| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 646, 1 February 2016
Welcome to this year's 5th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
Designing a good user interface is difficult. There are a lot of factors to consider as a good interface will be easy to explore, it will be straight forward to discover controls and the whole thing should be consistent. This week we talk about various approaches to interface design, starting with a look at the deepin distribution and the project's custom desktop environment. The deepin project features a desktop that merges classic desktop and newer mobile designs and we explore the results in this week's Feature Story. In our News section we link to an article that talks about design changes coming to Ubuntu applications. We also talk about Linux Mint's new X-Apps, boot environments coming to FreeBSD, Debian's updated installation media and openSUSE's upgraded infrastructure. In our Questions and Answers column we discuss a taboo subject: logging into a desktop as the root user. Then we share the torrents we are seeding and provide a list of the distributions released last week. In our Opinion Poll we invite people to talk about their preferred video card brand. Finally, we are happy to report KeePass is the recipient of our January donation. We wish you all a terrific week and happy reading!
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Experiences with deepin 15
One of the last releases of 2015 we heard about was deepin 15. The deepin distribution has gone through a number of changes since the project's previous version. For example, deepin is now based on Debian's Unstable branch while older versions used Ubuntu as their base. Looking through the project's release announcement, we discover deepin has benefited from additional language translations with Malay, Bulgarian, Swedish, Croatian, Japanese, Korean, Finnish, Spanish, Hindi and Ukrainian translations being added. The new version also features a new window manager:
Deepin Desktop Environment and system stability has been thoroughly optimized to become lighter and more sensitive. A new window manager has been adopted in this edition. It can intelligently detect the current computer environment, then initiates a proper window manager.
The deepin distribution is available in 32-bit and 64-bit builds. The installation media we download is 1.8GB in size. Booting from this media brings up a menu asking if we would like to launch deepin's system installer or start a desktop environment in "failsafe" graphics mode. At least this is the menu I saw when running deepin in a VirtualBox environment and when running on my desktop computer in Legacy BIOS mode. When booting deepin's media with my desktop computer's UEFI mode enabled, deepin's boot menu only offered to run the distribution's system installer, the option to run a live desktop environment was not present. I also found deepin would not boot on my computer when run in Legacy BIOS mode, but it would boot when I tried booting with UEFI enabled.
deepin's system installer is a graphical application which can be launched from the live media's boot menu or from the distribution's live desktop environment. The system installer features a very small number of screens. On the first screen we are asked to provide a username and password in order to create an account. We are also asked to provide a hostname for our computer. There are buttons on the first screen which will bring up windows where we can change our keyboard's layout or select our time zone from a map of the world. The second screen of the installer asks onto which partition we would like to install deepin. If a suitable partition is not available, we can switch to "Expert" partitioning mode. This brings up a partition manager similar to the ones Ubuntu's installer and Calamares use. The partition manager makes it easy to see the layout of our disk and to add or remove partitions. The deepin installer supports working with Btrfs, ext3, ext4, JFS, XFS and Reiser file systems. Once we have set up our partitions, deepin's installer copies its files into place and reboots the computer so we may begin using our new operating system.
I ran into some trouble with the installer the first few times I went through it. The first time I walked through the installer, I tried to install deepin on a Btrfs volume. Early in the installation process, the system installer window disappeared and disk activity stopped, suggesting the installer had crashed. I rebooted the computer and relaunched the installer, this time taking the ext4 file system option. Again, after a few minutes, the system installer vanished and, this time, the operating system locked up, necessitating a hard reboot. The third time through, I tried using the ext4 file system again and deepin installed successfully. I'm not sure why the third attempt worked while the second attempt did not, the same settings were used in both instances.
