| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 598, 23 February 2015
Welcome to this year's 8th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
Most of us get our first glimpse of a new technology when it is packaged and presented to us in a stable distribution release. However, for a new package or feature to make it that far it first needs to go through several stages of development and testing. This week we peek behind the curtain to look at events going on behind the scenes. In our News section this week we discuss Lucas Nussbaum's plans with regards to the upcoming Debian Project Leader election and talk about a release candidate for the next edition of Linux From Scratch. We also talk about which organizations are contributing the most to the Linux kernel, explore new features coming to Cinnamon and discuss a new method for securing desktop applications using sandboxing and Wayland. Plus we share early impressions of the new Vivaldi web browser, a spiritual successor to the legacy Opera browser. Our Feature this week is a review of Netrunner, a distribution designed to be easy to install and use. Read on to learn what features Netrunner brings to users. This week we share the torrents we are seeding and a list of distributions released last week. Our donation this month goes to the Haiku project with the developers receiving $300 in support of their efforts toward creating a modern version of BeOS. We wish you all a wonderful week and happy reading!
- Reviews: First Impressions of Netrunner 14.1
- News: Lucas Nussbaum on the upcoming Debian Project Leader election, Linux From Scratch calls for testers, who is working on the Linux kernel, new Cinnamon features and running sandboxed desktop applications
- Application review: Early impressions of the Vivaldi web browser
- Torrent Corner: Bodhi, Clonezilla Live, Frugalware, Rebellin Linux
- Released last week: Netrunner 15, Black Lab Linux 6.1 "MATE", Bodhi 3.0.0
- Upcoming releases: Ubuntu 15.04 Beta 1, OpenMandriva 2015.0 Beta
- Donations: Haiku receives $300
- New distributions: AryaLinux, eOsFree, Security Onion, StotinkaOS
- Reader comments
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
First Impressions of Netrunner 14.1
The Netrunner distribution is a curious one as the project maintains two separate branches with different bases. Netrunner puts out a regular stable release based on the Kubuntu distribution and a rolling release that uses Manjaro as its base. As the Netrunner's website states, "The Netrunner team is focused on making the KDE desktop as snappy and responsive as possible. Sponsoring parts of the KDE development, we also concentrate on new technologies and include them in Netrunner as soon as they are ready for usage. The distro is offered in two variants: The Standard release is built on Kubuntu/Debian, while the Rolling release is built on Manjaro/Arch." The Netrunner distribution lists three goals: "Power-up, don't dumb-down the user; include add-ons, codecs, customizations; and avoid lock-ins, favour free (libre) alternatives."
I opted to try the project's latest Standard release which is based on Kubuntu 14.04 LTS. This version of Netrunner is available in 32-bit and 64-bit x86 builds. The download of the Standard edition of the Netrunner distribution is 1.4GB in size. Booting from the project's live disc brings us to the KDE desktop. The interface's background is a soft blue colour. Our application menu, task panel and system tray sit at the bottom of the screen. Large icons placed on the desktop give us access to the local file system, a hardware information screen, the system installer and a documentation file. Clicking on the documentation icon opens a web browser to display the distribution's on-line release notes.
Netrunner features a graphical system installer that appears to be inherited from the Kubuntu distribution. The installer begins by getting us to select our preferred language. We are shown a link we can click to read the project's release notes, however clicking the link opens a web page on the Netrunner website that says the desired page cannot be found. (People wishing to view the release notes should access them via the README icon on the desktop.) The installer next asks if we would like to automatically partition our hard drive or manually divide up the disk. Taking the automated approach gives us two partitions, one for the root file system and another dedicated to swap space. Taking the manual approach presents us with a friendly partition manager that I found quite easy to navigate. Using the manual partition manager we can set up new partitions or reuse existing ones. The ext2/3/4, Btrfs, JFS and XFS file systems are supported. The manual partitioning screen also gives us the option of choosing where the GRUB boot loader will be installed. Once our disk is partitioned we are asked to select our time zone from a map of the world. We then confirm our keyboard's layout and create a user account for ourselves. We have the option of encrypting our user's personal files when we create our account. From there we simply wait for the installer to finish copying its files to our drive and then we are asked to reboot the computer.
Booting our local copy of Netrunner brings up a graphical login screen decorated with a light blue background. By default, we have the ability to login to the user account we created during the installation process or we can login to a guest account which is wiped clean after each use. The guest account can be disabled in the distribution's settings panel if we wish to deny casual users access to our operating system. Upon logging in we are brought back to the KDE (version 4.14) desktop with its blue theme. The application menu, I found, has a fairly traditional layout with quick-launch buttons positioned down the left-hand side. These buttons launch a desktop recorder, the Synaptic package manager, a task manager and the KDE System Settings panel. Additional buttons will log us out, reboot or power off the computer. Should we wish to, we can add or remove quick-launch buttons by right-clicking on icons in the menu.
