| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 536, 2 December 2013
Welcome to this year's 48th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! Last week we briefly discussed the release of openSUSE, a popular distribution well renowned for its system administration tools and cutting-edge software. This week Jesse Smith takes openSUSE's latest release for a spin and reports on his experience. One of the more interesting arrivals this week was the new release of DragonFly BSD. DragonFly is perhaps best known for its advanced file system, called HAMMER, which supports massive amounts of storage and snapshots. DragonFly has received several improvements recently and we cover those in the News section. We will also talk about a new way to experience Ubuntu's mobile edition, called Ubuntu Touch. The mobile operating system features Unity 8 and the Mir display server and can now be run in an emulator. If you are considering the purchase of an Ubuntu-powered phone be sure to give it a test run in the emulator first. This week we also link to a new resource for Kubuntu and KDE fans, discuss ways of troubleshooting operating system crashes, note the delay in the release of the much anticipated FreeBSD 10, and reveal an unusual Linux-powered pen that checks your spelling while you write. Finally, we are pleased to announce that the recipient of the November 2013 DistroWatch.com donation is the GNU Octave project. Happy reading!
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
First impressions of openSUSE 13.1
The openSUSE distribution is a cutting-edge, general purpose operating system. The openSUSE project is community focused and experimental, acting as a testing ground for new technologies. The latest release of openSUSE, version 13.1, comes with a few interesting characteristics. One feature which stood out with regards to this release is openSUSE 13.1 will receive long term support lasting approximately three years. This release ships with the latest in desktop environments, including KDE 4.11 and GNOME 3.10. The 3.11 release of the Linux kernel is included and the distribution supports the advanced Btr file system. This release also supports booting on computers with Secure Boot technology. The distribution is available in a number of flavours, including a full-sized DVD that ships with multiple environments and lots of software. There are also smaller editions, including GNOME and KDE live disc editions. Each edition is available in 32-bit and 64-bit x86 builds. The project's release announcement mentions support for ARM devices, including the Raspberry Pi, though these builds were not listed on the project's main Download page. I opted to try the KDE edition, the download for which is approximately 900 MB.
Booting from the openSUSE disc we are quickly brought to a menu which allows us to boot into a live desktop environment or immediately launch the system installer. I decided to try the live environment. We are quickly presented with the KDE desktop. The background is dark and, on the desktop, we find icons for launching the system installer, accessing on-line documentation, getting information on our computer's hardware and launching a web browser. At the bottom of the display we find the application menu and a task switcher. Immediately a welcome window pops up and tells us a bit about the operating system. We are told a little about the underlying technology behind openSUSE and given links to where we can find documentation and on-line assistance. Exploring the live desktop everything appeared to be working well for me. I could get on-line, the links to documentation worked and the interface was responsive. I decided to launch the system installer.
The project's system installer is a graphical application and openSUSE features one of the most powerful (read flexible) installers in the Linux community. We start by choosing our preferred language and confirming our keyboard's layout. The first page of the installer also shows us openSUSE's license agreement. Next we are asked to select our time zone using a map of the world and we have the option of setting the system clock. The following screen handles partitioning and openSUSE gives us several options. We can ask the partition manager to set up LVM volumes for us or Btrfs volumes. We also have the ability to use more traditional file systems. Once the installer has suggested a partition layout we can edit the suggested layout. The partition manager is surprisingly flexible and makes good choices, I feel, when the guided option is taken. Should we wish to, we can manually divide up the disk to suit our needs. The next page gets us to create a user account and set a password on the account. Finally we are brought to a confirmation screen where the installer tells us what actions it will take and asks us to accept the tasks it will perform. This page includes links to earlier sections of the installer for easy navigation back to previous steps. I noticed openSUSE, by default, does not install a boot loader on the local disk's MBR, which is fairly normal for most distributions. We can change this, along with almost any other aspect of the installation, via the confirmation screen. After we confirm the actions to be taken the installer copies files to our local drive and then prompts us to reboot the computer.
