Python ($300), SliTaz GNU/Linux ($200), LiVES ($300), Osmo ($300), LMMS ($250), KompoZer ($360), OpenSSH ($350), Parted Magic ($350) and Krita ($285)
- 2010: Qimo 4 Kids ($250), Squid ($250), Libre Graphics Meeting ($300), Bacula ($250), FileZilla ($300), GCompris ($352), Xiph.org ($250), Clonezilla ($250), Debian Multimedia ($280), Geany ($300), Mageia ($470), gtkpod ($300)
- 2011: CGSecurity ($300), OpenShot ($300), Imagination ($250), Calibre ($300), RIPLinuX ($300), Midori ($310), vsftpd ($300), OpenShot ($350), Trinity Desktop Environment ($300), LibreCAD ($300), LiVES ($300), Transmission ($250)
- 2012: GnuPG ($350), ImageMagick ($350), GNU ddrescue ($350), Slackware Linux ($500), MATE ($250), LibreCAD ($250), BleachBit ($350), cherrytree ($260), Zim ($335), nginx ($250), LFTP ($250), Remastersys ($300)
- 2013: MariaDB ($300), Linux From Scratch ($350), GhostBSD ($340), DHCP ($300), DOSBox ($250), awesome ($300), DVDStyler ($280), Tor ($350), Tiny Tiny RSS ($350), FreeType ($300), GNU Octave ($300), Linux Voice ($510)
- 2014: QupZilla ($250), Pitivi ($370), MediaGoblin ($350), TrueCrypt ($300), Krita ($340)
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New distributions added to database
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New distributions added to waiting list
- BannokOS. BannokOS is a desktop distribution based on Linux Mint, featuring the MATE and KDE desktop environments.
- Live Raizo. Live Raizo is a live Debian-based distribution to simulate networks and system administration experiments.
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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, 7 July 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 • Chakra, linux and... (by musty on 2014-06-30 12:39:32 GMT from France) |
Another great review. Chakra worth it....
A BIG question : Is ther a tiny livecd with KVM virtualization ? you boot your cd or usb and launch yours VMS from your NAS or SAN...
2 • Mint 17 Xfce (by cykodrone on 2014-06-30 14:40:49 GMT from Canada)
I gave it a live spin for schizz n giggles, no surprises (still stable yet bland) except one, no, two surprises, no system event sounds OOTB (I got system event sounds working in my Debian Wheezy Xfce, bpo and dmo enabled but not pinned), the second surprise was the Google search enhancement add-on in Firefox installed and running by default (lack of 'opt-in'). Here's the burning question/speculation...remember the Ubuntu repo server kerfuffle Mint had with Canonical? Is the Google search add-on part of a deal to shut Canonical up and keep using their server?
3 • aur vs. ccr (by arch/manjaro user on 2014-06-30 15:19:04 GMT from United States)
I installed Chakra a few months ago and was pretty happy with the experience. The critical show stopper was that, unlike Manjaro which is compatible with Arch's AUR, Chakra is only compatible with its own equivalent, the CCR (or CCK or something). The problem is that the community is much smaller than Arch's and many packages I need are simply not available or are broken in the CCR. Game over.
4 • Distro for KVM VM hosting (by Scott Dowdle on 2014-06-30 15:57:59 GMT from United States)
@1 - Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV) has a purpose-built RHEL-based install media for their virtualzation hosts that is a very stripped down RHEL with hypervisor and libvirt bits. I think their fancy name for it is "Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Hypervisor". The RHEV upstream project is oVirt and they call that an "oVirt node". I haven't used those myself so I'm not sure if they can be run from live media or not. I think they are geared for installing to hard drive.
The trend in virtualization is away from NAS/SAN based storage and toward local storage... mainly because of the cost. If that is something you'd consider then another good alternative is something like Proxmox VE that is a very light-weight, turn-key solution for setting up KVM/OpenVZ clusters.
5 • Lightweight, Straightforward, and/or Beginner Distros (by Gwilson on 2014-06-30 16:46:41 GMT from United States)
It is not my intention to knock Chakra, but I have a different current favorite. Before I name it, I'll preface this by stating that I am primarily a traditional desktop user who basically wants the desktop to get out of the way so that I can use the application software. At the same time, I am happy to have GUI tools for managing things like network connections and user privileges, even though I basically competent at using the command line. During all of the desktop use interface brouhaha of the past several years, I settled on XFCE as my preferred desktop since it meets all of the needs mentioned above and has proven to be stable, bug-free and relatively consistent as versions and upgrades are introduced.
