| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 626, 7 September 2015
Welcome to this year's 36th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
There are lots of new technologies on the horizon for Linux and BSD users. Some of these will affect our desktop environments, some will change the way we store files while others will improve security. This week we touch on a number of new technologies that are in development and coming soon to an operating system near you. We begin with a look at the Wayland and Mir display servers, technologies which are expected to soon replace the venerable X display software. We also touch upon DragonFly BSD's HAMMER2 file system, a new hypervisor for OpenBSD, changes to the way PC-BSD builds packages and improvements to the Cinnamon desktop environment. In our Questions and Answers column we talk about monitoring processes and the trials developers face getting open source operating systems to work with UEFI. Plus we share the torrents we are seeding and provide a list of releases from the past week. In our Opinion Poll we ask about running non-native software and how our readers deal with the games or Windows applications they cannot run directly on Linux. We wish you all a wonderful week and happy reading!
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
The status of Wayland and Mir
Manjaro Linux 2015.08 "KDE-Next"
A little while back the Manjaro Linux project put out a release announcement for a development branch called KDE-Next. The announcement mentioned the Manjaro developers were working on including the Wayland display server technology in the new development release. At the time, I saw the terms "KDE" and "Wayland" together and thought this would be a great opportunity to see how well KDE's Plasma desktop works with the Wayland display server technology. After all, Fedora has been driving toward getting GNOME 3 to work well with Wayland and I thought this would be a great chance to compare the two experiences.
A short time later, once I had downloaded the 870MB ISO and installed Manjaro's KDE-Next image, I realized I had misunderstood the release announcement. Had I paid closer attention or done a little more investigating up front I would have realized Manjaro's KDE-Next testing disc did not include a Wayland session, but rather was paving the road for an eventual Wayland session. Some pieces of Wayland (or, more precisely, the Weston implementation of Wayland) are included in Manjaro and there are Wayland-compatible libraries available to Manjaro users, but there is not yet (as of time of writing) an option to log into a Wayland session on Manjaro's KDE-Next spin.
Still, I was not willing to give up so easily, I had already installed the distribution so I set about to see if I could get Wayland to run on Manjaro. There does not appear to be much documentation available to assist us in enabling Wayland on Manjaro, apparently such tasks are best left to the developers. However, looking through the distribution's repositories I did find a number of Wayland/Weston packages and compatibility libraries. I installed these and, while I was not able to get an independent Wayland session operating, I was able to launch a Wayland session on my Plasma desktop. Basically, I could run Wayland in a window on my X-powered session. From there I could run a terminal and various test programs inside the Wayland window on my desktop. It's not exactly what I set out to achieve, but it was interesting to see Wayland working, even if it was doing so on the back of the X display server.
Manjaro Linux 2015.08 "KDE-Next" -- Running Wayland in a window
(full image size: 217kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
The Wayland window and the test programs I could run all worked well. The Wayland environment was responsive and all the test programs, most of which display simple graphics or animations, worked. The one quirk I ran into with Wayland was the way keys would sometimes stick. Every so often, while I was typing a command in the Wayland virtual terminal, I would get additional key strokes mixed into my input. This would result in command lines which looked like "pacmannnn -S" instead of "pacman -S". I'm uncertain whether this behaviour was a problem with Wayland itself or perhaps due to the way X and Wayland communicate.
While I was playing with Manjaro a few details stood out and I'd like to briefly touch on them. One is that Manjaro has one of the most elegant and fast graphical system installers I have had the pleasure to use. The installer has a streamlined interface that still allows for a decent amount of customization. For example, we can select where to install our boot loader or even whether to install a boot loader using a drop-down box on the disk partitioning screen. Manjaro supports a wide variety of file systems and the installer can work with ext2/3/4, Reiserfs, XFS, JFS, Btrfs and LVM volumes. The whole installer looks a lot like Ubuntu's installer, but with a nicer colour scheme and Manjaro's installer is notably faster to respond to user input on my hardware. I think this is because Manjaro collects information from the user up front and then performs all of its work at the end, while Ubuntu's system installer begins work in the background while we are still making configuration choices.
The test version of Manjaro I was using ships with version 4.1.5 of the Linux kernel and systemd 224. The KDE's Plasma 5.4 desktop environment is very fast and responds quickly to input. I especially like how polished and quick the new System Settings panel is where we can configure most aspects of the Plasma desktop environment.
