| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 607, 27 April 2015
Welcome to this year's 17th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
Last week we saw the release of many distributions, including new versions of Ubuntu and Ubuntu's many official community distributions. We begin this week with a review containing first impressions of Canonical's flagship product, Ubuntu 15.04. Of course, there were developments outside of the Ubuntu community last week, including the launch of Fedora 22 Beta, and we cover the new features Fedora is testing in our News section. In other news, Debian's Long Term Support team is planning to extend the life of Debian "Wheezy". Plus, the Debian project has released a new stable version, Debian 8.0 "Jessie", and we discuss some key highlights available in Debian "Jessie". We also link to a script which will seek out and download the latest releases of many popular distributions. This week we are happy to share a second review containing observations and commentary on Chapeau, a Linux distribution based on Fedora Workstation. In our Torrent Corner we share the distributions we are seeding this week. Then we are pleased to provide a list of all the distribution releases of the past week and we look ahead to exciting announcements to come. We wish you all a fantastic week and happy reading!
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
First impressions of Ubuntu 15.04
Canonical's Ubuntu operating system is probably the most widely used Linux distribution in the world. Ubuntu is made available in several editions, including desktop builds, server builds and there is a branch of Ubuntu for mobile phones. Ubuntu provides installation images for the x86, ARM and Power PC architectures, allowing the distribution to run on a wide variety of hardware. The most recent release of Ubuntu, version 15.04, includes a fairly short list of changes compared to last year's Ubuntu 14.10, however some of the changes are significant. Some small changes include an upgrade of the kernel to Linux 3.19 and placing application menus inside the application window by default. A potentially larger change is the switch from Canonical's Upstart init software to systemd.
I downloaded the 64-bit x86 build of Ubuntu's desktop edition. The ISO for this edition is approximately 1.1GB in size. Booting from the live media brings up a graphical screen where we are asked if we would like to experiment with the distribution's live desktop environment or launch the project's system installer. On the left side of the window we can select our preferred language from a list.
Ubuntu's graphical system installer begins by asking if we would like to download software updates during the installation. We can also select whether to install third-party software such as multimedia support and Flash. I opted to include multimedia support, but I did not wish to download software updates right away. Downloading updated packages from Ubuntu's servers on launch day can be a slow process as many other users will also be accessing these same servers. We are next asked if we would like to have the system installer partition our hard drive for us, perform some guided action or if we would like to manually partition our disk. I decided to take the manual partitioning option. I found Ubuntu's partition manager to be easy to navigate and options are presented in a friendly manner. The partition manager allows us to set up swap, ext2/3/4, JFS, XFS and Btrfs partitions. I chose to install Ubuntu on a Btrfs volume. The following screens ask us to select our time zone from a map of the world, confirm our keyboard's layout and create a user account for ourselves. We can choose to encrypt our user account's files. With these steps completed we wait while the installer copies its files to our disk and configures the operating system. We are then prompted to reboot the computer.
When we boot into our fresh installation of Ubuntu we are brought to a graphical login screen. From this screen we can sign into the user account we made during the installation or we can sign into a guest account. The guest account can be accessed without a password and, when we end our guest session, the guest account is wiped clean, removing files and resetting the guest account's configuration. Signing into our account brings up the Unity desktop environment. The default background is bright purple. On the left side of the screen we find the application launcher, populated with quick-launch buttons for popular applications. In the upper-left corner of the screen we find Unity's dash where we can search for programs, documents and other items. In the upper-right corner of the screen we find the system tray and user menu where we can access system settings, access documentation or logout.
Ubuntu 15.04 -- Unity's dash
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One of the first features I explored was Ubuntu's "Help" documentation. This documentation deals mostly with the Unity interface, how to navigate it and how to adjust the desktop's settings. I found the documentation to be well presented and easy to navigate. Another feature which stands out is the Unity dash will perform on-line searches for items when we try to locate programs or documents. The on-line searches can be disabled through the settings panel, specifically in the Security & Privacy module. While exploring the Security & Privacy settings I also noticed Ubuntu can automatically send bug reports and usage data back to Canonical. What is sent in these reports is laid out in the Security & Privacy module and we can disable the reports if we wish.
Not only can we search for programs and documents through the Unity dash, we can also install new applications from the dash. When we search for a program from the dash's application scope installed items matching our search are shown. We are also presented with a list of applications in Ubuntu's software repositories which match our search terms. Clicking on an available item gives us the option to install the selected software. Alternatively we can turn to the Ubuntu Software Centre when we want to install or remove applications.
The Ubuntu Software Centre is an application that displays categories of available software and can present us with lists of available programs, sorted by category and popularity. Clicking on an application brings up a full screen information window with a summary of what the program does, reviews of the application and a screen shot. We can install or remove applications with the click of a button. The Software Centre installs new programs in the background while we continue to browse through lists of available software. I found the Software Centre worked well for me. Searches returned relevant items quickly, the Software Centre has an interface I found easy to navigate and all the installations I queued completed quickly.
Ubuntu 15.04 -- Browsing the Ubuntu Software Centre
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A while after I logged in, the distribution's update manager appeared in the Unity sidebar. Clicking the update manager's icon brings up a small window which shows us a summary of available software updates. We can click items to learn more about them and select which updates we wish to install. During my time with Ubuntu a few packages were updated and these all installed cleanly without any problems.
