| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 668, 4 July 2016
Welcome to this year's 27th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
In June we thought it would be fun to mix things up and so we arranged to swap reviews with FOSS Force, a website which covers news relating to free and open source software. As a result, our Jesse Smith has his review of Tiny Core Linux 7.1 posted on their website and FOSS Force's Christine Hall shares her experiences with Fedora 24 in our Feature Story this week. In our News section we talk about file system enhancements coming to FreeBSD and DragonFly BSD. We also share a warning for users upgrading their copy of the screen utility and talk about Linux Mint's planned features. In place of a Questions and Answers column we share an opinion piece on the Flatpak, Snap and AppImage package formats. In the Torrent Corner we share the torrents we are seeding and then we share a list of the distributions released last week. In our Opinion Poll we talk about preferred command line shells. This week we are happy to report the last of the unsecured (HTTP) resources have been removed from DistroWatch.com and we have set up a collection of signing keys to make verifying distribution ISO downloads easier. Plus we welcome the Apricity OS distribution into our database. We wish you all a wonderful week and happy reading!
- Review: Fedora 24 - It isn't for everybody, but then, it doesn't try to be
- News: FreeBSD improves ZFS cache handling, Arch warns about updating screen, DragonFly BSD improves HAMMER2 and Linux Mint plans for 18.1
- Opinion: Flatpak, Snap and AppImage
- Torrent corner: antiX, KDE neon, Linux Mint, Slackware Linux
- Released last week: Linux Mint 18, SolydXK 201606, Slackware 14.2, antiX 16
- Opinion poll: Favourite command line shell
- DistroWatch.com news: Pure HTTPS and a collection of signing keys
- Distributions added to the database: Apricity OS
- New distributions: LibreELEC, Photon OS, Linux Kote, Endless OS, Gmac
- Reader comments
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (36MB) and MP3 (42MB) formats
|Feature Story (by Christine Hall)
Fedora 24 - It isn't for everybody, but then, it doesn't try to be
On June 23, after installing Fedora for my first ever look at the distro for this review of Fedora 24, I pinged a friend who writes about Linux seeking help for a pesky configuration problem. I was trying to get GNOME to quit demanding a password every time I walked away from the computer for five minutes or so, which I thought should be easy, but wasn't. After finding sort of a solution for the problem, I sent him another email.
"I would expect Fedora to have an easy way to deal with this," I wrote. "Actually, I find very few configuration tools in this installation of Fedora, which surprises me. This must be what you get when you have server people supervising the development of a desktop OS."
"Exactly," he pinged back with record speed. "I've never cared much for it myself. Never really found it that compelling. Arch/etc I get; Ubuntu/Mint, I also see the appeal. But Fedora and SuSE always lost me. Nothing negative about them, rather, I fail to see the appeal unless you're someone who uses these at work."
My friend had hit the nail on the head. Fedora isn't a distro for people who need to get work done, unless that work happens to involve IT. Nor is it necessarily for gamers who need a highly configurable operating system optimized for resource intensive games. Fedora 24, and I presume previous versions of the distro, is first and foremost for developers and admin types who spend their days keeping RHEL and CentOS servers up and running. It's a system by developers for developers, a conclusion you may argue with if you wish.
This isn't its reputation, however -- at least, not completely. In the forums, users write that they like it because it's a cutting edge distro with the most up to date software and with a commitment to software freedom, certainly not a distro for newbies, but great for those who want to be on the cutting edge.
Fedora 24 -- Running GNOME Shell 3.20
(full image size: 1.1MB, resolution: 1600x900 pixels)
As is my habit when looking at a new distro, after downloading via torrent I ran the live version, mainly to make sure I had a Wi-Fi connection and Internet access before attempting an install to the hard drive. Wireless connected perfectly and I verified that Internet was working by briefly opening Firefox. After closing the browser, however, I ran across one little glitch: GNOME's "Activities" button quit responding. GNOME wasn't frozen and everything else worked fine. I figured this was a live mode problem, probably connected with my hardware. It did necessitate a reboot in order to reach the installer's launcher.
Upon reboot I clicked "Install to Hard Drive" and sat back for my first look at Fedora's installer, Anaconda, in action. Fedora offers a detailed installation guide, but I chose to fly by the seat of my pants to see if the process was intuitive. I was installing onto a laptop I reserve for testing, an older System 76 Pangolin with a quad core 2.53 GHz processor and 4 GB RAM, Nothing special, but a machine that has Linux in its DNA.
