| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 260, 7 July 2008
Welcome to this year's 27th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! What were the most exciting Linux events of the first half of 2008? The continued success of Linux on ultra-portable laptops? The arrival of KDE 4? The miscellaneous distribution releases? Our lead article takes a quick look at the most interesting events in the Linux world that shaped the year so far. In the news section, the first stable release of Gentoo Linux in 14 months hits the download servers, Ubuntu receives high marks from French legislators, Xandros acquires Linspire and its software assets, PC-BSD releases the first BSD with integrated KDE 4.1, and OpenBSD prepares for the forthcoming release of symbolic importance - version 4.4. Also not to be missed, news about Ikki Boot, a compilation CD with an excellent collection of rescue utilities, and the latest distro statistics from this site's web server logs. Finally, we are pleased to announce that the recipient of the DistroWatch.com's monthly donation for June 2008 is the MythDora project. Happy reading!
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A quick look at Linux events of the first half of 2008
With the first half of the year 2008 now behind us, let's take a look at some of the most interesting events that shaped the past six months.
Probably the most important Linux-related story of this year was the continued success of Linux on ultra-portable laptops. These simple Internet devices, pioneered by ASUS in the form of its Eee PC and later "copied" by just about every major hardware manufacturer, are largely responsible for the growing perception among the general public that Linux is just as effective an operating system as any of the mainstream alternatives - all without the extra costs and limitations present in proprietary products. In fact, such was the success of Linux on the Eee PC that Microsoft was forced to spend a large amount of money on promoting Windows and has reportedly cut the price of its specially built Windows XP to as little as US$26. Despite that, it might still end up on the losing side of the battle.
The second most exciting -- but also disappointing -- event of this year was the arrival of KDE 4.0, a new generation of the popular open source desktop. Unlike the Eee PC which was welcomed with universal ovations among the Linux users and fans, the new KDE has only succeeded to turn off many Linux enthusiasts. There is no denying - KDE 4.0 was the buggiest and most feature-incomplete release ever produced by the otherwise highly capable KDE team. Although the project did warn the public that their initial release might be more suitable to developers and testers than for general desktop consumption, the fact that it labelled the product with a "stable" number caused that several distributions have accepted it in their releases. The result was a disaster, as witnessed by these distribution's mailing lists and forums where many dissatisfied users vented their frustration. With the release of KDE 4.0, the project has damaged its reputation to the point that many Linux users are having serious doubts about the quality of the upcoming KDE 4.1 as well. Will the KDE development team regain the trust of their users? We'll have to wait and see.
On the distribution front, we have had the pleasure of seeing new releases from all major Linux makers. Once again, Mandriva seems to be a winner here, earning high marks from both the reviewers and the users on various forums for its 2008.1 release. Fedora, on the other hand, was the exact opposite - the distribution's first release under a new project management has been rated rather poorly by most reviewers, while it also received a major thumbs down from their KDE users. Ubuntu 8.04 and openSUSE 11.0 were interesting releases which were generally praised in most reviews, although a part of their user base was somewhat more critical over some stability problems and bugs. Nevertheless, it is clear that openSUSE has made huge strides towards improving some of the aspects of the distributions that were often criticised in the past, notably the speed of YaST and the system's boot time, while the newly introduced Zypper has turned out to be a powerful and useful addition to the existing package management toolkit. Still, it seems that Mandriva was the distribution that found the best balance between features and stability. Despite that, the company continues to struggle as its flagship product still lacks the mindshare and popularity of the other three distributions.
What can we expect in the next few months? Apart from an occasional alpha build and an odd minor release, not much is likely to happen in July and August, the two months traditionally associated with summer holidays in the northern hemisphere. But come September, things will change quickly. Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 is expected to arrive at about that time and while this huge community project has never attained its projected release target, the current state of its testing tree suggests that a delay, if any, shouldn't be too long. Next, it will be the all-new Mandriva 2009 in early October, with the distribution's first real attempt at integrating KDE 4 into its product. The end of October should bring two back-to-back releases of Fedora 10 and Ubuntu 8.10, while the middle of December is reserved for the excitement of openSUSE 11.1. Will Fedora learn from its recent errors of judgement? And will Ubuntu introduce any major features now that its hands are no longer tied by the need to plan 3 - 5 years ahead? And will Mandriva be able to maintain their stability edge over other distributions in the upcoming release? We'll look at the second half of the year for the answers.
