| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 463, 2 July 2012
Welcome to this year's 27th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! TurnKey Linux is a rather unusual distribution. Instead of developing one general-purpose operating system, it offers several dozens of self-contained and highly-specialised server appliances for every purpose imaginable. As a result, users can pick exactly what they need, without any extra clutter and other unneeded applications. Jesse Smith takes a handful of TurnKey's more interesting spins for a ride and reports about his findings in this week's feature article. In the news section, Red Hat hints at integrating the Btrfs file system into Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7, Ubuntu's Unity desktop gets some love from users who prefer a task-centric working style, Sabayon Linux releases a new respin featuring the MATE desktop environment, and Mandriva confirms that its next release will continue to use RPM 5 for package management. Also in this week's issue, the ZFS file system and its current status on Linux. Finally, we are happy to announce that the recipient of the May and June 2012 DistroWatch.com donations are MATE and LibreCAD. Happy reading!
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|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Review of TurnKey Linux 11.3|
The TurnKey Linux project is one which I've been meaning to explore for some time now. Their slogan of "Lighter, smaller, faster and easier" certainly sounds appealing and their approach to providing Linux solutions sets them apart from other distributions. The description of TurnKey, as given by their website, is "TurnKey Linux is a virtual appliance library that integrates and polishes the very best open source software into ready to use solutions. Each virtual appliance is optimized for ease of use and can be deployed in just a few minutes on bare metal, a virtual machine and in the cloud. We believe everything that can be easy, should be easy."
Originally when I began investigating TurnKey Linux I was under the impression each virtual appliance was a self-contained module, like a Push Button Installer file or a pre-configured jail, a software package which could be plugged into a minimal base. However, this interpretation turned out to be only half correct. Each virtual appliance is indeed a pre-configured, self-contained module. However, instead of plugging these modules into a base install as we would when adding a LAMP package to a minimal server distribution, what TurnKey does is supply ISO images and virtual machine packages which supply the entire base operating system with one specific service. Each appliance not only supplies the required software, libraries and configuration, it also includes the underlying operating system. This approach means each appliance needs its own machine (virtual or bare metal), but it also means we can install and set up a complete software stack within five minutes with almost no configuration or documentation required.
The TurnKey Linux project provides over 40 of these appliance modules. There are appliances for setting up Zimbra for e-mail and collaboration, various web servers with software such as WordPress, bug tracking software, file servers and domain controllers. Each module uses Ubuntu LTS as its base (appliances may use different LTS releases, 10.04, 8.04, etc) and provides a web-based control interface. Each appliance appears to be offered only in one edition, a 32-bit build. To try to get a feeling for the TurnKey approach to providing software solutions I downloaded three different appliances, the TurnKey Linux Core, the WordPress appliance and the Zimbra e-mail server appliance.
Let's look at the Core appliance first. The ISO for Core is approximately 160 MB in size and booting from the CD brings up a menu asking if we'd like to try a live version of the software or install it. Choosing the install option brings up a text-based installer which first asks us if we would like to manually manage partitions or use a guided approach. The guided option will display the installer's choices and ask us to accept the layout before proceeding. Manual partitioning brings us a text-based menu system where we can manipulate the disk's layout. It's a straight forward interface given its text-based nature and I found it fairly closely mimics the Ubuntu graphical installer. Once we confirm our partitioning scheme the installer copies the files it needs to the hard drive. It's a short wait followed by a prompt asking if we would like to install the GRUB bootloader. When the installer completes we are asked to reboot the machine.
The first time we boot into TurnKey Linux we are presented with a short list of questions, again presented in text menus. First we are asked to provide a password for the root account and then we are asked whether we would like to download and apply all available updates from the package repositories now or wait until later. The next screen displays the machine's IP address and lists the various methods and ports by which we may connect to the appliance. The Core appliance features a secure shell server on port 22, a terminal interface which can be accessed via a web browser on port 12320 and a Web Admin interface on port 12321. TurnKey supports secure connections out of the box, which means not only is our secure shell connection protected by encryption, but the web interfaces are protected, requiring us to connect using the HTTPS protocol. The final screen the first-run wizard displays gives us the option of configuring the network. By default TurnKey uses DHCP to acquire a network address and LAN settings, but we can provide our own configuration, setting a static IP address and default gateway. Once the configuration steps are complete we are dropped at a text console with a login prompt. If we are sitting at the machine we can login using the root password we created earlier, or if we're at a remote location we can login using secure shell or a web interface which imitates a secure shell.
TurnKey Linux 11.3 - secure shell in a web browser
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What TurnKey Core gives us is essentially a bare Ubuntu server, with a few additional network services running. We have access to the same repositories as Ubuntu and we can manage software packages using APT. From the command line we have basic GNU tools and manual pages. The Core edition of TurnKey is appropriately simple, providing us with a foundation upon which to build services. However, rather than manually installing more packages and configuring network services, I now wish to move on to another appliance, specifically the WordPress TurnKey appliance.
The ISO download for the WordPress appliance is about 210 MB in size. Installing this software from a CD is virtually identical to installing the Core edition, with one minor difference. When we are installing the WordPress bundle we are asked to set passwords for a MySQL database and for a WordPress admin account. Everything else, the partitioning, the option to configure the network interface, and the remote login services remain the same. When the installation is complete we are again shown a page with a list of services and network ports we can use to access our machine. Once again we can login using secure shell or a web console, but there is also a PHPMyAdmin service running and we are given a URL for accessing the WordPress administration panel. When we point our web browser to the IP address of the appliance we find a WordPress blog is running with a pleasant theme and a demo post. Using the login credentials we created at install time we have graphical web interfaces for managing the WordPress blogging software and managing the blog's underlying MySQL database. Everything is set up for us and little to no additional configuration work is required.
