| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 505, 29 April 2013
Welcome to this year's 17th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! As soon as a release is complete, the next one starts taking shape. That's the policy of Ubuntu and most other distributions, so it's no surprise that immediately after the completion of "Raring Ringtail" the developers started work on "Saucy Salamander". Read all about the Ubuntu release week and the distribution's upcoming plans in the News and Released Last Week sections. Also in the news, Debian announces the availability of the second release candidate of installer for "Wheezy", the OS4 project forks the useful but discontinued Remastersys utility, and TuxRadar unveils its brand-new web-based application called "Distro Picker" that could help narrow down the possibilities when trying to choose the right Linux distribution. Also in this issue, a first-look review of the recently-released PCLinuxOS 2013.04, a Tips & Tricks section on how to easily create Linux containers, and links to two useful reviews and overviews - a comparison of several official Ubuntu flavours and an overview of Trisquel GNU/Linux, a 100% free distribution as defined by the Free Software Foundation. Happy reading!
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
First look at PCLinuxOS 2013.04
The PCLinuxOS distribution was originally based on Mandriva, but has since split off and become an independently developed project. PCLinuxOS is a rolling-release distribution with the dual aim of being both powerful and easy to use. Officially PCLinuxOS ships with the KDE desktop interface, while community editions are available which provide Xfce and LXDE flavoured download images. The latest release of PCLinuxOS, version 2013.04, is significant in that it marks the first time the project has released 64-bit builds of the operating system. The new 64-bit builds are made available alongside the usual 32-bit ISO images. Aside from the new architecture support the latest release carries few new features, focusing mostly on updating existing software. In particular the latest release features the new KDE 4.10 desktop.
The PCLinuxOS DVD image is approximately 1.6 GB in size. Booting off this media brings up a menu with several options. We can boot the distribution and access a live desktop environment, we can load the operating system with a text console interface or we can try to boot the CD using a safe graphics mode. The menu also contains options for performing an integrity check on the media and launching the operating system's installer. I went through these various options and found they all worked well.
PCLinuxOS 2013.04 - the system installer
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The distribution's system installer is a graphical application which features a streamlined interface. Most of the screens have acceptable defaults, allowing users to simply click "Next" to navigate through the process. However, most screens also provide flexibility and advanced options which can be accessed through the click of a button. The installer walks us through confirming our keyboard's layout. Then we get into disk partitioning, which is nicely laid out. PCLinuxOS supports ext3, ext4, JFS, XFS and Reiser file systems. The partition manager offers to automatically handle partitioning for us using available free disk space or we can manually divide up the disk. After partitioning the local disk the installer copies its files over to the hard drive. The next screen asks us if we would like to use LILO or GRUB as our boot loader and we are given the opportunity to change the boot loader's settings and set a protective password on our boot menu. After that the system reboots and we are shown a first-run wizard which guides us through the initial configuration of the distribution. The first-run wizard walks us through screens which confirm our time zone, allow us to set the system's clock and ask us to set a password for the root account. We are then asked to create a regular user account and protect it with a password. With these steps done we are brought to a colourful graphical login screen
When we first login to our account we are presented with the KDE desktop, version 4.10. An information window appears letting us know PCLinuxOS is a rolling release distribution and we should make sure our computer is kept up to date with software in the project's repositories. Upon closing this window a web browser opened and displayed detailed notes on how to launch the Synaptic package manager and install all available software updates. In addition to this helpful documentation, which includes several screen shots, an icon appears in the system tray which can let us know when updates are available. When I first installed PCLinuxOS there were approximately 110MB of updates waiting in the repositories. Over the week a steady tickle of additional packages appeared, usually at a rate of a few each day. Apart from handling software updates, Synaptic is also the distribution's primary package manager. Synaptic gives us a pleasant front-end for dealing with the project's RPM packages. We can search for packages by name or description and I found Synaptic worked well during my trial.
PCLinuxOS 2013.04 - using the Synaptic package manager
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In recent years many distributions and graphical interface developers have taken the philosophy "less is more" to heart. A lot of distributions have taken on simplified interfaces where options and icons are tucked away, out of sight. PCLinuxOS leans in the other direction. On the distribution's desktop we find quick-links to configuration settings and commonly used applications. When running the live CD there are icons on the desktop to guide us to documentation and useful utilities. When we open the application menu there are many sub-menus, each one packed full of software. The PCLinuxOS distribution takes an "everything and the kitchen sink" approach to bundling applications and, at install time, approximately 6GB of software is placed on our systems. Many of the programs supplied out of the box are KDE applications, but PCLinuxOS also supplies packages built with alternative toolkits when they deliver desired functionality.
Digging through the PCLinuxOS application menu we find Firefox, Filezilla, Thunderbird, Skype, Google Earth, KMail and LibreOffice. We also have the KPPP dial-up software and the Drake Network Centre to help us get on-line. In addition we are given the KGet download client, a remote desktop client and the XChat IRC client. The Calibre e-book software is installed for us as is the Okular PDF document viewer. In the Graphics menu we find the digiKam photo manager, the GNU Image Manipulation Program and the simple KolourPaint drawing app. The Clementine audio player, the Juk music player and the KsCD audio CD player are included. We are also provided with the Dragon multimedia player, the VLC media player and a few programs to convert media from one format to another. PCLinuxOS comes with a full range of codecs and the Adobe Flash plugin. The k9copy DVD manager software is included as is the K3b optical disc burner.
