| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 159, 10 July 2006
Welcome to this year's 28th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! As the Debian Weekly News celebrates its five years of existence, some of our readers will be pleased to learn about a renewed effort to port the world's largest Linux distribution to the MINIX kernel. On the not so positive side, the Debian/Ubuntu world was rocked by a Debian developer's revelation that there is still much tension between the two projects. Good reviews continue to follow the recent development release of SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10, while a new FreeBSD-based live CD project should cause some welcome excitement among the BSD geeks. In the First Looks section, we'll evaluate a commercial Linux distribution from Japan - Turbolinux 11 "Fuji" International edition. Happy reading!
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(The Podcast edition is provided by Shawn Milo.)
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Five years of DWN, Debian GNU/MINIX, Fedora and DejaVu, TrueBSD|
As noted in last week's Debian Weekly News, the weekly newsletter of the Debian GNU/Linux developer and user community has completed five years of existence: "The DWN is a weekly online edition which informs about what is going on in the Debian community and was first published in 1999 by Joey Hess." The first issue, which was published in January 1999, has some interesting information about the start of the 2.2 kernel development series, a story about Richard Stallman's experience in installing Debian (together with a predictable complaint about the easy availability of non-free applications in the distribution), and news about the upcoming release of Debian GNU/Linux 2.1 "slink", which eventually shipped in March of that year. A nice read for the nostalgic amongst us.
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As widely reported on many Linux news sites, tension between Debian and Ubuntu developers continues to brew underneath the blanket of seemingly peaceful coexistence between the two projects. Explains Martin Krafft, a Debian developer and the author of the excellent The Debian System - Concept and Techniques: "In discussions with Mark Shuttleworth and other Ubuntu developers during Debconf6, I was able to spell out the main criticisms of the way Canonical/Ubuntu is handling things from the Debian perspective." The author provides details and also solutions for the main points of friction between the two projects, namely some technical issues, such as the way Ubuntu presents patches which are often incompatible with the way Debian works, and philosophical issues, e.g. jealousy between the two development groups. Worth a read if you are interested in the current state of affairs in the two distributions.
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Some interesting news for those of you who took part in our recent discussion about MINIX in DistroWatch Weekly. According to this mailing list post, Debian's Jaldhar H. Vyas has done some initial work on porting Debian applications and utilities to the MINIX kernel: "I've done a lot of compiling of packages over the past few months, but avoided the hard parts of a full port; also my build machine has become severely limited in disk space. Next week I'm getting a replacement and at that time I'll tidy things up and hopefully start making faster progress." Called "Preventa", the author has set up an initial project page to track the port's progress. There is nothing to download yet, but at least there is intent, which will no doubt please the many MINIX fans among DistroWatch readers ;-).
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The Fedora project has issued a call for testing of the DejaVu font family, which is scheduled to become the default font in the new Fedora Core 6: "DejaVu is the most popular FLOSS derivative of the Bitstream Vera font family. DejaVu is currently consolidating the Vera forks initiated after it become clear Vera would not be updated or fixed any time soon (the last Vera release was done April 16, 2003). The main DejaVu aims are quality (fix all the problems of existing Vera glyphs) and coverage (extend Vera beyond its current Latin-9 limits: Cyrillic, Greek, Armenian, Arabic, etc)." DejaVu is already used as the default font in a number of major distributions. While it is certainly a beautiful font for displaying text written in the Latin alphabet, some Fedora developers are concerned that it is not yet ready to become the standard font for users of several Asian writing systems, notably Arabic, Chinese and Persian.
* * * * *
Mad Penguin continues its series of comprehensive reviews with a thorough evaluation of SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10: "The attention to detail is evident at every turn, right down to using the right icons for mounted devices. For instance, if you were to plug a white iPod into the system, and then plug in a black one, you will see two icons: One depicting a white iPod. One depicting a black iPod. See what I mean? ... SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 is a very capable, industrial strength desktop which is ready to take on basic desktop chores in the corporate environment, and for the price you simply cannot go wrong. Two thumbs up to Novell for redefining the way I look at the desktop operating system." This is another highly positive review of the latest desktop Linux product from Novell, which is turning out to be a real winner!
