| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 578, 29 September 2014
Welcome to this year's 39th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! At the heart of what makes Linux distributions so fun, so flexible and so free is the open nature of the source code. Free and open source software allows anyone with the time and the talent to customize, improve and extend existing software. The freedom to modify and fix our operating systems is what drives us to create new distributions, create compelling desktop environments and fashion highly optimized solutions. In celebration of software freedom, this week we focus on open source software and source code. We begin with a review of the Calculate distribution, a project which provides a great deal of flexibility though source-based package management. We then turn to examples of collaboration and competition in our News section. Last week saw the Debian team swap out Xfce for GNOME as the project's default desktop environment. We also learned that FreeBSD was updating their Linux compatibility layer, through borrowing packages from CentOS. The Bodhi distribution may have lost its leader a few weeks ago, but the project may carry on under new management and we share more below. Finally, we discuss a nasty security bug which was discovered last week, patched and updated on users' computers within hours. This week we share some odds and ends from around the open source world, touching on significant developments with ZFS, Lumina, TrueCrypt and systemd. Plus we bring you the latest distribution releases and look ahead to more fun to come. We wish you all a marvellous week and happy reading!
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (34MB) and MP3 (41MB) formats
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Introducing Calculate Linux 14
Calculate Linux is a distribution based on Gentoo Linux. Calculate makes installing the Gentoo-derived operating system easy and offers several convenient system administration tools. A summary of the distribution on the Calculate Linux website states: "Calculate Linux is an optimized distribution designed for rapid deployment in corporate environments. It is based on Gentoo, but provides a number of preconfigured features. Calculate Linux comes in four main flavours: Calculate Linux Desktop for personal use, Calculate Directory Server for servers, Calculate Linux Scratch for those who want to build a customized system that works for them and Calculate Media Center for your home multimedia centre."
Calculate Linux is a rolling-release distribution and, further, it uses a source-based approach to package management. This means much of the software we install on Calculate will be compiled from source code, a lengthy process which may optimize the software on our computers. The latest version of Calculate ships with a few new features, including notification of software updates and an improved administration panel. As mentioned previously, Calculate is available in several flavours, each of which can be downloaded in 32-bit or 64-bit builds. I opted to try the Desktop edition of Calculate, the ISO file for which is 2.2GB in size. There are actually two Desktop editions of this distribution, I downloaded the KDE edition, but there is also an edition featuring the Xfce desktop environment.
Booting from the Calculate Linux media we are shown a boot menu where we are given the choice of running the Calculate live desktop environment, running the live desktop from RAM for added performance or running a live environment with a command line interface only. Taking the live desktop environment brings up the KDE desktop. Calculate, unlike most distributions shipping KDE, places the application menu, task switcher and system tray at the top of the screen. Calculate's build of KDE ships with a classic style application menu, which is both unusual and, in my case, welcome. Icons on the desktop enable us to launch the GParted partition manager, the system installer, a file manager and the Konversation IRC client. There is also an icon which brings up the distribution's installation guide. The guide lets us know that it is a good idea to partition our hard drive prior to running the system installer, along with other helpful tips. The Konversation application, when launched, automatically signs into the Calculate IRC channel where we can get assistance with using the distribution. At the bottom of the display there is a hidden quick-launch bar that pop-ups when the mouse pointer strays toward the lower edge of the screen.
Calculate Linux 14 - the installation guide
(full image size: 418kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
The distribution's system installer is a graphical application which I believe is unique to Calculate. It begins by asking for our preferred language and our time zone. Next we are asked to confirm we want to install Calculate from the live media as packages may be retrieved from other sources. Calculate's installer provides a few options for partitioning the hard drive. We can take a guided option or we can use existing partitions (which we presumably set up ahead of time using GParted). The guided option takes hints from us, such as whether to use a GPT disk layout, whether certain directories should be mounted on separate partitions and whether we want to use LVM volumes. I took the manual partitioning option and the following screen asked me to assign partitions to mount points. The layout of this page was a little unusual and it took me a while to get into the flow of using the mount point feature.
During this process a warning popped up telling me my root partition needed to be larger than 7 GB. I thought this was odd as the partition I was using was 15 GB. I opted to proceed and the system installer accepted my choices. Next, the installer asks us to enable networking and to select a network time synchronization server. Then we are asked to set a password on the root account and create a regular user account for ourselves. The following page lets us select which video card driver to use and set our screen resolution, something I find most distributions do automatically these days. Though I do appreciate the extra control choosing our own driver potentially gives us. Next we are asked if the system should automatically check for software updates. After that the installer pauses to confirm we want to proceed with the installation and then copies its files to our hard drive. A short time later we are prompted to reboot the computer.
