| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 495, 18 February 2013
Welcome to this year's 7th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! This week's feature article is a first-look review of SparkyLinux 2.1 "Ultra" edition, a lightweight distribution based on Debian's "Testing" branch. As a fairly recent addition to DistroWatch, SparkyLinux is still new and fresh and as such, its development is powered by enthusiasm and excitement, sentiments not always present in many of the more established projects. But as Jesse Smith finds out, the distro still needs a bit more testing and bug fixing before he would recommend it to a wider audience. In the news section, Debian announces the availability of the first release candidate of Debian Installer for "Wheezy", Fedora developers publish a tentative release schedule of the project's next version, Kororaa Linux changes its name to Korora Project, and Xubuntu maintainers decide to remove the CD size restriction from their upcoming releases to include more software and tools. Also in this issue, a Question and Answers section on cloud privacy and version numbering in the open-source software world, the addition of Rescatux to the DistroWatch database, and the usual regular columns, including an introduction to a Turkish distribution project called ArchMint. Happy reading!
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (22MB) and MP3 (31MB) formats
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
First look at SparkyLinux 2.1 "Ultra" edition
I'm not sure what brought me to the SparkyLinux website. Maybe it was the promise of running a new distribution based on something other than Ubuntu (simply for variety's sake) or maybe it was the name. Maybe it was the result of browsing the DistroWatch distribution list late at night. Whatever the cause was I found myself on the project's website, looking at the download options. SparkyLinux 2.1 has just one edition, the "Ultra", code name "Eris", with Openbox providing the user interface. The distribution is available in 32-bit and 64-bit builds and the download image is approximately 1.3GB in size. While downloading the project's ISO image I had a look at the website and found it to be a bit sparse. I was able to learn SparkyLinux is based on Debian, specifically the distribution is built using software from the Debian Testing repository. I also learned SparkyLinux comes with multimedia codecs on the installation media and the distribution is designed to work on machines with small amounts of memory.
Booting from the SparkyLinux media we are presented with a boot menu where we can decide whether to boot into the live desktop environment using the default graphic settings or using failsafe graphic settings. Shortly after beginning the boot process we're brought to a graphical interface powered by the Openbox window manager. At the top of the screen we find our task switcher and system tray. Down at the bottom of the display is an application launcher and over to the right-hand side is the Conky status panel. The status panel constantly updates to provide us with information on the running system, particularly resource usage statistics. The theme for SparkyLinux is grey on grey, which gives the entire interface a disabled or "greyed out" look.
SparkyLinux 2.1 "Ultra" - the default desktop arrangement and theme
(full image size: 614kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
SparkyLinux has a system installer which can be opened from the desktop's launch bar. The installer is comprised of a series of small pop-up windows which will ask us to confirm settings or enter information. First the installer confirms our language and keyboard layout. Then the installer launches the GParted partition manager and we are instructed to create at least two partitions, one for the root file system and one for swap space. Using GParted limits our choice of file systems a bit as the user is able to select between creating swap, ext2, ext3 and ext4 file systems only. Once we are finished partitioning the disk the installer takes over from GParted and we are asked which partition we would like to mount as our root file system and whether we would like to use a separate partition for our home directories. Next we are asked to create a password for the root account and we are also asked to create a non-root user.
The root password and the new user account information are all entered on one screen and I found entering a password the system does not think is suitable will wipe the entire form and we are asked to start over. The installer then asks if we would like to install a boot loader on our root partition or on the system's MBR and then we select our time zone. The installer takes a few minutes to copy its files to the hard drive and then we are done. The installer asks if we would like to reboot the system or continue using the live environment. The first time I installed SparkyLinux I opted to keep using the system and then found rebooting was a bit of a challenge. The graphical environment didn't offer a reboot/shutdown option; the buttons for shutting down the system were disabled. Logging out of the graphical environment would cause the system to immediately login again. I finally opened a terminal and used the command "sudo halt" to bring down the operating system.
Booting into the locally installed version of SparkyLinux brings us to a grey themed login screen. When I first logged in to SparkyLinux a notification appeared in the upper-right corner of the screen informing me that new software updates were available. Clicking on the update icon in the system tray brings up a simple GUI program which shows us a list of available updates. Each package is displayed with its name and a brief description of what the package provides. I found this simple update app worked well and I had no problems applying updates. It's a good thing the update mechanism works so well because there is a steady flow of new software from the repositories. The first day I was using SparkyLinux there were 22 updates waiting for me, the following day there were an additional 49 updates. Over the following two days 18 more packages had been updated and the trend continued throughout the week. Most of these upgrades are provided by the Debian Testing repository, but SparkyLinux comes with several other repositories enabled, including the Google Chrome repository, the Opera web browser repository and repositories for PlayOnLinux and Debian Multimedia.
Package management on SparkyLinux is handled by the Synaptic graphical application which provides a nice front-end to the APT package management tools. Synaptic lets us search for software by name and by category. Software can be marked for installation or removal by clicking a box next to the package's name. Synaptic takes the approach of having us create batches of actions (installing or removing packages) which are then all processed at once. While these batches of actions are being processed the package manager is locked, preventing us from queuing additional actions. I found Synaptic worked quite well and I had no problems using it to manage my system's software. The only issue I ran into was with the Opera web browser repository. Attempting to install a package from the Opera repository resulted in an error saying the file could not be found. If I wanted to install Opera, it would have to be done by visiting the browser's website.
SparkyLinux 2.1 "Ultra" - managing software packages with Synaptic
(full image size: 397kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
The distribution comes with an unusual combination of software, some of which is fairly standard for a modern distro. Other applications appear to have been selected specifically for their small size. On the default install we are given the Chromium web browser, the Claws e-mail client, the XChat IRC chat software and the Pidgin instant messenger. The Exaile and VLC media players are included as are the AbiWord word processor and the Gnumeric spreadsheet program. The GNU Image Manipulation Program is installed by default as is the Xfburn disc burning software. We're treated to the Catfish file search software, the gFTP file transfer program and the Audacity audio editor. The DeVeDe video disc authoring software is included along with a desktop video recorder, text editor and archive manager.
A graphical utility is included for adjusting the system's firewall. Network Manager is included to help us get on-line and WINE is installed in case we wish to run software built for the Microsoft Windows platform. Java is available in the default install as are the GNU Compiler Collection and a weather app which defaults to showing us the environmental conditions in Warsaw. One of the background services is the real-time watchdog, used to monitor and change the scheduling policy of processes. Behind the scenes SparkyLinux comes with multimedia codecs, the Flash web browser plugin and the Linux kernel, version 3.2.
I tried running SparkyLinux on my desktop machine (dual-core 2.8 GHz CPU, 6 GB of RAM, Radeon video card, Realtek network card) and found the operating system performed quite well. Boot times were short, performance on the desktop was excellent and my screen was set to its maximum resolution. Sound worked out of the box and I encountered no hardware related problems. The distribution is fairly light and sitting at the desktop I found the system used approximately 100 MB of memory. That could be reduced further if the Conky status panel and dynamic application launcher were disabled. I also ran SparkyLinux in a VirtualBox virtual machine and found it performed well there too. I had no problems with the distribution in the virtual environment and performance was well above average.
SparkyLinux 2.1 "Ultra" - web browsing and multimedia applications
(full image size: 275kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
There were a few minor issues I ran into while using SparkyLinux. These weren't so many bugs as just design choices which I found irritating. For example, during the installation process I discovered the root user's password and the primary user's password could not be the same. Possible a good design choice from the point of view of security, but for a home desktop system it struck me as overkill. In a similar vein the system comes with the sudo command installed, but the primary user isn't granted sudo privileges, sudo access must be enabled manually. I also noticed that the Tux Commander file manager doesn't, by default, associate file types with applications. This means if a new user opens the file manager, sees the "readme.txt" file in their home directory and clicks on it the file will not open. Instead a configuration screen pops up asking if we would like to configure an action to match the selected file. These aren't bugs, but they are areas which could be improved.
While I was getting accustomed to SparkyLinux and the way it does things I ran into a few problems as I have mentioned above, but I was also impressed with the distribution's performance. The lightweight graphical interface manages to provide a snappy desktop experience and I found I had a good deal of functionality out of the box. Still, throughout the week I found myself faced with a bit of a puzzle and that was I didn't know who SparkyLinux was targeting. The project's website gives us a rough idea of what the distribution is, but not why it is designed the way it is. There are plenty of other low-resource, Debian-based distributions providing multimedia out of the box and some of them have been around long enough to work out the quirks with which SparkyLinux is wrestling.