* * * * *
Our recent roundup of the BSD live CDs has attracted much feedback. One of the more interesting emails we received on the subject was from Edson Brandi, FreeBSD User Group in Brazil, who pointed out a factual error in our article: "I'm the founder of FreeBSD User Group Brazil (FUG-BR). Reading your article i see that you made a little mistake - in your text about FreeSBIE you say 'FreeSBIE 1.2 - the original live CD based on FreeBSD'. This is incorrect. FUG-BR was the first group in the world to release a FreeBSD live CD; our project was born in 2001 as a rescue disk, and in 2002 we also released a set of shell scripts to make it possible for anyone to create a FreeBSD live CD. In contrast, FreeSBIE was only launched in November 2002 and was created with the help of the FUG-BR scripts." Although FUG-BR no longer develops its FreeBSD live CD, its early work was responsible for helping to launch FreeSBIE and possibly other BSD live CDs available today.
* * * * *
And while on the topic of BSD live CDs, here is some information about a new project called TrueBSD. Launched by a group of Russian developers (correction: the developers of TrueBSD seem to come from Belarus), the project's first official release, version 0.1-RC1, is based on FreeBSD 6.1 and uses XFce and Ion window managers. Besides several popular desktop applications, such as AbiWord (version 2.2.8), Firefox (188.8.131.52), Gaim (1.5.0), MPlayer (0.99.7) and Sylpheed (2.2.6), the live CD also comes with a handful of server software, including Apache (1.3.33), PHP (4.4.0) and MySQL (4.1.18). The project's web site is currently in Russian only and so is the default desktop and some of the included configuration utilities; nevertheless, those of you who can find your ways around a UNIX system will no doubt appreciate this new toy. The project's download server has severe limits on the number of simultaneous connections, but hopefully the TrueBSD developers will set up new mirror sites soon.
TrueBSD - a new live CD based on FreeBSD
(full image size: 113kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Turbolinux 11 International Edition
Although Turbolinux 11 "Fuji" was originally released in Japan in November last year, it wasn't until the end of May 2006 that the Japanese distribution maker announced availability of the "International" edition. The product, which sells for US$39.00 and which can be ordered from a US-based online store, is one of the few commercial distributions available today. But is it worth the asking price? And more importantly, with the large number of Linux distributions available on the Internet free of charge, is there anything in Turbolinux that makes it a product worth recommending?
The International edition of Turbolinux 11 arrived wrapped in a CD-size plastic container with three CDs and a single A4 sheet containing "Release Notes". The distribution is built on top of a slightly older kernel 2.6.13, and includes glibc 2.3.5, X.Org 6.8.2, GCC 3.4.3, KDE 3.4.2 and OpenOffice.org 2.0.2. Besides free software, the product also comes with a number of non-free applications, such as Acrobat Reader, RealPlayer and Flash Player. I installed Turbolinux 11 on a 5-year old system with Intel Pentium 4 1.4 GHz, an ASUS P4T mainboard, a Matrox Millennium G450 graphics card, 384MB or RDRAM, a Realtek 8139too network card, an on-board Intel sound card, and a 17-inch generic LCD monitor.
The installer is the venerable Mongoose, originally based on Red Hat's Anaconda, but bearing little resemblance to its more famous parent after several years of independent development. The installation starts with language configuration (English, Japanese, Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese are supported), then continues through the usual steps of selecting partitions, creating users, setting the root password and configuring hardware. Most of the hardware configuration is done automatically. The Turbolinux installer is excellent and does the job of getting the operating system to the hard disk with minimum of fuss, but without taking away choice.
"Fuji" offers an intuitive desktop with many of its elements and terminology borrowed from Windows XP
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After the installation and the initial reboot I found myself looking at a standard KDE desktop with a Turbolinux wallpaper and slightly altered taskbar and menus. Especially the K menu had been simplified and some items renamed to resemble those found in Windows XP, while some of the folders (e.g. My Computer, My Documents) had also been re-branded to make Windows converts more at home. The system tray contained a networking applet and a "Turboalert" icon indicating the availability of security and bug fix updates.
For Turboalert to work, however, it was first necessary to "obtain a license". And this is where I started noticing some similarities between Turbolinux 11 and another commercial distribution released recently - Xandros Desktop 4. In both cases the product would work, but access to software updates required the extra registration step. Turbolinux's registration was more straightforward than the one thought out by Xandros, as it only required inputting the serial number found on the rub of the CD pack.
