| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 591, 5 January 2015
Welcome to this year's first issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
It is a brand new year and the open source community is starting it off with several exciting developments. Over the past few weeks we have seen a number of interesting announcements and we share these in our News section. We begin with Debian's expanding UEFI support, including the ability to boot on UEFI-enabled 32-bit machines. We also check in with the Devuan project, a fork of Debian, and learn about how the new distribution is coming together. Last year init software was a big topic and this week we share an experiment involving Manjaro and alternative init technologies. Plus we discuss new features coming to DragonFly BSD and the Ubuntu distribution. Our Feature this week covers Manjaro's latest release. Read on to find out how the popular Arch-based distribution is doing. In our Questions and Answers column we tackle queries we have received with regards to systemd, dependencies and the DistroWatch web server. Plus, we are pleased to announce a new weekly feature, Torrent Corner, an experiment in which DistroWatch will provide and seed torrents for open source distributions. You can get the details about this experimental new feature below. As usual, we cover the distribution releases since our last Weekly and look ahead to promising new developments to come. We welcome you all to a fresh, new year and wish you happy reading!
- Reviews: Rolling in a new year with Manjaro 0.8.11
- News: UEFI support in Debian, updates from Devuan, experiments with runit and OpenRC on Manjaro, HammerFS gains a time slider and Unity gains a new feature
- Questions and Answers: Exploring systemd
- Torrent Corner: Deepin, KaOS, NixOS, ZevenOS
- Released in the last two weeks: Webconverger 27.1, PCLinuxOS 2014.12, ROSA R5 "Desktop Fresh", Raspbian 2014-12-24
- Upcoming releases: Mageia 5 RC
- DistroWatch.com News: New publishing time
- New distributions: AttackVector Linux, OPNsense. SqueezePop, USU Linux
- Reader comments
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Rolling in a new year with Manjaro 0.8.11
Last year I wrote a series of articles comparing five different rolling release distributions. I received several requests to write more about rolling release distributions and so I asked readers send in suggestions telling me which rolling release projects should be covered. With some amusement I found that every e-mail I received requested I review the same distribution: Manjaro. Some people suggested Manjaro along with another project, always Arch Linux or a derivative of Arch. However, I had already covered Arch in the rolling release experiment and covering it (or focusing exclusively on Arch-based projects) sounded as though it would become repetitive. Still, there is obviously a lot of interest in Manjaro and so I decided to start off the year with a review of this popular distribution.
Manjaro, for those who have not installed the distribution before, is a rolling release operating system based on Arch Linux. The project attempts to be easy to install and use. Often times projects based on Arch will make installing the distribution easier, but then focus on one specific goal. KaOS, for example, offers an Arch base with KDE/Qt software. ArchBang provides an Arch base with lightweight software, perhaps best suited for older computers. Manjaro not only makes it easier to install an Arch-based distribution, the project also tries to be a user-friendly, general purpose operating system, suitable for many people. Manjaro is available in several editions including Xfce, KDE and a command-line only flavour. The project further has a number of community editions with other default desktop environments. Each edition of Manjaro is available in 32-bit and 64-bit x86 builds. I opted to download the KDE flavour of Manjaro and found the KDE download was 1.5GB in size.
Manjaro 0.8.11 -- Default KDE desktop layout and theme
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Booting from the Manjaro media brings up a menu asking if we would like to start the distribution's live desktop environment, launch the live environment with non-free drivers or open the project's hardware detection utility. The hardware detection utility presents us with a text menu where we can browse through information on our computer's hardware. If people have trouble getting the distribution running this is a good place to look up information that may help with trouble shooting.
Booting to the distribution's live environment brings up the KDE 4.14 desktop. KDE is arranged in a traditional layout with an application menu, task switcher and system tray placed at the bottom of the screen. Icons for browsing the local file system, launching the project's system installer and launching a chat client that connects to Manjaro's on-line support channel sit on the desktop. In the upper-right corner of the screen is a widget for monitoring CPU, memory and disk usage. The default theme and icons have a lot of colour and icons are presented with a flat, square look. When we first arrive at the desktop a welcome window appears. This window provides us with links to Manjaro's documentation, user guide and support resources. The welcome screen also provides us with the live environment's user name and password. From the welcome window we have the ability to launch the distribution's system installer. Actually, Manjaro has two system installers, one features a graphical user interface and the other runs from the command line.
I looked through the project's wiki and user guide and found both were well organized. I particularly liked the local copy of the user guide as it covers such topics as installing the distribution, accessing more software and getting familiar with the operating system. The user guide includes screen shots to help newcomers become familiar with Manjaro.
