| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 735, 23 October 2017
Welcome to this year's 43rd issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
Last week was an eventful one in the open source community. Early in the week developers were racing to push out security patches to fix a bug in wireless network encryption and later in the week we saw the release of Ubuntu 17.10 and its many community editions. In our News section we cover these events along with improvements to the Solus distribution, Parabola GNU/Linux-libre experimenting with OpenRC builds and Manjaro trying to make using the on-line version of Microsoft Office feel more like running a native Linux application. First though, Joshua Allen Holm takes the ArchLabs distribution for a spin and reports on his experiences. Plus we explore how to set up and use a new software build system called Ravenports. Ravenports is able to build the same software ports across multiple operating systems and we talk about its uses in our Tips and Tricks column. In our Opinion Poll we ask our readers if you use cross-platform port systems, like Ravenports or pkgsrc. Plus we share the distribution releases of the past week and provide a list of torrents we are seeding. We wish you all a terrific week and happy reading!
- Review: ArchLabs Linux Mínimo
- News: Solus updates, Manjaro improving on-line MS-Office integration, Ubuntu's changing desktop sessions, Parabola creates OpenRC spin, information on the WPA vulnerability
- Tips and tricks: Building software with Ravenports
- Released last week: Ubuntu 17.10, Ubuntu MATE 17.10, DragonFly BSD 5.0.0
- Torrent corner: Artix, AUSTRUMI, Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Ubuntu, Ubuntu Budgie, Ubuntu MATE, Ubuntu Studio, Xubuntu
- Opinion poll: Cross-platform ports and packages
- New distributions: Retrobuntu, Hyperbola GNU/Linux-libre, MultiBootUSB-Live
- Reader comments
|Feature Story (by Joshua Allen Holm)
ArchLabs Linux Mínimo
ArchLabs is a lightweight Linux distribution designed to provide a BunsenLabs-like experience based on Arch instead of BunsenLabs's Debian base. While there are certainly many stylistic similarities shared by ArchLabs and BunsenLabs, the latest ArchLabs release, named Mínimo, is clearly something that is inspired by BunsenLabs, but not a straight port of BunsenLabs onto Arch. ArchLabs has forged its own path, resulting a distribution that is BunsenLabs-like, but very much its own thing.
To find out what ArchLabs had to offer I gave it a try inside a VirtualBox virtual machine and bare metal on my laptop. Below, I take a look at the desktop environment, the install process, a handy setup script called AL-Hello, and more.
The install disc for ArchLabs Linux Mínimo is 956MB. For users just wanting to try out the distribution, the image comes with VirtualBox guest additions pre-installed. Booting the ArchLabs image in a virtual machine or from a USB drive on bare metal should be a familiar experience for anyone experienced with any modern Linux distribution. The live desktop environment boots quickly and the installer can then be run from the live environment.
ArchLabs 2017.09 -- The Calamares system installer
(full image size: 180kB, resolution: 1360x768 pixels)
The installer for ArchLabs is called Calamares. While much easier than Arch's do-everything-yourself install process, Calamares works pretty much like every other standard Linux installer out there. There are really no surprises here. The installer asks for the same information and does the same things as all the other Linux installation programs.
The only issue I had with Calamares happened the first time I tried to install ArchLabs in VirtualBox. For optimal installation, Calamares needs an Internet connection, but it only checks to see if there is an active network connection. When I was installing, my host computer was not connected to the Internet. The virtual machine had an active network connection, but when it finally tried to get data from the Internet near the end of the installation process, the installer failed, and it did not do so cleanly. Since this problem might also occur in situations where the machine is connected to a LAN with no outside access to the Internet, the installer should really start by checking to see if it has Internet access, not assuming it has Internet access just because it has an active network connection. In situations were there was no network connection or there was a network connection with an active connection to the Internet, the installation process worked as expected.
ArchLabs desktop environment
The desktop for ArchLabs is based on Openbox with a Polybar panel at the top of the screen. This top bar has four virtual desktops; a small shortcut menu for accessing the default web browser, terminal, and file manger, and logging out and shutting down the system; a window switcher that displays a count of how many windows are open; a network connection manager; volume control; and a clock. The application menu is accessed by right-clicking on the desktop. While lightweight, the desktop is aesthetically pleasing with nice transparencies, polished icons, and clean window decorations. On my system, I found that the desktop with nothing extra installed and no applications running used between 160MB and 180MB of RAM, but the blog post announcing the release of Mínimo lists RAM usage closer to 260MB. Either way, much, much lighter than some of the alternatives.
ArchLabs 2017.09 -- The default desktop
(full image size: 201kB, resolution: 1360x768 pixels)
The default ArchLabs desktop does not come with much software. Firefox for web browsing, Geany for text editing, Audacious for audio, MPV for video, Thunar for file management, and a few other utilities come pre-installed. However, installing additional software is very easy using the AL-Hello script that runs after the system has been installed. This script asks dozens of questions, letting the user customize their system to their liking. To give just a few examples: the script asks if the user wants to add a dock, what office software they would like (if any), if they want to install Steam, if they want to install extra media codecs and fonts, and the list goes on.