KMyMoney is available for handling simple accounting tasks and VirtualBox is installed to assist us in setting up virtual machines. An archive manager is included, we're given a text editor, the Midnight Commander file manager and two programs which will assist us in renaming large batches of files. The distribution includes a full set of KDE games. Apart from the games designed to simply pass the time there is also a whole sub-menu dedicated to educational toys and games which teach simple programming, geography, spelling, physics and memory enhancement. Searching a little further we find Java is installed. PCLinuxOS also comes with the GNU Compiler Collection and, behind the scenes, the Linux kernel, version 3.2. More software is available in the project's repositories, but I suspect many people won't need more than what is provided for us at install time.
PCLinuxOS 2013.04 - changing settings using the control centre
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Perhaps the most attractive feature of the PCLinuxOS distribution is its collection of configuration tools. The various system administrator utilities are all available through the PCLinuxOS Control Centre, a portal which makes it easy to find and launch applications designed to handle specific fields of system management. These applications cover a vast range of functionality, allowing us to configure network services, manage user accounts and work with hard drives and external devices. We can manage fine-grained security controls, change boot settings, work with the firewall and set up network shares. All of this is done through a collection of user-friendly modules. Typically these configuration apps do a good job of explaining their functions and they give the user simple controls by which they provide a great deal of power. The Control Centre used by PCLinuxOS is probably the nicest I've used and I appreciate its balance with regards to capability and ease of use.
I ran PCLinuxOS on my laptop (dual-core 2 GHz CPU, 4GB of RAM, Intel video card and Intel wireless card) and found the distribution played well with my hardware. The system booted without any problems, sound worked out of the box and my wireless card was properly detected. The only problem I faced with the laptop was PCLinuxOS set my screen to use a lower resolution than what I wanted. This meant the vertical space of my screen was used, but large portions of the right and left of my display were left blank. A visit to the KDE System Settings panel allowed me to match the desktop's resolution to my physical screen and it was smooth sailing from there. I found the distribution was a little slower than most to boot and shutdown; the boot process took a little over a minute on my laptop. However, once the operating system had booted it was responsive and tasks completely quickly. PCLinuxOS, while running the KDE 4.10 desktop, used approximately 275 MB of RAM.
Over the course of my week with the distribution there were three aspects of PCLinuxOS which impressed me and made me appreciate the work put into this project. The first was, quite simply, that there were no unwelcome surprises. The PCLinuxOS project produces a friendly, general purpose desktop distribution and that is what I got. Everything from the installer, to the applications to the Control Centre worked as expected. This is all the more noteworthy when we remember PCLinuxOS uses a rolling release model which, I find, often leads to malfunctions in other distros. The second thing I enjoyed was the collection of powerful administrative tools. The system installer, the KDE System Settings and the PCLinuxOS Control Centre are all powerful and user friendly. People who install this distribution can accomplish a lot without ever needing to touch a command line. The system administration tools are polished, provide clear explanations of their options and are stable. They make the distribution surprisingly flexible without sacrificing ease of use.
Which brings me to my third point: PCLinuxOS does a nice job of making the operating system easy to set up and use without dumbing it down. There is a distinction between making things simple and making them easy and, while the two characteristics often go together, it is not always advantageous to wed them. PCLinuxOS is easy without being overly simple. There is a lot of functionality available to us right from the start, there are an amazing number of applications in the default installation and there are a great number of tools from which to choose. The PCLinuxOS desktop is like a workbench with a lot of tools laid out where we can see them and the tools are organized in such a way as to avoid confusion. I find this approach in pleasant contrast to distributions which feel tools should be hidden from the user. I'd prefer to have many tools presented in a well organized manner rather than have to hunt for the proper tool and that is where this distribution shines. I am pleased to be able to say PCLinuxOS provided me with a positive experience with no serious problems.
|Miscellaneous News (by Ladislav Bodnar)
Ubuntu announces "Saucy Salamander", Debian releases second Installer candidate for "Wheezy", OS4 forks Remastersys, TuxRadar unveils distro picker
Ubuntu 13.04, the first Ubuntu version with a shortened support period of just nine months, was release last week as scheduled. While the reviews are mostly positive, many writers have noted the unusual lack of major new features while talking mostly about small improvements and added polish. But as always, with the completion of one release, work needs to start on the next one. Version 13.10 of Ubuntu will come with a rather distinct code name: "The Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Scorpionfish. Not.": "Slipping the phrase ‘ring ring' into the code name of 13.04 was, frankly, a triumph of linguistic engineering. And I thought I might quit on a high. For a while, there was the distinct possibility that Rick's Rolling Release Rodeo would absolve me of the twice-annual rite of composition that goes into the naming of a new release. That, together with the extent of my travels these past few months, have left me a little short in the research department. ... So today I find myself somewhat short in the naming department, which is to say, I have a name, but not the soliloquy that usually goes with it! Which is why, upon not very deep reflection, I would like to introduce you to our mascot for the next six months, the saucy salamander." According to the release schedule, Saucy Salamander will be released on 17 October 2012.