Now I quite like distro diversity and I'm not one to complain about being spoiled for choice. Yet the fact remains, I couldn't figure out exactly what SparkyLinux is trying to accomplish. The installer, configuration tools and default menu aren't particularly user-friendly. The system is quite light on resources, but then enables a dynamic launcher and superfluous tools like the Conky status panel. The distribution finds a thin niche between being conservative and being a rolling release as it is based on Debian's Testing repository. We get a constant stream of updates every day, yet we're generally using older software. In short, I'm not quite sure how to rate my experience as I don't have a firm idea of what this distribution is trying to accomplish. It's pretty quick and, with a little polishing, could make for a good desktop distribution for older computers (at least older computers which have a DVD drive). For the time being I think SparkyLinux needs some time to grow into itself.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith and Ladislav Bodnar)
Debian Installer 7.0 RC1, Fedora 19 schedule, Kororaa name change, Xubuntu 13.04 on DVD
The stable release of Debian GNU/Linux 7.0 is getting closer. Yesterday (Sunday) Cyril Brulebois announced the availability of the first release candidate of the Debian Installer for "Wheezy": "The Debian Installer team is pleased to announce the first release candidate of the installer for Debian 7.0 'Wheezy'. Improvements in this release of the installer: brltty - fix support for the theme=dark accessibility option and enable Orca in GNOME 3 sessions too; cdebconf - fix display of info messages (e.g. 'Rescue mode' in the banner) and improve speech synthesis support; debconf - fix misleading man-db title for GRUB prompt; debian-cd - improve GRUB menus used when booting in UEFI mode so they match up better with the equivalent syslinux menus and change the default UEFI display resolution to 800x600 for maximum compatibility; GRUB 2 - improve support for EFI installs and fix infinite recursion in gettext when translation fails...." Interested testers can download the new Debian Installer images from here.
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The unusually long development period preceding the release of Fedora 18 last month has resulted in further delays in the planning of the project's next version. After a long discussion, the developers have settled on 25 June as the target day for the arrival of Fedora 19. Given that, historically, Fedora release schedules were only met on very rare occasions, one should not have very high expectations, but at least there is a goal and a proposed feature set: "The Fedora developers have specified a release date for the upcoming Fedora 19. Initially, the developers had rather vaguely said the next version of the distribution would be released at the end of May, but the project has now specified 25 June to give the developers some breathing room after the Fedora 18 delays. As part of the development of Fedora 19, the developers are discussing which features should be included in the release. A switch to MariaDB has already been decided on and the developers have also accepted a proposal to make Policy Kit solely responsible for privilege escalation in several use cases. Usermode/consolehelper, which was used for many of these tasks before, would be retired as part of the process."
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Kororaa Linux, which started its exciting life back in 2005 as a rather unusual Gentoo-based live distribution with out-of-the box Xgl support before becoming a user-friendly Fedora-based distro, has changed its name to Korora. Project founder Chris Smart explains: "It's with great pleasure that I announce that Kororaa Linux is changing to Korora Project. We haven't just been super busy working on the new 18 release, but also setting up this new project and everything that goes with that. The motivation for this was not only the dropping of an excess letter ‘a', but it's also a reflection of the community which is starting to grow nicely and I wanted something people could better associate with and belong to. The new website has been set up at kororaproject.org and feedback is welcome (although be gentle, we're still ironing out any kinks)." The first release under the new name is due shortly: "The new Korora 18 images really are just around the corner; we've delayed to add some exciting new features, such as out-of-the-box support for Adobe Flash and inclusion of Valve's Steam client. Stay tuned!"
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Finally, an interesting announcement published last week by the developers of Xubuntu. Like its parent project, the Ubuntu's Xfce desktop variant too will no longer fit on a CD image and will thereafter come in a 1 GB DVD image instead: "The Xubuntu team had an extra meeting on Monday to discuss and decide a possible move to a bigger ISO image size and other important issues for 'Raring'. After a thorough discussion, which included the obvious drawback that will no longer fit on a CD and the amount of developer time currently spent keeping the ISO image small enough to fit on a CD, the team decided that Xubuntu will have a 1 GB ISO image by clear vote of 8-0. The bigger ISO image size will be featured starting from 'Raring', which is due to be released in April. With this extra 300 MB of space, the team has decided to reintroduce both the Gnumeric spreadsheet application and the GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) image editor, both of which were dropped for the 12.10 release due to space constraints. Discussion about reintroduction of more of the most popular language packs and extra artwork will continue on the IRC channel #xubuntu-devel and on the Xubuntu development mailing list in the following weeks."
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
On cloud privacy, version numbering
Public-cloud-private-data asks: I've heard that some cloud servers are (or can be) accessed by government agencies. Are there any cloud providers that are safe, i.e. private?
DistroWatch answers: Any time you place your data on a machine outside of your control there is an element of risk. It is entirely possible that an on-line storage provider may have their security compromised. It is also possible local law agencies may acquire warrants to monitor data stored on a company's servers. This means it is always possible data stored on someone else's servers may be taken off-line or viewed by third-parties. Really, we are looking at two separate problems here, the first being we want to keep our data private and the other is we want our data to always be available to us.
In order to keep our data private we should encrypt files locally before they leave our computer. That way it doesn't matter if a third-party gains access to our cloud storage; they won't be able to read our files. We have covered some simple encryption techniques before in DistroWatch Weekly. In order to insure our files are available to us at all times we should look at making backups of our data to multiple locations. Storing data in an on-line cloud gives us a single copy of our data, one which can disappear if our Internet connection goes down or the service is taken off-line. We should have at least one other backup stored somewhere off-line, perhaps on an external drive. This gives us an additional layer of protection against data loss.
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That-does-not-add-up asks: I know that KDE 4.10 is in development. Why are they calling it 4.10? Do you think it seems they are cycling their versions back through the 4.x again? 4.10 is just like a 4.1 to me and while I am not sure about KDE having a 4.1 before, I know there have been 4.3 and 4.4 and so on. I would have started with a 5.0 if I were KDE, I think. Any ideas?
DistroWatch answers: The version numbers assigned to software projects are generally not intended to be read as decimal numbers. In most cases the version number of a software product is designed to be read as a series of numbers separated by decimal points, each number providing a separate piece of information. It's a form of short hand which often just happens to look like a mathematical number. Looking at KDE, for example, 4.10 is read as "four point ten". With the KDE project the first number tells us which version of the Qt framework was used to build this release. At the moment KDE is using version 4 of the Qt framework. We are using version 10 of the KDE desktop built using Qt 4. Should the KDE 4.10 release require security updates we may see a new release called KDE 4.10.1, which would indicate the package was built using Qt 4, this is version 10 of that series and there has been 1 minor update. In the near future the KDE project will move to using the Qt 5 framework and, at that time, we will see KDE 5.0 released, followed by 5.1.
Looking around at other large software projects we see similar naming conventions. For example, the Linux kernel was recently in what was called the 2.6.x series. In that case the trailing number was increased with each release so we had versions 2.6.9, 2.6.10, 2.6.11 and so on. Ubuntu releases are named based on the date, with the first number indicating the year of release and the second number indicating the month. Which is why we saw 12.04 come out in April of 2012 and 12.10 come out in October of 2012.
|Released Last Week
ROSA 2012 "Desktop Fresh GNOME"
Konstantin Kochereshkin has announced the release of ROSA 2012 "Desktop Fresh GNOME" edition, a desktop-oriented Linux distribution with GNOME 3.6.2: "ROSA community members have prepared a variation of the ROSA Desktop Fresh 2012 operating system with the GNOME desktop environment. Traditionally, original versions of ROSA Desktop operating system are provided with the KDE desktop environment which includes a lot of design modifications and functionality enhancements. A nice-looking ROSA theme and a set of brand-name applications highly integrated with KDE have already become recognizable ROSA features and made ROSA familiar to Linux users. However, some ROSA users prefer another desktop environment - GNOME. This desktop environment suggests its own approach to graphical environment and wider possibilities of integration with existing IT infrastructure." Here is the full release announcement with screenshots.
OS4 4.0 "Enterprise"
Roberto Dohnert has announced the release of OS4 4.0 "Enterprise" edition, an Ubuntu-based distribution for desktops and servers with special enterprise features: "Today we are pleased to release OS4 Enterprise 4.0 for the general public. What is OS4 Enterprise 4.0 vs OS4 OpenDesktop 13? OS4 Enterprise is built with enterprise customers in mind. OS4 Enterprise 4.0 is built on LTS technologies and the release schedule is a little more spread out than our community-driven distribution, OS4 OpenDesktop. With OS4 Enterprise 4.0 customers get a full Microsoft-compatible office suite, a groupware suite as well as complete development environments. In OS4 Enterprise 4.0, we are delivering a system that uses Roles. Roles are what specific task you want your OS to perform. Right now we have two, desktop and server." Read the rest of the release announcement for further details.
Colin Watson has announced the release of Ubuntu 12.04.2, the latest update of the distribution's current long-term support version: "The Ubuntu team is pleased to announce the release of Ubuntu 12.04.2 LTS (Long-Term Support) for its Desktop, Server, Cloud, and Core products, as well as other flavours of Ubuntu with long-term support. To help support a broader range of hardware, the 12.04.2 release adds an updated kernel and X stack for new installations on x86 architectures, and matches the ability of 12.10 to install on systems using UEFI firmware with Secure Boot enabled. As usual, this point release includes many updates, and updated installation media has been provided so that fewer updates will need to be downloaded after installation." See the full release announcement and release notes for further information.