The installation was reasonably straightforward and easy to understand, although I thought the partitioning tool could be a little more clear. I was able to get the job done and install Fedora alongside a small Windows partition I use once a year without having to seek online help.
Fedora 24 -- GNOME's Getting Started screen
(full image size: 645kB, resolution: 1600x900 pixels)
Running Fedora 24
Like most modern distros, Fedora doesn't install with a boatload of programs. GNOME 3.20 is the default desktop, so GNOME apps and applets are installed, including Evolution as the default email client. In addition, there's version 5.1 of LibreOffice and Firefox 47.0. Other than that, you're on your own.
Since you're reading this on DistroWatch, you probably already know that Fedora uses RPMs. After checking Fedora's documentation for the proper command and syntax, I installed GIMP from a terminal with the command "
su -c 'dnf install gimp'" . After being prompted for a password, Dandified YUM (Fedora's current package manager) compiled a list of the required dependencies and asked "Is this OK [y/N]"? I typed "y", hit "enter" and waited for the download and installation. In other words, just the same as with apt or any other command line package manager.
After that, I installed the Bluefish text editor that I'm using to write this review. This time I used Software, Fedora's default graphical software installer, which I found to be intuitive and not much different from the installation tools included with other distros.
The next thing was to add RPM Fusion as a repository, since the Fedora repository doesn't contain any non-free software. This is especially necessary if you want to watch videos or listen to music, as you'll need to download and install the codecs before you can listen to your MP3s.
Fedora 24 -- Listening to musing on Rhythmbox
(full image size: 1.0MB, resolution: 1600x900 pixels)
Fedora's Breakable Linux
Unfortunately, I found it easier than expected to break things in Fedora.
On the day after I'd successfully installed programs and added RPM Fusion from the command line, both actions requiring use of the sudo command, I tried to run a command requiring sudo, only to be told "christine is not in the sudoers file." Evidently, something I'd done the day before -- I have absolutely no idea what -- had inadvertently removed me from the sudoers list.
I completed the task at hand by logging in as root, but that's not a long term solution for a variety of reasons. And because I'd never lost sudo privileges on any distro -- I didn't even know it was possible -- I had to go looking to figure out how to fix the problem. As expected, I'd need to edit a file -- "sudoers" -- so I logged in again as root and opened the file in a text editor. Alas, the file opened in "read only" mode with a message that editing sudoers required the use the visudo command. This required more searching to learn how visudo worked.
Eventually the file was edited and the use of sudo was restored, but…grrr.
Yeah, I get it. If I were a real Linux user -- meaning a sysadmin or some such -- I would have had no problem with such a simple task because I'd most likely spend time each day removing sudo rights from users whom I didn't want to try to do anything requiring root privileges. However, that doesn't begin to explain why it was so easy to accidentally remove myself from the elite group of sudoers to begin with.
I guess I should be happy I learned something.
Fedora 24 -- Updating Fedora 24 from the command line.
(full image size: 1.1MB, resolution: 1600x900 pixels)
If you spend your time getting your hands dirty working in IT, I'm sure you'll find much to like about Fedora 24. Also, anyone who would like to learn all of the ins and outs of running a Linux system could definitely benefit from spending some time with Fedora, as the distro will force you to learn to do many things that are made easy in some other distros.
In some ways, it's like the Linux version of a Ferrari. It's great if you have the skills, time and tools to tinker with it, but if your job isn't to keep Red Hat or CentOS servers operating smoothly and you don't particularly enjoy spending hours completing simple tasks that should be handled in a few seconds with a couple of clicks, then you might want to consider another distro.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
FreeBSD improves ZFS cache handling, Arch warns about updating screen, DragonFly BSD improves HAMMER2 and Linux Mint plans for 18.1
The ZFS advanced file system maintains its own information cache in memory called the ARC. The ARC allows data to be retrieved more quickly by keeping frequently accessed information in RAM, which can be accessed faster than data stored on a hard disk. While it is possible to change the minimum and maximum limits of the ARC cache's size, changing these limits has historically required rebooting the operating system. The FreeBSD team has introduced a new feature which will allow ZFS's cache limits to be adjusted while the operating system is running. "Prior to this change ZFS ARC min/max could only be changed using boot time tunables, this allows the values to be tuned at runtime using the sysctls..." The variables which can be adjusted at run time are mentioned in this post.