Once registered, I was able to start Turboplus - the distribution's software management program similar to Xandros Networks. Turboplus provides an intuitive way for installing and uninstalling software and plugins, as well as software updates, but unlike Xandros Networks, it does not give access to extra applications; in other words, what you get on the three CDs is all that's available; beyond that you are on your own. And although Turboplus worked as advertised, it doesn't quite compare to Xandros Networks in terms of information it provides, access to software and advanced features.
Turboplus - a utility to manage software and receive updates on Turbolinux 11
(full image size: 69kB, resolution: 832x726 pixels)
Turboplus is the only "in-house" program supplied in this edition of Turbolinux. Unlike Xandros Desktop 4, which includes a number of proprietary applications and enhancements, Turbolinux 11 is almost exclusively free and freely available software; in fact even the "Turbo Media Player" is just a re-branded edition of Kaffeine 0.7.1. And while the distribution offers support for MP3 playback and gtkpod iPod communication utility, playback of encoded DVDs is not available out of the box.
After spending a weekend investigating the latest release from Turbolinux, I couldn't help noticing a few bugs which indicated that, unlike the distribution's earlier releases, the product did not go through a very rigorous testing procedure. As an example, I installed Turbolinux three times to three different partitions, but the installer failed to configure the bootloader on all three occasions. Also, the DVD drive in /dev/hdb was incorrectly set up, so inserting any CD or DVD into the drive would fail to mount automatically (the CD-RW drive in /dev/hdd was configured correctly though). And an application crash resulted in a core dump right in my home directory - a rather unsightly stain on a distribution that was designed for non-technical users.
Despite the admittedly short time I spent putting Turbolinux 11 through its paces, I couldn't help asking myself the purpose of this commercial Linux distribution. Yes, it looks nice and is stable enough to become an operating system of choice for some users, while it is certainly very intuitive to entice new Windows-to-Linux converts. But so are other Linux distributions, many of which are free to download and use. Besides, if somebody prefers a commercial distribution with technical support, Xandros Desktop 4 seems to offer a lot more bang for the money.
There is one particular speciality of this product that some users might find useful - its support for Japanese and Chinese input. While most mainstream distributions offer the functionality, there is a difference between integrating it into the system and simply providing the tools, as those of you who have tried using the complex Asian languages on some of the main distribution can attest. Turbolinux has been a leader in support for Japanese and Chinese input on Linux and although it uses free tools to achieve this, the company's know-how and experience are still head and shoulders above most other distributions, whether free or commercial.
The "langsel" tool offers on-the-fly switch between four languages, but notice the missing Chinese character on the highlighted line.
(full image size: 69kB, resolution: 732x636 pixels)
In conclusion, the US$40 Turbolinux 11 Fuji "International" edition is a fairly decent product, especially for new Linux users and those who need good support for Chinese or Japanese input under Linux. Nevertheless, it suffers from bugs, lack of attention to detail, out-dated applications, and absence of useful enhancements that would make it worth the asking price. In the commercial distribution space it doesn't compare well with Xandros Desktop 4 on features, while even many free distributions, such as Ubuntu, SUSE or Fedora are possibly better options for the majority of Linux users.
For more information about Turbolinux 11 International edition please visit the product pages at Turbolinux.com.
|Released Last Week
The project developing Gentoox, a Gentoo-based operating system for the Xbox, has announced a number of new releases: "New release: Gentoox Home v5.0. Summary: Gentoox Loader v6.04; updated software as of 29th July 2006; fully synced with magic as of 29th July 2006; on screen keyboard in GDM activated by hitting 'B' 5 times; KDE 3.5.2 and XFce 4.2.x; ext3 file system; junk moved out of local.start and local.stop; checkroot / checkfs bug fixed; Sparkle 2.0; ALSA and kernel ebuilds made to be more compatible with Gentoo; Linux kernel 2.4.32." Besides Gentoox Home, the project's Pro, Sparkle and Resctoox editions have all been updated; see the release announcement for more details.
