| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 636, 16 November 2015
Welcome to this year's 46th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
In recent months we have been hearing about a new, special version of the openSUSE distribution. The new openSUSE edition, called Leap, takes the distribution in a new direction where enterprise packages will make up the core of the operating system while community software rounds out the end user experience. This week we explore openSUSE 42.1 "Leap" and report on how the project's new version performs. In the News section we discuss Fedora making Wayland the default display software and work the Ubuntu developers are doing to make the Mir display technology ready for public use. We also talk about changes to the Debian live disc project, the launch of Debian-powered Steam gaming consoles and the Libreboot firmware project joining GNU. Plus we talk about finding a balance between stable releases and rolling release distributions in our Questions and Answers column. In our Torrent Corner we share the distributions we are seeding and then we provide a list of the distributions released last week. In our Opinion Poll we ask how many of our readers are using new display technologies such as Wayland and Mir. We are also happy to announce this month's donation recipient is TestDisk. We wish you all a terrific week and happy reading!
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (34MB) and MP3 (27MB) formats
• Music credit: Clouds Fly With Me by Matti Paalanen
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Leaping in a new direction with openSUSE 42.1
The openSUSE project has been talking for a while now about their new edition, called openSUSE Leap. The new edition of openSUSE is intended to provide a more stable core while still offering users cutting edge desktop software. The project's release announcement for openSUSE 42.1 explains:
Version 42.1 is the first version of openSUSE Leap that uses source from SUSE Linux Enterprise (SLE) providing a level of stability that will prove to be unmatched by other Linux distributions. Bonding community development and enterprise reliability provides more cohesion for the project and its contributor's maintenance updates. openSUSE Leap will benefit from the enterprise maintenance effort and will have some of the same packages and updates as SLE, which is different from previous openSUSE versions that created separate maintenance streams. Community developers provide an equal level of contribution to Leap and upstream projects to the release, which bridges a gap between matured packages and newer packages found in openSUSE's other distribution, Tumbleweed.
The new release provides users with KDE's Plasma 5.4 desktop as well as GNOME 3.16 and MATE 1.10 (along with various other desktop environments I will touch on later). Unlike previous releases of openSUSE, there is no live disc for 42.1. Our download choices include a 4.3GB installation DVD and a 85MB net-install CD. I decided to download the full sized DVD image.
Booting from the openSUSE 42.1 media brings up a menu giving us the option of installing the distribution, upgrading an existing copy of openSUSE, starting a rescue session or checking the integrity of the media. I would be curious to see how well the upgrade feature works coming from a pre-Leap version of openSUSE, but I unfortunately did not have the time to explore that option this week. Instead I dived straight into the installation process.
The distribution uses a graphical system installer which begins by asking us to select our preferred language and our keyboard's layout. This screen also shows us licensing information for openSUSE and we can access a local copy of the project's release notes. We are next asked if we would like to enable on-line software repositories and/or access additional local media in order to install extra software during the set up process. By default, openSUSE's installer suggests it can automatically partition our hard drive with a Btrfs volume and some swap space. Alternatively, we can manually partition the disk. The disk partitioning screen has a lot of options and may be intimidating to new users, but I feel the utility is well organized and I found the individual screens easy to navigate. The installer supports working with file systems such as ext2/3/4 and XFS as well as Btrfs. After we divide up our disk the installer asks us to select our time zone from a map of the world. We are then asked which desktop environment we would like to have installed. While openSUSE defaults to KDE, other options include GNOME, Xfce, LXDE, Enlightenment, a plain X session or text-mode only with no desktop software. The following screen gets us to create a user account. Finally, we are shown a summary of the actions openSUSE's installer will take. Each action and setting listed in the summary has a hyperlink next to it, allowing us to configure or adjust the setting. For instance, we can choose which background services to enable, change the location of the boot loader and select which software will be installed. Once we confirm the settings are correct, the installer copies its files to our hard drive and reboots the computer.
I quite like openSUSE's system installer. I found it worked very quickly, the screens are responsive and while we could get through the installer by mostly clicking "Next" a handful of times, there is a great deal of customization which can be done. I like that the distribution makes things simple for us while providing easy access to more advanced configuration options.
