| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 405, 16 May 2011
Welcome to this year's 20th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! A new version of Slackware Linux was released recently and Jesse Smith takes it for a spin. Unlike many other free operating systems that compete on the market today, the world's oldest surviving Linux distro continues in its fine tradition of putting simplicity and dependability before any large-scale modifications. Read our first-look review to find out more. The news section then continues with links to interviews with two well-known Slackware contributors before it goes through the usual round-up of news of the past week from the world of CentOS, Sabayon Linux and Ubuntu. It also provides links to two more interviews - one with the developer of Bodhi Linux and the other with founder of CrunchBang Linux. Also in this issue there is a quick overview of the current state of the RPM package format, and a useful how-to for those readers who use online storage services, with tips on how to keep your files safe and away from prying eyes. Happy reading!
- Reviews: First impressions of Slackware Linux 13.37
- News: CentOS vs Scientific Linux, Sabayon 6 and Ubuntu 11.10 updates, interviews with Slackware, Bodhi and CrunchBang developers, who maintains RPM
- Tips and tricks: File encryption and cloud backup
- Released last week: BackTrack 5, Salix OS 13.37 "Xfce"
- Upcoming releases: Mageia 1 RC
- New additions: Fuduntu, Bardinux
- New distributions: Blackbuntu, iQunix, mabuntux, PrimeE17, Vanillux
- Reader comments
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (39MB) and MP3 (36MB) formats
Join us at irc.freenode.net #distrowatch
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
First impressions of Slackware Linux 13.37|
The Slackware Linux distribution holds a special place in my heart. The first Linux distro I installed was a minimum version of Slack, which included just the basic command-line tools. This left me without a desktop, graphical applications, compiler or package manager, but that was okay. At the time I wasn't looking for a full-sized operating system -- I wanted a bare essentials, free version of UNIX I could run at home so I could gain experience with the command line and learn awk scripting. The Slackware-boiled-down-to-the-essentials disks I got my hands on were what I needed at the time and, when I decided I liked the Linux experience, I moved on to other distributions which focused on GUIs and making things easy for people migrating from commercial software. But my early experiences with the Slackware approach, and it's clean efficiency, stayed with me as a pleasant memory.
Now let's fast-forward a bit and look at modern Slackware, a distribution which no longer comes on floppy disks, but instead is shared via CDs and DVDs. Modern slackers have access to the 2.6.37 Linux kernel, Btrfs, the KDE 4 desktop and the latest Firefox. Slackware users can enjoy official 32-bit or 64-bit builds and, for my latest trip into Slackland, I decided to make use of the 32-bit DVD, which weighs in at 4.2 GB.
Booting from the DVD shows us a text-based boot prompt, and when the system loads, we are shown some helpful instructions, letting us know that we need to prepare partitions prior to launching the installer and, that to begin installation, we should run a the command "setup". For dividing up the disk Slackware includes three partition managers -- fdisk, cfdisk and gdisk. I went with cfdisk because I find its menu system can be navigated relatively quickly and easily. With partitioning completed, I turned to the installer, which guides us through setting up Slackware via a series of text-based menus. Each screen is well thought out, giving us an explanation as to what is going on and offering reasonable defaults. First we select our keyboard layout and choose which partitions to use for swap space and which to use as our root partition. The installer gives us the option to format our root partition as any of the ext2/3/4 family, Btrfs, JFS, ReiserFS or XFS. We confirm the location of our source packages (the DVD in my case) and then we're asked which packages we wish to install. I decided to do a full install of everything, minus the KDE international items which were not selected by default.
There's a lot of software on the Slackware DVD and I found that the install took about forty-five minutes, during which time 5.4 GB of files were placed on my drive. Once that's done, the installer walks us through installing the LILO bootloader, selecting our monitor resolution, and we're given the option to set up custom kernel parameters. The installer continues by walking us through configuring the mouse, the network connection and which (if any) services we want to run. A secure shell server (SSH) is enabled by default, but otherwise Slackware generally leaves services turned off. We're not done yet; next up we're allowed to select our font, time zone and preferred window manager. The last step is to set a password on the root account (no regular user accounts are created).