StartCom Enterprise Linux 4.0.2
An updated version of StartCom Enterprise Linux has been released: "The updated release of the StartCom Enterprise Linux AS-4 series received the YUM Extender as its new package and software updater, as well as the 1.5 Firefox browser and Thunderbird mail client. This, together with additional 200 updated packages, makes this stable and proven operating system the work horse for your mission critical enterprise applications. The YUM Extender, a graphical front-end application for YUM, makes the installing, removing of software packages and updating of your system even more easy." Read the brief press release for further information.
Michael Zanetta has announced the release of Mini-Pentoo 2006.1, a Gentoo-based mini live CD with the Enlightenment desktop and a selection of tools designed for penetration testing. From the changelog: "Added WiFi injection support for Madwifi-ng, Hostap, wlan-ng, rtl8180, prism54/GT; integrated portagedb so no need for the module during install; created an MPlayer module; added some Firefox extensions (Live-Http-Headers, Temper-data, ShowIP, No-Referrer); updated Nessus, Yersinia, bluediving, metasploit, nmap, kernel (2.6.16); added Kismet auto-configure script based on airmon-ng, Pentoo installer, Wifitap, tcpdump, Bluetooth stack smasher...."
Marcel J. Zwiebel has announced the availability of a new release of Nonux, a Slackware-based desktop-oriented distribution and live CD (with Dropline GNOME as its desktop environment) designed for use in Dutch-speaking business environments. What's new in Nonux 3.1? Upgraded Linux kernel to version 184.108.40.206, upgraded GNOME to version 2.14.2, upgraded OpenOffice.org to version 2.0.3, upgraded Evolution to version 2.6.2, and upgraded Mozilla Firefox to version 220.127.116.11. Ekiga, GnuPG and Liferea have also been upgraded to newer versions. Find a complete changelog on the distribution's news page (in Dutch).
GParted LiveCD 0.2.5-3
Patrick Verner has announced the release of a new version of GParted LiveCD. What's new? "I added some goodies people have been asking for: Partimage, GRUB, rsync, fdisk, cfdisk, and sfdisk. Links has also been included to view LarryT's documentation while running the live CD and live USB. Some other stuff was upgraded like adding a shut-down menu and the entire layout of the root file system. The entire root file system is compressed with SquashFS and the boot process has been vastly changed. This saved almost 5 MB to add extras. The kernel was also updated to Linux 18.104.22.168." Here is the full release announcement with changelog.
* * * * *
Development and unannounced releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
New distributions added to waiting list|
- EDU-Nix. EDU-Nix is Gentoo-based live CD with KDE. The project's main goal is to provide US public schools with an open source alternative to proprietary software products.
- Shift Linux. A project by Neowin.net, Shift Linux is a new Debian/Morphix-based Linux distribution with Fluxbox and the goal of serving the (mostly) Windows user community at Neowin.net.
- TrueBSD. TrueBSD is a new general purpose live CD based on FreeBSD, using XFce and Ion window managers. The project's web site is in Russian.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
It's that time of the year when your DistroWatch maintainer takes a break from his everyday routine of reporting about new distribution releases and writing DistroWatch Weekly. Although I am not planning to touch a computer during my much needed 3-week break in South Pacific, DistroWatch will continue as normal - the news section will be maintained by Dr W T Zhu (who has been helping with the site for nearly four years), while DistroWatch Weekly will be in the hands of an experienced reviewer and Linux enthusiast - Susan Linton from Tuxmachines. See you all later!