When the computer boots, the openSUSE boot menu gives us the option of either loading the distribution normally, or accessing and booting one of the distribution's past snapshots. I will talk a bit about file system snapshots later, but for now it is worth noting that each time we change the operating system's configuration or install new software updates, openSUSE takes a snapshot of its file system (assuming we run the operating system on a Btrfs volume). When the system boots we can decide which snapshot to load, allowing us to roll back to a configuration we know to be good. This may be my favourite feature of openSUSE as it makes the operating system virtually bullet proof to any upgrade or configuration flaws and a reboot can fix just about anything short of hardware failure.
The openSUSE distribution boots to a graphical login screen where we can choose to sign into KDE's Plasma desktop or into the Ice window manager (IceWM). I tried the IceWM session and it is pretty minimal, but the session does provide the bare bones components of a traditional desktop layout. This session could be useful for running openSUSE on low-end machines or for recovering the system in the case Plasma breaks. After confirming the IceWM session worked, I spent all of my remaining time with Plasma 5. Plasma is presented with the application menu, task switcher and system tray placed at the bottom of the screen. On the desktop we find icons for opening the file manager. The Plasma desktop defaults to using a classic tree-style application menu, a feature I appreciate as I find navigating categories with mouse movements a smoother experience than typing searches or clicking on categories of software to bring up new menu pages. Plasma worked well for me and was responsive to input and I like the fairly minimal/classic desktop style the openSUSE team has chosen.
I tried running openSUSE in two test environments, a physical desktop computer and a VirtualBox virtual machine. The operating system performed well in both environments. The distribution properly detected all my hardware and set my display to its maximum resolution. In the virtual environment, openSUSE automatically integrated with VirtualBox and allowed the guest operating system to use my display's full resolution. When going through the system installer, I generally took the defaults and this resulted in a large installation, requiring about 5.6GB of disk space. However, openSUSE used notably less RAM than some of the other distributions I have tried recently, requiring around 350MB-400MB of RAM when sitting at the Plasma desktop. I suspect the wide range of memory usage arises from some of my measurements being taken while the system was checking for software updates and other measurements being taken after checks for updates were completed.
openSUSE 42.1 -- KDE System Settings
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Speaking of updates, when openSUSE detects there are software updates available in the distribution's repositories, a notification appears in our system tray. Clicking the update icon brings up a desktop widget that lists the available updates. We can click a button to install the waiting items. I was presented with only a few updates at the beginning of my trial (their total size unknown) and these were all installed cleanly from the update widget. Toward the end of the week the update widget found new packages, but would not install them and no error was given. Going into the distribution's update application I found a new package was required as a dependency to a pending upgrade. The update manager correctly handled the dependency and installed the waiting security updates. Hopefully, in the future, the update widget will handle this situation automatically.
Early in my trail with openSUSE I went into KDE's System Settings panel to make minor adjustments to the look and feel of the desktop. The System Settings panel offers users a great number of options to customize the desktop environment. Given the large number of options, I am happy to report there is a search feature to help us narrow down the exact module we need to access to change a setting. The System Settings panel includes a module for adding new printers to the system and I found this module did not work for me. The module appears to detect printers on the network, but even after providing the administrator's password, I was unable to add the detected printers to openSUSE as the button for adding a located printer was disabled. This led me to select another module in the System Settings panel which launches openSUSE's YaST control panel.
openSUSE 42.1 -- The YaST control panel
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The YaST control panel is one of the better features openSUSE offers. YaST provides a central location for system administrators to configure virtually every aspect of the operating system. YaST offers us easy to navigate, graphical modules for working with everything from software packages to printers, adjusting the system clock to joining a Windows domain, configuring the network to setting up a firewall, creating user accounts to managing file system snapshots and configuring sudo to enabling/disabling background services. There is a huge amount of flexibility to be had through YaST and I appreciate how quickly the modules load and how easy they generally are to navigate. One of YaST's modules deals with printers and I wanted to see if I would have better luck with YaST's printer utility than I had with Plasma's. As it turned out I did, but YaST was not able to locate and add a printer on its own, I had to provide the printer's full address (URI) in order for YaST to add it to the system. This is in contrast to my recent trials with Fedora and Ubuntu, both of which automatically scanned the network, found the printer and added it for me.