With all of that done the system reboots and I was dropped at a text login prompt. From there I was able to log in as root, create a regular user account for myself and confirm that my network connection was functioning properly. Unfortunately that's when I ran into a problem. I'd started my "slacktivity" on my desktop machine (2.5 GHz CPU, 2 GB of RAM, NVIDIA video card) and I soon found that trying to start a graphical session didn't yield the expected results. Specifically, trying to launch a desktop session would cause the screen to show the KDE loading screen, the progress icons would appear and, just as the desktop environment finished loading, X would crash, returning me to the text console. After confirming that my X configuration file was in order and doing some other trial-and-error troubleshooting I found that the issue was a result of compositing being enabled by default. Apparently (according to what I've read on the forums) compositing doesn't work with some driver/hardware combinations. The problem, I'm told, usually hits Intel video cards and I later confirmed that on my laptop machine. Disabling compositing on both machines cleared the way for me to access the desktop environment. The desktop, which in my case was KDE 4.5, has a soft, pleasant and generally clean look to it. The background resembles café au lait and the desktop is uncluttered, containing just two icons for file system navigation.
Slackware Linux 13.37 - playing around with applications on the desktop
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At this point I realize that we're over 700 words into this review and have yet to talk about what it's like to actually use Slackware and there's good reason for that. Slackware is a distribution which expects us to be hands on. It's not going to do any work for us; we have to roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty. It's not a system for people who want things to work out of the box; instead it's tailored to people who like to craft their operating system, knowing it will be exactly what they want when they're done, shaping it like so much digital clay. This can be seen in the way the installer walks us through so many configuration screens and it also becomes apparent when we look at package management.
Slackware is one of the few GNU/Linux projects to not include a package manager with dependency resolution and it's only been in fairly recent history that Slackware has started including a network-aware all-in-one package manager in the main repository. Slackers generally view the lack of dependency resolution as a characteristic of Slackware's clean and simple design. While many slackers prefer not to sully their systems with modern software management tools and dependency resolution, others do crave these tools and the result has been a supply of third-party add-ons which provide additional features.
First, let's look at the official package tools that come with Slackware. If you read the Slackbook (and I suggest you do) you'll find that users have traditionally been expected to download and manually manipulate software on the command line using installpkg, removepkg and upgradepkg. However, manually finding and downloading software can be time consuming and so slackpkg has been included in recent versions of Slackware. The slackpkg program has a syntax similar to Debian's apt-get tool and can download, install, remove, upgrade and search for software. This is a handy command-line program which automates some steps in the process, but doesn't include dependency resolution.
For that feature users can turn to the third-party package manager, slapt-get. The slapt-get program is, like slackpkg, a command-line tool which has an APT-style syntax and will resolve dependencies where it's able to do so. The slapt-get page also makes available a GUI front-end, called gslapt, for the more extreme hedonists among us. Community repositories exist with extra packages not already included in the official ones. Some of these are more up to date than others and I found, during the two weeks following 13.37's release, that some repositories weren't yet offering software for this release. A helpful way to find software across repositories is Slackfind. It's an easy resource to use and great for finding anything from firmware to VirtualBox to multimedia editors.
Slackware Linux 13.37 - showing off the application menu and package manager
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Next, let's look at the software made available to us out of the box. In the "Welcome to Linux (Slackware)" message from Patrick Volkerding he writes, "Slackware is designed around the idea that the system should be a complete installation kept updated with any official patches. This avoids the mess of dependencies that some other Linux-based GNU systems face." As you might then expect, performing a full install from the DVD provides us with a large selection of software that will cover the needs of most users. Some of the highlights include Firefox 4.0, KMail, the Blogio blogging tool, KTorrent, the Konqueror web browser, the Pidgin instant messaging client, the SeaMonkey web browser, SeaMonkey Mail, the Thunderbird e-mail client, XChat and the KPPP dialing software. For multimedia we have a range of players ranging from Amarok and Audacious through to Juk and the Dragon Player. There's a CD ripper, disc burner, XMMS and Xine.
KOffice 2.3.3 is available in the menu, as are document viewers, an address book, the GIMP, KolourPaint and an array of KDE games. There are system tools for handling user accounts, setting up printers, and the KDE settings modules for handling the desktop's look and feel. We're given a handful of development applications, including a graphical CVS client, KDevelop and graphical front ends for both Emacs and vi. Slackware includes the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) and Java. There's no Flash player, but Slackware does come with codecs for playing multimedia files, including MP3s, and popular video formats. In the background we find the 2.6.37 Linux kernel. Obviously I haven't been able to go through and make extensive use of all of this software in the course of the week, but what I have used has been functional and stable. And, because there is such a wide range, I very rarely had to install additional software. The DVD covers almost everything and the kitchen sink, so it's easy to get work done (and have some fun) with what's there initially.