I tried running Ubuntu 15.04 in two test environments, a desktop computer and a VirtualBox virtual machine. Ubuntu ran well in both environments. Networking and audio worked out of the box and my desktop was set to its maximum resolution. Unity was quite responsive on my desktop computer, but lagged a bit in VirtualBox until I enabled 3-D acceleration for the virtual machine. Once 3-D support was enabled Unity ran smoothly in the virtual environment. In either test environment I found memory consumption varied quite a bit. Whenever I would log into Unity I would check memory usage before doing anything else and found Ubuntu would consume anywhere from 380MB to 440MB of RAM when logged into Unity. In both test environments Ubuntu remained stable during my trial.
Ubuntu ships with a useful collection of desktop applications. We are given the Firefox web browser with Flash support. The Thunderbird e-mail client and the Transmission bittorrent software are included along with the Empathy messaging software. There is a remote desktop client, a document viewer and the LibreOffice productivity software included in the default installation. Ubuntu ships with an image viewer, the Shotwell photo manager and a handful of small games. The distribution provides us with an archive manager, a backup utility, a calculator and a text editor. The Brasero disc burning software is available along with the Cheese webcam utility. The Network Manager software is present to help us get on-line. The Rhythmbox audio player and the Totem video player are present and I found they would play common media formats out of the box. Ubuntu offers a few accessibility options such as the Orca screen reader and a virtual keyboard. In the dash we find an icon which brings up an application that allows us to locate and install third-party hardware drivers. Java is not included in the distribution, but the GNU Compiler Collection is available and the operating system runs on version 3.19 of the Linux kernel.
Ubuntu 15.04 -- Creating backups of our files
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What I have talked about so far with regards to Ubuntu 15.04 also applies to the previous two versions of the operating system, so let's examine some of the differences present in the latest Ubuntu release. As I mentioned above, Ubuntu 15.04 places application menus within application windows by default. I like this approach as it makes Unity act more like other desktop environments and it means I do not need to move the mouse as much to access menus. The previous behaviour of putting application menus in the global top bar is available as an option in the settings panel.
One of the changes I was interested in exploring was Ubuntu's switch from the Upstart init software to systemd. In this regard I was pleasantly surprised. I find most distributions, when they initially make the switch to systemd, introduce bugs or, at the very least, break backward compatibility. Sometimes service managers stop working properly and network device names usually change. Even if everything works as it should, the administrator needs to adjust to systemd's approach to logging and adopt a different method of managing services. Ubuntu has taken an approach I like with regards to adopting systemd. While systemd functions as init, the old methods of managing the system still exist on Ubuntu. For example, services can be started or stopped using either the old style "service" commands or systemd's "systemctl" command. Ubuntu still maintains log files in text format which means daemons that monitor logs (such as security applications) do not need to be patched to work on Ubuntu. The systemd binary journal is also present, so people who want to take advantage of the journal's search features can do that too.
Ubuntu recognizes runlevels, allowing administrators familiar with traditional approaches for initializing and shutting down the system to continue to work as they have before. Device names, such as network interfaces, still use the traditional naming conventions rather than systemd's new naming style, maintaining backward compatibility with previous versions of Ubuntu. I really appreciate this nearly seamless approach to adopting systemd as it means virtually all the old commands and concepts still work while the new systemd approaches and concepts are there for people who wish to adopt them. I know CentOS tried to perform a similar smooth transition with CentOS 7 and mostly succeeded, but there were a few things which did not transition properly and text logs had to be enabled manually on CentOS 7. Other early adopters of systemd generally have not made an effort to be backward compatible and it makes switching between different versions of those distributions awkward. Ubuntu has smoothed out the rough edges and made the transition to systemd virtually invisible. As an added perk, we can launch the older Upstart init software from Ubuntu's boot menu, disregarding systemd completely. I think this makes Ubuntu the only distribution I know of which supports multiple init technologies installed side-by-side.
Ubuntu 15.04 -- Unity's settings panel
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Another feature I was curious to try was Unity 8 running on Mir. By default, Ubuntu 15.04 still runs Unity 7 on the X display server, but Unity 8 and the Mir display server are available in the distribution's repositories. The first thing I discovered about the experimental Unity 8 desktop was it does not run in VirtualBox. However, it will run passably on physical hardware. The first time we log into Unity 8 the desktop walks us through an initial configuration where we are asked to select our preferred language and we are given a chance to place a password (or passcode) on our lock screen. Unity 8 consistently refers to the device it is running on as a phone. Once the initial configuration is done we are brought to a desktop that has the same basic layout as Unity 7. There is a small collection of applications available via the sidebar and we can access some desktop settings. We can also put the desktop in "airplane mode" and lock the screen to prevent it from automatically rotating. Unity 8 is set up to be used as a touch screen interface and some applications require we "swipe" or use "touch and drag" gestures to navigate them rather than using traditional mouse clicks and scroll bars. From Unity 8 we cannot access a terminal or any of our desktop applications from Unity 7.
The Unity 8 desktop has its own application store and we can access this store to find and install new applications. Downloading programs from the app store requires an account with the Ubuntu One service. Once I installed a new application I was unable to find a way to launch it as the program does not end up in the dash or on the Unity 8 sidebar.
