| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 642, 4 January 2016
Welcome to this year's 1st issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
Ringing in a new year is a good opportunity to try new things and this year we decided to start off with a look at a project that does not get much spotlight: paldo GNU/Linux. The paldo distribution offers cutting edge packages and multiple development branches and we begin this week with a review of this interesting project. In our News section we explore such new developments as Fedora moving to a newer version of the GNU Compiler and a UNIX-like operating system built with literate programming techniques. We also talk about new SPARC64 installation images being tested by Debian developers and work being done to speed up the APT package management utilities. We are also sad to report on the death of Ian Murdock, founder of the Debian project and avid open source advocate. In our Questions and Answers column we talk about vetting software in distributions' package repositories and then we share the torrents we are seeding. Plus, we share a long list of distributions released over the past two weeks and ask our readers how often they like to update their operating systems in this year's first Opinion Poll. Finally, we are happy to report we have implemented secure HTTPS connections on DistroWatch and we hope you will join us in testing this new feature. We wish you all a wonderful year ahead and happy reading!
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (26MB) and MP3 (20MB) formats
• Music credit: Clouds Fly With Me by Matti Paalanen
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
The paldo GNU/Linux distribution is a project I have not looked at for some time, but every so often I hear people mention it. The project has a small team, but they have created a functional desktop Linux distribution which is built around the Upkg package manager. The project's website offers further information:
paldo is a Upkg driven GNU/Linux distribution. It's kind of a mix of a source and a binary distribution. Even though it builds packages like a source distribution it provides binary packages.
According to the paldo documentation, the project maintains four different branches, similar to Debian's development branches. These branches are called Stable, Testing, Unstable and Experimental, with the names being fairly clear in their meaning. The developers recommend most people use the Stable branch which provides updated installation media four times per year.
paldo wants to be a distribution according to the "just-works" principle. It tries to configure automatically as much as possible without user intervention. paldo is task-oriented, means, that we won't provide several programs to do one and the same task, we will select the program which we think does this task best, and include it into paldo. paldo aims to support cutting-edge technologies.
While the project's documentation does not appear to state in certain terms what sort of development model paldo uses, it appears as though the project offers its users a rolling release where packages are consistently updated over time. The project's ISO images do not feature versions numbers, so users will probably want to refer to the paldo software they are running using the branch and date, for example "Stable 2015.12". Regardless of what label we assign to the installation images, the distribution is available in 32-bit and 64-bit builds for the x86 architecture and we can download media for the Stable and Unstable branches. I downloaded the latest Stable release, which is 816MB in size.
Booting from the paldo disc brings up the GNOME Shell desktop environment. The desktop is mostly empty, with the Activities menu in the upper-left corner. From the Activities menu we can launch a handful of applications and the project's system installer. In the upper-right corner of the screen we find the user menu where we can adjust desktop settings or sign out of the GNOME Shell session.
paldo GNU/Linux 2015.12 -- The GNOME Shell Activities menu
(full image size: 1.2MB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Something I noticed at this point was that the paldo installation guide still assumes the installation media ships with the GNOME 2 desktop, which is a bit dated. The section of the documentation which deals with disk partitioning is also out of date and refers to a partition manager which is no longer present in the distribution.
The paldo distribution features a graphical system installer which I think is unique to this operating system. The installer begins by asking us to select our language, keyboard layout and time zone from lists. While my language and keyboard were listed, my time zone was not and, in fact, only ten time zones are listed. I decided to select the time zone closest to me. The installer's next screen gets us to assign disk partitions to mount points in our file system. This screen includes a button which will launch the Disk application, a program which will allow us to reformat partitions. While this may be useful for changing the file system on an existing partition, Disk does not appear to be able to create or remove partitions, greatly limiting its usefulness during the installation process. Luckily, for me at least, paldo includes cfdisk, a text-based partition manager which I was able to launch from the command line. This allowed me to set up my disk the way I wanted it. Then I was able to re-launch paldo's system installer and assign my new partitions to their proper mount points. The installer's third screen gets us to create a password for the root account and assign a hostname to our computer. The fourth screen asks us to create a regular user account. The system installer then shows us a list of the actions it will take and waits for our confirmation. Once we agree to the installer's pending actions, files are copied to our hard drive and we can reboot the computer to try our new copy of paldo.
One unusual feature of paldo is the distribution still uses the GRUB Legacy boot loader rather than the newer GRUB 2 boot loader. While not many distributions still use GRUB Legacy, I find it easier to configure and was happy to see the older boot loader present.