Calculate Linux 14 - downloading software updates
(full image size: 637kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Calculate Linux boots to a graphical login screen where, in the background, we see an image of a penguin parachuting from the sky. It's an adorable way to begin our time with the distribution. Something I found early on with Calculate is the distribution prevents us from logging in using the root (administrator's) account. Signing in with our regular user account brings us to the KDE desktop. Shortly after signing in an icon appeared in the system tray letting me know software updates were available. Clicking this notification icon brings up a screen where we are shown a list of available updates. The day I installed Calculate there were 12 packages available, totalling about 5MB in size. Updating these packages appeared to be an all or nothing venture as I did not see any way to select which packages to download. The process of downloading and installing updates took a while on my machine, over 20 minutes in total. I suspect this may be because each update is downloaded as source code and compiled in the background, though the update utility does not show a lot of detailed progress information to confirm or deny my assumption.
I tried running Calculate Linux in a VirtualBox virtual machine and on a physical desktop machine. I found Calculate's KDE desktop was a touch sluggish in the virtual machine, but the distribution was responsive when run on physical hardware. I found Calculate generally consumed around 500MB of memory when logged into KDE, though that number varied a bit between 480MB and 580MB on different days. In both test environments Calculate ran smoothly, automatically detected my network connection and sound worked out of the box. I selected my own video driver and screen resolution during the installation and these settings were respected by the distribution. My only hardware related complaint about Calculate was that the distribution booted slowly compared to most other Linux distributions I have used this year.
Calculate Linux 14 - KDE System Settings and Calculate Console
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Browsing through the distribution's application menu we find a wide range of useful software. Calculate provides us with the Chromium web browser and an accompanying Flash plugin. We are given the Skype voice over IP software, the KTorrent bittorrent client, the Kopete instant messaging software and the Konversation IRC client. The Choqok micro-blogging client is included along with the KMail e-mail application. There are a few applications for dealing with remote desktop and support situations, including the KRDC remote desktop client and the X11VNC Server. Calculate provides us with the LibreOffice productivity suite and the Okular document viewer. The distribution ships with the Amarok music player, the k3b optical disc burning software, the SMPlayer video player, the KsCD audio disc player and the Kdenlive video editor.
The distribution ships with popular media codecs, letting us play (and edit) most multimedia formats. Calculate offers us the GNU Image Manipulation Program, the KolourPaint drawing program and the digiKam camera manager. Plus we are given an archive manager, calculator, text editor, disk usage statistics application and the Kleopatra digital certificate manager. There are a few administrative tools as well, including the KDE System Settings panel where we can configure all aspects of our desktop environment. There is the Calculate Console where we can adjust administrative settings on our local computer or on a remote computer. I did not find Java installed, but Calculate does ship with the GNU Compiler Collection. In the background I found Calculate runs on the 3.14 release of the Linux kernel.
Calculate Linux 14 - running various desktop applications
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My time with Calculate took an unpleasant turn on my second day, mostly because of a bug related to administrative permissions. The second day of my trial I wanted to install some additional software. Calculate uses the emerge package manager and typically compiles new software from source code. Some larger packages, such as the Firefox web browser, are available as pre-built binary packages. My first approach was to run emerge via the sudo command. An error came back saying my user did not have permission to run sudo. Many distributions do not enable sudo by default and so I decided to gain administrative access using the "su" command. This also came back with a "permission denied" error. Thinking I must have typed the password incorrectly, I tried again. And again. Not being able to gain access to the root account nor sudo and not being able to login directly as root from the login screen I thought my password might have been set improperly and next tried booting the distribution in single user mode.
Single user mode prompted for my root password and accepted it, allowing me to sign in, confirming my password had been set up properly during the installation. Here, however, I ran into two problems. The first was that, after the password prompt, no text I typed in single user mode was visible. The second problem I found was that after each key I pressed the system assumed I had followed that key with pressing Enter. For example, trying to type "passwd" resulted in Calculate attempting to run the commands "p", "a", "s" and so on. After double-checking that my install media passed its integrity check I visited the forums and found I was not the only one experiencing this problem with root credentials. At the time of writing no solution has been posted. So I'm apparently not the only person to encounter this series of problems, but nor does the issue appear to affect many people.
Soon, I discovered that Calculate Linux runs a secure shell service by default. Though locally logging in as root is blocked, a clever administrator can login as root remotely. This seems like a bit of a security issue (or at least a strange design quirk), but it did provide me with a workaround. I was able to login to my root account using secure shell and run administrative tasks, including installing new software packages. As most packages are built from source code this does make installing new packages a slow process, but emerge does seem to be entirely capable and I encountered only one error when emerge failed to properly install Firefox.
