| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 676, 29 August 2016
Welcome to this year's 35th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
The Linux kernel hit a significant milestone this past week. It was just over 25 years ago Linus Torvalds announced his then-new kernel on Usenet. Since then Linux has spread wide and far, finding homes in mobile phones, servers, desktops and super computers. In our News section we tip our hats to this large, flexible and highly useful software project. This happy news is followed by darker tidings as we mark the passing of Gentoo member Jonathan Portnoy. We also discuss PC-BSD changing its name to TrueOS and we talk about Wayland becoming the default display software for the upcoming release of Fedora 25. Before Fedora 25 arrives, we decided to look at Korora 24, a Fedora-based distribution which places a stronger emphasis on desktop computing. Read out Feature Story for all the details on Korora. In our Questions and Answers section we talk about how to find software licensing information and licenses are also the subject of our Opinion Poll. As usual, we share a list of the torrents we are seeding and provide a list of the projects released last week. We are also pleased to announce Uruk GNU/Linux has been added to our database. We wish you all a wonderful week and happy reading!
- Reviews: Korora 24
- News: Fedora to run Wayland by default, PC-BSD becomes TrueOS, Gentoo loses long-term member and Linux turns 25
- Questions and answers: Finding software licensing information
- Torrent corner: BlackArch Linux, MidnightBSD, SparkyLinux
- Released last week: LinuxConsole 2.5, ConnochaetOS 14.2, Q4OS 1.6.1
- Opinion poll: How important are software licenses to you?
- Upcoming releases: Fedora 25 Alpha, openSUSE 42.2 Beta 1, OpenBSD 6.0
- New additions: Uruk GNU/Linux
- New distributions: Raspberry Slideshow, Enchantment OS, FastComputer Linux, Petu
- Reader comments
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (24MB) and MP3 (34MB) formats
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
The Korora distribution is based on Fedora and provides users with several desktop editions. Each edition of Korora ships with multimedia support and with several third-party repositories enabled. This gives Korora access to a wider range of software with its default configuration.
The latest release of Korora, version 24, is based on Fedora 24 and includes the same changes and technology as its parent. The Korora release is available in four flavours (Cinnamon, GNOME, MATE and Xfce). A fifth edition featuring KDE's Plasma desktop is planned, but was not available when I began this review. The new release media is available for the 64-bit x86 architecture exclusively, however existing Korora 23 users who run 32-bit systems can perform live upgrades to Korora 24. The Pharlap driver manager has been removed from this release.
I decided to try the MATE edition of Korora 24 which is available as a 2GB download. The live media boots to the MATE desktop. At the top of the display we find the Applications, Places and System menus along with the system tray. Down the left side we find a quick-launch bar and there is a task switcher at the bottom of the screen. On the desktop is a single icon for launching the system installer. Shortly after the desktop loads, a welcome screen appears. The welcome screen offers us quick access to various resources, including a document on finding additional software and community support. The welcome screen provides us with a list of new features available in Korora 24 (such as version 6 of the GNU Compiler Collection). Other buttons on the welcome screen launch the system installer and open a web browser to the project's support forum.
Korora uses the same graphical system installer Fedora uses. We begin by selecting our preferred language from a list. Then we are brought to a hub screen where we can access various configuration modules. These modules, which we can run in any order, help us set our keyboard's layout, partition the hard disk and set up networking. I find the installer's partitioning screen oddly awkward to use, the controls are not clear and the partition manager has some odd quirks. For example, the only way I have found to get it to use up the available space on a disk is to leave the size field of a new partition blank. At any rate, we next move on to a second hub screen where we are asked to create a password for the root account. We can optionally set up a regular user account on this second hub page while the installer copies its file in the background. When the installer is finished we can return to Korora's live desktop environment and continue to explore until we are ready to reboot and try our new copy of the distribution.
Korora 24 -- Using the on-screen keyboard
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Our locally installed copy of Korora boots to a graphical login screen decorated with the project's logo. From there we can sign into our user account, bringing us back to the MATE desktop. The first time we login, the welcome screen appears, giving us access to the distribution's documentation and support resources. Earlier I mentioned the general two-panel (and a launch bar) layout of the MATE edition. I would also like the share the observation that Korora uses a changing background, giving us a variety of wallpapers. The distribution uses a high contrast theme with round icons, which I find fairly pleasant. However, there were aspects to the default theme I found troublesome. For example, some application windows could be resized from the bottom corners of the window while other applications had to be resized from the top corners of the window. This meant I regularly switched back and forth between resizing methods and there did not seem to be any easy way to tell which applications used which behaviour. I also found the default theme made it difficult to tell when a button or widget had been selected by a keyboard action. This made navigating applications using the keyboard unusually challenging.