The first time we boot into our locally installed copy of openSUSE a first-run wizard appears and automatically goes through some initialization steps. We are not required to do anything here and, after a few minutes, we are brought to a graphical login screen. Logging in we are shown the same dark KDE desktop, the same welcome screen and desktop icons. One of the first things to catch my attention was that KDE ships with file indexing and visual effects enabled. This does not appear to impact performance at all as KDE was surprisingly responsive on my system. I did eventually turn off these features out of habit and did not perceive any change in KDE's responsiveness. Soon I noticed an icon in the system tray which would check for available software updates. Clicking this icon brought up a widget which indicated the system was up to date and presented a button I could click to check again. Clicking this button produced an error message saying the system could not find the server hosting openSUSE's software repository. A quick check revealed that I was not, in fact, connected to the Internet, a surprise as I had been connected while using the live disc. A quick trip to the system configuration centre (which I will talk about later) revealed that openSUSE was using a classic method of getting on-line and this method appeared to expect an IPv6 connection which I did not have. The option was available to use Network Manager as opposed to using openSUSE's default networking utility. Switching to Network Manager immediately connected my computer to the Internet. Once a connection was established the update widget found available software updates waiting on the project's servers.
openSUSE 13.1 - managing software packages
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At first the update widget informed me there were 25 updates available and I chose to download them all. This action brought up a new window which informed me there were, in fact, 104 packages waiting to be downloaded. Again, I opted to download and install them all. The updates were all applied cleanly. On the subject of software management, openSUSE technically has two graphical package managers. One of the package managers is built into openSUSE's system administration tool (called YaST) and features many options, filters and the ability to configure software repositories. The YaST package manager module is feature rich, but adds layers of complexity which most users will not need (and may not want). Most users will probably prefer the Apper package manager. This application allows us to browse available software using colourful icons. Software can be searched for by name and Apper will let us browse installed software (for removal) or download available updates. I spent most of my time with openSUSE using Apper and the command line package manager, zypper. Each utility worked well and performed its actions quickly.
I tried running openSUSE in two environments, in a VirtualBox virtual machine and on my desktop computer (dual-core 2.8 GHz CPU, 6GB of RAM, Radeon video card, Realtek network card). The distribution performed very well in both environments. The KDE desktop was always fast to respond, the system was stable and my display was set to its maximum resolution. The distribution, when logged into the KDE desktop, used approximately 190MB of memory. This is fairly light for a Linux distribution running KDE in my experience.
Looking through the application menu we find an array of useful desktop software. The distribution comes with the Firefox and Konqueror web browsers. We are provided with the KMail e-mail client, the Kopete instant messaging client, the Konversation messaging client, the Choqok micro-blogging client and the KTorrent bittorrent application. LibreOffice is included in the menu as are the Amarok music player and the k3b disc burning software. There are a few photo editors, a handful of small games and some remote desktop applications. There is an archive manager, a file synchronization utility, a text editor and virtual calculator. The distribution comes with the KGpg security key and encryption tool. The KDE System Settings panel is included to help us change the look and feel of the desktop interface. I found openSUSE comes with accessibility tools, including a screen magnifier and virtual, on-screen keyboard. The distribution does not ship with multimedia codecs nor Flash, but I did find Java was installed. In the background we find openSUSE runs a mail service and the OpenSSH secure shell service. The latest openSUSE release comes with version 3.11 of the Linux kernel.
openSUSE 13.1 - utilities and documentation
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As I mentioned above, openSUSE does not come with multimedia codecs by default. Attempting to open a media file, such as a mp3 audio file, gives us the option of searching openSUSE's software repositories to find the appropriate codecs. However, the required software isn't in the repositories and this search eventually fails. I found some documentation on adding the missing codecs, but the documentation was out of date for this release. Further searching turned up a helpful forum post explaining how to add the desired add-on repository. Enabling this repository resulted in the package manager downloading 228 new packages (a lengthy process, even on a fast network connection). Once the software finished installing I had access to Flash content and could play mp3 files, but I still wasn't able to watch video files. This required more searches through the repositories and more downloading. All in all enabling multimedia support on openSUSE was a surprisingly long and awkward experience when compared to most other Linux distributions.