The paldo distribution boots to a graphical login screen. From there we can sign into the account we created during the installation process. paldo ships with the GNOME Shell desktop environment and, from the login screen, we can choose whether to run GNOME in an X session or in a Wayland session. I was a little disappointed to note paldo does not offer a GNOME Classic desktop experience, just the modern GNOME Shell environment.
I tried running paldo in two test environments, a physical desktop machine and a VirtualBox virtual machine. The paldo distribution ran well on the physical computer. My screen was set to it maximum resolution, the desktop was responsive and sound worked out of the box. When run in the virtual environment, paldo was not able to provide full screen resolution until I had installed VirtualBox guest modules from the distribution's software repository. Once guest modules had been installed in the VirtualBox environment, paldo provided full screen resolution and generally worked well. The GNOME desktop was sluggish in the virtual environment, but otherwise worked as expected. In either environment, paldo required about 550MB of memory when sitting idle in GNOME Shell.
paldo GNU/Linux 2015.12 -- Running LibreOffice
(full image size: 119kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
paldo ships with a fairly standard collection of software for a GNOME-centric distribution, with just a few surprises. We are treated to "Web", a minimal WebKit-based web browser. We also have access to the Evolution e-mail software, the Empathy messaging software and Network Manager is available to help us get on-line. The Brasero disc burning software is included along with the Cheese webcam utility, a document viewer and file manager. paldo provides us with an archive manager, calculator and a text editor. A screen reader is available along with a system monitor and the XChat IRC application. The distribution ships with the Rhythmbox audio player and Totem video player. These multimedia applications are accompanied by media codecs for playing most types of audio and video files. In the background, paldo ships with OpenSSH enabled for remote access. The distribution ships with systemd 228 and version 4.2.6 of the Linux kernel.
With regards to the default collection of software, paldo held a few surprises. For example, not only does the distribution ship with the GNU Compiler Collection, the Clang compiler is also present by default. This makes paldo one of the few Linux distributions to ship with Clang. Though paldo does not offer us any productivity software by default, we can find LibreOffice, AbiWord and Gnumeric in the project's software repositories. Finally, I found I was not a fan of either the Web application or Evolution, but I was pleased to find Firefox and Thunderbird in paldo's repositories.
According to paldo's website, the distribution uses a special package manager called Upkg. Reading through the project's documentation, I was not able to find information on what, specifically, makes Upkg special, though it appears the utility can work with both binary and source packages.
paldo GNU/Linux 2015.12 -- Searching for packages
(full image size: 138kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
The first thing I tried to do with the Upkg command line utility was synchronize the local package database with the on-line repositories. Running the upkg-sync command, which appeared to be the correct command for the task, produced several screens of errors, mostly related to missing files and the proper usage of the rsync program. Not discouraged, I explored some other Upkg commands with mixed results. For example, upkg-search locates local files that have been installed via packages, rather than finding a specific package. So far as I could tell, the easiest way to locate a package we want to install is to visit the paldo website and search for items by name. Once we know the name of the package we want, there are Upkg commands to install, remove and upgrade packages from the repository. Despite my inability to use the Upkg synchronization command successfully, Upkg always seemed to be up to date with the contents of paldo's repositories and Upkg was able to install software updates for me. The paldo distribution has a relatively small repository of software, with 1,101 packages at the time of writing. Most of the items available appear to be popular ones, such as LibreOffice and Firefox.
paldo GNU/Linux 2015.12 -- Upgrading software packages with Upkg
(full image size: 1.2MB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
While exploring paldo, the impression I got was of a small project that had started as an experiment (perhaps showcasing Upkg) and then never quite achieved critical mass. That is, the project did not seem to attract more developers, packagers or even a large number of users. The project continues to push out regular releases and its software it up to date, but paldo gives the impression it has not been completed, that the distribution is on auto-pilot. The installer, documentation and small software repository suggest development has not been able to move forward in recent years.
Which is too bad. Upkg, seems like a capable package manager and the distribution's packages are cutting-edge. The rolling release model combined with the multiple tiers of development branches would seem to be a good foundation upon which to build. I think paldo has potential, but may be stuck in a catch-22 situation where more developers are needed to make the distribution a practical solution for most users and paldo needs to attract new users who can become contributors to the project.
As it stands, the project's wiki feels unfinished and the forums are quiet. The paldo distribution continues to work and continues to push out regular software updates, but I think the distribution needs an influx of contributors to round out what the developers have created thus far.