A short time after I logged in a notification appeared next to the system tray letting me know software updates were available. "There are 8 updated packages, of which 15 were updated for security reasons." Clicking on an icon in the system tray gives us access to the Muon Update Manager. This update manager opens a window, displaying a list of waiting software updates along with the size of each update. We can click a box next to each package name to select or un-select it. Clicking a button begins the upgrade process. I'm not certain how many upgrades were available in total, but there were more than the advertised 15. All available package upgrades downloaded and installed cleanly on my system.
Netrunner 14.1 -- The Muon Discover software manager
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Apart from the Muon Update Manager, the Netrunner distribution ships with two graphical package managers. The first one I came across was Synaptic. The Synaptic package manager displays simple, alphabetical lists of available software packages. We can search for specific items and Synaptic will let us install, remove or upgrade packages. I found Synaptic worked well and quickly. The second graphical package manager is Muon Discover. I found Muon Discover had a more colourful interface. The software manager displays categories of software we can browse through and each package is accompanied by a colourful icon. Hovering our mouse pointer over an application's icon reveals a button we can click to install the application. Clicking on the application's icon brings up an information page with a summary of what the application does, a screen shot and user-supplied reviews. I found Muon Discover worked fairly quickly and I like how the application is laid out. I also like that Muon Discover will allow us to continue browsing for additional software while it processes installations and removals in the background. I found this package manager can notify us when software upgrades are available and will install available upgrades on command. Both package managers pull software from a variety of sources, including the Ubuntu 14.04 package repositories, a Google repository and personal package archives (PPAs).
Netrunner provides us with the KDE System Settings panel which enables us to customize the desktop and some aspects of the underlying operating system. For instance, I was not a fan of the semi-transparent window borders that were displayed by default and found these could be changed in the settings panel. Apart from configuring the desktop, the System Settings panel also has modules for managing user accounts, changing the data & time and configuring network connections. In addition, there is a device driver manager module where we can enable third-party hardware drivers. I found the configuration modules were organized in a way which made it fairly easy to find settings I wanted to change. The System Settings panel includes a search feature to make it easier for us to find the desired options.
Netrunner 14.1 -- KDE System Settings and customizing GRUB
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The distribution ships with a large collection of useful software. Browsing through the application menu we find the Firefox web browser (with Flash enabled), the Pidgin instant messaging software, the Transmission bittorrent client, the Thunderbird e-mail client, Skype and the Telepathy messaging software. The LibreOffice productivity suite is installed for us along with the Okular document viewer. The Clementine audio player, the Kdenlive video editor and the VLC multimedia player are installed by default. The Vokoscreen recorder and the Qmmp player (a WinAMP clone) are installed for us. I found Netrunner shipped with multimedia codecs out of the box. Looking further through the application menu we find the GNU Image Manipulation Program, the Gwenview image viewer and a small collection of games. The Steam gaming portal software is installed for us too. There are a number of system administration tools, including a graphical interface for working with the GRUB boot loader's configuration, the Yakuake drop-town terminal and a utility for connecting to network shares. The KDE Partition Manager is available along with a hardware information browser and the VirtualBox virtual machine software. I found an archive manager, text editor, calculator and optical disc burning software. We are given a remote desktop client and Java too. In addition we find accessibility tools, including a screen magnifier and an automated mouse utility. I found the GNU Compiler Collection is installed for us and Network Manager is available to help us get on-line. In the background we find the Linux kernel, version 3.13.
Generally speaking, the software which shipped with Netrunner worked as expected and there were not many surprises. I did find it unusual that the Firefox web browser runs automatically in the background when we login. I suspect this is done to make Firefox appear to start faster when we click the browser's icon, but it does mean Firefox is constantly using system resources even when the browser's window is not visible. Another thing I noticed is icons on Netrunner are huge by default. Both on the desktop and in the Dolphin file manager, icons are very large. Icon sizes can be adjusted if we wish to scale things down.
Netrunner 14.1 -- Running various desktop applications
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One feature I was very happy to see in Netrunner is the GRUB configuration tool. This graphical application makes it easy to adjust the GRUB boot loader. We can remove stale GRUB entries, force the GRUB menu to be visible at boot time, change kernel parameters and adjust the default timeout GRUB counts down at boot. Working with GRUB2 is often more complex than it needs to be and having this utility simplifies the process of adjusting our boot loader.
Finally, I'd like to draw attention to a program that runs in the Netrunner system tray. This program acts as a unified instant messenger client. Through this system tray entry we can set up and manage messaging accounts on a wide range of networks, including ICQ, MSN, Google Talk, Facebook Chat and various others. For people who want to stay in touch with people across multiple networks, this is a useful feature to have running by default.