Calculate Linux is an unusual distribution in the Linux community. The project is one of the few desktop distributions I can think of that is based on Gentoo and still actively developed. This gives Calculate a distinct flavour when compared against the many offspring of Fedora, Debian or Slackware. I found I had to shift my thinking a bit to get used to the way Calculate approaches administration and package management. Even the installer feels alien when compared against most other Linux installers. That's not to say Calculate is better or worse than other flavours of Linux, only that there are noticeable differences in the philosophy and approach that this distribution takes. Calculate does not have a "learning curve" so much as a "different perspective curve".
Calculate Linux appears to be mostly focused on being flexible, something which comes naturally to a source-based distribution. Most of the admin tools are flexible and have advanced options, a characteristic which is especially visible during the installation process. Calculate ships with a lot of good, capable software out of the box and I suspect most new users will not need to install additional applications, at least not many. While installing new programs can take time, much longer than on distributions offering binary packages, the emerge package manager did work well for me. Of course, emerge is also flexible and this allows users to tweak build-time options to optimize Calculate.
Right now I'm not sure what to think about Calculate Linux. My experiences this past week have been different than what I experience with most mainstream Linux distributions. Some aspects of Calculate take some getting used to. The distribution certainly seems to be flexible and capable of completing any task thrown at it. I did run into a few bugs and the distribution was slow to boot (and sluggish in a virtual machine). My overall impression of Calculate 14 was not great, but it wasn't exactly bad either. I think people who want to experiment with source-based distributions (such as Gentoo) without the steep learning curve or long initial installation will find what they want with Calculate. The distribution is easy to set up and makes experiencing a source-based approach fairly straightforward.
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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 and Ladislav Bodnar)
Debian switches default desktop to GNOME, FreeBSD updates Linux compatibility, Bodhi Linux changes hands, distributions react to Bash vulnerability, openSUSE interview, practical Tiny Core Linux
Joey Hess announced last week that the Debian GNU/Linux distribution will be changing its default desktop environment again, this time shifting back to using GNOME 3 as the default desktop. A chart showing the various positive and negative attributes of each desktop under consideration was posted on the Debian wiki and this chart helps demonstrate why GNOME won the honour. Hess lists several reasons Debian "Jessie" will ships with GNOME by default: "This is particularly based on accessibility and to some extent systemd integration. Accessibility: GNOME and MATE are ahead by a large margin. Some of the other desktops have had their accessibility integration in Debian improved, partly driven by this process, but still need significant upstream work. systemd integration: Xfce, MATE, etc are stuck paying catch-up to ongoing changes in this area. There will be time to hopefully iron these issues out during the freeze once the tech stack stops changing out from under them, so this is not a complete blocker for those desktops, but going by the current status, GNOME is ahead."
* * * * *
One especially useful feature of FreeBSD is the operating system's ability to support native Linux executable files by way of a compatibility layer. In recent years FreeBSD's Linux compatibility layer, which previously used Fedora 10 packages, has been showing its age. Fedora 10 has not been supported for a few years now and so an effort has been made to upgrade FreeBSD's compatibility layer to include a more modern Linux distribution. The choice was made to use CentOS as the new base for native Linux software. CentOS features long term support making it a more stable base. The Linux emulation port is called linux-c6 and can be found in the FreeBSD ports collection.
* * * * *
A few weeks ago we reported the lead developer of Bodhi Linux, Jeff Hoogland, would be stepping down. Hoogland, through the Bodhi Linux project, created one of the most polished and user friendly implementations of the Enlightenment desktop. Fans of Bodhi were understandably concerned over the future of the project and we are happy to say it looks like Bodhi Linux will be able to continue under new management. Hoogland posted on the Bodhi forums saying: "I've been talking with a number of victims, err volunteers, who intend to take over the duties I have been performing packaging software for and building the ISO images for Bodhi Linux. This had always been my hope, but I wasn't sure anyone would step up to the task - thankfully they have. Bodhi 3 will happen at some point, but they don't have any firm time lines right now."
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As widely reported last week, a security vulnerability was discovered in the Bourne Again Shell (usually referred to as Bash). The vulnerability potentially allows attackers to run any command they wish, in some cases this can even be accomplished remotely if the vulnerable machine is running a web server. As most Linux distributions ship with the Bash shell as the default command line shell, news of the vulnerability raised a lot of concern. Fortunately, most distributions have already patched Bash and made updated packages available. Detailed security advisories and patched copies of Bash have already been made available to users of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, CentOS, Fedora, Debian, Ubuntu, Mageia, SUSE and PC-BSD. If you have not already done so, it is a good idea to make sure your copy of Bash is up to date with your distribution's latest version.