One of the key features of openSUSE is the YaST system administration panel. This panel gives users access to configuration modules which can be used to control virtually all aspects of the operating system. Using YaST we can manage installed software and package repositories. We can work with the AppArmor security controls, file backups, user accounts, printers and virtually every other aspect of the system. YaST is surprisingly powerful and flexible, making administrating openSUSE easier and making the distribution more appealing to power users. This version of YaST was re-written for openSUSE 13.1 and I found it worked exactly like previous versions. If there is any difference I believe YaST may have performed faster in this release when compared against earlier versions. I didn't run any benchmarks, but I found YaST to be responsive and I encountered no problems in the wake of the re-write.
openSUSE 13.1 - operating system and desktop environment settings
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One aspect of openSUSE I was looking forward to playing with was the distribution's Btrfs implementation. Few distributions have meaningful support for this advanced file system yet and openSUSE appears to be leading the pack by integrating Btrfs snapshots with YaST. This means that when we perform administrative tasks YaST can snapshot our file system and, if something goes wrong, we should be able to roll back our files (and configuration) to a point before the error occurred. I played around with this a little and made a few observations. The first is that if we set up openSUSE using Btrfs as our file system there does not appear to be any performance penalty. At least not for common desktop usage, for example listening to music, editing documents and browsing the web. In fact, to the average desktop user there does not appear to be any difference at all, which I think is a good sign. Second, I experimented with making snapshots manually and the operating system created snapshots for me automatically at certain points. I was able to browse these snapshots and revert back to previous points in time without any problem. This is handy if we accidentally remove a software package or mess up a configuration option. One quick command will take the file system back in time, erasing our mistake.
The final characteristic I think is worth mentioning is, by default, openSUSE treats user data as separate from the operating system. What this means is when Btrfs snapshots are created they include system files and configuration, but files in the users' home directories are not snapshotted. There are good and bad points to this approach. On the plus side it means if the system administrator makes a mistake and rolls back the system to last week's snapshot it does not affect the users, their week of work is not lost. On the negative side, should the user accidentally delete a file they can't simply dig a copy out of the latest snapshot. Now, of course there are other ways to backup user files and, for that matter, the system installer would probably have allowed me to include user files in snapshots if I had asked it to. What I describe is merely the default behaviour I encountered, it is not set in stone. So far I have been happy with openSUSE's implementation of Btrfs and I think it will quickly catch on as Btrfs offers several nice features above what is offered by traditional Linux file systems.
For reasons I've never quite understood the openSUSE distribution has always held an unusual place in my mind. Were someone to ask me about the most popular and user-friendly distributions I'd readily talk about Fedora, Ubuntu, Mint, Mageia and Debian. Chances are the openSUSE distribution would completely slip my mind. However, if someone were to specifically ask me for my opinion of openSUSE I would happily and heartily recommend the distribution. I don't know why openSUSE, as much as I respect it, doesn't stand out more in my thoughts. Perhaps the openSUSE project just doesn't attract as much news coverage as other open source projects. The distribution has been around a long time, earned a well deserved reputation as being both very powerful and user-friendly and (in my opinion) the developers consistently balance features, stability and performance. With only a little hesitation I have to say openSUSE 13.1 maintains this trend, offering a fast, flexible and useful desktop solution. The installer worked well for me, the system administration tools are top quality and the usually fast distribution feels even more responsive than ever.
My one complaint with this release was with regards to multimedia support (or the lack of). It will probably get better once the community documentation catches up with the release (it may already have by the time this review appears). For now, getting Flash and multimedia support set up takes a lot more effort under openSUSE than it does with Ubuntu, Debian or even Fedora. I really think third-party codec support should really be as simple as it is with Ubuntu, checking a box at install time requesting the necessary packages and accepting legal responsibility for the choice. This minor blemish aside, openSUSE performed beautifully for me. It comes with lots of useful software, ran surprisingly fast and remained stable throughout my trial. I happily recommend it.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith and Ladislav Bodnar)
DragonFly BSD gets faster, running Ubuntu Touch in emulator, new resource for Kubuntu users, new FreeBSD publication, Lernstift Linux pen
DragonFly BSD is a server-oriented operating system which originally forked from the FreeBSD project. DragonFly carries some interesting features such as the advanced HAMMER file system, a new task scheduler and process check-pointing. This past week saw the release of DragonFlyBSD 3.6 which features a number of key improvements. These include packaging all of the software in FreeBSD's ports tree in the new Dports format, making available over 20,000 third-party packages. Kernel Mode Setting has been added to this release, improving video support. In addition, this release brings several performance improvements which should make DragonFly run much faster, especially on multi-core processors. The new release is good news for people who want to run fast, stable servers with massive amounts of storage space.