In the end, while my exploration of Wayland was limited, I had a very positive experience with Manjaro's KDE-Next spin and I am definitely looking forward to seeing what new developments come out of this experimental branch of the project.
* * * * *
Fedora 23 Alpha "Workstation"
Around the same time I was experimenting with Wayland and Manjaro KDE-Next, I read this blog post which discusses Wayland support in Fedora. The Fedora developers have been offering experimental GNOME on Wayland support for a few versions now, but do not plan to make it the default desktop session until at least Fedora 24 (likely to arrive in mid-2016). Though I have had poor luck getting a GNOME session on Wayland running in the past, I downloaded the latest Alpha test image for Fedora 23 Workstation and gave it a try.
The ISO for Fedora 23 Alpha Workstation was about 1.4GB in size. The live environment and graphical system installer have not changed much since Fedora 22 was launched earlier this year. The one thing that stood out as being different was that the installer insisted I use long passwords on my user accounts. Usually I like it when a distribution defaults to strong security so long as the user can override the option. Fedora's previous versions allowed the user to confirm they were okay with using weak passwords, which is nice for people like me who are running the distribution for just a few hours. Fedora 23 Alpha insists we create long passwords, but not necessarily complex passwords, which further confuses the issue. So, for example, "hbx#i8D" is considered weak and rejected while "MyPassword" passes the test.
At any rate, putting aside password requirements, the Fedora installer completed its work successfully and when I rebooted I was brought to a graphical login screen. From the login screen we can select to sign into GNOME running in an X session, GNOME running in a Wayland session and GNOME Classic, which also runs on X. While both X session options worked for me, selecting the GNOME on Wayland session would simply cause the screen to briefly go blank before kicking me back to the login page. I was hoping for an error message to help me trouble-shoot the issue, but the system was enigmatic as to why Wayland was not working for me.
Apart from the Wayland session, Fedora 23 Alpha looks to be a fairly solid operating system at the moment. I think GNOME Shell is more responsive now than it was in past releases. The Anaconda installer, by contrast, feels slow and heavy, especially when compared side-by-side with Manjaro's installer. The only other point of interest I found while playing with the Fedora Workstation Alpha was that I needed to supply my root password in order to shut down the computer. Fedora kept insisting other users besides myself were logged in and it needed root permissions in order to shut down the machine. This seemed odd as no other users were connected to the computer.
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Ubuntu 15.10 Alpha
Having experimented with Wayland for a bit, I decided to check out the latest test build of Ubuntu to see how Mir was doing in comparison. Mir is an alternative display server with similar goals to Wayland, though so far the Mir technology appears to be exclusive to experimental spins of Ubuntu. The most recent Ubuntu Next images I could find (which I had used to experiment with Mir previously) were old, dating back to May 2015. So last week I downloaded a 1.2GB development snapshot of Ubuntu Desktop with plans to add Mir packages after performing the initial installation.
The installation of the Ubuntu 15.10 development snapshot went well. Once I had installed Ubuntu and signed in, I used the package manager to add Mir packages. As it turns out, this does not enable running the default Unity 7 desktop on Mir. To get a desktop session running on Mir we need to add more packages, specifically we need to install Unity 8 as well as the Mir packages in order to have access to a Mir session. In total, I ended up installing about 160MB of additional packages. While I was using the Unity 7 desktop I was bombarded with a long series of error messages, letting me know errors had occurred on the system and requesting permission to send bug reports to the developers. Eventually, I went into the Unity settings panel and disabled error reporting so my desktop would not be overwhelmed by bug report messages as new pop-ups were appearing faster than I could close them.
Later, when Mir and the Unity 8 desktop had been installed, I signed out of my account and tried to log into the Unity 8 session. My screen went blank and the operating system locked up. Following a hard shut down, I tried to boot into Ubuntu once more to have another try at the new Unity on Mir desktop session. Ubuntu failed to boot, locking up early in the boot process. After trying to boot a few times, and with various kernel parameters, I finally put aside my tests with Ubuntu and Mir.
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I like the design concepts and performance the Wayland and Mir projects are offering and I have heard good things about Wayland in particular from a few people who have managed to get it working. Unfortunately, for me at least, these technologies are not yet practical alternatives to X. Hopefully, by the time Fedora makes Wayland the default session option the remaining issues will have been fixed.