Dick MacInnis has announced the release of DreamStudio 12.04.2, an updated build of the project's multimedia distribution based on Ubuntu's latest long-term support (LTS) release: "We're proud to announce the official release of DreamStudio Unity 12.04.2. Here are just some of the newest features: audio indicator - the second version of DreamStudio's exclusive audio indicator features quick access to ALSA controls, JACK utilities, and software synths; new name - DreamStudio OS is now DreamStudio Unity; hardware support - for those of you with Ivy Bridge processors, we now feature a dedicated install image with the 3.5 Linux kernel; updates - many of DreamStudio's major software packages, such as Blender, GIMP, and Inkscape have been updated to the latest stable versions, and hundreds of security updates to the base system are included." Here is the brief release announcement with a screenshot.
Sabayon Linux 11
Fabio Erculiani has announced the release of Sabayon Linux 11, a Gentoo-based distribution available in GNOME 3, KDE, MATE and Xfce flavours: "We're here once again to announce the immediate availability of Sabayon 11 in all of its tier 1 flavours. If you really enjoyed Sabayon 10, this is a release you cannot miss! There you have it, a shiny distro for your home computer, your laptop and your servers, virtualized or not. Linux Kernel 3.7 with BFQ iosched, GNOME 3.6.2, KDE 4.9.5 (upgraded to 4.10.1 as soon as it is available), Xfce 4.10, LibreOffice 3.6.3 are just some of the things you will find inside the box. Complete EFI/UEFI and UEFI SecureBoot support, greatly improved NVIDIA Optimus support through Bumblebee, MATE 1.4 for those missing GNOME 2.x...." Read the full release announcement for more details.
Sabayon Linux 11 - a new updated of the Gentoo-based distribution
(full image size: 391kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Zorin OS 6.2 "Lite"
Artyom Zorin has announced the release of Zorin OS 6.2 "Lite" edition, an updated release of the project's Ubuntu-based lightweight distribution (with LXDE) designed for new Linux users: "The Zorin OS team has released Zorin OS 6.2 Lite, the latest evolution of the Zorin OS Lite series of operating systems, designed specifically for Windows users using old or low-powered hardware. This release is based on Lubuntu 12.04.2 and uses the LXDE desktop environment to provide one of the fastest and most feature-packed interfaces for low-spec machines. This new release includes newly updated software out of the box. We also include our innovative Zorin Look Changer, Zorin Internet Browser Manager, Zorin OS Lite Extra Software and other programs from our earlier versions in Zorin OS 6.2 Lite." Here is the brief release announcement.
Manjaro Linux 0.8 "MATE"
Carl Duff has announced the release of Manjaro Linux 0.8 "MATE", the project's brand-new new community edition which features the increasingly popular fork of the GNOME 2 desktop: "Community editions of Manjaro Linux are released as bonus flavours in addition to those officially supported and maintained by the Manjaro team. Due to popular demand from members of the Manjaro community, this now includes a special new release of the MATE flavour for both 32-bit and 64-bit systems. Subject to a complete overhaul, this version also provides early access to some brand-new features yet to be seen in the upcoming official Manjaro 0.8.4 releases: new graphical boot screen; Linux kernel version 3.7; Pamac - a user user-friendly graphical interface to easily update the system and manage software...." See the release announcement for further details and screenshots.
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
New distributions added to database|
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New distributions added to waiting list
- ArchMint. ArchMint is a Turkish Linux distribution that attempts to combine the robustness of Arch Linux with Linux Mint's ease of use. The project's website is in Turkish.
- LSD Linux. LSD (less systemd) Linux is a distribution featuring the Pacman package manager from Arch Linux, packages compiled in the fashion similar to those in Linux From Scratch, initscripts and SysVinit for system initialization, Linux kernel compiled from latest Zen sources, rolling release development model, and stability and quality rather "bleeding edge".
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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, 25 February 2013. 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 • Xubuntu size change (by XubuntuLover on 2013-02-18 10:30:11 GMT from United Kingdom) |
The problem with 1 GB size is it doesn't fit to nominal 1 GB pendrives because actually it's only ~950 MB. Kubuntu played the same game.
Without internet connection it's acceptable and useful but I always deleting unnecessary packages from Xubuntu default install and installing only my favourite programs. I think it can be smaller than 750MB, since no need for Abiword and games.
2 • Xubuntu (by Daniel on 2013-02-18 10:57:34 GMT from Austria)
Like XubuntuLover already said, 1GB is more than you can fit on 1GB USB pen drive, like I use to create LiveUSBs. Also, no need for more programs, why not just a plain distro and e.g. links to install necessary applications like libreoffice, multimedia and others? We have the option in the software center, don't we?
3 • Re: Xubuntu size change (by greenpossum on 2013-02-18 11:04:13 GMT from Australia)
Not sure if they intended to fit things on a 1GB drive. Maybe it's just a nominal target. In any case new 1GB flash drives are rare. Only recently I picked up a couple of 4GB flash drives for $1 each.
4 • Xubuntu ISO size - Relax, it's just an upper limit (by Somewhat Reticent on 2013-02-18 11:18:03 GMT from United States)
"As always, the team will ... strive to not add things to the ISO just because space is available."
(Last time I checked DVD size, one-sided was ~2.4Gb)
5 • re. No.1 (by Slogger on 2013-02-18 11:27:29 GMT from United Kingdom)
Got to agree. There are aspects of definition affecting several distros mentioned above. Notably, the use of 'light' / 'lite' - might well imply that the content is lightweight, eg fits on a CD. Light meaning it runs in low memory resource is not immediately a normal interpretation, although it may become used as such in the IT community. There are obvious benefits to retaining (liveCD) compatibility apart from downloading times. Burning and re-burning times are also shorter. There is a certain arrogance amongst developers who wish to include the 'kitchen sink', as well. Surely a comprehensive and well-maintained package manager is better? Notwithstanding, we are gifted with many excellent 'compact' (=='light'?) distros whose developers seem able to include wide ranges of entirely satisfactory, functional and comprehensive selections of utilities and applications for every eventuality, many within an .iso of <=200Mb. As for the ubiquitous USB installation, many will wish to include rather more than just the OS, making compactness essential.
6 • On cloud privacy... (by greg on 2013-02-18 12:15:36 GMT from Slovenia)
It should be mentioned that there are a couple of clouds out there that offer full encryption of your data. Meaning the operators do not have the key to it, so government can't just access it. Among others Spideroak (has linux version client) and the new Mega come to mind. In Spideroak i think data is first encrypted and also i think the transmisison is encrypted as well as storage. they have 2GB for free. so i use it to keep some copies there.
Another option is to encrypt the data before sending it to cloud. For example encrypting it with strong key and password on your computer before putting it down on google drive or Ubuntu one.
7 • 1GB Memory sticks? (by FormerDistroHopper on 2013-02-18 12:19:58 GMT from Germany)
#1 You must be kidding. I thought such small sticks were not even available anymore, regarding the cost of the case, controller and packaging outweighing the cost of an extra GB to make it 2 GB at virtually the same price...
As #3 said, $1 for a 4GB stick.. if you're lucky you might find one added as a gift when you're buying a pack of corn flakes in your local supermarket..
My sincere apologies for the rant, but this time i simply couldn't hold myself. Much love..
8 • Sparky (by Jon Wright on 2013-02-18 12:21:04 GMT from Vietnam)
While a lightweight distro based on Wheezy/Testing is in theory right up my street, reading this review I'm not at all surprised about the findings and conclusions. Instead, at this point in time, I'd rather to read about something more mainstream and established - even if it means revisiting a different flavour of something reviewed in the last six months - even if it means reviewing an RC. Very pleased to read reviews of the BDSs by the way - I think there've been two this year. Also I'd like to read about experiences on laptops rather than write-ups targeted at basement-dwellers. For example, over the past several years I've had headaches connecting to my various (Windows, Android, Symbian) devices and especially connecting to the Internet thru my phone or shared networks - these are basically show-stoppers as I'm on the road. Other show stoppers (for me) are trouble with suspend/hibernate and burning through the battery. Possible to test these areas?
9 • Sparky Linux (by dragonmouth on 2013-02-18 13:55:13 GMT from United States)
"Using GParted limits our choice of file systems a bit as the user is able to select between creating swap, ext2, ext3 and ext4 file systems only"
Sparky must be using a crippled version of GParted. GParted versions as far back as 3.9 could create Fat16 & 32, HFS, JFS, NTFS, XFS, Reiserfs & Reiser4 file systems.
"While these batches of actions are being processed the package manager is locked. preventing us from queuing additional actions."
Of course you could plan ahead and have Synaptic perform in one session all the actions you wish to perform rather than performing them haphazardly one or two at a time. That is the beauty of Synaptic. It can update, install and uninstall in one session unlike package managers.
"Yet the fact remains, I couldn't figure out exactly what SparkyLinux is trying to accomplish."