Debian GNU/Linux - the new "Number One" distribution
Interesting statistics emerged from last month's web logs on DistroWatch.com. Ubuntu, formerly the most widely-used Linux distribution among the visitors of DistroWatch, has lost its number one position to no other than its parent - Debian GNU/Linux. This is of course largely due to the fact that, as of Ubuntu 8.04, the distribution's Firefox browser no longer provides an identifiable user-agent string:
• Ubuntu 7.10: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:18.104.22.168) Gecko/20071204 Ubuntu/7.10 (gutsy) Firefox/22.214.171.124
• Ubuntu 8.04: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.9) Gecko/2008060309 Firefox/3.0
As a result, Awstats, the web log analyser deployed here to make sense of the Apache web log, now classifies Ubuntu as an "Unknown" distribution, together with Slackware Linux and other operating systems that don't provide a custom user-agent string in their browsers. While this, of course, doesn't mean that Ubuntu has lost its popularity, from the DistroWatch web server's point of view, it is Debian GNU/Linux that is now the most frequently used Linux distribution to access this web site.
In the above table, the third column represents the percentage of all users visiting DistroWatch.com with a Linux or BSD distribution. For the data from the current month and other statistics please visit distrowatch.com/awstats.
Gentoo Linux 2008.0, Ubuntu in Assemblée nationale, Xandros acquires Linspire, alpha PC-BSD 7 with KDE 4.1, OpenBSD 4.4 beta tagged, Ikki Boot live CD
After an endless wait, the Gentoo project's first stable release in 14 months finally hit the download mirrors on Sunday. As always with this popular source-based meta-distribution, any new release is merely a way of providing an up-to-date set of installation and live media, and does not represent a must-have download for existing Gentoo users. However, for those who intend to perform a new installation, the new images provide the latest kernel, thus increasing compatibility with more modern hardware. One caveat which was already reported by two DistroWatch readers and which was also mentioned on the Gentoo forum - the live CD seems to contain a bug that prevents GRUB installation on some systems. If this is your case, there are alternative (non-live) minimal or universal installation CDs, which can be downloaded from the distribution's download page. No in-depth reviews of the product have been published so far, but those interested in a first-impression style quick look at the new Gentoo 2008.0 live CD can read this report (with screenshots) by Phoronix.
Gentoo Linux 2008.0 live CD arrives with a new installer, lighter desktop, and no branding.
(full image size: 92kB, screen resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
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Who says that Linux isn't ready for the desktop? Those readers who follow general Linux news will remember the decision taken last year by France's Assemblée nationale to switch the laptop computers of their members to Ubuntu. So how did the switch go? Very well, apparently - at least according to ZDNet France which summarised the experience in this article. (Note: if you don't understand French, please ask our friend Dbrion - he'll no doubt be extremely happy to translate the story into English -- of sorts -- for you.) Except for a few initial problems that prevented synchronisation of the deputies' agendas with smartphones and the necessary adaptation period, the French legislators seem to be overwhelmingly satisfied with their new operating system. The author of the article also interviewed five députés who confirmed that the move to a free operating system was generally viewed positively, without any major revolt among the members. One of them even gave Ubuntu 10 points out of 10, while none reported any problems regarding interaction with non-Linux computers and devices. Overall, it's a great success, no doubt. And the moral of the story? It's obvious - if you can get your country's legislative body to switch to Linux, you too will be working only 35 hours per week and get 5 weeks of vacation per year ;-) Now, can somebody please install Linux on Mr Sarkozy's laptop? Maybe that way he would finally come to senses and give up his ridiculous push for EU-wide legislation to ban peer-to-peer Internet traffic!