I tried running the distribution in a VirtualBox virtual machine and on a physical desktop computer. In both environments Netrunner performed well. The distribution ran quickly, the KDE desktop was responsive and the operating system was stable in both environments. Netrunner properly detected and used all of my hardware, enabling networking and audio out of the box. My screen was set to its maximum resolution in both environments. Though Netrunner performed quickly, the distribution used a surprisingly large amount of memory, requiring a minimum of 700MB when logged into KDE. I suspect a significant portion of my memory was being used by Firefox's background process.
Netrunner 14.1 -- Customizing the application menu
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One of the nicest things I can say about any operating system is it is useful and running it is pleasantly boring. I like it when operating systems are easy to set up, they provide me with the tools I want so I can work (and play) and then they stay out of my way. Netrunner does exactly those things. The distribution is wonderfully easy to install, the operating system ships with lots of useful software and there are a minimum of distractions and notifications. The configuration panel offers a good balance of flexibility with easy navigation, the Muon Discover software manager is quick and easy to use and Netrunner worked well with my hardware.
I like the small touches that the developers have added that make Netrunner just slightly more attractive in a number of ways. For example, I like having a guest account enabled by default, but I also like that it is easy to disabled the guest account via a graphical interface. I like having the GRUB configuration utility available and I wish more distributions would adopt it. I like that Netrunner has a traditional application menu and that it is easy to customize the menu so we can place the items we use most in quick-launch positions.
The one, minor thing I didn't like during my trial was the use of transparency in window title bars and the virtual terminal. It was a highly subjective concern and easy enough to change. In fact it took less time to alter the visual characteristics of my desktop than it took me to write this paragraph. In all other aspects, I enjoyed Netrunner. The distribution is solid, useful and has a great line-up of default software. Netrunner is easy to install and has the good manners to stay out of the way while I am working. This version of Netrunner is a long term support release and will receive security updates for another four years, making it an attractive desktop solution, especially for fans of KDE.
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Finally, a note on version numbers and timing. Observant readers will note this is a review of Netrunner 14.1 while Netrunner 15 was released last week. I feel it is worth mentioning a few things about this.
First, Netrunner 14.1 launched about four weeks ago. A week later I downloaded the distribution, ran it for a week then wrote up a review. A review I finished two days before Netrunner 15 appeared on the scene. The two releases are just three weeks apart, indicating things are happening quickly in the Netrunner community.
While I did not have time to properly experiment with Netrunner 15 before this review appeared, I do want to touch on some of the important differences between the two versions. Netrunner 14.1 is a long term support release and based on Kubuntu 14.04 while Netrunner 15 appears to be based on Kubuntu's 14.10 technical preview. Where Netrunner 14.1 ships with KDE 4.14, the new Netrunner 15 offers KDE's experimental Plasma 5.2 desktop. You can read my opinions on running Plasma 5 in a column I wrote back in December. Given the characteristics of Netrunner 15, it appears to be targeting people who wish to experiment and see what bleeding edge software is available, particularly KDE's new desktop environment. People who want a more stable release with long term support will probably wish to stick with the 14.1 release of Netrunner.
Netrunner 15 -- Demonstrating Plasma 5.2 and the KDE System Settings panel
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Some other differences are Netrunner 14.1 is offered in 32-bit and 64-bit x86 builds while Netrunner 15 is available as a 64-bit build only. The download for Netrunner 15 is about half a gigabyte larger than the Netrunner 14.1 download. The new Netrunner 15 release offers users more up to date software, including version 3.16 of the Linux kernel. For more information on the Netrunner 15 release, please see the project's release notes.
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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)
Lucas Nussbaum on the upcoming Debian Project Leader election, Linux From Scratch calls for testers, who is working on the Linux kernel, new Cinnamon features and running sandboxed desktop applications
Lucas Nussbaum has been the elected Debian Project Leader for the past two years. After being asked at FOSDEM if he would run in the upcoming election to choose the next Debian Project Leader, Nussbaum had this to say: "It has been a pleasure and an honour to be the Debian Project Leader since 2013. Debian is really a fantastic project to be part of, with a unique community. The recent times have not been the easiest ever, but I am convinced that the approaching jessie release will just show how we have overcome the recent difficulties. But I also think that switching release cycles is a good opportunity to align other changes, and starting a fresh release cycle with a fresh DPL might be a good idea. Put differently: no, I will not run for re-election. During my last 2.5 months of this term, I will do my best to ensure that the transition to the next DPL will be as smooth as possible." What do you think should be the focus of the next Debian Project Leader, infrastructure, desktop computing, stability? Leave us a comment below with your thoughts.
