| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 481, 5 November 2012
Welcome to this year's 45th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
It has been another fun week in the world of open source operating systems. The highly secure and reliable OpenBSD operating system, version 5.2, was released with a number of important improvements, including the ability to allow multithread programs running on OpenBSD to use multiple CPUs. Speaking of releases, Debian, a pillar of the Linux community, is nearing its 7.0 release. Read on below for some of the interesting changes coming to the "universal operating system". Also in our News section the Electronic Frontier Foundation weighs in on Ubuntu's latest release and user privacy. Additionally, on the topic of privacy, the Tails project produces a live image which is designed to protect a user's identity and security. In this week's feature review Jesse Smith takes the Tails distribution for a spin and reports on his experience. Last week we touched briefly on a bug in the ext4 file system which may cause data corruption and Robert Storey brings us more details on the problem and suggests possible workarounds while the kernel developers prepare a fix. As usual we cover the releases of the past week, look ahead to exciting new releases and bring you news, podcasts and reviews from Around the Web. We here at DistroWatch wish you a pleasant week and happy reading!
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Tails and Claws
Over the past year I have looked at two distributions (Liberté and LPS) which have a strong focus on security. Staying secure and anonymous on-line is a popular topic these days as many people are concerned about freedom of speech and monitored communications. Many of us are concerned about our privacy and, with that in mind, I would like to introduce our readers to a Linux distribution called Tails. The Tails project is based upon Debian's Stable repositories and includes a number of privacy and security tools available out of the box. The distribution can be transferred to a USB drive or a live DVD. The distribution isn't meant to be installed to a local hard disk, but rather run from external media (specifically the documentation suggests read-only DVDs) in an effort to avoid infection of the operating system. I downloaded the project's ISO which weighs in at approximately 770MB.
Before getting into what it was like to run Tails, I first want to acknowledge the documentation provided on the Tails website. The project does a nice job of explaining potential threats, explaining what Tails will do for its users and it also goes over a list of things from which Tails will not protect people. This is good because some people seem to feel security is a binary situation, either they are secure and anonymous on-line or they aren't. The situation isn't so black & white and the Tails documentation does a nice job of telling us how the distribution can protect us and what dangers still lurk out there on the Net.
Tails 0.13 -- Website and documentation.
(full image size: 124kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
When we first boot off the Tails media we're brought to a graphical screen which is essentially a login screen. However, instead of asking us for a name and password we are asked if we would like to login with the defaults or select from more options. Taking the defaults logs us into a GNOME 2 (version 2.30) desktop with a plain blue background. An application menu and system tray sit at the top of the display and a task switcher sits at the bottom of the screen. On the desktop we find icons for browsing the local file system, accessing the Tails documentation and there is an icon for launching a bug reporting wizard.
Going back to the login screen for a moment, if we do decide to browse the available options we are asked if we would like to set a password for the root account and we are given the option of logging into a desktop environment which is themed to look like Windows XP. I tried this alternative theme and the effect really is quite convincing at a glance. The same applications are available to us and the same technology protects us, but the alternative theme allows a person to avoid the attention an open source desktop might attract from casual observers.
Tails 0.13 -- Alternative desktop theme.
(full image size: 361kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
Looking in the application menu we find the Iceweasel web browser, the Claws e-mail client, Pidgin for instant messaging and a Tor connection monitor. There is a second web browser entry marked "unsafe" and this menu item also launches Iceweasel, but without the benefit of Tor. Launching the unsafe browser option brings up a dialog box warning us of the risks and asking if we are sure we wish to launch the browser. Assuming we do open Iceweasel without Tor then we find Iceweasel's border has been tainted red as a reminder that its use is not recommended. Also in the application menu we find the OpenOffice suite, the Audacity audio editor, a CD ripper and the Totem video player. The PiTiVi video editor is included in the distribution and there are apps for setting up (and removing) persistent storage volumes on USB drives. Additionally, the menu holds a copy of the GNU Image Manipulation Program, Inkscape, an archive manager, a calculator and a text editor. The Orca screen reader is available to us as are the full range of GNOME configuration apps. Another handy tool presented to us is a meta data anonymizer. This application will scan files, such as images, and detect meta data stored in the file. The application will then offer to scrub the file, removing the meta data. The scrub is performed on a copy of our file, leaving the original intact. This is useful if we want to upload a file to someone without risk of having identifying marks left in the file.
Tails 0.13 -- Web browser plugins.
(full image size: 174kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
Exploring Tails further we find Java is installed for us, as are popular multimedia codecs. Flash isn't included, due to security concerns surrounding the plug-in. In order to assist users in acquiring more software, the Synaptic package manager is included in the application menu. Finally, behind the scenes, the Linux kernel, version 3.2, keeps things running for us.
Besides Iceweasel there are a few programs included with Tails that can be used to communicate with the outside world and I'd like to touch briefly on two of them. The first is Pidgin, the instant messenger client. Launching Pidgin automatically connects us to an IRC server and lists two available chat channels, one for Tor and one for Tails. Here we can hope to find help in trouble-shooting problems. I tried connecting to other types of accounts Pidgin supports, but found my login attempts were blocked. I'm uncertain if this is a bug or a feature as logging in to a server with known credentials would be a security breech.
The other application I'd like to touch on briefly is Claws. Claws is an e-mail client which attempts to be both user friendly and secure. The security aspect comes from having encryption and signing support built into the e-mail client. Typically the use of encryption tools requires a plug-in, but Claws comes with security in mind by default. Aside from the built in encryption, Claws acts much like any other modern e-mail client. It reminds me a bit of Thunderbird, or perhaps Thunderbird before the developers introduced tabs. At any rate, Claws is fairly straight forward to use and supports both POP and IMAP connections. I played around with it a little and had no trouble connecting to remote servers and downloading messages. Of course, signing into a remote server gives away our identity and the headers of messages aren't encrypted, so e-mail should be used with a degree of caution.
Tails 0.13 -- The Claws e-mail client.
(full image size: 113kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
I ran Tails on my laptop (dual-core 2GHz CPU, 4GB of RAM, Intel video card and Intel wireless card) and in a VirtualBox virtual machine. In both cases Tails worked well. When running on physical hardware, the distribution properly detected all of my hardware, set my screen to its maximum resolution and sound worked out of the box. Wireless networks were automatically detected and connecting was easy using Network Manager. I noticed that by default tapping my trackpad wouldn't register taps as clicks, but this feature can be enabled through the GNOME configuration menu. One nice feature of Tails is it will detect when it is running in a virtual machine and warn the user the operating system is not running directly on hardware and the session may be monitored. The GNOME 2 desktop is quite responsive and I found that, even with Tor running and accessibility features enabled, the distribution only used approximately 180MB of RAM.
Package management on Tails is handled by the Synaptic application. This graphical utility allows us to refresh our list of available packages from the Debian repositories. We can upgrade software and install new packages. Of course, when running from a DVD the changes we make to the operating system won't last through a reboot, but having a package manager available does give us some additional flexibility while using Tails. Synaptic works quickly and operated through Tor, much like Iceweasel does, hiding our IP address from the repository servers. I didn't do much with Synaptic during my trial, but I did take the time to install a few items to make sure they would install properly and I encountered no problems.
Having played around with Tails for a few days I have found it to be a pleasant, flexible platform from which to browse anonymously. I think what I enjoy most about Tails is that, unlike some specialty distributions, it feels much more like a general purpose desktop. Quite often I find projects which try to be secure or which are designed to rescue data or which have some other focus don't give the user the benefits (and flexibility) which come from running a regular desktop distribution. Tails has its focus aimed at being secure and anonymous out of the box, yet it manages to present a fairly friendly desktop and gives us the ability to get a wide range of work done and even access Debian's vast supply of software. Security may be placed first, but not in an exclusive fashion and I find that appealing. Another aspect of Tails I appreciated was the "XP" theme. The effect is really quite good and consistent, likely to mislead anyone who doesn't examine the desktop closely.
