| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 451, 9 April 2012
Welcome to this year's 15th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! This week's feature story is a first look at Chakra GNU/Linux 2012.02, a KDE-centric, rolling-release distribution that has its roots in Arch Linux, but which is now an independent project with some interesting ideas, regular releases, and up-to-date software repository. The longer-than-usual news section provides a feast of information from around the distro world, which includes a report about Ubuntu's new menu system called HUD, an article celebrating 20 years of SUSE Linux, an update on the release schedule of Fedora 17 and Mageia 2, a narrative about Gentoo's controversial April fool's joke, and an interview with Fabio Erculiani, the founder of Sabayon Linux. Also in this issue, an interesting comparison of Scientific Linux with CentOS in terms of errata update speeds, an overview of a server-only distribution called ClearOS, and a new round of tips on using and storing GPG keys. Finally, we are happy to announce that the recipient of the DistroWatch.com March 2012 donation is the GNU ddrescue project. Happy reading!
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|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
A look at Chakra GNU/Linux 2012.02|
The Chakra GNU/Linux distribution is a Linux-based operating system which started as a fork of the Arch Linux project. Though the two projects share a history they're separate entities and trying to mix packages or repositories is not recommended. Chakra is a semi-rolling release distro which means the base of the operating system, the foundation, stays fairly stable while the end-user software is continually updated. The idea is to provide a stable operating system with cutting edge applications. This should, in theory, mean we get to use the latest web browser, office software and other programs without worrying about regressions in the kernel or X. Another interesting characteristic of Chakra is that the developers are dedicated to the idea of a pure KDE distribution. A default install of Chakra provides a KDE 4.8 environment without any GTK-based programs. Nor are there GTK-based apps in the project's main software repository. It is possible to add in GTK-based software (such as Firefox and GIMP) through a separate Bundle Manager, but these software bundles are kept apart from the rest of the distribution.
Chakra GNU/Linux 2012.02 comes in two different flavours, a "Full" edition which is a 1.4 GB download and a "Minimal" edition which is about 690 MB in size. Both come with a KDE desktop environment, though the CD-sized edition obviously provides fewer applications.
Chakra GNU/Linux 2012.02 - the Welcome screen
(full image size: 843kB, screen resolution 1366x768 pixels)
When we first boot off the DVD a screen comes up asking which language we'd like to use for our live session. Then Chakra boots into a KDE desktop. In the upper-left corner there's a welcome widget. This widget contains icons for opening the project's website, launching the installer and showing us the the on-line beginner's guide to Chakra. There's also an icon which provides us with the distribution's default passwords since we're logged in as a regular user and need to be root to perform certain tasks. In addition there is a text file provided with a list of packages on the DVD. We'll come back to available software in a moment, but first let's look at Chakra's custom installer.
Tribe is the name of Chakra's installer and it begins by warning us it is still in development and may eat your hamster. (No hamsters were harmed in the making of this review.) Tribe then shows us the project's release notes. On the next screen we're shown a globe and asked to click on the globe to provide our location. The installer then tries to guess our time zone and preferred language. Should the installer guess incorrectly we can over-ride the defaults provided. On the following screen we can create regular user accounts, as many as we want. Then we're asked to partition our hard drive using the KDE Partition Manager. Once we get passed the partitioning section we match up our new partitions with mount points, confirm our choices and Tribe begins copying files to the local drive. Several minutes later we're asked if we'd like to install a boot loader, download GTK bundles or customize the system's ramdisk. Then we're done and we can reboot to experience Chakra running from the hard drive.
The installer has come a long way in the past year or so. The first time I tried Chakra I couldn't get it to install properly and this time around I was able to breeze through Tribe on the first attempt. The controls are pretty straight forward and the installer provides a good deal of flexibility. The only jarring part of the experience was switching over to a separate program to handle partitioning.
Chakra GNU/Linux boots up to a graphical login screen and, once we've signed in, we're presented with the KDE desktop. This time instead of a welcome widget the desktop is occupied by a folder widget. In the widget are icons for accessing our home directory and the trash. At the bottom of the screen we find the application menu, task switcher and system tray. Shortly after logging in an icon appeared in the system tray indicating updated packages were available for my system. Clicking the icon opened the Chakra package manager.