TurnKey Linux 11.3 - running a WordPress blog with default settings
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The third trial on my list was the Zimbra e-mail server appliance. This module comes as a 514MB ISO and the installer runs us through the same steps as those in the Core's installer. Once we have installed the Zimbra module and walked through the first-run wizard we are asked if we would like to download and apply all available security updates. If we don't respond the system eventually defaults to "yes" and downloads all available updated packages.
When the Zimbra appliance is up and running we find a Zimbra web-based administrative console is set up on network port 7071. A secure shell service and a browser-based command line interface are also enabled for us. The appliance additionally sets up SMTP, POP3 and IMAP services and a default domain name, example.com, to give the administrator a place to start. Using the Zimbra web interface I found it was easy to login, create new users and put quotas in place. Zimbra's controls are quite straight forward and I found it easy to create and manipulate accounts with a few mouse clicks. In the background the appliance starts anti-virus, anti-spam and spell checking services.
TurnKey Linux 11.3 - the Zimbra control panel
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Something which sets the Zimbra appliance apart from the others I looked at was the software included in the appliance is several years old. The appliance is based on Ubuntu 8.04 and logging into the Zimbra web portal brings up a warning letting us know the software works best with Internet Explorer 6 and Firefox 1.0. I found A modern version of Firefox would do just fine, but the web interface didn't work with the latest version of the Opera browser. Despite its age, I found the version of Zimbra in the appliance worked with current versions of Thunderbird and, as long as there wasn't any firewall in the way, I could send and receive e-mail using the appliance utilizing its default settings.
One aspect to TurnKey Linux I haven't touched on yet, but which was available in each of the appliances I tried, is the Web Admin interface. When a TurnKey appliance boots it starts a secure web interface on port 12321. The administrator can login to this interface and use the web portal to monitor and adjust certain aspects of the system. We can view running processes, see current memory usage, edit text files, view active user accounts, manage scheduled jobs and other various administrative tasks. All of this is presented in a point-n-click environment which reminds me a bit of Mandriva's control centre, presented to us via our web browser. I found the graphical environment was nicely laid out and it was easy for me to find items in the menus. There are some actions I sure most administrators will always want to perform from the comfort of the command line, but for simple adjustment and monitoring the Web Admin interface is quite convenient.
TurnKey Linux 11.3 - the Web Admin interface
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At first glance it might seem like overkill to perform a complete operating system install to set up a bug tracker or a new e-mail server. Doubly so when we consider some distributions come with meta-packages to help administrators get LAMP or other configurations in place quickly. That being said, I think the TurnKey Linux developers are on to something. It's nice to be able to plug in a CD or a USB drive and have a working WordPress or Bugzilla or Zimbra installation in place with almost no need for further configuration steps and no additional software packages. The term "virtual appliance" is appropriate in that these modules behave much the same way physical appliances behave. One doesn't expect to add components to their toaster to make it wash dishes and most of us don't expect our refrigerators to play music. We do expect to plug them in and have them just work with almost no adjustments and that is how TurnKey virtual appliances behave: we put the CD in and they work.
Personally, I was quite impressed with the way the TurnKey appliances were set up, the way they walk the user through installation with a minimal amount of fuss and interaction. I liked having all the database tables and services and security keys in place by default. I could see using these modules as a very attractive way to get services up and running in a hurry, especially if we have the resources to set up a separate virtual machine for each appliance. TurnKey's approach may not be for everyone, some people like to tweak and configure and do things manually. But for people who are either new to setting up the software offered in the TurnKey library of appliances or for people who were planning to mostly take the defaults anyway, TurnKey is an attractive option. I've only tried three appliances so far, but I have been impressed with the quality I have experienced up to this point.
|Miscellaneous News (by Ladislav Bodnar)
Red Hat and Btrfs, Ubuntu's efficient Unity, Sabayon with MATE, Mandriva and RPM 5
The Btrfs files systems is one of those mysterious phenomenons in the Linux world. Often promoted by Fedora developers as the next default file system, but somehow never quite ready enough for the big switch. The latest news from Red Hat is that the next major release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), version 7, should include Btrfs. Sean Michael Kerner reports for InternetNews: "For the last several years, I've been asking Red Hat when Btrfs would land in Red Hat-powered Linux distributions. Now I know the answer. Tim Burke, Vice President of Linux Engineering at Red Hat, told me that currently Btrfs is still considered to be a tech preview in the recently releases RHEL 6.3 update. He added that Red Hat is currently focusing its Btrfs efforts on RHEL 7, where the Btrfs file sytem will be a more integrated component. This is good news. Red Hat's enterprise embrace of Btrfs has been a bit slower than other enterprise Linux distros. SUSE has been providing a supported Btrfs implementation since SLES 11 SP2, which was released in March of this year. Btrfs provides enhances rollback and snapshot features over ext4, though comparative performance could potentially be a problem."
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Ubuntu's Unity desktop may have been a target of derision in many online tech media, but the truth is that there are many users who find the distribution's default user interface highly productive, especially after spending some time with it. Jack Wallen explains how Unity is making the desktop seriously efficient again by making the user focus on a single task: "A while ago a survey was done that indicated multi-tasking at that level is good for the brain. I have found, over the years, that working in such a fragmented way did one thing -- made me do fragmented work. I could work with numerous windows open -- do a bit of work here and a bit of work there, only to find my work slowly but surely losing focus, specificity, and a necessary level of tightness. Ubuntu Unity has, for the most part, solved that problem. Oh sure, you can have as many windows open as you want. But unlike many window managers, you can't click as easily to minimize and maximize the windows. With many desktops you can click on the opened window's icon and either restore or minimize the window. With Unity, you can only restore."