* * * * *
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)
HAMMER2 gets deduplication, OpenBSD to get its own hypervisor, PC-BSD changes its release schedule and Linux Mint introduces new features for Cinnamon
Matthew Dillon has announced that the HAMMER2 file system, the second generation of DragonFly BSD's advanced file system, now has deduplication capabilities. Deduplication allows a file system to appear to host multiple copies of a file (or chunks of data) while using only a little more storage space than would be required to keep one copy. This is especially useful in environments where multiple users may wish to keep copies of the same file. Dillon writes, "This 'live' dedup should catch most typical 'cp' or 'cpdup' style commands. There will also be a bulk dedup capable of catching everything. Note that 'df' output might be a bit confusing because the 'Used' field represents the topology and does not take into account dedups." According to some tests Dillon has run, a copy of a directory containing 872MB of data requires a mere 160MB of space for each additional copy when deduplication has been enabled. More details on HAMMER2's deduplication can be found in Dillon's post.
* * * * *
Unlike their Linux and FreeBSD counterparts, the developers of OpenBSD have generally avoided the topic of virtualization. Virtual machines, while they can be useful for process separation, introduce an extra layer of complexity the OpenBSD project has appeared unwilling to include in their operating system. That stance may be changing as Mike Larkin announced last week he is working on a hypervisor for OpenBSD. "For the last few months, I've been working on a hypervisor for OpenBSD. The idea for this started a few years ago, and after playing around with it from time to time, things really started to take shape around the time of the Brisbane hackathon earlier this year. As development accelerated, the OpenBSD Foundation generously offered to fund the project so that I could focus on it in more earnest. At this point, I think I've made sufficient progress that a public announcement is in order. I've also reached the point where I think other developers can step in and help out as much of the gooey bits in the core of the vmm are functioning the way I want. Presently, the vmm code I've built is capable of launching a kernel and asking for the root file system; it doesn't do much more than that for now." More information is available in Larkin's announcement.
* * * * *
A few weeks ago we discussed a new package repository for the PC-BSD and FreeBSD projects which would offer security fixes for packages without new features or dependency changes. This past week a new post on the PC-BSD blog discussed still more changes to the way PC-BSD packages will be built and tested. "In the past, we tracked FreeBSD major releases, and also added our own quarterly updates that tended to add in a good bit of code for new features and utilities. Going forward, PC-BSD releases will track FreeBSD releases only, such as 10.2 -> 11.0 -> 11.1. Once the code base is frozen for a major release, an update can be pushed out to Edge users who wish to act as advanced users and beta testers for the updates. During that several weeks testing period, if something goes wrong we'll count on Edge users to help report issues so that we can quickly get those bugs fixed during the code freeze. After the several week testing period, we can release the update for Production users, once we are confident that the kinks are worked out and Edge users are happy. We're also changing the way the Edge and Production branches work a little bit. Edge packages will now only be built with the 'stable' branch of PC-BSD code, to avoid radical changes that could break functionality to the PC-BSD tool-chain. This also allows us to focus our QA and testing on the new third-party packages themselves. More details are available in the blog post.
* * * * *
Clement Lefebvre made a blog post last week in which he talked about the new work going into the Linux Mint distribution with special attention paid to the distribution's Cinnamon desktop environment. Cinnamon uses modern GTK 3 libraries to create a feature-rich desktop while maintaining a traditional desktop layout. "Cinnamon was the first project to receive attention. Its power applet now shows vendor and model information, box pointers look better, and multi-monitor support was further improved: When switching workspaces, the workspace name now appears on all relevant monitors, output names (i.e. plug names) are shown alongside monitor names." More information on the work going into Cinnamon can be found in Lefebvre's blog post.
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Exploring process information and UEFI
Wondering-what-a-process-is-doing asks: What does "usem" mean in the top process table?
DistroWatch answers: In case you have not seen this before, "usem" is one of the possible process states on FreeBSD. Often a process's state will be "run" or "pause" or "wait", which are fairly self explanatory. However, "usem" is a little less descriptive.