Digging through Korora's application menu we find the Firefox web browser (without Adobe's Flash plugin), the Thunderbird e-mail client, the HexChat IRC software, the Liferea RSS feed reader, the Pidgin messaging software and the Ekiga softphone. LibreOffice is available as are the FBReader e-book reader and the Atril document viewer. The Darktable and Shotwell photo managers are included along with the GNU Image Manipulation Program, the Inkscape application and a scanning tool. The
Asunder audio CD ripper is available along with the Audacious audio player, the Audacity audio editor and the Handbrake media transcoder. I found a copy of the Pitivi video editing software, the VLC multimedia player and the Xfburn disc burning software. Attempting to play video files would cause the VLC player to launch and successfully play the given video. However, when I tried to play audio files the Audacious player would launch and report it was missing the necessary codecs. Opening the same audio files with VLC would cause the audio files to play. Exploring the application menu further we find the Caja file manager, the GParted disk partitioning tool, a system monitor and a policy generator for SELInux. Korora ships with an on screen keyboard, an ownCloud desktop client, a text editor, calculator and archive manager. In the background we find Java, the GNU Compiler Collection and systemd version 229. Network Manager is available to help us get on-line. Korora ships with version 4.6.3 of the Linux kernel.
Korora 24 -- Getting news updates with Liferea
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I ran Korora in a VirtualBox virtual machine and on a desktop computer. Korora worked well on the physical desktop machine. The system was responsive and my hardware was properly detected. The distribution worked fairly well in the VirtualBox environment too, but by default could not handle displaying the desktop using my screen's full resolution. VirtualBox guest modules can be found in the default set of software repositories and installing them allowed the distribution to make full use of my display. In either environment Korora tended to use about 370MB of memory when logged into the MATE desktop. Korora was generally stable during my experiment. The system locked up just once while I was trying to logout, forcing a hard reboot.
After using Korora for a while I realized I had not been notified of any new software updates. I opened the distribution's software manager, Yum Extender, which acts as a front-end to the DNF package manager. Yum Extender provides us with tools to perform searches for packages and we can see lists of installed packages and software available for download. Packages are listed in simple text format with the name of each package and a description. We can check a box next to a package to mark it for installation or removal. Yum Extender can also enable/disable repositories with recognized repositories including Google, VirtualBox and RPMFusion.
Korora 24 -- Managing packages with Yum Extender
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Yum Extender tends to be a bit on the slow side, taking a long time to refresh its repository information. Though I do think the current release operates faster than past versions of the software manager. I also found it odd Yum Extender displays both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of packages on a 64-bit system, greatly padding the number of packages available.
The first day I was running Korora there were 164 updates available, totalling 369MB in size. I tried to install these new packages using Yum Extender and the software manager failed, reporting it could not proceed due to dependency issues. I immediately switched to a virtual terminal and tried to install the waiting updates with the DNF command line program. DNF was able to successfully download and install all available updates. As using DNF was faster and more reliable, I tended to stick with using the command line program for managing software. The one issue with DNF I ran into was it kept asking me to confirm it could import security keys for third-party repositories. This in itself is not bad, but DNF should probably recognize the keys to the default repositories without bothering the user with key management.
Korora's MATE edition ships with a control panel which provides many modules for managing the desktop and underlying operating system. There are modules for changing the desktop's appearance, working with user accounts, configuring the firewall and managing background services. We can find modules to select which applications should run when we sign in, configure our preferred applications, set up the screensaver and manage printers. Korora's firewall utility supports working with different zones, which means we can create one set of firewall rules for home, another for work and a third for public spaces. The different zones mean we can block network traffic depending on our location, a nice feature to have when working on a portable device.
Korora 24 -- Adjusting system settings
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The modules included in the control panel worked well for me. There is a great deal of power and flexibility to be had. Most of the modules do a good job of supplying a lot of options while still being fairly straight forward to use. I did find the control panel would sometimes use a lot of my CPU cycles, bringing my desktop to a crawl. This happened rarely, but when it did the panel's process would eat all available CPU resources, even when no configuration modules were open. Killing the process or logging out appeared to be the only solution.