Whenever someone mentions that there may be too many distros, they are shouted down with "Linux is about choice! The more, the merrier. If someone wants to build a new distro, they should be able., etc. etc. etc." Linux fans can't have it both ways. Either anyone and everyone creates a distro or there should be a practical limit of 20, 50 or a 100 distros. There are 743 distros in the DW database with 338 on a waiting list. Are we actually to believe that there are 1100 ways of doing the same thing? Or is the difference between many of those 1100 distros just in the eye candy? The developer of Sparky just added one more distro. What's one more when you have 1100?
10 • SparkyLinux (by Frank on 2013-02-18 14:10:02 GMT from United States)
Great review, the problems that you describe are the reasons that made me run away from this distro I hope in the future they will fix it
11 • LSD LINUX (by Bob Eiser on 2013-02-18 15:06:35 GMT from United States)
I plan to follow the development of this distro. It's fun and cool. Just wait till you see the TP themed desktop!! Bob
12 • Size Matters (by R.W. on 2013-02-18 15:12:23 GMT from United States)
Size matters. Really, it does. I just installed Madbox Linux on an ancient computer and it runs beautifully. It comes with a rather minimal amount of preloaded software and I think it's around 380M. I was able to install everything I need from the repository. It did have some things on it I didn't want but it was so easy to get rid of them. I don't need a bunch of big bloated programs. Moc for music does everything I need. That is just me though. I understand there are others that like the big stuff and that is ok too. Madbox is in French but you can change the language when you install it so not a problem for non French speakers.
Now on a different topic. There is something that has been really bugging me for a while. Ndis wrapper, and ndisgtk. I know that now the linux kernels are supposed to support all kinds of wireless hardware but I often find myself working with older hardware and it is really a problem to not be able to access a wireless network when I am setting up a machine. This is a mistake not to include it on the live distros. In reference to my statement above about bloat, it's not. Not having it included on a live distro really makes me mad. I know I'm not the only one who feels this way because I have read many similar comments on various forums. Well that's it. I know that mentioning on DW won't make a bit of difference but that's how I feel about. :-)
13 • Sparky and lot new distro (by tuxtest on 2013-02-18 15:51:14 GMT from Canada)
I agree with dragonmouth! There are too many distribution that brings nothing new to the community. Many are based on Ubuntu with a few changes aesthetics and nothing else. Here I exclude some distributions that provide a real difference even if it is based on Ubuntu EX: LinuxMint, UberStudent, Hybrid Nirvanos that provide specificity.
Yesterday just for fun I have building a distribution on SuseStudio I changed a lot in look and choice of applications. But this does not make a new distro in the Linux world. I would not submit my little creation on Distrowatch distro simply because this is a change OpenSuse and nothing else.
In conclusion, well maybe it's time for me that Distrowatch as brainstorming or reflexion about it. I'd had this problem but I will stay good player. At this rhyme there will be 10.000 new distro in 3 years.
Best Regard All
14 • Sticks on ice (by XubuntuLover on 2013-02-18 16:00:50 GMT from Romania)
#7 It's not about stick's sizes, but it's easier to update a minimal system with less packages installed.
15 • Re: Sparky and lot new distro (by Jon Wright on 2013-02-18 16:09:02 GMT from Vietnam)
> "But this does not make a new distro in the Linux world. I would not submit my little creation on Distrowatch distro simply because this is a change OpenSuse and nothing else."
It takes more - you have to have a website and some kind of support infrastructure at least to be considered for listing on DW.
16 • Sticks on ice (by FormerDistroHopper on 2013-02-18 16:17:08 GMT from Germany)
#14 if you want a small Linux, Xubuntu is surely the wrong choice in the first place. It's bloated, always been. Start with TinyCore and move your way up..
And yes, i prefer bloat-free systems, too. But the post was about 1GB memory sticks. Next time we talk about floppy disks... :P
17 • Sparky (by Jose on 2013-02-18 16:37:13 GMT from United States)
Good review on Sparky Linux. I only use rolling distros and love Debian, so i will have to look at this one.
On Admin and user's passwords cannot be the same, I consider that a HUGE plus. Keeping them the same bypasses first level security measures. I keep mine completely different. It seems that Windows users like to keep them the same.
Sudo - well I do not like the Ubuntu use od sudo. It should just be for specialized access. However if someone wants to use Sudo for everything, i whole-heartly recommend Mint over any 'buntu distro. i don't want to start a war here, but I was very impressed with Mint.
The Tux Commander issue - now that does puzzle me! I guess it was done that way to allow the user to pick specific applications, kinda the way some distros have KDE's Krusader file manager do.
All in all, I think it was an excellent review. Thank you for having a look at it! I will have to try it out.
Also you Questions and answers on the "Cloud" was very good. Makes me wonder if you are going to have a look at different options in setting up your own personal cloud and using what is publicly available, like Dropbox, Google's and others.
18 • Sudo (by FormerDistroHopper on 2013-02-18 16:51:20 GMT from Germany)
#17: i also can't understand that decision to make everything default to sudo. As soon as you can "sudo bash [-login]", you have the equivalent of a full root shell but with your weak/known) user password instead. Bad idea IMHO, but that's just me i guess?
19 • Sparky (by David McCann on 2013-02-18 17:20:02 GMT from United Kingdom)
Those who complain that the world doesn't need another distro need to look closer. Sparky is produced in Poland. The forum is conducted in Polish. How many other Linuxes are there aimed at home users with Polish support? There is life outside North America!
20 • Why use Sparky? (by Io on 2013-02-18 17:24:53 GMT from Poland)
When exists Crunchbang?
21 • Sparky Linux and LinuxBBQ (by Hoos on 2013-02-18 17:35:16 GMT from Singapore)
I agree that currently, there doesn't appear to be a clear cut aim to Sparky. It's also not very attractive. I'd tried it live once before and found it was ok but nothing to shout about.
I'm more fascinated by linuxbbq and their aim of providing a Debian Sid minimal base system in a few different desktop environments for users to build on/customise. They also provide a few more full-featured versions.
I tried a few of their images (minimal as well as full) live and found them attractive, quick and working well on my Pentium 4 PC.
And, I don't know, there's just something very fun about their site - it makes you want to tinker around and learn more...
The only reason I didn't install any of their images onto my PC is because I don't have space left on my hard drive for another permanent distro, and I like those already installed too much to replace any of them.
22 • New distros (by DavidEF on 2013-02-18 18:12:48 GMT from United States)
I'm not so one-sided about "shiney-new distros" as some seem to be. People appear to be clearly divided into the "if they can, they should" camp and the "we should pare it down to maybe 100 or less" crowd. I don't think there can ever be "too many" linux distros. I'm not in favor of limiting the world to an exact number. But, I do think cosmetic changes shouldn't be allowed to count as new distros.
Minor changes in default installed applications shouldn't count either. To me, it's a minor change if there is no integration work included with the change of app-mix. In other words, if you can pull out application "X" and drop in application "Y" without affecting the desktop polish, you haven't done anything - the developers before you did it. Therefore it is still their work, not yours. If you mix the apps in a way the upstreams didn't already account for, and as a result you have to do a lot of work under the hood to keep all the apps looking like they belong to a single, polished system, you can call it yours. It is then a new distro. Well, it's a new distro if you also maintain your own repositories.
23 • @19 Sparky - Polish language support (by DavidEF on 2013-02-18 18:27:20 GMT from United States)
While it may seem like a big deal to Polish speakers, I don't think it can be said that just a difference in default system language is enough to call it a separate distro. I haven't tried it, so I'm not commenting on Sparky specifically. But, hopefully, they have more to differentiate them than default system language. I have actually seen some "distros" on DW for which the description was something like "An (language) distribution based on (other distribution, usually Ubuntu)." That is entirely not interesting to me. I can't imagine it being interesting to anyone.
Even somebody who happens to speak (language) and love (other distribution) should find no compelling reason to switch with that bland of a description. Maybe if they're already working on a fresh install for some reason, they might give it a try. To me, the potential for finding unwanted changes would keep me using the original distro, since I already know I like it. I can change the language myself.
24 • Too many distros? (by Jason Hsu on 2013-02-18 18:33:15 GMT from United States)
People complain that there are too many distros and DEs. The controversies over Ubuntu, GNOME 3, and KDE 4 should have put this complaint to rest.
Because of the diversity, people who don't like the controversial Unity interface have a wealth of alternatives, such as Linux Mint, Mageia, Fedora, Snowlinux, Lubuntu, and Xubuntu. Having so many distros competing for users ensures that if something happens to one of the top distros (controversial change, the departure of a key person, etc.), the vacuum is quickly filled by its competitors.
When KDE 4 came out, KDE 3 fans had the option of switching to GNOME, Xfce, or LXDE. When GNOME 3 came out, people had the option of switching to KDE, Xfce, or LXDE. The productive Linux Mint team gave new life to MATE and started Cinnamon. The fact that MATE and Cinnamon have spread to other distros (and beyond the Debian/Ubuntu-derived distros) is a sign of their success. Thus, longtime fans of GNOME 2 have a number of great options.