In short, Unity 8 technically works, but it is very limited and seems to be exclusively designed to work on mobile devices with touch screens. Performance appears to be fine and the app store, while short on options, does work and is easy to navigate.
Ubuntu 15.04 -- Running Unity 8 on Mir
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On the surface, Ubuntu 15.04 does not bring many changes. There are a few cosmetic adjustments, but nothing major that desktop users are likely to notice. Most of the interesting work appears to be going on behind the scenes. Unity 8 on Mir, for example, is an experimental add-on option. While I like to see Unity 8 and Mir progressing, they are not yet ready to be rolled out to the general public. Another big change is the move to systemd from Upstart and I am really impressed with the way Ubuntu developers handled this shift from one init technology to another. With both systemd and classic init commands, services and logs supported out of the box it makes the transition seamless for almost every use case, both on the desktop and on servers.
The last few releases from Canonical have been relatively calm, introducing only minor changes in the user interface and generally improving things. Ubuntu 15.04 feels very stable and easy to configure. This is an operating system that is virtually effortless to set up and run and I feel the Unity 7 desktop does a nice job of providing lots of features while staying out of the way. In fact, what I have come to like about Unity is there is a lot of information around the border of the display while the central work area remains calm, letting the user focus on the task at hand. Updates, new messages notifications and such are presented via subtle visual changes along the edges of the screen rather than popping up and distracting me from my work.
All in all, I like what Canonical has done with Ubuntu 15.04. This feels like a small, incremental evolution for Ubuntu and Unity. The init switch, which has disrupted the users of several other distributions, goes largely unnoticed in Ubuntu and I think that is worthy of praise. I would still like Ubuntu to default to not sending search queries and usage data to Canonical, I think those features should be "opt-in" rather than "opt-out". Ubuntu makes it easy to toggle these features on/off, but I think most people would feel better if their privacy were given a higher priority. Privacy concerns aside, Ubuntu 15.04 feels like a stable release and an evolutionary step forward from previous releases.
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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)
Fedora releases new Beta, Debian Wheezy may get extended support, Debian 8 offers better EFI support and live CDs, and a script for finding recent distribution releases
The launch of Fedora 22 is still a month away, but the Fedora Project does have some new features to show off in the project's latest Beta release. "The Beta release contains all the exciting features of Fedora 22's editions in a form that anyone can help test. This testing, guided by the Fedora QA team, helps us target and identify bugs. When these bugs are fixed, we make a Beta release available. A Beta release is meant to be feature complete and bears a very strong resemblance to the third and final release. The final release of Fedora 22 is expected in May." Fedora 22 Beta offers a number of interesting features and improvements. For instance, the Wayland display server is moving forward and will now be the default display server for showing Fedora's login screen. The Cloud branch of Fedora will be getting a new command, Atomic, to help administrators manage Linux containers. Plus, Fedora 22 will be using the new DNF package manager by default. DNF is a drop-in replacement for Fedora's old YUM package manager. Both programs use the same commands and syntax, but DNF is reported to work faster than its predecessor. Further details can be obtained from the project's release notes.
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While the Debian distribution has relatively long development cycles of approximately two years, the supported life span of Debian releases tends to be fairly short, around three years. This means Debian users need to keep upgrading to the latest stable release and may not be able to wait and upgrade later, skipping a version of Debian Stable. The Debian Long Term Support (LTS) project has changed that for users of Debian "Squeeze", extending the life span of Debian "Squeeze" by at least a year. The Debian LTS team now wants to offer extended support for Debian "Wheezy" and, down the road, Debian "Jessie". "Almost a year after the birth of the Debian Long Term Support (LTS) project, Squeeze LTS can be considered a success. Thanks go to the many volunteers and sponsors! Debian 6 `Squeeze' has seen more than 200 security uploads since the start of its extended support period. The most widely used packages have been fixed in a timely fashion and many organizations can thus safely rely on the continued maintenance of Squeeze LTS. Given this experience, we are confident that Debian 7 `Wheezy' and Debian 8 `Jessie' will benefit from Long Term Support." The LTS team is hoping to attract developers and financial support to extend the life cycle of all present and future versions of Debian.
The highly anticipated release of Debian 8.0 "Jessie" was launched over the weekend. The new Debian Stable release offers a number of new features and improvements that will, no doubt, benefit not only Debian users, but the many people who use distributions based on Debian. Debian 8.0 offers improved EFI support for 32-bit x86 machines and Intel-based Apple Mac computers. Debian 8.0 not only offers installation media, but live discs are also being supplied as official release images. Further, Debian 8.0 runs on two new architectures. Steve McIntyre wrote in a mailing list post, "We've added installation media for the two new architectures added in Jessie: arm64 and ppc64el. I'm particularly proud of the arm64 images. With help from Ian Campbell, Leif Lindholm and Thomas Schmitt I've managed to make EFI-compatible CD images in an isohybrid design that means they should also work when copied directly to a USB stick. Hopefully this will help this new platform to become just as easy to install as any x86 PC is today. Hopefully post-Jessie we'll even be able to start providing live images and OpenStack images for more architectures too."