On both of my test machines I found that Slackware worked well, once I got past the initial install and configuration stage. Audio worked out of the box and my screen resolution was reasonable, if a bit below what I had wanted on my desktop. My laptop's wireless card wasn't picked up, not by default, but I was able to find a firmware package for the card through Slackfind. Responsiveness was good and about in line with other Linux distributions running KDE. My only complaint in the area of performance came early on when I discovered that desktop search indexing had been enabled and would chew up CPU cycles when I first logged in. Disabling the indexing service restored smooth operation. I tried Slackware in a VirtualBox environment and found it worked well and performance remained reasonably good with 512 MB of memory available. Once it was up and running I found that Slackware generally stayed out of the way and I didn't encounter any problems.
Slackware Linux 13.37 - graphical front-ends for Emacs and vim.
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When dealing with a distribution like Slackware, where there is some expectation that users will be working with the command line and manually configuring the system, I feel that documentation is important. Slackware does have documentation and it's well laid out. I get the impression that much of it is intended to be more of quick reference, rather than detailed instructions. Compared to the handbooks provided by, for example, FreeBSD and OpenBSD, I found Slackware's documentation to be terse. In the end, documentation can only take a person so far and some issues or questions need to be handled by other people. For that reason there is a Slackware forum on LinuxQuestions.org full of friendly slackers exchanging fixes and knowledge. Further on the topic of communication, Slackware features a security mailing list. This list keeps users up to date with important updates, removing the need for update notification apps or manual checks for new software through the package manager(s).
It has been often said that if a person wants to learn about Red Hat they should install Red Hat, but if one wants to learn Linux they should install Slackware. I think there's some truth to that, partly because Slackware largely avoids distro-specific tools and configurations, but also because it forces the users to educate themselves. One certainly can learn the nuts and bolts of Linux through Ubuntu, Fedora or openSUSE, but where those distributions provide a lot of hand holding, Slackware patiently sits to the side with its arms folded. As a teaching aid Slackware is hard to beat as it's stable, has a clean implementation and encourages user involvement while offering sane defaults. Slackware will also be appealing to people who want their computer to do what they tell it to, no more, no less. I wouldn't recommend it to users who aren't interested in what's going on "under the hood"; it's a distro for expert users or for people who wish to become expert users. Whether you like Slackware will depend a lot on what you're looking for in an operating system, but I'm happy to report 13.37 continues the project's tradition of stable, clean computing.
|Miscellaneous News (by Ladislav Bodnar)
CentOS vs Scientific Linux, Sabayon 6 and Ubuntu 11.10 updates, interviews with Slackware, Bodhi and CrunchBang developers, who maintains RPM
In this world of rapidly evolving distributions and desktop environments, one can always rely on Slackware to stay true to its roots in terms of simplicity and dependability. For those who are attracted to these principles and who enjoyed the above review, here is more on the world's oldest surviving Linux distro: two interviews with well-known Slackware contributors. In the first of them, Robby Workman answers a question concerning the "most remarkable" changes in version 13.37: "Kernel mode setting for graphics is now on by default (and required for X.Org) for both Intel and ATI chipsets, but I don't know how 'remarkable' that really is. The only other thing that 'jumps out' at me is the inclusion (by upstream) of the formerly patented BCI in FreeType, but that's not such a big deal in my opinion." In the second interview, Eric Hameleers replies to the same inquiry with a somewhat different viewpoint: "The version of KDE in Slackware 13.37 is a lot more enjoyable than that of 13.1. The new version of X.Org delivers a lot of punch, leaving HAL behind and working much better with a lot of hardware. The same is true for the new kernel. I was very pleased with the updates to the Slackware installer.".
* * * * *
The fans and users of CentOS, the most popular among the Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) clones, are slowly coming to a realisation that the project is grappling with serious troubles. As six months have passed since the release of RHEL 6 without any sign of CentOS 6, some are wondering whether they might not be better off using the "other" RHEL clone - Scientific Linux. Greg Smith summarises his feelings in "The rise and fall of CentOS": "If I needed a sign that it was time for me to start installing Scientific Linux 6, this week I found it. Any long-time user of RPM-based distributions has probably used a package from a Dag Wieers repository at some point. ... Well, that party is over. Last week Dag publicly announced that he was resigning from CentOS development work, seemingly over the development team's communication issues. In the comments there, Dag specifically suggests Scientific Linux as the right distribution to move to now, saying that 'their process is more open and the people are actually friendly to feedback.' If a tight development group has enough resources to keep its users happy, so long as the end result is open-source I'm not going to knock the process that got there. But when your release is at least four months later than it was expected by most people, and you're causing major community contributors to abandon your project in a bad way, I don't have any choice but to start looking into more open projects."