Once deepin has been installed, the operating system boots to a graphical login screen. The background of the login screen resembles a night sky. From there we can log into the account we created at install time. Signing in brings up the Deepin Desktop Environment. The desktop features an OS X-style application launcher and task switcher at the bottom of the screen. This launcher includes a button which opens a full screen application menu. Clicking a gear icon on the launcher brings up a configuration panel on the right side of the screen and I will come back to this panel later.
deepin 15 -- Running the WPS suite and Chrome web browser
(full image size: 399kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
While deepin's desktop environment worked well on my desktop computer and was pleasantly responsive, the desktop environment was sluggish when run in a virtual machine. Enabling VirtualBox's 3-D support and installing the VirtualBox guest add-ons helped to make Deepin Desktop Environment more responsive, but the desktop never offered the performance I would expect from MATE or Plasma. In either environment, deepin required about 340MB of memory when logged into the desktop.
Looking through deepin's full screen application menu that displays a grid of large icons, we find an unusual collection of software. The distribution ships with Google's Chrome web browser which includes Flash support. deepin also offers users the WPS productivity suite, the Deepin Movie video player and the Deepin Music audio player. The multimedia applications are accompanied by media codecs, meaning we can play most media files right away. The distribution also features the GParted partition manager, a system monitor, an image viewer and a PDF document viewer. There is a driver manager which lists available third-party hardware drivers that are compatible with our hardware. New drivers can be installed with just two mouse clicks. deepin features a printer manager, a calculator and text editor. Digging further, we find the GNU Compiler Collection (version 5.3), the systemd init software (version 228) and the Linux kernel (version 4.2).
deepin 15 -- Playing media files with Deepin Move and Deepin Music
(full image size: 572kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
The applications which were provided generally worked well. The WPS suite especially has some nice features, such as providing a list of useful document templates we can preview and download. Adding printers to deepin worked smoothly and the media applications functioned as expected. One program which did not work as expected was the default screen shot utility. The screen shot application offered no delay option when capturing images. It also did not use standard menus or controls, instead displaying a small toolbar with tiny icons and no tool tips to indicate what its buttons would do. This caused me frustration until I finally gave up and downloaded an alternative screen shot utility. Something that I found interesting was neither screen shot application could take pictures of the application menu, configuration panel or virtual workspace manager. When these features were on the screen, both screen shot utilities treated them as though they were not present, capturing pictures of an empty desktop. What I found especially interesting about this was when I used the distribution in 2014, the default screen shot application was able to take pictures of the application menu and configuration panel. Perhaps the change in underlying window manager has altered the way in which some of the Deepin Desktop Environment feature's are displayed and captured.
deepin 15 -- Adding a printer to the system
(full image size: 529kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
I have mentioned deepin's configuration panel a few times and I think it is worth further examination. While most distributions feature a control centre that has its own window and a set of modules we can access one at a time, deepin explores a different approach. Clicking the configuration icon on the desktop's launcher brings up a panel on the right side of the display that takes up about a fifth of the screen. Arranged down the left side of this panel are icons that represent various groups of settings such as the time, networking and users. Hovering the mouse pointer over one of these icons brings up a tool tip with the category's name. The icons act as tabs and clicking one changes the rest of the panel into a configuration screen for the given category.
In this way, the configuration panel acts less like a normal application window and more like a drawer that we can pull onto the desktop, find the setting we want with a click or two and then close the drawer. This not only provides quick access to the operating system's settings, but it keeps them organized and out of the way. I generally found the configuration panel worked well, allowing me to change network settings, create new user accounts and change the appearance of the desktop. The one issue I ran into was at one point the system clock got out of sync. When I went into the Time & Date section of the panel, I found that my time zone was wrong. Attempting to change it, I discovered my time zone was not listed, though it had been available through the system installer. This quirk aside, I very much liked the design of the deepin configuration panel and I found its accessibility made adjusting settings happen more quickly than on other operating systems.