I applaud the recent boom in Linux distros. I'm now using Snowlinux 4 Glacier with MATE, and I actually like it even better than Linux Mint Debian Edition. It's ranked #10 on Distrowatch now, but very few people had heard of it a year ago. Arch Linux derivatives are popping up, and one of them could bring Arch Linux to the masses the way Ubuntu brought Debian to the masses.
The distroverse is one of the closest things you'll find to a meritocracy. When a new Linux distro or DE delivers what users want and they spread the word, it becomes a big hit. If it doesn't add value for users over existing options, it languishes in obscurity. Any new Linux user should know (or quickly find out) that it's best to start with one of the more popular distros. (Even if they're not inherently easier to use, a larger user base makes it easier to get help.)
25 • Re: #12 • Size Matters (by R.W.) (by Leo on 2013-02-18 18:46:48 GMT from United States)
I totally agree. I had a search, earlier this year, for an ultralight distro for a dying 1st gen eeepc. Long story short: I concluded the very same thing. Distros (light and heavy) would be much better off with a modular approach. Start small, and let people install things easily. You can provide a nice GUI where you say "server apps", or "office", etc. A few options. Dependencies are taken care by the package manager, regardless. But it is a lot easier to add, than it is to remove. And also, it is much nicer to download 250mb, than to download 1.5gb
26 • Insignificant forks (by FormerDistroHopper on 2013-02-18 18:57:06 GMT from Germany)
#23 i absolutely agree, changing the default language, desktop background or window title font doesn't make a new distro.
I want to make sure a distro is reliable, not just maintained by two garage kids who just had a little fun tinkering with their first Linux system, knowing that such distros usually fade away after a few years, leaving me with an unsupported system i had carefully tweaked & configured over the years just to learn it was all for nothing.
For me, a distro qualifies for being a distro because of a clear set of philosophies and reasons as to why some people would burden themselves with so much work, being unable to get any other distro to do the same job. Something the distro has or does that no other distro would.
I was distro-hopping for more than 10 years but meanwhile it's almost impossible to get me to switch to anything else anymore. My last Xubuntu vbox was gone a few months ago after the dist-upgrade failed miserably.
Meanwhile i only use Gentoo and Debian-stable or Debian-unstable, depending on what the system is designated for. Gentoo = pure fun + complete cotrol + no bloat at all + everything goes, Debian = long-term stability + stress-free + if-it-works-it-works + does not try to become a cellphone emulation.
Any other systems no longer interest me, except for specialized stuff ala Knoppix, NAS/router/firewall or things like that, although i appreciate the wide choice we all have, with interesting & sometimes promising newcomers like mageia, bodhi, manjaro... always to have a choice.
27 • distro lot (by tuxtest on 2013-02-18 19:13:24 GMT from Canada)
People misunderstand some others say there are too many linux distro. the problem It's not that everyone can built a respin of ubuntu or another distiro *suse,fedora etc..*. There may be 100.000 Linux distribution! We have no problem with that. But on 100.000 distro there will be 99.990 that are exactly the same and does nothing more than customizing the theme and some applications. Nothing else!
Therefore, What is the interest of Distrowatch or other linux actuality web site listed all distro are just a copie of another.
I think there should be more strick criteria to be listed here! But this is just an opinion and nothing else.
I can't talking about Sparky! I have not tested and I have no interest to do so. Debian based distro, we have a many, many choice. Some distro have very successful and for other I do not see the usefull.
28 • distro lot (by FormerDistroHopper on 2013-02-18 19:17:20 GMT from Germany)
#24: Distrowatch is giving every distro a chance, and rightfully so, IMHO. it's everybody's choice what to use and what to leave out. This site is the best for discovering what choices we have, and it's complete, up-to-date and bravely maintained. I wouldn't change a thing.
29 • Cloud Privacy (by jay on 2013-02-18 19:29:31 GMT from Canada)
Another up and coming cloud service that provides server side encryption and unlimited storage for $10/month is https://www.bitcasa.com 10GB free accounts to
30 • Fedora 'delay' (by Adam Williamson on 2013-02-18 19:49:42 GMT from Canada)
"The unusually long development period preceding the release of Fedora 18 last month has resulted in further delays in the planning of the project's next version."
That's not quite right, really. It's not a 'delay' of any kind. There was no F19 schedule until it was decided, just now, so it can't logically be 'delayed'. Something can only be 'delayed' in comparison to a schedule, after all.
There was an idea that we'd do the F19 release in late May to get back on our traditional release dates, which would involve it being a rather shorter development cycle than usual. But during the process of reviewing the F19 feature list and planning the schedule, it became pretty clear that wasn't plausible, so the schedule was set for late June instead, which is a 'normal' six month release cycle from the release of F18. May would've been an unusually short cycle; June is a perfectly normal length one.
31 • @7 1 GB Memory Sticks (by vw72 on 2013-02-18 19:54:58 GMT from United States)
There are two issues with memory sticks and the Ubuntu family of products. First, just because larger sticks are available and very reasonably priced. Not everybody has unlimited high speed internet, so forcing a 2GB or 4GB download when a 1GB will do is still a problem for a large population.
The second issue is that unlike other distros, Ubuntu variants allow for persistence, so a 1GB image on a 2GB stick means that you can use it as a LiveCD (or would that be LiveUSB) and store an additional 1GB or more importantly if installing to multiple machines, boot from it and run the update manager before actually installing to the local machines. That way, you only need to download the updates once.
In short, bandwidth is still an issue in many parts of the world so the image file needs to reflect that reality and not grow any bigger than it needs to be. There is a reason why the stats show far more CD images than DVD images are downloaded each release.
32 • Encryption and living in Clouds (by Straighttalking on 2013-02-18 20:14:22 GMT from United Kingdom)
Does anyone really believe that, with a background dating back from Bletchley Park, any encrypted data hasn't been decoded by GCHQ before the last letter is typed?!
33 • Sudo security (by PePa on 2013-02-18 20:48:04 GMT from Canada)
@17 @18 The real advantage of using sudo is to disable login to the root account altogether. It is the only account with a known user name, and it is the most privileged one, so an attacker only needs to find out the password..! Allowing login on a root account is a security concern for this reason.
There is no reason for your user account to have a weak password, but if you'd like to have a weak password on your day-to-day account but still shield of root privileges, you could have a different user(name) that is solely privileged to use sudo. Then you'd "su" to that user before you'd use sudo.
34 • sudo security (by FormerDistroHopper on 2013-02-18 21:27:36 GMT from Germany)
@33: yes, the scenario you suggest (with an extra user who is granted sudo but not the default user) would be the best-case scenario, but thats not what *buntu does. They grant sudo for the default user by default.
On the other hand, having toalso guess the username only means that the overall password becomes up to 8 characters longer, most of them probably non-special characters and probably also less than 8 chars. At least there's a 3-second delay in the shell login after a failed login attempt.
35 • First World Problems (by Landor on 2013-02-18 22:00:00 GMT from Canada)
I'm always amazed at how linear this community really can be.
What about second and third world countries that pay a premium for bandwidth, or any kind of media? Why do you think disc sales are profitable?
Also, people can tout the "servers have lots of bandwidth thing" all they like too, but these ISOs getting bigger costs everyone in the long run. Very few things in this world come for free.
Anyway, USB flash drivers can be very expensive to someone who barely can feed themselves, let alone trying to get a better education and needing FLOSS to help them get there.
Keep your stick on the ice...
36 • Too many distros (by dragonmouth on 2013-02-18 22:02:53 GMT from United States)
@19: Dave McCann: Yes, there certainly is a life outside of North America. Being Polish myself I would be very proud to see a Polish distro developed. However, Sparky ain't it and unless many fundamental changes to it are done, it will never be it. You would not consider the German language version of Knoppix a separate distro from an English version, would you? Why would you consider a Polish language version of Debian a separate distro?
@24: Jason Hsu: Does a different DE automatically make for a different distro? Is antiX with KDE a separate distro from antiX with LXDE or from antiX with Trinity desktop? According to your logic, it is. When you come right down to it, the basic difference between all the *buntus is the DE. The kernel is the same, the apps are the same, the utilities are the same, the repositories are mostly the same. The reason why each *buntu has a different DE is because Mark Shuttleworth insisted the Ubuntu use only GNOME at first, and now insists on only Unity. So each DE community went out and created a version of Ubuntu with their favorite desktop. If somebody decides to develop a version of Ubuntu with Razor, are we then going to have a new distro, Rubuntu?
When a user installs ten distros and they all look the same except for the eye candy and maybe the language, how does that help the user decide on a distro or contribute to the Linux diversity? When that happens, don't you think there are too many copycat distros?
I have absolutely no objections to a new distro IF it brings something innovative to the table. Changing the color scheme or some wallpaper is not innovation or "development". If it were then there would be millions of distros in the Linuxverse because all Linux users have customized whichever distro they happen to be using.
37 • distro sizes and small distros (by greenpossum on 2013-02-18 22:31:35 GMT from Australia)
>I'm always amazed at how linear this community really can be.
Actually the benefit/size function is very non-linear with discontinuities at points like 700MB, 1GB, 4.2Gib, and so on.