* * * * *
People who run the Arch Linux distribution, or other rolling release distributions, should be aware that upgrading the screen terminal multiplexer may break compatibility with long running screen sessions. A post on the Arch Linux website warns: "As you upgrade to screen-4.4.0-1 you will be unable to reattach sessions started with earlier screen versions. Please make sure all your sessions are closed before upgrading." If any long running jobs are running in a screen session, hold off upgrading the screen package until those jobs have completed and their sessions terminated.
* * * * *
The DragonFly BSD operating system is perhaps most famous for its advanced HAMMER file system. The developers have been hard at work on the next generation of HAMMER (HAMMER2) and have been making strong progress. The DragonFly BSD Digest page outlines the new features coming to the operating system's file system: "HAMMER2 now has inode indexing, which Matthew Dillon was avoiding while trying to create more efficient hard link support. The result is now with that problem solved, more updates can come in: NFS support, mtime updates, output changes, code removal, and lots of other changes, not all of which I'm even linking."
* * * * *
Following the release of Linux Mint 18, the Mint developers have published their plans for the next Linux Mint update, version 18.1. The upcoming version will include many improvements to the Cinnamon desktop environment, a transition from GTK 2 to GTK 3 for the MATE desktop, bug fixes for X-Apps and a command line update utility. The full list of planned features can be found in the project's roadmap.
* * * * *
These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Opinion (by Jesse Smith)
Flatpak, Snap and AppImage
Over the past few months we have been hearing a lot about two new package formats, Flatpak and Snap (aka Snappy, aka snaps). These two new methods of packaging software have been getting a lot of attention, especially in the Ubuntu and Fedora communities. Both package formats attempt to make packaging easier for developers as all of an application's dependencies can be bundled in the one portable package. Both Flatpak and Snap also claim to be (in theory at least) universal. The idea here is that any distribution which provides the Snap framework will be able to run any Snap package. Likewise, any Linux distribution with the Flatpak software installed should be able to run any Flatpak package. This should make it possible for developers to make one package for their software which will run on any distribution.
Here is what the Ubuntu website has to say about their Snap technology:
Developers from multiple Linux distributions and companies today announced collaboration on the Snap universal Linux package format, enabling a single binary package to work perfectly and securely on any Linux desktop, server, cloud or device. This community is working at snapcraft.io to provide a single publication mechanism for any software in any Linux environment.
Please note that to separate the Snap technology and framework from the associated command line tool and the package format, I will use the following convention: The Snap technology in general will be referred to using proper case ("Snap"), the command like utility will be referenced as "snap" (with italics) and packages created for Snap will be called "snaps" or "a snap package".
Flatpak's website offers the following description of their competing technology:
Distributing applications on Linux is a pain: different distributions in multiple versions, each with their own versions of libraries and packaging formats. Flatpak is here to change all that. It allows the same app to be installed on different Linux distributions, including different versions. And it has been designed from the ground up with security in mind, so that apps are isolated from each other and from the host system.
Where things get complicated is figuring out which distributions support which "universal" package format. Snap is backed (almost exclusively) by Ubuntu and its community editions. Despite the Ubuntu's website claiming "multiple" Linux distributions are collaborating on supporting Snap, so far it appears as though Ubuntu and its community flavours are the only projects that offer built-in support for Snap. Meanwhile Flatpak has not enjoyed a widespread welcome either with Fedora being the only distribution to claim support for Flatpak packages at the time of writing.
I thought it would be interesting to test drive both Flatpak and Snap on Ubuntu and Fedora to see how the experiences would compare. Both Flatpak and Snap packages have been created for the latest version of LibreOffice and I wanted to see how each package format performed.
But wait! There are other package formats which claim to run universally across Linux distributions, bundling any dependencies as needed. Perhaps the most popular is AppImage, a format which has been around for years, under one name or another. AppImage, unlike Flatpak and Snap, claims to need no framework. AppImage needs no other packages or technologies to be installed. The project's website claims:
Download an application, make it executable, and run! No need to install. No system libraries or system preferences are altered. Can also run in a sandbox like Firejail. Distribute your desktop Linux application in the AppImage format and win users running all common Linux distributions. Package once and run everywhere. Reach users on all major desktop distributions.
This sounds a bit less complicated while offering similar sandboxing technology to what Snap and Flatpak offer, so I decided to also try running a complex application bundled as an AppImage on both Fedora and Ubuntu to see how this unsung third-party package format would compare. I could not find any AppImage bundle of LibreOffice, so I grabbed a copy of the Krita drawing application to test on both distributions.