* * * * *
With Ubuntu 13.04, a record seven official Ubuntu variants saw the light of the day last Thursday. Apart from the well-established Kubuntu, Xubuntu, etc., there were two new additions - Ubuntu GNOME and UbuntuKylin. The Register's Liam Proven has written a comparative review of five *buntu flavours in an article entitled "Ubuntu without the 'U': Booting the Big Four remixes": "There are umpteen "remixes" alongside the eponymous distro. These mostly differ by having a different desktop - and therefore overall look and feel - but also in some cases different pre-installed apps. There are more than one hundred - many moribund, very specialised or otherwise of little interest - but seven enjoy official recognition. I'm going to look at the "Big Four" - Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Lubuntu and Ubuntu GNOME. All have a different interface from the standard distro, meaning something for everyone. There are three other 'official' variants, too, that are special-purpose editions: Edubuntu, Mythbuntu and Ubuntu Studio. ... Under the skin, though, all the 'buntus' are the same OS - so they all have much the same compatibility requirements and will run the same applications. The main differences are how they look, how you control them and (to a degree) how powerful a PC you need."
Ubuntu GNOME 13.04 - one of the two new "official" Ubuntu flavours
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* * * * *
If all goes according to the plan, the much-awaited new stable release of Debian GNU/Linux should be available for download later this week. So for one last time, a call for testing the installer, as announced last week by Cyril Brulebois: "The Debian Installer team is pleased to announce the second release candidate of the installer for Debian 7.0 'Wheezy'. Improvements in this release of the installer: accessibility/gdm3 - Introduce basic Orca support; brltty - fix getting stuck in text mode installer; localechooser - update to latest translations of ISO-316; netcfg - use dpkg-query -s instead of dpkg -l to check for package installation; netcfg - install iw along with wireless-tools on the target system, it's the current de facto standard wireless tool; rootskel-gtk - make sure theme=dark works despite some changes in last brltty versions; ttf-cjk-compact - update for wheezy (#690523)." As always, the installation ISO images, including "netinst", CD, DVD and Blu-Ray variants for 11 architectures (amd64, armel, armhf, i386, ia64, mips, mipsel, powerpc, sparc, s390 and s390x) as well as two that use the FreeBSD kernel (kfreebsd-i386 and kfreebsd-amd64) are available for download from the Debian Installer page.
* * * * *
Among the developers of many Debian-based Linux distribution the Remastersys utility is a well-known tool that facilitates the creation of customised live CD and DVD images. Following the recent unexpected announcement about the developer's decision to stop all work on Remastersys (without giving any concrete reason), OS4's Roberto Dohnert brings us some good news. He has decided to fork Remastersys and to continue developing the tool under the name of "System Imager": "OK guys, as many of you know Fragadelic who created Remastersys has decided to quit. Myself and Tony (aka Fragadelic) have decided that we here at OS4 will continue to develop and use the great tool that is Remastersys. We are changing the name to System Imager as per his request. To do this it's going to take some financial backing so any donations you guys can make, $5 to $10 to as much as you want to make will be appreciated and helpful. We also need some developers for System Imager. If you guys wish to help drop me an e-mail." On a separate note, the founder of OS4 also announced that future versions of the distributions would no longer be based on Ubuntu, but on Debian GNU/Linux.
* * * * *
The concept of software freedom, a term coined by Richard Stallman and his Free Software Foundation, is controversial and often misunderstood. As an example, how many of today's Linux distributions adhere to the ideas of four freedoms? Very few. One exception is Trisquel GNU/Linux, an Ubuntu-based distribution that aims to be 100% "libre". ComputerWorld's Rohan Pearce looks at the project in "Trisquel GNU/Linux flies the flag for software freedom": "Trisquel is a 100 percent 'free as in free speech' GNU/Linux distribution started by Rubén Rodríguez Pérez nine years ago. 'It started as a project at the university I was studying at. They just wanted a custom distro because... everybody was doing that at the time!' Pérez says. 'Since I'm very stubborn, the project kept going,' Pérez adds. The idea of software freedom - the kind of freedoms Richard Stallman laid out in the GNU Manifesto in 1985 and the original GPL in 1989 - are central to Trisquel. (In 2005, when Trisquel 1.0 was launched, GNU founder Stallman was part of the occasion.) By software freedom 'we mean the basic liberties the software user should have: those of using, studying, improving and sharing the software without limitations,' Pérez says."