* * * * *
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 plans to adopt GCC 6, a new UNIX-like OS built with literate programming, Debian's APT performance improved, Debian tests installation media for SPARC64 and Ian Murdock passes
The Fedora project is considering a bold move for their upcoming Fedora 24 release later this year. The Fedora project currently uses version 5 of the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) to build its many software packages. There is a proposal in place to upgrade Fedora's compiler to GCC 6 in time for Fedora 24. This is an especially ambitious idea when we consider GCC 6 has not been released yet and is not scheduled to reach completion until shortly before Fedora 24's launch. "GCC 6 is currently in stage3, will move to stage4 around mid January, in pre-release state with only regression bug fixes and documentation fixes allowed. The release will happen probably in the middle of April. We are working on scratch GCC RPMs and will perform a test mass rebuild."
* * * * *
The Ulix project is an effort to create a working implementation of a UNIX-like operating system using literate programming techniques. Literate programming is an interesting concept that is designed to make a program's source code readable, like a novel. "Ulix (Literate Unix) is a Unix-like operating system that was developed at University of Erlangen-Nuremberg. We used Donald E. Knuth's concept of literate programming for the implementation and documentation. The intention was to create a fully working system which can be used in operating system courses to show students how OS concepts (such as paging and scheduling) can be implemented. Literate programs are very accessible because they can be read like a book; the order of presentation is not enforced by program logic or compiler restrictions, but instead is guided by the implementer's creative process. Ulix was written in C and Assembler for the Intel x86 architecture; for literate programming we used Norman Ramsey's noweb tool." Ulix is an interesting example of developers accomplishing a familiar task in a new manner and is worth exploring to see how the system is put together.
* * * * *
Julian Andres Klode announced toward the end of December that he had been working on improving the speed of Debian's APT package management utilities. Under some circumstances, APT was running a lot slower than it could have been and Klode set out to improve APT's performance. "APT's performance in applying the Pdiffs files, which are the diff format used for Packages, Sources, and other files in the archive, has been slow. The reason for this is that our I/O is unbuffered, and we were reading one byte at a time in order to read lines. This changed on December 24, by adding read buffering for reading lines, vastly improving the performance of rred." Klode's efforts, which are documented on his blog, were successful, resulting in improving APT's performance up to ten fold. "I measured the run-time of apt-get update, excluding appstream and apt-file files, for the update from today's 07:52 to the 13:52 dinstall run. Configured sources are unstable and experimental with amd64 and i386 architectures. appstream and apt-file indexes are disabled for testing, so only Packages and Sources indexes are fetched. The results are impressive: For APT 1.1.6, updating with PDiffs enabled took 41 seconds. For APT 1.1.7, updating with PDiffs enabled took 4 seconds." APT is already a relatively fast package manager and it is nice to see it being improved even further.
Klode was not the only developer working on Debian while we were on holiday. John Paul Adrian Glaubitz posted to the Debian SPARC mailing list to report he has managed to build net-install images for the SPARC64 architecture. His message calls on brave testers to try out the new installation media: "This has not been tested at all and was just freshly generated, so there is absolutely no warranty it will [not] turn your SPARC box into a toaster. Looking forward to any feedback!"
Finally, some very sad news came out of the Debian project last week. Debian has announced that the project's founder, Ian Murdock, passed away last week. Mr Murdock launched Debian back in 1993 and it remains one of the oldest and largest Linux distributions in the world, with over one thousand contributing developers. "Ian's sharp focus was on creating a distribution and community culture that did the right thing, be it ethically, or technically. Releases went out when they were ready, and the project's staunch stance on software freedom is the gold standard in the free and open source world. Ian's devotion to the right thing guided his work, both in Debian and in the subsequent years, always working towards the best possible future. Ian's dream has lived on, the Debian community remains incredibly active, with thousands of developers working untold hours to bring the world a reliable and secure operating system. The thoughts of the Debian community are with Ian's family in this hard time."
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
The safety of software in distribution repositories
Watching-the-watchers asks: I keep hearing about how software in Linux repositories is safer than downloading applications from websites. It's supposed to be one of the best security features of Linux. But what guarantees do we have that software in a distribution's repositories has been vetted? What makes it safer than downloading programs from the Web?
DistroWatch answers: This question reminds me of a philosophical query I quite like that asks: "What do we think we know? And why do we think we know it?" In this case what we think we know is that installing software from a Linux distribution's official repositories is safer than downloading and installing packages from websites. But why do we think we know that?
Speaking from personal experience, I would say around one in three of the computers running Windows I serviced last year were infected with malware when people had tried to download programs from websites. They had gone to a search engine, typed in the name of the application they wanted, clicked the first link that came up and it brought them to a website that looked official. Then they downloaded the offered software bundle and installed it, infecting the computer. These people followed a fairly reasonable series of steps that led them to legitimate looking pages that supplied them with malware. Based on these observations I can say, from second-hand experience, that searching the web for programs can certainly lead to an infected operating system.