The package manager is, I believe, an application unique to Chakra and its layout is a bit different from what we'd find in most other software managers. The main thing that sets it apart is Chakra's package manager consists of three tabs. The first tab is used, apparently, for news and project announcements. It also contains statistics on available software in the repositories. The second tab is where we handle software and it is what I think of the package manager proper. This second tab allows us to search through applications based on name, status and category. We're shown nice big buttons with clear functionality and everything is nicely labeled. The third and final tab is for community contributed packages. At the time of writing this third screen is empty.
Chakra GNU/Linux 2012.02 - managing software packages
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Let's go back to the middle tab, which is the most interesting of the three. This middle tab shows us lists of packages in the currently selected category. Packages which have been installed have checks next to them and we can easily mark new software for installation by clicking a box next to the software's name. Up at the top of the window there's a bar of action buttons. One syncs our repository data with the remote servers, another marks all available updates to be installed, another button launches all queued actions. There are other buttons for reporting bugs and managing which repositories are enabled on our system. Generally speaking I found the package manager easy to navigate and it's fairly quick to respond to input. I did run into two concerns.
The first is that the statistics box shows only about 2,800 packages are available. It's not a very big selection compared to other Linux distributions. While most of the basic functionality we might want is included in this distribution some users may find they can't find more obscure software in the repositories. My second concern came when I first tried to perform an upgrade. Upon installing Chakra I found about 80 packages were waiting to be upgraded. I opted to apply all upgrades and, a short time later, the package manager told me it wasn't able to comply due to conflicts in a few KDE packages.
As mentioned before, Chakra GNU/Linux is a KDE/Qt centric distribution, but it does provide a way for users to install GTK-based software. There is a second package manager called the Bundle Manager. This application is much more simple than the regular package manager. We are shown a list of GTK-based software in alphabetical order and, next to each package (or "bundle") is a download button. When an application has been installed, it moves to the top of the list where another button click will remove it. Bundled software can be launched from the application menu or from the Bundle Manager. It seemed to work fairly well and I was able to install, launch and remove the various bundles. Though I did wonder why a different application was being used, after all, GTK-based software could simply have its own repository and be managed from the package manager much like Debian's non-free repository.
The DVD edition of Chakra GNU/Linux comes with a strong collection of software. We're given the Rekonq web browser, the Queassel IRC client and LibreOffice. There's a document viewer, the K3b disc burner and an e-book viewer. The Network Manager and KPPP dialer programs are included to connect us to the Internet. In the multimedia menu we find the Amarok music player, the Bangerang video player and the kdenlive video editor. Several popular media codecs are installed for us and Chakra can play most multimedia files out of the box. A copy of the XBMC media player is included too. There are multiple backup utilities, the Qt Designer app for GUI developers and the GNU Compiler Collection is included.
A copy of the Marble virtual globe is installed, as are the KDE System Settings panel and the KUser account manager. We're given an archive manager, text editor and the KGpg data privacy tool. Flash is available, but doesn't work with the default Rekonq browser. I found that installing another browser, such as Firefox, would automatically support watching Flash content. The WINE Windows compatibility layer is installed for us as is Java. Lurking under the surface, we find the 3.2 version of the Linux kernel. In addition to all of this the application menu contains a sub-menu dedicated to linking users to the project's website. There are menu entries for reporting bugs, visiting the project's forums and accessing the documentation. A nice touch, in my opinion.
Chakra GNU/Linux 2012.02 - desktop settings panel
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I ran Chakra GNU/Linux 2012.02 on two machines, my HP laptop (dual-core 2 GHz CPU, 3 GB of RAM, Intel video card) and a generic desktop box (2.5 GHz CPU, 2 GB of RAM, NVIDIA video card). On both machines Chakra worked smoothly, booted quickly and detected all of my hardware. My Intel wireless card was automatically activated and clicking on the Network Manager icon immediately listed local wireless networks. Desktop performance was pretty good, perhaps a little better than normal for a KDE distribution. Chakra is a fairly heavy distribution and, even when sitting idle at the desktop, I found the system used over 300MB of memory.