One other thing I like about Tails, and I brought this up briefly in the review of Liberté, is there are a few different approaches to take when a user wants to perform an action which is not recommended. The operating system can allow the action, the operating system can warn the user of the potential danger and then give the user a choice as to whether to proceed, or the system can block the action. Liberté opted to block unsafe actions. Tails, on the other hand, takes what I feel is the more desirable approach of educating the user about the potential dangers of their actions and then letting the user decide whether to take the risk. It is a style which protects the operator, but doesn't presume to know better than the user and I like this approach. Last, but not least, I found the documentation on the Tails website to be clear and fairly easy to navigate. The developers have done a good job of trying to educate their users, both explaining what Tails is and what it is not, and I see that as a good starting point. To date, Tails is probably my favourite security-oriented distribution.
The EFF talks about privacy and Ubuntu, Debian introduces changes to their installer and Valve seeks help testing Steam on Linux.
Canonical's decision to include on-line searches for Amazon products in the Dash of the latest version of Ubuntu stirred up some controversy and any number of bug reports from users. Some complained that the on-line search component made local searches too slow, others felt there was a privacy concern and some simply didn't want advertisements mixed in with their local search results. Others feel that Ubuntu should be able to make money with a little product placement, no harm, no foul. This past week the Electronic Frontier Foundation put forward their two cents saying "Technically, when you search for something in Dash, your computer makes a secure HTTPS connection to productsearch.ubuntu.com, sending along your search query and your IP address. If it returns Amazon products to display, your computer then insecurely loads the product images from Amazon's server over HTTP. This means that a passive eavesdropper, such as someone sharing a wireless network with you, will be able to get a good idea of what you're searching for on your own computer based on Amazon product images. It's a major privacy problem if you can't find things on your own computer without broadcasting what you're looking for to the world." The EFF goes on to acknowledge that on-line searching can be disabled and provides instructions for users who wish to either disable these searches or switch to a different desktop environment, thus side-stepping the Dash completely. The EFF's statement concludes with a list of requests for the Ubuntu developers, including changing the on-line ads feature to opt-in rather than opt-out; explaining to users in detail what is done with their search results and which third-parties get access to that data; and making the privacy settings more fine-grained.
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The release of Debian 7.0 is getting closer and it was recently announced that the installer for 7.0 will include support for IPv6. Support for EFI has also been introduced which means the Debian installer will no longer rely on legacy BIOS code. This change may also pave the way for future support of additional features such as Secure Boot. A few months back it was announced Debian would be shipping Xfce as the default desktop on their installation media, replacing GNOME which was becoming too large to fit on a single CD. Since then work has been done to squeeze GNOME onto the installation CD and it looks as though GNOME is back in as the default Debian desktop.
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The openSUSE developers have been working on an ARM port of the big, green operating system. Last week the developers pushed out openSUSE 12.2 for ARM, release candidate 2, with plans to release the final version November 6th. To date it looks as though the ARM port works on Chromebooks and the N900. Future plans include making openSUSE work with the popular Raspberry Pi economy computer. People looking to experiment with the new openSUSE branch can find testing images on the project's website.
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Valve is one of the more influential gaming companies these days. Their games and their Steam platform have gained a large following, both among dedicated and casual gamers alike. This year Valve has been dipping their toes in the Linux pool, experimenting with porting their software to work with Linux distributions. This could be very good news for Linux users who want access to big name gaming titles as where Valve goes others often follow. Last week Valve put out a call for beta testers to try out the Linux version of their Steam client. If you are an experienced Linux user and have some spare time, consider helping Valve bring mainstream gaming to Linux.
|Tips and Tricks (by Robert Storey)
Ext4 Data Corruption Bug and Solution
Just when you thought it was safe...
Ext4 (the fourth extended file system) has been the gold standard for the Linux kernel ever since it was declared "stable" in October 2008. It was the direct descendant of ext3 (released November 2001) which introduced journaling to the previously unjournaled ext2 file system that has been with us since 1993.
Ever since its release into the wild, ext4 has proven to be fast and reliable. I've installed it onto more computers than I can count, and never had any reason to complain about it...until recently. But a serious bug has crept into the ext4 stable release, causing data corruption on some computers running Linux kernels 3.4, 3.5, and 3.6.
I first stumbled across this problem about six weeks ago when I was writing this review of Bodhi Linux. After installing Bodhi, it initially ran well, but by the fourth or fifth reboot problems developed. The first glitch: I couldn't log in while running Xorg, but could log in if I used text mode. A few reboots later and I couldn't log in at all -- in fact, all I saw was a blank, black screen. Needless to say, I was nonplussed and had a few email exchanges with the developer, who insisted that Bodhi was innocent. I, of course, occupied the moral high ground and nearly gave Bodhi a scathing review -- until I tried installing Lubuntu which soon developed similar problems. Properly chastised, I meekly retreated and gave Bodhi the fine review it deserved, and looked elsewhere for the cause of this debacle.
My assumption at this point was that my hard drive was probably failing. However, I had an older version of Ubuntu installed on the same hard drive and it ran smooth as silk. As it turned out, that installation was on a partition formatted with XFS, a file system that used to be my favorite because it was considerably faster than ext3. I never had any complaints about XFS and only abandoned it because most new distros no longer include the formatting command mkfs.xfs plus the necessary XFS utilities for error-checking. However, kernel support for XFS is very much alive, so it is still a viable option.
I broke out an old Slackware CD and reformatted my ext4 partition with XFS, then reinstalled Bodhi. It ran without a hiccup. Although I still wasn't confident that my hard drive was OK, I was glad to see it running well and wasn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth.
Then just last week I was installing the recently released Ubuntu 12.10 on a friend's new computer when the same thing happened. Ubuntu ran great until the third reboot, when it too began to act flaky. At first it gave me nasty error messages, but on subsequent reboot attempts it just crashed and burned. Remembering my prior experience with Bodhi, I broke out that Slackware CD and reformatted with XFS, reinstalled and all was well.
If I was seeing this, I assumed there were others in the same boat, so I went searching. With just a little bit of googling, I found this October 24 post by Michael Larabel on the Phoronix web site: EXT4 Data Corruption Bug Hits Stable Linux Kernels. You should probably read Michael's post, but in a nutshell what it says is that starting from Linux kernel 3.4 and continuing, some users are seeing file data corruption on partitions formatted with ext4.
I should stress that not everyone is experiencing this issue. Indeed, I make a habit of installing Linux on friends' computers and only two of them formatted with the latest ext4 have so far developed this problem. On the other hand, that is two too many. I am always claiming that Linux is rock-solid reliable, so it's more than a little embarrassing when I install it for someone only to see it blow up shortly thereafter.
The chief maintainer of ext4, Theodore Y. "Ted" Ts'o , is well aware of the problem and hard at work on a solution. Ted is one of the most knowledgeable people in the world when it comes to file systems and I don't doubt for a minute that he will sort out this issue. However, tracking down the bug, issuing a fix and putting it through rigorous testing takes time.
On the one hand I am somewhat reluctant to write this news story, since having a large community of beta-testers (even unwilling ones) is helpful to solving this problem. On the other hand, some of us value our data more than life itself (did I just say that?), so we need a solution right now. Thus, I would like to make a few suggestions to those of you who have been bit by this bug, or are at least very concerned about it.