* * * * *
Ubuntu 16.04 LTS
I started my experiment on Ubuntu's latest release, Ubuntu 16.04. Ubuntu 16.04 has built-in support for Snap. I found no mention of Flatpak or, as it used to be called, xdg-app. I began my trial by grabbing a development snapshot of LibreOffice. There does not appear to be any official snap for LibreOffice, leading me to follow the steps provided by the Sky From Me blog to get a third-party snap package of the productivity suite.
The LibreOffice package must be installed from the command line and was 286MB in size. The snap command line tool (which must be run with root privileges) also had to pull in 64MB of dependencies to support the LibreOffice package. I noticed that once installed, no launcher for my new copy of LibreOffice was added to Unity's dash. This means the user must install and run snaps from the command line. Attempting to run the LibreOffice snap caused my terminal session to simply hang and the productivity suite failed to start. Removing the snap after my trail could be accomplished through the snap command line utility.
As my experiment with Snap had failed, I turned to Flatpak. Ubuntu does not ship with Flatpak included by default. Searching through the distribution's repositories, I could find no mention of either xdg-app or Flatpak, preventing me from attempting to install the LibreOffice Flatpak package.
Next, I downloaded the official AppImage package from the Krita website. The Krita bundle is 76MB in size. As the AppImage documentation says, all that is required to launch an AppImage program is marking the downloaded file as executable and running it. This can be accomplished though any modern file manager by right-clicking the bundle to change its properties and then left-clicking the file to run it. The Krita application ran smoothly and with no issues on Ubuntu 16.04. When I was done with the application, removing it from the system was as simple as deleting the AppImage package I had downloaded.
It may be worth noting AppImage does not require a package to be installed in the traditional sense, merely downloaded and marked as executable. This means the user does not need to have administrator (or sudo) access to work with AppImages. Both Flatpak and Snap require admin access to install or remove applications.
Ubuntu 16.04 -- Running the Krita AppImage bundle
(full image size: 202kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
* * * * *
While running Ubuntu, I had failed to get two of the three package formats to run and so I turned to Fedora with hope of better results. The Fedora 24 release announcement mentioned support for Flatpak and I started there.
I found that Fedora 24 Workstation does not, in fact, include Flatpak in the default install, but the Flatpak software is available in Fedora's official repositories. This is a fairly small download, I did not catch the exact size, but installing Flatpak took just a minute of my time.
There is an official LibreOffice Flatpak package, available through the LibreOffice website. Prior to installing the package, we first need to perform several steps from the command line as the admin user. First, we need to install the GNOME security keys. Then we enable the GNOME repositories and download LibreOffice's Flatpak dependencies. This download is about 171MB. Then we can download and install the LibreOffice Flatpak, which is another 156MB download. Once these steps were completed successfully, I tried to run the new LibreOffice Flatpak, which must be done from the command line. An error message appeared and told me LibreOffice was not installed.
I went through the process again and found myself in an odd loop where, whenever I attempted to install the new LibreOffice package, I would encounter the error "LibreOffice branch fresh already installed". Attempting to run the application would report the contradicting error "not installed". In the end, despite downloading over 300MB of packages and dependencies, the LibreOffice Flatpak failed to run.
Testing Snap on Fedora was quite a short experience. Fedora 24 does not include support for Snap in the default installation. Snap is not available through the official repositories and it is not available through the RPMFusion community repositories either. This effectively blocks Fedora users from installing snaps.
Once again, I downloaded the 76MB Krita AppImage on Fedora. I was able to make the application executable with a few mouse clicks and run the application with another click. Krita performed smoothly on Fedora and, when I was done with the application, I removed it from the system by deleting the AppImage file. No elevated access was required.
* * * * *
Admittedly, both Snap and Flatpak are in relatively early stages of development. It's not fair to expect them to work perfectly or to have nice, polished graphical user interfaces. I was certainly willing to overlook a few rough edges. However, what I experienced this week with Snap and Flatpak was a disaster. A large part of this, I think, comes from (as Fedora QA Lead, Adam Williamson, pointed out) the fact no one is working together. Ubuntu wants to push Snap, but no one else seems interested. Fedora is backing Flatpak, but no one else seems to be on board with it yet. Which means, for now at least, neither of these two package formats is universal.