I checked the ps manual page, the top manual page and even did a search through the source code for top on FreeBSD and "usem" is not referenced in any of the above locations. This only deepens the mystery. The only explanation I could get comes from Dan Nelson who responded to a similar query years ago on the FreeBSD Questions mailing list. Back in 2011, Mr Nelson wrote:
States that aren't in caps are either wait channels or mutexes, and their initialization is scattered all over the kernel. There isn't one comprehensive index. "usem" sounds like maybe a semaphore operation? A quick grep of the kernel doesn't show any strings starting with "usem", though. Maybe if you run "procstat -k <pid>" on one of those processes you can narrow down what part of the kernel it's waiting in.
So it sounds as though the "usem" state indicates the process is waiting for something. It's hard to know what it is waiting for exactly, but perhaps it's a threaded process waiting for a lock to be released.
* * * * *
Curious-about-UEFI asks: I've installed Windows on many UEFI and EFI machines, and OS X on many EFI machines. Never faced any problem with (U)EFI. Why do so many Linux distributions have problems with installing onto UEFI/EFI? What might be so horribly broken in those UEFI/EFI installations since they clearly work well with Windows or OS X?
DistroWatch answers: The above question was in response to a news item we ran a little while ago where we talked about Debian developers documenting UEFI bugs. It's a fair question, why do open source operating systems struggle with something that works on proprietary systems? In this case I believe "broken" means the UEFI firmware is not working according to specifications or expected behaviour.
Hardware companies will probably make sure their UEFI implementation works well enough to boot Microsoft Windows with the default settings, but they may not go to the effort of making sure their implementation of UEFI works the way it should in all cases.
Take this example from the wiki the Debian developers created: "The Lenovo ThinkCentre M92p initially shipped with a firmware which would only let you select boot entries where the Boot#### variable label was `Microsoft Windows' or `Red Hat Enterprise Linux'." This means Lenovo shipped UEFI firmware that would boot Windows or Red Hat Enterprise Linux, but would prevent any other operating system, including other flavours of Linux, from booting.
Going back to the question "Why do so many Linux distributions have problems with installing onto UEFI/EFI?", the answer is because some manufacturers explicitly blocked most Linux distributions from booting or only tested their UEFI implementations against one operating system. With regards to Apple computers, there are several wiki entries explaining the numerous hoops developers need to get through to get Linux to boot on Apple's firmware.
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 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. 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: 106
- Total downloads completed: 50,046
- Total data uploaded: 12.3TB
|Released Last Week
The developers of LXLE, a lightweight desktop distribution built using packages from the Ubuntu repositories, have announced the availability of LXLE 14.04.3. This update to the 14.04 series includes a number of package updates while some default applications have been changed. "Delays, delays. First with SeaMonkey then Lanshop. Still, moving forward with the release of LXLE 14.04.3 OS for both 32 & 64-bit machines. 12.04.5 32-bit has also been updated to reflect the same changes. Notable new features in this release include, 'Xautolock' providing a top left hotcorner that invokes the 'WinPick" script which is an expose like utility and finally 'OpenSnap' added true aerosnap with just a simple drag & drop. All software has been updated to its latest stable version given its availability in the main software repositories and additional PPAs." A full list of changes and screen shots can be found in the project's release announcement.
LXLE 14.04.3 -- Running the LXDE desktop
(full image size: 2.0MB, resolution: 1280x960 pixels)
Linux Lite 2.6
Jerry Bezencon has announced the release of Linux Lite 2.6, an updated build of the project's novice-friendly Ubuntu-based distribution featuring the Xfce desktop - now with a brand-new control centre: "Linux Lite 2.6 final is now available for download. This release cycle has seen a number of improvements and additions to Linux Lite. With the introduction of the Linux Lite Control Center, we aim to provide one central location for everything that you need to configure your computer. What's new: Systemback - a system restore and creation tool; Disks - an easy-to-use partition, hard drive and SSD manager; new Dark Theme; updates to some of our Lite applications. Changelog: Firefox 40.0.3; LibreOffice 5.0.1 RC2; based on Ubuntu 14.04.3; new wallpapers; new Lite Welcome; new root terminal theme; updated help manual; added Crtl+Alt+Del - brings up logout, restart and shutdown dialogue; added VLC browser plugin; latest WhiskerMenu." Read the rest of the release announcement for more information, screenshots and system requirements.