* * * * *
Finally, a link to a useful tool that could help some readers pick the right Linux distribution - the TuxRadar Distro Picker, as announced last week: "Announcing the TuxRadar Distro Picker! To celebrate the cover feature on the latest Linux Format, we've built a web application that helps you find out which Linux distro is right for you. Just enter details of what you're looking for, and it will pick your perfect distro match." The tool allows you to fine-tune the selection with the help of sliders to indicate an importance (or otherwise) of a certain feature. The web-based application will give a recommendation that best matches the data provided and will also add a longer list of other possible candidates. An excellent lifesaver in today's confusing and evolving world of free operating systems!
|Tips and Tricks (by Jesse Smith)
Linux containers made easy
In the past I have praised FreeBSD for having a built-in feature called jails. A jail, in the BSD realm, is a type of virtualization or isolation technology which is about halfway between a full featured virtual machine and a chroot directory. With a virtual machine there is a large degree of overhead as the host operating system needs to emulate hardware along with maintaining a separate network interface and running the guest's operating system. On the other end of the scale is a simple chroot which simply isolates the files in one directory from the rest of the operating system. Programs and users confined inside the chroot are interacting with the same kernel, have the same IP address and a small subset of the same files as the host operating system.
A chroot environment is very light on resources, but also very limited as to what it can do. A jail forms a bridge between these two technologies. A jail makes use of the host's hardware and kernel which allows the jail to work with minimal resources. While maintaining a small footprint a jail isolates files and programs, much like a chroot does, and has the added bonus of being able to maintain its own network interface. This means a jail is lightweight, has its own IP address and programs running inside the jail should not be able to harm the host operating system. The only potential downside to a jail is that it is forced to use the same kernel as its host. In contrast, a full featured virtual machine can run practically any kernel independently of the host operating system, but receives a penalty in performance in exchange for its added independence.
So why might we want to use a jail? A jail is a way of protecting the host system from applications or users by confining them in a restricted environment. For instance we might want to run a web server inside a jail. Our web server, running in its jail, is unable to infect or damage the rest of the operating system should it become compromised. A jail is useful should we wish to give remote users access to certain tools or capabilities without entrusting them with access to our entire operating system. A jail also provides us with a testing ground for new applications. A program can be installed inside a jail, run and tested. Once the trial is over our jail can be erased, effectively removing all trace of the application we were testing. Looked at another way a jail removes the need for trust. We don't need to trust applications or users which operate within the confines of a jail because they are unable to have a strong impact on the host system. Jails are fairly lightweight and programs running in jails have almost native performance, making a jail more attractive than full blown virtual machines in some cases.
In the Linux world there are a few similar technologies which compare with FreeBSD jails. One jail-like approach for Linux users is OpenVZ which is popular with website hosts and virtual private server providers. OpenVZ is certainly useful, but not well supported by modern distributions and it is hampered by a long installation process. Another project, which is appealing because of how easy it is to set up, is Linux Containers (LXC). Most of the major distributions supply packages for LXC and some distributions require very little user interaction in the creation of containers. As an example, to create a container using the Ubuntu distribution we can run:
sudo apt-get install lxc
The above two commands will download the required packages for us and create a minimal Ubuntu operating system inside a container which is called MyContainer. This, in effect, gives us a small, isolated operating system which can be run independently of our host operating system. Applications can be installed inside the container and services can be run. In addition user accounts can be created inside the container which will not affect the rest of our system. We can activate our container, thereby running the applications and services inside it by running:
sudo lxc-create -t ubuntu -n MyContainer
sudo lxc-start -n MyContainer
Should we wish to access the container's command line we can either use secure shell to open a connection or attach our virtual terminal to the container by running:
sudo lxc-console -n MyContainer -t 2
The lxc-console command allows us to interact with the container's command line just as we would with our main operating system's command line. The usual GNU console programs are available allowing us to examine and configure the contained operating system. When we are finished with the container we can order it to stop running, shutting down the virtual environment:
sudo lxc-stop -n MyContainer
Should our container no longer be of use to us it con be deleted from our host system by issuing the command:
sudo lxc-destroy -n MyContainer
There are more commands or manipulating and configuring Linux containers, but the above five are the ones we primarily need to create, run and remove containers. The LXC approach to containers lowers the bar for experimenting with isolated systems and makes it easy for administrators to set up discardable test environments. For more information on creating and using containers, I recommend visiting the LXC website and the LXC manual pages.
|Released Last Week
Red Flag Linux 8.0
Red Flag Software, a Beijing-based software company specialising in the development of open-source software products for the local market, has announced the release of Red Flag Linux 8.0. This is the company's first major release in over four years. Some of the new features include: Linux kernel 3.6.11 with additional hardware drivers and enhanced wireless network cards support; incorporation of Fedora's systemd service manager; a customised KDE 4.10 desktop; new theme for the GRUB splash screen and the KDE desktop; a brand-new and simplified system installer; new Red Flag Software Centre with better software installation interface; new "Firstconfig" feature which includes an option to choose the preferred language; Google Chromium as the new default web browser.... Read the press release and visit the download page (both links in Chinese) for more information and technical details.