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Have you ever wanted to download a copy of the latest version of your favourite Linux distribution, but didn't want to go hunting for a link to the download image? Or perhaps you want to download multiple distributions and try out several at once? Peter Paskowsky likes to experiment with multiple distributions and seed torrents for various projects. To assist with his endeavours he has written a script which seeks out the most recent releases of popular distributions and downloads torrent files for the latest versions of each distribution. Paskowsky writes, "I've always been looking for ways to donate my home bandwidth to good causes. One of the best ways I've found is seeding Linux ISOs with bittorrent using my trusty QNAP NAS (which is running Debian and Transmission). The problem with seeding Linux distros is that new releases are always coming out, meaning you may be seeding old versions unless you're constantly on top of it. To solve this issue I wrote a bash script to automatically download the newest torrents for my favourite Linux distributions. The script is hosted on my GitHub." The script downloads torrent files for the latest releases of Arch, CentOS, Debian, Fedora, Kali, openSUSE, Raspbian, Slackware and Ubuntu and can be patched to seek out torrent files for other distributions.
| Bonus Review (by Jesse Smith)
A new Chapeau
Chapeau Linux is a desktop distribution based on Fedora. The Chapeau project's website lists a number of advantages the distribution provides over Fedora's Workstation offering. Chapeau ships with multimedia codecs, Flash, anti-virus software, data recovery tools, WINE, PlayOnLinux and Steam. In addition, third-party software repositories are enabled by default giving users access to a larger collection of software. At the moment, one edition of Chapeau 21 is available. It is a build for 64-bit x86 machines that offers users the GNOME 3.14 desktop environment.
I downloaded Chapeau's 2.2GB ISO file. Booting from the live media brings up a graphical screen where we are asked if we would like to try running the GNOME desktop (specifically GNOME Shell) or if we would like to launch the project's system installer. Chapeau's system installer is the same one provided by Korora and Fedora and I have talked about it before. The same features, quirks and awkward partitioning screen are present. Still, the installer worked for me and provided me with a functioning installation of Chapeau when it was finished. Once the installer completes its work we can continue to use the live GNOME desktop or reboot the computer.
Booting into our new copy of Chapeau we are brought to a graphical login screen featuring a plain grey theme. From the login screen we can sign into one of three desktop sessions. Chapeau provides access to GNOME Shell, GNOME's Classic desktop and a version of GNOME Shell running atop a Wayland display server. At various points during my trial I attempted to use all three desktop environments. The GNOME on Wayland option did not work for me at all and attempting to access GNOME on Wayland simply brought me back to the login screen. Attempting to sign into the GNOME Classic desktop usually worked, providing me with a GNOME 2/MATE style desktop. However, with about one in every three login attempts I found the GNOME Classic session would also kick me out, sending me back to the login screen. Most of the time I used GNOME Shell (running on the X display server).
Chapeau 21 -- GNOME Shell's Activities menu
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The first time we sign into our account we are shown a configuration screen and asked a few questions. New users are asked to select their preferred language and confirm their keyboard layout. The first time we access our account we are also asked if we would like to connect our local user account with remote services such as ownCloud and Google Drive. Once we move beyond these configuration screens we are shown another window containing GNOME's Getting Started guide. The guide provides links to documentation explaining how to use the GNOME desktop. I found the documentation to be suitable to beginners and easy to navigate. Once we dismiss the documentation we are shown a fairly typical GNOME Shell interface. The Activities menu is located in the upper-left corner of the screen, the user menu is in the upper right and the desktop is otherwise empty.
I tried running Chapeau in two test environments, a VirtualBox virtual machine and a physical desktop computer. In both environments I found the distribution performed well. The system ran smoothly, networking and audio worked out of the box and my screen was set to its maximum resolution. Desktop performance was middle of the road, I found. Both GNOME Shell and GNOME Classic were neither highly responsive nor were they sluggish, the desktops seemed quite average in their performance. I found GNOME Shell used approximately 370MB of memory while GNOME's Classic session used 410MB of memory.
Chapeau 21 -- GNOME's desktop settings
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Another feature I noticed early was the size of the fonts used. I found Chapeau used fonts that were quite small and there did not appear to be any way to select alternative fonts or set fonts to a specific size. In the settings panel there is an accessibility option to use "large text", but this is an on/off option, not something that can be customized. I actually found the "large text" option made the fonts on my screen display at about the same size as (or just slightly larger than) default fonts on most other desktop distributions I have used recently.
Software management on Chapeau is handled by a graphical application called Software. The Software application is divided into three tabs. One tab shows us available software, the second shows us items that have been installed and the third tab offers to show us available package upgrades. The Software utility shows us desktop applications only, it cannot display available libraries or command line programs. To find an application we want we can browse through featured software or perform searches for items based on their names. Clicking on a package's entry brings up a full page description of the software and we can click a button to install the selected item. I found Software did a good job of displaying available packages and installing items I wanted. Performing searches for specific packages was very slow though. Early on in my trial I used Software to check for package upgrades and none were found. I switched over to the YUM command line package manager and YUM reported 405 new packages were available, totalling 718MB in size. Later in the week I checked for package upgrades using Software again and the second time around Software located available upgrades and offered to install them. Unfortunately, Software refused to install the software upgrades unless I rebooted the computer first. Requiring a reboot to install new packages is strange behaviour which I have only seen before when using Microsoft Windows. Whichever utility we use to install software and updates, Chapeau pulls packages from a variety of sources. The Chapeau distribution pulls in software from the official Fedora repositories, Korora, PlayOnLinux, RPMFusion, Adobe, VirtualBox and its own custom repositories.