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Naturally, not everybody will agree with the above assessment, but this is exactly why free software is such a wonder in today's ever-changing world. Once the GNOME project abandoned the well-established GNOME 2 series, it didn't take long before somebody would pick up the discarded code and turn it into a maintained project. MATE is the name of the fork and the latest distribution that has successfully integrated it into their setup is Sabayon Linux. Sabayon developer Kelly Schwartz takes a look at the new flavour in "Well Hello MATE!": "The other day we got a new Sabayon daily ISO image to try out and use. This is for the MATE desktop environment. You can head to your favorite mirror and download Sabayon_Linux_DAILY_amd64_MATE.iso and make yourself a live bootable disc or USB device. I had previous tested out MATE by just installing it via the limbo repository, which you can do also. It's good to test the live ISO and installing via entropy on an installed system. Keep in mind that this is a young and new project so it may take some time to gain some features. It's also meant to be minimal stuff included. You won't find Firefox or Chromium as Midori is the default browser. Feel free to give feed back on the Sabayon dev mailing list."
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Version 5 of the RPM package manager has been around for years, but very few distributions have been brave enough to make the big switch. One exception is Mandriva Linux which has RPM 5.3 in their 2011 version and RPM 5.4 in the "Cooker". But it was a controversial decision, with a history of discord on the project's development mailing list and occasional rumour of dropping RPM 5 for the 4.x series. However, according to the latest news, all such talk has no truth in it and Mandriva is definitely sticking to the 5.x series of the RPM package manager for their upcoming release. Susan Linton reports in "Mandriva Will Not Abandon RPM 5": "There have been some rumors floating around that Mandriva was going to abandon their transition to RPM 5, a fork of the original Red Hat Package Manager. Mandriva began moving to RPM 5 quite a while ago because it offers increased performance and added features. So today Per Øyvind Karlsen, Mandriva Project Leader, confirmed that Mandriva has no plans to abandon RPM 5. In a blog post today, Per Øyvind Karlsen said he needed to set some rumors to rest. The first one has already been settled, but Karlsen confirmed there were no plans to re-merge the Mandriva and Mageia projects."
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
ZFS on Linux
One area in which I feel Linux distributions have lagged in recent years is file systems. The ext4 file system has been slow to adopt snapshots and the Btrfs file system and its utilities, despite the promise of shiny new features, haven't matured as quickly as some had hoped. This has left Linux administrators at something of a disadvantage when it comes to managing large amounts of data. Meanwhile, over in the Solaris, OpenIndiana and FreeBSD communities, they have been making use of ZFS for years. ZFS allows administrators to make use of storage pools, huge data storage, deduplication, snapshots and error detection.
The reason we haven't seen widespread adoption of ZFS in the Linux world is largely a matter of licensing. The Linux kernel is licensed under the GNU General Public License and ZFS carries the Common Development and Distribution License. As the two licenses are not compatible this means ZFS cannot be made a part of the Linux kernel in the same manner ext4, Btrfs and other file systems are. There are some work arounds. One of these work arounds is the ZFS on Linux project. What this project offers is native Linux ZFS support using a kernel module. Since the ZFS code provided by the project is shipped separately from the Linux kernel there isn't a licensing conflict. The two pieces of software talk with each other, but are distributed separately and under different licenses.
The ZFS on Linux project provides RPM and DEB packages and provides a link to a Ubuntu PPA repository to assist users in getting the proper software. Since the project links to Ubuntu packages I decided to set up a Ubuntu 12.04 server and give creating ZFS pools a try. The install of the ZFS and SPL packages went smoothly, however I found I was unable to create a ZFS file system on my test box. Despite finding some excellent tutorials on enabling ZFS on Linux and the useful FAQ provided by the upstream project I continued to run into dependency issues. An unfortunate turn of events and I hope a time will come in the near future when ZFS on Linux gains more more mainstream support in distribution repositories.
Another option for people wishing to work with ZFS on their Linux machines is the ZFS-FUSE project. The FUSE software is a simple interface for userspace programs to export a virtual file system to the Linux kernel. Though there are some concerns about performance when file systems are handled in userspace, FUSE is useful for treating resources, which might not normally be recognized, as file systems to be mounted and accessed just like native file systems are. This includes mounting remote FTP servers, remote directories available through secure shell and, as it turns out, ZFS pools. I tried ZFS-FUSE on my Ubuntu test machine and the results were quite rewarding. Even though we're going through FUSE to create, manage and backup ZFS pools, the command line tools are the same. In other words, if we install ZFS-FUSE on a Linux machine we can use the same tools and follow the same documentation as we would on Solaris or FreeBSD. The experience is pretty smooth. There only notable difference I experienced when accessing ZFS volumes through FUSE was the lack of direct access to snapshots. It is still possible to create and access ZFS snapshots, but the method is less direct than we enjoy in native implementations.
At this point neither implementation of ZFS for Linux is at a point where I would recommend it for serious use, but the projects are moving forward. Soon we may see Linux distributions offering yet another option for users who wish to take advantage of advanced file system features.
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As a follow-up to a Q&A we ran a few weeks ago on partition layouts, reader Hugh wrote in with the following suggestion: "I often read that folks are distressed when having to replace GRUB when they install another distro, so what I do to make it easy and less stressful is, I use two hard drives and I have GRUB on each drive so I have two GRUBs, so when one gets overwritten I can always use the other one while I am fixing the one with the dodgy entries. At the moment I have GRUB 1.98 and GRUB 1.99 but I have had Legacy and 1.98 running together." Thank you, Hugh, for the tip.
|Released Last Week
Parted Magic 2012_06_26
Patrick Verner has announced the release of Parted Magic 2012_06_26, an updated version of the project's specialist live CD with utilities for disk management and data rescue tasks: "Parted Magic 2012_06_26. Lots of little changes and some new programs added. The most noticeable additions are Samba and the proprietary binary video driver from NVIDIA. The NVIDIA driver doesn't come pre-installed, but it is available as a ready-to-go module. Make sure you grab the drivers that match the kernel in the version of Parted Magic that you are currently running. You must also disable the nouveau driver from the Fail Safe menu. The panel has been almost completely reworked. Clonezilla and our famous 'Erase Disk' program have been added to the desktop. ARandR replaces LXRandR." See the project's news page to read the release announcement.