I'm a fan of the KDE desktop, so it would be easy for me to appreciate Chakra. And, in a lot of ways, Chakra is a good showcase for KDE. The environment is quick to respond, there is a good collection of Qt-based software and, for that matter, there is a good supply of software in the default install. The look and feel of the environment is nice and I like the little add-ons like the drop-down terminal, which is great for performing quick one-off tasks on the command line. Still, there are some problems which kept getting in the way. For instance the KDE Activity Manager kept crashing and throwing up errors whenever I logged in. Right out of the gate I wasn't able to apply all available updates as some KDE packages reported conflicts -- not a good sign in a rolling-release KDE-focused distribution.
There were a few other aspects of the system which I felt weren't ideal, though they were a matter of taste rather than bugs. For example, the main package manager is nicely laid out and easy to navigate. It's a bit like using Synaptic with a more modern interface. Which raises the question in my mind, why create a separate Bundle Manager to handle GTK+-based software when a fourth tab in the main package manager would bring all package management into one application? For that matter, why not simply have GTK+-based software in its own repository and let users enable/disable the GTK+ repository? A lot of users probably don't know what libraries make up their favourite applications and telling them that programs like Firefox and GIMP are somehow different and require a different package manager will be confusing for many.
What I found strange about using Chakra GNU/Linux is that the project has a lot of good ideas and the developers have made a great deal of progress in the past year, but there are these occasional speed bumps. My experience started out well enough, the installer is pretty solid these days, despite its warnings about being under development. The package manager is pretty good, I just wish all software was handled by one app. The included software selection is really good, but I wonder how many users will really prefer having the Rekonq web browser over browsers like Firefox or Chromium just to maintain KDE purity.
Chakra, for the most part, works well and I found their approach to be unique and, in its way, refreshing. Still, if people who are going to give the semi-rolling distro a try should be prepared to do some trouble-shooting and deal with the occasional bug.
|Miscellaneous News (by Ladislav Bodnar)
Ubuntu's HUD, 20 years of SUSE, Fedora 17 and Mageia 2 delays, Gentoo's "install wizard", interview with Sabayon's Fabio Erculiani, CentOS vs Scientific Linux, ClearOS overview
Ubuntu's frequent interface changes and redesigns have received much criticism in the tech media, so it can be refreshing to see writers taking a more positive view of those radical ideas that have (or might soon) become standard features on desktop Linux. Ubuntu's upcoming new menu system called HUD is one such example. TechRepublic's Jack Wallen has been highly impressed with HUD, believing that it is light-years ahead of any menu system: "In the end, what HUD does is advance the Ubuntu Unity desktop ahead of the competition. I think we were all fairly certain it was nothing more than a matter of time before Mark Shuttleworth and the Ubuntu developers managed to make the Ubuntu desktop an obvious choice. But most never assumed they would take the Linux desktops light-years ahead of the competition. Bravo to Ubuntu and Unity - what you are doing is nothing short of incredible. You keep up this type of work and there will be no doubt who is the reigning king of the desktop."
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The Linux kernel was first announced back in 1991 and it wasn't long after that the first distributions, as we known them today, started integrating the open-source operating system with applications to offer complete "solutions" for end users. One of the first ones on the market was Germany's SuSE (Software und System-Entwicklung), which later evolved into SUSE Linux and openSUSE. In twenty years the small project created by four Linux enthusiasts has grown into a major Linux player, both in terms of home desktop use and enterprise deployment. PCWorld's Katherine Noyes reports in "SUSE Linux: 20 Years and Going Strong": "SUSE Linux, in fact, is not just celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, but on Thursday it also announced that its customer base now numbers 15,000. More than two-thirds of the global Fortune 100 now use SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, which is also the most widely used commercial enterprise Linux distribution in China, the company says. Walgreens, Sony, Office Depot, and the London Stock Exchange are all among its users, as are five of the top 10 global supercomputers."
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Another week and another show-stopper bug that is delaying the much-awaited beta release of Fedora 17. This time the culprit is non-functioning pre-upgrade: "At the go/no-go meeting it was decided to slip the beta by an additional week. Though the QA team was able to get through all validation testing, it was found that pre-upgrade was not functioning at an acceptable level, thus becoming an additional blocker which prevents us from shipping RC3, and necessitating the creation of an RC4. As a result, all major milestones, and their dependent tasks, will be pushed out by one week. The beta will now be looking at an expected release of 2012-04-17, and F17 GA is now scheduled for 2012-05-22. This is the second one-week slip of beta. Adjustments to the full F17 schedule have been completed and now reflect the above beta and GA dates, and high-level milestones have been updated as well on the Schedule wiki page."