Chapeau 21 -- Running various applications
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Most of the time we probably will not need to go looking for additional applications since Chapeau provides many out of the box. Looking through GNOME's application menu we find the Firefox web browser with Flash support, the Empathy messaging client, a Dropbox file storage client, the Steam gaming portal and the Transmission bittorrent software. Users have access to the Evolution e-mail client, the LibreOffice productivity suite, Darktable, the GNU Image Manipulation Program and Shotwell. The Brasero disc burning software is installed for us along with the Cheese webcam application, the Rhythmbox audio player, the PiTiVi video editor, a sound converter, the VLC multimedia player and an audio recorder. Chapeau also provides multimedia codecs, allowing us to play just about any media file. Gamers will be pleased to find Steam and PlayOnLinux are provided along with WINE. Chapeau provides a few administration tools, including one for managing user accounts, one for configuring the firewall and another for trouble-shooting SELinux. Yum Extender (YumEx) is included as an alternative package manager. We also find the Clam anti-virus software, a simple weather app, a text editor, calculator and archive manager. There is a document viewer, Network Manager to help us get on-line and an application for displaying street maps. Chapeau provides us with a remote desktop client, Java and the GNU Compiler Collection. In the background we find the Linux kernel, version 3.18.
Chapeau 21 -- Accessibility options
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While experimenting with Chapeau I encountered a few features I feel are worth mentioning. One is the Pharlap application. Pharlap will examine our hardware and attempt to locate appropriate third-party device drivers. We can then browse through the available drivers, see which ones are recommended and install them. Pharlap takes a surprisingly long time to load (several minutes in my case), but once it is running the interface is nice and the utility worked well for me.
Something else I noticed was I regularly saw warning messages when I logged into my account. Early in my trial these warning notifications mostly indicated there was a problem with the kernel package. Chapeau offers to send an automated bug report for the kernel package, which I appreciate. I like it when operating systems offer to send appropriate information to the developers so that issues can be fixed. Other notifications I saw upon logging in typically reported warnings from the SELinux security software. These can be important as SELinux is designed to prevent misbehaving software from damaging the rest of the operating system. I went through the warnings, there were 50 on my first day of using Chapeau, and found they were all seemingly minor issues caused by low level services. Some programs which were triggering the SELinux warnings included FirewallD, CUPS, systemd and the fingerprint management daemon. I like that the SELinux trouble-shooter will offer us tips on how to prevent similar warnings in the future if we feel an application is behaving as it should and we want SELinux to allow the program to act as it wishes.
The Maps application is one I do not typically see shipped with distributions. The Maps program displays road maps from around the world and appears to pull its map data from MapQuest. The Maps program worked well for me. I have always been a big fan of studying maps and I wasted more time than I would care to admit playing with the Maps application.
Two other programs that worked well for me were the weather application and the Clocks program. The weather application allows us to provide the name of a city and the program looks up the weather in the given location. It's a simple program and does not appear to handle forecasts, it simply reports current conditions. My only issue with the weather application was it insisted on using Fahrenheit units for temperature and I couldn't find an option to switch to using my native Celsius. The Clocks program looks a lot like the Clock application that ships with Android. Clocks allows us to set up clocks in various time zones, set alarms, run a stopwatch and set short timers. Personally, I feel as though the Clocks program is better suited to a tablet or mobile phone, but I'm sure some people will find it useful.
While using Chapeau it was tempting to regularly compare the distribution to Korora. Both projects have similar goals: to make Fedora Workstation a more attractive desktop solution, mostly by adding third-party software the Fedora project will not include in their repositories. Chapeau even connects to the Korora software repository, demonstrating just how closely related these two distributions are.
When I reviewed the Korora distribution I said it had fixed most of the problems I had with Fedora. Korora packs in more functionality, reduces initial configuration steps and has some extra administration tools. However, while it tried, Korora did not really fix the problems I had with Fedora's software manager. I feel Chapeau can be summed up in much the same way. This distribution certainly offers a lot of good software and it takes the Fedora base and turns it into a friendly, functional desktop operating system. However, Chapeau does not fix software management. The Software package manager is still slow and cumbersome and YumEx, while it shows individual packages and not just desktop applications, really does not offer an attractive solution.
But let's focus on what Chapeau does do. The distribution offers a friendly, functional desktop experience right out of the box. There are administrative tools, documentation for beginners and the operating system's performance is pretty good. I think Chapeau will appeal to people who like the cutting-edge technology Fedora offers, but who want to jump right into using their desktop operating system without configuring additional repositories and hunting down codecs, hardware drivers or other extras. One might consider Chapeau to be related to Fedora in much the same way Linux Mint Debian Edition is related to Debian. There is a stronger desktop focus and more functionality out of the box, but the same basic technology exists at the core and therefore the distributions share most of the same strengths and flaws.