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Linux From Scratch (LFS) is a book which details how to put together a GNU/Linux distribution using source code and some manual instructions. While not for the faint of heart, LFS is a great way to learn how the pieces of an operating system are put together. Bruce Dubbs announced last week that LFS 7.7 is going to be released soon and he hopes people will come forward to help test the LFS instructions. "The Linux From Scratch community announces the release of LFS Version 7.7-rc1. It is a preliminary release of LFS-7.7. Major changes include toolchain updates to binutils-2.25, glibc-2.21, and gcc-4.9.2. In total, 30 packages were updated since the last release. Changes to the text have also been made throughout the book. The Linux kernel has also been updated to version 3.19. We encourage all users to read through this release of the book and test the instructions so that we can make the final release as good as possible." The release candidate for LFS is available on the project's website. For those who are interested, there is a separate set of LFS instructions which feature systemd rather than the Sysvinit init software.
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The open source community is full of hobbyists experimenting, people working on personal projects and paid developers working for companies. It is interesting to see who is working on what and, with that in mind, the Linux Foundation has released a report on Linux kernel development. ZDNet has a summary of the report and explores who is doing most of the work on the kernel. "19.4 percent of all Linux kernel development done since September 2013 appears to have been done by individual developers, but the rest has all been created by corporate programmers. Leading the way were Intel employees with 10.5 percent of Linux code to their credit. Following Intel was Red Hat, 8.4 percent; Linaro, 5.6 percent; Samsung, 4.4 percent; IBM 3.2 percent; and SUSE, 3 percent. In short, as the Linux Foundation report observes, `Well over 80% of all kernel development is demonstrably done by developers who are being paid for their work.'" The ZDNet article goes on to report an average of seven patches are merged into the Linux kernel per hour.
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Last week Segfault, the blog that shares news from the Linux Mint development team, announced new features coming to the Cinnamon desktop environment. According to the news post, Cinnamon 2.6 will be gaining panel support for multiple monitors and panels will be more flexible. "You can now add panels to every monitor, and configure them each individually. Many thanks to dalcde for all the effort and time he put into this -- it adds an entirely new dimension to the desktop. After upgrading, your panels should be essentially as they were before, but if you check the panel menu, you'll notice an extra entry, Modify Panel. You can quickly perform a number of actions from this menu -- adding a new panel, moving or deleting. If you click Add Panel, you'll get on-screen guidance to allow you to choose where to place the new panel." Cinnamon will also gain search features, allowing users to find on-line documents using a local desktop applet.
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Securing software is often a complex process. While many approaches for making sure applications behave exist, one of the more popular methods these days is sandboxing. Sandboxing isolates an application from the rest of the operating system, limiting the application's access to only the resources it truly needs. Alexander Larsson is working on one approach to sandboxing desktop applications. He writes, "This is going to require a lot of changes to the Linux stack. For instance, we have to use Wayland instead of X11, because X11 is impossible to secure. We also need to use kdbus to allow desktop integration that is properly filtered at the kernel level. Recently Wayland has made some pretty big strides though, and we now have working Wayland sessions in Fedora 21. This means we can start testing real sandboxing for simple applications." The blog post goes on to talk about a sandboxed game, Neverball, being run with very limited access to the host operating system.
|Application Review (by Jesse Smith)
Early impressions of the Vivaldi web browser
For the better part of the past twelve years I happily used the Opera web browser as my primary window to the World Wide Web. Opera was fast, feature rich, stable and tended to incorporate features (such as tabs and developer tools) ahead of other popular browsers. I was sorry to see the Opera browser take a sudden turn last year when the feature rich application was gutted and the rendering engine changed from Presto to Blink. While the new Opera web browser continues to be developed, it feels today like a Chrome clone. The current version of Opera is missing many features I enjoyed and it seems likely future versions of Opera will remain trimmed down.
I was pleased to hear earlier this month that a new web browser is being developed by some of the original developers who created Opera. The new browser is called Vivaldi and the developers claim they will re-implement many of the features which made Opera so appealing to many users. The Vivaldi website makes the following statement:
"In 1994, two programmers started working on a web browser. Our idea was to make a really fast browser, capable of running on limited hardware, keeping in mind that users are individuals with their own requirements and wishes. Opera was born. Our little piece of software gained traction, our group grew and a community was created. We stayed close to our users and to our roots. We kept improving our software, based on our users' feedback, as well as our own ideas on how to make a great browser. We innovated and we strove for excellence.
The Vivaldi web browser is available on multiple platforms with the project currently supporting Linux, OS X and Windows. The Linux edition can be downloaded as a Deb or RPM package. I grabbed an early build of Vivaldi to test, downloading version 126.96.36.199 from the project's website.
Fast forward to 2015, the browser we once loved has changed its direction. Sadly, it is no longer serving its community of users and contributors who helped build the browser in the first place.
So we came to a natural conclusion: We must make a new browser. A browser for ourselves and a browser for our friends. A browser that is fast, but also a browser that is rich in functionality, highly flexible and puts the user first."