Clonezilla Live 1.2.12-67
Steven Shiau has announced the release of Clonezilla Live 1.2.12-67, a new stable version of the project's utility live CD featuring specialist software for disk cloning tasks: "Stable Clonezilla Live (1.2.12-67) released. This release of Clonezilla Live (1.2.12-67) includes minor enhancements and bug fixes: the underlying GNU/Linux operating system was upgraded, this release is based on the Debian 'Sid' repository as of 2012-06-20; Linux kernel was updated to 3.2.20; Package drbl was updated to 1.12.14, and package Clonezilla was updated to 2.5.42; Partclone was updated to 0.2.49; gDisk was updated to 0.8.5; booting on UEFI machines via CD is supported in this release; package ddrescue was removed because it's no longer in Debian 'Sid' and we already have gddrescue; bug fix - the restored Fedora 17 failed to boot via GRUB 2." Here is the release announcement.
Oracle Linux 6.3
Oracle has announced the release of Oracle 6.3, an enterprise-class distribution based on the recently-released Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.3: "Oracle is pleased to announce the general availability of Oracle Linux 6.3 for x86 (32-bit) and x86_64 (64-bit) architectures. Oracle Linux 6.3 ships with two sets of kernel packages: Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel (kernel-uek 2.6.39), installed and booted by default; Red Hat Compatible Kernel (kernel-2.6.32), installed by default. By default, both the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel and the Red Hat Compatible Kernel are installed. Unbreakable Enterprise kernel Release 2 shipped in this update has following driver updates: be2net to version 4.2.220o, bnx2 to version 2.2.1, bnx2x to version 1.72.00-0, cnic to version 2.5.10, cxgb3 to version 1.1.4-ko...." See the release announcement for a full list of updated network and storage drivers.
Ultimate Edition 3.4 - an Ubuntu-based desktop distro with plenty of eye candy
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
May and June 2012 DistroWatch.com donations: MATE and LibreCAD|
We are happy to announce that the recipient of the May 2012 DistroWatch.com donation is the MATE project, a desktop environment forked from GNOME 2, while the June 2012 donation goes to LibreCAD, an open-source and cross-platform 2D CAD software package.
Although both these project's are relatively new, they are already well-established in the open-source software community. The MATE desktop has successfully forked from the GNOME 2.x series and has been accepted by many popular distributions, such as Linux Mint. LibreCAD, on the other hand, is a tool which is trying to fill an important gap in the engineering design area. MATE reached stable version 1.2 in April, while LibreCAD is currently in alpha stages approaching a major 2.0 release.
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$32,240 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), Slackware Linux ($500), MATE ($250), LibreCAD ($250)
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New distributions added to database
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New distributions added to waiting list
- Anansi OS. Anansi OS is an openSUSE-based desktop Linux distribution with GNOME 3, developed by Ghana's Oasis WebSoft.
- Cultix. Cultix is a Debian-based distribution for freaks and geeks, with cyber-gothic eye candy and speed and power in mind. It is built under the aegis of the VampireFreaks open-source cult and seems to be the only Linux distribution representing any VampireFreaks community for now.
- Notalinux. Notalinux is an Ubuntu-based desktop Linux distribution featuring the MATE desktop.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
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This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 9 July 2012. To contact the authors please send email to:
- Jesse Smith (feedback, questions and suggestions: distribution reviews, questions and answers, tips and tricks)
- Ladislav Bodnar (feedback, questions, suggestions and corrections: news, donations, distribution submissions, comments)
- Bruce Patterson (feedback and suggestions: podcast edition)
|Linux Foundation Training
|Reader Comments • Jump to last comment
1 • Adonis Linux (by JT on 2012-07-02 08:00:20 GMT from United States) |
I have found Adonis Linux the gnome3 version ubuntu base , A very well put together Gnome desktop . Everything is there. It leaves very little terminal work or none at all if you don't like to use it.I found it in the waiting list along with a few other hotrods ready to run...Ps adonis also comes in XFCE Debian base.....thanks JT
2 • Turnkey Linux (by Visitor on 2012-07-02 08:13:11 GMT from Netherlands)
I believe these days Turnkey Linux is based on Debian (not Ubuntu LTS anymore):
3 • UNITY Desktop (by dragonmouth on 2012-07-02 10:59:05 GMT from United States)
For years multitasking was the Holy Grail and sine qua non of the computer world. If an O/S did not handle multitasking well, pundits would rip it to shreds. Multitasking was used as a marketing point for all O/Ss starting with Win 95. Now along comes Mr. Wallen, and pretty soon other flacks, singing the praises of Unity precisely because it makes it hard for the user to do anything but single task. Sounds to me like just another marketing ploy to sell an unpopular piece of software to an unimpressed user community. Can anyone say "M$ Bob"?
4 • @3UNITY Desktop by dragonmout (by greg on 2012-07-02 11:16:17 GMT from Slovenia)
my thoughts are similar. However if some people like working with single window open then let them. But don't pretend it increases everyone's productivity.too much multitasking is indeed a bad thing. but some multitasking is very good.
some colleagues can do one customer at a time. i can do multiple customers at same time. result is near constant sale over the assigned quota before the month runs out.
5 • Unity (by rich52 on 2012-07-02 11:35:31 GMT from United States)
I'm usingKuguntu KDE with 6 virtual windows on my desktop with Compiz so that I can run multiple programs using each virtual desktop and switch back and forth to all of them as quickly as I need to. The one desktop concept doesn't work well for me in my opinion with Unity. Too slow and ackward.
6 • Turnkey and Btrfs (by Jesse on 2012-07-02 11:35:33 GMT from Canada)
>> "I believe these days Turnkey Linux is based on Debian (not Ubuntu LTS anymore)"
The latest stable release of turnkey still uses Ubuntu. The new betas and RCs are experimenting with a switch to Debian Squeeze.