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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
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. 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, make sure to include a link to the ISO file you want us to seed 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: 51
- Total downloads completed: 15,582
- Total data uploaded: 5.8TB
|Released Last Week
Calculate Linux 14.16
Alexander Tratsevskiy has announced the release of Calculate Linux 14.16, a new stable release of the Gentoo-based distribution for desktops (with KDE or Xfce), servers and media centres: "We are happy to announce the release of Calculate Linux 14.16. Main changes: UKSM (Ultra Kernel Samepage Merging) and KSWAP (Kernel Swap Patches) enabled to reduce disk load; trim settings activated for SSD volumes; kernel and kernel modules packed respectively with lz4 and gzip; Noop used as the default scheduler on SSD and virtual machines, BFQ everywhere else; shorter animation launch at boot / logout time; disk operations got lower priority for the package manager; Calculate Utilities optimization; caching of packages to be configured with templates; optimized system setup at first launch..." Read the rest of the release announcement for a detailed changelog.
IPFire 2.17 Core 89
Michael Tremer has announced the launch of IPFire 2.17 Core 89. This new release brings a number of new features to the specialist firewall distribution, including VPN connection graphs, a list of new providers and improved error handling. "This is the official release announcement of IPFire 2.17 - Core Update 89. This one comes with some new features, many updates of software packages and various minor bug fixes. OpenVPN Net-To-Net Statistics: Connection statistics of OpenVPN net-to-net connections are now collected and graphed. They show incoming and outgoing traffic of the VPN connections and compression ratios. Dynamic DNS Updater: The dynamic DNS updater tool ddns has been massively extended - A database is used to track successful and failed updates. ddns will automatically back-off when an update could not be performed and will re-try after a longer time. nsupdate.info asked to never repeat any updates after one has failed for any reason..." Further information can be found in the project's release notes.
Kai Hendry has announced the release of Webconverger 28.0, the latest update of the specialist Linux distribution designed for web kiosks, based on Debian 7: "28.0's most exciting new feature is opted in with the instantupdate API option which allows you to change the homepage remotely for one or many of your devices in an instant. No reboot required. The technology behind this is Websockets and the service runs upon wss.webconverger.com. The detailed changelog between 27.1 and 28.0 otherwise shows a raft of security updates and minor bug fixes. If you are Live user, you really must update for the Flash fixes alone. For install users, you should have nothing to worry about. Do double check the version on about: in case something is amiss. ii's never a bad idea to re-install (it only takes a couple of minutes)! Coming soon: a major update where we will upgrade from Debian 'Wheezy' to 'Jessie' smoothly. Work in our testing branch is well underway and we hope to release the next version of 'stable soon after Debian makes the switch." Here is the full release announcement.
Canonical has announced the launch of Ubuntu 15.04. The new release, which will be supported for nine months, features LibreOffice 4.4, version 3.19 of the Linux kernel and a switch from Canonical's Upstart init to systemd. "systemd has replaced Upstart as the standard boot and service manager on all Ubuntu flavors except Touch. At the time of the 15.04 release there are no known major problems which prevent booting. The only service which does not currently start is Juju, which will be fixed in a post-release update soon; all other packaged Ubuntu services are expected to work. Upstart continues to control user sessions... You can boot with Upstart once by selecting `Advanced options for Ubuntu' in the GRUB boot menu and starting the `Ubuntu, with Linux ... (upstart)' entry. To switch back permanently, install the upstart-sysv package (this will remove systemd-sysv and ubuntu-standard)." The new release offers several updates and improvements for LXC containers and this is the first version of Ubuntu to offer the LXD container management utility. Ubuntu is available in a number of editions, including Desktop, Server and Snappy, a minimal "core" installation. More details on Ubuntu 15.04 can be found in the release notes.
Ubuntu 15.04 -- Running the Unity desktop
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The Kubuntu project has announced the release of Kubuntu 15.04, a distribution built using packages from the Ubuntu repositories and featuring desktop software provided by the KDE project. Kubuntu 15.04 offers users the Plasma 5 desktop environment and nine months of security updates. "Plasma 5, the next generation of KDE's desktop has been rewritten to make it smoother to use while retaining the familiar setup. The second set of updates to Plasma 5 are now stable enough for everyday use and is the default in this version of Kubuntu. Kubuntu comes with KDE Applications 14.12 containing all your favourite apps from KDE. This is the 14.12.2 update with bug fixes and translation updates. Several applications have been ported to KDE Frameworks 5 but those which aren't should fit in seamlessly. Non-KDE applications include LibreOffice 4.4 and Firefox 37." Further information and screen shots can be found in the project's release announcement.
The Xubuntu development team has launched Xubuntu 15.04. The Xubuntu distribution is based on packages pulled from the Ubuntu repositories and offers users Xfce as the default desktop environment. The latest version of Xubuntu ships with Xfce 4.12 and improves the appearance of Qt-based applications running in the Xfce environment. "Xubuntu now uses Xfce 4.12, which was released on February 28. The new release has brought both some new features and many bug fixes over the old 4.10/4.11 components. For a complete changelog for Xfce 4.12, see the 4.12 changelog on Xfce.org. In addition to the new Xfce release, the 15.04 release has the following highlights: New/Updated Xubuntu Light/Dark colour schemes in Mousepad, Terminal; Mousepad colour scheme set to Xubuntu Light by default; Better appearance for Qt applications out of the box (default to GTK theme); Redundant File Manager (Settings) menu entry removed." Further information can be found in the release announcement and a full list of changes are provided in the release notes.