|Linux Foundation Training
|• Issue 828 (2019-08-19): AcademiX 2.2, concerns with non-free firmware, UBports working on Unity8, Fedora unveils new EPEL channel, FreeBSD phasing out GCC|
|• Issue 827 (2019-08-12): Q4OS, finding files on the disk, Ubuntu works on ZFS, Haiku improves performance, OSDisc shutting down|
|• Issue 826 (2019-08-05): Quick looks at Resilient, PrimeOS, and BlueLight, flagship distros for desktops,Manjaro introduces new package manager|
|• Issue 825 (2019-07-29): Endless OS 3.6, UBports 16.04, gNewSense maintainer stepping down, Fedora developrs discuss optimizations, Project Trident launches stable branch|
|• Issue 824 (2019-07-22): Hexagon OS 1.0, Mageia publishes updated media, Fedora unveils Fedora CoreOS, managing disk usage with quotas|
|• Issue 823 (2019-07-15): Debian 10, finding 32-bit packages on a 64-bit system, Will Cooke discusses Ubuntu's desktop, IBM finalizes purchase of Red Hat|
|• Issue 822 (2019-07-08): Mageia 7, running development branches of distros, Mint team considers Snap, UBports to address Google account access|
|• Issue 821 (2019-07-01): OpenMandriva 4.0, Ubuntu's plan for 32-bit packages, Fedora Workstation improvements, DragonFly BSD's smaller kernel memory|
|• Issue 820 (2019-06-24): Clear Linux and Guix System 1.0.1, running Android applications using Anbox, Zorin partners with Star Labs, Red Hat explains networking bug, Ubuntu considers no longer updating 32-bit packages|
|• Issue 819 (2019-06-17): OS108 and Venom, renaming multiple files, checking live USB integrity, working with Fedora's Modularity, Ubuntu replacing Chromium package with snap|
|• Issue 818 (2019-06-10): openSUSE 15.1, improving boot times, FreeBSD's status report, DragonFly BSD reduces install media size|
|• Issue 817 (2019-06-03): Manjaro 18.0.4, Ubuntu Security Podcast, new Linux laptops from Dell and System76, Entroware Apollo|
|• Issue 816 (2019-05-27): Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.0, creating firewall rules, Antergos shuts down, Matthew Miller answers questions about Fedora|
|• Issue 815 (2019-05-20): Sabayon 19.03, Clear Linux's developer features, Red Hat explains MDS flaws, an overview of mobile distro options|
|• Issue 814 (2019-05-13): Fedora 30, distributions publish Firefox fixes, CentOS publishes roadmap to 8.0, Debian plans to use Wayland by default|
|• Issue 813 (2019-05-06): ROSA R11, MX seeks help with systemd-shim, FreeBSD tests unified package management, interview with Gael Duval|
|• Issue 812 (2019-04-29): Ubuntu MATE 19.04, setting up a SOCKS web proxy, Scientific Linux discontinued, Red Hat takes over Java LTS support|
|• Issue 811 (2019-04-22): Alpine 3.9.2, rsync examples, Ubuntu working on ZFS support, Debian elects new Project Leader, Obarun releases S6 tools|
|• Issue 810 (2019-04-15): SolydXK 201902, Bedrock Linux 0.7.2, Fedora phasing out Python 2, NetBSD gets virtual machine monitor|
|• Issue 809 (2019-04-08): PCLinuxOS 2019.02, installing Falkon and problems with portable packages, Mint offers daily build previews, Ubuntu speeds up Snap packages|
|• Issue 808 (2019-04-01): Solus 4.0, security benefits and drawbacks to using a live distro, Gentoo gets GNOME ports working without systemd, Redox OS update|
|• Issue 807 (2019-03-25): Pardus 17.5, finding out which user changed a file, new Budgie features, a tool for browsing FreeBSD's sysctl values|
|• Issue 806 (2019-03-18): Kubuntu vs KDE neon, Nitrux's znx, notes on Debian's election, SUSE becomes an independent entity|
|• Issue 805 (2019-03-11): EasyOS 1.0, managing background services, Devuan team debates machine ID file, Ubuntu Studio works to remain an Ubuntu Community Edition|
|• Issue 804 (2019-03-04): Condres OS 19.02, securely erasing hard drives, new UBports devices coming in 2019, Devuan to host first conference|
|• Issue 803 (2019-02-25): Septor 2019, preventing windows from stealing focus, NetBSD and Nitrux experiment with virtual machines, pfSense upgrading to FreeBSD 12 base|
|• Issue 802 (2019-02-18): Slontoo 18.07.1, NetBSD tests newer compiler, Fedora packaging Deepin desktop, changes in Ubuntu Studio|