I mention this because it means that if any vetting takes place, even if just some basic testing is done by the distribution's package maintainers to confirm a program is what it claims to be, then that alone will make installing software from a repository safer than searching the web for software packages.
Having a repository of software is also helpful in that it means everyone using a given distribution is using the same set of packages. If any one of the thousands of people running the distribution notices a problem with any package, they can report it and have the package removed or fixed. In other words, there is a certain safety in numbers. So long as we are all downloading the same packages, it only takes one person to raise the alarm if a problem appears.
I suspect though what the person asking the question means is whether package maintainers comb through a package's source code looking for malicious intent. Usually that does not happen, at least not at the packaging level. Some projects do perform security audits, or have a buddy system where developers sign off on each other's changes, but distribution package maintainers tend not to have time to browse through the source code they are packaging.
This means we may not have strict guarantees a given package is safe to use and is not infected with malware. However, given the number of people who use software from Linux distributions' repositories and given that it only takes one person to report an issue and given the number of security researchers who are constantly poking at software and monitoring their network connections, it does seem highly unlikely that there is hidden malware in your Linux distribution's software repository.
* * * * *
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: 148
- Total data uploaded: 24.2TB
|Released Last Week
Ultimate Edition 4.9
Ultimate Edition developer "TheeMahn" has announced the release of Ultimate Edition 4.9, the latest update to the project's Ubuntu-based distribution featuring KDE as the default desktop: "It is tradition here in the Ultimate Edition land to release a special Ultimate Edition release for Christmas and this year will be no exception. Ultimate Edition started in 2006 by releasing a Christmas version to the general populous. You can learn more about that by reading an interview Sourceforge conducted on me in 2009. What is the special release, a Christmas-themed Ultimate Edition? No, ARM steps to the plate in this release, a return to the roots of Ultimate Edition in the form of LTS (long-term support), and a step into the future all in one snap. TheeMahn, please stop being cryptic." Visit the distribution's home page to read the full release announcement.
Paweł Pijanowski has announced the launch of SparkyLinux 4.2, the second update to the project's 4.x series. SparkyLinux is based on Debian's Testing "Stretch" branch and is available in several desktop editions. The new release features LibreOffice 5, Iceweasel (Firefox) 38 ESR and version 4.2 of the Linux kernel. SparkyLinux 4.2 also offers the Tor Messenger for private chat communications via the distribution's repositories. Further, two editions of the distribution have been discontinued and the translation system has been updated: "The latest poll has told which Sparky edition is not too popular, so these two editions have been dropped: JWM and CLI. Most Sparky tools have been re-configured and they use a simple localization system now. All of them use English and Polish language packages, and many of them, thanks to our community members, use other localizations now. The present status and files to be (still) translated are available at our wiki page." Further information can be found in the project's release announcement.
Plop Linux 4.3.1
Elmar Hanlhofer has announced the release of Plop Linux 4.3.1, the latest stable version of the project's distribution designed (among other tasks) for data rescue, system restor and backups: "Version 4.3.1. Minor updates: /etc/issue updated; login.defs and .bash_profiles updated; /etc/skel directory updated; adduser script - user is now also in 'video' group; GTK+ theme updated; Tint2 clock display; Xfce panel - volumeicon2 replaced with Xfce audio mixer plugin; /var/log/boot.log removed; build and compile script updates. Live edition: UTF-8 is now enabled by default; language scripts renamed to 'setlanggerman' and 'setlangczech'. Linux kernels for Banana Pi and Cubietruck added. ARM Linux kernel versions: QEMU - 4.2.8; Raspberry Pi - 4.1.13; Banana Pi - 4.2.3; Cubietruck - 4.4-rc1." Read the rest of the changelog for a full list of changes and improvements.
Plop Linu 4.3.1 -- Running the Xfce desktop
(full image size: 212kB, resolution: 1368 x 768 pixels)
SUSE Linux Enterprise SP1
The SUSE team has announced the availability of the first service pack for SUSE Linux Enterprise 12. The new release, SUSE Linux Enterprise SP1, features rollback functionality through Btrfs, the GNOME 3.10 desktop environment and the ability to download software updates during the installation process. The new release is available in Desktop and Server editions. The Desktop offering includes seven years of support while the Server edition features a thirteen year life cycle. "SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 12 introduces a number of innovative changes. Here are some of the highlights: Robustness on administrative errors and improved management capabilities with full system rollback based on Btrfs as the default file system for the operating system partition and SUSE's snapper technology. An overhaul of the installer introduces a new workflow that allows you to register your system and receive all available maintenance updates as part of the installation. New core technologies like systemd, replacing the time honored System V based init process. GNOME 3.10, giving users a modern desktop environment with a choice of several different look and feel options, including a special SLE Classic mode for easier migration from earlier SUSE Linux Enterprise desktop environments..." Further information can be found in the release announcement and in the release notes for the Desktop and Server product lines.