When you have poor comms where you live then it makes sense to get packages off a shiny plastic disc. But it doesn't cost more to fill up the disk, up to a limit. It's very annoying to discover that you have to get online to get a missing package. Maybe you don't have a use for libreoffice, but another user of the distro in your comms limited country does.
Debian is one of the most exemplary distros in this respect, providing multiple CDs with the most popular packages in the first few. They limited the CD size to 650MB (the old 74 minute media), they might still do.
If anything this shows how many constituencies one must think about.
As for 10,000 distros, I'm not one to advocate limiting people's freedom to create derivatives. But for sure I will not touch anything that looks like it might not be in the game for the long term. I've been burnt in the past. Fortunately the users of such distros tend to take distro life and death all in their stride.
38 • Public-cloud-private-data (by Dopher on 2013-02-18 22:52:06 GMT from Belgium)
Yeah i am using it to. But i wouldn't store any passwords there. Or my devious master plan to take over the world.
There are more risks. Is the data you delete from the cloud really deleted, or just hidden from the interfaces you can access?
Another risk is that you don't know who manages your data, let's say, in 10 years from now. companies get taken over all the time. .
Also the social and political climate changes over the years. They change rapidly every decade. Maybe the data you currently store is okay now, but in the next decade it might be unacceptable or even criminal. A smart query based on the data you store, or have stored, can generate a simple 1 sheet (A4) report about you that might have consequences in 10 or 20 years ( Depending on who manages your data, and the social and political climate)
I only try to store very generic stuff on the cloud. When you put it in the cloud, assume it is subject to (judicial) review. I don't even have an opinion when i mail someone. freedom is gone. Enjoy it facebook generation.
39 • Rescatux (by Fence Post on 2013-02-18 23:47:29 GMT from Australia)
I had a need for a boot repair the other day and tried Resctux and Boot Repair but neither of them worked or would boot into graphical screen. I suspect a NVIDIA card issue. It was disappointing. But I was able to fix the problem another way.
40 • Rescatux (by Bill on 2013-02-19 01:20:39 GMT from United States)
@39 Just burned the iso of Rescatux and it booted just fine with my Nvidia card.
I think I like parted magic disk better.
41 • @39, 40 - Rescatux (by Hoos on 2013-02-19 03:07:51 GMT from Singapore)
I have both Parted Magic and Rescatux on a multisystem USB thumb drive. I've always found Parted Magic so user-friendly and useful with just the utilities I need that Rescatux hardly gets a look in. It boots just fine though.
42 • @39,40,41 (by jay on 2013-02-19 03:43:33 GMT from Canada)
UBCD = for the WIN!
ultimate boot cd!
You can make a custom ubcd with your own utility iso's available http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/
43 • pointeless or useless distros? ... there aren't such things in linux (by meanpt on 2013-02-19 09:01:37 GMT from Portugal)
... whatever the reasons underlying the assembling and maintenance of a distro, in the current world of corporation's dictatorship and paid opinion makers, all the distros are seeds from which new and better things may grow, or from which old good things may be kept alive. That's why DW's support and visibility becomes critical, once a unknown distro is a a dead distro or never existed for the rest of us.
44 • The Distro Issue (by mythus on 2013-02-19 12:17:48 GMT from United States)
Being a person who loves choice, I'd never complain about there being to many distributions. What I think is the problem here is what is considered a distribution is nothing more than a respin.
I would suggest that to be considered a distro on distro watch, those waiting for approval would have to be proven to be anything more than simple graphical changes on their parent distro. This could be things like separate repos, new features, removal of certain "features" and the like.
Those that don't qualify as distro should be given a sub-page on distrowatch, call it something like spinwatch. This way they would still get exposure or whatever, but not as much as true distros that really bring something new to the table.
The flipside of this is many "distros" would be considered as nothing more than spins. This would include popular favorites such as kubuntu and xubuntu. Linux Mint has deviated enough from its parent that it would be a distro.
Someone also said that there were too many DE's. Sorry, but I disagree. I would love to see more DE's. Right now I feel that the choices in the DE department is rather limited: KDE, Trinity (which is KDE-3), Gnome 3, e17, EDE, CDE, Mate (gnome2)... and that is about it (I think). Cinnamon, Unity, and the like really are shells of Gnome 3 (though Unity is moving more and more past that it seems).
45 • Distros vs respins RE:@44 (by Koro on 2013-02-19 13:18:34 GMT from Belgium)
That is a really good idea. But it is not going to happen. Not here, anyway.
Why? Are you familiar with concept of vanity publishing?
The more distros you have, the more visitors you have. Even if most of them are the distro maintainers and friends...
That said, I think having plenty of choice is good as far as it is real, meaningful, choice. Otherwise it is just an ego-feeding waste of time, talent and effort.
46 • No more Ubuntu alpha releases (by Candide on 2013-02-19 13:42:17 GMT from Taiwan)
I see that Kubuntu made an alpha release in the past week - Kubuntu 13.04 alpha-2 (Raring Ringtail). Nothing from Ubuntu itself, or Xubuntu and Lubuntu.
That had me scratching my head. Did some searching on Google and found out that Ubuntu will no longer be making alpha releases, only betas. From what I understand, there is a daily build that you can download, which is not quite the same thing - I'm not sure that dumping the alpha releases was a great idea as it may discourage experimenters such as myself. Anyway, I'm glad that Kubuntu is still doing this. Even though I'm not a big KDE fan, I will download this version and install it to see what it can do.
47 • @46 Alphas and Betas (by DavidEF on 2013-02-19 14:06:00 GMT from United States)
It's good that Kubuntu is doing alpha releases. Most of the major systemic changes in the *buntu family will be present there. Although the Kubuntu team puts a lot more effort than some of the others in making their distro more than just a spin, it still has most of the base technology from its parent, and will give users a good idea where Ubuntu is headed. This is especially true if you consider that the repositories include meta-packages for the main (Unity Shell) desktop as well as all the other official *buntu desktops. Therefore, if you want an Ubuntu alpha, you should be able to download the Kubuntu alpha, uninstall the Kubuntu-desktop and install the Ubuntu-desktop from within Synaptic, and get close enough for what an alpha is good for. I quit alpha testing Ubuntu a few cycles ago. I still beta test sometimes, if I hear there will be major changes. Otherwise, I wait until release.
48 • @ #44 (by Pierre on 2013-02-19 15:35:19 GMT from Germany)
KDE 4, Gnome 3, E17, EDE, CDE, Mate (Gnome 2) and Trinity (KDE 3) are all ok but not the end of the list.
Because Cinnamon and Unity deliver completely different workflow I would call them DEs, too, all though they build on Gnome 3 and 'only' replace the Shell.
And you simply forgot about 3 very good DEs:
Especially Xfce and LXDE are quite common, so I don't know how you could forget about them. Nevertheless, this is just a lust of complete DEs. If you consider to name window managers, too, which I would because they are part of the DEs and can easily turned into some real DE are, there are OpenBox, Fluxbox, i3, wmii, awesome and a lot more as well.
So diversity knows no end. And that's what I like a lot about Linux.
49 • @#44 (by FormerDistroHopper on 2013-02-19 16:32:08 GMT from Germany)
And yes, how could you not mention Xfce - i'm using it since 4.8 (since the panel got enhanced alot) and i'm not looking back. Slim, fast but sufficient (not too barebone), and also conservative, not trying to become a cellphone toy.
50 • Morning Fogginess Concerning DE's RE 48 and 49 (by mythus on 2013-02-19 18:29:06 GMT from United States)
Yes, I am surprised I forgot XFCE and LXDE myself. I guess my brain wasn't as awake as I thought it was. I meant no ill harm not mentioning them, and find them both great DE's.
I also forgot Razor-QT, Cream, and I am sure a couple others. I am sure they are all great projects too, I just haven't used them (or used them much) to cement them into memory. But there is no excuse for forgetting XFCE and LXDE....
OpenBox, fluxbox, and the hundreds of other WM's, rather they be tiling, stacking, or/and compositing - I just can't call DE's. They are more or less the tools to make your own DE. You could make the UberLinuxDE using various tools tied together with a WM if you wanted to, and have a setup designed by you for you.
Unity is a shell that is quickly becoming its own DE. I don't think I would consider the other Gnome Shell replacements to be DE's though, primarily because they are front ends to the Gnome 3 DE itself. But I can see why you and others would want to call them one.
In the end it is about choice and freedom of choice. I do wish we could publish or whatever makers of distros that are not just respins differently than we do spins and respins. I think that would clear the confusion some regarding the hundreds of distros listed here. But I can also understand why publishers seeking hits would not want to do that... At least though we can enjoy that freedom to choose the distro that works best for us, and to set it up however we desire.
51 • Too many distros? Distro sizes? 1GB USB sticks (by Caitlyn Martin on 2013-02-19 19:54:08 GMT from United States)
For those who say there are too many distros, who is going to judge which ones stay and which ones go? How would you like it if the judges axe your favorite little distro. What's a respin and what's a distro? Does it really matter? Again, who's to judge?