ArchLabs 2017.09 -- The customization script
(full image size: 172kB, resolution: 1360x768 pixels)
While very thorough, the AL-Hello script is not perfect. Each question is just a single line in the terminal with no context. If a user is unfamiliar with a particular option, they have to look elsewhere to find out what the programs mentioned are and what they do. Because each prompt is a single line in a standard sized terminal window, there is plenty of room to provide more text explaining what various choices are. Another minor problem is that some of the options give multiple options and an “install all” option, but if the choices are A, B, and C, with D being install all, there is no way to just install A and C, for example. Don't get me wrong, the script is wonderful, but both of these issues are usability enhancements I would very much like to see in future releases.
ArchLabs 2017.09 -- The Pacli package manager
(full image size: 206kB, resolution: 1360x768 pixels)
The AL-Hello script does a great job of getting a system up and running with a large selection of packages, but it does not cover everything. After the initial setup, ArchLabs uses Pacli to handle installing and updating software. This text-based utility has options for installing software, updating the system, and all the other traditional package manager tasks. If the text-based interface is too spartan, Pamac is available as one of the many options available in the AL-Hello script. Pamac provides a graphic interface for installing and updating software, for users who prefer graphical interfaces to text-based ones. Either way, there are plenty of software packages available, so installing all of their favorite applications should not be a problem for most users.
ArchLabs is a great combination of lightweight and, thanks to its Arch base, constantly up-to-date software. While probably not for everyone, ArchLabs is a polished distribution that anyone looking for an Arch-based distribution that has a pre-configured desktop and software selection should check out. The only drawback is that, like many lightweight distributions, selecting applications based on what is deemed best for an individual task can result in an odd hodgepodge of applications that all behave differently. Of course, the choice of what to install is up to the user, so that might not be a problem for some, but having applications from Xfce, GNOME, KDE, etc., can lead to a jumbled user experience.
* * * * *
Hardware used in this review
My physical test equipment for this review was a Lenovo Ideapad 100-15IBD laptop with the following specifications:
- Processor: 2.2GHz Intel Core i3-5020U CPU
- Storage: Seagate 500GB 5400 RPM hard drive
- Memory: 4GB of RAM
- Networking: Realtek RTL8723BE 802.11n Wireless Network Adapter
- Display: Intel HD Graphics 5500
* * * * *
Visitor supplied rating
ArchLabs has a visitor supplied average rating of: 8.3/10 from 24 review(s).
Have you used ArchLabs? You can leave your own review of the project on our ratings page.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
Solus updates, Manjaro improving on-line MS-Office integration, Ubuntu's changing desktop sessions, Parabola creates OpenRC spin, information on the WPA vulnerability
The Solus project published a newsletter this week which laid out several important changes and upgrades coming to the distribution. Among the key changes are an upgrade of the GNOME desktop to version 3.26.1 and getting the Control Centre to better integrate with the rest of the distribution. Behind the scenes, the LLVM compiler has been upgraded to version 5.0.0. Several changes have been applied to the Steam gaming portal too: "Linux Steam Integration has seen three releases this week and features a new 'liblsi-intercept', which controls the dynamic linking for Steam binaries, resolving some long-standing issues such as crashes on start, broken full screen views, and ensures that the Steam client uses OS-provided libraries. liblsi-intercept also provides a whitelist to allow Steam to continue to load its own private libraries and our intercept behaviour is controlled on a process-name basis. What does this mean? Well it means the Steam client is now using more system libraries, such as SDL, which fixes crashes as well as full screen issues when watching a game trailer in the store."
* * * * *
The Manjaro Linux team is working to integrate the on-line version of Microsoft Office with the Linux desktop using the Jade Application Kit. The new functionality, which makes Microsoft's on-line productivity tools appear to run like native Linux applications, can be set up on Manjaro by installing the ms-office-online package. A discussion on the new functionality can be found on the Manjaro forum.
* * * * *
This past week there has been a lot of talk about a vulnerability in most implementations of WPA2 which could make it possible for attackers to break the encryption on wireless network traffic. The vulnerability is widespread and affects most major desktop and mobile operating systems. The FreeBSD team has a good summary of the issue: "A vulnerability was found in how a number of implementations can be triggered to reconfigure WPA/WPA2/RSN keys (TK, GTK, or IGTK) by replaying a specific frame that is used to manage the keys. Such reinstallation of the encryption key can result in two different types of vulnerabilities: disabling replay protection and significantly reducing the security of encryption to the point of allowing frames to be decrypted or some parts of the keys to be determined by an attacker depending on which cipher is used. We are actively working on a patch for the base system to address these issues. Current users who use Wi-Fi with WPA2 should use a wired connection as a workaround, and we strongly recommend using end-to-end encryption methods like HTTPS or SSH to better protect against this type of attack."