Aside from the printer module, there are a few other specific YaST modules I would like to touch on, including the package manager and the repository manager. The repository manager makes it easy to locate and enable additional repositories. The YaST repository manager is aware of several community repositories which can be added to the distribution with a couple of clicks. We can also manually add new repositories if we know their addresses. Community repositories are important for openSUSE users because the main repositories do not feature non-free items or popular video codecs. Fortunately, the repository manager lists not only the names of community repositories, but also offers a brief description of each repository, making it easier to find what we need.
openSUSE 42.1 -- Managing software packages
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Also on the topic of packages, the YaST software manager module worked well for me. The software manager offers us a lot of options, bordering on too many, I think. However, the basic functionality of searching for packages by name or by category work. For better or worse, the openSUSE software manager offers us several different ways to view package information and we can organize searches a number of different ways. The default method is to search for packages by name, but we can change the view to show us a tree of software categories or arrange software in various other ways. I think the software manager might be overwhelming for new users with its many options, but it does work quickly and I encountered no problems while using it. openSUSE also ships with the zypper command line package manager and it worked very well for me. The zypper utility uses a clear syntax, similar to dnf on Fedora or pkg on FreeBSD, while providing the speed of APT on the Debian family of distributions. I enjoyed using zypper as I feel it provides the best balance of performance, simple syntax and clear output of all the Linux command line package managers.
The final YaST module which stood out was Snapper. The Snapper module provides us with a way to view file system snapshots when the distribution is running on a Btrfs volume. Using Snapper, we can see a list of snapshots, see the changes that happened between each snapshot and restore files (or roll back files) from snapshots. Snapper is quite a flexible tool and it allows us to quickly browse changes to the file system, organized by directory. The YaST module appears to be a front-end for the snapper command line utility which provides similar functionality along with some extra, low-level features. By default, openSUSE creates a new snapshot of the operating system every time we make a configuration change or install package upgrades. Using Snapper, along with snapshot access from the boot menu, we can quickly roll back any harmful changes that have been made to the operating system.
openSUSE 42.1 -- Browsing file system snapshots with Snapper
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Apart from its many powerful system administrative tools, openSUSE ships with lots of useful software. Digging through the application menu we find the Firefox web browser, the Choqok micro-blogging software, the KMail e-mail client and the Konqueror web browser. The Konversation IRC client and the Kopete messaging software are also included along with the KTorrent bittorrent software. LibreOffice is installed for us along with the Okular document viewer and the KOrganizer personal organizer. The Amarok music player, KsCD audio CD player and Dragon Player are available along with the K3b disc burning software. We can also find copies of the GNU Image Manipulation Program, the digiKam camera manager and the Gwenview image viewer. There are a few small games included in the distribution's application menu along with the Marble virtual globe. I found the Ark archive manager, the Dolphin file manager, the KGet download manager and a remote desktop viewer included too. The system ships with two hardware information viewers, one in the YaST control centre and the stand-alone KInfoCentre. The former, I found, will save the details of our hardware to a text file which can be useful when submitting bug reports. openSUSE ships with a calculator, a text editor, the KGpg security key manager and a screen magnifier. Java is installed on the system for us. In the background we find systemd 210 and version 4.2.12 of the Linux kernel.
By default there is no compiler, no Flash plug-in and no support for playing popular video formats. I was able to play mp3 audio files out of the box, but to play video files I had to install codecs from openSUSE's community repositories. Adobe's Flash plug-in is also available in the repositories and worked well for me.
openSUSE 42.1 -- The YaST control panel
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openSUSE 42.1 is one of the more technically impressive and (to me at least) visually appealing distributions I have used so far this year. The distribution is easy to set up while offering a great deal of flexibility if we want to dig through the system installer's options. The desktop is responsive and easy to navigate and the distribution worked well with my hardware and integrated smoothly with VirtualBox. The YaST control centre is one of the most powerful and extensive configuration panels in the open source community and it makes tweaking the underlying operating system pleasantly easy.
While openSUSE does not have the range of software in its repositories some other mainstream distributions do, the community repositories are easy to add and make up for most of the missing open source packages.
So far as I know, openSUSE is still the only big name Linux distribution to fully embrace the advanced features of Btrfs, making it easy to create file system snapshots and roll back changes to the operating system or data files. Early on I noticed openSUSE was automatically cleaning up old snapshots, which means Btrfs will not eat up a lot of disk space. If we want to, we can adjust the number of snapshots openSUSE keeps, allowing us to revert to even older versions of files.
It took a little more work than usual to get a network printer set up on openSUSE, but otherwise everything on the distribution worked well. I was worried some components on the system would be dated, given that openSUSE 42.1 is partially based on SUSE Linux Enterprise. Such was not the case though. openSUSE's kernel, desktop software and end-user applications were all fairly modern and pleasantly stable. In short, openSUSE offered me one of the best, easiest and more flexible experiences I have had with a Linux distribution this year and I very much enjoyed my time with the operating system.