Red Flag Linux 8.0 - a Chinese desktop Linux distribution with KDE 4.10
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Welcome to Ubuntu 13.04, the brand-new version of the world's most widely-used desktop Linux distribution: "Today's release of Ubuntu 13.04 on the desktop brings a host of performance and quality improvements making it the fastest and most visually polished Ubuntu experience to date. Performance on lightweight systems was a core focus for this cycle, as a prelude to Ubuntu's release on a range of mobile form factors. As a result 13.04 delivers significantly faster response times in casual use, and a reduced memory footprint that benefits all users. This release also illustrates Ubuntu's ongoing commitment to quality and dependability. 'Our kaizen approach to development as well as community engagement result in a high quality alternative for people worldwide,' commented Jane Silber, CEO at Canonical." See the brief press release and check out the detailed release notes to learn more about the product.
Stéphane Graber has announced the release of Edubuntu 13.04, an easy-to-use distribution targeted at schools, communities and non-profit organisations: "The Edubuntu team is pleased to announce the release of Edubuntu 13.04 (code name Raring Ringtail). This release will be supported for 9 months, it is intended for enthusiasts and users who would like to try out the latest and greatest software. What's New? New default packages: Klavaro - flexible touch-typing tutor, Krecipes - recipe manager and collection of recipes, Gramps - genealogical research program, Chemtool - chemical structures drawing program, Fritzing - easy to use electronics design software, Einstein - puzzle game inspired by Einstein's puzzle, VYM - mind-mapping tool, Bluefish - WYSIWYG HTML editor, Remmina - connect to various remote desktops including rdesktop." Read the release announcement for more information and screenshots.
Jonathan Riddell has announced the release of Kubuntu 13.04, a desktop-oriented Linux distribution featuring the intuitive and customisable KDE desktop: "Welcome to Kubuntu 13.04, a brand new version with the latest KDE software to enjoy. Highlights: the current release of KDE's Plasma Workspaces and Applications 4.10 adds a new screen locker, Qt Quick notifications, colour correction in Gwenview and faster indexing in the semantic desktop; new version of the Muon Suite for application install and upgrades; version 2 of our Reconq web browser adds a bunch of new features, such as inline spell check, new incognito mode, pinning tabs, improved error page and simplified Rekonq pages; Homerun - a full screen alternative to the Kickoff application menu; a new screen management tool...." Here is the full release announcement with screenshots.
Kubuntu 13.04 - a desktop distribution using KDE 4.10.1
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Pasi Lallinaho has announced the release of Xubuntu 13.04, a desktop Linux distribution featuring the lightweight Xfce desktop environment: "The Xubuntu team is glad to announce the immediate release of Xubuntu 13.04. Xubuntu 13.04 will be supported for 9 months and will need other media such as a USB device or a DVD to install. What's new in Xubuntu 13.04? Xubuntu 13.04 is mostly a maintenance release, and there aren't many new features. However, there are some changes, which include: Gnumeric and GIMP are reintroduced on the ISO image; new application versions - Catfish 0.6.1 and Parole 0.5.0 with many bug fixes; updates for the Greybird theme and a new wallpaper; duplicate partitions are no longer shown on desktop or Thunar; updated documentation. Starting with 13.04, the Xubuntu images will not fit on standard CDs. This is an effect of changing the target size to a 1GB USB device." Here is the brief release announcement.
Mario Behling has announced the release of Lubuntu 13.04, a desktop Linux distribution with the lightweight but full-featured LXDE desktop environment: "Lubuntu 13.04 is now available. Features: based on the lightweight LXDE desktop environment; PCManFM, a fast and lightweight file manager using GIO/GVFS; Openbox, the fast and extensible LXDE window manager of LXDE; LightDM; Chromium, the open-source version of Google Chrome; based on Ubuntu 13.04. Improvements since Lubuntu 12.10: new version of PCManFM (1.1.0) including a built-in search utility; artwork improvements, including new wallpapers, community wallpapers, new icons; removed Catfish, since PCManFM has its own search utility; fixed a very old bug causing GNOME MPlayer to crash with some CPUs; several fixes for the GPicView image viewer." The release announcement.
Lubuntu 13.04 - a lightweight distribution using the LXDE desktop
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Ubuntu Studio 13.04
Kaj Ailomaa has announced the release of Ubuntu Studio 13.04, a specialist distribution dedicated to media creation and featuring a large collection of multimedia software: "A new release of Ubuntu Studio is out. This release marks a turning point as it will only be supported for 9 months. For the past two releases, we've been experiencing some bugs with both Jack and PulseAudio. Since 13.04 includes newer releases of Jack and PulseAudio, the bugs are no longer present. And while Jack has been fixed in all releases recently, PulseAudio is still causing problems in 12.04 and 12.10, but the fix is under way. For this release, the menu has seen some polishing, including new icons and a slightly improved disposition. The organization of the menu is something that goes beyond the Xfce menu and will benefit any distro in the long run." Read the full release announcement for further details.