I decided to use the distribution's graphical installer to get Manjaro installed on my system. The graphical installer begins by asking for our preferred language. We are then asked to provide our country/region and select our time zone from a map of the world. Next we are asked to confirm our keyboard's layout. (My keyboard defaulted to French Canadian and I switched it to a US layout during the installation.) Next we are asked whether we would like the installer to partition our hard drive or if we would like to manually divide up the disk. I decided to manually partition my drive and found Manjaro's partition manager to be easy to navigate and pleasant to use. Manjaro's installer supports working with MBR and GPT disk layouts and allows us to work with a range of file systems including ext2/3/4, Btrfs, JFS, XFS and ReiserFS. I set up the distribution on a Btrfs volume. One thing I noticed while working with partitions was that I had trouble clicking on drop-down boxes. All other controls responded to mouse input and I could use the keyboard to move through the drop-box options, but I couldn't click on any options in the drop-down boxes. The next screen of the installer asks us to create a user account for ourselves and then the installer goes to work copying its files to our local disk. When the Manjaro installer finishes its work we are asked to reboot the computer.
Our locally installed copy of Manjaro boots to a graphical login screen, decorated with a colourful background. Signing into our account brings up the KDE desktop once more and displays the distribution's welcome screen. As before, icons on the desktop give us access to the project's IRC help channel and the local file system. Shortly after I signed into my account an icon that resembled a red octopus appeared in the system tray. This icon indicates software updates are available and clicking on the icon gives us access to the distribution's package manager, Octopi. The Octopi package manager has a fairly simple layout. The applications window is divided into three parts. To the left of the window we find a simple list of available software packages. To the right we see categories of software we can use to filter the list. At the bottom of the display is an information window where we can find a description of the currently highlighted package and news relating to the Manjaro project. At the top of the Octopi window we find buttons for updating the package database, queueing package upgrades and applying all waiting actions. Right-clicking on a package allows us to install, remove or upgrade the selected item.
When I first began using Manjaro the package manager reported 45 packages could be upgraded. These packages, totalling 187MB in size, all downloaded and installed without any problems. Throughout the week I made occasional trips back to Octopi and found the package manager worked quickly and I encountered no issues. I did find that for each batch of actions (installing, removing or upgrading software) I had to provide the root password to proceed. This security feature usually isn't an issue, but it can get repetitive if we want to perform several actions.
Manjaro 0.8.11 -- The Octopi package manager
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I tried running Manjaro on a physical desktop machine and in a VirtualBox virtual machine. In both environments the distribution performed well. When running on physical hardware I found networking and sound worked out of the box, my screen was set to its maximum resolution and the desktop was responsive. Manjaro was quick to boot as well and performed tasks quickly. When running in VirtualBox the distribution offered a similarly good experience. Manjaro integrates nicely with VirtualBox and was highly responsive. In either environment the distribution required approximately 440MB of memory when signed into KDE.
The distribution ships with a useful collection of software. Since I was running the KDE edition of Manjaro it was not surprising to find most of the applications were either associated with the KDE project or the Qt toolkit which is a key component of the KDE desktop. Manjaro ships with the Rekonq web browser with Flash enabled. We are given the Konversation IRC client and the Konqueror web browser. Manjaro ships with the KMail e-mail software, the KGet download manager and the Blogilo blog post writing software. In the application menu we further find a cloud storage client, the Calligra productivity suite, the KOrganizer personal organizer and the Okular document viewer. Manjaro provides us with the Dragon Player media player, the Juk audio player, the KsCD audio disc player and the VLC multimedia player. The distribution also provides popular multimedia codecs. The k3b disc burning software is included too. Manjaro offers us the digiKam camera manager, two configuration panels (one for the KDE interface and one for the underlying operating system) and a hardware information browser. Digging further through the application menu we find the Ark archive manager, the KGpg and Kleopatra encryption utilities, the KUser account manager, a text editor and a calculator. Manjaro ships with a printer manager, the GParted desktop partition utility and a remote desktop viewer. Development utilities, including Qt Designer and Qt Creator, are available too. In the background I found the distribution ships with Java and the GNU Compiler Collection. Behind the scenes we find the Linux kernel, version 3.16, keeping everything running.
Manjaro 0.8.11 -- KDE and Manjaro configuration panels
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I feel there are a few applications included in Manjaro that deserve special mention. The Manjaro Settings Manager, for instance, presents us with a nice interface from which we can launch configuration modules. From the Settings Manager we can open modules to install kernel packages and additional language support. There is a module for finding information related to our hardware. One module allows us to install additional driver support and clearly distinguishes between open source and proprietary hardware drivers. Two other modules let us work with user accounts and adjust the system clock. Each of these configuration modules have simple interfaces and are straight forward to use. The Cloud Storage Manager synchronizes local folders with on-line accounts. I did not play with this feature much, but the Cloud Storage Manager claims it can synchronize our files with such on-line services as Dropbox and Google Drive.
There were some applications that did not work well for me. The Blogilo application helps users write blog posts and upload them to various content management systems such as Wordpress. While I think Blogilo can be a useful tool, I found that the application would crash (losing my work) every time I clicked the program's Preview button. Further, I found that while VLC would play video files, the Dragon Player application (which is the default video player) would not play videos.