Xubuntu 15.04 -- Running Xfce 4.12
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The developers of the Lubuntu distribution have announced the availability of Lubuntu 15.04. Lubuntu is built using packages from the Ubuntu repositories and features the LXDE desktop. This release of Lubuntu offers nine months of support and focuses on minor bug fixes as the development team prepares the distribution for a switch to the newer LXQt desktop environment. "New Features in Lubuntu 15.04: General bug fix release as we prepare for LXQt; Many LXDE components have been updated with bug fix releases; An update of the artwork (more icons, theme update, more compatibilities." Lubuntu is available in two editions, one edition for most desktop computers and an "Alternative" edition for computers featuring less than 400MB of RAM. A list of features available in Lubuntu 15.04 along with known issues and a list of hardware requirements can be found in the project's release announcement.
Ubuntu MATE 15.04
Martin Wimpress has announced the availability of Ubuntu MATE 15.04, the project's first release as an official member of the Ubuntu family of distributions: "Ubuntu MATE 15.04 is now available for download. This release builds on Ubuntu MATE beta 2 and mostly fixes bugs. Here is a run down of some of the new features in Ubuntu MATE 15.04 compared to Ubuntu MATE 14.10: Ubuntu MATE 15.04 is an official Ubuntu flavour; established a hardware partnership with Entroware; added PowerPC and Raspberry Pi 2 as supported hardware architectures; added a new default theme called Yuyo; added user interface switching to MATE Tweak; added fully integrated Compiz support; added Tilda pull-down terminal; added Folder Color; added LightDM GTK+ Greeter Settings; added categories to the system menus; added new community contributed desktop backgrounds; updated to Linux kernel 3.19; updated to MATE Desktop 1.8.2; updated to Firefox 37; updated to LibreOffice 4.4..." Read the release announcement for more details and known issues.
Ubuntu Kylin 15.04
Ubuntu Kylin, a custom edition of Ubuntu tailored to Chinese speakers in mainland China, was released yesterday and announced earlier today on the project's website: "We are glad to announce the release of Ubuntu Kylin 15.04 (code name 'Vivid Vervet'). In this release, we have fixed many internationalization and localization bugs in Ubuntu itself and bugs in software written by the Ubuntu Kylin team. This release is based on the 3.19 linux kernel with the support of Intel Braswell SoC and initial support of Intel Skylake. Transition to systemd is also completed in this release. These applications have been updated to their latest versions: Firefox 37, Thunderbird 31.6, Chromium 41 and LibreOffice 4.4. In 15.04, we have turned on LIM (locally-integrated menu) and 'click to minimize' on by default. These two new features will make it easier for Windows users to adapt to the Unity user interface. We have also released Sogou Pinyin 1.2, it is not included in the image by default, but you can install it easily from the Software Center." Read the release announcement (same in Chinese) and the detailed release notes for further information.
Ubuntu Kylin 15.04 -- Running the Unity desktop
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Ubuntu GNOME 15.04
Ali Jawad has announced the release of Ubuntu GNOME 15.04, the latest stable version of the official Ubuntu variant featuring a vanilla GNOME 3.14 desktop: "The Ubuntu GNOME Team is glad to announce the release of Ubuntu GNOME 15.04 (Vivid Vervet). Most of GNOME 3.14 is now included, the few missing bits of 3.14 are available in ppa:gnome3-team/gnome3. We do NOT use gnome-software to install applications, instead we use Ubuntu Software Center. GNOME Maps and GNOME Weather are now installed by default, GNOME Photos, GNOME Music and Polari are available to install from the Ubuntu archive. GNOME Classic session is included. To try it, choose it from the Sessions option on the login screen. Numix is now installed by default. Applications in Ubuntu GNOME 15.04: GNOME Shell - the GNOME desktop environment from where you can search and start applications, switch between windows, etc; Nautilus - an easy-to-use file manager for organizing your documents, music, pictures, videos and files in general; Firefox - browse the web with one of the most popular fast, flexible and secure web browsers..." See the release announcement and release notes for more information, known issues and upgrade instructions.
Ubuntu Studio 15.04
The development team behind Ubuntu Studio has announced the availability of Ubuntu Studio 15.04. The new release ships with the Xfce 4.12 desktop environment and a new meta package which draws in all required dependencies for a multimedia workstation. "Another short term release is out. Not much is new, but some of the most obvious changes are: New meta package: ubuntustudio-audio-core (includes all the core stuff for an audio oriented installation); Xfce 4.12." Further information can be found in the project's release notes. A list of hardware requirements can be found on the distribution's download page. "The minimum RAM memory requirement for Ubuntu Studio is 512 MB. It is highly recommended that you have 2 GB, or more, as some applications use up a lot of RAM. You will also need at least 10 GB of hard disk space."