The distribution provides a graphical software manager called Deepin Store. This software manager displays icons which represent categories of software down the left side of the window. On the right we see applications listed in the selected category. The appearance of Deepin Store is a lot like Ubuntu's Software Centre or Linux Mint's Software Manager. Clicking an application's entry brings up a page with detailed information on the software and we can click a button to install the software. Deepin Store tended to work well and I found the categories easy to navigate, but I did run into two issues. One was that programs would not always install successfully and a few times I ended up queuing a package a second time to get it to install. This may have been due to network time-outs. The other issue was I sometimes was unable to find software in the Deepin Store that I knew to be available in the distribution's parent, Debian. I found that switching to the command line and using the APT package manager allowed me to find the applications I was unable to locate through Deepin Store.
deepin 15 -- The Deepin Store software manager
(full image size: 654kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
I did not find any way to install software updates through Deepin Store and so I again turned to the APT command line package manager when I wanted to check for software updates. On the first day of my trial, APT found 125 updated packages in deepin's repositories, totalling 153MB in size. These downloaded and installed, but upon completing the update process, the operating system froze, forcing a hard shutdown of the computer. When I rebooted, deepin ran smoothly without giving a clue as to what had gone wrong during the update.
The deepin distribution was perhaps best described as my dark horse of 2014, one of the distributions which surprised me with its stability, unusual (yet highly efficient) desktop design and many handy features. When I reviewed deepin in 2014, I came away with mostly positive feelings, despite there being a few small translation issues.
Now, in early 2016, I have a less positive experience to report after using deepin. Some aspects of the distribution are still quite good. For example, the installer is very streamlined and easy to navigate. The configuration panel is easy to use and I very much like its design. The desktop environment still does a good job of borrowing ideas from both mobile and traditional desktop interfaces. I was especially happy to note language translations have been updated and deepin presented me with fluent English on every screen. However, there were several problems I encountered too.
Right from the start, the installer crashed the first two times I tried to run it. deepin would boot without problems in VirtualBox, but I could not get the system to boot on my desktop in Legacy BIOS mode and I could not access the live desktop when UEFI was enabled. During the installation my time zone was available, but it seemed to not be present from the control panel.
The first time I installed software updates, the system froze and I was not able to find all the available desktop applications I wanted in Deepin Store. Though a minor concern, it bothered me that I was unable to take screen shots of deepin's more interesting desktop features, something I was able to do in 2014. Finally, I found that if I copied an icon from the application menu to the launcher, it would remain there only until I logged out. Upon logging back in, the icon I had placed on the launcher had disappeared and I would need to find it again in the application menu.
In short, I think deepin has more rough edges now than it did a year and a half ago. The overall design is very nice, in my opinion, but the implementation feels less solid now. I am not sure if this is a result of changing window managers or perhaps due to changing the distribution's base from Ubuntu to Debian Unstable. Perhaps it is a combination of both changes. For now, I can say I still like the interface design deepin's developers have created, but I think some underlying pieces have bugs that need to be addressed.
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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)
Mint plans X-Apps, FreeBSD to support boot environments, Debian provides updated media, Canonical shows off new convergence designs and openSUSE rolls out new build servers
The Linux Mint project recently published its monthly newsletter for January 2016 and the project shared a number of positive pieces of news. The first was that Linux Mint received a record $16,736 USD in donations in the month of December from over 700 people. The second item of note was that future versions of Linux Mint will face an issue with the design of desktop applications. "Work started on Linux Mint 18. One important aspect is GNOME 3.18 (the project and all its components, not just the desktop environment), which includes GTK and many applications used primarily by Cinnamon, but also Xfce and to a lesser extent MATE. A lot has changed between version 3.10 (used in Linux Mint 17) and version 3.18. GTK itself and many of the GNOME applications now integrate better with GNOME Shell and look more native in that environment. The bad news is that they now look completely out of place everywhere else. To make matters worse, Unity, the flagship product of Ubuntu, relies heavily on GTK, GNOME applications and the GNOME environment itself, so we're not dealing with the upstream version of 3.18 here, but with a collection of patches which bring their own issues (one example is that Ubuntu reintroduces menu bars and title bars in applications, but without rewriting their header bar so you sometimes see all three of them)."