Finally, I think it is interesting Manjaro ships with the Calligra productivity suite. I realize Calligra is a capable and flexible collection of applications. I also see the logic in including Calligra in the KDE edition of Manjaro since Calligra is associated with the KDE project. Still, Calligra has fewer features and is less popular than LibreOffice and I wonder if Calligra is the best tool for the job. For people who do prefer LibreOffice the popular productivity software is available in Manjaro's software repositories.
I found it easy to like Manjaro. Part of the appeal I think is in the friendly style of the distribution. The website is pretty easy to navigate, there are lots of options (both on the website and in the distribution itself), but those options are presented in a clean manner. The installer is easy to navigate, the default desktop theme is a good combination of modern design (flat icons) and traditional layout. I like the colours in the default theme, it's attractive without being distracting. There are lots of useful applications included and Manjaro presents us with plenty of functionality. I like most of the configuration utilities and I found the package manager to be fairly straight forward.
Manjaro 0.8.11 -- Browsing the Manjaro wiki
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There were a few problems as I mentioned above. The default media player didn't work for me, but there is a second media player that filled the role nicely. The Blogilo application crashed consistently, but nothing major broke during my trial. Calligra's word processor worked well enough for me and, for those who want LibreOffice, it is available in the repositories.
The one thing I would like to see improved upon is the default package manager. For more advanced users I think Octopi will be a good fit. For less experienced users I think an interface similar to Mint's software installer or Ubuntu's Software Centre would be a better fit. Still, Octopi worked quickly and was functional. There isn't anything wrong with Octopi, I just think there are package managers out there easier to explore.
All in all, I like the general style of the distribution, it is fast and flexible. Manjaro offers a lot of choice without being overwhelming and most of the options are presented through newcomer friendly interfaces. It seems to me this is a distribution that is easy for novice users to get up and running, while there are enough features and options to keep more advanced users happy. That is a hard line to walk and I think the Manjaro developers have done a good job.
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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 2.8GHz AMD A4-3420 APU
- Storage: 500GB Hitachi hard drive
- Memory: 6GB of RAM
- Networking: Realtek RTL8111 wired network card
- Display: AMD Radeon HD 6410D video card
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
UEFI support in Debian, updates from Devuan, experiments with runit and OpenRC on Manjaro, HammerFS gains a time slider and Unity gains a new feature
The upcoming release of Debian "Jessie" is expected to feature support for UEFI. Steve McIntyre is currently working on fixing the remaining bugs in Debian's UEFI implementation. McIntyre posted a blog outlining his work with getting Debian to boot on UEFI-enabled machines, reporting, "I've been getting lots of requests for adding i386 (32-bit x86) UEFI support in our official images. Back in the Wheezy development cycle, I had test images that worked on i386, but decided not to push that support into the release. There were worries about potentially critical bugs that could be tickled on some hardware, plus there were only very few known i386 UEFI platforms at the time; the risk of damage outweighed the small proportion of users, IMHO. However, I'm now revisiting that decision. The potentially broken machines are now 2 years older, and so less likely to be in use. Also, Intel have released some horrid platform concoction around the Bay Trail CPU: a 64-bit CPU (that really wants a 64-bit kernel), but running a 32-bit UEFI firmware with no BIOS Compatibility Mode. Recent kernels are able to cope with this mess, but at the moment there is no sensible way to install Debian on such a machine. I'm hoping to fix that."
Following plans by the Debian project to adopt the systemd init technology, a group of developers and administrators has decided to create a fork of Debian which will use alternative init software. The Debian fork is called Devuan and the project released a newsletter that outlines the status of the project. To date, Devuan has set up code and package repositories and posted articles on how to remove systemd from Debian. The Devuan project is offering to sponsor projects that are creating alternatives to systemd services. The newsletter also discusses a number of active projects working on alternatives to systemd.
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Over on the Troubleshooters website there is an interesting experiment involving the Manjaro distribution and alternative init software. The author has adjusted the Manjaro distribution to boot (and shutdown) using a combination of runit and OpenRC. The guide outlines the steps involved to get a working desktop operating system with these alternative init technologies. If you are hoping to learn more about init technologies, this experiment is a good one to explore.
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One of the nice characteristics shared by advanced file systems such as Btrfs, ZFS and Hammer is that snapshots of files can be taken and retrieved at a later time. Snapshots help protect against data loss and can help detect troublesome changes to configuration files. Unfortunately, the commands to browse and restore snapshots can be complex. With this in mind, a friendly "Slider" application has been created for the Hammer file system and DragonFly BSD. DragonFly BSD Digest reports: "John Marino has created something very useful: a graphical tool for Hammer file history. It's called `Slider', and it uses curses to work in a terminal. It shows historic versions of files and can restore those old versions as needed. This was already possible in Hammer, of course, but it required a sequence of commands that were not straight-forward." To learn more about the Slider application and how to install it, please see John Marino's mailing list post.
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Some people find the Unity desktop a strange environment to navigate. This is likely due, in part, to the fact Unity hides application menus by default. An application's menu only becomes visible when the user's mouse pointer is moved to the top of the screen. Unity developer Marco Trevisan is working to enable permanently visible menus in Unity to make the desktop easier to explore. According to Web Upd8, the new always visible feature is expected to be included in Ubuntu 15.04.