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Xandros, a provider of Linux-based solutions for (mostly) the enterprise Linux market, announced last week the acquisition of Linspire, a company known for its Linspire and Freespire Linux distribution and the CNR software installation service: "Xandros, Inc., the leading provider of custom OEM Linux solutions, next-generation Linux desktop and server products, and advanced cross-platform Windows-Linux management tools, today announced the acquisition of Linspire, developer of the CNR software distribution facility, and the Linspire and Freespire Linux desktop operating systems." According to this Q&A session with Xandros CEO Andreas Typaldos, the acquisition won't affect the current Linspire and Freespire users in any way as both distributions will continue their existence as before: "Q: Will Freespire continue to be maintained as an open source project? A: Yes. Q: Will Xandros maintain separate Xandros and Linspire/Freespire lines of desktop products? A: Pending further planning, at this point both product lines will be maintained. Q: What will happen to existing Linspire/Freespire users? A: No changes are planned." (Note: if you prefer a more soap-opera style twist to the Xandros-Linspire deal, head over to the web log belonging to Kevin Carmony, the former CEO of Linspire. While it doesn't contain much valuable information, it certainly beats the Xandros press release in terms of entertainment value. ;-)
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Kris Moore, the founder and lead developer of PC-BSD, has announced the availability of a new alpha build of PC-BSD 7. Apart from the usual updates, this is the first BSD-based operating system that includes KDE 4: "After several weeks of porting and hard work by KDE on FreeBSD and PC-BSD teams, I'm pleased to make our first PC-BSD 7 alpha with KDE 4.1 (beta 2) available! This release is quite a bit different from our previous alphas, as the jump from KDE 3.5 to KDE 4.1 is very significant, and required us to port our entire codebase over to compile and run with Qt 4. As such, I fully expect to have many bugs appear in this alpha, and will appreciate your help in finding and fixing them." If you are interested in checking out the latest PC-BSD 7 alpha or in reporting any KDE 4.1 bugs to the KDE development team, you can download the two CD images from here (both CDs are needed for installation): PCBSD7-Alpha-07032008-CD1.iso (652MB), PCBSD7-Alpha-07032008-CD2.iso (578MB).
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Preparations for the forthcoming release of OpenBSD 4.4 are in full swing after Theo de Raadt, the project's founder and lead developer, tagged the development tree as OpenBSD 4.4-BETA last week: "Theo de Raadt has tagged 4.4-beta. Snapshots should be available soon for testing, check the mirrors for availability. Read below for the full commit message. We need users to help test all parts of OpenBSD and report any critical bugs and problems you can find so we can release a fully functional and stable OpenBSD 4.4. Editor's note: There has been a lot of new functionality added over the last two hackathons. In this editor's opinion, this should be one of OpenBSD's greatest releases, coinciding with a very historic version number. Let's all pitch in and do our part to squash any outstanding bugs." The installation ISO image containing the 4.4 beta code is now available from the project's snapshots directory: i386/install44.iso (215MB), amd64/install44.iso (235MB)
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Finally, a DistroWatch reader has sent us news about a useful live CD that could be of interest to readers who need a good collection of data rescue utilities. Called Ikki Boot, this CD isn't a new distribution, but rather a compilation of various data rescue tools that exist on the market and that can be accessed from the boot menu. It includes three mini-distributions - Parted Magic, RIPLinuX and Toutou Linux (a French desktop distribution based on Puppy Linux). The boot menu also provides a quick access to several other utilities, such as the popular Memtest86+ (a memory testing tool), Super Grub Disk (a utility for restoring the GRUB bootloader), Offline NT password (a Windows password-cracking tool) and Darik's Boot and Nuke (a utility that safely erases hard disk content). The project's web site is in French only, but most of the utilities on the CD are provided in their English versions. The Ikki Boot 1.6 live CD is available for free download from here: Ikki_Boot_1.7.iso (235MB).
One of the components included on the Ikki Boot CD is Toutou Linux, a Puppy Linux-based distribution for French speakers.
(full image size: 292kB, screen resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
|Released Last Week
Sabayon Linux 3.5
Fabio Erculiani has announced the final release of Sabayon Linux 3.5: "Sabayon Linux x86/x86-64 3.5 stable release. Distribution features, updates, changes since 3.4: Linux kernel 126.96.36.199 with extended wireless, laptop (UMPC, like Eee PC), file system (Unionfs, Aufs, Squashfs, ext4, NTFS-3G) support; really fast boot time; out-of-the-box hardware detection, input devices, GPUs, wireless networks; easy-to-setup 3D desktop and gaming support, thanks to Compiz Fusion 0.7.6 and a set of free top-tier games; AMD/ATI Catalyst 8.6 and NVIDIA 173.14.05; X.Org server 1.4.2 (7.3), automatic input devices configuration through HAL; a set of ready-to-use applications and desktop environments - KDE 3.5.9, GNOME 2.22.2, Xfce 4.4.2, OpenOffice.org 2.4, Firefox 3.0, Google Earth 4.2 and Picasa 2.7, Flash 9, Java 1.6 (IcedTea), Innotek VirtualBox 1.5; Entropy, a fast, user-oriented, Sabayon Linux package manager...." Here is the full release announcement.
Sabayon Linux 3.5 comes with highly up-to-date software packages and a brand-new desktop theme.