FOSS licenses allow for forks. There are basically no limitations on forking. The net result is there really is no way to limit the number, type and variety of distros. None at all. Bellyache all you want: this will never change so long as FOSS is what it is.
There are still some distros that limit their size to less than 700MB (a single CD image) and end up with something very useful out of the virtual box. Bandwidth limitations aren't limited to third world countries. There are plenty of places in rural America where the only broadband options are satellite and/or mobile (cellular), both of which are metered.
You get two free 1GB USB sticks if you buy a 2013 Fiat 500, one with your key ring and one by mail with a copy of your owner's manual. Such a bargain! :)
52 • Too many distros (by tuxtest on 2013-02-19 20:34:35 GMT from Canada)
The question is not to judge. All people is free to built his own respin. It's not the question.
We have enough respect for you Catlyn here and we know that you have all technical knowledge to make the difference between a respin and distribution brings some new things.
53 • 1 GB - bandwidth (by fernbap on 2013-02-20 00:01:55 GMT from Portugal)
1 GB isos - at least here, DVDs are already cheaper (and for long) comparing to CDs, so the price of the DVD to burn is irrelevant.....
Also, i could install a minimal iso (you have several to chose from) and then add the apps you need... but then, you would also have to pay for the bandwidth used for getting those apps from the repos in the first place. Personally, i prefer getting a larger ISO so that i would not depend on internet to make it run. Besides, it saves a lot of time.
As to pendrives, i believe that all pendrives smaller than 1 GB already made the trash can voyage a long time ago....
Btw, i have a 128 MB pendrive that i managed to make into a bootable linux live desktop, but that was just for the kicks. I don't believe that would be a usable system for ordinary work.
54 • Too many distros? (by mcellius on 2013-02-20 01:17:44 GMT from United States)
@52 I agree with you completely. Everyone has the right to build their own respin or distro, and I wouldn't want to interfere with that.
It's interesting to consider, however, what the Linux world might be like if a lot of the people creating distros were to turn their efforts towards working on other Linux projects, such as DEs. Instead of having hundreds of distros, we might have the choice of dozens of desktop environments. Or we might have the sort of riches of apps and tools and other features that would make FOSS dominant in computing.
I'd never try to enforce it, even if it were possible. It's a good thing that the FOSS community allows this sort of freedom. I guess maybe the attraction of creating new respins or distros is that it draws a bit more attention - and perhaps isn't so programming-heavy - but it'd be nice, perhaps, if people with such skills could be encouraged - not forced! - to use their talents more productively. (Which is also a subjective judgment; everyone can decide what is truly productive, and that's how it ought to be.)
55 • 1GB sticks (by FormerDistroHopper on 2013-02-20 02:41:53 GMT from Germany)
@52: Cool! In that case, i take two Fiat 500! :D
56 • Sparky Linux (by Douglas Willett on 2013-02-20 05:07:58 GMT from United States)
I think your review of Sparky Linux was a bit harsh, especially the part about justification. Since when does a Linux distribution have to justify its existence? Secondly, Sparky Linux can easily justify its existence because it fills the huge gap between the all around light distributions, who constantly preach how great they are for the computer that you just put into the garbage, and the gross distributions with heavy components, who have a GUI for everything. Sparky is richly endowed with simple, light weight configuration scripts, easy to launch, and heavy with applications, which can be easily removed if you want to go light, or keep if you need them. I've always chosen light and functional, and then spent hours building what I need. With Sparky the latter has been reduced by at least half. For people like me, Sparky really fills the need.
57 • Too many distros (by Koro on 2013-02-20 13:21:17 GMT from Belgium)
No one wants to be a judge of anything and even if some one wanted, he/she would not be able to enforce his/her views. That is so obvious that it is ridiculous having to put it into words.
Then, of course, I agree that there are worse ways of wasting your life than creating yet another Ubuntu respin to feed your ego.
So, yes, you can!
58 • Distro count (by Pearson on 2013-02-20 23:10:45 GMT from United States)
I'm feeling philosophical ...
Yes, anyone can fork and create a distro, with as many or few changes as they want. I understand that it's a very educational and satisfying experience.
Just because you can do something doesn't mean you necessarily should. This is where wisdom gets involved. I could start a rock band, but I really shouldn't (lack of talent/skills/commitment). There's nothing wrong with me learning an instrument, taking music lessons, etc. but I really have no business trying to start a band. On the same idea, it's up to me to decide whether I should start a band. If someone told me I shouldn't, I might do it out of spite.
Much like my rock band example, there's nothing wrong with someone going through the motions of forking a distribution. I question the wisdom of making a fork with only minimal changes, particularly changes that can be easily made to the parent post-installation (wallpaper, package selection, etc). One exception to this would be special-purpose Live distributions (what is "post-installation" in that context?).
I think this is why Ladislav has his criteria for inclusion in Distrowatch. He wants to try and cull out the "one hit wonders" that offer not longevity or originality.
59 • Distro count (by FormerDistroHopper on 2013-02-20 23:34:48 GMT from Germany)
I'm amazed about how many ppl actually go and burden themselvers with the enourmous task of creating a new Linux distro. Once it really attacts a bunch of users, the complaints will stack up about certain hardware/software combos not working, and other demands. That's where the real work starts. I would have to think more than twice before i engage in such an adventure...
60 • @ 58-59 Distro count (by mandog on 2013-02-21 00:42:46 GMT from Peru)
Although I must agree with a lot you both say I remember the beginnings of linux Mint, and the beginnings of Ubuntu Ultimate. Crunch bang. mepis, when it moved back to Debian, All these one man distros were laughed at at the time of starting. They are still hear that is the point, Many more have fallen by the wayside, but the dedication of these people has paid off ten fold for the community.
61 • pointless distros (by imnotrich on 2013-02-21 04:12:46 GMT from Mexico)
Any distro that uses Unity, Gnome 3, Windows 8 or similar gui is pointless. (pun intended).
As for desktop environments I can't stomach the plethora of poorly fleshed out, poorly implemented counter intuitive guis that are so buggy they are far from ready to be released but get foisted on us users anyway. I miss the days when Gnome worked really well AND made sense,,and KDE was awkward and clunky but didn't suffer daily critical bugs that made it nearly impossible to use
Actually I'd like to see a distro that has good wireless support. Still waiting.
I guess wifi is a new, cutting edge thing?
62 • re #61 good wireless support (by gnomic on 2013-02-21 09:07:39 GMT from New Zealand)
"Actually I'd like to see a distro that has good wireless support. Still waiting."
Not quite with you on that. The majority of distros I see these days work acceptably with a range of machines including Intel, Ralink, Atheros, and Broadcom wifi chipsets. Of course one does strike the odd moment of pure madness such as a NetworkManager which has no way for the user to interact with it - don't forget to include nm-applet people, or fail to give it any way to appear on screen in whatever window manager/desktop is in use.
Perhaps more info on the problems you are having?
63 • Psychic hardware driverset (by Fossilizing Dinosaur on 2013-02-21 09:42:43 GMT from United States)
Still under development, sorry. Meanwhile, should we blame OS vendors for brats who make hardware?
64 • @61 Wi-Fi drivers for all available hardware (by Vic on 2013-02-21 23:09:10 GMT from Canada)
Expecting distros to be able to produce working drivers for every type of hardware is asking a lot considering many manufacturers refuse to open up there device info. It's like asking a cabinet maker to build you a custom kitchen with out letting him inside the house. it's possible but you could imagine the difficulties....
65 • wifi and linux (by imnotrich on 2013-02-22 03:57:24 GMT from Mexico)
My experience with wireless cards and Linux differs.
It's very odd to find oob support for any of the small number of wireless devices I've tried. Most recently, the Realtek 8185 card in my laptop. Sure, I could try spending $15-20 on a different card, but I shouldn't have to and (if past experience is any indicator) within a few months some update or new kernel will bork the install and I'll have to spend more money on yet another wireless card.
Puppy 4.3.1 supported this card, so did Etch (for a while, until some other update blitzed the install) and Ubuntu 9.04 too. More recently, this card has not been supported by ANY modern distro.
Squeeze dropped support completely.
Wheezy's installer reinstated support, but soon as your install completes it simultaneously disables the wireless card. Why? A bug I've griped about before.
I'd love to be able to buy a new laptop every year or two, or constantly upgrade wireless cards. Just not an option.
At this point, I'm so desperate I'm tempted to try Unity, Gnome 3 or even some flavor of KDE...if I could find a recent distro that also supports my laptops very common ATI video card.
66 • @ #65 - Support for wifi and graphics adaptors (by Pierre on 2013-02-22 05:12:28 GMT from Germany)
Well, I know that Intel wifi cards are having a much better support than others, but nevertheless, even with the Ralink chip in my workstation's wifi card I never had any issues getting them to work.
With Debian you should have the non-free firmware package at hand to get it working, but that's it. Other distros like openSUSE and Arch always worked perfectly with both cards/chipsets.