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Trying to understand the systemd debate asks:
With all the controversy about systemd going viral these days, what is needed is an (at least partially) objective guide to the issues involved for people who do not already have their mind made up. I haven't really been following the controversy closely, but certain points keep coming up again and again.
1. systemd goes against the UNIX Philosophy of simplicity and modularity and doing one thing only and doing it well. I'm wondering if there are not counter-examples to this in Linux already -- what about the X window system and what about GRUB2? What about some of the desktop environments, especially GNOME and KDE?
2. Dependency issues, which seem to be of two types. First, is not one of the reasons systemd was introduced in the first place was to resolve certain dependency issues at boot-up time? What dependency issues? Does this make systemd more fragile in the sense that one dependency-related bug can render the entire system unbootable? This feature needs to be distinguished from the issue of application software itself being dependent on systemd in order to run, which is of course is one of the big bones of contention. (If GNOME needs systemd but KDE doesn't, would this not be a big advantage for KDE?)
3. A lot of people bring up the alleged problem of the execution of systemd binaries during boot-up, some of which might be (or contain) back doors. The standard reply seems to be that one can enable logging, even if it is not the default, and inspect what is going on with your system. What gives here?
I'm sure there are other points, these are just the ones that stand out in my own mind. I realize that this is a powder-keg of an issue and DistroWatch would not have to take sides. But some objective guidance to the issues for the Linux neophyte would be nice.
DistroWatch answers: This is a lot to tackle so let's dive in and try to address this subject one point at a time.
First, the argument over the UNIX Philosophy. The UNIX Philosophy is a set of guidelines that people have found useful when it comes to designing software. The UNIX Philosophy is not a strict series of laws or rules, but rather a set of design suggestions which are likely to result in better software. Usually when people talk about the UNIX Philosophy they are referring to Mike Gancarz's nine guidelines. These include such suggestions as "make each program do one thing well" (as opposed to performing many separate tasks), "choose portability over efficiency", "store data in text files" and "use shell scripts to increase portability". The systemd project, most would argue, does the opposite. The systemd project is actually a collection of many different utilities (so many tasks are tackled by one project), systemd is not at all portable, configuration data is placed in text files, but systemd creates binary logs and relies on binary executables instead of shell scripts. In short, systemd flies very much against the UNIX Philosophy.
Whether systemd not following the UNIX Philosophy is good or bad is a matter open to debate. As the original question pointed out, there are other open source projects which bend or break some of the UNIX Philosophy guidelines. Many of the projects which do not strictly follow the UNIX Philosophy are quite popular. Btrfs, for example, is not really portable outside of Linux and takes on multiple tasks. The LibreOffice suite, GNOME and KDE are large collections of programs and one could argue over how portable or focused they are.
But the thing to keep in mind is that the UNIX Philosophy is a set of guidelines and not all design suggestions are appropriate all the time. Sometimes it makes sense to choose efficiency over portability, other times it does not. Sometimes it makes sense to design a program to be a filter that can be used in a chain of commands and sometimes it does not. Whether a program follows the UNIX Philosophy or not is not really important in and of itself. What matters is how the project's design affects its users, system administrators and developers. Declaring a program does not follow the UNIX Philosophy is a hollow argument unless it is followed up with why that is important in this specific case.
The systemd developers have decided to choose efficiency over portability, to use binary programs over shell scripts and to store data in binary format instead of text. They have gone for large programs with more features over small ones. Whether these decisions are good or bad will depend on one's perspective.
Next, let's look at dependency issues. The systemd init software does tackle dependencies differently than past init software such as SysV and Upstart. Actually, systemd tackles a lot of low level issues that other init software either did not do or didn't do particularly well. If you want the details behind what systemd is designed to do and why you can read this detailed blog post. The systemd unit configuration files make it easy to put dependencies in place with relatively little effort. This makes it a bit easier to tell which services need which other services. As to whether a dependency problem in systemd's configuration could prevent the operating system from booting, yes it could. However, the same could be said of any init software. If you do not properly set up dependencies for boot-time services, regardless of which init software you use, things stop working.
Looking at software which relies on systemd components, I suppose software which is more portable (ie can work with multiple init implementations) does have an advantage over software that is tied to one init implementation. For example, if GNOME becomes tied exclusively to systemd and KDE can run on many different platforms, then that does make KDE's potential audience bigger. However, it also means a little more work for the KDE team. Portability adds a small degree of complexity and extra work.
I think the more interesting question is, with systemd spreading, will we see more software require systemd in a few years? Five years from now will Oracle databases only run on distributions with systemd (or a systemd compatibility layer) in place? Might we see the Apache web server use systemd as a dependency? I think systemd could become widely used enough that an increasing number of products rely on it. I suspect that systemd compatibility layers will become common on distributions (and the BSDs) where systemd is not the default init software.