Debian GNU/Linux 8.0
The Debian project has announced the release of Debian GNU/Linux 8.0, code name "Jessie". The new stable version is the first Debian release to use systemd as the default init software. It offers support for two new architectures, arm64 and ppc64el, while dropping support for the IA-64 and Sparc architectures. Debian Jessie ships with GNOME Shell 3.14 as the default desktop environment and a number of code hardening features have been added to the build process. "After almost 24 months of constant development the Debian project is proud to present its new stable version 8 (code name 'Jessie'), which will be supported for the next 5 years." Jessie can be downloaded in several editions, including a full DVD set, a CD image, a set of live DVD images with popular desktop environments, and a minimal "net-install" image. See the release announcement and release notes for more information.
Debian 8.0 -- Running the GNOME Shell desktop
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The Q4OS team has announced the launch of Q4OS 1.2. The latest release is based on packages from Debian 8 "Jessie" and features the Trinity desktop environment. "We are proud to announce the immediate availability of the new Q4OS 1.2 release, codenamed 'Orion', supported until 1. May 2020 at least. The Q4OS Desktop is a powerful and reliable operating system based on proven desktop model, represented by the recent Trinity desktop environment. Q4OS comes with its own exclusive utilities and features, especially with the 'Desktop profiler' for profiling your computer into different professional working tools, 'Setup utility' for the smooth installation of third-party applications, a 'Welcome Screen' with several integrated shortcuts to make system configuration easier for novice users, KDE4, XFCE and LXDE alternative environments installation scripts and many more." Further information is available in the project's release announcement.
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Distributions added to the database|
Baruwa Enterprise Edition
Baruwa Enterprise Edition is a CentOS-based, commercial Linux distribution delivering fully-fledged mail security solutions. It provides protection from spam, viruses, phishing attempts and malware. It is designed for organizations of any size from small to medium businesses to large service providers, carriers and enterprises. Baruwa Enterprise Edition works with any standard SMTP server and it comes with automated installation and configuration management tools. The web-based management interface is implemented using web 2.0 features (AJAX) and available in over 25 languages. Also included is reporting functionality with an easy-to-use query builder and advanced search options.
Baruwa 6.6 -- The web administration interface
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* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 4 May 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 700 (2017-02-20): RaspBSD, Debian replaces Icedove with Thunderbird, Fedora's licensing guidlines, tips for switching shells, finding battery charge, getting IP address and killing processes|
|• Issue 699 (2017-02-13): Clear Linux, GhostBSD network utility ported to FreeBSD, Ubuntu coming to Fairphone, elementary OS crowd funding an app store|
|• Issue 698 (2017-02-06): Solus 2017.01.01, comparing containers with portable applicatins, Tails dropping 32-bit support, Debian Stretch enters freeze|
|• Issue 697 (2017-01-30): Subgraph OS 2016.12.30, running Ubuntu on an Android phone, Arch Linux phasing out 32-bit support, Linux Mint testing updated LMDE media|
|• Issue 696 (2017-01-23): GoboLinux 016, remotely running desktop applications, Solus adopting Flatpak, KDE neon using Calamares, TrueOS tests OpenRC|
|• Issue 695 (2017-01-16): Zorin OS 12, Peppermint team fixes installer bug, Debian refreshes Jessie media, Ubuntu improves low graphics mode, Exciting things coming in 2017|
|• Issue 694 (2017-01-09): MX Linux 16, Fedora considers systemd security features, DragonFly BSD to support massive swap space, Ubuntu Touch roadmap, Puppy's newsletter, sudo's password prompt|
|• Issue 693 (2017-01-02): Comparing small distros, fig language, video driver comparsion, Debian+PIXEL, Wayland on FreeBSD|
|• Issue 692 (2016-12-19): Bodhi Linux 4.0.0, Cappsule containers, Calculate's new Utilities package, Solus and Ubuntu MATE build new application menu|
|• Issue 691 (2016-12-12): SalentOS 1.0, openSUSE improves YaST, Fedora considers slower release cycle, KDE neon gets LTS branch|
|• Issue 690 (2016-12-05): Fedora 25, Ubuntu adopts rolling HWE kernel, running Android apps on GNU/Linux, Haiku working toward EFI support|
|• Issue 689 (2016-11-28): openSUSE 42.2, Fedora's upgrade path, plans for Korora 25, transitioning from PC-BSD to TrueOS, Webconverger's reproducible builds|
|• Issue 688 (2016-11-21): Endless OS 3.0.5, KDE neon fixes security hole, FreeBSD's Quarterly Status Report, Rolling release trial #2 concludes|
|• Issue 687 (2016-11-14): NAS4Free 10.3.0.3, Fedora gains MP3 playback, budgie-remix becomes Ubuntu Budgie, Ubuntu flavours compared, Rolling release trial #2|
|• Issue 686 (2016-11-07): FreeBSD 11.0, rolling release trial #2, Debian announces supported architectures, Simplicity switching to antiX base, farewell to Mythbuntu|
|• Issue 685 (2016-10-31): elementary OS 0.4, SUSE gains ARM support, Mint improves language support, Dirty COW explained, Rolling release trial #2|
|• Issue 684 (2016-10-24): Ubuntu 16.10, Linux popularity in different markets, Fedora runs on Raspberry Pi, Ubuntu features live kernel patching|
|• Issue 683 (2016-10-17): Refracta 8.0, making packages for distributions, Alpine switches to LibreSSL, 386BSD website publishes classic code|
|• 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|
|• Full list of all issues|
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