* * * * *
Two months ago, a rather low-profile change took place at the openSUSE leadership when Richard Brown took over the project's helm from Vincent Untz. So who exactly is the new chairman? The ./themukt's Swapnil Bhartiya sheds some light on Richard Brown's personality and his involvement with openSUSE in this interview published last week: "Q: Can you tell us about your involvement with open source? A: I've been using Linux since around 2003. I think my first distribution was Slackware, followed by Debian, but it wasn't very long before I discovered SUSE and since then I've been hooked. I started contributing with the great 'opening up' of the distribution that came with the launch of the openSUSE Project in 2005. In terms of 'upstream contributions', I've contributed to GNOME, ownCloud, Spacewalk, Cobbler, and a few other projects over the years, but normally through my involvement with openSUSE. I guess you could say I'm a little 'Geeko-centric' that way."
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It's always inspirational to find out that even some of the smallest and "geekiest" Linux distributions have enormous practical impact in certain situations. Last week Wilfredo Crespo wrote a detailed article for Linux Journal describing how an all-volunteer fire fighting station in Pennsylvania has switched to Tiny Core Linux, a minimalist Linux distribution, to solve a logistical problem and to save money. From "Practical Tiny Core in the Fire Service": "Being the go-to IT guy at my firehouse, I had fallen in the enviable position of making this system work for us. The trivial solution is, of course, just to fire up Windows with IE and let the monitor sit there - in fact, the vendor suggested this to me. I suppose when you're trying to sell something as easy to use, that's what you do. That solution, needless to say, was unsatisfactory. From a budgetary standpoint, I was encouraged to keep costs down. The first decision and the easiest decision was to use Linux. I just shaved off the cost of the Windows license."
|Tips and Tricks (by Jesse Smith)
Open-source odds and ends
There have been some interesting developments in the open source world lately. While they may not deal directly with distributions, I think some of them will have long term impacts on open source operating systems and how we used them. I'd like to share some of these developments with you.
One news item I followed with interest was the announcement by Richard Yao that the ZFS on Linux project could be considered stable. ZFS is an advanced file system which provides improved data access speeds, guards data integrity, self heals and enables storage pools across multiple devices. The ZFS on Linux project provides kernel modules that allow Linux users to make use of ZFS. Richard Yao writes: "I believe the ZoL is production ready for the following reasons: Key ZFS data integrity features work on Linux like they do on other platforms. ZFS runtime stability on Linux is comparable to other file systems, with certain exceptions that I document below. ZoL is at near feature parity with ZFS on other platforms."
As a coincidence, the announcement that ZFS on Linux could be considered stable appeared around the same time the FreeBSD project updated their Handbook to include a chapter on ZFS. Though the specific examples presented in the Handbook are for people running FreeBSD, the information provided will be useful to people running ZFS on any operating system.
* * * * *
For many years the TrueCrypt project was one of the most popular resources for people who wanted to encrypt data or create encrypted hard drive partitions. TrueCrypt was well known as being easy to use, flexible and cross-platform. Sadly, the TrueCrypt project came to an end and the developers dropped maintenance of the application. TrueCrypt was open source software and so it was no surprise when another group of developers offered to continue the project under a new name. CipherShed is a fork of TrueCrypt which will soon be available to people on Linux, Windows and OS X. The CipherShed team is encouraging people to try out the software and review the code for potential problems.
* * * * *
The Lumina desktop environment began development as a new graphical interface for the PC-BSD operating system. Most desktop environments available for the BSD family of operating systems are created on Linux distributions first and then ported to the BSDs. Sometimes the porting efforts can take weeks or even months as some Linux-oriented desktops contain code or features that are difficult to transition to the BSDs. With new technologies such as Wayland and systemd making their way into the Linux software stack, some BSD developers believe porting software (like desktop environments) will become more difficult. Lumina, a desktop developed primarily for FreeBSD/PC-BSD, gives the BSD community a home grown solution that is future proof against changes in the Linux ecosystem.
However, technology flows both ways and Lumina has already been ported from PC-BSD and FreeBSD to Debian GNU/Linux, Debian GNU/kFreeBSD, Ubuntu and Mint with a Fedora port in the works. Lumina may soon become a popular desktop environment for conservative Linux distributions that wish to hold off adoption of disruptive technologies such as Wayland and systemd.
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Previously, we discussed the systemd init software, what it is and the debate over whether it makes a good replacement for exiting init technology. Some people believe that systemd does offer improvements over other init technologies, but feel there are problems with the way systemd approaches certain tasks. For example, systemd is not cross platform, it only works with the GNU C library and systemd has expanded to include a lot of functionality normally outside the scope of init.