I'm a bit surprised to see Red Hat say it is going to include support for Btrfs in RHEL 7. Even the latest version of Fedora didn't ship with Btrfs support out of the box. If they aren't comfortable putting Btrfs into a cutting edge distro like Fedora I wonder why they would push for putting the file system in their enterprise products.
7 • @6 btrfs (by greg on 2012-07-02 11:48:23 GMT from Slovenia)
Perhaps they will put it in RHEL7 as an integrated bonus feature?! Can they do that?
8 • btrfs (by Candide on 2012-07-02 12:16:27 GMT from Taiwan)
I've been watching btrfs for awhile now with some interest. However, it still doesn't look ready for prime time:
Also, performance is still slower than ext4:
This isn't to say the situation won't improve. I know btrfs is supposed to appeal to enterprise users with large systems. It may not really have much use for peons like me with a laptop, but I'll keep an open mind.
9 • turnkey - NAS appliance (by octathlon on 2012-07-02 13:41:13 GMT from United States)
I'd like to see you review Turnkey's File Server appliance and compare it to the others you reviewed earlier. I wonder if it is better and easier than all of them.
10 • @3 (by Papercrane on 2012-07-02 14:02:05 GMT from United States)
You can still run multiple windows and programs at a time (which IS multitasking from a computing standpoint), Unity just encourages focusing on one window at a time. I appreciate that, as it makes it easier for me to maintain a train of thought.
11 • Turnkey - "merge" appliances (by Alan on 2012-07-02 16:14:42 GMT from France)
Nice to see a review of Turnkey. It's an option for small dedicated servers I was considering.
I still have a question : Is there a way to mix turnkey appliances features (and keep the benefits of integration and automation ?)
For example, is it possible to start from a wordpress appliance and add the features of a PHPbb and a Django (for instance !) on a single box ?
what should I apt-get to also get all the wizards ?
If someone can answer or redirect me to a documentation/wiki page, it would be nice
12 • btrfs (by George on 2012-07-02 16:17:28 GMT from United States)
RedHat is implementing btrfs as part of it's cloud strategy. They will be pushing their Enterprise Virtualization and CloudForms (Satellite replacement) products as part of this strategy. So, it's really a move for Enterprise usage, which is a bit more important to them than it would be for the Fedora project, I presume.
13 • Turnkey (by Jesse on 2012-07-02 16:49:38 GMT from Canada)
It is possible to add features to a Turnkey appliance using apt-get, but I don't think you can "merge" appliances as you describe. You could instead set up multiple virtual machines and run each appliance in its own virtual environment, all on the same box.
14 • Appliances (by Rick on 2012-07-02 17:26:25 GMT from United States)
Jesse, your refrigerator doesn't play music? Way to live in the stone age...
15 • Turnkey "merging" (by Rick on 2012-07-02 17:48:26 GMT from United States)
More on-topic; I suppose it would be possible to load multiple Turnkey appliances on a USB drive with YUMI or Multisystem?
16 • Who Sez Unity Is Single Window? (by joncr on 2012-07-02 18:07:30 GMT from United States)
I don't get this constant insistence that Unity is a single window interface. I'm in Unity right now and I have a batch of open windows. It's no different than any other non-tiling interface.
In any case, people do not multitask. Software does. If you have a bunch of windows open, you can only focus on one at a time. We serial-task, we don't multitask. All those windows save you a little bit of time. They do not make you any more or any less productive.
17 • Misunderstanding Multi-Tasking (by joncr on 2012-07-02 18:11:50 GMT from United States)
Dragonmouth misunderstands multi-tasking in an operating system. It has nothing to do with the ability to open windows. It has to do with the ability to so rapidly divide its time between multiple tasks that it appears to us slow humans that it is doing more than one thing at once.
18 • ##16 Multi-tasking (by imnotrich on 2012-07-02 22:00:26 GMT from Mexico)
Unity has re-defined multi-tasking, to be sure.
It used to be you could do multiple things at once with your gui.
Now with Unity, you have to do multiple clicks/tasks to open one application.
Oh and yes, humans DO multi-task. When I'm waiting for my Linux OS to install, I can do the dishes...laundry...even vacuum. I keep seeing references to 20-30 minute installs of some full fledged Linux distro. This is a huge myth. In my experience over the last 30 years, the only thing that installs in 20-30 minutes, besides DOS 5, would be an older version of Puppy.
No full size distro installs that fast and in fact Sabayon, Gentoo and others can take days to install the base...even before you get to the tweaking stage to install basic things like printers, networking, video cards, sound cards, browser plug-ins, codecs and so on. Took me a week to get Debian Squeeze doing all that just recently, and STILL my install has unresolved issues (such as WINE problems).
19 • For the lack of a better motive.. (by commenter on 2012-07-02 22:14:07 GMT from Brazil)
Now Unity is 'good for the character.' lol.
20 • RHEL & btrfs (by cookiemonster on 2012-07-03 01:06:12 GMT from United States)
doubt btrfs will be default in RHEL7. Given the Storage products default on XFS and they are moving big into virt and cloud, XFS will be default.
21 • @18 (by Bill on 2012-07-03 02:33:41 GMT from United States)
SolusOS 2 alpha 5 installed on my quad-core PC in 10 minutes flat. I took off my watch and timed it; give or take 2 seconds it was 10 minutes. Seems to me that Fedora 14 was about the same. I'll have to test some others in the future, but here and now I KNOW the OS installed completely in 10 minutes.
22 • @18 (by greg on 2012-07-03 05:57:49 GMT from Slovenia)
a week is a bit too long. i had it with crunchbang on a very old mashcine in about 45 minutes (cause CPU is really old and ram low). afte rthat i hadd to add a PPA for printer driver and then it relaly took me long before i could set up samba. but it was my fault as i configured it correctly the first time and all i actually needed to do was to restart the service.