Vivaldi 1.0 -- Browsing pages
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First, a few technical notes with regards to Vivaldi. The new browser uses the Blink engine, just like the current generation of Opera and Google's Chrome browser. As far as I can tell, Vivaldi does not yet support extensions and the build I used did not work with Flash content, though other browsers on my system (including Firefox, Qupzilla and Chromium) do display Flash content. The new browser has visible buttons for opening a mail client and contact lists. At the time of writing users can add, edit and search through contacts. However, bringing up the mail panel displays a message letting us know the mail client has not yet been implemented. Vivaldi, unlike legacy versions of Opera, does not yet support downloading torrents when the user clicks on a torrent link.
When first launching Vivaldi my initial impression of the interface was it follows the same flat & square style we see a lot of in recent Windows and KDE releases. The controls have sharp edges, it's hard to tell what is a display widget and what we can click on. Icons are sometimes displayed as grey on a different shade of grey. Vivaldi does not integrate with our desktop's theme and instead manages its own window controls, such as close and minimize buttons. This works, but gives Vivaldi the same foreign look proprietary applications like Steam have. I feel Vivaldi's developers subscribe to the Chrome school of browser design. There is no application menu bar and what few widgets there are use icons exclusively without any text labels. At the top of the window we find the customary address bar and a search box which defaults to running our queries though Google. Clicking in the search box we can change the default search engine to something else. A few navigation buttons are placed at the top of the screen. Down the left side of the page we find a panel with icons for accessing our address book, bookmarks, e-mail and settings. At the bottom of the window there are a few controls for showing/hiding images on the page and there is a slider for adjusting page magnification.
Vivaldi 1.0 -- The configuration panel
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Digging through the options screen I found many of the choices we have deal with the positioning of elements. For example, page tabs can be placed along any wall of the window (top, bottom, left or right). We can choose to stack tabs and there is an option (enabled by default) for colouring tabs based on which page we are on. Other options deal with accepting or rejecting cookies and short-cut keys. There is a section in the configuration screen for managing our search engines, but this feature does not appear to work yet.
Like most browsers these days, Vivaldi features a speed dial page. Actually, Vivaldi offers us multiple speed dial pages. We can create multiple speed dial pages and name them. I think this is a good idea as it will make organizing short-cuts easier. Moving speed dial tiles between categories does not appear to work yet, but I suspect that feature will come in the future. When creating a new speed dial tile we can either type in a URL we want to save or select one from our history. At least Vivaldi has space dedicated to selecting items from our history, but this section of the window remains blank, whether we have pages in our history or not. The browser has a rich bookmarks manager and allows us to import bookmarks from the Firefox and Opera browsers. From the bookmarks page we can move items around, edit them and right-click on a bookmark to open it in a tab.
Earlier I mentioned Vivaldi offers tab colouring. I had not seen this feature in a browser before, but essentially it makes tabs change colour based on the page we are visiting. Whatever colour features prominently on the page gets assigned to the tab. This is an interesting idea, but one I find more distracting than helpful and I turned off the colour tab feature. One feature I did appreciate was the audio symbol that appears on tabs when a page is making a sound. For example, playing a YouTube video causes the audio symbol to appear in the page's tab, making it easy to find pages making noise.
For the most part Vivaldi worked well when visiting pages, playing HTML5 videos and filling out forms. The browser worked quickly for me, but oddly enough I kept feeling as though the browser was lagging. I did some tests and found Vivaldi was loading pages and displaying them in the same amount of time Qupzilla or Firefox required when performing the same tasks. What I think gives the illusion of slow page loads is that Vivaldi loads a page first and then displays it, rather than displaying items while it is loading. This means that when loading large pages it can take a few seconds before anything happens on the screen. In reality, Vivaldi loads and displays the page in the same time Firefox does, but Firefox shows us something happening while it works. Vivaldi, by contrast, appears to just sit doing nothing (visibly) for a second before we see the page appear. Vivaldi also displays minor animations when we switch between tabs rather than immediately snapping to the new tab. This also gives the impression the browser is taking longer to complete a task.
Something I found odd during my time with Vivaldi was I kept seeing prompts to enter a keyring password. I'm not sure what this keyring is for, it isn't explained at all. The prompt only appeared while I was using Vivaldi, typically when I was accessing my bookmarks. Perhaps the browser encrypts website passwords or locks our bookmarks. Hopefully future versions of the browser will explain or do away with the need for a keyring prompt.
Vivaldi 1.0 -- Organizing bookmarks
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One thing which stands out about Vivaldi is that it appears to be a closed source project. I find this surprising. Vivaldi attempts to recreate the power and flexibility of Opera since the Opera team has effectively scrapped their original browser and replaced it with a streamlined version. One of the reasons Opera fans were left looking for a new browser is precisely because Opera was closed source and could not be continued by the community or forked. That is why projects like Otter and Qupzilla have been relatively successful, they are delivering the features Opera once did without the risk of the browser suddenly being discontinued. As a former fan of Opera I see a new, closed source browser as being a case of "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." On top of that, most browsers these days are either open source or have a strong open source base. This makes the browsers easy to port and package to a wider audience. Closed source browsers suffer in the Linux and BSD communities because there are more licensing restrictions and the software cannot be ported by the community.