In order to address the awkward look of GTK/GNOME applications in the Cinnamon, MATE and Xfce desktop environments, the Linux Mint project is replacing some of these applications with new programs that are designed to look and act the same across multiple desktop environments. These cross-desktop applications will be called X-Apps. "X-Apps will be a collection of generic GTK3 applications using traditional interfaces which can be used as default desktop components in Cinnamon, MATE and Xfce. In Mint 18, the X-Apps will allow us to maintain a native look and a good level of integration because they will be used in replacement of GNOME applications which now look foreign (using header bars and a distinctive layout)." Further details and a screen shot of an example application can be found in the Linux Mint newsletter.
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The FreeBSD News website has reported that the upcoming release of FreeBSD 11.0 will support boot environments. Boot environments are snapshots of the operating system which can be selected at boot time. This allows system administrators to undo damage caused by configuration changes or software updates by simply rebooting the computer and selecting an older snapshot. "This revision by Allan Jude added ZFS boot environment support to the FreeBSD bootloader, allowing users to boot their systems to multiple versions of FreeBSD using one zpool. This work has led to collaboration with several Illumos developers who have demonstrated the OpenIndiana variant of Illumos booting with the FreeBSD bootloader." FreeBSD 11.0 is expected to launch in September 2016.
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The Debian project has announced the release of updated installation media for the Debian GNU/Linux distribution. The new media images, which carry the version number 8.3 "Jessie", provide users with installation discs which contain security fixes for Debian 8, but do not represent a new version of the distribution. The Debian website explains: "The Debian project is pleased to announce the third update of its stable distribution Debian 8 (codename Jessie). This update mainly adds corrections for security problems to the stable release, along with a few adjustments for serious problems. Security advisories were published separately and are referenced where applicable. Please note that this update does not constitute a new version of Debian 8 but only updates some of the packages included. There is no need to throw away old Jessie CDs or DVDs but only to update via an up-to-date Debian mirror after an installation, to cause any out of date packages to be updated."
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The Ubuntu distribution runs on a wide variety of devices including desktops, laptops, smart phones and tablets. In an effort to make the operating system's interface feel familiar across those many devices, Canonical is putting more effort into their "convergent" design. Soon, Ubuntu applications will feature a slightly different appearance. The Canonical Design blog has details and screen shots of the new look. "Our Suru visual design language is based on origami, with graphic elements containing meaningful folds and shadows to create the illusion of paper and draw focus to certain areas. Using the main clock face's current animation (where the clock flips from analog to digital on touch) as inspiration, it seemed natural to place a fold in the middle of the clock. On touch, the clock `folds' from analog to digital."
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While Canonical works to update their user interfaces, the openSUSE project has been upgrading their infrastructure, specifically the build servers which compile the thousands of openSUSE packages for each version of the distribution. "The openSUSE build service becomes more and more a victim of its success: building constantly more than 300,000 packages for more than 43,000 developers needs really a lot of build power! And build power means not only CPU! It includes everything that you can expect from an IT infrastructure." The new build system will compile packages in a tmpfs environment which will not only make the builds much faster, it will also place less stress on the servers' hard drives.
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Logging into the desktop as root
Wanting-to-avoid-password-prompts asks: Being constantly bombarded by password prompts is a real deal breaker for me as it hurts productivity and is very annoying. How can I just login as root and run my desktop without being prompted for passwords all the time?
Please don't tell me it's not safe. I don't care. I just want to get work done.
DistroWatch answers: Different distributions ship with different login managers (or display managers, as they are usually called), but I think all of them (or almost all) have a configuration option that will allow the root user to sign into a desktop environment.
Telling the display manager to allow root to login to a desktop environment usually just requires changing a line in the display manager's configuration file. For instance, to enable root logins from the GNOME display manager (GDM), you can follow these steps on the Fedora wiki. On distributions which use SDDM as the display manager, you can follow these instructions to enable root logins. Some distributions still use the KDE display manager (KDM) and you can enable root login on those distributions by following this guide.
A handful of Linux distributions, such as Ubuntu, take things a step further and lock the root user account. On these distributions, it is necessary to unlock the root account first and then make sure the display manager will allow root to login. This guide explains how to perform the necessary steps on Ubuntu (and related distributions) which use the LightDM display manager.