The developers of Netrunner, a desktop distribution based on Ubuntu packages and featuring the KDE desktop, have released an update to the project's 14.x series. The new release, Netrunner 14.2, features and updated kernel and desktop applications. "The Netrunner team is proud to announce the release of Netrunner 14.2 LTS -- 32-bit and 64-bit ISOs. This is the second point-release based on KDE4 SC and comes with the latest updates and fixes. This includes security patches like the Kernel upgrade to 3.13.0-62, as well as software version updates like Firefox 40.0.3 and Thunderbird 31.6.0 including the Plasma Integration patches. Netrunner 14.2 also includes a new default window decoration Carbon. Those who are running 14.1 can upgrade with a normal software update via Muon or apt-get." Information on the new version and a screen shot can be found in the project's release announcement.
Netrunner 14.2 -- Exploring the KDE desktop
(full image size: 946kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Porteus Kiosk 3.5.0
Tomasz Jokiel has announced the release of Porteus Kiosk 3.5.0, the latest quarterly update of the project's minimalist Gentoo-based distribution designed for web kiosks: "I'm pleased to announce that Porteus Kiosk 3.5.0 is now available for download. The new version sums up all the development which happened in the last three months. Linux kernel has been updated to version 4.1.6, Mozilla Firefox to version 38.2.1 ESR and Google Chrome to version 44.0.2403.157. Packages from the userland are upgraded to portage snapshot tagged on 20150830. Here is a short overview of the most notable features introduced in this release: implemented support for nested configurations in remote management; added support for managed bookmarks which allows accessing predefined set of web pages; SSL certificates can be imported automatically during kiosk boot from provided URLs; slideshow of images can be used as a screensaver; video outputs can be disabled completely or set in certain position to create for example 'video wall' for digital signage...." Read the release announcement and check out the changelog for a complete list of changes and improvements.
elementary OS 0.3.1
Daniel Foré has announced the release of elementary OS 0.3.1, an updated build of the project's Ubuntu-based distribution featuring a custom desktop environment called "Pantheon": "After just a few months, we're excited to announce a major upgrade for elementary OS Freya. This new version 0.3.1 closes about 200 reports and brings new features, tons of fixes, better hardware support, visual polish, and enhanced translations. At the heart of this upgrade is the latest hardware enablement stack from Ubuntu 14.04.3. It includes version 3.19 of the Linux kernel and an updated Mesa that fixes the dreaded 'double cursor' glitch. Workspaces in the multitasking view also now work properly on NVIDIA Optimus. The new hardware stack also brings better support for backlights and touchpads on certain laptops, a host of performance and power-related improvements, and support for 5th generation Intel processors. This release should also improve support for (U)EFI systems, especially when installing without an Internet connection." Read the rest of the release announcement for more information.
Robolinux 8.1 "Xfce"
John Martinson has announced the release of the latest variant of Robolinux, a commercial Linux distribution based on Debian GNU/Linux and featuring a pre-configured VirtualBox: "Announcing a brand-new Robolinux `Xfce Raptor' 8.1 LTS 2020. Robolinux is very pleased and excited to announce its absolutely brand new 'fast as greased lightning" Robolinux 'Xfce Raptor' Version 8.1 LTS 2020 based on 100% rock-solid Debian 8 stable source code with the 3.16 Linux kernel. It is loaded with many popular user applications such the newest, Tor browser, i2P, Firefox, Thunderbird, Kazam screencaster, Google Chrome, Google Earth, Skype and VirtualBox 4.30, plus 12 incredibly powerful security and privacy applications to keep our users safe. The 32-bit edition uses only 185 MB of RAM. It has far better graphics and audio quality, boots up and runs much faster than our Debian 7-based Xfce edition and is also compatible with newer hardware, drivers and most notably the Intel Haswell chipset." Visit the project's release page on SourceForge to read the full release announcement.
The developers of HandyLinux, a French language desktop distribution based on Debian, have announced the launch of HandyLinux 2.2. The new release is based on Debian 8 "Jessie" and is available in both 32-bit and 64-bit builds. The latest version of HandyLinux ships with Iceweasel 40, an updated version of the GNU Image Manipulation Program and a new Handy menu for launching desktop applications. HandyLinux 2.2 replaces the simple image viewer with Cyclops and screen magnifier has been replaced. The project's forums and wiki can now be accessed through secure HTTPS connections and PulseAudio has been removed from the distribution (though PulseAudio is available in the repositories for users who need it). Further details and a screen shot can be found in the project's release announcement (written in French).