Chris Buechler has announced the release of pfSense 2.2.6, an updated build of the project's FreeBSD-based operating system made for firewalls and routers. This release is largely a security update to fix issues with the software's browser-based user interface and several recent OpenSSL vulnerabilities, while it also upgrades the base system to the latest FreeBSD version: "pfSense software version 2.2.6 is now available. This release includes a few bug fixes and security updates. Security fixes and errata: webgui - local file inclusion vulnerability in the pfSense WebGUI; captiveportal - SQL injection vulnerability in the pfSense captive portal logout; webgui - multiple XSS and CSRF vulnerabilities in the pfSense WebGUI; updated to FreeBSD 10.1-RELEASE-p25; openssl - multiple vulnerabilities in OpenSSL; updated strongSwan to 5.3.5; includes fix for CVE-2015-8023 authentication bypass vulnerability in the eap-mschapv2 plugin. As always, you can upgrade from any previous version straight to 2.2.6. For those already running any 2.2.x version, this is a low-risk upgrade. For those on 2.1.x or earlier versions, there are a number of significant changes which may impact you. Pay close attention to the 2.2 upgrade notes for the details." Read the full release announcement for further details.
Manjaro Linux 15.12
Philip Muller has announced the release of a new version of the Arch-based Manjaro Linux distribution. The new release, Manjaro Linux 15.12, ships with Xfce 4.12 and KDE's Plasma 5.5 desktop along with a freshly polished system installer. "Notable changes in our tools: kcm module of Manjaro-Settings got reworked; several enhancements to Pamac and Octopi; optimizations and fixes to Manjaro-Tools; a LVM issue was fixed within Thus. Package-wise we have following changes: KDE Apps got updated to 15.12, VirtualBox is now at 5.0.12, mesa is at 11.0.8, WINE at 1.8 and the kernel at 4.4-rc6. Bumblebee is now also fixed for OpenRC and small fixes went into our Samba share Thunar plugin. To round-up this update, you find here some additional packages. Some Linux 3xx kernels got updated, last-minute fixes for Plasma 5, haskell updates, renewed Deepin desktop 2015 and fixes to Firefox complete Manjaro 15.12." Further information on the latest release of Manjaro Linux can be found in the project's release announcement.
antiX 15 "MX"
The antiX project has released a new version of the distribution's "MX" edition. The new release, antiX 15 "MX", is based on Debian's Stable (Jessie) branch and is designed to work on a variety of hardware, including low-resource computers. "We are extremely pleased to announce the release of MX-15 (code name Fusion) based on the reliable and stable Debian Jessie (8.2) with extra enhancements and up to date applications provided by our packaging team. Just like MX-14, this release defaults to sysVinit (though systemd is available once installed). Available in 32- and 64-bit. The 32-bit version ships with two stable 3.16 Debian kernels (PAE and non-PAE), while the 64-bit comes with the more recent 4.2 Debian backports kernel to cater for newer hardware." The new release offers users version 4.12 of the Xfce desktop environment, Firefox 43 and LibreOffice 4.3. Further information can be found on the antiX News page.
antiX 15 "MX" -- Default desktop layout
(full image size: 1.4MB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
openSUSE 42.1 "Edu Li-f-e"
The developers of the openSUSE educational edition, "Edu Li-f-e", have announced the launch of a new release, based on openSUSE 42.1 Leap. The new version, openSUSE 42.1 "Edu Li-f-e", ships with multiple desktop environments and multimedia support. "The best Linux distribution for education got a whole lot better, your Li-f-e (Linux for Education) takes a `Leap' to 42.1. openSUSE Education community is proud to present this latest edition based on openSUSE 42.1 with all the features, updates and bug fixes available on it to date. This effectively makes it the only enterprise grade long term supported (LTS) distribution for Education. As with previous releases, we have bundled a ton of software on this live DVD/USB specially packaged for education, along with the Plasma, GNOME and MATE desktop environments, full multimedia experience is also provided out of the box thanks to the Packman repositories." Further information and download links can be found in the distribution's release announcement.