* * * * *
Here is an update on Sabayon Linux, directly from the project leader, Fabio Erculiani. According to his blog post entitled "Sabayon 6, Entropy 1, a new era is about to come", the project's major new version is likely to ship in July: "Regarding what people worry about, Sabayon 6 will be our next release version and it is scheduled for July. You may already know that we don't like fixed release dates: we prefer the 'it's done when it's done' approach. Sabayon 6 will be shipping with Entropy 1 and package updates will be delivered to you via our upcoming new build server (which is going to replace our current one), a Bi-Octa AMD Opteron 6128 system with 48 GB of RAM." There is a lot more in terms of package updates: "Entropy eventually entered the final beta phase - API documentation is complete, Entropy services infrastructure has been rewritten from scratch taking advantage from the best communication protocol ever invented - HTTP (and JSON as 'data format'), Sulfur eventually got its awaited speed boost (1.0_beta15), packages.sabayon.org has been deployed, Python 2.7 is now the default, same for GCC 4.5, and Entropy in general is as rock-solid (and fast) as ever in all its 300,000+ lines of code and millions of line changes that I've been able to work out in four years."
* * * * *
Last week's Ubuntu Developer's Summit, which took place in Budapest, brought plenty of news as well as hints about future plans for the popular desktop distro. Here is a nice summary entitled "Expected changes in Ubuntu 11.10 'Oneiric Ocelot'," published by Web Upd8. These include a switch to GNOME 3, a possible removal of LibreOffice from the live CD image, a replacement of GDM with LightDM as the default login manager, and improvements in Ubuntu Software Centre (USC), among many others: "In Ubuntu 11.10 'Oneiric Ocelot', Ubuntu Software Center might get a web catalog from where you can install applications (using apturl). The web Ubuntu Software Center looks and behaves pretty much like the standalone USC but for now that's all the available info on this. One of the major issues with Ubuntu Software Center is that the application descriptions are in English, no matter what language you use so that really needs to be fixed. To solve this, the Ubuntu Software Center might even allow the users to translate the application description from within the software center."
* * * * *
With all the recent criticism of both GNOME 3 and Ubuntu's Unity interface it's hardly surprising that some developers are looking for an alternative desktop for their distributions. Scott Lavender, the lead developer of Ubuntu Studio, has found the perfect one in Xfce: "Several desktop environments were discussed but Xfce was chosen because it offered appreciable advantages that other desktop environments could not. Some advantages would be more immediately tangible to users. For example, Xfce represents a familiar desktop metaphor for users and provides a more resource-friendly environment than GNOME, KDE, or (I would expect) Unity. Other advantages would be more tangible to the Ubuntu Studio team (and perhaps to users later on). A large potential advantage is to develop working relations with the Xubuntu team, which could reduce the workload on the limited Ubuntu Studio team but also increase the actual development yield. And ultimately, some benefits of this relationship might eventually include a graphical installer and a live image, both of which have been desired by users."
* * * * *
For someone who prefers a flashier desktop there is always Enlightenment and Bodhi Linux. Last week Steven Rosenberg interviewed Jeff Hoogland, the founder and lead developer of this Ubuntu-based desktop distribution: "Q: What do you think of the stock Debian and Ubuntu installs of Enlightenment, and how does Bodhi improve on them? A: Well, for starters we provide an up-to-date version of Enlightenment. Enlightenment development sees about 1,000 SVN commits a month. As such any Enlightenment desktop in Debian/Ubuntu repositories is often many months old. Bodhi provides weekly updates to the desktop for our users to download. Default Enlightenment setups also are not very functional or nice-looking without a good deal of tweaking. For instance, Sabayon E17 ships with a fairly standard Enlightenment desktop, whereas Bodhi provides a number of nice-looking desktops to choose from (see the scrolling images on the main home page). For a new user setting up Enlightenment 17 as Bodhi has done can take hours or days even."