Ubuntu GNOME 13.04
Matthew Butler has announced the release of Ubuntu GNOME 13.04, an official Ubuntu project featuring the vanilla GNOME 3.6 desktop environment: "The Ubuntu GNOME team is proud to announce our first release as an official Ubuntu derivative - Ubuntu GNOME 13.04. Ubuntu GNOME aims to bring a mostly pure GNOME desktop experience to Ubuntu. Keeping in coordination with the Ubuntu Desktop Team, we have decided to stay with GNOME 3.6 for the 13.04 release. What's new? Firefox has replaced GNOME Web (Epiphany) as the default browser; the Ubuntu Software Center and Update Manager have replaced GNOME Software; LibreOffice 4.0 is available by default instead of AbiWord and Gnumeric. For those excited about the latest version of GNOME, we do maintain the GNOME 3 PPA to catch an early look at GNOME 3.8." Read the rest of the release announcement for information about upgrading to GNOME 3.8 and known issues.
Jack Yu has announced the release of UbuntuKylin 13.04, a variant of Ubuntu localised into Simplified Chinese and thoughtfully customised to suit the tastes and habits of Chinese users. Some of the features of this release include: "UbuntuKylin theme and artwork; Unity music scope for China - convenient music search in the Dash that helps you find the latest, hottest Chinese songs; China weather indicator - accurate weather information for cities in China with air pollution index; Chinese calendar - an easy-to-use, authoritative Chinese calendar containing the traditional lunar calendar and facilitating inquiries about public holidays familiar to Chinese users; fcitx is used as the default input method supporting cloud Pinyin input and intelligent word association; WPS for UbuntuKylin...." See the release notes in English or Chinese for further information and screenshots illustrating the features.
UbuntuKylin 13.04 - an official Ubuntu variant optimised for Chinese users
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SparkyLinux 2.1.1 "MATE"
Paweł Pijanowski has announced the release of SparkyLinux 2.1.1 "MATE" edition, a Debian-based distribution featuring the latest release of the MATE desktop environment: "SparkyLinux 2.1.1 MATE edition is out. In the beginning of April, the MATE team published a new version of the MATE desktop environment, version 1.6. SparkyLinux 2.1 MATE edition featured MATE 1.4. It can be a little difficult to make a clear upgrade of MATE so I decided to build new ISO images which provide full system updates. What's new? Linux kernel 3.2.41; MATE 1.6 updated from MATE project's repository; rest of the packages have been updated from Debian testing repositories as of 2013-04-24. If you already updated with no problems, just ignore this message. If you found problems, backup your personal data and make fresh system installation overwriting the old one." Here is the brief release announcement.
Semplice Linux 4
Eugenio Paolantonio has announced the release of Semplice Linux 4, a fast and light Linux distribution with Openbox, based on Debian's "unstable" branch: "It's our pleasure to announce the immediate release of the fourth stable release of Semplice Linux. Features: New GTK+ 3 mixer; visual effects; a simple application to remove some resource-hungry features (Bluetooth, printing); new beautiful theme (with a dark variant); Openbox 3.5.0 is the Window Manager used in Semplice; Linux kernel 3.2.41; Chromium web browser 26.0.1410.43 based on the WebKit rendering engine; Exaile 3.3.1 (a music manager and player for GTK+ written in Python) and GNOME MPlayer 1.0.6 (the power of MPlayer combined with a friendly interface); AbiWord 2.9.2 and Gnumeric 1.12.1; Pidgin Internet messenger 2.10.7, a graphical, modular instant messaging client." See the release announcement and release notes for more details.
Semplice Linux 4 - a lightweight Debian-based distribution with Openbox
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Brian Manderville has announced the release of Descent|OS 4.0, a Debian-based desktop Linux distribution featuring a customised MATE (version 1.4.2) desktop environment: "Hello, everyone! I'm writing from my hotel room here in Bellingham, Washington where I've been attending the Linux Fest Northwest all day, and managed to get 4.0 released on schedule. It's only for 64-bit systems at the moment, mainly because that's the only ISO image I have here on this PC, but I'll be finishing up Descent|OS for 32-bit systems and for PowerPC and releasing them next week. Descent|OS is going through a new phase in development, where it will run under an 8-month release cycle, with one service release halfway through the cycle. This will allow for a more stable system, and bug fixes to be deployed quicker while development for Descent|OS 5 goes on. Thanks for testing, and for being loyal users. See you all tomorrow at the second leg of Linux Fest Northwest!" Here is the brief release announcement.
Arne Exton has announced the release of ExTiX 13, a remastered Ubuntu with a customised GNOME 3.6 desktop environment: "ExTiX 13 64-bit is a remaster of Ubuntu 13.04. The original system includes the Unity desktop. After removing Unity I have installed GNOME 3.6.3 and Cairo-Dock 3.2.1. The system language is English. My special kernel 3.8.0-19 corresponds to kernel.org's stable kernel 3.8.8. Among many other programs, LibreOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird, Brasero, VLC, GIMP and win32 codecs are installed. In addition Java and all necessary additions in order to install programs from source are also installed. All programs have been updated to the latest available stable version as of April 28, 2013. One big difference between Ubuntu and ExTiX - there is a password for root (and you can log in as root to GNOME after an installation to hard drive)." Visit the distribution's home page to read the rest of the release announcement.