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Running non-native software
Often times, due to work, entertainment or habit, people who run Linux or BSD on their computers will want to use software built for other platforms. For instance, some people like to run games designed for Windows while others use multimedia software built for OS X. This week we would like to know if you need to run software designed for another operating system and, if so, how do you manage to run Linux/BSD while also running non-native software?
Do you dual boot to play games, perhaps run accounting software using WINE or use alternative operating systems in a virtual machine when you need them? You can share the details of your setup in the comments below.
You can see the results of last week's poll on preferred file systems here.
Running non-native software
|I do not run non-native software: ||413 (21%)|
| I dual boot: ||463 (24%)|
| I use virtual machines: ||359 (18%)|
| I run WINE: ||388 (20%)|
| I use other compatibilty software: ||44 (2%)|
| I use a different PC for those tasks: ||251 (13%)|
| Other: ||33 (2%)|
Improving package searches and dealing with cookies
In July we rolled out a new feature to our Search page which would make it easier to find distributions which do or do not feature a specific software package. We wanted to make it easier for people to find distributions that support running on computers with Secure Boot, for example. We also wanted to make it easier to find projects which do not include certain technologies. The full explanation of the feature with some examples can be found in DistroWatch Weekly Issue 618.
One of the common pieces of feedback we received was that the results returned by the new search feature could be confusing since both active and inactive distributions were mixed in the search results. This could be a problem since searching for a distribution which does not support Secure Boot (a relatively new feature) would provide a list of just about every distribution in our database, whether the projects were still active or not.
To avoid confusion, package search results are now sorted by the distribution's page hit rank. Projects which are no longer active are still listed (for historical purposes), but appear at the bottom of the results. The new approach means active (and popular) distributions are more prominently featured. We hope this new approach to listing search results will be more practical and easier to explore.
We try to avoid using cookies, in fact the only times we use them directly are to keep track of language preferences and which announcements readers have viewed on the front page. This enables us to put a "New" label next to announcements we believe our visitors have not read previously and show translated pages where they are available. Some of our advertisers use third-party cookies and, if a web browser's security settings are set to allow third-party cookies, these bits of data from advertisers may be saved in the browser.
With all this in mind, we need to obey the EU law and so have added a notification which will be displayed at the bottom of the site to people visiting DistroWatch from the EU. We have tried to keep the notice from being distracting. Also, we are aware many notification bars that inform readers of tracking cookies often include their own tracking cookies and/or report back to third-parties, tracking the website's visitors. The irony of these notification bars is they often introduce more user tracking than the cookies which they were created to warn people about.
In an effort to protect our readers we have implemented a locally hosted solution which does not require closed-source libraries, does not report back to any third-parties and does not collect information from the browser. We feel this solution allows us to comply with EU law without intruding upon the privacy of our readers.
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Distributions added to the database
Parrot Security OS
Parrot Security OS is a security oriented operating system designed for pentesting, computer forensics, reverse engineering, hacking, cloud pentesting, privacy/anonymity and cryptography. The distribution is based on Debian, features the MATE desktop environment and is developed by Frozenbox network.
Parrot Security OS 2.0-rc10 -- Running the MATE desktop environment
(full image size: 207kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
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Distributions added to waiting list
- Trenta OS. Trenta OS is a desktop Linux distribution based on Ubuntu. It is designed to look nice while offering users an easy path to running games and Windows applications.