What made my experience more bitter this week was that not only were Flatpak and Snap not universal across distributions, the packages I tried did not even work on the distributions which claim to support them. Snap, on Ubuntu, looked promising. The snap command line utility feels a lot like apt-get and automatically handles dependencies. It might not work yet, but the concept seems viable once the edges get polished. Unfortunately, it looks as though Snap's backend (the server side of things) is proprietary and unlikely to be accepted in the larger Linux community.
Flatpak though is broken by design. Like Snap, Flatpak has a rough command line interface, but it also requires far too many steps to get it working. These steps involve installing Flatpak, then typing out long, complex commands which will immediately turn away most users. To even try to run a Flatpak application the user must import signing keys, manually install dependencies and then hope that is enough to get the application working. Further, Flatpak relies on systemd and only works in desktop sessions, preventing the package format from working on servers and in embedded environments. This makes Flatpak a non-starter in the race for universal packages.
The most frustrating thing in this situation is we already have a cross-platform package format which works. AppImage has been around for years, automatically handles dependencies, truly works across multiple distributions and does not require root/sudo access to install. AppImage requires no additional framework or libraries to be installed, there is no new package manager to learn and AppImage programs can be launched through any distribution's file manager.
In the blog post from Adam Williamson I linked to above, Williamson questions whether AppImage is secure enough. Both Flatpak and Snap have sandbox capabilities which isolate programs from the rest of the system, an important feature to have when installing software from third-parties. And Williamson raises a valid point, sandboxing is a critical feature these days and AppImage does not have sandboxing built-in. However, AppImage programs do work inside Firejail sandboxes. This secures AppImage programs with virtually no extra effort from the user, so long as they have Firejail installed. Recent versions of Firejail even guard against X display server attacks, like key logging, which makes AppImage programs protected by Firejail more secure than Snap and Flatpak packages running on X.
For now, it looks like two of the biggest names in the Linux community are going to compete with separate, incomplete "universal" package formats which will have limited cross-distro support. Meanwhile we have a working alternative that is easier to use, works across platforms and offers better security. Hopefully more distributions will turn their focus on supporting AppImage, ideally running these bundles in a sandbox, to provide a better user experience.
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: 211
- Total data uploaded: 38.7TB
|Released Last Week
Arjen Balfoort has announced the release of SolydXK 201606, a new stable release of the Debian-based desktop Linux distribution offering separate editions with Xfce 4.10 or KDE 4.14 desktops, as well as an Xfce variant for the Raspberry Pi single-board computer: "It is time again for the new SolydXK ISO images. These are some of the changes: Firefox ESR is now used from the Debian repository instead of custom built and installed from the SolydXK repository; you can now use custom mount points in the live installer, double click on a partition to select a pre-defined mount point or write your custom mount point; improved command handling of SolydXK applications for the Enthusiast's editions; SolydX RPi has been built from scratch and is based on Raspbian..." Read the rest of the release announcement for further details.
The antiX team, which produces a lightweight Debian-based distribution, has announced the availability of antiX 16. The new release is based on Debian 8.5 (Jessie) and deviates from its Debian base by not using the systemd init software. "Debian 8.5 (Jessie), but systemd-free! And it fits on a CD! Great Live USB features! We initially set out to add a few enhancements on top of antiX 15 in preparation for a stretch release, but we got carried away and added lots of features particularly when running live. As usual antiX comes in three flavours for both 32- and 64-bit processors." The three editions are Full (which provides several window managers), Base (with three lightweight window managers) and Core-Libre (no graphical environment). Details on antiX 16 can be found on the project's News page.
Linux Mint 18
Clement Lefebvre has announced a new release of Linux Mint. The new version, Linux Mint 18, is a long term support release which will receive support through to the year 2021. This release is based on Ubuntu 16.04 and is available in Cinnamon and MATE editions. There are several new features in this version, including an enhanced update manager which supports installing different versions of the Linux kernel. The update manager will also be easier to configure to offer a balance between security and stability. Linux Mint 18 further introduces X-Apps. "A new project called X-Apps was started and its goal is to produce generic applications for traditional GTK desktop environments. The idea behind this project is to replace applications which no longer integrate properly outside of a particular environment (this is the case for a growing number of GNOME applications) and to give our desktop environments the same set of core applications, so that each change, each new feature being developed, each little improvement made in one of them will benefit not just one environment, but all of them." Additional information can be found in the project's release announcement (Cinnamon, MATE) and release notes (Cinnamon, MATE).