People who like the concept of systemd, but have concerns with its growing scope and lack of cross platform support will be interested to know there is a fork of systemd, called uselessd, which addresses these concerns. According to the project's website: "Basically, it's systemd with the superfluous stuff cut out, a (relatively) coherent idea of what it wants to be, support for non-glibc platforms and an approach that aims to minimize complicated design." The site goes on to say uselessd is almost to the point where it can act as a drop-in replacement to systemd and may soon work across multiple operating systems. "uselessd is not just a political protest. We aim to make it usable and as a solid alternative for people who want the features the systemd core provides (socket activation, parallel execution, resource limiting, cgroups, the declarative configuration syntax, etc) without the unnecessarily intrusive features, as well as maintaining a conservative development philosophy that prioritizes conciseness and focus over an ever-rolling gargantuan for system-critical software like this."
|Released Last Week
Salix 14.1 "Fluxbox"
George Vlahavas has announced the release of Salix 14.1 "Fluxbox" edition, a lightweight distribution based on Slackware Linux: "Salix Fluxbox is back for 14.1! Our Fluxbox edition is designed to bring a minimalist environment to your desktop. The default desktop layout is comprised only of the Fluxbox panel and the right click menu will bring up the Fluxbox menu, so it should be really light on resources. The file manager that is used is PCManFM. The default browser in this release is Firefox. The office applications that are included are AbiWord and Gnumeric. Whaawmp is the default video player and Exaile is the audio media library application. Of course, Salix Codecs Installer is also there to install all kinds of restricted codecs that you might need. mtPaint is installed as the default picture editor and it fits perfectly with the lightweight feel of the desktop. Other applications included are the usual stuff that goes in Salix releases, like the Transmission torrent client, the Claws-mail email client...." Read the release announcement for additional details.
Linux From Scratch 7.6
Bruce Dubbs has announced the release of Linux From Scratch (LFS) 7.6, a book of step-by-step instructions on how to build a base Linux system from scratch. Beyond Linux From Scratch (BLFS) 7.6, a separate book that extends the base system with additional packages, was also released today. From the announcement: "The Linux From Scratch community is pleased to announce the release of LFS version 7.6, BLFS version 7.6, LFS systemd version 7.6, and BLFS systemd version 7.6. This release is a major update to both LFS and BLFS and now includes separate editions for systemd. The LFS releases include toolchain updates to glibc 2.20 and GCC 4.9.1. In total, 26 packages were updated and 8 packages added from LFS 7.5. The BLFS edition includes approximately 750 packages beyond the base Linux From Scratch version 7.6 book. It has over 880 updates from the previous version including numerous text and formatting changes. In addition, we would like to introduce for the first time a BLFS variant based on systemd."
SparkyLinux 3.5 "MATE", "Xfce", "Openbox", "JWM"
Paweł Pijanowski has announced the availability of several new editions of SparkyLinux 3.5, a set of lightweight Debian-based distributions for the desktop: "SparkyLinux 3.5 'Annagerman' MATE, Xfce, Openbox and JWM is out. The new live/install ISO images provide package updates and a few changes. All packages have been synchronized with Debian's 'Testing' repository as of 2014-09-22. The Base edition is now available in two separated flavours - Openbox and JWM. The JWM edition offers traditional desktop look and a minimal set of applications. JWM uses even less power than Openbox and can be used on old machines. Sparky JWM 32-bit consumes less that 90 MB of RAM after installation. All multimedia packages have been removed from the Base editions. The system runs on Linux kernel 3.14.15 and offers MATE 1.8.1, Xfce 4.10.1, Openbox 3.2.5 and JWM 2.1.0." Here is the full release announcement.
SparkyLinux 3.5 - the MATE desktop environment
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Oracle Linux 5.11
Oracle has announced the release of Oracle Linux 5.11, a distribution rebuilt from source code of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.11, but shipping with a custom "unbreakable" kernel: "We're happy to announce the availability of Oracle Linux 5.11, the eleventh and final update release for Oracle Linux 5. ISO images are available from the Oracle Software Delivery Cloud and the individual RPM packages have already been published to our public yum repository. This release includes the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel Release 2 (2.6.39-400), Oracle's recommended kernel for Oracle Linux. Oracle Linux can be downloaded, used and distributed free of charge and updates and errata are freely available. For support, you are free to decide which of your systems you want to obtain a support subscription for, and at what level each system should be supported." Read the brief release announcement and the detailed release notes for further information.
Lucas Holt has announced the release of MidnightBSD 0.5, a FreeBSD-derived operating system for desktop deployments: "MidnightBSD 0.5 has been released. Enhancements: jails now run shutdown scripts; support for username with length 32, previous limit was 16; imported FreeBSD 9.2 USB stack (plus z87 patches from stable); updated em(4), igb(4) and ixgbe(4); MidnightBSD now works with Z87 Intel chipsets; rarpd supports vlan(4) and has a pid flag (from FreeBSD); support for 65,536 routing tables was added (up from 16); added Subversion to base (as svnlite); virtio(4) imported from FreeBSD 9, SCSI support not included. New software versions: File 5.19, MKSH R50, less 458, Perl 5.18.2, Sendmail 8.14.7 (plus AAAA record patch), Subversion 1.8.1, zlib 1.2.7. Package builds for the release are not yet complete. KDE was removed from mports due to lack of a maintainer for our ports. Currently, we're recommending Xfce 4.x as a desktop environment." Read the rest of the release notes for further details.