(full image size: 194kB, screen resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Slamd64 Linux 12.1
Fred Emmott has announced the release of Slamd64 Linux 12.1, an unofficial port of Slackware Linux to the x86_64 architecture: "Slamd64 12.1 is released, containing major new features such as GCC 4.2.3, SCIM, and greatly improved CJK support. Additionally, installation from FTP and HTTP sources is now supported. This release is mostly an incremental improvement over 12.0, including: Linux 188.8.131.52, X11 7.3.0+, glibc 2.7, Apache 2.2.8 with SSL support and PHP 5.2.5, KDE 3.5.9, Xfce 4.4.2, Mozilla Firefox and Thunderbird 184.108.40.206, Java (JRE and JDK) 6u6. Like previous releases of Slamd64, 12.1 provides seamless FHS-compliant 32-bit compatibility, via a multilib system (/lib for 32-bit libraries and /lib64 for 64-bit libraries). This provides easier and increased support for both existing 32-bit software (in most cases, you can just install a package designed for Slackware with no special work needed)." Read the release announcement and release notes for more information.
Foresight Linux 2.0.3
Paul Cutler has announced the release of Foresight Linux 2.0.3, an rPath-based distribution showcasing the latest GNOME technologies: "The Foresight team is proud to announce the latest release of Foresight Linux. Foresight 2.0.3 GNOME edition is a minor release, featuring the latest release of GNOME, 2.22.3. GNOME 2.22.3 features a new login manager for users, as well as a number of bug fixes and updates. Foresight 2.0.3 also includes Banshee 1.0 as the default media manager, an updated kernel, and a number of software updates. Foresight uses a rolling release - users who are already using Foresight have the option to install these updates via PackageKit. There is no need for users already using Foresight to download a new image, the updates are already available!" Read the release announcement and release notes for further details.
Poseidon Linux 3.0
Christian dos Santos Ferreira has announced the release of Poseidon Linux 3.0, an Ubuntu-based distribution enhanced with software for scientific and academic purpose, including applications for numerical modelling, 2D/3D/4D visualisation and statistics: "Our team is proud to announce the new Poseidon Linux 3.0! Poseidon Linux was designed as a friendly and complete desktop, based on open source software and aimed at the scientific community. This operating system is based on Ubuntu and inspired by Quantian Linux. It offers several specific tools in the areas of GIS, 3D Visualization, Mathematics, Statistics and several other fields of research. It also has all the software expected in a modern desktop, such as office suites, web browsers, e-mail readers, etc. The new release supports Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish, English and German languages." Here is the brief release announcement (in Portuguese), and further information is also available on the project's English web site.
Poseidon Linux 3.0 - an Ubuntu-based distribution enhanced with scientific software
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GoblinX 2.7 "Micro"
Flavio Pereira de Oliveira has announced the release of GoblinX 2.7 Micro edition, a Slackware-based mini live CD with Fluxbox as the sole window manager: "GoblinX Micro 2.7 is released. GoblinX Micro is the smallest version of our distribution and contains only Fluxbox as a windows manager and GTK+ applications. Main upgrades since RC1: corrected some small errors and bugs; added xf86-video-openchrome and cdstatus; added an interface to build modules with Slapt-get help; added a GUI for removing modules from the live CD; added more Nautilus actions; added Totem as an audio CD player option; added extra folders to be used as a package repository; added a media package repository to Slapt-getrc; added some missing applications to Fluxbox menu; added bookmarks to Fluxbox menu; added a pre-defined menu with icons as an option; upgraded some packages and libraries." Visit the distribution's news page to read the full release announcement.
Canonical has announced the availability of Ubuntu 8.04.1 LTS, the first update of a product that comes with free long-term security support: "The Ubuntu team is proud to announce the release of Ubuntu 8.04.1 LTS, the first maintenance update to Ubuntu's 8.04 LTS release. This is the first maintenance release of Ubuntu 8.04 LTS, which continues to be supported with maintenance updates and security fixes until April 2011 on desktops and April 2013 on servers. The Ubuntu team has focused their efforts on resolving issues reported by people deploying Ubuntu out in the real world, including: Firefox has been upgraded to the final 3.0 release; the Samba client allows LANMAN authentication again; various problems with the FUSE interface to GNOME's new virtual file system have been fixed...." Read the rest of the release announcement for further details.
Gentoo Linux 2008.0
Gentoo Linux 2008.0 has been released: "The 2008.0 final release is out! Code-named 'It's got what plants crave,' this release contains numerous new features, including an updated installer, improved hardware support, a complete rework of profiles, and a move to Xfce instead of GNOME on the live CD. Live DVDs are not available for x86 or amd64, although they may become available in the future. The 2008.0 release also includes updated versions of many packages already available in your ebuild tree. Highlights: updated installer - the installer now only performs networkless installations using the packages and ebuild tree on the Live CD; improved hardware support - moving to the 2.6.24 kernel added many new drivers for hardware released since the 2007.0 release; updated packages - Portage 220.127.116.11, a 2.6.24 kernel, Xfce 4.4.2, GCC 4.1.2 and glibc 2.6.1." Read the complete release announcement for further information.