My other "preference" is for a Debian-based distribution which (for me) includes Ubuntu (though I do tend to swing back and forth between Ubuntu and "pure" Debian for reasons you can probably guess). Over the years, I have become comfortable with the standard Debian syntax, conventions, package managers and so forth. Even when I change distributions to something that looks entirely different, it's good when what's going on in the background can still be managed with my present skill set.
A few months ago, I tried an early version of Linux Lite. While I liked what I saw, there were a few things I wasn't happy with and a few problems I encountered with certain hardware. When Distrowatch announced the release of Linux Lite 2.0, I decided to give it another look, and I am very pleased with what they have done. I now have it on all of my home systems and have installed it on the computers of a couple of aging friends who are moving away from Windows.
Linux Lite is a beginner-friendly Linux distribution based on Ubuntu LTS and featuring the Xfce desktop. It uses the current Whisker menu. All applications and GUI tools are identified by their function out of the box, and I have found that this simple feature makes the system much easier for beginners to use without impeding more experienced users.
I would highly recommend looking at Linux Lite 2.0 if it sounds like it might meet your needs in a particular situation.
As a passing comment, I'll add that I am also a fan of Crunchbang, but was disappointed when they stopped including the XFCE desktop as an option. I know you can add XFCE, but the standard "bare bones" XFCE installation does not have all of the refinements and customizations found in Linux Lite's carefully implemented XFCE.
On the minus side, Linux Lite does not have the same level of online forum user support that Crunchbang has developed over the years. I have posted a couple of questions on the Linux Lite forum and received no response at all.
Still, for a relatively new distro, the people at Linux Lite have produced a very well thought out and nicely implemented project.
6 • Chakra (by James on 2014-06-30 17:09:50 GMT from )
Never has worked for me. I could never get this to install, whether I put it on a USB stick or DVD, boot up was fine and got through half the installer. If people can't even get it to install, I think priority number one would be to finish the installer first and improve from there. Overall, the review seems very accurate. I have tried to like this distro, since I used KDEMod back in the day and it was excellent but I have downloaded this at least once a year, sometimes more and it just never installs. :(
7 • Talk about KDE (by fernbap on 2014-06-30 17:20:01 GMT from Portugal)
Jesse, i know you are a KDE fan, but do you have to review every KDE distro while leaving a lot of important non KDE distros out?
I know, many people like KDE, but many people (probably more) don't like it.
8 • Distro diversity (by Jesse on 2014-06-30 17:41:33 GMT from Canada)
>> "Jesse, i know you are a KDE fan, but do you have to review every KDE distro while leaving a lot of important non KDE distros out?"
I have no idea where you are coming from.
1. Three of the past five distributions I reviewed did not feature the KDE desktop.
2. I don't select which distributions to review based on their desktop environments.
3. My primary desktop of choice isn't KDE. Sure, I like it, but I like most of the major desktop environments. I'm not picky about which one(s) I use.
9 • @5 Re: Linux Lite Forums (by Rev_Don on 2014-06-30 21:01:43 GMT from United States)
The best way to get assistance with Linux Lite is thru their IRC channel. There is usually several people active in the channel at any time of the day. When I've had a question, I've always been able to get an answer within a few minutes there. IIRC, the channel information is pre-configured in the IRC client or there is a pre-configured link to it in the browser (it's been several months since I did a fresh install and I can't remember the specifics off the top of my head).
And I agree with you about Linux Lite. It's a well configured distro that just plain works well on older and newer hardware. It's about the closest distro to the classic pre-Unity Ubuntu releases like 10.04. Works great right out of the box for a newbie and an excellent starting point for a more experienced user.
10 • speaking of desktops (by brad on 2014-06-30 21:02:02 GMT from United States)
anyone know when xfce 4.12.x is coming out? I really enjoy xfce.. I used to be a diehard kde fan, I have 6 gigs ram, so system resources wasn't an issue.. just like the absolute snappiness of xfce.. Anyone reading this try the LxQt? any personal experiences and/or comparisons xfce vs lxqt?
11 • KDE (by Dave Brown on 2014-06-30 21:13:04 GMT from United States)
Talk about KDE, has anyone tried this out... Ubuntu 14.04 KDE 5
Jesse, this would make for an awesome review.
12 • @10 Re: LxQT (by Rev_Don on 2014-06-30 22:25:32 GMT from United States)
LxQT is still a bit raw, but it shows quite a bit of potential. Basically an enhanced LXDE, but it's a far cry from as full featured or customizable as XFCE, at least in the limited amount of use I've had with it.
13 • @5 CrunchBang Xfce (by Jeff on 2014-06-30 23:21:49 GMT from United States)
I agree, IMO that was the best Xfce set up.