* * * * *
While on the subject of interviews, here is another one - this time with the founder of the Debian-based CrunchBang Linux, Philip Newborough. Is a new release of CrunchBang Linux planned soon? "As you are probably aware, CrunchBang Linux 10 'Statler', the latest CrunchBang release, is based on Debian 'Squeeze', which is stable. At the moment, I am not planning on developing Statler any further, but I may push out some point releases with updated packages. The next development release of CrunchBang will be named 'Waldorf' and it will be based on Debian 'Wheezy', the current Debian testing branch. I have a few ideas I am working on for Waldorf, but nothing concrete yet. Mostly, I would like to work on improving the Xfce desktop experience, which I somewhat neglected in Statler." And what is CrunchBang developer's favourite distribution? "I like them all, but I am really fond of Puppy Linux. There is something about Puppy which really appeals to me and I think it encapsulates the Linux spirit. SliTaz and Tiny Core Linux also fall into the same category."
* * * * *
Finally, a link to an interesting update on the state of RPM by Linux Weekly News. As some readers might be aware of, there are currently two separate branches of the package manager - the commonly used RPM 4.x which is still the preferred version in Fedora and all its derived distributions, and RPM 5.x, which will make its first appearance in the upcoming Mandriva Linux 2011 and which is also employed by a handful of smaller distributions. Here is Jonathan Corbet's conclusion on the subject: "It is going to be interesting to watch what happens from here. Mandriva appears to be well committed to the RPM 5 transition at this point, and, seemingly, things are beginning to stabilize. If RPM 5 performs well in the final Mandriva 2011 release, it could motivate questions from users of some of the other distributions on why they are stuck with the 'older' version. Alternatively, users could see the pain Mandriva has been through and, if the result doesn't appear to be worth it, they may decide that they're happier with their relatively boring RPM 4. Either way, it seems that this particular drama has not played itself out yet."
|Tips and Tricks (by Jesse Smith)
Head in the clouds
Cloud storage, the practice of saving one's files on a server controlled by someone else, has a way of polarizing people. There are those who enjoy the convenience of being able to send their data to a remote server, giving them the ability to retrieve or synchronize from another machine on another network. Some like the idea of other people managing the machines and disks, leaving us to worry about other things. And, at the other end of the scale are those who dislike having their data on a server they don't control, where scripts and prying eyes might see it. Or, for that matter, where the server might go off-line and we can't do anything to fix the situation. I think cloud storage can be quite useful, if it's used properly, but as with any tool, it needs to be used with reasonable expectations.
For instance, the ease of sending copies of files to a remote server is appealing, but whenever someone tells me they're backing up their data to a cloud, my first reaction is: "And where else?" I recommend always having two backups, regardless of what methods are being used -- one to be kept locally for easy access and one remotely in case of an on-site disaster. Remote servers can go down, companies can close their doors and network connections to the outside world can be interrupted. These potential problems lead me to suggest that cloud storage is a useful backup solution as long as it's not the only backup process in place.
The other big concern, privacy, is especially important to consider when we're dealing with confidential documents. It's one thing for your music collection or camping photos to leak out, it's quite another for your tax return or business contracts to be looked over. For this reason I recommend encrypting anything that gets sent to that big cloud in the ether. But there is a catch, how does one easily encrypt files before sending them to the cloud? Let's take a look at that. Most distributions will have a copy of OpenSSL either pre-installed or available in the repositories. What is OpenSSL? From the program's manual page, it's "a command line tool for using the various cryptography functions of OpenSSL's crypto library from the shell." Which means, among other things, that OpenSSL will allow us to encrypt and decrypt files. Make sure it's installed if you'd like to follow along.
In this first example let's assume that we have a file called to-do-list.txt and we want to encrypt it before uploading it to remote storage. We can use OpenSSL to do this with the command:
openssl enc -e -aes256 -in to-do-list.txt -out encoded-list.txt
We'll be asked to assign a password to the encrypted file and what comes out the other end is an encrypted file called encoded-list.txt. We can then send this file to the cloud. In the above example the "aes256" part is the method of encryption. A list of supported encryption options can be viewed by running "openssl help".
Of course, later we're going to want to be able to decrypt the file so it's important to use a password we will be able to remember. Speaking of that, how do we get our original file back from the encrypted version? We can use:
openssl enc -aes256 -d -in encoded-list.txt -out the-to-do-list.txt
Running the above command will prompt us for the password and then output the original contents of our file to the-to-do-list.txt. The "-d" flag tells OpenSSL to decrypt the file we give it, where in the previous example the "-e" flag indicated we wanted to encrypt a file.