ExTiX 13 - an Ubuntu-based distribution with a customised GNOME 3.6 and Cairo-Dock
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
|DistroWatch.com News (by Ladislav Bodnar)
New distributions added to database|
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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, 6 May 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
|• Issue 806 (2019-03-18): Kubuntu vs KDE neon, Nitrux's znx, notes on Debian's election, SUSE becomes an independent entity|
|• Issue 805 (2019-03-11): EasyOS 1.0, managing background services, Devuan team debates machine ID file, Ubuntu Studio works to remain an Ubuntu Community Edition|
|• Issue 804 (2019-03-04): Condres OS 19.02, securely erasing hard drives, new UBports devices coming in 2019, Devuan to host first conference|
|• Issue 803 (2019-02-25): Septor 2019, preventing windows from stealing focus, NetBSD and Nitrux experiment with virtual machines, pfSense upgrading to FreeBSD 12 base|
|• Issue 802 (2019-02-18): Slontoo 18.07.1, NetBSD tests newer compiler, Fedora packaging Deepin desktop, changes in Ubuntu Studio|
|• Issue 801 (2019-02-11): Project Trident 18.12, the meaning of status symbols in top, FreeBSD Foundation lists ongoing projects, Plasma Mobile team answers questions|
|• Issue 800 (2019-02-04): FreeNAS 11.2, using Ubuntu Studio software as an add-on, Nitrux developing znx, matching operating systems to file systems|
|• Issue 799 (2019-01-28): KaOS 2018.12, Linux Basics For Hackers, Debian 10 enters freeze, Ubuntu publishes new version for IoT devices|
|• Issue 798 (2019-01-21): Sculpt OS 18.09, picking a location for swap space, Solus team plans ahead, Fedora trying to get a better user count|
|• Issue 797 (2019-01-14): Reborn OS 2018.11.28, TinyPaw-Linux 1.3, dealing with processes which make the desktop unresponsive, Debian testing Secure Boot support|
|• Issue 796 (2019-01-07): FreeBSD 12.0, Peppermint releases ISO update, picking the best distro of 2018, roundtable interview with Debian, Fedora and elementary developers|
|• Issue 795 (2018-12-24): Running a Pinebook, interview with Bedrock founder, Alpine being ported to RISC-V, Librem 5 dev-kits shipped|
|• Issue 794 (2018-12-17): Void 20181111, avoiding software bloat, improvements to HAMMER2, getting application overview in GNOME Shell|
|• Issue 793 (2018-12-10): openSUSE Tumbleweed, finding non-free packages, Debian migrates to usrmerge, Hyperbola gets FSF approval|
|• Issue 792 (2018-1203): GhostBSD 18.10, when to use swap space, DragonFly BSD's wireless support, Fedora planning to pause development schedule|
|• Issue 791 (2018-11-26): Haiku R1 Beta1, default passwords on live media, Slax and Kodachi update their media, dual booting DragonFly BSD on EFI|
|• Issue 790 (2018-11-19): NetBSD 8.0, Bash tips and short-cuts, Fedora's networking benchmarked with FreeBSD, Ubuntu 18.04 to get ten years of support|
|• Issue 789 (2018-11-12): Fedora 29 Workstation and Silverblue, Haiku recovering from server outage, Fedora turns 15, Debian publishes updated media|
|• Issue 788 (2018-11-05): Clu Linux Live 6.0, examining RAM consumpion, finding support for older CPUs, more Steam support for running Windows games on Linux, update from Solus team|
|• Issue 787 (2018-10-29): Lubuntu 18.10, limiting application access to specific users, Haiku hardware compatibility list, IBM purchasing Red Hat|
|• Issue 786 (2018-10-22): elementary OS 5.0, why init keeps running, DragonFly BSD enables virtual machine memory resizing, KDE neon plans to drop older base|
|• Issue 785 (2018-10-15): Reborn OS 2018.09, Nitrux 1.0.15, swapping hard drives between computers, feren OS tries KDE spin, power savings coming to Linux|
|• Issue 784 (2018-10-08): Hamara 2.1, improving manual pages, UBports gets VoIP app, Fedora testing power saving feature|
|• Issue 783 (2018-10-01): Quirky 8.6, setting up dual booting with Ubuntu and FreeBSD, Lubuntu switching to LXQt, Mint works on performance improvements|
|• Issue 782 (2018-09-24): Bodhi Linux 5.0.0, Elive 3.0.0, Solus publishes ISO refresh, UBports invites feedback, Linux Torvalds plans temporary vacation|
|• Issue 781 (2018-09-17): Linux Mint 3 "Debian Edition", file systems for SSDs, MX makes installing Flatpaks easier, Arch team answers questions, Mageia reaches EOL|
|• Issue 780 (2018-09-10): Netrunner 2018.08 Rolling, Fedora improves language support, how to customize Kali Linux, finding the right video drivers|
|• Issue 779 (2018-09-03): Redcore 1806, keeping ISO downloads safe from tampering, Lubuntu makes Calamares more flexible, Ubuntu improves GNOME performance|
|• Issue 778 (2018-08-27): GuixSD 0.15.0, ReactOS 0.4.9, Steam supports Windows games on Linux, Haiku plans for beta, merging disk partitions|