I find it difficult to talk about Korora without comparing the distribution to its parent, Fedora. Modern versions of Fedora tend to be relatively minimal for a desktop distribution. With Fedora's Workstation edition, we are given the desktop, some essentials and adding the specific tools we want is left to the user. This often involves tracking down third-party software repositories and spending a few minutes to a few hours installing the applications we plan to use. Fedora errs on the side of caution when it comes to software licensing and is careful not to package non-free or patent encumbered software. This limits multimedia support on Fedora.
Korora essentially takes Fedora Workstation and tries to set it up with the media support, applications and third-party repositories people are likely to want. This makes Korora a larger download (2.0GB vs 1.4GB for Fedora), but it means we have many of the applications we will probably want immediately following the installation. We also have lots of neatly organized configuration tools by default with Korora and that is a feature I appreciate. Personally, I like Korora's approach to including more software. Even without the extra software installed for us, I think Korora would be worth the extra download size just for having several third-party repositories configured for us.
Apart from the default software and repositories, Korora stays very close to its parent. At its heart Korora is still Fedora, so almost all of the differences boil down to what is set up for us out of the box.
Looking at Korora by itself, ignoring its parentage for a moment, I think the distribution is a fairly solid desktop operating system. Korora ships with fairly modern packages and users have access to a lot of software through Korora's many default repositories. The system was responsive and I like Korora's default theme. The MATE edition is relatively light on memory and the distribution worked well with my hardware. I have said before one of Korora's few weaknesses is package management. Yum Extender is not a bad software front-end, but it is a bit slow and it had trouble installing the first wave of upgrades post-installation. These problems can be worked around by using the command line DNF package manager. I did run into a few glitches while using Korora, but nothing that consistently gave me trouble, so all-in-all, I was happy with my experiences this week.
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Hardware used in this review
My physical test equipment for this review was a desktop HP Pavilon p6 Series with the following specifications:
- Processor: Dual-core 2.8GHz AMD A4-3420 APU
- Storage: 500GB Hitachi hard drive
- Memory: 6GB of RAM
- Networking: Realtek RTL8111 wired network card
- Display: AMD Radeon HD 6410D video card
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
Fedora to run Wayland by default, PC-BSD becomes TrueOS, Gentoo loses long-term member and Linux turns 25
The Fedora project has been one of the more active proponents of the new Wayland display technology. Wayland is intended to eventually replace the aging X display software for graphical applications and desktop environments. Running GNOME on Wayland has been an available session option on the past few versions of Fedora, but now it looks like Wayland is going to be the default display session in Fedora 25. One Fedora issue report reads: "There are still some bugs that are important to solve. However, there is still time to work on them. And the legacy Xorg session option will not be removed, and will be clearly documented how to fallback in cases where users need it, such as a11y users. It is likely there will be additional bugs/issues to solve during F26 development and beyond, but it's unlikely we can get the level of exposure and testing desired without keeping Wayland as the default. The WG would like FESCo to consider granting an exception that allows the WG to continue on with Wayland as the default, rather than reverting to Xorg as default for the F25 release." At the moment, it looks as though this plan will be followed, making Wayland the default for Fedora 25, due to launch in November.
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The PC-BSD project is undergoing a name change. The FreeBSD-based operating system was previously comprised of two editions which were listed under separate names. The original PC-BSD edition was the project's desktop flavour while the server edition was called TrueOS. The project is changing its labelling and will refer to both editions as TrueOS going forward. The project's founder, Kris Moore, explained the need for the change: "We've already been using TrueOS for the server side of PC-BSD, and it made sense to unify the names. PC-BSD doesn't reflect server or embedded well. TrueOS Desktop/Server/Embedded can be real products, avoids some of the alphabet soup, and gives us a more catchy name."
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The Gentoo project has shared sad news this week. Long time Gentoo member Jonathan "avenj" Portnoy has passed away. Portnoy was with the project for many years. A post on the Gentoo website marks his passing: "Jon was an active member of the International Gentoo community, almost since its founding in 1999. He was still active until his last day. His passing has struck us deeply and with disbelief. We all remember him as a vivid and enjoyable person, easy to reach out to and energetic in all his endeavours. On behalf of the entire Gentoo Community, all over the world, we would like to convey our deepest sympathy for his family and friends. As per his wishes, the Gentoo Foundation has made a donation in his memory to the Perl Foundation."