They say you can add Xfce to CrunchBang but that really disrespects the work Phillip put into the CrunchBang Xfce configuration.
I understand it is a one man distro, there are only so many hours in a day and maintaining a second version could be too much work.
14 • Xfce 4.12 (by Will Brokenbourgh on 2014-07-01 01:48:34 GMT from United States)
@10 This is the roadmap for 4.12...looks like they've fallen a bit behind...hopefully it's not a dying project. Xfce is one of the best traditional low-resource desktop environments around.
15 • Xfce 4.12 (by Will Brokenbourgh on 2014-07-01 01:49:25 GMT from United States)
Oops, forgot the link:
16 • Chakra Review (by DipTheBeak on 2014-07-01 04:16:56 GMT from United States)
Another fine review. Chakra appears to be a very nice distro. The "does not currently officially support UEFI", plus limited package choices, compared to other Arch/based distros and only KDE, give me pause on this one, for now.
Antergos and Manjaro, both have excellent UEFI support. Manjaro has a very nice selection of DE, to download per ISO or post distro install, also has good package selection, though held back 1-2 weeks=there are some advantages to this, to be safer.
One of the major things, I believe Antergos gets very right (internet connection required), is the choice of DE while doing the distro install. The positives to me, small ISO download, then choose the DE during distro install (Why more distros do not choose this way??), not locked into just one DE. Of course a different DE can also be downloaded, post-disto install.
Everyone have a great week.
17 • LXQt (by Hulk on 2014-07-01 06:01:35 GMT from Slovakia)
I have tried LxQt and, as someone has pointed out above, it feels pretty raw at this stage. It is usable, though.
I moved from Gnome to Xfce to MATE, but I believe that LXQt will become the number one desktop in the near future.
Any comments on the Tizen OS?
18 • Krita (by TequilaMockingbird on 2014-07-01 08:15:44 GMT from United States)
Thanks for choosing for the month of May donation, to go to Krita. This is a good sketching and painting, cross platform program. Continued success to all at Krita! :)
19 • @11 KDE by Dave Brown: Plasma Next and KF5 (by Marco on 2014-07-01 15:12:36 GMT from United States)
I am testing in a VMware virtual machine on top of Kubuntu 14.04 following these directions:
You will get another session option on your LightDM.
I have some hiccups, but it basically works.
Software bugs should go to bugs.kde.org, but packaging bugs are best raised in the #kubuntu-devel IRC channel.
I have also played with the Kubuntu-based Live CD: http://files.kde.org/snapshots/neon5-latest.iso
This seems to work about as well as most live USB sessions I run, but some web sites with heavy scripting can seem to cause me to run out of memory.
20 • Calibre (by Chet on 2014-07-01 16:33:42 GMT from United States)
I have used Calibre for a while in both Windows and Linux and can't think of a better program to handle almost any e-book in almost any format, as well as any reader.
I have also used Fbreader, and found it quite useful as well.
21 • @6 James - Chakra installation (by Ricardo on 2014-07-02 03:05:19 GMT from Argentina)
It's been a while since I tried Chakra, but in their website they recommend burning the install DVD at very low speed (4x) for a correct installation. You don't say if you tried that, so I thought I would mention it.
I really like the concept of semi-rolling release but Chakra never quite worked for me/my tastes, ans it also doesn't (didn't?) support full disk encryption which is a requirement in my case (work laptop).
So, I'm currently using Slackware 14.1 (very solid base) with AlienBOB's excellent KDE repos + slackbuilds, both of which provide the rolling part :)
(Sorry for the digression!)
22 • Krita, Plasma Next (by Ricardo on 2014-07-02 03:11:07 GMT from Argentina)
Kudos for the donation to Krita, well deserved.
@Jesse: I second a review of Plasma Next, if you have the time and will :)
Maybe a "Beta testing week" where you can mini-review several beta projects?
(Candidates: LXQt, Lumina, others?)
23 • @16 DE choice during install (by Kazlu on 2014-07-02 13:27:19 GMT from France)
"small ISO download, then choose the DE during distro install (Why more distros do not choose this way??)"
Probably because an installation requiring an internet connection may be risky (if your connection fails during install, what happens?), or impossible (installation on computers without connection). For the record, Mageia and OpenSUSE (and probably others) propose a choice of several DEs at install, but the ISO is large (3.5GB in the case of Mageia, argh). Also for the record, you can still get the Ubuntu minimal CD that weights about 30MB and you get just what is needed to boot, then you can choose and download your kernel, DE and other packages from the repositories in order to build your system to your taste.