Arjen Balfoort has announced the release of SolydXK 201512, the latest stable release of project's distribution that offers a choice of Xfce 4.10 or KDE 4.11 desktops, all based on the stable Debian GNU/Linux 8: "It's time for new releases again! The new ISO images come packed with changes. I'm not going to mention them all but here are a few: the live installer can now encrypt your partitions; the USB creator has been rebuilt and it does create bootable USB pen drives for several distributions; the update manager has new icons to indicate its status; you can right-click to show the legend for the meaning of the icons; left-click has been removed, So you will need to right-click to activate the update manager window. I hope you are going to enjoy these new releases!" Read the rest of the release announcement for further details.
Ikey Doherty has announced the release of Solus 1.0, the first stable release from the Linux distribution project that delivers a home-made desktop environment called "Budgie" and a custom package manager named "eopkg": "The Solus project is proud to announce the release of the first version of its operating system. Solus 1.0 is code-named 'Shannon' after the longest river in Ireland. Solus 1.0 is the result of over eight months of work, coalesced from over a dozen contributors, over 2,000 package builds, a rewrite of the premier desktop environment Budgie, and more. Solus is a Linux-based operating system built from scratch for the modern desktop and targeting the x86_64 architecture. The Solus project develops a GTK+-based desktop environment referred to as Budgie. Budgie ships with a multitude of features. Budgie has been tested and refined to ensure that high-contrast theming works out of the box, enabling usage by individuals with visual impairments. This Budgie menu enables quick access to your installed programs and offers category and compact views." Continue to the release announcement for further information and screenshots.
Solus 1.0 -- Running the Budgie desktop
(full image size: 1.1MB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Stephen Ewen has announced the release of UberStudent 4.3, an Ubuntu-based distribution with a collection of specialist software applications and tools designed primarily for students: "I'm pleased to announce the release of UberStudent 4.3 'Heraclitus', Xfce edition. UberStudent is a Linux distribution for everyone, especially higher education and college-bound secondary students, people who teach them, and their schools. Researchers, knowledge workers, and life-long learners will equally benefit. It has been specifically designed for complete Linux beginners, while remaining equally satisfying to the most advanced Linux user. System: Ubuntu 14.04.3 long-term stable release base supported until April 2019; Linux kernel 4.2; Xfce 4.12, X.Org Server 1.17; Mesa 10.5.9, LibreOffice 5. There are many, many new features and improvements, including latest versions of all core programs, additions to the UberStudent suite of administration tools, improved language support...." Continue to the release announcement for further information.
Manjaro Linux 15.12 "i3", "bspwm"
The Manjaro Linux project has announced the availability of Manjaro Linux 15.12 "i3" and "bspwm" editions, two interesting variants of the distribution that features two of the less popular, but no less interesting window managers - i3 (a dynamic tiling window manager featuring extended Xinerama support) and bspwm (a tiling window manager that represents windows as the leaves of a full binary tree). The "i3" variant (release announcement with a screenshot is an official Manjaro product, while the "bspwm" flavour is the latest addition to the project's growing number of community-built Manjaro variants: "We are happy to announce a new addition to our community editions, bspwm edition. Bspwm is a manual tiling window manager based on binary space partitioning that features intuitive mouse and keyboard controls. Compared with our i3 edition, it is more minimalistic and CLI-oriented, with the 64-bit edition booting at 105 MB of RAM used. It uses minimal RAM and CPU to be as light as possible without sacrificing functionality. This edition tries to make the command line more accessible for beginners." Read the rest of the release announcement for more details.
One of the last releases of this year comes from deepin, an increasingly popular distribution developed in China and featuring the Deepin desktop environment. This is the project's first version based on Debian GNU/Linux (the "unstable" branch), rather than Ubuntu. From the release announcement: "deepin is a Linux distribution committed to providing an elegant, user-friendly, safe and stable operating system for users all over the world. deepin 15 pays more attention to internationalization, and is enhanced with brand new mirror image acceleration (CDN acceleration). Languages supported are up to 30, thus the infinite charm of deepin can be experienced globally. Newly added languages are Malay, Bulgarian, Swedish, Croatian, Japanese, Korean, Finnish, Spanish (Latin America), Hindi (India), Ukrainian. Besides, we have reached an important cooperative relationship with Intel. We will collaboratively utilize Crosswalk Project to migrate existing web applications to deepin (Linux platform), thus enriching the diversity of applications for deepin and to improve the deepin experience."