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DistroWatch database summary
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This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 14 September 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)
|Linux Foundation Training
|• Issue 734 (2017-10-16): Star 1.0.1, running the Linux-libre kernel, Ubuntu MATE experiments with snaps, Debian releases new install media, Purism reaches funding goal|
|• Issue 733 (2017-10-09): KaOS 2017.09, 32-bit prematurely obsoleted, Qubes security features, IPFire updates Apache|
|• Issue 732 (2017-10-02): ClonOS, reducing Snap package size, Ubuntu dropping 32-bit Desktop, partitioning disks for ZFS|
|• Issue 731 (2017-09-25): BackSlash Linux Olaf, W3C adding DRM to web standards, Wayland support arrives in Mir, Debian experimenting with AppArmor|
|• Issue 730 (2017-09-18): Mageia 6, running a completely free OS, HAMMER2 file system in DragonFly BSD's installer, Manjaro to ship pre-installed on laptops|
|• Issue 729 (2017-09-11): Parabola GNU/Linux-libre, running Plex Media Server on a Raspberry Pi, Tails feature roadmap, a cross-platform ports build system|
|• Issue 728 (2017-09-04): Nitrux 1.0.2, SUSE creates new community repository, remote desktop tools for GNOME on Wayland, using Void source packages|
|• Issue 727 (2017-08-28): Cucumber Linux 1.0, using Flatpak vs Snap, GNOME previews Settings panel, SUSE reaffirms commitment to Btrfs|
|• Issue 726 (2017-08-21): Redcore Linux 1706, Solus adds Snap support, KaOS getting hardened kernel, rolling releases and BSD|
|• Issue 725 (2017-08-14): openSUSE 42.3, Debian considers Flatpak for backports, changes coming to Ubuntu 17.10, the state of gaming on Linux|
|• Issue 724 (2017-08-07): SwagArch 2017.06, Myths about Unity, Mir and Ubuntu Touch, Manjaro OpenRC becomes its own distro, Debian debates future of live ISOs|
|• Issue 723 (2017-07-31): UBOS 11, transferring packages between systems, Ubuntu MATE's HUD, GNUstep releases first update in seven years|
|• Issue 722 (2017-07-24): Calculate Linux 17.6, logging sudo usage, Remix OS discontinued, interview with Chris Lamb, Debian 9.1 released|
|• Issue 721 (2017-07-17): Fedora 26, finding source based distributions, installing DragonFly BSD using Orca, Yunit packages ported to Ubuntu 16.04|
|• Issue 720 (2017-07-10): Peppermint OS 8, gathering system information with osquery, new features coming to openSUSE, Tails fixes networking bug|
|• Issue 719 (2017-07-03): Manjaro 17.0.2, tracking ISO files, Ubuntu MATE unveils new features, Qubes tests Admin API, Fedora's Atomic Host gets new life cycle|
|• Issue 718 (2017-06-26): Debian 9, support for older hardware, Debian updates live media, Ubuntu's new networking tool, openSUSE gains MP3 support|
|• Issue 717 (2017-06-19): SharkLinux, combining commands in the shell, Debian 9 flavours released, OpenBSD improving kernel security, UBports releases first OTA update|
|• Issue 716 (2017-06-12): Slackel 7.0, Ubuntu working with GNOME on HiDPI, openSUSE 42.3 using rolling development model, exploring kernel blobs|
|• Issue 715 (2017-06-05): Devuan 1.0.0, answering questions on systemd, Linux Mint plans 18.2 beta, Yunit/Unity 8 ported to Debian|
|• Issue 714 (2017-05-29): Void, enabling Wake-on-LAN, Solus packages KDE, Debian 9 release date, Ubuntu automated bug reports|
|• Issue 713 (2017-05-22): ROSA Fresh R9, Fedora's new networking features, FreeBSD's Quarterly Report, UBports opens app store, Parsix to shut down, SELinux overview|
|• Issue 712 (2017-05-15): NixOS 17.03, Alpha Litebook running elementary OS, Canonical considers going public, Solus improves Bluetooth support|
|• Issue 711 (2017-05-08): 4MLinux 21.0, checking file system fragmentation, new Mint and Haiku features, pfSense roadmap, OpenBSD offers first syspatch updates|
|• Issue 710 (2017-05-01): TrueOS 2017-02-22, Debian ported to RISC-V, Halium to unify mobile GNU/Linux, Anbox runs Android apps on GNU/Linux, using ZFS on the root file system|
|• Issue 709 (2017-04-24): Ubuntu 17.04, Korora testing new software manager, Ubuntu migrates to Wayland, running Nix package manager on alternative distributions|
|• Issue 708 (2017-04-17): Maui Linux 17.03, Snaps run on Fedora, Void adopts Flatpak, running Android apps on GNU/Linux, Debian elects Project Leader|