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Fedora is not the only distribution making adjustments to their release process. Mageia 2, which was originally scheduled for release on 8 May, will also be delayed by one extra week: "After some discussions between the Mageia Council and the Packagers' team, we've decided to make some changes to the Mageia 2 release schedule. There are a couple of reasons for this, the main one being that we feel that the list of important bugs still remaining to be solved needs more time and attention before we release. The bugs mostly relate to the systemd/dracut migration, and changes needed in the installer and drakxtools. While we're working on these bugs, our artwork and documentation and i18n teams will have a little longer to get everything polished and as near perfect as possible; we hope you'll be pleased with the result! We think you'll agree that it's more important to have Mageia stable, than to stick to the original release date."
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The release of Gentoo Linux 12.1 on 1 April was accompanied by a controversial announcement about "a Gentoo install wizard", a feature that may be standard in most other Linux distributions, but which is missing from Gentoo due to the project's insistence on catering exclusively for users who are prepared to follow complex documentation. Many people were thus fooled into believing that they can now easily install Gentoo on their system and proceeded to download the 3.4 GB live DVD image - only to be disappointed to find out that the "wizard" is just a link to the Gentoo installation manual. Susan Linton reports in "Gentoo 12.1 Install Wizard: Real or Joke": "There were no new options in boot menu nor the advanced options, but on the desktop was an Install Wizard icon. It looked promising. But alas, it was indeed an April Fool's joke. Upon clicking the icon a little dialog box appears asking 'Are you the wizard?' Then the script was supposed to open Firefox to the Gentoo install handbook. So, yes it was a real icon and a real script designed for fun, but no, it is not an installer. It is probably the 'most intelligent Gentoo Install Wizard yet', but the bar was set pretty low."
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For those who like the concept of Gentoo Linux, but feel intimidated by the complexities of a source-based distro, there is always Sabayon Linux, probably the most usable and active of the many Gentoo-based binary distributions. Last week Unixmen interviewed Fabio Erculiani, the project's founder and lead developer: "Q: There are many rolling-release distributions out there, what makes Sabayon unique? A: All the rolling distros I tried were lacking proper packaging. I mean, with Sabayon you can use both Portage (which is the most powerful source-based package manager out there) and Entropy (which is our binary package manager that works on top of the Gentoo base system). Tell me another distro that has all those things perfectly working together without annoying the advanced user. We spend a lot of time trying to find a good balance between split packages and fat binary blobs. We also spent the last 3 - 4 years working on next-generation binary package management applications and you're going to see the outcome of this effort starting from next month when we'll launch a new 'Google-like' applications management user interface called Rigo."
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CentOS used to be the undisputed king of free Red Hat Enterprise Linux clones, but within the last year or so Scientific Linux emerged as a worthy competitor. Comparing the two distributions is unlikely to be easy, but if you are concerned about the speed of security updates, than Scientific Linux seems to be a better choice. Jens Kuehnel has compiled some numbers to illustrate the difference: "I took all the security updates available from an up-to-date RHN Satellite, exported its errata into a CSV file and added the release times from CentOS, Scientific Linux and Oracle Linux (OL). ... During this time Red Hat released 78 errata and I used 76. The average delay for CentOS was 6.58 days and for Scientific Linux 1.33 days. In December 2011 CentOS finally got its build environment and released both 6.1 and 6.2 in little over one week. CentOS really picked up momentum. If you look at the updates between 1 Jan and 1 Apr 2012 the numbers are very close together with 1.27 for CentOS and 0.97 for SL. The choice of Scientific Linux vs. CentOS is really much harder today. But I switched and I don’t see a reason to switch back."