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The developers at Canonical have been working on a mobile version of the Ubuntu operating system called Ubuntu Touch. This Touch edition is compatible with some Android devices and is expected to show up on mobile phones sometime in 2014. For people who would like to experience Ubuntu Touch today, without the associated risk of trying to install the operating system on a phone, Canonical has an emulator that runs Ubuntu Touch with Mir and Unity 8. The packages for the Touch emulator are available in the Ubuntu repositories and curious users can follow these instructions for setting up the emulator. The ability to run Ubuntu's mobile edition on a desktop machine is a good way to find out what Canonical has planned for next year's release and it gives developers a chance to test their apps without the requirement of a spare device.
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The Blue Mint blog is a website which presents short articles on Linux, desktop computing and how to get the most out of open source software. Despite the word "Mint" in the title, The Blue Mint is not a blog dedicated to Linux Mint, but rather to the Kubuntu distribution and the KDE desktop. The blog, which was announced on the Kubuntu news page, offers readers the chance to "experience the computing nirvana that is KDE and Kubuntu". So far the blog features posts on finding alternative open source applications to those which come bundled with one's distribution, using small business applications and running personal financial desktop programs.
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The FreeBSD News website reported last week that fans of the FreeBSD operating system will soon have a new information resource available to them. According to the site, the FreeBSD Foundation will be launching a publication called the FreeBSD Journal. The journal is expected to be released bi-monthly and feature articles on the popular BSD project. What can we expect to see in the first edition of the publication? "Topics we can expect to see covered in the first edition, available in January 2014, will include ZFS, running FreeBSD on ARM devices and the upcoming release of FreeBSD 10."
On a related note, the development of the upcoming stable release of FreeBSD, version 10, has hit a few obstacles recently. It was originally scheduled for final release on 24 November 2013, but various complications have resulted in an additional beta (the fourth) and an update on the project's release engineering page. The final release has now slipped to 2 January 2014. Last week Glen Barber posted an brief update on the FreeBSD 10 release status: "Quick 10.0-RELEASE status update: iconv(3) changes have been made in head/, and merged to stable/10 today; two MFCs are undergoing review, one of which I will commit righ before updating the stable/10 branch name to reflect '-BETA4'; builds for 10.0-BETA4 will begin tomorrow. Important note to those tracking stable/10: an update will be committed tomorrow that will disable automatic creation of pkg.conf(5). Those installing new systems from 10.0-BETA4 should experience no trouble, as the update pkg(8) version (pkg-1.2.1) should be available around the same time 10.0-BETA4 is announced. This affects the pkg(8) bootstrap functionality only. Those with bootstrapped pkg(8) will not be affected."
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Those of us following the Linux development scene have witnessed, over the years, the enormous versatility of the GNU/Linux operating system and its incredible diversity in terms of devices it is able to power. From enormous computer clusters right down to cheap single-board embedded devices - Linux is truly everywhere. But have you ever imagined a Linux-powered pen? That is about to become reality too. A German company called Lernstift is developing a pen that will complain loudly if you misspell a word while writing with it. And yes, the pen is proudly powered by the popular open-source operating system: "The computer inside Lernstift is an embedded Linux system; pretty much like a smartphone 'stripped to the bone - without everything that isn't necessary for our purposes (no screen, no GSM module). We are using an individualized board, based on the Gumstix Overo. To build this specific board, we are working together with a German hardware manufacturer. Our board will contain the motion sensor, processor, memory, Wi-Fi and a vibration module. Reliable handwriting recognition is key to making Lernstift the high-quality product we want it to be. That's why we'll work with the market leader in this field and use their advanced software environment for Lernstift." The intelligent Linux-powered pen is expected to be available in the middle of 2014.
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Troubleshooting operating system lock-ups
Dealing-with-a-frozen-system asks: I'm currently experiencing crashes on one of my computers and am trying to troubleshoot the cause of the crashes. Where and what should I look for as far as system log files? Are there any good utilities for troubleshooting crash causes in Linux? The freezing is fairly random, I'm generally not doing anything specific when it happens. This computer sometimes goes a few days before locking up, other times it can happen twice in an hour. I've experienced these crashes both while booted on the main OS, 32-bit Linux Mint 15, and also most recently while running 32-bit Elementary OS.