Finally, regarding the allegations of back doors in systemd, my feeling is this: The systemd source code is open source. If someone wants to claim there is a back door in systemd (or any other open source project) then they should provide evidence if they wish to be taken seriously. To date, so far as I know, no one has found a back door in systemd. Until one is found I think such rumours should be ignored.
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Change in the wind asks: Now that Debian has voted to include systemd as the default init, does DistroWatch have any plans to migrate to another operating system?
DistroWatch answers: As some of our readers know, the DistroWatch web server currently runs Debian Wheezy. At the moment, Debian Wheezy probably has about two years of official support left in its life cycle and, after that, Wheezy may enjoy unofficial security support the same way Squeeze is getting extended support now. In short, we can (and probably will) continue to run Debian Wheezy for another two to four years, based on Debian's past support cycles.
This means we have plenty of time to wait, observe and test. We will be able to experiment with Debian Jessie, and possibly the following version of Debian after Jessie, to see how they perform. As we get closer to Debian Wheezy's end-of-life we can experiment with other server solutions too to see if something else may work better for us.
The short answer is: Debian Wheezy is currently serving us well and we have a few years yet before we need to make a decision regarding what operating system we will run after Wheezy. We are going to take our time and see what unfolds over the next year or two before a decision is made.
Bittorrent is a great way to transfer large files, particularly open source operating system images, from one place to another. Most bittorrent clients recover from dropped connections automatically, check the integrity of files and can re-download corrupted bits of data without starting a download over from scratch. These characteristics make bittorrent well suited for distributing open source operating systems, particularly to regions where Internet connections are slow or unstable.
Many Linux and BSD projects offer bittorrent as a download option, partly for the reasons listed above and partly because bittorrent's peer-to-peer nature takes some of the strain off the project's servers. However, some projects do not offer bittorrent as a download option. There can be several reasons for excluding bittorrent as an option. Some projects do not have enough time or volunteers, some may be restricted by their web host provider's terms of service. Whatever the reason, the lack of a bittorrent option puts more strain on a distribution's bandwidth and may prevent some people from downloading their preferred open source operating system.
With this in mind, DistroWatch plans to give back to the open source community by hosting and seeding bittorrent files for distributions that do not offer a bittorrent option themselves. This is a feature we are experimenting with and we are open to feedback on how to improve upon the idea.
For now, we are hosting a small number of distribution torrents, listed below. The list of torrents offered will be updated each week and we invite readers to e-mail us with suggestions as to which distributions we should be hosting. When you message us, please place the word "Torrent" in the subject line and please make sure the project you are recommending does not already host its own torrents. We want to primarily help distributions and users who do not already have a torrent option. To help us maintain and grow this free service, please consider making a donation.
The table below provides a list of torrents we currently host. If you do not currently have a bittorrent client capable of handling the linked files, we suggest installing either the Transmission or KTorrent bittorrent clients.
All torrents we make available here will also be listed on the very useful Linux Tracker website. Linux Tracker maintains a list of distributions we are currently seeding and have supported in the past.
|Released Last in the last two Weeks
Kai Hendry has announced the release of Webconverger 27.1, the latest update of the single-purpose, Debian-based Linux distribution designed for web kiosks - now with updated Linux kernel, version 3.16.7: "Webconverger 27 release. Webconverger wishes you a happy new year and gives the gift of a better web experience. Highlights of Webconverger 27.1: better Intel support, we do recommend NUC hardware and this update will give more flexibility with external displays; rebranded to our new logo and do check out our refreshed website; includes Firefox 34 with accompanying security fixes; new 3.16 kernel for better hardware support; new tabswitch= API, a convenient function to switch between tabs when used for digital signage; important Flash security updates, so important that Mozilla blocked versions below 220.127.116.115; Gujarati font support." See the complete release announcement for more information and screenshots.
Bill Reynolds has announced the release of PCLinuxOS 2014.12, the last build in the current series of PCLinuxOS releases before some major upgrades: "PCLinuxOS 2014.12 ISO images have been released for Full Monty, KDE, MATE and LXDE. Highlights include Linux kernel 3.18.1, FFmpeg 2.5.1, MESA 10.4.0, SysVInit (no systemd) and all popular applications such as Firefox, Thunderbird and VLC have been updated to their latest versions. Please note if you have been keeping up with your PCLinuxOS software updates then there is no need to install fresh from a 2014.12 ISO image. These images are final releases based on legacy technology. Future releases will default to GRUB 2 and will support UEFI and GPT partition formats." Here is the brief release announcement.
ROSA R5 "Desktop Fresh"
Ekaterina Lopukhova has announced the release of ROSA R5 "Desktop Fresh" edition, a desktop Linux distribution featuring an intuitive KDE 4.14.3 desktop: "The ROSA company is happy to present the long-awaited ROSA Desktop Fresh R5, the number 5 in the "R" lineup of the free ROSA distros with the KDE desktop as the main graphical environment. Changes in comparison with the previous release: KDE 4 desktop environment has been updated to version 4.14.3.; Firefox has been updated to version 34.0, ROSA repositories also provide Firefox ESR 24.8.0 with classical UI theme; fixed video playback problems in KLook and TimeFrame caused by migration to GStreamer 1.0 API; fixed issues with video preview in Dolphin; fixed problem with copying large files by means of kamera KIO slave...." Read the rest of the release notes for further details and system requirements.