Finally, I would like to point out two things. The first is that it is usually a bad idea to login to a desktop environment as root, that is why so many distributions discourage the practise. Running applications as the root user not only makes the system more vulnerable to outside attack, it also means one mistyped command or careless mouse click can damage the operating system.
Getting back to the original question, one thing that stood out when I read it was that the person asking said they were constantly pestered by password prompts. This is rare and is usually a sign that the system is not configured optimally or the user is doing something unexpected. Rather than doing something really risky, like running a desktop session as the root user, I strongly recommend looking at why password prompts are appearing and address that.
Usually, a password prompt only shows up when making configuration changes to the system. Once the operating system is up and running, a password prompt should probably only appear when installing new software packages or updates. The system should not be prompting for a password when performing normal tasks, so one's productivity usually will not be affected. If you're running into password prompts in a console, consider replacing the usual "sudo" command with "su" or "sudo -i" to maintain root credentials. Or, if the desktop is prompting for a password, consider letting the desktop remember your credentials for a time. These approaches will be a bit safer than throwing away all protections and running directly as root all the time.
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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: 158
- Total data uploaded: 27.3TB
|Released Last Week
ROSA R7 "Desktop Fresh"
ROSA R7 "Desktop Fresh", a desktop Linux distribution featuring a customised KDE 4.14.8 desktop, has been released: "The ROSA company gladly presents ROSA Desktop Fresh KDE R7 - a distribution from the ROSA Desktop Fresh family with the KDE 4 desktop environment. Technical changes in comparison to the previous release (R6): the default set of applications has been adjusted - new programs include Kup for backups and Kamoso to work with web cameras, while KWallet has been removed from default installation; default installation now contains even more media codecs, including h.265; LTS kernel 4.1.15 is used by default, but separate repositories are available with kernel 4.2.x (x86_64, i586) and 4.3.x (x86_64, i586); X.Org Server has been updated to version 1.17.4, X11 drivers and libraries have been updated as well; MESA has been updated to 11.0.6; PulseAudio has been updated to 7.1; Chromium has been updated to 47.0; Firefox has been updated to 43.0.4 and Thunderbird to 38.3; LibreOffice has been updated to 4.4.7." See the release notes for more information and a list of package updates.
BackBox Linux 4.5
The BackBox development team has announced the release of BackBox 4.5. BackBox is an Ubuntu-based distribution developed to perform penetration tests and security assessments. The new release features an updated Linux kernel (version 4.2) and security tools such as Automotive Analysis and OpenVAS. "The BackBox team is pleased to announce the updated release of BackBox Linux, the version 4.5! In this release we have some special new features included to keep BackBox up to date with latest developments in security world. Tools such as OpenVAS and Automotive Analysis will make a big difference. BackBox 4.5 comes also with kernel 4.2." Further information, including system requirements and upgrade instructions, can be found in the project's release announcement for BackBox 4.5.
The developers of Tails (The Amnesic Incognito Live System), a live Linux distribution made specifically for anonymous web browsing via the Tor network, have released Tails 2.0. This is a major new version based on Debian's current stable branch, 8.0 "Jessie". From the release announcement: "We are especially proud to present you Tails 2.0, the first version of Tails based on GNOME Shell, with lots of changes in the desktop environment and Debian 8 'Jessie', which upgrades most included software and improves many things under the hood. New features: Tails now uses the GNOME Shell desktop environment, in its 'Classic' mode; Debian 8 upgrades most included software, for example many core GNOME utilities to 3.14, LibreOffice to 4.3, PiTiVi to 0.93, Git to 2.1.4, Poedit to 1.6.10, Liferea to 1.10; update Tor Browser to 5.5 (based on Firefox 38.6.0 ESR), add Japanese support; remove the Windows camouflage which is currently broken in GNOME Shell; change to systemd as init system; update most firmware packages which might improve hardware compatibility; notify the user if Tails is running from a non-free virtualization software...."