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While many big Linux distributions develop solutions designed for servers, some users might feel more comfortable choosing a project that actually specialises in developing a server-only distribution, with an intuitive web-based management system. One such project is ClearOS, a well-established venture formerly known as ClarkConnect. Linux.com's Carla Schroder investigates "ClearOS, the Missing Link LAN Server": "ClearOS used to be named ClarkConnect. It was built on Red Hat Enterprise Linux and CentOS. The current stable release is 5.2, which tracks RHEL 5.2. RHEL 6.2 was released in December 2011. ClearOS 6.2 beta 3 came out February 29. So what's up? A lot. The maintainers have given it a major overhaul, which will be revealed in all of its glory in the final 6.2 release, which is scheduled for 'soon'. The Webconfig development framework has been overhauled for speed and more extensibility. A lot of effort has been invested in documenting the ClearOS development process with the goal of making it easier for new developers to come on board. The new ClearCenter Marketplace is the ClearOS application store, a place for outside developers to distribute their wares, both paid and free."
* * * * *
Finally, a quick note on one aspect of open-source operating systems that is and always will be clouded in mystery - the numbers. As we all know, it is impossible to obtain the accurate count of users of Linux distributions, but many developers still try to deliver some figures, often seemingly obtained from thin air. Last week it was the turn of a relatively little-known Ubuntu-based distribution called Zorin OS that claimed to have reached two million users: "We are thrilled to report that Zorin OS has hit an estimated 2 million users after less than 3 years. We announced back in December of 2011 that we have passed the 1 million user milestone and in less than four months the user base has doubled again, underscoring the explosion in popularity of Zorin OS." The brief post makes no mention of the methodology used to count the Zorin OS deployments, it merely gives us a highly unlikely number that seems to serve no other purpose than to inflate the developer's ego. So Linux distro developers, please give up on trying to count your users. And if you really must, at least tell us HOW you counted them, otherwise your claim is just a meaningless bluff.
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Where did I leave my (GPG) keys?
Two weeks ago we looked at using the GNU Privacy Guard to encrypt and decrypt files and messages. At the time I mentioned a few ideas in passing, such as securely copying archives to a remote server and keeping private security keys safe. After all, if we lose our private key we can't decrypt messages sent to us nor can we access encrypted file backups. Some people raised questions regarding the use and storage of keys and I will try to answer those questions here.
Perhaps the most important issue is how to make backups of one's keys, especially the private keys. Security keys for GNU Privacy Guard (GPG) are typically stored in our home directory under the hidden .gnupg folder. In the .gnupg directory we will find configuration files, private keys and public keys. It's a good idea to copy the .gnupg directory to another location, such as a USB thumb drive, so we have an extra set of keys in case of hard drive failure.
One reader asked if it was possible to keep GNU Privacy Guard keys in another location, such as on a thumb drive or on a CD, to avoid having them stored locally. This is indeed possible. The GNU Privacy Guard program will, by default, operate on files stored in ~/.gnupg, however it can be made to use keys in other locations. To do this we need to set the environment variable GNUPGHOME. In the bash shell we'd use:
The next time we run GPG it will create and use keys found at that location. To make sure GPG has found our keys we can run the following command and GPG will list any keys it has found:
When we are done using GPG and have unmounted the drive containing our keys, we can run the following command to tidy up after ourselves:
In one of my examples two weeks ago I demonstrated using the secure copy (scp) command to copy an archive from the local machine to a remote server, like this:
scp mybackup.tar.gz remote-server.com:
Unfortunately the default behaviour of the secure copy command is to prompt us for a password, which is not suitable behaviour for backup scripts. The good news is it is possible to use keys with OpenSSH too. The keys, once set up, will allow us to login to remote servers and transfer files without requiring us to type in our password. To create a set of OpenSSH keys we need to run:
We will be asked to provide an optional password to protect the key. A moment later we will have our key and now we need to transfer the key to the remote server. We can do that using the following command:
The above command will copy our key to the remote server example.com. When copying the key it's important the user name we use is our username on the remote server, not on our local machine. For example, if I use the name jesse on my local machine, but my account on the server is jsmith I would use:
When we run ssh-copy-id we will be asked for our password on the remote machine. Once the key has been copied we can attempt to login to the remote server to make sure the key is in place:
We should now be able to login without being prompted for a password. We should also be able to copy files over the secure connection without being prompted for a password. This makes scripting a lot easier as we can place lines like the following one in a script:
scp myfile.txt firstname.lastname@example.org:
Typing email@example.com each time we want to connect to the server or transfer a file can get tedious. To get around this I like to set up aliases which will stand in for the full name of the remote machine. For instance, assuming we're using the bash shell, we can add the following line to our ~/.bashrc file:
With the above line in place we can connect to the remote server using:
and we can transfer files in a similar fashion:
scp myfile.txt $remote:
The above features take just a minute to set up and they can save us a little bit of time each day. Plus they make scripting automated backups easier. Really, it's a win-win situation for us. Now, I want to leave you with one final short-cut. Do you ever find yourself logging into a remote server, running one or two commands and then logging out? Something like this:
Perhaps you're just making sure the server didn't reboot, or maybe you want to see what its CPU load is at the moment. At any rate, it can be inconvenient to type the same commands repeatedly just to check one thing. Using the keys we talked about above and the hostname alias we can run single commands quickly on our remote server like this:
ssh $remote uptime
The secure shell automatically substitutes in our username and the full host name, logs in using our key, runs the uptime command, displays the result and closes the connection. In addition, we can string a series of commands together on one line to be processed by the remote server. The following command will shows us the remote server's uptime, CPU load and a print-out showing disk usage:
ssh $remote uptime\; df -h
I find keys and aliases to be helpful tools, especially when babysitting multiple servers. They provide a lot of short-cuts and cut down on typing (and typos).
|Released Last Week
DEFT Linux 7.1
Stefano Fratepietro has announced the release of DEFT Linux 7.1, a bug-fix update to the project's Ubuntu-based distribution designed for forensic analysis, penetration testing and related tasks: "DEFT Linux 7.1 ready for download. The new features for DEFT Linux 7.1 are: Hb4most and xterm problems fixed; GParted bug fix; updated packages: bulk_extractor 1.2.0, guymager 0.6.5, iPhone Backup Analyzer 10/2012, Xplico 1.0; computer forensics side new tools - UsnJrnl-parser, lslnk; Cyber Intelligence side implementations; OSINT Chrome browser - we customized Chrome with several plugins and resources to perform 'open-source intelligence' and related activities; network information gathering - Host, nslookup, Dig, Nmap, Zenmap, Netcat, snmpcheck, Nbtscan, Cadaver, Traceroute, Hping3, Xprobe, Scapy, Netdiscover; wireless information gathering - Kismet; web application information gathering - Whatweb, Cmsident, Dirbuster, Burpsuite...." Read the rest of the release announcement for a full list of new features.
Puppy Linux 5.3 "Wary", "Racy"
Barry Kauler has announced that newly updated releases of "Wary" and "Racy" editions of Puppy Linux, targeting older computers, are ready and available for download: "Wary Puppy 5.2.2 was released on 18 November 2011 (also Racy Puppy made his début). Since then, there has been the usual feverish pace of development. We now have a significant upgrade, hence the version jump from 5.2.x to 5.3. Wary Puppy is our build of Puppy Linux targeting older hardware. Racy Puppy made a début at the previous release (5.2.2) and is 'Wary on steroids' -- identical except with later X.Org and kernel, to suit more recent hardware. Version 5.3 has a fairly small number of application upgrades, however there are fundamental changes at the infrastructure level, that is, the 'Woof' level - in particular, pervasive support for internationalization, plus a multitude of bug fixes. There are now 'langpacks' available for many languages." Here is the full release announcement.
Semplice Linux 2.0.2
Eugenio Paolantonio has announced the release of Semplice Linux 2.0.2, a bug-fix and feature update of the project's lightweight distribution (with Openbox) based on Debian's unstable branch: "The Semplice Linux team is proud to announce the immediate release of Semplice Linux 2.0.2, a maintenance release for the 2.0 branch. This release brings many bug fixes to the installer and ships the long awaited modemmanager and mobile-broadband-provider-info with the standard distribution. This means that you can use mobile broadband out of the box (if your modem is supported, of course). In order to bring Semplice to the majority of the hardware out there, we added some more firmware: atmel-firmware, bluez-firmware, firmware-crystalhd, firmware-libertas, firmware-myricom, linux-wlan-ng-firmware, midisport-firmware and zd1211-firmware." Here is the brief release announcement with a couple of errata notes.