Given that I have reviewed two other mainstream projects, Fedora and Ubuntu, in recent weeks, I would like to take a moment to quickly compare those two distributions with openSUSE. Of the three, I think Ubuntu is the easiest to install, but it also provides the least amount of flexibility during the installation process. Of the three, Ubuntu also offers the best out-of-the-box multimedia support, largest supply of software in the default repositories and, in my opinion, the easiest methods for adding new packages. This makes Ubuntu a pretty attractive option for new computer users. That being said, openSUSE provided me with the best performance (short boot times and responsive desktop), a very flexible installer that was also pretty easy to utilize and adding community repositories is fairly straight forward, at least compared to Fedora's approach to adding third-party repositories.
The three distributions ship with different desktops and different default software. Fedora has GNOME, which I have found is pretty good on touch devices and Fedora offers Wayland support out of the box. openSUSE defaults to KDE's Plasma, but offers all of the big name desktop environments as options at install time. Ubuntu offers Unity as the desktop, which seems to be treading a line between traditional desktops and mobile-style interfaces.
Of the three distributions, I think Fedora is closest to the cutting edge, with openSUSE and Ubuntu both fairly close behind. However, Fedora and Ubuntu have relatively short support cycles with Fedora releases usually supported for about 14 months, Ubuntu 15.10 for just nine months and openSUSE 42.1 will receive three years of support.
The best distribution for the job will depend on the person and, of course, the role the distribution is to play. I think Fedora is aimed mostly at more technical users and people who like to tinker. Ubuntu is aimed squarely at Linux newcomers who generally want to just use their computer and openSUSE appears to be aiming at a sort of middle ground: people who have a little Linux experience and want options, but also want reliability and longer support cycles.
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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 defaults to using Wayland, Ubuntu improves Mir support, Debian replaces its live CD project, Linux-based Steam consoles launch and Libreboot to join the GNU project
Ray Strode reported last week that the next version of Fedora will likely use GNOME running on Wayland as the default desktop environment. GNOME running on a traditional X session will act as a fallback option. "Today I built snapshots of gnome-session, gdm, gnome-shell and mutter that change how we do sessions at the login screen. We'll no longer have separate items for GNOME and GNOME on Wayland. Instead they're now both consolidated under the GNOME item. That item will use Wayland if it can, but if it falls back (because of a failure or NVIDIA proprietary drivers, or the user explicitly disables Wayland in /etc/gdm/custom.conf) then that GNOME item will use Xorg instead. I'm doing this for now in Rawhide as preparation for this system-wide [Fedora 24] change." This will make Fedora one of the few distributions to use Wayland by default.
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In similar news, it looks as though the next version of Ubuntu will ship with the Mir display server and the distribution's new Unity 8 desktop environment. Softpedia reports that the Ubuntu developers are working to get more applications running natively on Mir in preparation for shipping Mir as part of Ubuntu 16.04. "Ubuntu developers have big plans for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. The Ubuntu developers are working on improving the interaction between GTK apps and the Mir display server and it looks like they are finally getting closer to their goal." At this point it is unclear when Mir will replace the traditional X display software on Ubuntu, but it seems likely the two technologies will be presented alongside each other starting next year.
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The Debian project is quite large and involves hundreds of different people working together. With such a large group, differences in opinion and development methods are bond to happen frequently. Last week we saw an example of this as the sub-project which creates and maintains Debian's live discs was disbanded without discussion in favour of an alternative live disc project. Iain Learmonth said the old live disc project was being replaced, in part, because it was not an official branch of Debian: "It is worth noting that live-build is not a Debian project, it is an
external project that claims to be an official Debian project. This is
something that needs to be fixed. There is no namespace issue, we are building on the existing live-config and live-boot packages that are maintained and bringing these into Debian as native projects." It is a surprising claim since Debian links to the existing live images on its website and refers to them as "official live install images". Daniel Baumann, who has been working on the existing live Debian images for the past nine years, has said he will continue to provide Debian live disc images as an unofficial third-party project.