I personnally prefer not having to rely on an internet connection during installation. One less source of problems. I do my updates post-install
24 • @23 Kazlu (by DipTheBeak on 2014-07-02 14:27:39 GMT from United States)
"Probably because an installation requiring an internet connection may be risky (if your connection fails during install, what happens?), or impossible (installation on computers without connection)." That is fair. I stand corrected. I should have stated, that it is best to be sure of a reliable internet connection. You made some valid points.
To be clear, to me Antergos strikes a healthy balance, the live CD is not too bloated (as you mentioned some distros have multiple DE available to install from a LARGE ISO), but not too minimal either, like your example of the Ubuntu minimal CD.
In the end, it is up to the individual, for what he/she feels comfortable with, and/or prefers.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, much appreciated. Cheers. :)
25 • Windows 8.1 (by Charles Fifi Regina III on 2014-07-02 19:25:25 GMT from United States)
This is about Random Mice coming out of my PC since I installed Linux mouse
software from the PCLinuxOS repositories.
26 • @4 (by Anonymous Coward on 2014-07-03 21:21:11 GMT from United States)
@4 "The trend in virtualization is away from NAS/SAN based storage and toward local storage"
Any citation to back up that assertion? I find that anecdotally to be 180 degrees from reality?
27 • @25 - Random Mice (by eco2geek on 2014-07-04 21:41:20 GMT from United States)
Many software developers will set interrupts in order to debug their software when error conditions occur. These interrupts are commonly known as "traps".
So you may wish to contact the software developer(s), and ask them why they didn't code in the appropriate mouse traps. *
* Kidding. :-) I have no idea what error you're experiencing.
28 • BeagleBone... where? (by Nate on 2014-07-05 03:25:32 GMT from United States)
I enjoy the reviews but this is the first time I've notice one made for a product that isn't available.
The BeagleBone Black has not been available for sale anywhere for a few months now. Heck, I can find Arduinos on-line, Craigslist even carries the occasional RaspberryPi, but BeagleBone, Black or not, are nowhere to be found.
PS: if anyone wishes to prove me wrong, please post link (or at least give directions) as to where one might find this dev board. Thanks
29 • Open hardware (by Fairly Reticent on 2014-07-05 05:20:00 GMT from United States)
I'd like to see the MinnowBoard_Max available ...
30 • Arch-based distributions (by Peter on 2014-07-05 15:48:46 GMT from United Kingdom)
Just my word on the Chakra review and Arch-based distributions. In my experience the plain Arch install, with KDE if you want, is the easiest and most stable distribution. Using pacman from command line is simple if you can type 'pacman -Syu'.
All the apps I have added have worked. Kernel upgrades have been bleeding-edge (3.15-2 at the moment), systemd works fine. I've installed in virtualbox as a EFI-aware OS and also as dual boot on my iMac using UEFI and refind. Everything works and just keeps on working. On the other hand Ubuntu is broken on my system, with multiple problems. Fedora is the only other OS that comes close to Arch on my iMac.
Number of Comments: 30
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|• Issue 656 (2016-04-11): Qubes OS 3.1, Whonix offers bug bounties, Puppy's family tree, setting up disk partitions and running bash on Windows|
|• Issue 655 (2016-04-04): Parsix 8.5, Sabayon's Community repository, Red Hat offers free subscriptions, Ubuntu tablets, command line tips|
|• Issue 654 (2016-03-28): PCLinuxOS 2016.03, Using signatures to create a web of trust, Arch Linux rolls out Pacman update, GuixSD packages GNOME|
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|• Issue 651 (2016-03-07): Korora 23, Linux Mint improves security, Ubuntu MATE on Raspberry Pi 3 computers, trying different file systems|
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|• Issue 648 (2016-02-15): XStream Desktop 153, Raspbian unveils OpenGL feature, free hardware, Ikey Doherty talks desktop design|
|• Issue 647 (2016-02-08): Tails 2.0, KDE project launches Neon, Manjaro unveils ARM support, FreeBSD's quarterly report|