Linux Mint 18 -- Running the MATE desktop
(full image size: 691kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Slackware Linux 14.2
The Slackware project has announced a new stable release of the world's oldest surviving Linux distribution. The new version, Slackware 14.2, ships with Linux kernel version 4.4, KDE 4.14, Xfce 4.12 and the 64-bit build of Slackware supports booting on UEFI-enabled hardware. "Slackware 14.2 brings many updates and enhancements, among which you'll find two of the most advanced desktop environments available today: Xfce 4.12.1, a fast and lightweight but visually appealing and easy to use desktop environment, and KDE 4.14.21 (KDE 4.14.3 with kdelibs-4.14.21) a stable release of the 4.14.x series of the award-winning KDE desktop environment. These desktops utilize eudev, udisks,and udisks2, and many of the specifications from freedesktop.org which allow the system administrator to grant use of various hardware devices according to users' group membership so that they will be able to use items such as USB flash sticks, USB cameras that appear like USB storage, portable hard drives, CD and DVD media, MP3 players, and more, all without requiring sudo, the mount or umount command. Just plug and play. Slackware's desktop should be suitable for any level of Linux experience." Additional information can be found in the project's detailed release announcement.
Zenwalk Linux 8.0
Jean-Philippe Guillemin has announced the availability of Zenwalk Linux 8.0, a major new release of the project's Slackware-based distribution with Xfce as the default desktop and a number user-friendly enhancements: "Zenwalk is back after a long development blackout, with the latest best-of-breed software (LibreOffice 5.1.3, Chromium 51, MPlayer 1.3, FFmpeg 3.0.1), the latest Slackware base system featuring the Linux kernel 4.4.14 and a new desktop layout for the user-friendly Xfce 4.12.1. Zenwalk 8.0 is a 'less than 1 GB ISO image' pure Slackware system with added post-install configurations, optimizations and tunings already done out of the box, with a ready-to-use polished desktop environment, added graphical system tools, added office and multimedia applications, and striped to keep just 'one application per task'. Beginning with 8.0, Zenwalk is a 64-bit only Linux distribution. As it is hard to find 32-bits CPUs nowadays, I believe that the old 32-bit architecture is for small specialized systems only, not for the desktop." Read the rest of the release announcement for further details and a screenshot.
Debian Edu/Skolelinux 8+edu0
Laura Arjona Reina has announced the release of a new major version of Debian Edu/Skolelinux, a Debian-based distribution tailored to educational institutions, computer labs and school networks. Labeled as version 8+edu0, this is the project's first stable release based on the Debian 8.0: "The Debian Edu developer team is happy to announce Debian Edu 8+edu0 'Jessie', the latest Debian Edu / Skolelinux release, entirely based on Debian 8 update 8.5. Upgrades from previous beta releases of Debian Edu 'Jessie' to this release are possible and encouraged. New features for Debian Edu 8+edu0 'Jessie': if a system is installed via network boot the firmware for the hardware present is now installed automatically; MATE 1.8 is now available as optional desktop environment; in addition, a Dutch translation of the manual is available, and the Norwegian Bokmål one is now complete." Read the rest of the release announcement which provides several real-life usage examples from schools in Switzerland, Germany and Austria.
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Favourite command line shell
Most of us who run Linux, when we use the command line, we run Bash, a popular terminal shell. Bash is usually the default shell on most Linux distributions, but there are plenty of other shells with various interesting features and scripting syntax. In the BSD communities csh and tcsh are more commonly used. In addition, there are plenty of other shells, such as Fish and zsh, each which offers its own unique style.
This week we would like to know which command line shell is your favourite? Do you stick with the default shell your operating system provides or do you like to customize your command line environment?
You can see the results of our previous poll on universal package formats here. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
Favourite command line shell
|bash: ||1220 (75%)|
| csh: ||24 (1%)|
| dash: ||19 (1%)|
| fish: ||69 (4%)|
| ksh: ||35 (2%)|
| tcsh: ||49 (3%)|
| zsh: ||156 (10%)|
| other: ||46 (3%)|
Pure HTTPS and a collection of signing keys
At the beginning of the year we rolled out secure web connections (HTTPS) to DistroWatch.com, with the wonderful help of a free security certificate from Let's Encrypt. This allows people to verify that they really are visiting the DistroWatch web server and the information shown has not been tampered with. When we first rolled out the encrypted connection option, some of the items on our site (particularly ads or resources loaded from other websites) were not served over an encrypted connection. This caused some web browsers to either display warnings or block these unsecured resources. We are happy to report all of our website and the resources we load from third-parties are now secured by encrypted HTTPS connections.