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
March 2012 DistroWatch.com donation: GNU ddrescue|
We are happy to announce that the recipient of the March 2012 DistroWatch.com donation is GNU ddrescue, a free and open-source data recovery utility. It receives €260.00 in cash.
GNU ddrescue is one of those low-profile tools that most people don't use on a daily basis, but when it is needed, it can save one's bacon: "GNU ddrescue is a data recovery tool. It copies data from one file or block device (hard disc, CD-ROM) to another, trying hard to rescue data in case of read errors. Ddrescuelog is a tool that manipulates ddrescue log files, shows log file contents, converts log files to/from other formats, compares log files, tests rescue status, and can delete a log file if the rescue is done. Ddrescuelog operations can be restricted to one or several parts of the log file if the domain setting options are used." Visit the project's home page to learn more.
GNU ddrescue developer Antonia Diaz recently asked for direct donations as a means to fund his work and purchase the necessary hardware: "I would be glad to receive some donations directly for ddrescue because, if my records are correct, I have only received €9.26. This does not even cover the couple of drives I have worn out in the six years I have been developing ddrescue. If you wish, you can donate via PayPal here."
Launched in 2004, this monthly donations programme is a DistroWatch initiative to support free and open-source software projects and operating systems with cash contributions. Readers are welcome to nominate their favourite project for future donations. Those readers who wish to contribute towards these donations, please use our advertising page to make a payment (PayPal and credit cards are accepted). Here is the list of the projects that have received a DistroWatch donation since the launch of the programme (figures in US dollars):
Since the launch of the Donations Program in March 2004, DistroWatch has donated a total of US$31,240 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 Sabayon Linux ($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 ($400), FileZilla ($400), MythDora ($500), Linux Mint ($400), Parsix GNU/Linux ($300), Miro ($300), GoblinX ($250), Dillo ($150), LXDE ($250)
- 2009: Openbox ($250), Wolvix GNU/Linux ($200), smxi ($200), Python ($300), SliTaz GNU/Linux ($200), LiVES ($300), Osmo ($300), LMMS ($250), KompoZer ($360), OpenSSH ($350), Parted Magic ($350) and Krita ($285)
- 2010: Qimo 4 Kids ($250), Squid ($250), Libre Graphics Meeting ($300), Bacula ($250), FileZilla ($300), GCompris ($352), Xiph.org ($250), Clonezilla ($250), Debian Multimedia ($280), Geany ($300), Mageia ($470), gtkpod ($300)
- 2011: CGSecurity ($300), OpenShot ($300), Imagination ($250), Calibre ($300), RIPLinuX ($300), Midori ($310), vsftpd ($300), OpenShot ($350), Trinity Desktop Environment ($300), LibreCAD ($300), LiVES ($300), Transmission ($250)
- 2012: GnuPG ($350), ImageMagick ($350), GNU ddrescue ($350)
* * * * *
New distributions added to database
- LuninuX OS. LuninuX OS is an Ubuntu-based Linux distribution designed to be beautiful, clean, simple, fast, and stable.
LuninuX OS 11.11 - an Ubuntu-based distribution with GNOME Shell and Docky
(full image size: 899kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
- Phinx Desktop. Phinx Desktop is a PCLinuxOS-based live CD. It uses a pure Xfce desktop environment with recommended or default Xfce applications, settings and configurations only.
Phinx Desktop 2012-03 RC1 - a PCLinuxOS-based distribution with a pure Xfce desktop
(full image size: 95kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
* * * * *
New distributions added to waiting list
- Blender-boot. Blender-boot is an Ubuntu-based live DVD that boots straight into a light environment with Blender already open. It has Dropbox and Ubuntu One for saving files which can be opened easily in another operating system. It has Blender, GIMP, Guake terminal, Chromium browser and more. It's a distraction-free and resource-light distribution designed with Blender and fast rendering in mind.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 16 April 2012.