|• Issue 801 (2019-02-11): Project Trident 18.12, the meaning of status symbols in top, FreeBSD Foundation lists ongoing projects, Plasma Mobile team answers questions|
|• Issue 800 (2019-02-04): FreeNAS 11.2, using Ubuntu Studio software as an add-on, Nitrux developing znx, matching operating systems to file systems|
|• Issue 799 (2019-01-28): KaOS 2018.12, Linux Basics For Hackers, Debian 10 enters freeze, Ubuntu publishes new version for IoT devices|
|• Issue 798 (2019-01-21): Sculpt OS 18.09, picking a location for swap space, Solus team plans ahead, Fedora trying to get a better user count|
|• Issue 797 (2019-01-14): Reborn OS 2018.11.28, TinyPaw-Linux 1.3, dealing with processes which make the desktop unresponsive, Debian testing Secure Boot support|
|• Issue 796 (2019-01-07): FreeBSD 12.0, Peppermint releases ISO update, picking the best distro of 2018, roundtable interview with Debian, Fedora and elementary developers|
|• Issue 795 (2018-12-24): Running a Pinebook, interview with Bedrock founder, Alpine being ported to RISC-V, Librem 5 dev-kits shipped|
|• Issue 794 (2018-12-17): Void 20181111, avoiding software bloat, improvements to HAMMER2, getting application overview in GNOME Shell|
|• Issue 793 (2018-12-10): openSUSE Tumbleweed, finding non-free packages, Debian migrates to usrmerge, Hyperbola gets FSF approval|
|• Issue 792 (2018-1203): GhostBSD 18.10, when to use swap space, DragonFly BSD's wireless support, Fedora planning to pause development schedule|
|• Issue 791 (2018-11-26): Haiku R1 Beta1, default passwords on live media, Slax and Kodachi update their media, dual booting DragonFly BSD on EFI|
|• Issue 790 (2018-11-19): NetBSD 8.0, Bash tips and short-cuts, Fedora's networking benchmarked with FreeBSD, Ubuntu 18.04 to get ten years of support|
|• Issue 789 (2018-11-12): Fedora 29 Workstation and Silverblue, Haiku recovering from server outage, Fedora turns 15, Debian publishes updated media|
|• Issue 788 (2018-11-05): Clu Linux Live 6.0, examining RAM consumpion, finding support for older CPUs, more Steam support for running Windows games on Linux, update from Solus team|
|• Issue 787 (2018-10-29): Lubuntu 18.10, limiting application access to specific users, Haiku hardware compatibility list, IBM purchasing Red Hat|
|• Issue 786 (2018-10-22): elementary OS 5.0, why init keeps running, DragonFly BSD enables virtual machine memory resizing, KDE neon plans to drop older base|
|• Issue 785 (2018-10-15): Reborn OS 2018.09, Nitrux 1.0.15, swapping hard drives between computers, feren OS tries KDE spin, power savings coming to Linux|
|• Issue 784 (2018-10-08): Hamara 2.1, improving manual pages, UBports gets VoIP app, Fedora testing power saving feature|
|• Issue 783 (2018-10-01): Quirky 8.6, setting up dual booting with Ubuntu and FreeBSD, Lubuntu switching to LXQt, Mint works on performance improvements|
|• Issue 782 (2018-09-24): Bodhi Linux 5.0.0, Elive 3.0.0, Solus publishes ISO refresh, UBports invites feedback, Linux Torvalds plans temporary vacation|
|• Issue 781 (2018-09-17): Linux Mint 3 "Debian Edition", file systems for SSDs, MX makes installing Flatpaks easier, Arch team answers questions, Mageia reaches EOL|
|• Issue 780 (2018-09-10): Netrunner 2018.08 Rolling, Fedora improves language support, how to customize Kali Linux, finding the right video drivers|
|• Issue 779 (2018-09-03): Redcore 1806, keeping ISO downloads safe from tampering, Lubuntu makes Calamares more flexible, Ubuntu improves GNOME performance|
|• Issue 778 (2018-08-27): GuixSD 0.15.0, ReactOS 0.4.9, Steam supports Windows games on Linux, Haiku plans for beta, merging disk partitions|
|• Issue 777 (2018-08-20): YunoHost 22.214.171.124, limiting process resource usage, converting file systems on Fedora, Debian turns 25, Lubuntu migrating to Wayland|
|• Full list of all issues|
Star Labs - Laptops built for Linux.
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|Random Distribution |
Xubuntu is a community-developed operating system based on Ubuntu. It comes with Xfce, which is a stable, light and configurable desktop environment.