Calculate Linux 15.12
The developers of Calculate Linux, a Gentoo-based desktop and server distribution, have announced the release of Calculate Linux 15.12. One of the main changes in this release is the replacement of the Chromium web browser with Qupzilla. "We are happy to announce the release of Calculate Linux 15.12. Calculate Linux Desktop, featuring either the KDE SC 4 (CLD), the MATE (CLDM) or the Xfce (CLDX) environment, Calculate Directory Server (CDS), Calculate Media Center (CMC), Calculate Linux Scratch (CLS) and CLSK with KDE SC 5, Calculate Scratch Server (CSS) are all available for download. Chromium was replaced with the QupZilla web browser on desktop CL versions. A Calculate Linux ISO image can be booted from a live hard drive volume. To do so, select the Live HDD formatting line that was added to the GRUB menu. Current system settings will be default for graphics, locales and the timezone. The open source AMDGPU driver is now supported.... The release announcement contains a full list of changes and updates. Calculate Linux offers users several desktop editions, including KDE, MATE and Xfce, as well as a directory server, media centre and "Scratch" editions.
The 4MLinux project has started the new year with the release of 4MLinux 15.0. The 4MLinux project produces a small sized, independenctly developed, multi-purpose distribution. The new 15.0 release features mostly software updates. "The status of the 4MLinux 15.0 series has been changed to stable. Major change in the core of the system, which now includes GNU C Library 2.22. As a response to the requests from 4MLinux users, the following applications have been added: Audacity (digital audio editor), GNU GRUB (boot loader), InfraRecorder (CD/DVD writing program), LXInput and LXRandR (small yet powerful setup tools from the LXDE project). Additionally, important change in the 4MLinux LAMP Server, which now uses Postfix to handle emails sent via PHP mail." The release announcement also features a screen shot of 4MLinux 15.0 in action.
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Frequency of installing software updates
Some of us like to keep our operating systems current, installing available software upgrades and patches as soon as they become available. Others are more cautious, waiting several days while others experiment with new versions of software.
This week we would like to know how frequently our readers install software updates on their computers. Please leave us a comment below with your reasons for upgrading as soon as possible or for waiting before installing updates.
You can see the results of our previous poll on the Let's Encrypt service here. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
Frequency of installing software updates
|I install updates the same day they are released: ||854 (39%)|
| I install updates a few times per week: ||563 (26%)|
| I update my software weekly: ||300 (14%)|
| I update my software monthly: ||77 (3%)|
| I do not maintain a fixed schedule: ||361 (16%)|
| Other: ||46 (2%)|
HTTPS connections enabled via Let's Encrypt
Last year we received requests from our readers, asking us to enabling secure (HTTPS) connections to DistroWatch. Though DistroWatch does not deal with sensitive information, such as passwords or credit card data, we do like the idea of making encryption the norm. When website traffic is encrypted, it makes user privacy the default and we think that is a good thing.
Last month we made use of the Let's Encrypt service, which not only automates the much of the process of setting up secure connections, but also offers security certificates free of charge. First, we rolled out encrypted connections to our Torrent Corner downloads as a test run. When that went well, we enabled secure HTTPS connections to the DistroWatch website.
We are keeping plain HTTP connections available for people who want to continue using the unsecured protocol and to avoid breaking people's web browser bookmarks. For those who would like to make use of the new, encrypted connections, please visit us at https://distrowatch.com.
We are also pleased to report the DistroWatch website has been submitted to the HTTPS Everywhere project. HTTPS Everywhere is a web browser plug-in which re-directs unsecured web connections to secure HTTPS connections where available. This means if a person is visiting a website that links to http://distrowatch.com, the HTTPS Everywhere plug-in will automatically change the linked address to https://distrowatch.com, allowing the user to transparently make use of the encrypted connection. The next version of the HTTPS Everywhere plug-in should recognize links to DistroWatch and automatically direct visitors to our secure protocol.
* * * * *
Distributions added to waiting list
- Hamara. Hamara is a community-developed Linux distribution designed for the people of India.
- Oxana Linux. Oxana Linux is an openSUSE-based distribution developed by Colorado State University students.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 11 January 2016. To contact the authors please send email to:
If you've enjoyed this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly, please consider sending us a tip.