People who would like to continue using the old, unsecured HTTP protocol may still do so. We have maintained the unsecured option to avoid breaking web and RSS clients which do not support secure connections.
If you wish to make sure you always get a secure connection when visiting DistroWatch, we are registered with the HTTPS Everywhere browser plugin. Anyone with this plugin installed in their web browser will always be directed to the secure version of our website.
* * * * *
Further on the topic of security, back in March we ran an article which explained how to use signing keys to verify a distribution's ISO file was authentic and had not been corrupted or maliciously modified. While readers generally reported the information was useful, some pointed out that it is hard to find a distribution's signing keys. Most distributions do not publish information on their signing keys (or if they even use keys). Figuring out where signing keys are stored and whether they are legitimate is often left for the user to guess.
In order to make finding signing keys and validating them easier, we have set up a collection of signing keys. We have hunted down as many distribution signing keys as we could and verified them to the best of our ability. Copies of the keys are stored on our server and can be downloaded in a plain text file, which can be imported and used by the GNU Privacy Guard (GPG) application.
We hope this will make it easier to find developers' keys and reduce the effort it currently takes to verify installation media is authentic.
To further protect our readers, if any developer e-mails us and lets us know the key we have is wrong or out of date, we will remove it from our collection. When a developer e-mails us and confirms we are sharing the right key, we will sign their key, increasing its trustworthiness.
The new collection of signing keys can be found through our sitemap under the Resources relating to free and open source operating systems section.
* * * * *
Distributions added to the database
Apricity OS is a Linux distribution based on Arch Linux. Apricity features a trimmed down desktop (GNOME or Cinnamon) and provides the ICE Site Specific Browser to integrate web-apps into the desktop environment.
Apricity OS 05.2016-rc2 -- Running the GNOME desktop
(full image size: 1.2MB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
* * * * *
Distributions added to waiting list
- LibreELEC. LibreELEC is a Linux distribution built to run Kodi on current and popular media centre hardware. The distribution is an evolution of the OpenELEC project.
- Photon OS. Photon OS is a minimal Linux container host, optimized to run on VMware platforms.
- Linux Kote. Linux Kote is an Arch Linux based distribution for Russian speaking users. Linux Kote strives to be more user friendly than its parent project.
- Endless OS. Endless OS is a Linux-based operating system with a heavily modified GNOME Shell desktop environment. Endless OS strives to provide a simple end-user experience via a combination of open source and proprietary software.
- Gmac. Gmac is a Linux distribution featuring the GNOME desktop environment and a theme which makes the interface resemble that of OS X.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 11 July 2016. To contact the authors please send e-mail to:
- Jesse Smith (feedback, questions and suggestions: distribution reviews/submissions, questions and answers, tips and tricks)
- Ladislav Bodnar (feedback, questions, donations, comments)
- Bruce Patterson (podcast)
If you've enjoyed this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly, please consider sending us a tip.