Kubuntu fresh install - i did it in 25 minutes and then additional 20 minutes to download and in install all the updates and add PPA's i had before and a few programmes. also then it took a few minutes to move the old home to new home. while it took me over 1.5 hour to do an upgrade which is why i decided to not do upgrade anymore (10.10->12.04 is a long road) but went with a new install.
23 • say what (by david on 2012-07-03 11:33:46 GMT from United States)
@imnotrich (post 18)o_O almost every distro installs in less than 20 min. Build from scratch distros withstanding of course.
24 • @16Misunderstanding Multi-Tasking (by mandog on 2012-07-03 12:34:46 GMT from United Kingdom)
Yes you are right in what you say.
Except for one small thing men can't multi-task very well, but a woman can.
25 • @18 (by Gustavo on 2012-07-03 13:36:58 GMT from Brazil)
Just pin your most used applications to the launcher/dock. They will be just one click away.
Unity is OK, just try it for a few days.
26 • great to see today's news about commodore (by Juliann on 2012-07-03 14:45:55 GMT from United States)
I looked up the company that is producing this Mint-based distribution. Perfect choice of OS base, and it turns out they are selling computers with a unique shape (namely, built in to a keyboard), based on their new Linux OS! I say, the more people making a successful go at selling machines with linux preinstalled, the better.
27 • @18, Install time (by borion on 2012-07-03 17:05:37 GMT from United States)
Not exactly a fan of install time of an OS ... but many popular linux distros install in less than 30 minutes. But I never really understood why its such a big deal. Only geeks (including me) seem to install and re-install os over and over again. It shouldn't be like that ... an OS install should be once in a while thing. I wouldn't mind spending a Saturday on an OS setup if it behaves for the next few years.
28 • @16 (by borion on 2012-07-03 17:35:43 GMT from United States)
Good point on multi-tasking. Few years ago, I had a project manager who put me on the schedule for 300% of my time ... when I confronted her, she said i should be multi-tasking. A generation of technology must have passed me by.
On unity/shell ... I'm not sure why all this negativity on this. I read all the negative buzz before I even tried it. Still I found it interesting ... not perfect, but still good. Compare that with that gobbledegook we call KDE4. I'll take Shell/Unity anyday.
29 • re: 18 Multi Tasking (by mythus on 2012-07-03 18:10:28 GMT from United States)
I'd love to see you vacuum, do the dishes, and do laundry at the exact same time, which is what multi-tasking is.
In truth, what we preceive as human multi-tasking is more like serial-tasking. Yes, we are attempting to complete multiple activities in the same time frame, but we are incapable of doing them in the same single time unit.
An example using your dishes, laundry, and vacuuming argument would be that you started with the vacuum in the laundry room. WIth the vacuum running, you let go of it briefly to throw some clothes in the washer and start it. You then push the vacuum into the kitchen. With it running you let go of it to start the dishwasher. You then proceed to finish vacuuming while those modern appliances take care of the rest for you. By the time you are finished vacuuming, the other two chores may be done as well.
In a sense that is not really doing things at the same time. You have to let go of the vacuum to start the laundry. You also have to let go of the vacuum to start the dishwasher. That is serial tasking. The appliances are doing the only real multi tasking, as is your brain, but the actual procession of activity that you yourself completed wasn't at the same time.
It is really no different when working on a computer. I have yet met a person that can type in two or more open windows at the same exact time. Yes, they, and I, would reference window one while I type in window two, but to reference window one I have to sometimes stop typing in window 2 to navigate the information in window one, even if only for a second. If I were truly multitasking, I'd do both without pause.
What Unity and GNOME Shell attempt to do is discourage the attention break done during serial tasking and attempted multitasking. For some users, this is a benefit, especially for users that do have problems with concentration. For other users this can be a hassle and interrupt their normal routine. For those users, Unity and Gnome Shell aren't really meant for them. Yes, you could make the two work in that way, but that is not their design.
30 • @29 Multi Tasking (by greg on 2012-07-04 08:54:05 GMT from Slovenia)
What you can do with multitasking in desktop is watch several windows at once and then adjust one and see changes in others.
and i think this what you describe is mutlistasking as you are doing another task while you wait for the previous to complete in the background. during that time you can monitor it adjust it etc. (e.g. if you vacuum and cook at same time ->> not advisable) :-)
31 • Sabayon 9 (by Mac on 2012-07-04 17:45:32 GMT from United States)
Sabayon 9 64bit kde, Has a place on my hard drive now. OTB support even for intell 5300, alfa-nh, and alfa-n. Since I have used nothing but Debian distros for about 5yrs now this is big step for me and hope others will give it a try.
32 • @ Unity (by pazuzuthewise on 2012-07-04 21:15:23 GMT from Romania)
So multitasking is bad because it distracts the user from the task at hand. By the same logic, since continuous computer use, without breaks, can cause stress, Ubuntu should implement a usability feature to crash the desktop every 3 hours or so. A good idea would be to overheat the processor so as to trigger its protection and force the computer to shutdown, preventing the user to boot it until it cools off, thus effectively forcing the user to take a healthy break.
33 • Porteus 1.2 - Trinity DE (by Woodstock69 on 2012-07-05 01:14:47 GMT from Papua New Guinea)
Thanks to the Porteus devs for releasing v1.2 and showing support for Trinity Desktop Environment. Call me a Luddite, but this is choice. To be able to run KDE 3 with TDE improvements on my ancient hardware (not forgetting exe-linux, Kubuntu and others).
Eventually I'll get a "modern" supercomputer to run KDE4, 5 and 6, but for now, I'm stuck with the old P4. Now if I could just get Digikam 2.6 to work in TDE I'd be in heaven!