Tails 2.0 -- Exploring the application menu
(full image size: 48kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
OPNsense is a FreeBSD-based operating system for firewalls and routers that was originally forked from pfSense. The OPNsense project has released a new version, OPNsense 16.1 "Crafty Coyote", which is based on FreeBSD 10.2. The new release features several improvements to the firewall, dashboard and translations. The project has also rolled out new documentation. "16.1 is nick-named `Crafty Coyote' in honour of our beloved childhood TV sessions. It is the accumulation of 6 months of work, having had our focus on re engineering the captive portal, native intrusion prevention, plugin support, and transforming the reporting front-end into something more modern and flexible just to name a few. Apart from the recently published security advisories, we have included a quick navigation feature which can be activated by pressing (TAB) followed by search keywords and hitting (ENTER) to go to the desired page. Last but not least, a larger batch of improvements and fixes went into assorted sections of the GUI that certainly help to get your work done without ending up dazed and confused." Further information and a complete list of changes can be found in the project's release announcement.
The deepin project has published an updated release of the distribution's 15 series. The new version, deepin 15.1, includes several updates and fixes. The latest version also features a new application, Deepin Cloud Print. "deepin is a Linux distribution committed to providing an elegant, user-friendly, safe and stable operating system for users all over the world. deepin 15.1 is a correction edition emphasized on fixing bugs that users fed back, optimizing the system and expanding app repository. It is worth mentioning that a new member has joined Deepin application family -- Deepin Cloud Print! Based on questions and advice users submitted through Deepin Feedback, we fixed and optimized system modules..." A full list of changes and several screen shots are featured in the project's release announcement.
The Neptune project has released the fifth update to the distribution's 4.x series. The new release features application and kernel updates. The new version, Neptune 4.5, removes TrueCrypt in favour of the VeraCrypt encrypted storage software. "We are proud to announce Neptune 4.5, the fifth service release to the Neptune 4.x series. This version comes with some core updates to the system including LTS Kernel 3.18.25, systemd 227, libc6 2.19, Mesa 10.5.9, ALSA 1.0.27 and more. For the first time we also offer a testing version of our Plasma 5 version based on Plasma 5.5.3 as a separate ISO download. The usual software Updates like Chromium updated to version 46 and Icedove to 38.5 are also included. We replaced TrueCrypt with VeraCrypt which is compatible with TrueCrypt containers." Further details and screen shots can be found in the project's release announcement.
Neptune 4.5 -- Running the KDE desktop
(full image size: 633kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
The OpenELEC team has published an update to the project's 6.0.x series. The new version, OpenELEC 6.0.1, focuses on bug fixes and minor adjustments to the embedded media distribution. "OpenELEC 6.0.1 is a maintenance release so there are no new features. The main fixes are: libCEC has been bumped to 3.0.1 to solve some outstanding issues for RPi/RPi2 users. Firmware to support the Cubox-i4pro Bluetooth chipset has been added. SSL issues seen with some HTTPS streams are resolved with an update to embedded CA certificates. Firmware for Intel wifi devices has been updated to resolve (or at least improve) some networking issues. Kodi Isengard DVB add-ons have been updated and pushed to the official repo. Boot partition size for new installations has been increased to 512MB." Further details and upgrade instructions can be found in the project's release announcement.
The Sabayon project, which produces a Gentoo based distribution that provides a great deal of functionality out of the box, has released Sabayon 16.02. The new release mostly features updates to the distribution's utilities and desktop environments. The new version also introduces initial support for the ARM architecture. "We released the tech preview for Raspberry Pi 2, and you can download it here, meanwhile the tree is getting in shape and we are setting up the infrastructure to build images also for other devices, for more information, read here. Udoo and Odroid are the next in the queue." The Sabayon project provides a wide range of editions, including builds for GNOME, KDE, MATE, Xfce along with a Server edition. Additional information can be found in the project's release announcement.