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The Linux kernel has passed another milestone, turning 25 years old on August 25, 2016. Linus Torvalds, the founder and lead developer on Linux, posted on Usenet back in 1991: "I'm doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won't be big and professional like GNU) for 386(486) AT clones. This has been brewing since April, and is starting to get ready. I'd like any feedback on things people like/dislike in MINIX, as my OS resembles it somewhat (same physical layout of the file system (due to practical reasons) among other things). I've currently ported bash(1.08) and gcc(1.40), and things seem to work. This implies that I'll get something practical within a few months, and I'd like to know what features most people would want. Any suggestions are welcome, but I won't promise I'll implement them." Now, 25 years later, Linux is one of the most widely used operating system kernels. Linux sits at the heart of most of the world's fastest super computers, runs the majority of smart phones and can be found on a significant number of servers and desktop computers.
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These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Finding software licensing information
Confirming-freedom asks: I assume most of the software bundled with my Linux distribution is free software, but how do I check? Is there a package manager function I can use to see what license (ex. GPL) is being used?
DistroWatch answers: Some package managers do provide a way to view licensing information, others do not. Most Linux distributions do provide a method for finding out which software license was applied to a given package. For instance, if you are running Debian or one of the many distributions based on Debian (Ubuntu and Linux Mint, for example) then licensing information for each package is in the /usr/share/doc directory in a file called copyright. The license information for the VLC media player is available in the file /usr/share/doc/vlc/copyright. The licensing information for the vim text editor can be found in /usr/share/doc/vim/copyright.
People who are running a member of the Fedora/Red Hat/CentOS family of distributions can find licensing information using the rpm command line package manager. Passing rpm the "-qi" flag and a package name will display a full page of information, including the name of the license. For example, the following will display information on the LibreOffice package:
rpm -qi libreoffice
To filter out all the information except the licensing field, we can use grep to only show the name of the license.
rpm -qi libreoffice | grep License
People using distributions that feature the pacman package manager, such as Arch Linux and Manjaro, can find licensing information by running pacman with the "-Qi" flag.
pacman -Qi vlc
When running Arch Linux and its derivatives, the pacman utility will often report a package's license is "custom". This means licensing information on the package can be found in the /usr/share/licenses directory. For instance, the license for the zip package can be found in /usr/share/licenses/zip/LICENSE and the license for sudo package can be found in the /usr/share/licenses/sudo/LICENSE file.
Different operating systems provide other ways to view licensing information. For example, on FreeBSD the pkg command will display details about a package, including its license. The following command will display the license of the Transmission command line utility on a FreeBSD system:
pkg info transmission-cli
If the distribution you are running does not provide licensing details you can usually find the information you want in one of three ways. Desktop applications usually have an "About" menu option which will show licensing or copyright information. Command line utilities will often display licensing information if you run them with the "--help" or "--version" parameters. When all else fails, check the upstream project's website. Licensing information will often be displayed on the project's About or FAQ pages or in the top level of their source code repository.
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For more questions and answers, visit our Questions and Answers archive.
Bittorrent is a great way to transfer large files, particularly open source operating system images, from one place to another. Most bittorrent clients recover from dropped connections automatically, check the integrity of files and can re-download corrupted bits of data without starting a download over from scratch. These characteristics make bittorrent well suited for distributing open source operating systems, particularly to regions where Internet connections are slow or unstable.
Many Linux and BSD projects offer bittorrent as a download option, partly for the reasons listed above and partly because bittorrent's peer-to-peer nature takes some of the strain off the project's servers. However, some projects do not offer bittorrent as a download option. There can be several reasons for excluding bittorrent as an option. Some projects do not have enough time or volunteers, some may be restricted by their web host provider's terms of service. Whatever the reason, the lack of a bittorrent option puts more strain on a distribution's bandwidth and may prevent some people from downloading their preferred open source operating system.
With this in mind, DistroWatch plans to give back to the open source community by hosting and seeding bittorrent files. For now, we are hosting a small number of distribution torrents, listed below. The list of torrents offered will be updated each week and we invite readers to e-mail us with suggestions as to which distributions we should be hosting. When you message us, please place the word "Torrent" in the subject line, make sure to include a link to the ISO file you want us to seed. To help us maintain and grow this free service, please consider making a donation.
The table below provides a list of torrents we currently host. If you do not currently have a bittorrent client capable of handling the linked files, we suggest installing either the Transmission or KTorrent bittorrent clients.
Archives of our previously seeded torrents may be found here. All torrents we make available here are also listed on the very useful Linux Tracker website. Thanks to Linux Tracker we are able to share the following torrent statistics.