34 • @33 Woodstock69 (by greg on 2012-07-05 08:31:37 GMT from Slovenia)
there is a KDE low-fat-settings package that will reduce system requirements. i believe it then takes 180MB ram and turns off 3D acceleration. so it should work well on your maschine if you have at least 512mb ram.
see more here under low fat settings: http://www.kubuntu.org/news/11.10-release
35 • to #34 (and #33) a lighter KDE (by Peter on 2012-07-05 13:57:16 GMT from Spain)
Yes, Kubuntu-low-fat reduces ram usage by not starting certain functions (specially 3D niceties), but if you avoid the nepomuk/akanodi/strigi trio and tell the clock to not display events so i doesn't call on akanodi, your ram use and speed will improve. Also redce Krdunner adcdond.
36 • KDE disable nepomuk & akonaki (by RollMeAway on 2012-07-06 01:18:39 GMT from United States)
After uninstalling kmail and as much of kdepim as possible, I resort to this:
#chmod 600 /usr/bin/nepo* ...and
#chmod 600 /usr/bin/akon*
Then either kill all nepomuk, akonadi services, or reboot.
It is amazing the resources recovered and the speed improvement.
37 • TurnKey (by Kimmi on 2012-07-06 01:26:07 GMT from United States)
I think Turnkey is what i'm looking for! its a great idea with a useful purpose. Cultix has an interesting twist to it Vamp anyone? Tasty. I really enjoy this podcast episode sounds like a new guy has been added One Hell of a Voice whoever he is xoxo. Cool Article thanks for the info :)
38 • @34,35,36 (by Woodstock69 on 2012-07-06 03:40:55 GMT from Papua New Guinea)
The first thing I do after installing KDE4 based distro's is to kill Nepomuk, Akonadi and Strigi, but maybe I'm not doing it correctly. As a purely desktop user without networking, bluetooth and wireless, I'm sure there are plenty more services I should kill also.
BTW. I've got 768MB RAM. That used to be enough. Heck, 64KB used to be enough! (long live the C64 ;-) )
Many thanks for the suggestions. Will give them a go....
39 • Review of Commodore OS Vision Beta 9 RC1 (by Col. Bob on 2012-07-06 08:21:47 GMT from Germany)
I downloaded and installed Commodore OS Vision Beta 9 RC1 and this is my review. The Commodore theme seems more polished than the Beta 6 version. They reduced the window transparency which helps. The also included an option to turn transparency off, which I prefer. There are 3 themes available, the Commodore Blue default theme, the VIC20 black theme and the Amiga Gray Silver theme which I prefer.
Beta 9 has more improvements over Beta 6. They included the Mint Control Center, Hardware Drivers and NVidia Graphics Driver installer. There is an option to install media codecs, that is handy. Beta 9 also includes 29 games. I like the Retro games clones of Pac Man, Space Invaders, Missile Command, Galga and many others. Aisle Riot solitare is also included to help persuade Windows users too. Overall, Beta 9 has a better look, feel and sound than Beta 6. It seems faster, but that could be due to hardware upgrades on my system. It only used 8.8gb of disk space. It runs just fine with a 30gb SSD.
There are a few disadvantages of Commodore OS Vision. First, it only runs on 64bit hardware. It won't run on older hardware that only supports 32 bit OS's. Second, the download file is over 4gb. It takes a long time to download it. I plan to keep my Bittorrent server uploading it for a week or so to help other users. There is a 2nd DVD you can download that's about 3gb. I downloaded it, but I'm having problems installing the Commodore Extras. I'll give it another shot.
So far, I like Commodore OS Vision Beta 9 RC1. I plan to get rid of my current desktop computer and replace it with a Vic Slim barebones system, designed to run Commodore OS Vision. These go for about $299 from the Commodore USA website.
40 • multitasking? (by zykoda on 2012-07-06 16:30:49 GMT from United Kingdom)
What is a so called "task"? that must we multi do? Should one compare to "time slice" on the multicores...if possible? about which Amdahl has to say? re-parallelism or quantum realisation of potentialities of true virtualisation.
41 • @18 Install time (by anonymouse1 on 2012-07-06 20:50:29 GMT from United States)
@18 Install time: Wow, you must have a 200Mhz machine with 15Mb of ram to be complaining of week long install times. I installed a mint kde distro in 15 minutes, including getting the flash and java set, printer loaded, updates, and customizing. I was online with a fully tweaked and custom system in less than 20 minutes on a dual core athlon with 4gb of ram and nvidia 6150 video core. not the high end beast most people probably run.
42 • Desktops.... (by Blue Knight on 2012-07-07 00:30:36 GMT from France)
Gnome 3 is unusable, bad design, stupidity etc... Unity is maybe a touch better and more usable but It's not really good neither.
XFCE is unprofessional and 'old school', Win95-style, among other things with its stupid opaque desktop icons labels. LXDE is still buggy and not my cup of tea.
The only desktop, modern, usable, in the Linux/BSD world, and in par with Win7, is KDE 4, with the desktop view.
43 • Desktops.... (by david on 2012-07-07 11:10:18 GMT from United States)
@42, While I can appreciate your opinion I strongly disagree. I agree aesthetically XFCE may look antiquated, but what it lacks in beauty it makes up in brawn. As its very mature, stable and usable.
I sure Gnome 3 and Unity appeal to a certain demographic in the linux ecosystem. I am not familiar with LXDE so I can't comment.
KDE 4 is a very "modern" looking DE and offers many of the same features as the other commercial OS's.
What a minute, maybe I don't disagree with your assessment after all.
I personally prefer FVWM or Fluxbox.
44 • @42 • Desktops (by mandog on 2012-07-07 11:47:13 GMT from United Kingdom)
I Must agree with the poster below you in most respects.
As for LXDE Its a window manager on top of Openbox don't be fooled by its light weight its up there with gnome 2 as far as GTK apps are concerned light fast and very stable. 65bm 32bt at start-up. but it runs all the heavy apps without hesitation.
45 • Turnkey (by HansH on 2012-07-07 14:09:46 GMT from Netherlands)
Besides the iso file for each appliance, you can also get an OpenVZ file, which is smaller and let you run the appliance in a OpenVZ container (or with some small adaptions in a LXC container)
If you use Proxmox VE, you can select all the Turnkey appliances from the browser and deploy them....