OpenMandriva Lx 2014.1
João Patrício has announced the release of OpenMandriva Lx 2014.1, an updated version of the project's desktop Linux distribution that features a customised and intuitive KDE desktop: "OpenMandriva is proud to announce the release of OpenMandriva Lx 2014.1, that fixes lots of bugs and improves the overall performance of the distro. We would like to thank everybody that helped us make this possible - testers, bug submitters, developers and the community. Inside you can find: Linux kernel 3.15.10 with a new nrjQL patchset, KDE 4.13.3, Firefox 32.0.3, X.Org Server 1.15.2, MESA 10.2.6; an updated Bash with the latest security fixes; many updates for drivers and other software. Most of our effort focused on system boot up time, which is around 17 seconds now (and if you have an SSD that comes to about 12 seconds) and also to reduce memory footprint significantly." See the release announcement and release notes for further information.
Stephan Raue has announced the release of OpenELEC 4.2, a an updated build of the distribution designed for media centres, with separate editions built for Raspberry Pi and Apple TV: "The OpenELEC team is proud to announce OpenELEC 4.2.0. OpenELEC 4.2 is the new stable release, which is a feature release and the successor of OpenELEC 4.0. Since OpenELEC 4.0 we have reworked many parts of the underlying operating system. This release is the result of 6 months of development and testing and will be the basis for the upcoming OpenELEC 5.0 series which is planned to release with Kodi-14 later this year. OpenELEC 4.2 is now based on Linux kernel 3.16, MESA 10.3, LLVM 3.5 and X.Org Server 1.16. We updated the NVIDIA graphic drivers in the 64-bit image to 340.x (32-bit remains on 304.123), systemd to 216 and XBMC to XBMC Gotham 13.2." Read the rest of the release announcement for a full list of changes.
Netrunner 2014.09.1 "Rolling"
Clemens Toennies has announced the availability of Netrunner 2014.09.1 "Rolling" edition, a Manjaro-based distribution featuring the KDE 4.14 desktop: "This is the release announcement of Netrunner Rolling 2014.09.1. We are releasing this maintenance shortly after our initial 2014.09 release to fix problems with the NVIDIA driver, and to include a first fix for the Bash shell vulnerability. We also updated Samba file sharing, Kontact accounts and language pack installation. Laptop Mode Tools was replaced by the new TLP to give you better control of your power consumption and achieve a longer battery life with your laptop. With the 2014.09 version we updated Netrunner Rolling to the latest software updates from Manjaro, including Linux kernel 3.14.18 with lots of bugs fixed and new driver support. KDE SC was updated to version 4.14." See the full release announcement for more information and screenshots.
Qubes OS 2
Joanna Rutkowska has announced the release of Qubes OS 2, a Fedora-based, security-oriented desktop Linux distribution with integrated Xen virtualisation: "Today we're releasing Qubes OS R2! I'm not going to write about all the cool features in this release because you can find all this in our Wiki and previous announcements. Suffice to say that we've come a long way over those 4+ years from a primitive proof of concept to a powerful desktop OS which, I believe, it is today. One of the biggest difficulties we have been facing with Qubes since the very beginning, has been the amount of this extra, not-so-exciting, not directly security-related work, but so much needed to ensure things actually work. Yet, the line between what is, and what is not-security related, is sometimes very thin and one can easily cross it if not being careful." Read the rest of the release announcement for more information.
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
- openSUSE 13.2-beta1, the release announcement
- Fedora 21-alpha, the release announcement
- Liquid Lemur 2.0-alpha1, the release notes
- Elive 2.3.6, the release announcement
- Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Ubuntu GNOME, Ubuntu Kylin, Ubuntu Studio and Xubuntu 14.10-beta2, the release announcement
- Parsix GNU/Linux 7.0-test2, the release announcement
- FreeBSD 10.1-BETA3, the release announcement
- Clonezilla Live 2.2.4-14
- Salix 14.1-beta1 "Xfce Live"
- Tails 1.1.2
- CoreOS 410.1.0
- Scientific Linux 7.0-rc1 and 5.11-beta1
- IPFire 2.15-core83
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
DistroWatch database summary|
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This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 6 October 2014. To contact the authors please send email to:
- Jesse Smith (feedback, questions and suggestions: distribution reviews, questions and answers, tips and tricks)
- Ladislav Bodnar (feedback, questions, suggestions and corrections: news, donations, distribution submissions, comments)
- Bruce Patterson (feedback and suggestions: podcast edition)
If you've enjoyed this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly, please consider sending us a tip.