Just in time for some holiday hacking - version 2014-12-24 of Raspbian, a Debian-based distribution designed for the Raspberry Pi single-board mini-computer, has been released. What's new? "Fix regression with omission of python-pygame; new firmware with various fixes and improvements; new UI configuration for LXDE; various package updates; python3-pygame preinstalled; 'nuscratch', scratch running on the Cog StackVM; miscellaneous other changes." Read also the "Merry Christmas! Got a New Pi? Read on!" post on RaspberryPi.org with useful tips on setting up a new Raspberry Pi. As usual, Raspbian is available for download either as a standalone image for USB storage devices or as part of NOOBS, a beginner-friendly compilation of several popular operating systems designed for Raspberry Pi.
Anke Boersma has announced the release of KaOS 2014.12, an updated build of the project's Arch-inspired, rolling-release Linux distribution featuring the KDE desktop: "KaOS is very proud to announce the availability of the December release of a new stable ISO image. It marks two major milestones for this distribution. Since its inception almost two years ago, a need to be ready for UEFI installs has always been a priority. That was tied to getting a modern Qt-based installer that could handle such UEFI installs. With this release, both are implemented. The new, Qt5/Python3-based installer is a joint effort of several distributions. In May of this year, developers of Netrunnner, KaOS and Manjaro got together to discuss the possibility to work jointly on a brand-new, Qt5-based installer. The idea was born to create Calamares. By June the coding started and by August a first, raw usable version was put into testing." Continue to the release announcement to find out more.
KaOS 2014.12 -- Showing welcome screen on KDE
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Stephan Raue has announced the release of OpenELEC 5.0, a n updated release of the distribution designed for media centres - now with the news Kodi 14 media centre software a build for Freescale iMX6 devices: "The OpenELEC team is proud to announce OpenELEC 5.0. OpenELEC 5.0 is the latest stable release, which is a feature release and the successor of OpenELEC 4.2. The headline change is the update from XBMC 13 (Gotham) to Kodi 14 (Helix) and the big switch from XBMC to Kodi branding. Both project teams have conducted a major find/replace but if you spot residual mentions of XBMC anywhere please let us know. The name change affects more than the GUI; all references in code have been changed and in the OpenELEC filesystem /storage/.xbmc will be recreated as a symlink to /storage/.kodi to ensure hardcoded paths in add-ons or scripts continue to work. For information on Kodi 14 you can find here." Read the release announcement for further information.
Version 14.12 of NixOS 14.12, a distribution that uses a custom package manager, deploys a unique file system layout, and offers various innovative features, has been released: "NixOS 14.12 'Caterpillar' has been released, the third stable release branch. In addition to numerous new and upgraded packages, this release has the following highlights: systemd has been updated to version 217, which has numerous improvements; Nix has been updated to 1.8; NixOS is now based on glibc 2.20; KDE has been updated to 4.14; the default Linux kernel has been updated to 3.14. If users.mutableUsers is enabled (the default), changes made to the declaration of a user or group will be correctly realised when running nixos-rebuild. For instance, removing a user specification from configuration.nix will cause the actual user account to be deleted. If users.mutableUsers is disabled, it is no longer necessary to specify UIDs or GIDs." Read the brief release announcement on the project's home page, with further details available in the release notes.
Deepin 2014.2, the second update of the Ubuntu-based community distribution with a custom, HTML 5-based desktop environment, has been released. The "live mode" functionality has been removed in this version, so it is no longer possible to test the distribution before committing to a hard disk installation. Other features of the release include: "Enabled brand-new Deepin themes, making the system interface more beautiful; newly added the feature of drag and drop re-ordering to the residing icons in Dock; newly added four kinds of re-ordering modes in the Launcher (by name, by category, by installation time and by frequency of use); newly added the functions of Icon, Cursor and Fonts setting in the Personalization Setting module; improved multi-screen display function; strengthened the network function and added the function of state memory; simplified the operation of choosing time zone in Control Center and newly added the function of daylight saving time...." Here is the full release announcement with screenshots.
Happy New Year! The honour of the first release announcement of 2015 goes to ZevenOS, a desktop Linux distribution whose latest release, version 6.0, is based on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS and which features the Xfce desktop environment with a desktop theme that resembles the much-loved BeOS operating system: "I am proud to announce the release of ZevenOS 6.0 – the 'Good-bye' edition. Good-bye because its released at the end of this year and will be the last ZevenOS version for a long long time. This release is based upon Ubuntu 14.04 LTS and will be supported for 5 years. As ZevenOS 5.0 was released more than a year ago this new version brings in many changes like Linux kernel 3.13, X.Org 7.7 and PulseAudio 4.0. All the tools you love from ZevenOS are back again in updated versions. OpenShot was updated to 1.4.3 with the new melt backend, Inkscape to 0.48.4, AbiWord to 3.0. Brasero was replaced by Xfburn and we now also include the sysctl speed patches and zram enabled by default to gain more overall speed. ZevenOS still is the best linux distribution with a BeOS touch."