At the minimum, your various removable backup devices (external USB hard drive and USB memory sticks) should be formatted with either FAT32 (the factory default in almost every case) or ext2. I personally prefer ext2 as it supports such niceties as file ownership and uses space more efficiently. In fact, I've been using ext2 for this purpose long before this ext4 bug ever hit, because there really is no need for journaling on a backup device.
On your hard drive itself, a minimum precaution would be to have a separate /home partition formatted with a file system other than ext4. This would at least protect your precious data even if the root partition crashes and burns. However, most people (present company included) tend to put everything under the "/" root partition, /home included. Furthermore, it's kind of inconvenient to have your root file system crash, though again I stress that only a minority of users are actually experiencing this.
If you decide do as I've done and go with XFS, there are a few tricks to installing it. As I already said, practically every distro comes with a kernel with XFS support baked in, but you need the formatting and maintenance utilities. You can hunt around for a live CD that already has mkfs.xfs installed. I used Slackware 13, but there are many others.
Alternatively, you could boot up even the latest Ubuntu live CD and install package XFSprogs before you run the installer. The Ubuntu installation program allows you choose XFS under the "something else" option for disk partitioning, but if you don't have XFSprogs installed, it won't be able to format the partition with that file system.
You may find that after you've installed your favorite distro on an XFS partition, on first boot-up you'll be greeted with this disheartening error message (as I saw on Ubuntu):
Serious errors were found while checking the disk drive for /. Press I to ignore, S to skip mounting or M for manual.
As scary as that message looks, there was nothing wrong with the disk. The problem was simply that since package XFSprogs was not installed by default, there were no XFS file system checking utilities. Thus, file system integrity could not be checked on boot-up and the attempt to do so failed. The simple solution is to press I to "ignore" and then after boot-up, install XFSprogs. On subsequent restarts, the error message should be absent.
Now that I've hyped XFS, I should probably mention that there are a few other ancient alternatives passed down to us by our ancestors. Why not simply go back to good old ext3? Probably not a good idea, for the reason it was abandoned in the first place - it was slow. Indeed, the old ext2 file system was significantly faster than ext3, but it lacked a journal. Aside from lackluster performance, ext3 had a few other drawbacks which you can read about here.
Another competitor in the file system wars is ReiserFS. Once very popular, it was the default on a number of distros I used (SUSE, for example). However, the murder conviction of chief developer Hans Reiser put a dark cloud over the whole project and no one really likes to talk about it. Nevertheless, the Linux kernel still has support, and if you want to try it look for the package reiserfsprogs.
One more alternative is JFS (the Journaled File System). This is an open-source implementation of a commercial file system that was used on IBM's trusty old AIX operating system. From what I understand, it works well enough though I've never used it personally. I don't know any distros that default to JFS, but it's still supported in the Linux kernel. The package you'll need is jfsutils. Using JFS might at least give you the warm fuzzy feeling of knowing that it was developed by a major brand-name tech company.
On the other hand, my personal favorite, XFS, was also a corporate spin-off. Developed by the now-defunct SGI (Silicon Graphics, Inc), it was the star file system of the IRIX OS and was considered very advanced for its time. Now that SGI is no longer with us, all development work on XFS has ceased. Given the fact that such development has introduced bugs into ext4, that might be a good thing.
|Released Last Week
Ryan Finnie has announced the release of Finnix 106, a small, self-contained, bootable Linux CD distribution for system administrators, based on Debian's testing branch: "Today I am pleased to announce the release of Finnix 106, which contains an important kernel update as well as minor fixes and improvements. Finnix 106 includes Linux kernel 3.5, and notably fixes a major bug observed in Finnix 105 where booting would freeze if the system's disk included an extended partition. With Finnix 105, Project NEALE was announced - an effort to build Finnix releases in a completely automated and normalized way. Finnix 105 was the first release to be produced with NEALE, but the build infrastructure was not available to the public at the time. For Finnix 106, the build infrastructure has been finished and released to the public." See the release announcement and release notes for more details.
Parabola GNU/Linux 2012.10.17
André Fabian Silva Delgado has announced the release of Parabola GNU/Linux 2012.10.17, a new version of the project's Arch-based distribution containing strictly free software only: "There is a new install medium available. We plan to release new installation media monthly. The live system can be used for new installs or as a rescue system. We have updated packages, fixed bugs and we have done the following visible changes: first medium with Linux-libre 3.6 (3.6.2) with Atheros AR8162 (ALX driver) support; the script boot parameter works again; when booting via PXE and NFS or NBD the ISO will be copied to RAM to ensure a more stable usage; the live medium contains usb_modeswitch and wvdial which allows to establish a network connection using an UMTS USB dongle; the newest version of systemd and netcfg are included...." Read the remainder of the release announcement for further details.
Dimitris Tzemos has announced the release of Slackel KDE-4.9.2, a live Slackware-based distribution with the very latest KDE desktop environment: "Slackel Live KDE-4.9.2 has been released. A collection of two KDE live DVD images are immediately available that can be burned to a DVD or used with a USB drive. The Slackel live DVD images include Linux kernel 3.2.29. Slackel Live KDE-4.9.2 includes the current tree of Slackware Linux and KDE 4.9.2, accompanied by a rich collection of KDE-centric software. Firefox 16.0.2, KMail, KTorrent, Akregator, Kopete, OpenJRE 7u9, Pidgin, gFTP, GParted, wicd, slapt-get and Gslapt, sourcery. In the multimedia section Bangarang 2.1, Clementine 1.0.1, K3b 2.0.2 are all included." See the release announcement to find out more about the release.
Bob Beck has announced the release of OpenBSD 5.2, a free, multi-platform BSD-based UNIX-like operating system: "We are pleased to announce the official release of OpenBSD 5.2. This is our 32nd release on CD-ROM. We remain proud of OpenBSD's record of more than ten years with only two remote holes in the default install. As in our previous releases, 5.2 provides significant improvements, including new features, in nearly all areas of the system. The most significant change in this release is the replacement of the user-level uthreads by kernel-level rthreads, allowing multithreaded programs to utilize multiple CPUs/cores. Some highlights: GNOME 3.4.2, KDE 3.5.10, Xfce 4.10, MySQL 5.1.63, PostgreSQL 9.1.4, Postfix 2.9.3, Mozilla Firefox 3.5.19, 3.6.28 and 13.0.1, Mozilla Thunderbird 13.0.1, LibreOffice 3.5.5...." See the OpenBSD 5.2 release page which includes a detailed list of all changes and improvements.
Tiny Core Linux 4.7
Robert Shingledecker has released version 4.7 of Tiny Core Linux, a minimalist but extensible graphical Linux distribution for desktop computers. From the release announcement: "I am pleased to announce the release of Core 4.7. Change log: updated ondemand to support scm extensions and icons from both tcz and scm; updated wbar - to support scm ondemand icons; updated scmapps GUI for new ondemand maintenance and download option; updated scm-load - new option -wo ondemand download; updated tc-functions - added new support functions; updated scm to interface to updated scmaps GUI; new scm-run to support scriptable load and launch scm style extensions; updated filetool - new GUI access to filetool.lst, .xfiletool.lst, and backup options; updated filetool.sh to interface to updated filetool GUI; updated apps GUI - New Check Onboot Unneeded and changes required by ondemand scm support...."