46 • Podcast (by Shmoe on 2012-07-08 09:22:56 GMT from United States)
LOL! I'm listening to the latest podcast as I write this. It's great! Is this host/format new? Seems to be. I really like it. I think I'll call it...the Quiet Storm! Like the hosts voice, as well as the (slightly) whimsical late night jazz station feel. I also like the fact that you use multiple presenters, less monotonous. BTW, thanks to everyone at DW for all your hard work. Keep it up!
47 • Abous ZFS on Linux (by Ricardo on 2012-07-08 19:48:14 GMT from Argentina)
Jesse, I think you're too quick to dismiss ZFS on Linux, you probably should try it on a RedHat/CentOS/Scientific Linux 6 box. Or maybe there was a problem with the PPA and you could compile the debs yourself.
Conicidentally, I've been testing it on a couple of CentOS 6 servers because it allows us to use an SSD disk as read or write cache. It's only been two weeks but these servers' disks are pretty hammered and still working great so far (knock on wood).
BTW, zfsonlinux.org doesn't provide deb nor rpm packages, only instructions to build them yourself, but it's an extremely esasy task at least on CentOS.
48 • Podcast (by Bill on 2012-07-08 22:27:14 GMT from United States)
Thanks for this great idea, I enjoyed the pod-cast.
One suggestion though, turn down the piano music so we can hear the vocal better. :)
49 • beware Porteus (by Roland on 2012-07-09 01:51:54 GMT from United States)
This OS will automatically mount ALL your hard disk partitions without your partition. This is dangerous! It also increments the mountcount causing unnecessary fsck's. Also, it says it's designed for install to USB thumbdrives. The install works fine. Only after you boot from the thumbdrive do you discover you can't easily save changes to the drive, because it's NTFS. I had to mkfs.ext2 to
get it to work right. Maybe the authors will see this report here and correct it, because their bug system is a pain.
50 • 41 is nonsense. (by imnotrich on 2012-07-09 03:32:03 GMT from Mexico)
An AMD 64 dual core running at 3ghz with 4g ram and 800gb of hdd's Debian 6.0.5. Debian 64 net install ran almost 2 hours for me just a few days ago. Then there's the pain that is wired networking, printer shares, video card, flash and java (notably easier than previous versions though)and here it is more than a week later and I'm still struggling with software that worked perfectly in Lenny. Basic stuff like Skype, Various music streams like streamtuner, streamtuner2 and Tunapie, also Spideroak, Wine/Babas Chess, Wine/Bookworm Deluxe. Nothing obscure, like wireless network. OMG I know better than to even attempt wifi with Debian, and Squeeze also fails to work with my serial port & usb pci cards. (worked fine in Etch and Lenny both).
Does Debian annoy me? Yes. Is it still the best distro on the planet? Yes. Does any full size distro install in less than a hour? Only if you're running some time warp experiment.
P.S. - that Nvidia 6150 chipset isn't properly supported by Squeeze and probably most of the Debian based distros. Consider an upgrade.
51 • Real Nonsense (by Landor on 2012-07-09 05:45:50 GMT from Canada)
Every time you post you fire out all these things with no actual proof to back it up. This week I noticed you said it can take days to install a base system for Gentoo. I going to take a stand here and say you've never installed Gentoo, but if you have, you didn't know what you were doing.
A base install is a stage 3 install. Kernel, bootloader, and base system fully configured has taken me less than 45 minutes. I could do it a whole lot faster too, if I chose. With a functional desktop it's taken me no more than 12 hours to install on an N270 based netbook of all machines. We could discuss multi-core systems if you want. Just to let you know too, for the most part, the amount ram and hard drive space/speed have pretty well zero bearing when compiling from source.
I've installed a couple distributions on an old 2.8 P4 system (single core 478 socket) that installed in less than 5 minutes. I honestly believe you only troll here, or do not know what you're doing at all.
Keep your stick on the ice...
52 • install time (by piper on 2012-07-09 06:14:28 GMT from United States)
"I keep seeing references to 20-30 minute installs of some full fledged Linux distro. This is a huge myth. In my experience over the last 30 years, the only thing that installs in 20-30 minutes, besides DOS 5, would be an older version of Puppy."
aptosid, siduction (debian sid kde) installs in about 6 minutes (dual core cpu)
53 • RE: 52 (by Landor on 2012-07-09 07:21:39 GMT from Canada)
I was referring to Sidux and Mepis for less than 5 minutes. I'd also say that antiX would install just as quick.
They could be even faster if they were being installed from say a USB 3.0 flash drive to a SATA 3 SSD. Even the 3.0 USB would slow it down, but it would still be a lightning install.
Keep your stick on the ice...
Number of Comments: 53
Display mode: DWW Only • Comments Only • Both DWW and Comments
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|• Issue 779 (2018-09-03): Redcore 1806, keeping ISO downloads safe from tampering, Lubuntu makes Calamares more flexible, Ubuntu improves GNOME performance|
|• Issue 778 (2018-08-27): GuixSD 0.15.0, ReactOS 0.4.9, Steam supports Windows games on Linux, Haiku plans for beta, merging disk partitions|
|• Issue 777 (2018-08-20): YunoHost 22.214.171.124, limiting process resource usage, converting file systems on Fedora, Debian turns 25, Lubuntu migrating to Wayland|
|• Full list of all issues|
Star Labs - Laptops built for Linux.
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.
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Jollix was a Live CD distribution based on Gentoo Linux. Jollix boots directly from CD without touching the hard disk. A fast and easy-to-install version of Jollix will be available in a later release. In the current version there are installation instructions for more experienced Linux users. Once Jollix was installed on a hard disk, it can be updated via portage, the package manager of Gentoo Linux. In fact, Jollix was Gentoo at this point (somehow preconfigured). Jollix aimes at the gamer and multimedia enthusiast who prefers Linux as a stable and safe platform.