* * * * *
With the launch of Ubuntu 17.10 this week, the distribution is making GNOME the default desktop instead of the formerly used Unity desktop. With this change, some people running Ubuntu and Ubuntu GNOME may be wondering about how to upgrade and which desktop sessions will be available. The DidRocks blog has some answers and a guide for navigating the various desktop options: "The 'Ubuntu' session corresponds to GNOME Shell experience with our modifications (Ubuntu Dock, appindicator support, our theme, small behaviour changes). You have probably seen those and followed their development on previous blog posts. This is the default session running under Wayland. The 'Ubuntu on Xorg' session, being similar to the previous one, but running on Xorg as the name indicates. Users who can't run Wayland (using NVIDIA proprietary driver or unsupported hardware) should be automatically fallbacked and only presented with that session."
* * * * *
The developers of Parabola GNU/Linux-libre, a free software distribution based on Arch Linux, are experimenting with new spins of their operating system. The new spins will feature the OpenRC init software instead of systemd. A post on the project's news page reads: "Since a considerable amount of Parabola developers and users prefer to use the OpenRC init system instead of systemd, which is the default, we are proud to announce the first releases of Parabola GNU/Linux-libre OpenRC Edition ISOs! As of now they are still in beta, you can get them here. These are not official, yet, but we are working on fixing all their issues. You can help by testing them and giving us some feedback so we can improve them. Besides this, due to a bug in MATE, we are planning to replace MATE with LXDE in the graphical ISOs (available with systemd and OpenRC) and include the Calamares installer for a more user-friendly experience for newcomers."
* * * * *
These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Tips and Tricks (by Jesse Smith)
Building software with Ravenports
One challenge software developers and packagers constantly face is the effort required to get new projects packaged for the wide variety of operating systems and package managers present in the open source community. If I write a new utility and want to share it with the community, then I (or other packagers) need to create a variety of packages in various formats. Traditionally, I might need to make an RPM package for the Fedora family of distributions, a Deb package for the Debian family, and another package for the Arch family. If I want to support the BSDs, then each flavour (FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, etc) has their own unique style of creating and testing ports & packages.
Portable package formats such as Flatpak and Snap reduce the effort package maintainers and developers need to put into supporting each separate platform, but we can still easily run into cases where we need to work with four or five separate package formats to support a wide range of open source systems. This results in a lot of duplicate effort, basically teaching each package manager how to build and install the software. Ideally, it would be nice to create just one package or port script for the software we write and have it work across all open platforms. This is where a young project called Ravenports shines. The Ravenports website describes the project as follows:
Ravenports is an integrated system designed to build packages of complex software on all UNIX-like platforms. It is considered "universal" because Ravenports is not anchored to any single operating system; once the build procedure for a particular software is created, that software is then available for all supported platforms. The simplest use case is to access the freely available prebuilt package repository for each supported platform.
What this means is I, as a developer, can create one set of rules for building my software on the Ravenports framework. That one recipe can then be used to build native packages that will install and run on DragonFly BSD, FreeBSD and almost all flavours of Linux. This has the potential to be a huge time saver for developers and people porting software. We do not need a separate build file or script for every operating system and package manager, we just need one Ravenports port and the software should build and run everywhere.
This idea sounds good, at least for hardworking developers and package maintainers, but does Ravenports deliver on its lofty goals? I decided to test Ravenports on a copy of Manjaro Linux and find out.
Ravenports does have a few restrictions in its current form. Right now, Ravenports runs on 64-bit x86 systems exclusively. Some of the tools used to set up Ravenports are 64-bit executables and simply will not run on 32-bit computers. On Linux, there is a library dependency, but this should not be an issue for any mainstream Linux distributions.
The Ravenports project has documentation which explains how to set up the ports system on Linux distributions. The initial set up of Ravenports just takes a minute and, when it is completed, we essentially have two key tools available in our operating system's /raven directory.
The first significant tool is a native, statically-linked version of the FreeBSD pkg package manager. This package manager can be used to find packages in the Ravenports test repository, install packages (either from a remote source or locally), display package information and statistics and remove unwanted Ravenports packages. The pkg package manager is located at /raven/sbin/pkg-static. I like the pkg package manager, it is fast, has informative prompts and offers a fairly straight forward syntax.
The second tool we get when we install the Ravenports framework is a utility called ravenadm, which can be found in the /raven/bin directory. The ravenadm program can be used to discover what ports are available, whether we have installed a specific port or not, and build local copies of a port. The main function of ravenadm is to turn source code into binary packages and we can do this using the build keyword. For example we can fetch and package the curl application using:
sudo /raven/bin/ravenadm build curl
Ravenports has a much more elegant approach to showing us what it is doing than most other port build systems I have encountered. Most port systems flood the terminal with each instruction the build is performing and any output from the compiler or other build tools. This show-everything approach can be useful for debugging issues, but it is ugly and typically unhelpful in other situations as the user is not shown useful progress information or statistics. Ravenports takes a cleaner approach. Instead of being shown step-by-step instructions, we are given a general overview of what the build process has done and plans to do. While it is working, Ravenports displays a dashboard in the terminal which shows how many ports it is going to build (including dependencies), how many it has built and how many ports have been completed successfully. The messy step-by-step details are logged to text files in the /var/ravenports/primary/logs/logs directory in case we need to go back and investigate a port which failed to build. Each port gets its own log file which greatly reduces the amount of scrolling we need to perform when searching for problems in the build information.