Now, if you're like me and don't want to risk typing mistakes every time you want to encrypt or decrypt a file, you can use a script like the one below. This script accepts a single file and encrypts it, adding the extension .enc to avoid over-writing the original. It pauses to prompt us for a password:
# make sure we get a file name
if [ $# -lt 1 ]
echo "Usage: $0 file-to-encrypt"
openssl enc -e -aes256 -in "$1" -out "$1".enc
To get our file back we can use the following script. It will accept the name of an encrypted file and the name of the file we wish to save the decrypted data to.
if [ $# -lt 2 ]
echo "Usage: $0 file-to-decrypt new-file-name"
openssl enc -d -aes256 -in "$1" -out "$2"
To wrap this up, let's look at a script which will backup a copy of our Documents folder, automatically encrypt the archive for us, save the password and place the encrypted version in a location that will be synced up to our cloud storage. In this example I'm assuming that we're making use of Ubuntu One's cloud storage, but the script can be easily adjusted to make use of other services.
# get current date
# Archive Documents folder
tar czf documents-$mydate.tar.gz ~/Documents
# workout checksum-based password
checksum=$(md5sum documents-$mydate.tar.gz | cut -c 1-16)
# encrypt the archive and put in it our synced folder
openssl enc -e -aes256 -in documents-$mydate.tar.gz -out ~/Ubuntu\ One/documents-$mydate.tar.gz.enc -pass pass:$checksum
# save the date and password
echo $mydate $checksum >> ~/Passwords
# move the original archive to another disk
mv documents-$mydate.tar.gz /media/disk/
What we end up with is an encrypted archive in our synchronized folder ("Ubuntu One" in this case) and a plain (unencrypted) copy on another disk (mounted as /media/disk). The password for the encrypted archive is saved in a file called Passwords in our home folder. Each entry in the Passwords file will give the date the archive was created, followed by the 16-character password.
Some security-minded people will point out that keeping passwords in a text file and, for that matter, automating passwords in a script that can be ferreted out using commands like "ps", isn't a good idea. It's a completely valid concern, especially if we're trying to prevent our passwords from falling into the hands of people who have access to our computer. However, in this example we're not protecting ourselves from local users, but from the cloud storage servers.
It's entirely possible to make use of cloud storage while keeping data safe. As with other forms of off-site backups, this requires some redundancy and encryption, both of which are easy to set up on most Linux distributions.
|Released Last Week
linuX-gamers Live 0.9.7
Marko Kaiser has announced the release of linuX-gamers Live 0.9.7, an Arch-based live CD/DVD packed with a large selection of 2D and 3D games: "So Sven released a new version of the linuX-gamers.net live DVD -- the Linux Tag 2011 release. What's new in this version? Improved user experience and auto-configuration; support for chipsets of recent boards; updated games; new additional games; updated proprietary drivers; Linux kernel 2.6.38; improved network boot support; added persistent home support; added installation support; removed proprietary ATI drivers. New games: ZaZ, MegaGlest, Mars Shooter, Speed Dreams." Read the release announcement and check out the list of games included on the live CD and DVD.
linuX-gamers Live 0.9.7 - an Arch-based live DVD for gaming enthusiasts
(full image size: 191kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Offensive Security has announced the release of BackTrack 5, an Ubuntu-based security distribution providing a collection of specialist tools for penetration testing and forensic analysis: "The BackTrack development team has worked furiously in the past months on BackTrack 5, code name 'revolution'. Today, we are proud to release our work to the public, and then rest for a couple of weeks. This new revision has been built from scratch, and boasts several major improvements over all our previous releases. Based on Ubuntu 10.04 LTS, Linux kernel 2.6.38, patched with all relevant wireless injection patches. Fully open source and GPL compliant." Here is the brief release announcement.
BackTrack 5 - an Ubuntu-based distribution for penetration testing
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SalineOS 1.4, 1.0 "Personal Server"
Anthony Nordquist has announced the release of SalineOS 1.4, a Debian-based desktop distribution with Xfce, and SalineOS 1.0 "Personal Server" edition, a Debian-based distribution for home servers: "SalineOS Personal Server edition 1.0 is now available. The Personal Server edition is designed to make setting up small personal home servers as easy as possible. It features stripped-down Xfce 4.6.2 desktop environment, FireStarter firewall utility, GNOME NetworkManager, the new SalineOS installer, ClamAV pinned to Debian 'Squeeze' updates, scripts for aiding installation of certain server services, and full user manual in English, Spanish and German." Read the brief release announcement and visit the product information page to find out more; the 1.4 announcement is here.