Arch Linux 2012.11.01
Pierre Schmitz has announced the availability of Arch Linux 2012.11.01, the latest of the regular installation CD images that the project providing a popular rolling-release Linux distribution now makes available at the beginning of each month. This is mostly a bug-fix release. From the release announcement: "The latest snapshot of our install and rescue media can be found on our download page. The 2012.11.01 ISO image mainly contains minor bug fixes, cleanups and new packages compared to the previous one: first media with Linux kernel 3.6; copytoram=n can be used to not copy the image to RAM on network boot - this is probably unreliable but an option for systems with very low memory; cowfile_size boot parameter mainly for persistent COW on VFAT, see the README file for details."
DragonFly BSD 3.2.1
Justin Sherrill has announced the release of DragonFly BSD 3.2.1, an updated version of the BSD operating system originally forked from FreeBSD 4: "The 3.2.1 release of DragonFly BSD is available now. Significant work has gone into the scheduler to improve performance, using postgres benchmarking as a measure. See the PDF of graphed results to see the improvements. DragonFly should be now one of the best selections for PostgreSQL and other databases. USB4BSD has been incorporated into this release. More USB devices are compatible with DragonFly, and xhci (USB 3.0) users may be able to take full advantage of their newer hardware. Since this is a new feature, it is available in 3.2 but not built by default." See the release announcement and the release notes for further information.
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
|Around the Web
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New distributions added to waiting list|
- Maui. Maui aims to be a user-friendly desktop operating system which aims to reduce the learning curve required from new users. It has an appliance-like approach and one of the project's goals is to have a distribution which can boot in under four seconds.
- sposkpat. A single purpose operating system designed to offer a distraction in the form of the Kpatience card game.
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DistroWatch database summary
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This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 12 November 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 • reports of XFS's demise are exaggerated! (by greenpossum on 2012-11-05 10:42:52 GMT from Australia) |
>Now that SGI is no longer with us, all development work on XFS has ceased.
Not so! Dave Chinner has been hard at work and large improvements were reported earlier this year, see the first link.
2 • Tips and Tricks (or about JFS) (by Anonymous on 2012-11-05 11:00:42 GMT from Brazil)
One may use JFS, of course. I've did that for some time, based on this old article (http://www.debian-administration.org/articles/388), from which I concluded JFS was the filesystem which consumes CPU the minimum. That time, I had an old machine which very little CPU resources, and using JFS seemed to make it work better, smoother.
However, I noticed that when commands like "find / ..." run in a JFS filesystem, everything else is *very* sacrificed. It seems to be a result of some options assumed in the heart of JFS.
The same article put XFS in a gold place, if one has sufficient resources, which is reasonable for current hardware.
3 • Lost Hard Drive! What am I going to do? (by JS on 2012-11-05 11:39:12 GMT from United States)
I'll tell you what I did, I installed Linux on a spare Sandisk I have, and got my computer running again with hardly any noticeable difference. You can't save yourself that way with Windows. With Linux, you don't need a hard drive, unless you are a heavy gamer or need space beyond that of a Sandisk. My Sandisk is only 8 gigs, but that is all I need.
4 • What about btrfs? (by Alok on 2012-11-05 11:44:40 GMT from India)
I thought Btrfs merited a mention. Its fast and supports journals and snapshots and what not.
5 • Tails and Ext4 (by Barnabyh on 2012-11-05 11:49:12 GMT from United Kingdom)
Thanks to this review I will try Tails soon for my privacy needs, had Tor previously on my now old Slackware 13.37 box with most traffic routed through it, but the hd crashed. It seems a bit too old now to roll it back onto the replacement.
Which brings me to the second topic. I never trusted ext4 fully, although I can't provide any links I seem to recall postings about corruption and data disappearing very early on, and had a few instances myself although it's ghard to prove for me as the version of PCManFM which I was using at the time was also said to cause data loss and data corruption.
Anyway, funny enough both partitions that developed unrecoverable faults were using ext4, even a low level reformat does not help once you got damaged blocks. It may be related or not, but it became more problematic after using my own 3.4 kernel for a while, and from then on I frequently got I/O errors, 100% cpu spike and freezes due to being unable to read the fs.
So I'm back to reliable, fast, good old Xfs as well, ext2 for the boot partition and Puppy. As pointed out by Robert, and this goes for Puppy and derivatives too, most need xfsprogs added which is a quick affair indeed.
Also, don't forget to change fstab for the reformatted partitions.
@3 Very nice indeed.
6 • Claws/Gmail and Debian default desktop. (by iki on 2012-11-05 12:06:59 GMT from Brazil)
Claws is light and works great but when using with Gmail a few months ago it flooded the message thread with partial messages (like if it was saving drafts as full sent messages) so I stick with Thunderbird.
I think Debian should go with Xfce if it was 4.10 but since it seems they are stuck with 4.8 ...
7 • ext4 data corruption bug (by megadriver on 2012-11-05 12:24:10 GMT from Spain)
Oh, no. Not the ext4 thing again.
I haven't posted here in a while, but today duty calls! :)
Everybody should read this:
The tone of today's article sounds dangerously close to FUD, IMHO.
I'm running Arch testing, and I've had zero data loss with ext4. Even after some recent "dirty" reboots due to blackouts, it's been rock solid here. The experience of others may be different, of course, but this particular bug is definitively not the culprit, unless you do some really weird stuff with your ext4 filesystem, as explained in the link above.
All modern filesystems are complicated things, so they are expected to have bugs. I doubt current ext4 is particularly worse than others that regard. If you have important data that you can't afford to lose, no matter the filesystem you use, regular backups should be made. It's common sense!
On a lighter note, I must say the concept of the sposkpat distro highly amuses me. :)
8 • EFF sugests diff desktop (Ubuntu) (by John Dough on 2012-11-05 12:42:09 GMT from Canada)
Yep, it's called Kubuntu, polished and it works. I have a little rule of my own, if I want a certain DE, I go with a distro that has that DE as the default, everything is more likely to work.
9 • Filing Systems (by Looking for basics on 2012-11-05 12:52:12 GMT from Canada)
Have been using Reiserfs version 3 for years now without any trouble. Find it faster than ext and possibly more efficient on using disk space (going by memory on that - can't find my install notes from years ago doing the comparison). In some cases, with tons of small database files, had to format with extra inodes on ext systems. Plus there was the irritating bootup delay at some intervals while doing a fschk (seem to recall from the manpage there are options to control when and at what intervals this is performed). With reiserfs, this is all done in the background, no issues with inodes encountered so far, and have never had any trouble with it.
Never got around to playing with reiserfs version 4. It was during it's develpment phase that the whole scandal over Hans Reiser's conviction erupted, delaying further work on that filing system. Would be curious to know if others have played around with reiserfs 4, what their experiences were, and how performance ranked with the other filing systems.
Final question, never answered from previous post a few weeks ago, concerns status and performance of a suitable recovery tool for btrfs. Btrfs is supposed to be almost ready for prime time, but would you trust your data to a system without a recovery tool or a proven track record?
10 • ext4 (by Jesse on 2012-11-05 13:16:45 GMT from Canada)
>> " I never trusted ext4 fully, although I can't provide any links I seem to recall postings about corruption and data disappearing very early on"
Yes, ext4 did have some problems very early on in its development. As almost all file systems do until they've had a wide range of testing under a wide variety of loads. This is why I usually recommend people use a file system that isn't the latest and greatest. For example, all my machines still use ext3 instead of ext4 or brtfs. When new releases of ZFS come out I hang back a version or two as I figure, with file systems, if it's not broke, don't fix it.
>> "The tone of today's article sounds dangerously close to FUD, IMHO. I'm running Arch testing, and I've had zero data loss with ext4."
Most people won't have data loss, even with this bug. That doesn't mean the bug doesn't exist. It's there, it's being worked on and, for those few people it affects, it's quite serious.