Ravenports -- Showing build status information
(full image size: 383kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
When my build process finished I was curious to see if my newly built software would run natively on my Linux box. However, it was not immediately clear where my freshly built packages had been stored. They were not in the /raven directory and the new software had not been copied into my user's path. I eventually found new packages were stored in the /var/ravenports/primary/packages/All directory. These packages could then be installed using the pkg package manager by running
sudo /raven/sbin/pkg-static add /var/ravenports/primary/packages/All/package-name
The above command installs our new package into the /raven directory. We can then run it using the program's full path or by adding /raven/bin to our user's executable path.
At this point it may be clear that installing software from Ravenports is not exactly convenient for end users. Which is fair, Ravenports is not attempting to make package management easier for end users, this is a framework for developers and packagers. Which means the questions we should be asking are whether or not Ravenports works and whether it makes packaging easier?
I am happy to report Ravenports definitely works. I tried installing pre-built software from the test repository and built three ports at random. All four packages installed and worked properly on my Manjaro Linux test box. And, assuming the framework is functioning as expected, I should be able to build the same ports on any other Linux distribution, DragonFly BSD or FreeBSD. This is a big step forward for people who maintain ports and packages. Typically I need to maintain separate build instructions for RPM- and Deb-based distributions as well as BSD ports. With Ravenports, I could use one set of instructions and have my software automatically packaged everywhere. It is potentially a huge time saver.
The only drawback I see with Ravenports is it requires each operating system to support it in some way, either by setting up a Ravenports software repository or linking to the Ravenports testing package repository. In theory, in a few years each distribution could compliment (or even replace) its existing build system with a Ravenports system and every upstream software project would only need one person to maintain the cross-platform port. But that would require each operating system to feature a way for users to easily install Ravenports packages. Historically it has been difficult to get open source systems to standardize on any one system, there is a lot of inertia when it comes to packaging open source software. Still, I think Ravenports holds a lot of promise as a cross-platform, write-once-package-for-everyone framework. It has the ability to do for packagers what Flatpak and Snaps have done for end users, reducing the effort required to create and distribute software packages.
* * * * *
More tips can be found in our Tips and Tricks archive.
|Released Last Week
DragonFly BSD 5.0.0
The DragonFly BSD project has announced the release of a new version of their operating system. The new version, DragonFly BSD 5.0.0, introduces a number of new features and improvements. In particular, version 5.0.0 features the advanced HAMMER2 file system, updated video drivers and the IPFW firewall has gained improved performance. "Preliminary HAMMER2 support has been released into the wild as-of the 5.0 release. This support is considered EXPERIMENTAL and should generally not yet be used for production machines and important data. The boot loader will support both UFS and HAMMER2 /boot. The installer will still use a UFS /boot even for a HAMMER2 installation because the /boot partition is typically very small and HAMMER2, like HAMMER1, does not instantly free space when files are deleted or replaced. DragonFly 5.0 has single-image HAMMER2 support, with live dedup (for cp's), compression, fast recovery, snapshot, and boot support. HAMMER2 does not yet support multi-volume or clustering, though commands for it exist. Please use non-clustered single images for now. IPFW has gone through a number of updates in DragonFly and now offers better performance. pf and ipfw3 are also still supported." Further information can be found in the project's release announcement.
Adam Conrad has announced the availability of a new version of the popular Ubuntu distribution. Ubuntu 17.10, which carries the codename "Artful Aardvark" switches the default desktop from Unity to GNOME. "Codenamed "Artful Aardvark", Ubuntu 17.10 continues Ubuntu's proud tradition of integrating the latest and greatest open source technology into a high-quality, easy-to-use Linux distribution. As always, the team has been hard at work through this cycle, introducing new features and fixing bugs. Under the hood, there have been updates to many core packages, including a new 4.13-based kernel, glibc 2.26, gcc 7.2, and much more. Ubuntu Desktop has had a major overhaul, with the switch from Unity as our default desktop to GNOME3 and GNOME Shell. Along with that, there are the usual incremental improvements, with newer versions of GTK and Qt, and updates to major packages like Firefox and LibreOffice." Additional information can be found in the release announcement and in the release notes.
Ubuntu 17.10 -- The GNOME application menu
(full image size: 1.8MB, resolution: 1360x768 pixels)
Ubuntu MATE 17.10
Martin Wimpress has announced the release of Ubuntu MATE 17.10. The new version features a number of desktop changes, including a global menu bar placed at the top of the screen. The 17.10 release also features an improved Heads-Up Display (HUD) which makes it possible to search through application menus using only the keyboard. "This is something we started during Ubuntu MATE 16.10 and never perfected, but is now ready for prime time. A favourite of Unity 7 users is the Heads-Up Display (HUD) which provides a way to search for and run menu-bar commands without your fingers ever leaving the keyboard. So if you're trying to find that single filter in GIMP but can't remember which filter category it fits into or if you can't recall if preferences sits under File, Edit or Tools on your favourite browser, you can just search for it rather than hunting through the menus. Just like Global Menus the HUD is currently only available via the Contemporary, Cupertino and Mutiny [layouts]." Further information on this release, along with screen shots, can be found in the project's release announcement.