Torrent Corner statistics:
- Total torrents seeded: 229
- Total data uploaded: 42.8TB
|Released Last Week
Yann Le Doare has announced a new release of LinuxConsole. a lightweight, independent distribution whose editions feature the LXDE and MATE desktop environments. The new release, LinuxConsole 2.5, features version 4.1 of the Linux kernel, offers support for booting on UEFI-enabled hardware and includes many games. The 32-bit build runs the LXDE desktop while the 64-bit build runs MATE as the default desktop. "This release is designed to be used with children and kids : It's easy to install it on old computers with the Windows Installer , a lot of games and music software are available for use Both releases boots with Busybox 1.24.2. Core software and libraries are stored into a squashfs file system." Screen shots, along with a complete list of featured games, tools and educational software that can be found in the distribution is featured in the release announcement on the project's front page.
LinuxConsole 2.5 -- Running the LXDE desktop
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Henry Jensen has announced the release of a new version of the Slackware-based ConnochaetOS distribution. ConnochaetOS ships with free software (as defined by the Free Software Foundation) exclusively, stripping out binary blobs and replacing proprietary components where possible with freely licensed packages. "I am proudly announcing ConnochaetOS 14.2, based on Slackware and Salix 14.2. As always it contains only free/libre software as defined by the Free Software Foundation (FSF). We are now using our own deblobbed Linux kernel, named 'kernel-free' based on the de-blobbing mechanism done by Debian GNU/Linux. ConnochaetOS contains: The de-blobbed Kernel Linux 4.4.19, IceWM 1.3.12, Iceweasel 45.3.0. In our slack-n-free repo we provide the current versions of Iceape and Icedove, the brand-new qt5-webengine based web browsers Qupzilla and Otter-browser and LibreOffice 5.1.4 as provided by Eric 'Alien' Hameleers." ConnochaetOS strives to maintain backward compatibility with Slackware and Salix. The full announcement can be found in the project's release announcement.
The Q4OS team has announced the release of a new version of their lightweight, Debian-based distribution. The new version, Q4OS 1.6, ships with an updated version of the Trinity (formally KDE 3) desktop environment. "The significant Q4OS 1.6 'Orion' release receives the most recent Trinity R14.0.3 stable version. Trinity R14.0.3 is the third maintenance release of the R14 series, it is intended to promptly bring bug fixes to users, while preserving overall stability. The complete list and release notes you will find on the Trinity desktop environment website. New Q4OS 1.6 release includes set of new features and fixes. The default desktop look has been slightly changed, Q4OS 'Bourbon' start menu and taskbar has been polished a bit and has got a few enhancements, for example the icons size varies proportionally to the system panel. Native Desktop profiler tool has got new, optimized 'software to install' list." The full release announcement can be found on the project's blog page.
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
How important are software licenses to you?
Software licensing tends to be a hot topic among developers. The details and permissiveness of a software license can attract new developers and businesses or drive them away, causing many projects to choose their licensing carefully. Other projects, particularly small ones, may simply stamp whichever license the author is most comfortable with on the code.
This week we would like to hear from the non-developers among our readers to find out whether a project's license influences whether you use the software. Do you go out of your way to use software licensed under the GPL, BSD or MIT licenses? Do licenses play a part at all in which distributions and applications you install?
You can see the results of our previous poll on what is holding people back from using Linux here. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
How important are software licenses to you?
|I install software which matches my preferred licenses exclusively: ||58 (4%)|
| I tend to install software which uses my preferred license: ||506 (33%)|
| I rarely factor in the license in my consideration: ||465 (31%)|
| I do not consider the license when I install software: ||487 (32%)|
New distributions added to database
Uruk GNU/Linux is a free software desktop distribution based on Trisquel. It follows the licensing guidelines of the Free Software Foundation. Uruk primarily uses .deb package files, but strives to support a wide range of package formats, including .rpm files.
Uruk GNU/Linux 1.0 -- Running the MATE desktop
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Distributions added to waiting list
- Raspberry Slideshow. Raspberry Slideshow is focused on quick-to-set-up image and video slideshows for the Raspberry Pi. Insert a USB key with image/video files or text files and reboot. The documents will be displayed on the Pi's screen.
- Enchantment OS. Enchantment OS is a Linux distribution which is based on Xubuntu LTS and designed with less technical users in mind.
- FastComputer Linux. FastComputer Linux is an openSUSE-based distribution which ships with a great deal of software pre-installed.
- Petu. Petu is a user friendly distribution based on openSUSE 13.2. It supports the English, Russian, French, Hungarian, German, Portuguese, Spanish and Italian languages.
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DistroWatch database summary
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This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 5 September 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)
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