|• Issue 646 (2016-02-01): deepin 15, Mint plans X-Apps, FreeBSD to support boot environments, logging into the desktop as root|
|• Issue 645 (2016-01-25): Linux Mint 17.3 "Xfce", Chromixium changes its name, Ubuntu tablets coming soon, Linux vs BSD comparision|
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|• Issue 642 (2016-01-04): paldo GNU/Linux, vetting distro repositories, Fedora plans to adopt GCC 6, Ian Murdock passes|
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|• Issue 640 (2015-12-14): Chakra GNU/Linux 2015.11, removing meta-data from files, Ubuntu to remove on-line dash searches|
|• Issue 639 (2015-12-07): OpenBSD 5.8, openSUSE gathers Summer of Code proposals, running WINE on a live disc, Enlightenment adds Wayland support|
|• Issue 638 (2015-11-30): Qubes OS 3.0, KaOS with Plasma, NetBSD 7.0, Fedora seeks Wayland testers, scheduling tasks|
|• Issue 637 (2015-11-23): NixOS 15.09, Antergos introduces ZFS support, MINIX shares new features, copying an OS to a new computer|
|• Issue 636 (2015-11-16): openSUSE 42.1, Fedora uses Wayland by default, Debian replaces live CD project, Steam consoles launch|
|• Issue 635 (2015-11-09): Fedora 23, Cinnamon 2.8 released, a Fedora KDE packager quits, Red Hat signs deal with Microsoft|
|• Issue 634 (2015-11-02): Ubuntu 15.10, Chakra upgrades to Plasma 5, OpenMandriva plans new editions, MINIX plans conference|
|• Issue 633 (2015-10-26): GhostBSD 10.1, Bodhi Linux to get new settings panel, Fedora 23 delayed, creating live image of existing OS|
|• Issue 632 (2015-10-19): Linux Lite 2.6, 32-bit build of CentOS, OpenBSD turns 20, Bodhi Linux releases AppPack|
|• Issue 631 (2015-10-12): Parsix 8.0, Manjaro seeks new artwork, sending commands to multiple servers, Debian drops LSB support|
|• Issue 630 (2015-10-05): Android-x86 4.4-r3, Ubuntu's new installer, Raspbian defaults to GUI interface, cleaning out dot files|
|• Issue 629 (2015-09-28): Open source desktops and touch interfaces, locking down user accounts, OpenMandriva opens gaming documentation|
|• Issue 628 (2015-09-21): Neptune 4.4, changes to pfSense, Pinguy OS releases updated ISO images, accessing hard disk images|
|• Issue 627 (2015-09-14): Mageia 5, Snappy co-exists with Debian packages, creating PDF/A documents, Antergos previews Poodle|
|• Issue 626 (2015-09-07): Status of Wayland and Mir, Cinnamon improvements, an OpenBSD hypervisor, HAMMER2 gets deduplication|
|• Issue 625 (2015-08-31): OpenELEC 5.0.8, Fedora's new Wayland features, Tails releases update, the LILO boot loader|
|• Issue 624 (2015-08-24): Zorin OS 10, Sabayon's new features, Solus seeks funding, Debian turns 22, new PC-BSD repository|
|• Issue 623 (2015-08-17): VectorLinux 7.1, Ubuntu One source released, Moksha Desktop ships in Bodhi, Fedora developers debate Chromium|
|• Issue 622 (2015-08-10): antiX 15, Fedora tests kdbus, Debian tracks UEFI issues, word processors for the CLI|
|• Issue 621 (2015-08-03): Point Linux 3.0, Debian drops Sparc, Fedora package stats, VirtualBox 5.0|
|• Issue 620 (2015-07-27): Debian GNU/Hurd 2015, Linux Bible, Ubuntu MATE gets new Welcome app, Telegram on Fedora, Plasma Mobile|
|• Issue 619 (2015-07-20): SolydXK 201506, Tanglu's new bug tracker, FSF and Canonical negotiate licensing, Haiku unveils new init system|
|• Issue 618 (2015-07-13): Semplice Linux 7, openSUSE derivatives, Debian adopts GCC 5, Docker ported to FreeBSD|
|• Issue 617 (2015-07-06): Alpine linux 3.2.0, Fedora on MIPS CPUs, Solus offers daily builds, Ubuntu migrating to Snappy|
|• Issue 616 (2015-06-29): MidnightBSD 0.6, openSUSE's "42", encryption added to the ext4 file system, FreeBSD on a Raspberry Pi|
|• Issue 615 (2015-06-22): Raspbian 2015, Fedora works around Intel driver issue, openSUSE adopts GCC 5, frozen desktop while copying files|
|• Issue 614 (2015-06-15): Chromixium OS 1.0, Debian 8.1 released, OpenBSD running in the cloud, sudo myths|
|• Issue 613 (2015-06-08): Fedora 22, Cinnamon 2.6 released, FreeBSD's history, working around Secure Boot|
|• Issue 612 (2015-06-01): Manjaro OpenRC, Debian, Devuan and systemd, Fedora 22 released, Mandriva closes its doors|
|• Issue 611 (2015-05-25): Kubuntu 15.04, openSUSE adopts Plasma 5, Ubuntu's Snappy, words from Debian's Neil McGovern|
|• Full list of all issues|
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