11 • Is the EXT4 problem exaggerated? (by David Smith on 2012-11-05 14:33:19 GMT from Canada)
I use ext4 exclusively for several linux installations both at home and work, have done for quite a few years, so like many I was initially quite concerned about the report of a rather devastating-sounding bug manifesting in latest kernels. However further reading indicates the bug can only be summoned through uncommon (and frankly, pretty weird-sounding) use-cases.
If you take a spin through current Fedora and Ubuntu forums, you will encounter some discussions about the bug, but virtually no reports of it actually hitting users.
So based on that, yes this is being exaggerated. And it's unclear to me if the underlying issue is with ext4 per se, or with newer kernels handling of it.
12 • EXT4 corruption (by claydoh on 2012-11-05 15:05:55 GMT from United States)
This is all anecdotal, just like anyon'es account of everything beeing peechy keen, but I have seen a small handful of users report similar hard drive issues where suddenly errors pop up up about foo.conf being unwritable: check permissions, followed by an automatic fsck upon reboot, which fixes it for a while. I myself thought I had 2 bad drives due to these errors because of the frequency of this happening. But surprisingly they are quite fine now, running as external usb drives. My internal drive is now a small ssd with no EXT4 issues at all.
While I think that the particular bug mentioned is probably not what is effecting these users, it may very well be a different bug. But alas, how do we reproduce it and how do we discover where or what it is? That is the tough part.
13 • XFS and that old recovery problem chestnut (by gord on 2012-11-05 16:25:21 GMT from United Kingdom)
the thing that stops me using XFS is that the only recovery tool I know of is a commercial offering. I could be unlucky, but I've lost about 5 XFS volumes over the years, all due to "sudden volume dissaperance" (partitions there, filesystems don;t get recognised by xfs_repair or _dump. Of those, 4 of them could be about 90% recovered using the commercial recovery suite, most of those with filename intact but not directory heirarchy.
Does anyone know of a FOSS file-level (not block-level like dd_rescue et al) that can recovery files from borked XFS volumes?
14 • ext4 corruption rider (by gord (again) on 2012-11-05 16:28:23 GMT from United Kingdom)
it should be pointed out again that the recent corruptions are just that: recent, and afflict only recent kernels.
Don't run bleeding edge if you love your data. In fact, I personally run middle-ground ZFS, because I love my data ;)
15 • Tails review (by Fabio on 2012-11-05 16:50:14 GMT from United States)
Very nice review Jesse, few issues back a Linux magazine in the UK (and where else anyway? in the USA aint no Linux magazines..no comment..) was giving out a dvd with Tails
The only thing I don't like about Tails is that it doesn't fit into a CD. Not sure how important is GIMP and Inkscape are, these are application for pros, it's like why is AutoCAD not installed then? I'm sure Tails users also have their own default PC with all their sofware installed and when they want to be naughty on the web they use Tails.
16 • Alt file systems (by Patrick on 2012-11-05 16:54:57 GMT from United States)
I used to keep most of my data on an XFS file system (now I think about it... I probably still do! :-)), while my system disk has had ReiserFS or XFS, or ext4 more recently. On my SheevaPlug I've been running JFS due to its reputation for low CPU usage. I had some reservations about JFS, especially because it was hard to find anyone recommending it, but I've had zero problems with either XFS or JFS in the years I've been using them. And JFS definitely seems to run very smoothly on the little SheevaPlug CPU.
17 • ext4 bug is a non-issue for 99.99% (by Scott Dowdle on 2012-11-05 19:26:43 GMT from United States)
Linux Weekly News had a good write up on how the ext4 issue was overblown. Unfortunately that article is less than a week old and currently subscriber only... but it should be freely available starting Thursday, Nov. 8th (https://lwn.net/Articles/521803/). Yeah there is a bug... but there are bugs everywhere... what's important is what it takes to hit the bug and how many people it affects. According to everything I've read, one has to really go out of their way by changing default options and so far as I know, none of the distros do that by default. That begs the question, how could Robert Story run into the issue 2 times without doing (one would assume) the manual steps necessary to create the conditions that would trigger the bug? The answer is that he couldn't have. Obviously he ran into some other issue... but what issue was it? That would be interesting to know... because whatever it was, wasn't this bug.
I totally agree that his article as it is now, is complete and utter FUD. I'm not saying he wrote it as FUD on purpose but that is what it is.
18 • Bugs, bugs everywhere (by Jesse on 2012-11-05 19:43:49 GMT from Canada)
>> "but there are bugs everywhere... what's important is what it takes to hit the bug and how many people it affects."
There is a third factor I feel needs to be in that list: what happens when the bug is triggered? A bug which causes my instant messenger client to crash is a minor annoyance. A bug which causes the data on my hard drive is become corrupted or disappear is a pretty serious bug.
>> "Obviously he ran into some other issue... but what issue was it? That would be interesting to know... because whatever it was, wasn't this bug. I totally agree that his article as it is now, is complete and utter FUD."
If you are right and he ran into a separate bug that causes the data on a hard drive to become corrupted, wouldn't that indicated the problem is much _more_ serious rather than less serious? The idea that there is a second, yet unknown bug which affects multiple distributions and causes data loss sounds like a pretty big deal to me. I'm hoping you're wrong and it is the same bug and, once it's fixed, the issue can be laid to rest.
19 • ext4 bug fixed? (by Nick on 2012-11-05 20:23:17 GMT from United Kingdom)
It seems that the infamous bug is fixed now (in kernel 3.6.6).
See commit ffb5387e85d528fb6d0d924abfa3fbf0fc484071 at the bottom of: http://www.kernel.org/pub/linux/kernel/v3.0/ChangeLog-3.6.6
Or am I missing something?
20 • ext4 bug fixed? (by Nick on 2012-11-05 20:26:40 GMT from United Kingdom)
I mean commit dab43b73a7c7317f941c1314e9a77374ba8999ee
21 • Speed up ext3? (by uz64 on 2012-11-05 20:41:26 GMT from United States)
Yeah, ext3 is slow. But you can mount it with the ext4 driver for some increased performance. Hey, the bug supposedly only affects ext4 file systems, right? I seriously doubt that mounting an ext3 file system with the ext4 driver will trigger this bug, but you never know. To be sure you're on the safe side you could also mount it with the ext3 driver at the expense of speed, but when it comes to potentially devastating data loss, that's a sacrifice that may be worth it.
ext3 does not do delayed allocation by default unlike ext4, so at least you'll know for sure that when you copy a file over, it is transferred immediately, no wait... so you could pull the plug after the drive is done grinding and probably suffer no major loss. Which is more than can be said about ext4, which waits until it feels like it to actually write data to disk, so you may end up with a file full of zeros or something unless you enter the "sync" command first. All in an effort to speed the file system up (apparently it's worked, because you're complaining about its predecessor's speed).
XFS is good, I agree--I used to use it in my first years on Linux, and I liked the fact that it comes with a defragmentation program. JFS is also very nice; no defragmentation program, maybe not quite as fast as XFS overall, but lighter on resources.
22 • Another bug? (by Scott Dowdle on 2012-11-05 21:40:17 GMT from United States)
@18 - Jesse
That's just it. I find it hard to believe that a second bug exists... like Robert reports... because if it did, and were so easy to trigger... there would be all kinds of people having issues. The fact that there aren't should indicate something else. What that something else is, I don't know... but yeah, I'd like someone to look into it. All we have so far is one guy (unless there are others?) who says he easily triggered the bug in question twice from default installs... which, as all technical reports on the issue show, ranges from extremely unlikely to impossible. You seem to want to claim that that is proof that ext4 is even more flawed that we thought. I'm not trying to turn this into a pissing match. I just want level headed, factual reporting... not speculation based on anecdotal evidence. Did he report the issue to the distros? Do they already have bug reports on this? You'd think the distros would be all over it... if it were... indeed... real.