Linux Lite 2.8
Jerry Bezencon has announced the launch of a new version of Linux Lite, a user friendly distribution based on packages found in the Ubuntu repositories. The new version, Linux Lite 2.8, introduces a number of features, including better hardware support, a help manual that is accessible from the desktop and the ability to install the distribution on Btrfs volumes. "Linux Lite 2.8 Final is now available for download. The star of this release is the inclusion of the Hardware Enablement Stack 3.19 based kernel offering greater hardware support. We've also included a host of new features including, Btrfs support during install, the help manual is now accessible from the desktop, Hulu now works out of the box, and the usual compliment of community suggestions and bug fixes." Additional information, a screen shot and download links can be found in the project's release announcement.
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Favourite video card brand
Which video card to purchase is often a source of contention in the open source community. The big name brands in the video card market have not always been supportive of open source operating systems and have tended not to supply open source drivers or hardware specifications. While the situation has been improving in recent years, there is still a lot of debate over which video cards offer the best stability, the best performance and the best open source drivers.
This week we would like to find out which brand of video cards our readers are using in their Linux and BSD boxes. Please leave us a comment below with your thoughts on the stability and performance of the card you are using. We would also love to hear if you are using an open source driver or a proprietary one with your video card.
You can see the results of our previous poll on using live discs here. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
Favourite video card brand
|AMD/ATI with open driver: ||338 (18%)|
| AMD/ATI with closed driver: ||126 (7%)|
| Intel: ||415 (22%)|
| NVIDIA with open driver: ||197 (11%)|
| NVIDIA with closed driver: ||619 (33%)|
| Unsure: ||163 (9%)|
January 2016 DistroWatch.com donation: KeePass
We are pleased to announce the recipient of the January 2016 DistroWatch.com donation is KeePass. The project receives US$400.00 in cash.
The KeePass project develops software to securely organize and store the many account names and passwords people need to maintain. The KeePass software makes creating, storing and retrieving passwords and associated account details quick and easy. "KeePass is a free open source password manager, which helps you to manage your passwords in a secure way. You can put all your passwords in one database, which is locked with one master key or a key file. So you only have to remember one single master password or select the key file to unlock the whole database. The databases are encrypted using the best and most secure encryption algorithms currently known (AES and Twofish)."
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$45,425 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)
- 2016: KeePass ($400)
* * * * *
Distributions added to the database
Metamorphose is a Debian-based operating system where the biggest goal is being simple and complete with a nice graphical interface for beginners or advanced users. The distribution ships with KDE as the default desktop environment and WINE is present to help users run Windows applications. UEFI support is available.
Metamorphose Linux 7.1.8 -- Running the KDE desktop
(full image size: 1.5MB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
* * * * *
Distributions added to waiting list
- Ångström. Ångström is a Linux distribution for embedded devices like handhelds, set top boxes and network-attached storage devices.
- NayuOS. NayuOS is a customization of Chromium OS that introduces more developer tools along with improving security and privacy.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 8 February 2016. To contact the authors please send email to:
- Jesse Smith (feedback, questions and suggestions: distribution reviews/submissions, questions and answers, tips and tricks)
- Ladislav Bodnar (feedback, questions, donations, comments)
If you've enjoyed this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly, please consider sending us a tip.
(Tips this week: 0, value: US$0.00)
|Linux Foundation Training
|• Issue 738 (2017-11-13): SparkyLinux 5.1, rumours about spyware, Slax considers init software, Arch drops 32-bit packages, overview of LineageOS|
|• Issue 737 (2017-11-06): BeeFree OS 18.1.2, quick tips to fix common problems, Slax returning, Solus plans MATE and software management improvements|
|• Issue 736 (2017-10-30): Ubuntu 17.10, "what if" security questions, Linux Mint to support Flatpak, NetBSD kernel memory protection|
|• Issue 735 (2017-10-23): ArchLabs Minimo, building software with Ravenports, WPA security patch, Parabola creates OpenRC spin|
|• 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|
|• Full list of all issues|
|Random Distribution |
Taprobane GNU/Linux was a distribution based on Debian GNU/Linux. It was a live CD with a primary focus of bringing convenience to the user. The word "Taprobane" represents an ancient name for Sri Lanka, a beautiful Indian Ocean island also known as Ceylon.