The Xubuntu team has announced the release of Xubuntu 17.10. The new version includes significant improvements to accelerated video playback on Intel video cards. The distribution also includes support for driverless printing and includes the GNOME Font Viewer by default. "The GNOME Font Viewer is now included by default. This application simplifies viewing and installing fonts. Client side decorations (CSD) now consume much less space with the Greybird GTK+ theme. New device, mimetype, and monochrome panel icons have been included with the elementary-xfce icon theme. We usually link directly to the Ubuntu release notes, but there are several significant improvements that affect all flavours and our users: Accelerated video playback with Intel hardware should now work more reliably out of the box. The changes might also bring some performance improvements for Parole and Chromium users. Bluetooth and USB audio devices should now work better by default due to changes in BlueZ and PulseAudio. Driverless printing has been added to Ubuntu. This provides support for most modern printers: IPP Everywhere, Apple AirPrint, Mopria, PCLm, and Wifi Direct as supported. Other printers can still be added from the Printers dialog." Further information can be found in the project's release announcement.
The Kubuntu team has announced the release of a new version of their Ubuntu Community Edition featuring the Plasma desktop. The new release features Plasma 5.10, version 4.13 of the Linux kernel and upgrades to most of the operating system's desktop software. "Kubuntu 17.10 has been released, featuring the beautiful Plasma 5.10 desktop from KDE. Codenamed 'Artful Aardvark', Kubuntu 17.10 continues our proud tradition of integrating the latest and greatest open source technologies into a high-quality, easy-to-use Linux distribution. The team has been hard at work through this cycle, introducing new features and fixing bugs. Under the hood, there have been updates to many core packages, including a new 4.13-based kernel, KDE Frameworks 5.38, Plasma 5.10.5 and KDE Applications 17.04.3. Additional information and screen shots can be found in the distribution's release announcement and release notes.
Ubuntu Budgie 17.10
David Mohammed has announced the release of Ubuntu Budgie 17.10, a desktop Linux distribution featuring the simple but elegant Budgie desktop (originally developed by the Solus distribution). The new release comes with a refreshed look as well as a number of new desktop applets: "We are pleased to announce the release of a new version of our distribution, the second only as an official flavor of the Ubuntu family. Based on 17.04 experiences, feedback and suggestions we have received from our users, the new release comes with a lot of new features, fixes and optimizations: more customisation options via Budgie Welcome; complete desktop look and feel changes - more options; lots more Budgie applets available from independent developers; the best from the GNOME family as well as the fantastic Tilix terminal emulator with Quake mode enabled; stylish new login screen; latest upstream Budgie desktop version 10.4; Nightlight and Caffeine applets as standard." Here is the brief release announcement, with further technical details provided in the release notes.
Ubuntu Budgie 17.10 -- The welcome screen
(full image size: 375kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Ubuntu Studio 17.10
Ross Gammon has announced the release of Ubuntu Studio 17.10, the latest version of the project's official Ubuntu variant designed for audio, video and graphics professionals. This is routine release with the usual round of software updates and a new experimental feature for improved performance during recordings: "We are happy to announce the release of our latest version, Ubuntu Studio 17.10 'Artful Aardvark'. As a regular version, it will be supported for 9 months. Since it's just out, you may experience some issues, so you might want to wait a bit before upgrading. The Ubuntu Studio Controls package has been updated to provide an experimental option to set the CPU governor to performance mode. This is important for recording. At the moment, the setting is not persistent, and needs to be reset at every reboot. BIOS settings may need to be changed for this setting to take effect. Audio - removed zynjacku as this software is no longer maintained by the original developer." See the release announcement and release notes for further information.
Simon Quigley has announced the release of Lubuntu 17.10, a desktop distribution built from Ubuntu packages, but featuring the Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment (LXDE) which is suitable for older computers: "Thanks to all the hard work from our contributors, Lubuntu 17.10 has been released. With the code name 'Artful Aardvark', Lubuntu 17.10 is the 13th release of Lubuntu, with support until July of 2018. What has improved since 17.04? We now ship with Linux kernel 4.13; general bug-fix release as we prepare to switch to LXQt; LXDE components have been updated with bug fixes; the artwork has received an update; the latest release of Audacious, version 3.9, is included by default; Hardinfo has been updated to the latest upstream snapshot." Also available is the Lubuntu "Next" variant, an experimental build of Lubuntu with the LXQt desktop: "Alongside Lubuntu 17.10 featuring LXDE, the Lubuntu team is proud to announce an early adopter's release of Lubuntu Next, featuring the LXQt 0.11.1 desktop environment which is the Qt 5 port of LXDE." Read the release announcement and release notes for more details.