Chih-Wei Huang has announced the release of Android-x86 4.4-r2, an unofficial port of Google's Android mobile operating system to Intel and AMD x86 processors: "Android-x86.org is glad to announce the 4.4-r2 release. This is the second stable release of Android-x86 4.4. The 4.4-r2 release is based on the Android 4.4.4_r2 (KitKat-MR2.2) release. We have fixed and added x86-specific code to let the system run smoothly on x86 platforms, especially on tablets and netbooks. Features include: upgrade the kernel to the latest stable version 3.18 with more drivers enabled and support for more modern hardware like Intel's Baytrail platform; initial support for UEFI booting, the installer still doesn't work with GPT partition table; improve suspend and resume; merge updates from upstream; bug fixes. This release contains two files - one is the traditional ISO file that can be booted on devices with legacy BIOS, the other is the EFI image that can be used on more modern devices with UEFI firmware." See the release notes for further information and known issues.
SparkyLinux 3.6 "GameOver"
Pawel Pijanowski has announced the release of SparkyLinux 3.6 "GameOver" edition, the project's special edition designed for gamers: "SparkyLinux 3.6 'GameOver' is out. GameOver is a special edition of SparkyLinux targeted at game players. It has been built on the top of SparkyLinux 3.6 'Annagerman' and it's fully compatible with Debian's 'testing' branch. What is under the hood of GameOver 3.6? Linux kernel 3.16.7; all packages upgraded from Debian's testing repositories as of 2014-12-31; lxde-common 0.99.0, Openbox 3.5.2, PCManFM 1.2 3, Iceweasel 34.0, VLC 2.2.0-rc2; Steam and Steam Launcher 18.104.22.168; Desura for Linux; WINE and PlayOnLinux. The Liquorix repository is enabled as default, it lets you upgrade the Linux kernel up to version 3.18 and WINE up to version 1.7 after installing SparkyLinux on a hard drive." Read the rest of the release announcement for more details and screenshots.
Arne Exton has announced the release of ExTiX 15.1, an updated build of the project's Ubuntu-based distribution featuring the GNOME 3.14 desktop: "ExTiX GNOME is now based on Ubuntu 14.10 'Utopic Unicorn'. GNOME has been upgraded to version 3.14. (not in Ubuntu's repositories). All packages have been updated to the latest versions by 2015-01-04. Linux kernel 3.16.0-21-exton is used (kernel.org's Linux kernel 3.16.4). Google Chrome is included; this makes it possible to watch Netflix movies. It is not possible in Firefox (in Linux). I have also installed BlueGriffon web editor. 'BlueGriffon is a new WYSIWYG content editor for the world wide web. Powered by Gecko, the rendering engine of Firefox, it's a modern and robust solution to edit web pages in conformance to the latest web standards.' Comparable only to Dreamweaver (in my opinion)." This brief readme file, published on the project's SourceForge page, provides brief information about the release.
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
New publishing time|
As many of our loyal readers may know, DistroWatch has typically published new editions of DistroWatch Weekly on Monday mornings, around 8:00am GMT. This has worked well for us in the past, but we are making some small changes and are planning to share our news and reviews with you a little earlier. Starting immediately, we are going to publish our Weekly newsletter for your reading pleasure at 1:00am GMT Monday morning. We hope the early risers among you will join us each Monday morning with coffee (or other breakfast beverage) in hand.
* * * * *
Distributions added to waiting list
- AttackVector Linux. AttackVector Linux is a new distribution for anonymized penetration and security. It is based on Kali and TAILS, which are both based on Debian.
- SqueezePop. SqueezePop is a Debian-based distribution featuring the Openbox window manager.
- USU Linux. USU Linux is a distribution featuring three branches, Desktop, Mini and Netbook.
- OPNsense. OPNsense is based on FreeBSD and includes most of the features available in expensive commercial firewalls.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 12 January 2015. 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.