At the moment, Vivaldi lacks the features the developers hope to implement. Right now, the web browser is still fairly bare bones, capable of performing the same actions as most other browsers. We can visit pages, set bookmarks and arrange our speed dial page, but that is about where the feature list stops. I do like how flexible the browser is with regards to placing, organizing and colouring tabs. I also like how quick the browser works, even if it gives the impression of being slow to respond. I do plan to try Vivaldi again in the future, perhaps once e-mail, extensions and developer tools have been added. The developers are off to a good start, they have the essentials in place, but the vision Vivaldi is meant to fulfil has not yet materialized.
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.
Archives of our previously seeded torrents may be found here. All torrents we make available here are also listed on the very useful Linux Tracker website. Thanks to Linux Tracker we are able to share the following torrent statistics.
Torrent Corner statistics:
- Total torrents seeded: 23
- Total downloads completed: 3,671
- Total data uploaded: 1.6TB
|Released Last Week
Clemens Toennies has announced the release of Netrunner 15, a desktop Linux distribution based on Kubuntu 14.10 and featuring the new KDE Plasma 5.2.0 desktop: "We are proud to announce the official release of Netrunner 15 'Prometheus'. Netrunner 15 is revised from the ground up - as the first distribution, it officially ships the new KDE Plasma Desktop 5.2. Therefore, an upgrade from previous Netrunner series with KDE 4.x is neither officially available nor really recommended. This release is 64-bit only. What's new? This release features the brand new KDE Plasma Desktop 5.2, packed together with the freshly released KDE Frameworks 5.7 and Qt 5.4. It takes a great deal of Oxygen and a little of Breeze and mixes them into a blend of tradition and modern. All previous settings and add-ons have been carefully restored to work in this new environment. With Netrunner 15 we took the chance to ship a finely revised set of applications." Read the rest of the release announcement for further details and screenshots.
Black Lab Linux 6.1 "MATE"
The Black Lab Linux project has announced the availability of a new edition to the Black Lab product line featuring the MATE desktop environment. "Today we are pleased to announce the release of Black Lab Linux MATE 6.1. Black Lab Linux MATE 6.1 is a distribution of Black Lab Linux that utilizes the Mate Desktop environment." The new release provides a live MATE desktop environment along with a selection of up to date desktop application. "With Black Lab Linux MATE 6.1 you get the same application lineup that you get with Black Lab Linux. Included are the following: Linux Kernel 3.13.0-45, MATE desktop 1.8.1, Firefox 35, Thunderbird 32, Steam Gaming Desktop, LibreOffice 4.4, Gimp, Scribus, Pidgin IM client, OpenShot, VLC, App Grid appstore. As well as all security updates until February 14, 2015 included." Please see the project's release notes for more information and a screenshot.
Frugalware Linux 2.0
After long development delays and massive infrastructure troubles, the Frugalware development team has finally released Frugalware Linux 2.0, a general-purpose distribution for intermediate and advanced Linux users: "Frugalware 2.0 (Rigel) released. The Frugalware developer team is pleased to announce the immediate availability of Frugalware Linux 2.0, our twentieth stable release. No new features have been added since 2.0rc2. If you didn't follow the changes during the release candidate releases, here are the most important changes since 1.9 in no particular order: package updates - Linux kernel 3.14.19, X.Org Server 1.15.2, KDE 4.14.3, GNOME 3.12.2, Xfce 4.10.1, LXDE 0.99.0, LibreOffice 4.3.3, Mozilla Firefox 35.0.1, Chromium browser 39.0.2171.96. New features: MATE 1.8.1. Please refer to the Frugalware Rigel ChangeLog for more information." Here is the brief release announcement.
Bodhi Linux 3.0.0
Jeff Hoogland has announced the final release of Bodhi Linux 3.0.0, a desktop distribution based on Ubuntu 14.04 and featuring a customised Enlightenment 19.3 desktop: "Today I am very happy to share with you the first stable release for the third major update to the Bodhi Linux operating system. Notable features in the 3.0.0 release: Enlightenment E19.3, Terminology 0.8.0, ePad 0.9.0, Numix icons, Linux kernel 3.16, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS core. The release images for 3.0.0 support a wide range of hardware including: non-PAE processors, UEFI BIOS, SeaBIOS Chromebooks. Our stable release is not the only thing that is new at Bodhi Linux this month. Our main website, AppCenter, Wiki, and Forums have all gotten complete overhauls to go alongside this new release. If you are new to Bodhi Linux please take a look at the Quick Start Guide that opens by default when you first boot the live CD / operating system." Read the rest of the release announcement for more information, screenshots and useful links.