* * * * *
Last week, Christian Schaller blogged about an exciting new development for people who love both Linux and gaming consoles. Valve's Steam gaming consoles, which run a modified version of Debian, went on sale last week. "So yesterday, the 10th of November, was the official launch day of the Steam Machines. The hardware are meant to be dedicated game machines for the living room taking advantage of the Steam ecosystem, to take on the Xbox One and PS4. But for us in the Linux community these machines are more than that, they are an important part of helping us break into a broader market by paving the way for even more games and more big budget games coming to our platform." It is hoped these consoles, which feature an open source operating system, will encourage developers and people who like to tinker to develop new games, modify the hardware and improve the console ecosystem.
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Libreboot is a free (as in liberty) boot firmware project which intends to provide users with a free alternative to BIOS and UEFI firmware. Libreboot would allow manufacturers and users to replace closed source firmware that runs at boot time with open and auditable firmware. The Libreboot project is working to become a member of the GNU project. The Libreboot website reads, "Most people in the global free software community are using free operating systems; namely, the GNU operating system. However, most people still rely on proprietary boot firmware. The goal of the Libreboot project is identical to that of the GNU project and Free Software Foundation, which is to ensure that everyone has the freedom to use, study, modify and share software; in other words, the freedom to truly own and control the technology that they use. We want everyone to be able to use free software, exclusively."
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
A stable operating system with rolling packages
Seeking-the-best-of-both-worlds asks: Distributions tend to either freeze packages at a specific version and the software gets out of date, or the distribution rolls forward at the detriment to stability. Is there a way to upgrade specific packages while keeping a stable operating system, like OS X and Windows do?
DistroWatch answers: There are a few approaches a person can take to getting a stable operating system with cutting edge applications. Which option is best may depend on your distribution and specific needs.
Some distributions, such as Debian, maintain a backports repository. A backports repository contains new versions of programs which have been packaged to work on older operating systems. The Debian Backports website does a nice job of explaining: "You are running Debian stable, because you prefer the Debian stable tree. It runs great, there is just one problem: the software is a little bit outdated compared to other distributions. This is where backports come in. Backports are packages taken from the next Debian release (called "testing"), adjusted and recompiled for usage on Debian stable. Because the package is also present in the next Debian release, you can easily upgrade your stable+backports system once the next Debian release comes out."
While backported packages usually do not receive as much testing as the packages in the main repositories, the backported items usually are not critical to the system working either. Checking to see if your distribution of choice has a backports repository is probably the easiest way to go.
People who run Ubuntu, or one of Ubuntu's derivatives or community distributions, can often use personal package archives (PPAs) to keep up to date with specific applications. PPAs are not subject to the quality assurance tests of the base operating system, but they are often up to date with the latest versions of software.
Another way to go is to use an operating system which is specifically designed to have a stable core and rolling desktop software. The Chakra GNU/Linux distribution fits this description. As the project's website says, "With our half-rolling release model we provide a thoroughly tested core layer of software - such as the Linux kernel, GNU coreutils and common libraries - while the software in the applications layer is updated more frequently." The various members of the BSD family of operating systems, such as OpenBSD and FreeBSD, also offer stable bases while packages move forward independently.
Another option is to run a rolling release distribution and use boot environments to snapshot your operating system prior to each software upgrade. This insures that if your operating system stops working after an upgrade, you can simply reboot to restore the operating system to its working condition. The openSUSE Tumbleweed distribution and the PC-BSD operating system with its Edge repository enabled both provide boot environments combined with a rolling release model.
The last, and perhaps least attractive, option is to download the latest source code for the software you want to keep up to date. While it can be a lot of work to set up a build environment for desktop applications, once all the packages are in place, building new versions of software from source code provides a great deal of flexibility.
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Past Questions and Answers columns can be found in our Q&A Archive.
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: 132
- Total data uploaded: 20.0TB
|Released Last Week
Peter Baldwin has announced the release of ClearOS 7.1.0, the CentOS-based server distribution's first stable build in the 7.x series. This is also the first version that combines three products into one download: "ClearOS 7.1.0 final for all editions has arrived. ClearOS now comes in three different editions: Community, Home and Business. All editions can be installed from the same download ISO image, but each edition provides a mix of applications, support and services to meet different needs. This release is the first in the ClearOS 7 series and provides major improvements and new features. ClearOS 7.1.0 introduces: Samba 4, Directory (Microsoft Active Directory replacement); updated Microsoft Active Directory Connector; streamlined theme system; dynamic dashboard; updated antispam and antivirus engines; updated IDS and IPS engines; event and alert notification framework; internationalization; XFS and Btrfs file system support; improved VM support." Here is the brief release announcement.