(Tips this week: 0, value: US$0.00)
|Linux Foundation Training
|• Issue 734 (2017-10-16): Star 1.0.1, running the Linux-libre kernel, Ubuntu MATE experiments with snaps, Debian releases new install media, Purism reaches funding goal|
|• Issue 733 (2017-10-09): KaOS 2017.09, 32-bit prematurely obsoleted, Qubes security features, IPFire updates Apache|
|• Issue 732 (2017-10-02): ClonOS, reducing Snap package size, Ubuntu dropping 32-bit Desktop, partitioning disks for ZFS|
|• Issue 731 (2017-09-25): BackSlash Linux Olaf, W3C adding DRM to web standards, Wayland support arrives in Mir, Debian experimenting with AppArmor|
|• Issue 730 (2017-09-18): Mageia 6, running a completely free OS, HAMMER2 file system in DragonFly BSD's installer, Manjaro to ship pre-installed on laptops|
|• Issue 729 (2017-09-11): Parabola GNU/Linux-libre, running Plex Media Server on a Raspberry Pi, Tails feature roadmap, a cross-platform ports build system|
|• Issue 728 (2017-09-04): Nitrux 1.0.2, SUSE creates new community repository, remote desktop tools for GNOME on Wayland, using Void source packages|
|• Issue 727 (2017-08-28): Cucumber Linux 1.0, using Flatpak vs Snap, GNOME previews Settings panel, SUSE reaffirms commitment to Btrfs|
|• Issue 726 (2017-08-21): Redcore Linux 1706, Solus adds Snap support, KaOS getting hardened kernel, rolling releases and BSD|
|• Issue 725 (2017-08-14): openSUSE 42.3, Debian considers Flatpak for backports, changes coming to Ubuntu 17.10, the state of gaming on Linux|
|• Issue 724 (2017-08-07): SwagArch 2017.06, Myths about Unity, Mir and Ubuntu Touch, Manjaro OpenRC becomes its own distro, Debian debates future of live ISOs|
|• Issue 723 (2017-07-31): UBOS 11, transferring packages between systems, Ubuntu MATE's HUD, GNUstep releases first update in seven years|
|• Issue 722 (2017-07-24): Calculate Linux 17.6, logging sudo usage, Remix OS discontinued, interview with Chris Lamb, Debian 9.1 released|
|• Issue 721 (2017-07-17): Fedora 26, finding source based distributions, installing DragonFly BSD using Orca, Yunit packages ported to Ubuntu 16.04|
|• Issue 720 (2017-07-10): Peppermint OS 8, gathering system information with osquery, new features coming to openSUSE, Tails fixes networking bug|
|• Issue 719 (2017-07-03): Manjaro 17.0.2, tracking ISO files, Ubuntu MATE unveils new features, Qubes tests Admin API, Fedora's Atomic Host gets new life cycle|
|• Issue 718 (2017-06-26): Debian 9, support for older hardware, Debian updates live media, Ubuntu's new networking tool, openSUSE gains MP3 support|
|• Issue 717 (2017-06-19): SharkLinux, combining commands in the shell, Debian 9 flavours released, OpenBSD improving kernel security, UBports releases first OTA update|
|• Issue 716 (2017-06-12): Slackel 7.0, Ubuntu working with GNOME on HiDPI, openSUSE 42.3 using rolling development model, exploring kernel blobs|
|• Issue 715 (2017-06-05): Devuan 1.0.0, answering questions on systemd, Linux Mint plans 18.2 beta, Yunit/Unity 8 ported to Debian|
|• Issue 714 (2017-05-29): Void, enabling Wake-on-LAN, Solus packages KDE, Debian 9 release date, Ubuntu automated bug reports|
|• Issue 713 (2017-05-22): ROSA Fresh R9, Fedora's new networking features, FreeBSD's Quarterly Report, UBports opens app store, Parsix to shut down, SELinux overview|
|• Issue 712 (2017-05-15): NixOS 17.03, Alpha Litebook running elementary OS, Canonical considers going public, Solus improves Bluetooth support|
|• Issue 711 (2017-05-08): 4MLinux 21.0, checking file system fragmentation, new Mint and Haiku features, pfSense roadmap, OpenBSD offers first syspatch updates|
|• Issue 710 (2017-05-01): TrueOS 2017-02-22, Debian ported to RISC-V, Halium to unify mobile GNU/Linux, Anbox runs Android apps on GNU/Linux, using ZFS on the root file system|
|• Issue 709 (2017-04-24): Ubuntu 17.04, Korora testing new software manager, Ubuntu migrates to Wayland, running Nix package manager on alternative distributions|
|• Issue 708 (2017-04-17): Maui Linux 17.03, Snaps run on Fedora, Void adopts Flatpak, running Android apps on GNU/Linux, Debian elects Project Leader|