|• Issue 777 (2018-08-20): YunoHost 126.96.36.199, limiting process resource usage, converting file systems on Fedora, Debian turns 25, Lubuntu migrating to Wayland|
|• Issue 776 (2018-08-13): NomadBSD 1.1, Maximum storage limits on Linux, openSUSE extends life for 42.3, updates to the Librem 5 phone interface|
|• Issue 775 (2018-08-06): Secure-K OS 18.5, Linux is about choice, Korora tests community spin, elementary OS hires developer, ReactOS boots on Btrfs|
|• Issue 774 (2018-07-30): Ubuntu MATE & Ubuntu Budgie 18.04, upgrading software from source, Lubuntu shifts focus, NetBSD changes support policy|
|• Issue 773 (2018-07-23): Peppermint OS 9, types of security used by different projects, Mint reacts to bugs in core packages, Slackware turns 25|
|• Issue 772 (2018-07-16): Hyperbola GNU/Linux-libre 0.2.4, UBports running desktop applications, OpenBSD auto-joins wi-fi networks, boot environments and zedenv|
|• Issue 771 (2018-07-09): Linux Lite 4.0, checking CPUs for bugs, configuring GRUB, Mint upgrade instructions, SUSE acquired by EQT|
|• Issue 770 (2018-07-02): Linux Mint 19, Solus polishes desktop experience, MintBox Mini 2, changes to Fedora's installer|
|• Issue 769 (2018-06-25): BunsenLabs Helium, counting Ubuntu users, UBports upgrading to 16.04, Fedora CoreOS, FreeBSD turns 25|
|• Issue 768 (2018-06-18): Devuan 2.0.0, using pkgsrc to manage software, the NOVA filesystem, OpenBSD handles successful cron output|
|• Issue 767 (2018-06-11): Android-x86 7.1-r1, transferring files over OpenSSH with pipes, LFS with Debian package management, Haiku ports LibreOffice|
|• Issue 766 (2018-06-04): openSUSE 15, overview of file system links, Manjaro updates Pamac, ReactOS builds itself, Bodhi closes forums|
|• Issue 765 (2018-05-28): Pop!_OS 18.04, gathering system information, Haiku unifying ARM builds, Solus resumes control of Budgie|
|• Issue 764 (2018-05-21): DragonFly BSD 5.2.0, Tails works on persistent packages, Ubuntu plans new features, finding services affected by an update|
|• Issue 763 (2018-05-14): Fedora 28, Debian compatibility coming to Chrome OS, malware found in some Snaps, Debian's many flavours|
|• Issue 762 (2018-05-07): TrueOS 18.03, live upgrading Raspbian, Mint plans future releases, HardenedBSD to switch back to OpenSSL|
|• Issue 761 (2018-04-30): Ubuntu 18.04, accessing ZFS snapshots, UBports to run on Librem 5 phones, Slackware makes PulseAudio optional|
|• Issue 760 (2018-04-23): Chakra 2017.10, using systemd to hide files, Netrunner's ARM edition, Debian 10 roadmap, Microsoft develops Linux-based OS|
|• Issue 759 (2018-04-16): Neptune 5.0, building containers with Red Hat, antiX introduces Sid edition, fixing filenames on the command line|
|• Issue 758 (2018-04-09): Sortix 1.0, openSUSE's Transactional Updates, Fedora phasing out Python 2, locating portable packages|
|• Issue 757 (2018-04-02): Gatter Linux 0.8, the UNIX and Linux System Administration Handbook, Red Hat turns 25, super long term support kernels|
|• Issue 756 (2018-03-26): NuTyX 10.0, Neptune supplies Debian users with Plasma 5.12, SolydXK on a Raspberry Pi, SysV init development|
|• Issue 755 (2018-03-19): Learning with ArchMerge and Linux Academy, Librem 5 runs Plasma Mobile, Cinnamon gets performance boost|
|• Full list of all issues|
Star Labs - Laptops built for Linux.
View our range including the Star Lite, Star LabTop and more. Available with a choice of Ubuntu or Linux Mint pre-installed with many more distributions supported. Visit Star Labs for information, to buy and get support.
|Random Distribution |
Build Your Own (BYO) Linux
Can you answer yes to any of these questions? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a Linux distribution where you knew what every file or directory was for? Do you dislike downloading applications for your particular distribution? When you want to remove an rpm, do you find that you can't because it will break a dependency? Do you think Linux distributions, in general, have too much junk you won't ever use but you can't remove things because your distribution won't function without them? Do you want to learn to configure Linux without using vendor tools? Are you just plain curious how things work? If this sounds like you, you've came to the right place. Together, we'll create your own personal Linux distribution. You decide what goes in and what doesn't. We'll compile applications from the authors' original source code, not code tinkered with by a commercial distribution. Not only will you gain a much better understanding of how linux works and a little bit of programming knowledge on the side, you'll take pride in the fact that you did it yourself.