So I don't see any reason for the problems you have. At least with a well supported Intel or Ralink chipset you should be fine for a very long period - longer than your laptop works if it isn't a business class like my ThinkPad which is running since 5 years now. But there has not been any Linux distro or BSD which was not able to run my wifi card.
And, another frequent problem people have: ATI graphics. In the mentioned Laptop there is a ATI Radeon X1400 Mobility powering my graphics and I never had any problem with Linux distros. Only BSDs had big problems with it.
So no idea why you are having such problems with it, too.
67 • Support materiel and respin distro (by tuxtest on 2013-02-22 14:17:05 GMT from Canada)
My second job is computer support, repair Desktop, Laptop etc ... The last 4 years I have noticed the poor quality of drivers on multiple devices wifi, video card, sound card and motherboard impressive number arrival dead has increased
Drivers designed for Windows 7 in many device doesn't work well. The device is non-functional and often need to search the web or on the manufacturer's website solution. Good luck if you find support. Driver issues are also important on Microsoft OS, I can say there is more on Windows.
With Linux you have the support of the forum users and several sites dedicated to the list of supported hardware.
To return to Respin and Real Distro.
The best example is the output of DoudouLinux. It is based on Debian, but it provides a personalized environment, targeting a specific clientele. To be tested, I really enjoyed this distribution. It is not just a respin of Debian with a different theme, icons and a dock. It's a real Distro !
68 • @60 (by Pearson on 2013-02-22 16:25:06 GMT from United States)
I was careful to not criticize those "one man shows", and there *have* been some good ones. Heck, wasn't Linux essentially a "one man show" in it's early days? I know Slackware started as a fork of SLS, but I don't recall if it was basically a "one man show."
To further my "rock band" example. There are some good rock bands that started out in a garage. The wisdom is knowing how widespread you can be based on how good you are. Any rock band I started would likely never get beyond my garage. Some rock bands are quite popular only in my local area. Others are multimillion dollar activities. I'm sure all (except the studio created ones) of them started out in someone's garage or basement.
69 • re #65 wifi in linux and realtek 8185 (by gnomic on 2013-02-23 01:11:43 GMT from New Zealand)
Realtek 8185 - not one I'd heard of before. A brief web search indicates some Windows users have problems with this card, so not just a Linux problem. I see that there should be Linux support, as per the following link.
If problems persist one way round might be to get a USB wifi dongle, preferably perhaps one with Ralink or Atheros inside. This should have widespread support without too many glitches.
Hard to know why the ATI video would be giving problems without knowing what type it is, or what the laptop model is. If you want to try KDE, the Porteus distro offers a version with an iso image of around 230MB. The recently revived Slax also has a compact KDE4 with a small download size.
70 • old computer options (by greg on 2013-02-23 17:14:16 GMT from United States)
For those with only a cd player on their computers, here is another option that does not need a thumb drive, to install an OS over 700 MB. Using Unetbootin, install the OS, which you've downloaded, to your HDD, instead of the USB (An option at the bottom of the window, and seems to work best using the first partition). Reboot into that, and using it, install the OS to a different partition. Once installed, you may have to do some tweaking. I had to use a Rescatux CD to reinstall grub, to the first partition, since after the install, the only OS recognized, on the new grub, was the new install. I also had to install Chromium, since Firefox did not want to work, for some unknown reason, on the new OS. It's a round-about way, and time consuming, but it did work for me, after a USB install- try froze up. Others may already know how to do this, and my apology to them.
71 • 66 • @ #65 - Support for wifi and graphics adaptors (by Pierre on 2013-02-22 05: (by imnotrich on 2013-02-23 23:36:43 GMT from Mexico)
Sadly not correct. There is no Realtek driver in the Debian non-free depositories for the Realtek 8185.
Not so simple, unfortunately.
Somehow Wheezy was able to make the "free" driver work with my realtek 8185, but only during the install. Afterwards, the card is disabled/not recognized. This is a bug that has nothing to do with repos anyway.
Regards ATI support none of the distros released in the last 6 years or so support my laptop's ATI Radeon 200M either. Just to get it to boot you have to acpi=off nomodeset and a bunch of other commands.
Wifi and Video are not new concepts. A certain amount of basic functionality should be available with ALL distros, before they put those projects on the web so that people can download them.
Of course I could buy a new usb dongle or mini pci card for my laptop, but why? Because every few months some kernel or other update will bork things and I'll have to buy another usb dongle or mini pci. I've had people say well just go buy another computer or laptop, and that's BS unless those individuals want to send me some cash. Operating Systems are supposed to work with the hardware, not the other way around.
Since the day I started experimenting with Linux almost 20 years ago, EVERY distro I've used has been able to support wired network cards on all variety of machines and brands/types of cards. I've never had a PC stranded by Linux in that way. Why, then is it so difficult for some developers to include wifi and video support? These things have been around a while.
Hardware support is not bloat.
72 • What? (by Ulf on 2013-02-24 10:07:28 GMT from Netherlands)
And the crying about everything goes on and on.
Wireless support? it works if it doesnt program a little and its working.
To many distro`s? linux is the kernel and nothing more.
make youre own version, and keep away from crying.
Why because you can its free software for crying out loud, thats what linux is all about.
If you cant see this or arent willing to put some effort in to it youre simply not worht linux and should sponsor the guys from redmond.
Happy compiling all.
73 • Many of Us are Not Geeks (by Fred on 2013-02-24 19:08:19 GMT from United States)
@72 "If you cant see this or arent willing to put some effort in to it youre simply not worht linux and should sponsor the guys from redmond."
I have used various distributions of linux for 10 years. Presently I use Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon. I am Sure there are Many linux users who lack the technical knowledge You Seem to have and yet are happy and successful using a large number of distros. Sponsoring Redmond? I think Not!
74 • Re 72 • What? (by Ulf on 2013-02-24 10:07:28 GMT from Netherlands) (by imnotrich on 2013-02-24 21:44:15 GMT from Mexico)
Stating the facts about Linux is not Crying.
Fact is overall Linux is an incredible alternative to Windows and Mac both.
Fact is Linux does a poor job supporting certain basic functionality vs Redmond and Mac.
Program a "little?" I don't have the skills nor do I have hundreds and hundreds of hours to create/write code that should be pretty basic for smart developers. Why those smart developers choose to NOT support wireless and video in a consistent manner perplexes me. While some distros do a better job of it that others, the bottom line is Linux will never approach anything more than hobby status amongst consumers until developers focus on basic functionality and spend less time creating counter-intuitive GUIS that are quite buggy.
Your trolling response is typical of Linux snobs who think that major bug fixes are easy for the average user. Again, if said bug is overlooked by those smart developers then please explain how someone who has merely been building PC's since the late 70's is going to figure it out?
75 • RE 74 (by Ulf on 2013-02-24 22:01:21 GMT from Netherlands)
What a contradiction in terms;
Quote; (Stating the facts about Linux is not Crying.
Fact is overall Linux is an incredible alternative to Windows and Mac both) unqoute.
Quote; (the bottom line is Linux will never approach anything more than hobby status amongst consumers until developers focus on basic functionality and spend less time creating counter-intuitive GUIS that are quite buggy. ) unquote.
I`am merely a hobbyist, tiered of windows, i used 3.1, 3.11, 95, 98, 98SE, Millenium, 2000, XP, Vista, and 7.
And it came clear to me all this systems are still based on 2 bit code, and are nothing more than DOS in a polished version.
So since 1996, i`have been fideling with linux, and unixe`s.
happely discovered suse (opensuse), and rarely use something else.
The programming i do is verry basic, i cant think of 10 commandline commands, really.
BUT; reading a lot on the internet and asking others for help, can take you a long way in achieving the thinks you need to get linux doing the things it should do for you.
The only bug i fixed ever is just update the system when the system says it has to be updated.
never have video issues, never have sound issues, never have wifi issues.
The only problem i have with linux is conecting via ethernet to linux boxes.
So that is work in progress i dont know anything about, the rest is easy, ask help read a lot, or just fidel with linux to get it to work thats half the fun.
By the way, i use opensuse 12.2 with kde 4.10.
76 • 61,65,71,74,... (by We're_Not_Rich_Either on 2013-02-24 22:12:35 GMT from United States)
You blame Linux developers for hardware vendor antics, then whine.
Wired ethernet technology has been fairly stable, yes. Wifi, video: not.
It's not trivial for anyone. Hardware support yields diminishing returns. Some cases get lower priority.
For a few years Linux driver support waited while the kernel was freed - done. There are some freed video drivers now.
Use your options:
Short-sighted hardware vendors like obsolescence: try before you buy.
Learn to use what drivers you find. Learn about their parameters.
(Speaking of which, learn _all_ your device particulars, not just model)
Do without; use nomodeset, or no-frame-buffer, or xvesa.
Or pay some developer to do it for you (not cheap). There's no free lunch.
ByTheWay, no driver is likely to upgrade your hardware to new technology.
77 • ProjectM & Audacious (by Roy H Huddleston on 2013-02-25 00:32:07 GMT from United States)
Didn't really know where to ask the question but is there any way to get the two apts to work together?
Number of Comments: 77
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