Maximilian Gerhard has announced the release of KANOTIX 2011-05, a Debian-based desktop distribution and live DVD featuring the KDE desktop: "LinuxTag 2011 in Berlin started today, therefore we offer an updated KANOTIX 'Hellfire' version. Kanotix 'Hellfire' 2011-05 is based on Debian 6.0. It contains the latest Debian stable branch with all the latest security updates. In addition it provides useful extras and updated packages, including: Linux kernel 2.6.38 final (Ubuntu, recompiled), KDE SC 4.4.5 with KANOTIX branding, Amarok 2.4.0, LibreOffice 3.3.2, GRUB 2 boot manager, KDE Network Manager, Iceweasel 4.0.1, Icedove 3.1.9, Pidgin 2.7.11, NTFS-3G 2011.1.15, WINE 1.3.19, Kano's scripts for installing NVIDIA or ATI graphics driver and Flash Player plugin." Here is the full release announcement.
Salix OS 13.37 "Xfce"
George Vlahavas has announced the release of Salix OS 13.37 "Xfce" edition, the first of the series of Salix OS releases with various desktop environments and window managers (editions with Fluxbox, LXDE and KDE are to follow), all based on the new Slackware Linux 13.37: "Salix Xfce 13.37 is finally here. It includes numerous changes and improvements, both Salix-specific and also inherited from Slackware. This release comes with Linux kernel 188.8.131.52, the Xfce 4.6.2 desktop environment, Firefox 4.0.1 and Claws Mail 3.7.8. LibreOffice 3.3.2 is included by default in full-mode installations, replacing OpenOffice.org and localization packages for it for more than a hundred languages are available through the package management tools. Exaile 0.3.2 is the default music player and parole 0.2.0.6 is used as the default movie player." See the full release announcement for further information.
Salix OS 13.37 - a Slackware-based desktop distribution
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Pinguy OS 11.04
Pinguy OS 11.04, an Ubuntu-based distribution with many user-friendly features, has been released: "Pinguy OS 11.04 released with classic GNOME 2.32.1 desktop. Pinguy OS is an Ubuntu-based Linux distribution that comes with a lot of applications installed by default, trying to cover everyone's needs. But it's not the default application selection what makes Pinguy OS so interesting, but Pinguy's attention to detail: every single aspect of the desktop is carefully customized to provide a great out-of-the-box experience. Pinguy OS 11.04 (based on Ubuntu 11.04) was released yesterday. The new Pinguy OS comes with GNOME 2.32.1 and uses the classic GNOME desktop while Unity has been completely removed from the CD." Read the full release announcement which includes screenshots.
Pinguy OS 11.04 - an Ubuntu-based distribution with an enhanced GNOME user interface
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* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
New distributions added to database
- Fuduntu. Fuduntu is a Fedora-based Linux distribution that earns its name by its ambition to fit somewhere in-between Fedora and Ubuntu. It is designed to be aesthetically pleasing, and is optimized for netbook and other portable computers, as well as general-purpose desktop machines.
Fuduntu 14.9 - a Fedora-based distribution with GNOME and some user-friendly touches
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- Bardinux. Bardinux, a project of the Office of Free Software at the Universidad de La Laguna, Canary Islands, Spain, is a Kubuntu-based distribution. It follows Kubuntu's long-term support release and is designed primarily for the students of the university.
Bardinux - an Ubuntu-based distribution from Canary Islands
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* * * * *
New distributions added to waiting list
- Blackbuntu. Blackbuntu is an Ubuntu-based distribution for penetration testing which was specially designed for security students and practitioners of information security. It uses the GNOME desktop environment.
- iQunix OS. iQunix OS, is a Linux operating system based on the popular Ubuntu distribution. Its design offers Ubuntu users and specialist a bare-bone GNOME desktop on which nothing is pre-installed.
- mabuntux. mabuntux is a Ubuntu-based live DVD featuring the Ubuntu 11.04 desktop, XAMPP and OpenSSH servers, eyeOS web desktop, web development tools, and Macbuntu theme.
- PrimeE17. PrimeE17 is an Ubuntu-based distribution featuring Enlightenment 17. It includes Engage, Places, calendar modules, Remastersys, Chrome, OpenOffice.org, GIMP, Skype and xine
- Vanillux. Vanillux is an Ubuntu-based distribution featuring the standard GNOME 3 desktop. Also includes LibreOffice, Google Chrome and VLC.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 23 May 2011.