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
The table below provides a list of torrents DistroWatch is currently seeding. If you do not 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 in our Torrent Archive. We also maintain a Torrents RSS feed for people who wish to have open source torrents delivered to them. To share your own open source torrents of Linux and BSD projects, please visit our Upload Torrents page.
Torrent Corner statistics:
- Total torrents seeded: 612
- Total data uploaded: 16.1TB
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Cross-platform ports and packages
In our Tips and Tricks column we discussed Ravenports and how it can be used to build packages cross multiple operating systems. Ravenports is not the only cross-platform ports system and other projects, such as pkgsrc, assist users in installing applications on a variety of platforms.
This week we would like to know if you use a cross-platform ports framework or cross-distro package manager, like Ravenports. Please leave us a comment letting us know which one you use on your computer(s).
You can see the results of our previous poll on keeping utility discs on hand in last week's edition. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
Distributions added to waiting list
- Retrobuntu. Retrobuntu is a Linux distribution based on Xubuntu 16.04 LTS. It features the RetroPie gaming software and Kodi media player.
- Hyperbola GNU/Linux-libre. Hyperbola GNU/Linux-libre is an Arch-based distribution featuring free (as in freedom) software only. The distribution uses OpenRC as the default init software.
- MultiBootUSB-Live. MultiBootUSB-Live is a portable, live desktop distribution based on Debian. It can be used to write multiple Linux distributions to a USB thumb drive.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 30 October 2017. Past articles and reviews can be found through our Article Search page. To contact the authors please send e-mail to:
If you've enjoyed this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly, please consider sending us a tip.
(Tips this week: 0, value: US$0.00)
|Linux Foundation Training
|Reader Comments • Jump to last comment
1 • Ubuntu and Lubuntu (by edcoolio on 2017-10-23 00:31:19 GMT from United States) |
So, I guess Unity is officially dead. May it RIP. Personally, I hated it.
I'll also repeat my comments on the upgrade from 17.04 to 17.10 Lubuntu.
It did not go well, at all. Have a backup, always.
I ended up doing a complete format and clean load. Everything runs well, as usual, but it seems that the upgrades are always a hassle.
2 • @1 Unity / Ubuntu (by linuxista on 2017-10-23 00:52:18 GMT from United States)
Though I started with Ubuntu, I have avoided it studiously since the switch to Unity. Also a loss to the Gnome project and linux community itself through fragmentation of efforts. Glad they finally came around. Ubuntu, at least for installing on newb friends' machines, has suddenly become the most attractive option again.
As far as dirty/broken upgrades, you should consider a rolling release like Arch or Solus. In the long run it's less work and far, far less prone to catastrophic breakage than point release distros. (I've never had to reinstall Arch, and my first install is almost 6 years old now.)
3 • Ubuntu 17.10 (by Ti-Paul on 2017-10-23 01:10:19 GMT from Canada)
First impression : buggy (crash when login) and little bit slow (animations not fluid)... compared to my Manjaro KDE main install. Plus Ubuntu bootloader listed my Manjaro install but wasn't able to boot it (kernel panic), had to re-install Manjaro bootloader... Now i can boot Ubuntu or Manjaro. But as of now i don't think Ubuntu will last long on my drive. Maybe testing a lighter Ubuntu variant... even if i read that some variant are also having crash after login.
My background :
I started using Linux 20 years ago.
Ubuntu was a big help from a desktop perspective (originally with Gnome 2).
Since i'm a distro-hopper, i kept coming back to Ubuntu. Then came Linux Mint and it replaced Ubuntu as my main system.
More than 2 years ago, i tried Manjaro KDE and now i'm stuck on it. Every time i install a new distribution i keep thinking that it offers nothing new and stumble upon crash or slowiness on my 2010 i5/nvidia/4GB ram laptop..
4 • s6 Future Proofer (by Arch Watcher 402563 on 2017-10-23 01:21:08 GMT from United States)
Nice to see distros playing with OpenRC, but if starting afresh, especially with Arch, why not play with s6? It's moar better. Go visit Obarun.org which made the switch. You can run OpenRC on s6, but I'd go whole-hog. Help Obarun help you. Eric is very nice.
5 • Portable package formats such as Flatpak and Snap (by tim on 2017-10-23 03:34:15 GMT from United States)
Yet again, DW omits mentioning AppImage.
6 • @Ti-Paul - Ubuntu vs Manjaro (by Rajesh G on 2017-10-23 05:03:28 GMT from India)
I agree with you. I was also a distrohopper - Fedora, Suse, Ubuntu, etc. Somehow, I liked Ubuntu, including Unity (innovative thinking). By Feb-2015, I installed Manjaro. Yes, you are right! I am also struck with it. Though I like to try Ubuntu-17.10, something stops me ;). Having spent hasslefree 2.5 years in Manjaro, there is no compeling reason to try another! :D
7 • Ubuntu 17.10 (by Sanjay Prasad on 2017-10-23 05:45:59 GMT from India)
Installed 17.10 version of ubuntu works fine on my old laptop acer emachine 732z with 4GB of RAM. But none of the Screen Recorder works may be because of Wayland, tried kazam, ,vokoscreen, my favorite simple screen recoreder also tried wayland supported Green Recorder but result in System Hang, if any one has solution then please help ...