Bodhi 3.0.0 -- The Enlightenment desktop environment
(full image size: 902kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Clonezilla Live 2.3.2-22
Steven Shiau has announced the release of Clonezilla Live 2.3.2-22, the latest stable version of the project's specialist live CD, based on Debian's "unstable" branch, designed for disk cloning: "This release of Clonezilla Live (2.3.2-22) includes major enhancements and bug fixes: the underlying GNU/Linux operating system has been upgraded, this release is based on the Debian 'Sid' repository as of 2015-02-17; Linux kernel has been updated to 3.16.7; the bindfs and ntpdate packages have been added; Partclone has been updated to 0.2.76, partclone-utils to 0.3.1; the drbl package has been updated to 2.13.7, Clonezilla to 3.13.29; syslinux has been updated to 6.03; an encryption mechanism for Clonezilla image files has been added; a boot parameter, "ocs_dmesg_n", has been added so that it can be used to set the level at which logging of messages is done to the console, if not set it hides all messages, except emergency (panic) messages; the image repository can now be on a WebDAV server..." Here is the complete release announcement.
Proxmox 3.4 "Virtual Environment"
The Proxmox team has announced the availability of Proxmox 3.4 "Virtual Environment". The new release features out of the box ZFS storage support along with hotplug and NUMA (non-uniform memory access) support. "The Proxmox developers considered many user feature requests and added many GUI improvements like start/stop all VMs, migrate all VMs or disconnect virtual network cards. The integrated ZFS (OpenZFS) is an open source file system and logical volume manager in one, allowing huge storage capacities. Starting with the new ISO installer for Proxmox VE 3.4, users can now select their preferred root file system during installation (ext3, ext4 or ZFS). All ZFS raid levels can be selected, including raid-0, 1, or 10 as well as all raidz levels (z-1, z-2, z3). ZFS on Proxmox VE can be used either as a local directory, supporting all storage content types (instead of ext3 or ext4) or as zvol block-storage, currently supporting KVM images in raw format (with the new ZFS storage plugin)." More information can be found in the project's release announcement.
Cecil Watson has announced the release of LinHES 8.3, an updated release of the project's specialist Arch-based distribution designed for set-top boxes and home entertainment computers - now complete with the new Kodi media centre: "The LinHES development team is pleased to announce the release of LinHES R8.3. LinHES R8.3 brings updates to the kernel, system libraries, NVIDIA drivers, the latest MythTV 0.27.4 fixes, and many other parts of LinHES. LinHES R8.3 now includes the option to install Plex Home Theater. Additionally XBMC has been updated to Kodi. Related issues: bug #983 - xscreensaver missing some screen savers; bug #985 - missing shared libraries for zoneminder; feature #981 - add Plex Home Theater; feature #982 - add PowerPanel for CyberPower UPS; feature #984 - LinHES Tools in Service Menu; feature #986 - xconfig.sh should detect and install NVIDIA and legacy driver; feature #988 - update XBMC to Kodi...." See the release announcement and release notes for further information and upgrade instructions.
Canonical has announced the availability of the second update to the Ubuntu 14.04 product line. The new release, version 14.04.2, does not represent an entirely new release, but rather a minor update to the 14.04 branch. The new images contain additional hardware support and bug fixes over the original 14.04 release. A full list of improvements available in 14.04.2 is provided in the changes summary. Adam Conrad writes: "The Ubuntu team is pleased to announce the release of Ubuntu 14.04.2 LTS. We have expanded our hardware enablement offering since 14.04, and with 14.04.2, this point release contains an updated kernel and X stack for new installations to support new hardware." Further information can be found in the release notes.
ClearOS 6.6.0 "Community"
Peter Baldwin has announced the release of ClearOS 6.6.0 "Community" edition, a CentOS-based Linux distribution for cloud-connected servers and gateways designed for homes, hobbyists and small organisations: "ClearOS Community 6.6.0 final has arrived! Along with the usual round of bug fixes and enhancements, this release introduces WPAD, QoS, YouTube School ID support, an upgrade to the Intrusion Detection engine, and ISO-to-USB key support. With the upcoming ClearOS 7 release, some of the features in the beta have been migrated to the ClearOS 7 roadmap, notably WordPress, Joomla!, Tiki Wiki CMS Groupware, Vtiger and SugarCRM. The following is a list of new features in ClearOS Community 6.6.0: QoS YouTube School ID support; WPAD (paid app); Intrusion Detection engine upgrade; ISO-to-USB key support. Since the last release, the following apps have been released: ownCloud for Home; ownCloud for Business." Read the brief release announcement and check out the more detailed release notes for more information and links to changelogs.
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
January 2015 DistroWatch.com donation: Haiku|
We are pleased to announce that the recipient of the January 2015 DistroWatch.com donation is Haiku. It receives US$300.00 in cash.