Regarding XFS, I too hear it is a fine filesystem... but like some other commenter here mentioned... I've heard reports that if it ever has issues, it can be problematic to repair. I have no real evidence of that and it would be wrong for me to make negative claims about XFS as a result. I feel somewhat dirty even writing that.
23 • Linux, Get Over It (by AndySysops on 2012-11-05 23:22:05 GMT from United States)
I see ext4 as Linux's not-invented-here syndrome playing catch-up with XFS, which long ago had journals and extents, the "new and improved" bits in ext4.
You can run ext4 sans journal (and so this bug). On flash drives, you should:
mkfs.ext4 -v -t ext4 -i 8192 -O ^has_journal -L MyDiskName /dev/disk/by-id/...
Nowadays Tso himself wants Btrfs. Then there is ZFS. Seems that ext4 is a lost bastard child. The zealotry of ext4 advocates claiming "anecdotal" "FUD" puzzles me. Linux has an ego.
I love the phony h-online party lines on this bug. There's the usual cop-out; all software has bugs. Then comes this vagueness: "XFS...has become stuck on the sidelines." What does "stuck" mean? XFS works better than ext* and has for years. If Linux kernel dweebs would promote it, and stop the not-invented-here attitudes, then people would use XFS more.
ext3 data loss first drove me to XFS. I've used XFS for many years with none whatsoever, lightning crashes and all. I even use XFS-formatted TrueCrypt volumes.
Linux practices subtle vendor lock-in almost as well as Apple and Microsoft. The result: the single most cross-platform filesystem is Microsoft FAT.
Linux distros should all ship XFS/NTFS/FAT/HFS+ tools stock, and compile kernels with full support. Linux (zealotry) says one can recompile a kernel, or modprobe or apt-get . Yeah, right! Explain those tricks to your auntie or beer buddy. I sometimes wonder if Linux really wants to win the desktop, or just prove its 31it3n355.
My own philosophy avoids all Linux-native journals. I will use ext4 sans journal. If I want a journal, I will use XFS.
I've not yet tried ZFS, but only because Linux vendor lock-in / license lock-out makes it harder to use than XFS.
Linux needs to get over itself. Some systemd critics say it's really becoming the "RedHat Linux kernel" now - with special systemd tweaks which only RedHat uses - yet another corporate product.
I've personally felt that potty-mouth Linus prefers his monolithic kernel not because it's technically superior to microkernels, but because it means full political control. A technically superior microkernel architecture would mean yielding power to outsiders. So goes so much of this whole Linux show, just like corporate PR, political / marketing / lock-in gimmicks masquerading as "technical improvements."
Good riddance, ext4.
24 • NIH and lock-in (by Scott Dowdle on 2012-11-06 01:08:11 GMT from United States)
@23 - AndySysops
I see very little support for your claims regarding NIH and lock-in.
Regarding Red Hat... thanks for filling us all in... and exposing Red Hat as the secret open source / free software developer secretly locking us all in... well those of us using systemd. They *TOTALLY* had me fooled with that 10-12% of total kernel development each kernel release... making them the #1 company sponsor... oh... for years now. Obviously they do that, as well as all of the other development on things like libvirt, guestfs, libreoffice, gcc, glibc, gnome, x11, etc... and all of that stuff... just to draw us into their nefarious plan.
If there were only stats to show the deployment stats for the various filesystems on Linux... I'm so sure XFS would win. (cough) But seriously, you like XFS and it works for you, great! More power too you. One feature I like is how XFS supports really large filesystems. ext2/3/4 has historically lagged behind in that and some other areas... but for general purpose use cases, it ain't so bad.
25 • second EXT4 bug (by Cnadide on 2012-11-06 01:50:19 GMT from Taiwan)
There Might Be Another EXT4 Corruption Bug
Posted by Michael Larabel on November 01, 2012
It was only days ago that an EXT4 file-system corruption bug affected the stable Linux kernel, which was finally patched yesterday. Now though it looks like there may be another EXT4 corruption bug affecting the stable kernel.
(see above link for more)
26 • Re. 23 (by uz64 on 2012-11-06 02:49:53 GMT from United States)
"I see ext4 as Linux's not-invented-here syndrome playing catch-up with XFS, which long ago had journals and extents, the "new and improved" bits in ext4."
Well, you must not know that XFS was originally released by SGI for IRIX in 1994, and until 2000 it was not even released under the GPL. In other words, even if people did want to use the file system in Linux... they couldn't, until SGI re-licensed and began porting it themselves. By this time Linux already had its own native file system, ext2, and ext3 was already on its path to coming to existence and replacing it. The whole point of ext4 was, unsurprisingly, meant to provide the same important feature to Linux users that ext3 did: full backwards compatibility with its predecessor (until you enable extents, at least). Hate to break it to you, but XFS--as good as it is--did not and could not do this.
Don't like ext4? Well, don't use it, there are many alternatives in a typical Linux distribution installer. Don't want other people to use ext4? Then why don't you make your own distribution that is XFS-exclusive and try to get people to use it, or just suggest the people you know to use XFS?
"If Linux kernel dweebs would promote it, and stop the not-invented-here attitudes, then people would use XFS more."
Really? It's the job of the Linux kernel guys to promote every obscure feature feature now? I could've swore it was up to the distribution maintainers, who can choose to compile in any feature they want, or leave it out. And in the case of XFS... it is not only readable in almost every distribution, but many also even offer XFS as an option during the install process.
"ext3 data loss first drove me to XFS. I've used XFS for many years with none whatsoever, lightning crashes and all. I even use XFS-formatted TrueCrypt volumes."
ext3 data loss? Never experienced it. XFS data loss? Never experienced that either, although technically due to the way XFS handles disk writes with delayed allocation (just like ext4 introduced), you'd be more likely to end up with a file of all zeros if the power goes out when a file is waiting to be written to an XFS file system.
"Linux practices subtle vendor lock-in almost as well as Apple and Microsoft."
Oh, sure they do. Once again, just use another god damn file system. Hell, use FAT32 or NTFS for /home if you really want. Just don't expect permissions to work properly when using a non-UNIX file system.
"The result: the single most cross-platform filesystem is Microsoft FAT."
Unfortunately this is true, but it is not due to the nonsense you're blabbering on about. It's due to portable device manufacturers (digital camera, portable digital audio player, GPS, hell even Android-based cell phone) insisting on using FAT due to its extreme simplicity to implement and refusal to support anything else. No joke, I have an Android phone and it will NOT read a microSD card that is not formatted in FAT... not even ext2 works on it. And it runs... *gasp*... Linux. Can't get any more native than that, but manufacturers just don't want to support more than FAT. Too bad--because we're the ones buying their products and effectively paying them back for their R&D in the first place.
"Linux distros should all ship XFS/NTFS/FAT/HFS+ tools stock, and compile kernels with full support."
You know what? In a perfect world, you're 100% right. But how much you wanna bet Microsoft will never take those steps with Windows, allowing UFS/UFS2, ext2/3/4, JFS, XFS, ZFS, etc. right upon installation in their OS? So the reality is, it goes both ways. If you really want to encourage people who don't even know WTF they're doing to be granted full R/W access in Linux to NTFS, a closed-spec proprietary that has had to be reverse-engineered just to get running and Microsoft can change at any time... well, I'll just say, you must not have thought that idea through too well.