8 • Parabola, Hyperbola, OpenRC (by kernelKurtz on 2017-10-23 06:49:53 GMT from France)
Glad to see a recent relative proliferation of Arch-based OpenRC distros.
Above, the news item mentions that it's so with Parabola, and the Waiting List mentions Hyperbola (who only this week released their upgrade to OpenRC).
Seems like there's a bit of history (and maybe a good story) behind these two distros and their relationship to each other and to non-systemd approaches. I'd love to hear it--not that it really matters. I'm testing the Hyperbola offering because of their stated commitments and actions in the direction of being serious about privacy.
9 • Too much *buntu (by RoboNuggie on 2017-10-23 06:59:58 GMT from United Kingdom)
If it's Ubuntu based, thats ONE OS, you can put as many desktops or Window managers as you want, but it's still one.... so eight sections to just one OS.... ludicrous.
Too many iterations of Windows is silly, but is it no wonder that potential users are put off Linux, no because of diversity, but by simply too much duplication?
So much talent that could be redirected....
10 • Ubuntu (by dragon3 on 2017-10-23 07:27:10 GMT from United States)
@9 RoboNuggie: Have to agree totally. A Ubu for every possible configuration is a bit overboard.
Ubuntu as with Debian has been releasing their final upgrades incomplete, honestly not since wheezy has their been a stable release that just works OTB.
So many issues this time around is not worth counting and the trend seems to get worse with each so-called final release.
Have moved on to Artix, easy to use and quite stable. Devuan is a possibility too, at least their distros work!
11 • Opinion Poll (by P.R. on 2017-10-23 08:16:11 GMT from Germany)
I use void linux and therefore xbps, which is a multiplatform port system (i686,x86_64,armv6,armv7,armv8,mips).
So i can use void on all raspberryPis and odroids and similar, as well as on my laptop and my server and run the same software from the same build-template.
Thanks for the insight in ravenports Jesse!
12 • Ubuntu & Gnome (by Mark E on 2017-10-23 10:11:04 GMT from United Kingdom)
Ironically, Ubuntu switching to Gnome is bringing some welcome 'unity' to the Linux OS, as most of the major distributions, Redhat/Centos, SUSE etc. are using Gnome as well.
13 • Ubuntu (by Rick on 2017-10-23 12:29:26 GMT from United States)
It used to be Gnome 2 and KDE for desktops. Now it is ....whatever you want. The result is very sluggish and buggy distros. When will it all end and when will developers start writing good software again? Meanwhile, I will continue to use Mint 17.3 even though it is old. However, VERY stable compared to what's being offered today.
14 • Xubuntu (by Diego Rodrigues on 2017-10-23 13:46:28 GMT from Netherlands)
My upgrade to Xubuntu 17.10 went smooth! I only had to check my repo's after the upgrade but other than that everything worked as expected. As a big fan of Xfce I would like to say thanks to The Xubuntu team. You guys did it again!
15 • Ubuntu (by Geo. on 2017-10-23 14:05:40 GMT from Canada)
Ubuntu, that's nice and all, but still holding out for the next break through with Haiku.
16 • Opinion Poll (by Nathan on 2017-10-23 14:09:48 GMT from United States)
My cross-platform ports system is make.
17 • cross-platform packages (by dogma on 2017-10-23 14:44:12 GMT from United States)
In a way it feels like a power struggle. A system is central and you get your software here and there and compile it, then distributions take over and people get their software through packages and forget that anyone out there is actually writing this stuff, and then cross-platform package systems come along and people will forget that there used to be distributions at the focus. It either says something about what is important or else it says something about how we adapt to complexity and endless monstrosity of ecosystems.
(plus at-least-half-serious systemd-replacing-linux)
18 • *ubuntu inflation (by Dxvid on 2017-10-23 15:10:34 GMT from Sweden)
In my opinion distrowatch should stop marketing every flavor of Ubuntu as a separate distro release with one post each. It's always irritating to get 7+ messages about the same distro getting a new release twice a year, thus hiding other recent releases. Why not treat Ubuntu the same way as Fedora, OpenSUSE, Mint, Debian and others? Please create one news in the rss feed and one post on distrowatch.com containing all torrent files. Are they paying you money to get more publicity or why this special treatment? ;-)
Ubuntu have chosen to not include all different graphical environments on the same installation media, so they get a lot of more attention here at distrowatch. But Fedora has done the same but get only one post per release! Mint has also done the same and gets 2 posts per release as they don't get them all ready at the same time (double marketing value due to poor release planning?). This way of releasing distros requires more DVDs/isos if people want to try different graphical environments before they settle for one.