Haiku is a modern operating system inspired by BeOS and the developers are maintaining the BeOS style desktop interface in Haiku while also implementing modern features. Haiku is designed with performance and desktop responsiveness in mind. All of Haiku, from the kernel to the desktop to end user services, are implemented by one core team.
Launched in 2004, this monthly donations programme is a DistroWatch initiative to support free and open-source software projects and operating systems with cash contributions. Readers are welcome to nominate their favourite project for future donations. Those readers who wish to contribute towards these donations, please use our advertising page to make a payment (PayPal, credit cards, Yandex Money and crypto currencies are accepted). Here is the list of the projects that have received a DistroWatch donation since the launch of the programme (figures in US dollars):
Since the launch of the Donations Program in March 2004, DistroWatch has donated a total of US$42,575 to various open-source software projects.
- 2004: GnuCash ($250), Quanta Plus ($200), PCLinuxOS ($300), The GIMP ($300), Vidalinux ($200), Fluxbox ($200), K3b ($350), Arch Linux ($300), Kile KDE LaTeX Editor ($100) and UNICEF - Tsunami Relief Operation ($340)
- 2005: Vim ($250), AbiWord ($220), BitTorrent ($300), NDISwrapper ($250), Audacity ($250), Debian GNU/Linux ($420), GNOME ($425), Enlightenment ($250), MPlayer ($400), Amarok ($300), KANOTIX ($250) and Cacti ($375)
- 2006: Gambas ($250), Krusader ($250), FreeBSD Foundation ($450), GParted ($360), Doxygen ($260), LilyPond ($250), Lua ($250), Gentoo Linux ($500), Blender ($500), Puppy Linux ($350), Inkscape ($350), Cape Linux Users Group ($130), Mandriva Linux ($405, a Powerpack competition), Digikam ($408) and Sabayon Linux ($450)
- 2007: GQview ($250), Kaffeine ($250), sidux ($350), CentOS ($400), LyX ($350), VectorLinux ($350), KTorrent ($400), FreeNAS ($350), lighttpd ($400), Damn Small Linux ($350), NimbleX ($450), MEPIS Linux ($300), Zenwalk Linux ($300)
- 2008: VLC ($350), Frugalware Linux ($340), cURL ($300), GSPCA ($400), FileZilla ($400), MythDora ($500), Linux Mint ($400), Parsix GNU/Linux ($300), Miro ($300), GoblinX ($250), Dillo ($150), LXDE ($250)
- 2009: Openbox ($250), Wolvix GNU/Linux ($200), smxi ($200), Python ($300), SliTaz GNU/Linux ($200), LiVES ($300), Osmo ($300), LMMS ($250), KompoZer ($360), OpenSSH ($350), Parted Magic ($350) and Krita ($285)
- 2010: Qimo 4 Kids ($250), Squid ($250), Libre Graphics Meeting ($300), Bacula ($250), FileZilla ($300), GCompris ($352), Xiph.org ($250), Clonezilla ($250), Debian Multimedia ($280), Geany ($300), Mageia ($470), gtkpod ($300)
- 2011: CGSecurity ($300), OpenShot ($300), Imagination ($250), Calibre ($300), RIPLinuX ($300), Midori ($310), vsftpd ($300), OpenShot ($350), Trinity Desktop Environment ($300), LibreCAD ($300), LiVES ($300), Transmission ($250)
- 2012: GnuPG ($350), ImageMagick ($350), GNU ddrescue ($350), Slackware Linux ($500), MATE ($250), LibreCAD ($250), BleachBit ($350), cherrytree ($260), Zim ($335), nginx ($250), LFTP ($250), Remastersys ($300)
- 2013: MariaDB ($300), Linux From Scratch ($350), GhostBSD ($340), DHCP ($300), DOSBox ($250), awesome ($300), DVDStyler ($280), Tor ($350), Tiny Tiny RSS ($350), FreeType ($300), GNU Octave ($300), Linux Voice ($510)
- 2014: QupZilla ($250), Pitivi ($370), MediaGoblin ($350), TrueCrypt ($300), Krita ($340), SME Server ($350), OpenStreetMap ($350), iTALC ($350), KDE ($400), The Document Foundation ($400), Tails ($350)
- 2015: AWStats ($300), Haiku ($300)
* * * * *
Distributions added to waiting list
- AryaLinux. AryaLinux is an independent GNU/Linux distribution featuring the MATE desktop environment.
- eOsFree Linux. eOsFree Linux is a re-spin of the elementary OS distribution with a customized desktop.
- Security Onion. Security Onion is a Linux distro for intrusion detection, network security monitoring, and log management. It is based on Ubuntu and contains many security related packages.
- StotinkaOS. StotinkaOS is a remix of the CentOS distribution for Bulgarian users. StotinkaOS ships with third-party software repositories enabled, including RPMFusion and Fedora's EPEL repository.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 2 March 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)
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)
|• 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|
|• 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|
|• Full list of all issues|
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