|• Issue 707 (2017-04-10): PCLinuxOS 2017.03, Canonical stops Unity development, OpenBSD on a Raspberry Pi, setting up a VPN for privacy|
|• Issue 706 (2017-04-03): Super Grub2 Disk, Snap packages of deepin applications, Subgraph OS routes network traffic for one application, announcements from Linux Mint|
|• Issue 705 (2017-03-27): Minimal Linux Live, sharing control of the operating system, new KaOS features, Uplos32 provides 32-bit fork of PCLinuxOS|
|• Issue 704 (2017-03-20): ToarusOS 1.0.4, Linux Mint's security record, Debian starts Project Leader election, Ubuntu 12.04 reaches end-of-life|
|• Issue 703 (2017-03-13): SolydXK 201701, CloudReady, Solus announces new features, KDE Connect sends text messages from desktop, openSUSE's YaST module for Let's Encrypt|
|• Issue 702 (2017-03-06): Fatdog64 Linux, elementary OS bundled with new netbook, Haiku announces new features, security and the size of a distro's development team|
|• Issue 701 (2017-02-27): OBRevenge 2017.02, Mageia 6 delays, NetBSD reproducible builds, questions about swap space, trying to steam video on a Raspberry Pi|
|• Issue 700 (2017-02-20): RaspBSD, Debian replaces Icedove with Thunderbird, Fedora's licensing guidlines, tips for switching shells, finding battery charge, getting IP address and killing processes|
|• Issue 699 (2017-02-13): Clear Linux, GhostBSD network utility ported to FreeBSD, Ubuntu coming to Fairphone, elementary OS crowd funding an app store|
|• Issue 698 (2017-02-06): Solus 2017.01.01, comparing containers with portable applicatins, Tails dropping 32-bit support, Debian Stretch enters freeze|
|• Issue 697 (2017-01-30): Subgraph OS 2016.12.30, running Ubuntu on an Android phone, Arch Linux phasing out 32-bit support, Linux Mint testing updated LMDE media|
|• Issue 696 (2017-01-23): GoboLinux 016, remotely running desktop applications, Solus adopting Flatpak, KDE neon using Calamares, TrueOS tests OpenRC|
|• Issue 695 (2017-01-16): Zorin OS 12, Peppermint team fixes installer bug, Debian refreshes Jessie media, Ubuntu improves low graphics mode, Exciting things coming in 2017|
|• Issue 694 (2017-01-09): MX Linux 16, Fedora considers systemd security features, DragonFly BSD to support massive swap space, Ubuntu Touch roadmap, Puppy's newsletter, sudo's password prompt|
|• Issue 693 (2017-01-02): Comparing small distros, fig language, video driver comparsion, Debian+PIXEL, Wayland on FreeBSD|
|• Issue 692 (2016-12-19): Bodhi Linux 4.0.0, Cappsule containers, Calculate's new Utilities package, Solus and Ubuntu MATE build new application menu|
|• Issue 691 (2016-12-12): SalentOS 1.0, openSUSE improves YaST, Fedora considers slower release cycle, KDE neon gets LTS branch|
|• Issue 690 (2016-12-05): Fedora 25, Ubuntu adopts rolling HWE kernel, running Android apps on GNU/Linux, Haiku working toward EFI support|
|• Issue 689 (2016-11-28): openSUSE 42.2, Fedora's upgrade path, plans for Korora 25, transitioning from PC-BSD to TrueOS, Webconverger's reproducible builds|
|• Issue 688 (2016-11-21): Endless OS 3.0.5, KDE neon fixes security hole, FreeBSD's Quarterly Status Report, Rolling release trial #2 concludes|
|• Issue 687 (2016-11-14): NAS4Free 10.3.0.3, Fedora gains MP3 playback, budgie-remix becomes Ubuntu Budgie, Ubuntu flavours compared, Rolling release trial #2|
|• Issue 686 (2016-11-07): FreeBSD 11.0, rolling release trial #2, Debian announces supported architectures, Simplicity switching to antiX base, farewell to Mythbuntu|
|• Issue 685 (2016-10-31): elementary OS 0.4, SUSE gains ARM support, Mint improves language support, Dirty COW explained, Rolling release trial #2|
|• Issue 684 (2016-10-24): Ubuntu 16.10, Linux popularity in different markets, Fedora runs on Raspberry Pi, Ubuntu features live kernel patching|
|• Issue 683 (2016-10-17): Refracta 8.0, making packages for distributions, Alpine switches to LibreSSL, 386BSD website publishes classic code|
|• Full list of all issues|
|Random Distribution |
SparkyLinux is a lightweight, fast and simple Linux distribution designed for both old and new computers featuring customised Enlightenment and LXDE desktops. It has been built on the "testing" branch of Debian GNU/Linux.