Jesse Smith and Ladislav Bodnar
|Linux Foundation Training
|• 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 184.108.40.206, limiting process resource usage, converting file systems on Fedora, Debian turns 25, Lubuntu migrating to Wayland|
|• Issue 776 (2018-08-13): NomadBSD 1.1, Maximum storage limits on Linux, openSUSE extends life for 42.3, updates to the Librem 5 phone interface|
|• Issue 775 (2018-08-06): Secure-K OS 18.5, Linux is about choice, Korora tests community spin, elementary OS hires developer, ReactOS boots on Btrfs|
|• Issue 774 (2018-07-30): Ubuntu MATE & Ubuntu Budgie 18.04, upgrading software from source, Lubuntu shifts focus, NetBSD changes support policy|
|• Issue 773 (2018-07-23): Peppermint OS 9, types of security used by different projects, Mint reacts to bugs in core packages, Slackware turns 25|
|• Issue 772 (2018-07-16): Hyperbola GNU/Linux-libre 0.2.4, UBports running desktop applications, OpenBSD auto-joins wi-fi networks, boot environments and zedenv|
|• Issue 771 (2018-07-09): Linux Lite 4.0, checking CPUs for bugs, configuring GRUB, Mint upgrade instructions, SUSE acquired by EQT|
|• Issue 770 (2018-07-02): Linux Mint 19, Solus polishes desktop experience, MintBox Mini 2, changes to Fedora's installer|
|• Issue 769 (2018-06-25): BunsenLabs Helium, counting Ubuntu users, UBports upgrading to 16.04, Fedora CoreOS, FreeBSD turns 25|
|• Issue 768 (2018-06-18): Devuan 2.0.0, using pkgsrc to manage software, the NOVA filesystem, OpenBSD handles successful cron output|
|• Issue 767 (2018-06-11): Android-x86 7.1-r1, transferring files over OpenSSH with pipes, LFS with Debian package management, Haiku ports LibreOffice|
|• Issue 766 (2018-06-04): openSUSE 15, overview of file system links, Manjaro updates Pamac, ReactOS builds itself, Bodhi closes forums|
|• Issue 765 (2018-05-28): Pop!_OS 18.04, gathering system information, Haiku unifying ARM builds, Solus resumes control of Budgie|
|• Issue 764 (2018-05-21): DragonFly BSD 5.2.0, Tails works on persistent packages, Ubuntu plans new features, finding services affected by an update|
|• Issue 763 (2018-05-14): Fedora 28, Debian compatibility coming to Chrome OS, malware found in some Snaps, Debian's many flavours|
|• Issue 762 (2018-05-07): TrueOS 18.03, live upgrading Raspbian, Mint plans future releases, HardenedBSD to switch back to OpenSSL|
|• Issue 761 (2018-04-30): Ubuntu 18.04, accessing ZFS snapshots, UBports to run on Librem 5 phones, Slackware makes PulseAudio optional|
|• Issue 760 (2018-04-23): Chakra 2017.10, using systemd to hide files, Netrunner's ARM edition, Debian 10 roadmap, Microsoft develops Linux-based OS|
|• Full list of all issues|
Star Labs - Laptops built for Linux.
View our range including the Star Lite, Star LabTop and more. Available with a choice of Ubuntu or Linux Mint pre-installed with many more distributions supported. Visit Star Labs for information, to buy and get support.
|Random Distribution |
Featherweight Linux was an installable live CD based on Feather Linux. It was a full featured distribution with a small foot print that was light and fast, even on older machines, but still carries a knockout punch. It comes with a minimal KDE desktop and several favourite applications.
|Tips, Tricks, Myths and Q&As |
|Tips and tricks: Command line weather, ionice, rename files, video preview snapshot, calednar, ls colour settings|
|Questions and answers: Setting quotas on specific folders|
|Myths and misunderstandings: The spread of systemd and launchd|
|Myths and misunderstandings: Linux Mint's security record|
|Questions and answers: Video drivers and Linux|
|Questions and answers: Locating portable packages|
|Questions and answers: Cleaning up the package cache|
|Tips and tricks: Basename, for loop, dirname, aliases, bash history, xsel clipboard|
|Questions and answers: Setting up disk partitions and bash on Windows|
|Questions and answers: Tracking down the user who changed a file|
|More Tips & Tricks and Questions & Answers|