That said, most distros' installers I've come across allow you to mount partitions (yes, even those with NTFS on them) during the system installation. I tend to avoid doing this myself though and use fstab when I first boot the machine, because I'd rather not risk screwing something up or accidentally formatting a partition that shouldn't be. And I have very little use for NTFS these days, maybe a bit of read-only use every once in a while, but it seems that many (most?) distros come with NTFS-3G already installed... isn't the reverse of that what you're complaining about? That distros don't come with NTFS support, and that they should? So what's the point?
"Linux (zealotry) says one can recompile a kernel, or modprobe or apt-get . Yeah, right! Explain those tricks to your auntie or beer buddy. I sometimes wonder if Linux really wants to win the desktop, or just prove its 31it3n355."
Wow. If you really think that typing something like "sudo apt-get install jfsutils xfsutils ntfsprogs ntfs-3g" is too much voodoo for someone to be typing into what they'll probably just call a "black box," then maybe you could try teaching them the GUI frontend to their distribution's package manager? Or, you know... just do all that scary voodoo black magic yourself? How about you actually help your auntie and beer buddy, just like you probably are now as they sit in front of a Windows machine, instead of whining on forums that you shouldn't have to help users, that everything should just work?
I always thought it was highly ironic how Windows always seemed to get the free pass, and Linux--no matter how many strides it makes toward usability to the technically-braindead masses--is always targeted by people complaining that everything should just work. Hint: Even in the Windows world, that is just NOT THE CASE. My own latest experiences of this come from none other than... drumroll... Windows 8.
"Linux needs to get over itself."
I'm starting to think someone else needs to get over them self...
"Good riddance, ext4."
Okay, so if you have in fact decided to use some common sense and make up your own mind not to use ext4, then what the hell was that rant for?
27 • Re. 25: Debunked. (by uz64 on 2012-11-06 03:21:43 GMT from United States)
No, there's not another known ext4 file system corruption bug. From Theodore Ts'o himself:
It really does sound like Phoronix just wants ad revenue. Ubuntu is the culprit here, not ext4.
28 • Claws Mail (by mjjzf on 2012-11-06 06:10:25 GMT from Denmark)
Claws Mail remains my favorite - I wrote a little piece a while ago for making it a bit prettier: http://writtenandread.net/claws-mail-setup/
29 • ext4 bug issue (by claudecat on 2012-11-06 07:18:18 GMT from United States)
This issue has been blown way out of proportion. I'm surprised that the author was bitten by this bug in the course of doing normal distro installs, as this would appear (from all reports) to be unlikely/impossible unless certain tweaking were done and unless using very specific kernel versions. I'd be more inclined to suspect hardware issues than this bug being encountered with this degree of regularity under these circumstances.
The piece here on DW seems to lend more credence to an issue that is already solved (patch has been out for almost a week now and is being backported to all affected kernels) than it deserves. I won't go so far as to call it FUD, but it is a non-issue for the vast (and I do mean VAST) majority of users.
30 • @23 (by lusr on 2012-11-06 15:43:10 GMT from United States)
I think your computer science teachers are still teaching you from books written in the '80s, when the word "micro-kernel" was associated with a future utopia. -Theo de Raadt
31 • ext4 and microkernel (by GODhack on 2012-11-06 21:09:06 GMT from Lithuania)
I know some micro-kernel fans they run Minix and do not try to tell them that Linux is better. I understand them. But guy suggesting Linux to become Minix was funny one.
Those who suggest XFS to Linux mainstream should use this as start point:
Happy ext4 user. ;)
32 • #31 (by zykoda on 2012-11-07 07:54:09 GMT from United Kingdom)
Anything later than 2009? This applies to GRUB legacy?
33 • #31 (by GODhack on 2012-11-07 15:53:21 GMT from Lithuania)
~ same GRUB 2 or 1. http://archlinux.2023198.n4.nabble.com/grub2-and-xfs-seems-not-to-work-td2038433.html etc. Of course you can use ext2 for /boot xfs for / etc.
34 • File systems are a good place to be conservative (by Gnobuddy on 2012-11-07 20:59:09 GMT from United States)
Whatever small performance gains the "new and improved" file systems promised weren't worth the risk of data loss to me, which is why I've stuck with ext3 on /home on all my Linux boxes, and ext2 for / as well as for any USB keys I plan to use only on my own computers (all of which run Linux).
The biggest performance gains in file I/O operations seem to come from increases in drive spindle rotation speed and/or switching to SSD's, not from changes to the file system.
35 • NOT ext4 and absolutely NOT Reiser! (by YaYo on 2012-11-07 23:17:17 GMT from United States)
If you're now looking for another filesystem to use other than ext4 then JFS may be something to seriously consider. I particularly perked up when I saw that the latest iteration of JFS now supports TRIM (as of 2012). [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JFS_(file_system) ] That means SSHD's should now be better supported. It also suggests that IBM does indeed still have a hand in the ongoing development. But if you use JFS then you should probably also be aware of the two different versions (and possibly a need for a more beefy CPU)!
JFS1 appears to really only be intended for AIX systems. JFS2, which is referred to as simply as JFS, is more for the Linux crowd. It's not likely that anyone will accidentally install JFS1 since that has more or less been abandoned in most Linux circles. But it may be possible if you use a really old or off beat distro to prepare your system with. Therefore, be aware that JFS2 is the JFS filesystem that you probably want to use if you're going to prepare a standard workstation. (And just like XFS needing xfsprogs, you'll also need the jfsutils to prepare with.)
Robert Storey's suggestion (author of the article "Ext4 Data Corruption Bug and Solution") to possibly consider the ReiserFS also seemed like a good alternative. And I might have wanted to try it. But!!! I am not exactly at ease with the idea of the developer Mr. Hans Reiser being a convicted murderer! Granted, Reiser was convicted of a crime of passion by killing his Russian mail order wife. But to me, that just goes to show how neither of them had very good judgement (although mostly him). I could go on but I think my objections should also be somewhat obvious when considering the potential coercion factor that Mr. Reiser may be under from other inmates while he serves time in the California/Federal penal system. Therefore, trusting the ReiserFS filesystem would sort of like be trusting Bernie Madoff (of the infamous Madoff 100-billion-dollar pyramid investment scandal) to manage my books or even have access to my bank account. It's just NOT gonna happen.
36 • re 35) "Not ext4 and absolutely NOT Reiser!" (by Looking for basics on 2012-11-08 00:35:37 GMT from Canada)
Just curious; if Isaac Newton had hypothetically been convicted of murder, would you deny the existence of Gravity, convinced that apples must always fall UP?
So far as I can recall, Reiser had the support of a whole development team and they continued development of reiserfs version 4 after he was imprisoned for life. I suppose it is possible he may still offer some support in an advisory role, but most likely he is completely out of the picture now. While caution is to be commended, especially with respect to computer security, it would be nice to have some facts, or at least some references before giving a wholesale condemnation.
As for potential for troublemaking; conside the NT filing system (probably one of the most widely used systems in use at the moment): It is possible to hide data in streams within the filing system itself where no one could find it short of resorting to forensic techniques (eg - doing a direct byte analysis of the data on the hard drive).
The upshot is, ALL filing systems go through a testing and gradual rollout process. This appears to be where btrfs is at right now; the last holdup to widespread deployment being a proven recovery tool. Until we get there, rieserfs (well, at least version3) MAY be another alternative for some users....
37 • reiserfs (by DrCR on 2012-11-08 03:46:21 GMT from United States)
I always use reiserfs for OS. XFS and JFS for data storage. (I'm using JFS at the moment though.)
Reiser's conviction through some ice on Reiser4, was well as unmet hype from what I recall, but reiserfs was already well established by that point.