OpenSUSE, Debian and CentOS are more practical as there's one installation disc and you choose window manager during installation in a practical manner, free choice and only one DVD to burn (you only need the first iso if more than one). They only get one post here per release and releases come less frequently than Ubuntu as they focus more on stability. These distros come with many popular graphical environments too, probably more than Ubuntu.
So distros which make it easy for users to choose graphical environment and focus on stability get less publicity. But among those who have chosen to put the same release in 7+ different iso-files, only Ubuntu get extra marketing space every half a year.
And now I haven't even mentioned distros which uses only rolling release and thus hardly get any posts at all, as a matter of fact I only know of Arch and OpenSUSE Tumbleweed as this kind of distro get very little attention here while I could probably out of my head list at least 50 normal distros with stable releases and liveDVDs that I've read about here and tested. Google for some weird reason favors answers in the Arch wiki even though searches are made for other distros, and OpenSUSE very recently decided to market Tumbleweed on the front page instead of hiding it like before, so I see info about those 2 every now and then and get reminded they exist. But I understand why rolling releases can't get the same attention on distrowatch, I just added as comparison.
19 • AppImage and Ubuntu (by Jesse on 2017-10-23 15:21:03 GMT from Canada)
@5: We have talked about AppImage plenty in the past, even recommended it over other package formats. But there isn't any benefit in listing every single portable package type every time the subject comes up, there are probably at least a dozen popular portable package options.
@18: The debate about Ubuntu and whether it should be treated as one or many distributions comes up a lot. There are a lot of people on both sides of the debate and you can read our reasons for treating it the way we do here: https://distrowatch.com/dwres.php?resource=faq#ubuntusplit
20 • Finally...and long over due... (by tom joad on 2017-10-23 17:04:26 GMT from United States)
Finally...and long over due that unity is dead, dead and dead. Good F#$%^&* riddance to pure rubbish dreadful. One could see that coming, the passing of Unity, a long way down the road. I did.
Thanks Heavens for Mint with Mate. I like that a lot and keep coming back to it.
@9 I agree. Ubuntu is ubuntu is ubuntu is... Ubuntu is the same 'stew' with small variations of seasoning. There is not any Earth shaking break out difference between them. Personally, I do like Ubuntu mate though. The rest...whatever.
21 • Same old comments lol. (by Garon on 2017-10-23 17:45:15 GMT from United States)
Here we go again. Every Time Ubuntu and its child distros release a new version you hear the uninformed commenters say there are too many Ubuntus. That makes Jessie comment again on why or where to find the information as to why it is what it is. People need to remember that many active distros, including Mint, exist because of Ubuntu. That's a fact that cannot be denied. And then we have the little comments about Unity. Some people really hate Unity and I'm not sure why. How can you hate something that you never use nor plan to. That's very strange and child like. So sad. Here's my opinion. Unity was nice and useful. I found benefit in the system. It's really bad that it was so hard for so many people to learn how to use Unity. It seems people were more use to the Mac or Windows look of other desktops lol. I'm not even going to get into the systemd debate again. Like all these other useless little squabbles, they all should be dead, dead, dead. Now, how about some useful comments.
22 • ubuntu (by matt on 2017-10-23 17:59:09 GMT from United States)
I wish there was a JWM varient of ubuntu.
23 • not claiming "too many buntus", just begging clarity and CONSISTENCY (by tim on 2017-10-23 18:19:51 GMT from United States)
"Jeremy Bicha has posted an answer, indicating Ubuntu GNOME will be discontinued."
"The latest Long Term Support release is Ubuntu GNOME 16.04.3
The final stable non-LTS release is Ubuntu GNOME 17.04"
April 13, 2017
"As a result of this decision there will no longer be a separate GNOME flavor of Ubuntu."
Last Update: 2017-08-26
Status: Dormant (defined)
"A distribution which has not put out a new release in two or more years is marked as being Dormant in our database."
24 • 'Same old comments lol' (by Dave Postles on 2017-10-23 18:25:19 GMT from United Kingdom)
Here's another one: I will not support a product that gets into bed with Amazon, an alleged tax avoider, which has also had reports of poor working conditions in Europe - even if I can remove the Amazon lens.
25 • Unity (by Peter Burns on 2017-10-24 00:27:32 GMT from United Kingdom)
Maybe the fact that a lot of people struggled to get used to Unity is an indication that it's just bad UI?
It should be intuitive, not a huge learning curve to access basic functionality like a programs list.
Number of Comments: 25
|• 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|
|• 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|
|• Full list of all issues|
|Random Distribution |
ZevenOS is an Ubuntu-based GNU/Linux distribution with focus on providing a fast and easy-to-use system with BeOS-like user interface and support for older hardware. The distribution is built on top of a recent Linux kernel and includes a large number of popular open-source software applications for office use, multimedia playback and software development. ZevenOS also ships with MAGI, a tool for starting applications and managing the system. The project's "Neptune" edition is a separate built based on Debian GNU/Linux and featuring the latest KDE desktop.