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
The openSUSE project has published a roadmap leading towards the next stable release of openSUSE, version 11.1: "With openSUSE 11.0 out the door, it's time to start thinking about openSUSE 11.1. The public release of openSUSE 11.1 is scheduled for December 18, 2008, six months after the release of openSUSE 11.0." The development will kick off with the first alpha release on July 24th; this will be followed by one more alpha release a month later, four beta releases in roughly two-week intervals, and two release candidates in November. If everything goes according to the plan, we should be able to celebrate this year's Christmas with a brand new openSUSE release. For more information please visit the project's roadmap page.
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Summary of expected upcoming releases
June 2008 donation: MythDora receives US$500.00|
We are pleased to announce that the recipient of the June 2008 DistroWatch.com donation is MythDora, a Fedora-based distribution designed to simplify the installation of MythTV on a home theatre PC. It receives US$500.00 in cash.
A number of readers have emailed us requests for a donation to one of the "MythTV" distributions. MythTV, an open-source software licensed under the GPL, is a UNIX application which turns a computer with the necessary hardware into a network-streaming digital video recorder, a digital multimedia home entertainment system, or home theatre PC. MythDora integrates MythTV into a standard Fedora live CD for easy installation and use. In addition to MythTV and its plugins, MythDora also includes extra Linux packages that are needed for MythTV to run, and drivers for hardware commonly encountered in machines intended to run MythTV. Also included in MythDora are several video game emulators, and extra tools and scripts. For more information please visit MythDora.com and MythDoraWiki.com.
Dennis Hand, the founder and co-developer of MythDora, has emailed DistroWatch to say "thank you" for the donation.
As always, this monthly donations programme is a joint initiative between DistroWatch and two online shops selling low-cost CDs and DVDs with Linux, BSD and other open source software - LinuxCD.org and OSDisc.com. These vendors contributed US$50.00 each towards this month's donation to MythDora.
Here is the list of projects that received a DistroWatch donation since the launch of the programme (figures in US dollars):
Since the launch of the Donations Programme in March 2004, DistroWatch has donated a total of US$18,183 to various open source software projects.
- 2004: GnuCash ($250), Quanta Plus ($200), PCLinuxOS ($300), The GIMP ($300), Vidalinux ($200), Fluxbox ($200), K3b ($350), Arch Linux ($300), Kile KDE LaTeX Editor ($100) and UNICEF - Tsunami Relief Operation ($340)
- 2005: Vim ($250), AbiWord ($220), BitTorrent ($300), NdisWrapper ($250), Audacity ($250), Debian GNU/Linux ($420), GNOME ($425), Enlightenment ($250), MPlayer ($400), Amarok ($300), KANOTIX ($250) and Cacti ($375)
- 2006: Gambas ($250), Krusader ($250), FreeBSD Foundation ($450), GParted ($360), Doxygen ($260), LilyPond ($250), Lua ($250), Gentoo Linux ($500), Blender ($500), Puppy Linux ($350), Inkscape ($350), Cape Linux Users Group ($130), Mandriva Linux ($405, a Powerpack competition), Digikam ($408) and SabayonLinux ($450)
- 2007: GQview ($250), Kaffeine ($250), sidux ($350), CentOS ($400), LyX ($350), VectorLinux ($350), KTorrent ($400), FreeNAS ($350), lighttpd ($400), Damn Small Linux ($350), NimbleX ($450), MEPIS Linux ($300), Zenwalk Linux ($300)
- 2008: VLC ($350), Frugalware Linux ($340), cURL ($300), GSPCA (Linux webcam support) ($400), FileZilla ($400), MythDora ($500)
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New distributions added to waiting list
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DistroWatch database summary
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It's that time of the year again when your DistroWatch maintainer needs to take a little break from DistroWatch to enjoy some peace and tranquillity. From this week on, the DistroWatch news section will be maintained by Dr. WT Zhu, while DistroWatch Weekly will be compiled by Susan Linton. As for myself, see you again next month!
|Linux Foundation Training
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|• 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|
|• Full list of all issues|
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Source Mage GNU/Linux
Sourcemage is a source-based GNU/Linux distribution based on a Sorcery metaphor of 'casting' and 'dispelling' programs, which we refer to as 'spells'.