Barry Kauler has announced the release of a new version of Quirky, a sister project to Puppy Linux. The new version, Quirky 7.3, marks the start of the project's Werewolf series, which is binary compatible with Ubuntu 15.10. "Quirky Werewolf 64-bit version 7.3 has been released. Here is a brief announcement: Quirky 7.3 is the start of the "Werewolf" series, able to install packages from the Ubuntu 15.10 Wily Werewolf repositories. Version 7.3 has major improvements to running from live-CD, with fast boot-up, zram compression and session saving. The live CD has become viable for on-going usage, as an alternative to performing an installation to fixed or removable drive. These improvements also apply to the `frugal' mode of installation. There have been numerous bug fixes and upgrades. The kernel is now 4.2.5 and SeaMonkey is 2.38." Further details can be found in the project's release announcement and in the release notes.
Netrunner 2015.11 "Rolling"
Clemens Toennies has announced the availability of new installation media for the Netrunner project's rolling release edition. The new media, Netrunner 2015.11 "Rolling", is based on packages from the Manjaro distribution and is currently available for the 64-bit x86 architecture exclusively. "The Netrunner Team is happy to announce the release of Netrunner Rolling 2015.11 64-bit version. (Note that the 32-bit version currently remains at 2015.09). Netrunner Rolling 2015.11 has been updated with packages from KDE Plasma and KDE Applications. The desktop is at Plasma 5.4.2 together with KDE Applications 15.08.2 and many more applications and libraries updated to their latest versions. Firefox with built-in Plasma support is at 42.0. Gmusicbrowser and Pidgin now fully integrate into Plasma 5's new systray. Calamares received several minor fixes with 1.4.2 and offers an easy way to use the same user password also as root password. Also with Calamares, you can pick and replace an already occupied partition easily, so you can keep one partition with your favorite OS and re-use another partition to try and test anything else without cluttering your hard-disk further." Further information can be found in the project's release announcement.
Netrunner 2015.11 "Rolling" -- Running the KDE desktop environment
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Wayland and Mir
New graphical display technologies such as Wayland and Mir are posed to replace the venerable X display server. Distributions such as Fedora and Ubuntu are on the forefront of adopting the new display technologies, while other distributions are slowly introducing packages for Wayland.
This week we would like to know who among our readers are using new display technologies like Mir and Wayland. Have you migrated away from X? We would like to hear about your experiences in the comments section.
You can see the results of last week's poll on why more people have not adopted advanced file systems here. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
Wayland and Mir
|I am using Wayland: ||87 (5%)|
| I am using Mir: ||26 (1%)|
| I am using X: ||1566 (87%)|
| I primarily use a text console: ||36 (2%)|
| I am using a mixture of the above: ||89 (5%)|
October 2015 DistroWatch.com donation: TestDisk
We are pleased to announce the recipient of the October 2015 DistroWatch.com donation is TestDisk. The project receives US$450.00 in cash.
TestDisk, and its sister project, PhotoRec, are powerful and flexible partition and file recovery tools. These open source utilities help the user recover deleted partitions and files. They are valuable data recovery tools, capable of working on a wide range of file systems. "TestDisk is powerful free data recovery software! It was primarily designed to help recover lost partitions and/or make non-booting disks bootable again when these symptoms are caused by faulty software: certain types of viruses or human error (such as accidentally deleting a Partition Table)... PhotoRec is file data recovery software designed to recover lost files including video, documents and archives from hard disks, CD-ROMs, and lost pictures (thus the Photo Recovery name) from digital camera memory. PhotoRec ignores the file system and goes after the underlying data, so it will still work even if your media's file system has been severely damaged or reformatted. "
Launched in 2004, this monthly donations programme is a DistroWatch initiative to support free and open-source software projects and operating systems with cash contributions. Readers are welcome to nominate their favourite project for future donations. Those readers who wish to contribute towards these donations, please use our advertising page to make a payment (PayPal, credit cards, Yandex Money and crypto currencies are accepted). Here is the list of the projects that have received a DistroWatch donation since the launch of the programme (figures in US dollars):
Since the launch of the Donations Program in March 2004, DistroWatch has donated a total of US$45,025 to various open-source software projects.