38 • Tor from inside China (by Terence on 2012-11-08 23:14:48 GMT from China)
I read the review of TAILS and decided to download it. As I live in China, I need a way to connect to the net without the great firewall censoring what sites I decide to visit (I also have a VPN, but lately it has proven impossible to connect to). Unfortunately, TOR seems to have great difficulty as well. Any suggestions on how to use TOR effectively from within China? I am a total newb with regards to using it.
39 • @38 Tails & Terence (by greg on 2012-11-09 08:11:13 GMT from Slovenia)
Have you tried Liberte linux? it seem TOR is configured preety much automagically there...
40 • RE: 27 - 34 -36 - 38 (by Landor on 2012-11-09 16:23:22 GMT from Canada)
How do you know that Ubuntu is the problem? I'm not an Ubuntu fanboi either.
I have to agree completely. If you want problem free then use EXT2 and EXT3. The sanity behind your choice is obvious. A lot of people could easily say, 'But the chances are", and yet the chances exist. As you do, I personally prefer something far more robust when it comes to my data, and it's EXT2 and EXT3.
Well said. I've never been vocal about the filesystem myself but I hold the exact same opinion and refuse to even mention it by name.. In a community where a large number of the members are here include philosophical reasons it's a given that we would draw a definitive line. I'm quite sure most of those that denounce such reasoning would protesting against any applications created by, or linked to someone in some manner that created massive atrocities. The number shouldn't be an issue here.
Here's a link to the Tor Project's website, and its documentation page.
Keep your stick on the ice...
41 • correction (by Landor on 2012-11-09 17:17:39 GMT from Canada)
RE:36 should be RE: 35
Keep your stick on the ice...
42 • I don't use JFS due to bad experiences with it (by b_brain on 2012-11-09 17:36:23 GMT from United States)
A number of years ago I had whole directories of data spontaneously disappear, for no apparently reason, from JFS partitions. After the third such occurrence, I switched away from JFS without ever looking back.
I've also used ext2, ext3, ext4, XFS and Reiserfs as well as a number of Unix file systems without having any such problems.
JFS is supposed to be fast and a light resource user, but that has never been enough to make me want to risk my data on it again.
43 • #38 great firewall (by jondo on 2012-11-10 02:03:56 GMT from Australia)
you could try jondo livecd
but look on the bright side, the great firewall could be helping to keep you safe from cybertrolls :)
44 • openSUSE? (by Mac on 2012-11-10 02:23:45 GMT from United States)
I hate to be this way but people here I like to read have said suse in the past. Tried for 3hrs to get the clock to default to cst hay and if you visit the website they think root access is not good. This is what I like about linux is doing it my way and hay openSUSE 12.2 is a joke IMHO. Long live debain.
Have fun Mack
45 • Slax 7 development release (by RollMeAway on 2012-11-10 18:51:56 GMT from United States)
Very promising. KDE4.9.3 desktop in a 183 MB iso.
No trace of akonadi/nepomuk/strigi..etc. The dev has trimmed ALL the fat from KDE.
This is the first release from any distro to do this! Wonder why?
I have compiled gentoo kde4 without the fat, but Slax-7 is the ONLY public release, I know of, to do so.
It is a shame slax is not a conventional install. It is 'live' only, using modules to add apps. While it can be copied to a hard drive and booted, still not quite the same.
The release is not "usable in production" yet, as most of the modules still have to be compiled.
When slax 7 final release occurs, I expect it will draw a bit of attention.
46 • @ 45 - KDE fat (by Ralph on 2012-11-11 01:22:16 GMT from Canada)
I was under the impression that Kubuntu had a "kde-light" option that doesn't install Nepomuk, etc.?
47 • @ 46: kde-light (by RollMeAway on 2012-11-11 06:26:53 GMT from United States)
I have done a web search for "kde-light" and "kde-lite" .
Best I could discover is a couple of distros that leave out most of kde's applications, and call it lite.
If you can provide any link to such a creature, I'm sure many would be interested.
48 • There is a serious Phoronix Corruption Bug (by Trizt on 2012-11-11 08:04:50 GMT from Sweden)
Please delete the "Ext4 Data Corruption Bug and Solution", just bad to spread misinformation, phoronix is just making scandal journalism, writing things without really understand what he is writing about and blow out pseudo news like it would be the end of the world.
49 • 48 Imperfection Notification - it's a healthy thing (by Fossilizing Dinosaur on 2012-11-11 17:49:03 GMT from United States)
A serious data corruption programming error was noted, which reminds us all that a compendium of efforts of many imperfect human beings, no matter how careful, can still be imperfect.
That's a healthy thing for us to be mindful of, and reminded of.
Even though the conditions for this one may be rare, it's very real, and frighteningly serious. Maybe not the end of the world, but certainly the end of an entire computer system, and data entrusted to it. Constant vigilance is a required discipline, however occasionally inconvenient.
Minimizing the problem and conning others into a false sense of security should be vigorously discouraged. Sounding a timely warning, alerting the community, should not.
50 • @ 47 - kde-minimal (by Ralph on 2012-11-11 18:22:46 GMT from Canada)
I guess the package I had in mind was kde-minimal available for ubuntu Lucid (2 years ago), at least according to the following link, where a lot of people were calling it (erroneously, I think) 'kubuntu-minimal':
I did not read the discussion very carefully, so I don't know if Nepomuk, etc. came with this metapackage. In any case, it appears you have to start out with the ubuntu minimal-CD from the CLI and install the metapackage after the base system is installed. People in the discussion are saying that even thougth kde-minimal is no more, the same or similar result can be achieved by installing either kde-desktop with the no-recommends option or kde-plasma-desktop. I doubt that the former option would avoid installing Akonadi (isn't Akonadi a dependency of Kmail?), but the later I suspect would.
In any case, what Kubuntu needs is a minimal install option right on the regular DVD. It is the case (last time I checked) that by toggling the F6 options button at the beginning of the install you have the possibility of not installing the non-free and restricted repos, and this would be the logical place for activating the minimal install.
51 • #44 - date & time in openSUSE (by Caitlyn Martin on 2012-11-11 19:04:01 GMT from United States)
#44- Mac: the date command (at the command line) works exactly the same way in openSUSE as it does in any other distro. Setting the time to CST via Yast also works for me. Both do require the root password or sudo privileges just like any other distro. I have no clue what you mean about the forums or the distro not liking root. Can you explain that?
You like Debian better. That's fine. I prefer openSUSE to Debian and i think 12.2 is a fine release. That's also fine. Normally I dismiss "it works for me" comments and I can't think of the last time I made one, but here you are claiming basic functionality that is not distro specific doesn't work. I find that very hard to believe.
Let me give you the benefit of the doubt. What steps do you take when it fails? Can you detail them?
Oh, and before someone dismisses me as a fan, please look at the last openSUSE review I wrote for DistroWatch a couple of years back. I took a lot of heat for a truly negative review. That was then. This is now. 12.2 is the best openSUSE release I've seen in quite some time. It just works and works well on my hardware.
52 • @51 (by Mac on 2012-11-12 00:27:48 GMT from United States)
The short here is in the chair and thanks for the answer. I have overcome most of my problems with suse and working on the rest. It is a pleasure to see your comments here. Have been in debain so long that all the crossover doesn't seem to work. O I have reinstalled suse on primary partition and getting along better. But at my age who knows LOL.
Have fun Mack
53 • @51 (by Mac on 2012-11-12 01:27:06 GMT from United States)
After reinstall to primary partition doesn't behave the same, must have done something different. Makes my earlier comment seam a little out of line. Will be the first to admit that was a boob boob. But just found that out today or would have ask for a delete.
Have fun Mack
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