(Tips this week: 0, value: US$0.00)
|• Issue 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|
|• Issue 682 (2016-10-10): KDE neon 20160915, Android-x86 6.0, Fedora warns of update bug, HandyLinux drops English translation, LXQt benchmarks|
|• Issue 681 (2016-10-03): OpenBSD 6.0, DragonFly BSD to support LibreSSL in ports, systemd denial of service bug, upgraded Mintbox Mini|
|• Issue 680 (2016-09-26): Uruk GNU/Linux 1.0, blocking applications at the firewall, Lenovo controversy, Ubuntu running on the Nextcloud Box|
|• Issue 679 (2016-09-19): OpenMandriva 3.0, 32-bit vs 64-bit performance, openSUSE updates, KaOS unveils first run wizard|
|• Issue 678 (2016-09-12): Apricity 07.2016, Mageia adopts DNF, KDE neon to use Wayland, FreeBSD updates Linux compatibility, creating cron jobs|
|• Issue 677 (2016-09-05): Peppermint OS 7, Manjaro updates leadership, TrueOS becomes rolling release, organizing files, creating torrents|
|• Issue 676 (2016-08-29): Korora 24, Fedora 25 to use Wayland by default, Linux turns 25, PC-BSD becomes TrueOS, finding software licensing information|
|• Issue 675 (2016-08-22): Gentoo LiveDVD "Choice Edition", moreutils, Ubuntu improves terminal convergence, MATE packaged for Openindiana, FreeBSD improves video support|
|• Issue 674 (2016-08-15): Zenwalk Linux 8.0, Ubuntu phone follow-up, Lubuntu transitioning to LXQt, Steam running on FreeBSD|
|• Issue 673 (2016-08-03): noop linux and EasyNAS, Debian's GnuPG switch, Fedora "Flock", using "nice"|
|• Issue 672 (2016-08-01): Ubuntu Phone 15.04, Solus embraces rolling release model, interview with Jane Silber, FreeBSD Quarterly Report|
|• Issue 671 (2016-07-25): Slackware 14.2, Point Linux 3.2, OpenBSD disables usermount, KaOS releases significant changes, Fedora 22 reaches end of life.|
|• Issue 670 (2016-07-18): Linux Lite 3.0, Bodhi team plans 4.0.0, pfSense changes licensing, running software across distributions, Linux Mint upgrade path|
|• Issue 669 (2016-07-11): Linux Mint 18, proving a system is secure, LibreSSL in FreeBSD, Ubuntu plans phasing out 32-bit, pfSense status report|
|• Issue 668 (2016-07-04): Fedora 24, Linux Mint plans for 18.1, FreeBSD and DragonFly BSD improve their file systems, comparing Flatpak, Snap and AppImage|
|• Issue 667 (2016-06-27): GeckoLinux 421, Fedora supports Flatpak, Solus unveils new features, running GNU/Linux on tablets|
|• Issue 666 (2016-06-20): Comparing more live update methods, Ubuntu's snap packages, Antergos drops 32-bit media, GeckoLinux unveils Rolling edition, learning Linux resources|
|• Issue 665 (2016-06-13): BunsenLabs Linux Hydrogen, Fedora 24 delayed, NetBSD grows in size, Clonezilla questions|
|• Issue 664 (2016-06-06): Sabayon 16.05, Debian updates install media, the cost of free software, Qubes explains secure build process|
|• Issue 663 (2016-05-30): Comparing live update methods, Ubuntu MATE's progress, distros debate systemd change, DistroWatch turns 15|
|• Issue 662 (2016-05-23): Clonezilla Live, new Fedora community repository, DragonFlyBSD runs Wayland, a live edition of Slackware and kernel components|
|• Issue 661 (2016-05-16): FreeBSD 10.3, OpenMandriva adopts Clang, Debian adds ZFS packages, PCLinuxOS drops 32-bit and comparing CentOS with RHEL|
|• Issue 660 (2016-05-09): Ubuntu MATE 16.04, Mint's xapps, FreeBSD Quarterly Report, Debian updates 32-bit support, addressing GPL violations|
|• Issue 659 (2016-05-02): Ubuntu 16.04, compiling custom kernels, Cinnamon 3.0, Sabayon launches ARM build, Devuan ships Beta release|
|• Issue 658 (2016-04-25): Kali Linux 2016.1, elementary OS 0.3.2, Debian elects Project Leader, Fedora 24 feature preview, Nard reaches 1.0|
|• Issue 657 (2016-04-18): Redox, Linux Mint improves update manager, planned Fedora 24 features, Ubuntu 16.04 getting Snappy packages|
|• Issue 656 (2016-04-11): Qubes OS 3.1, Whonix offers bug bounties, Puppy's family tree, setting up disk partitions and running bash on Windows|
|• Issue 655 (2016-04-04): Parsix 8.5, Sabayon's Community repository, Red Hat offers free subscriptions, Ubuntu tablets, command line tips|
|• Issue 654 (2016-03-28): PCLinuxOS 2016.03, Using signatures to create a web of trust, Arch Linux rolls out Pacman update, GuixSD packages GNOME|
|• Issue 653 (2016-03-21): Antergos 2016.02.21, Debian prepares for election, a Unix-like OS written in Rust, watching Netflix on FreeBSD|
|• Full list of all issues|
|Free Tech Guides
This FREE 177-page guide is for the computer novice who is trying to understand how a database works and what can be done with it.