(Tips this week: 0, value: US$0.00)
|• Issue 709 (2017-04-24): Ubuntu 17.04, Korora testing new software manager, Ubuntu migrates to Wayland, running Nix package manager on alternative distributions|
|• Issue 708 (2017-04-17): Maui Linux 17.03, Snaps run on Fedora, Void adopts Flatpak, running Android apps on GNU/Linux, Debian elects Project Leader|
|• Issue 707 (2017-04-10): PCLinuxOS 2017.03, Canonical stops Unity development, OpenBSD on a Raspberry Pi, setting up a VPN for privacy|
|• Issue 706 (2017-04-03): Super Grub2 Disk, Snap packages of deepin applications, Subgraph OS routes network traffic for one application, announcements from Linux Mint|
|• Issue 705 (2017-03-27): Minimal Linux Live, sharing control of the operating system, new KaOS features, Uplos32 provides 32-bit fork of PCLinuxOS|
|• Issue 704 (2017-03-20): ToarusOS 1.0.4, Linux Mint's security record, Debian starts Project Leader election, Ubuntu 12.04 reaches end-of-life|
|• Issue 703 (2017-03-13): SolydXK 201701, CloudReady, Solus announces new features, KDE Connect sends text messages from desktop, openSUSE's YaST module for Let's Encrypt|
|• Issue 702 (2017-03-06): Fatdog64 Linux, elementary OS bundled with new netbook, Haiku announces new features, security and the size of a distro's development team|
|• Issue 701 (2017-02-27): OBRevenge 2017.02, Mageia 6 delays, NetBSD reproducible builds, questions about swap space, trying to steam video on a Raspberry Pi|
|• Issue 700 (2017-02-20): RaspBSD, Debian replaces Icedove with Thunderbird, Fedora's licensing guidlines, tips for switching shells, finding battery charge, getting IP address and killing processes|
|• Issue 699 (2017-02-13): Clear Linux, GhostBSD network utility ported to FreeBSD, Ubuntu coming to Fairphone, elementary OS crowd funding an app store|
|• Issue 698 (2017-02-06): Solus 2017.01.01, comparing containers with portable applicatins, Tails dropping 32-bit support, Debian Stretch enters freeze|
|• Issue 697 (2017-01-30): Subgraph OS 2016.12.30, running Ubuntu on an Android phone, Arch Linux phasing out 32-bit support, Linux Mint testing updated LMDE media|
|• Issue 696 (2017-01-23): GoboLinux 016, remotely running desktop applications, Solus adopting Flatpak, KDE neon using Calamares, TrueOS tests OpenRC|
|• Issue 695 (2017-01-16): Zorin OS 12, Peppermint team fixes installer bug, Debian refreshes Jessie media, Ubuntu improves low graphics mode, Exciting things coming in 2017|
|• Issue 694 (2017-01-09): MX Linux 16, Fedora considers systemd security features, DragonFly BSD to support massive swap space, Ubuntu Touch roadmap, Puppy's newsletter, sudo's password prompt|
|• Issue 693 (2017-01-02): Comparing small distros, fig language, video driver comparsion, Debian+PIXEL, Wayland on FreeBSD|
|• Issue 692 (2016-12-19): Bodhi Linux 4.0.0, Cappsule containers, Calculate's new Utilities package, Solus and Ubuntu MATE build new application menu|
|• Issue 691 (2016-12-12): SalentOS 1.0, openSUSE improves YaST, Fedora considers slower release cycle, KDE neon gets LTS branch|
|• Issue 690 (2016-12-05): Fedora 25, Ubuntu adopts rolling HWE kernel, running Android apps on GNU/Linux, Haiku working toward EFI support|
|• Issue 689 (2016-11-28): openSUSE 42.2, Fedora's upgrade path, plans for Korora 25, transitioning from PC-BSD to TrueOS, Webconverger's reproducible builds|
|• Issue 688 (2016-11-21): Endless OS 3.0.5, KDE neon fixes security hole, FreeBSD's Quarterly Status Report, Rolling release trial #2 concludes|
|• Issue 687 (2016-11-14): NAS4Free 10.3.0.3, Fedora gains MP3 playback, budgie-remix becomes Ubuntu Budgie, Ubuntu flavours compared, Rolling release trial #2|
|• Issue 686 (2016-11-07): FreeBSD 11.0, rolling release trial #2, Debian announces supported architectures, Simplicity switching to antiX base, farewell to Mythbuntu|
|• Issue 685 (2016-10-31): elementary OS 0.4, SUSE gains ARM support, Mint improves language support, Dirty COW explained, Rolling release trial #2|
|• Issue 684 (2016-10-24): Ubuntu 16.10, Linux popularity in different markets, Fedora runs on Raspberry Pi, Ubuntu features live kernel patching|
|• Issue 683 (2016-10-17): Refracta 8.0, making packages for distributions, Alpine switches to LibreSSL, 386BSD website publishes classic code|
|• 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|
|• Full list of all issues|
|Free Tech Guides
NEW! Killer UX Design
NEW! This FREE 289-page ebook is jam-packed with real-life examples that show you how to harness the power of user experience to build interfaces that influence and inspire.
|Free Tech Guides
NEW! HTML Email
NEW! This FREE 168-page ebook will show you how to confidently offer your clients email and newsletter designs that consistently produce real results.
|Free Tech Guides
NEW! Killer UX Design
NEW! This FREE 289-page ebook is jam-packed with real-life examples that show you how to harness the power of user experience to build interfaces that influence and inspire.
|Free Tech Guides
HTML5 Reference Card