- 2004: GnuCash ($250), Quanta Plus ($200), PCLinuxOS ($300), The GIMP ($300), Vidalinux ($200), Fluxbox ($200), K3b ($350), Arch Linux ($300), Kile KDE LaTeX Editor ($100) and UNICEF - Tsunami Relief Operation ($340)
- 2005: Vim ($250), AbiWord ($220), BitTorrent ($300), NDISwrapper ($250), Audacity ($250), Debian GNU/Linux ($420), GNOME ($425), Enlightenment ($250), MPlayer ($400), Amarok ($300), KANOTIX ($250) and Cacti ($375)
- 2006: Gambas ($250), Krusader ($250), FreeBSD Foundation ($450), GParted ($360), Doxygen ($260), LilyPond ($250), Lua ($250), Gentoo Linux ($500), Blender ($500), Puppy Linux ($350), Inkscape ($350), Cape Linux Users Group ($130), Mandriva Linux ($405, a Powerpack competition), Digikam ($408) and Sabayon Linux ($450)
- 2007: GQview ($250), Kaffeine ($250), sidux ($350), CentOS ($400), LyX ($350), VectorLinux ($350), KTorrent ($400), FreeNAS ($350), lighttpd ($400), Damn Small Linux ($350), NimbleX ($450), MEPIS Linux ($300), Zenwalk Linux ($300)
- 2008: VLC ($350), Frugalware Linux ($340), cURL ($300), GSPCA ($400), FileZilla ($400), MythDora ($500), Linux Mint ($400), Parsix GNU/Linux ($300), Miro ($300), GoblinX ($250), Dillo ($150), LXDE ($250)
- 2009: Openbox ($250), Wolvix GNU/Linux ($200), smxi ($200), Python ($300), SliTaz GNU/Linux ($200), LiVES ($300), Osmo ($300), LMMS ($250), KompoZer ($360), OpenSSH ($350), Parted Magic ($350) and Krita ($285)
- 2010: Qimo 4 Kids ($250), Squid ($250), Libre Graphics Meeting ($300), Bacula ($250), FileZilla ($300), GCompris ($352), Xiph.org ($250), Clonezilla ($250), Debian Multimedia ($280), Geany ($300), Mageia ($470), gtkpod ($300)
- 2011: CGSecurity ($300), OpenShot ($300), Imagination ($250), Calibre ($300), RIPLinuX ($300), Midori ($310), vsftpd ($300), OpenShot ($350), Trinity Desktop Environment ($300), LibreCAD ($300), LiVES ($300), Transmission ($250)
- 2012: GnuPG ($350), ImageMagick ($350), GNU ddrescue ($350), Slackware Linux ($500), MATE ($250), LibreCAD ($250), BleachBit ($350), cherrytree ($260), Zim ($335), nginx ($250), LFTP ($250), Remastersys ($300)
- 2013: MariaDB ($300), Linux From Scratch ($350), GhostBSD ($340), DHCP ($300), DOSBox ($250), awesome ($300), DVDStyler ($280), Tor ($350), Tiny Tiny RSS ($350), FreeType ($300), GNU Octave ($300), Linux Voice ($510)
- 2014: QupZilla ($250), Pitivi ($370), MediaGoblin ($350), TrueCrypt ($300), Krita ($340), SME Server ($350), OpenStreetMap ($350), iTALC ($350), KDE ($400), The Document Foundation ($400), Tails ($350)
- 2015: AWStats ($300), Haiku ($300), Xiph.Org ($300), GIMP ($350), Kodi ($300), Devuan ($300), hdparm ($350), HardenedBSD ($400), TestDisk ($450)
* * * * *
Distributions added to waiting list
- XiniX. XiniX is a small Linux distribution for home and small office environments. The distributions is designed to run entirely from RAM for improved performance.
- GalliumOS. GalliumOS is a fast and lightweight Linux distribution for ChromeOS devices.
- GeckoLinux. GeckoLinux is a derivative of openSUSE Leap which features a live, installable DVD, multimedia support and the Cinnamon desktop environment.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 23 November 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)
- Michael DeGuzis of Libre Geek (podcast)
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 |
Subgraph OS is a Debian-based Linux distribution which provides several security, anonymous web browsing and hardening features. Subgraph OS uses a hardened Linux kernel, application firewall to block specific executables from accessing the network and forces all Internet traffic through the Tor network. The distribution's file manager features tools to remove meta-data from files and integrates with the OnionShare file sharing application. The Icedove e-mail client is set up to automatically work with Enigmail for encrypting e-mails.