|• Issue 707 (2017-04-10): PCLinuxOS 2017.03, Canonical stops Unity development, OpenBSD on a Raspberry Pi, setting up a VPN for privacy|
|• Issue 706 (2017-04-03): Super Grub2 Disk, Snap packages of deepin applications, Subgraph OS routes network traffic for one application, announcements from Linux Mint|
|• Issue 705 (2017-03-27): Minimal Linux Live, sharing control of the operating system, new KaOS features, Uplos32 provides 32-bit fork of PCLinuxOS|
|• Issue 704 (2017-03-20): ToarusOS 1.0.4, Linux Mint's security record, Debian starts Project Leader election, Ubuntu 12.04 reaches end-of-life|
|• Issue 703 (2017-03-13): SolydXK 201701, CloudReady, Solus announces new features, KDE Connect sends text messages from desktop, openSUSE's YaST module for Let's Encrypt|
|• Issue 702 (2017-03-06): Fatdog64 Linux, elementary OS bundled with new netbook, Haiku announces new features, security and the size of a distro's development team|
|• Issue 701 (2017-02-27): OBRevenge 2017.02, Mageia 6 delays, NetBSD reproducible builds, questions about swap space, trying to steam video on a Raspberry Pi|
|• Issue 700 (2017-02-20): RaspBSD, Debian replaces Icedove with Thunderbird, Fedora's licensing guidlines, tips for switching shells, finding battery charge, getting IP address and killing processes|
|• Issue 699 (2017-02-13): Clear Linux, GhostBSD network utility ported to FreeBSD, Ubuntu coming to Fairphone, elementary OS crowd funding an app store|
|• Issue 698 (2017-02-06): Solus 2017.01.01, comparing containers with portable applicatins, Tails dropping 32-bit support, Debian Stretch enters freeze|
|• Issue 697 (2017-01-30): Subgraph OS 2016.12.30, running Ubuntu on an Android phone, Arch Linux phasing out 32-bit support, Linux Mint testing updated LMDE media|
|• Issue 696 (2017-01-23): GoboLinux 016, remotely running desktop applications, Solus adopting Flatpak, KDE neon using Calamares, TrueOS tests OpenRC|
|• Issue 695 (2017-01-16): Zorin OS 12, Peppermint team fixes installer bug, Debian refreshes Jessie media, Ubuntu improves low graphics mode, Exciting things coming in 2017|
|• Issue 694 (2017-01-09): MX Linux 16, Fedora considers systemd security features, DragonFly BSD to support massive swap space, Ubuntu Touch roadmap, Puppy's newsletter, sudo's password prompt|
|• Issue 693 (2017-01-02): Comparing small distros, fig language, video driver comparsion, Debian+PIXEL, Wayland on FreeBSD|
|• Issue 692 (2016-12-19): Bodhi Linux 4.0.0, Cappsule containers, Calculate's new Utilities package, Solus and Ubuntu MATE build new application menu|
|• Issue 691 (2016-12-12): SalentOS 1.0, openSUSE improves YaST, Fedora considers slower release cycle, KDE neon gets LTS branch|
|• Issue 690 (2016-12-05): Fedora 25, Ubuntu adopts rolling HWE kernel, running Android apps on GNU/Linux, Haiku working toward EFI support|
|• Issue 689 (2016-11-28): openSUSE 42.2, Fedora's upgrade path, plans for Korora 25, transitioning from PC-BSD to TrueOS, Webconverger's reproducible builds|
|• Issue 688 (2016-11-21): Endless OS 3.0.5, KDE neon fixes security hole, FreeBSD's Quarterly Status Report, Rolling release trial #2 concludes|
|• Issue 687 (2016-11-14): NAS4Free 10.3.0.3, Fedora gains MP3 playback, budgie-remix becomes Ubuntu Budgie, Ubuntu flavours compared, Rolling release trial #2|
|• Issue 686 (2016-11-07): FreeBSD 11.0, rolling release trial #2, Debian announces supported architectures, Simplicity switching to antiX base, farewell to Mythbuntu|
|• Issue 685 (2016-10-31): elementary OS 0.4, SUSE gains ARM support, Mint improves language support, Dirty COW explained, Rolling release trial #2|
|• Issue 684 (2016-10-24): Ubuntu 16.10, Linux popularity in different markets, Fedora runs on Raspberry Pi, Ubuntu features live kernel patching|
|• Issue 683 (2016-10-17): Refracta 8.0, making packages for distributions, Alpine switches to LibreSSL, 386BSD website publishes classic code|
|• Full list of all issues|
|Random Distribution |
DRBL (Diskless Remote Boot in Linux) is server software to boot and operate remote desktop clients. The DRBL software allows client machines to run as stateless, thin-client style computers which are managed by the DRBL server. DRBL Live is a Debian-based, live disc distribution of the DRBL server software which can be run from a USB drive or CD/DVD. It includes a desktop environment to assist users in configuring the server.