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|• 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|
|• Issue 682 (2016-10-10): KDE neon 20160915, Android-x86 6.0, Fedora warns of update bug, HandyLinux drops English translation, LXQt benchmarks|
|• Issue 681 (2016-10-03): OpenBSD 6.0, DragonFly BSD to support LibreSSL in ports, systemd denial of service bug, upgraded Mintbox Mini|
|• Issue 680 (2016-09-26): Uruk GNU/Linux 1.0, blocking applications at the firewall, Lenovo controversy, Ubuntu running on the Nextcloud Box|
|• Issue 679 (2016-09-19): OpenMandriva 3.0, 32-bit vs 64-bit performance, openSUSE updates, KaOS unveils first run wizard|
|• Issue 678 (2016-09-12): Apricity 07.2016, Mageia adopts DNF, KDE neon to use Wayland, FreeBSD updates Linux compatibility, creating cron jobs|
|• Issue 677 (2016-09-05): Peppermint OS 7, Manjaro updates leadership, TrueOS becomes rolling release, organizing files, creating torrents|
|• Issue 676 (2016-08-29): Korora 24, Fedora 25 to use Wayland by default, Linux turns 25, PC-BSD becomes TrueOS, finding software licensing information|
|• Issue 675 (2016-08-22): Gentoo LiveDVD "Choice Edition", moreutils, Ubuntu improves terminal convergence, MATE packaged for Openindiana, FreeBSD improves video support|
|• Issue 674 (2016-08-15): Zenwalk Linux 8.0, Ubuntu phone follow-up, Lubuntu transitioning to LXQt, Steam running on FreeBSD|
|• Issue 673 (2016-08-03): noop linux and EasyNAS, Debian's GnuPG switch, Fedora "Flock", using "nice"|
|• Issue 672 (2016-08-01): Ubuntu Phone 15.04, Solus embraces rolling release model, interview with Jane Silber, FreeBSD Quarterly Report|
|• Issue 671 (2016-07-25): Slackware 14.2, Point Linux 3.2, OpenBSD disables usermount, KaOS releases significant changes, Fedora 22 reaches end of life.|
|• Issue 670 (2016-07-18): Linux Lite 3.0, Bodhi team plans 4.0.0, pfSense changes licensing, running software across distributions, Linux Mint upgrade path|
|• Issue 669 (2016-07-11): Linux Mint 18, proving a system is secure, LibreSSL in FreeBSD, Ubuntu plans phasing out 32-bit, pfSense status report|
|• Issue 668 (2016-07-04): Fedora 24, Linux Mint plans for 18.1, FreeBSD and DragonFly BSD improve their file systems, comparing Flatpak, Snap and AppImage|
|• Issue 667 (2016-06-27): GeckoLinux 421, Fedora supports Flatpak, Solus unveils new features, running GNU/Linux on tablets|
|• Issue 666 (2016-06-20): Comparing more live update methods, Ubuntu's snap packages, Antergos drops 32-bit media, GeckoLinux unveils Rolling edition, learning Linux resources|
|• Issue 665 (2016-06-13): BunsenLabs Linux Hydrogen, Fedora 24 delayed, NetBSD grows in size, Clonezilla questions|
|• Issue 664 (2016-06-06): Sabayon 16.05, Debian updates install media, the cost of free software, Qubes explains secure build process|
|• Issue 663 (2016-05-30): Comparing live update methods, Ubuntu MATE's progress, distros debate systemd change, DistroWatch turns 15|
|• Issue 662 (2016-05-23): Clonezilla Live, new Fedora community repository, DragonFlyBSD runs Wayland, a live edition of Slackware and kernel components|
|• Issue 661 (2016-05-16): FreeBSD 10.3, OpenMandriva adopts Clang, Debian adds ZFS packages, PCLinuxOS drops 32-bit and comparing CentOS with RHEL|
|• Issue 660 (2016-05-09): Ubuntu MATE 16.04, Mint's xapps, FreeBSD Quarterly Report, Debian updates 32-bit support, addressing GPL violations|
|• Issue 659 (2016-05-02): Ubuntu 16.04, compiling custom kernels, Cinnamon 3.0, Sabayon launches ARM build, Devuan ships Beta release|
|• Issue 658 (2016-04-25): Kali Linux 2016.1, elementary OS 0.3.2, Debian elects Project Leader, Fedora 24 feature preview, Nard reaches 1.0|
|• Issue 657 (2016-04-18): Redox, Linux Mint improves update manager, planned Fedora 24 features, Ubuntu 16.04 getting Snappy packages|
|• 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|
|• Issue 653 (2016-03-21): Antergos 2016.02.21, Debian prepares for election, a Unix-like OS written in Rust, watching Netflix on FreeBSD|
|• Issue 652 (2016-03-14): ReactOS 0.4.0, Debian swaps Iceweasel for Firefox, Fedora moving forward with Wayland, Verifying ISO files|
|• Issue 651 (2016-03-07): Korora 23, Linux Mint improves security, Ubuntu MATE on Raspberry Pi 3 computers, trying different file systems|
|• Issue 650 (2016-02-29): Haiku in 2016, running Android apps on GNU/Linux, 30 years of MINIX, Fedora plans Atomic Workstation|
|• Issue 649 (2016-02-22): Zorin OS 11, openSUSE launches new editions, Linux Mint website compromised, sandboxing applications using Firejail|
|• 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|
|• Issue 644 (2016-01-18): Kwort 4.3, Sabayon tests ARM images, Slackware adopts PulseAudio, running Linux without GNU software|
|• Issue 643 (2016-01-11): Solus 1.0, Mint provide upgrade path to 17.3, Fedora developers work on stability, running the LXQt desktop|
|• Full list of all issues|
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