Jesse Smith and Ladislav Bodnar
|Linux Foundation Training
|• Issue 849 (2020-01-20): Zorin OS 15.1, elementary OS team plans future features, PhinePhone now shipping, Peppermint team says good-bye to Mark Greaves|
|• Issue 848 (2020-01-13): elementary OS 5.1, accessing USB ports directly, NetBSD expanding Wayland support, Fedora phasing out old Python packages|
|• Issue 847 (2020-01-06): Android-x86 9.0, Hypberbola switching to BSD base, Debian votes on init diversity, slow adoption of Wayland and delta packages|
|• Issue 846 (2019-12-23): NomadBSD 1.3, Tails publishes boot fix, Arch update requires intervention, Purism launches server lineup, password protecting files|
|• Issue 845 (2019-12-16): OpenIndiana 2019.10, BunsenLabs' "Lithium" preview, MX-Fluxbox, 10 years of Tails, installing local packages|
|• Issue 844 (2019-12-09): Project Trident Void alpha, alpha installer for "Bullseye", SparkyLinux portable edition, dealing with large log files|
|• Issue 843 (2019-12-02): Obarun 2019.11.02, Bluestar 5.3.6, using special characters on command line, Fedora plans to disable empty passwords, FreeBSD's quarterly status report|
|• Issue 842 (2019-11-25): SolydXK 10, System Adminstration Ethics book review, Debian continues init diversity debate, Google upstreaming Android kernel patches|
|• Issue 841 (2019-11-18): Emmabuntus DE3-1.00, changing keys in keyboard layout, Debian phasing out Python 2 and voting on init diversity, Slackware gets unofficial updated live media|
|• Issue 840 (2019-11-11): Fedora 31, monitoring user activity, Fedora working to improve Python performance, FreeBSD gets faster networking|
|• Issue 839 (2019-11-04): MX 19, manipulating PDFs, Ubuntu plans features for 20.04, Fedora 29 nears EOL, Netrunner drops Manjaro-based edition|
|• Issue 838 (2019-10-28): Xubuntu 19.10, how init and service managers work together, DragonFly BSD provides emergency mode for HAMMER, Xfce team plans 4.16|
|• Issue 837 (2019-10-21): CentOS 8.0-1905, Trident finds new base, Debian plans firewall changes, 15 years of Fedora, how to merge directories|
|• Issue 836 (2019-10-14): Archman 2019.09, Haiku improves ARM support, Project Trident shifting base OS, Unix turns 50|
|• Issue 835 (2019-10-07): Isotop, Mazon OS and, KduxOS, examples of using find command, Mint's System Reports becomes proactive, Solus updates its desktops|
|• Issue 834 (2019-09-30): FreedomBox "Buster", CentOS gains a rolling release, Librem 5 phones shipping, Redcore updates its package manager|
|• Issue 833 (2019-09-23): Redcore Linux 1908, why Linux distros are free, Ubuntu making list of 32-bit software to keep, Richard M Stallman steps down from FSF leadership|
|• Issue 832 (2019-09-16): BlackWeb 1.2, checking for Wayland session and applications, Fedora to use nftables in firewalld, OpenBSD disables DoH in Firefox|
|• Issue 831 (2019-09-09): Adélie Linux 1.0 beta, using ffmpeg, awk and renice, Mint and elementary improvements, PureOS and Manjaro updates|
|• Issue 930 (2019-09-02): deepin 15.11, working with AppArmor profiles, elementary OS gets new greeter, exFAT support coming to Linux kernel|
|• Issue 829 (2019-08-26): EndeavourOS 2019.07.15, Drauger OS 7.4.1, finding licenses of kernel modules, NetBSD gets Wayland application, GhostBSD changes base repo|
|• 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 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, 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 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|
|• 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, Linux Mint or Zorin OS pre-installed with many more distributions supported. Visit Star Labs for information, to buy and get support.
|Random Distribution |
SME Server (known as e-smith at the time) was founded in January 1999 by Joseph and Kim Morrison. The company introduced the first version of its flagship software product, the e-smith server and gateway, in April 1999. By the end of the year, many thousands of e-smith servers were running in countries from Fiji to Finland. Word was spreading quickly among developers and systems integrators who needed a solid, easy-to-use server for their small-business customers. In July 2001, e-smith was acquired by Mitel Networks, but was later released as an open-source product under the GPL licence. In May 2013 a new not-for-profit organisation was set up to manage SME server. Due to copyright issues it was named Koozali SME Server Inc. The word "Koozali" approximates to Swahili for "rebirth". Future versions will use this name. The distribution, which is based on CentOS, is currently entirely funded by donations.