DistroWatch answers: Off the top of my head I would suggest what you are experiencing may be either a hardware/driver problem or an issue with the operating system running out of memory. If you've got a piece of hardware that is misbehaving or if you have a driver which isn't stable then that would certainly cause problems across multiple installations. If it is a memory issue it could be that your distribution is using up all the available memory and then the Linux kernel is killing off a key process in an attempt to free up more RAM. As to troubleshooting the problem I suggest investigating the following options, in no particular order:
Look in the log files /var/log/syslog and /var/log/dmesg. In the case the issue may be related to X rather than the underlying system, try looking in the /var/log/Xorg.0.log log file.
Monitor your system's memory and processes and log this data. Knowing which processes were running, how much memory was being used and such can be useful for figuring out what your computer was doing when it stopped responding. One method for capturing process information is logging the output from the top command. For instance, running the following command will give you a log file containing a second-by-second playback of roughly what your computer was doing up until the crash:
top -b > ~/my-top-data.txt
Report the issue on your distribution's forum and bug tracker. Chances are someone else has experienced (and hopefully solved) the same problem using similar hardware and software combinations to what you have. If not, opening a bug report with your distribution may yield a fix or at least further suggestions on where to look.
Something else to check is the computer's temperature. Sometimes a high temperature will cause the system to power down or otherwise behave poorly. You can get an idea of your CPU's temperature by installing the lm-sensors package (available in most distribution repositories) and by running the sensors command.
Something that may help narrow down the problem is to find out if the entire system is locked up or just the user interface. One fairly easy way to do this is to enable the OpenSSH server (on Mint simply installing the openssh-server package will do this.) When your computer locks up, try logging into the machine from another computer via secure shell. If you can connect then that means the underlying operating system is still functioning. It will also give you the chance to troubleshoot and investigate further from the command line. On the other hand, if the system does not allow new connections over secure shell, then the problem is affecting the operating system itself, not just the graphical interface.
Consider updating your Linux kernel. If the problem you are experiencing is related to a hardware driver then a newer kernel may offer a fix. Check your distribution's repositories for newer kernel versions or, if you are feeling brave, considering building your own kernel from source code.
|Released Last Week
DragonFly BSD 3.6.0
DragonFly BSD 3.6.0, a UNIX-like operating system created in 2003 as a fork of FreeBSD 4.8, is out: "Version 3.6.0 released." Big ticket items of the release include: "Dports, which uses the FreeBSD ports system as a base, and the 'pkg' tools for installation, is now default on DragonFly; using the parallel building of the 20,000 packages in dports as a test case, contention in the kernel has been nearly eliminated; support for newer Intel and ATI chipsets is present in the system - this may not work for every hardware combination, but a number of users have reported success with hardware-accelerated video using this update; locales and libiconv work have brought DragonFly up to date on language support, utilities should be usable in your native language." Here are the detailed release notes with upgrade instructions.
NetSecL OS 5.0
Yuriy Stanchev has announced the release of NetSecL 5.0, an openSUSE-based, security-oriented distribution with Xfce as the default desktop environment: "It has been a while, but we like to present NetSecL 5.0 which comes with Xfce and is based on openSUSE 12.3. We bring a new installation media - installation from a USB media; we saw that the distribution grew on size which definitely made us change the medium. All packages are compatible and updated to openSUSE 12.3 and the grsecurity 3.9.4 kernel is finally integrated into the operating system properly. Metasploit is updated to 4.7, Firefox is removed and Chromium is added, exploit-db repository is updated. The performance is slightly improved by the Xfce environment. Besides the USB installation image you can try NetSecL OS out on a virtual machine (OVA appliance). The password for both the 'root' and 'tux' user is 'linux'." Here is the brief release announcement with links to documentation.
Arjen Balfoort has announced the release of SolydXK 201311, a desktop Linux distribution with Xfce (SolydX) or KDE (SolydK) based on Debian's "testing" branch - now also with a separate "Business" edition: "The SolydXK team is proud to announce the Business edition of SolydK: SolydK BE. SolydK Business edition has been created for businesses and organizations with stability and security in mind. While the home editions of SolydXK were developed to be stable and still having the latest software available, the SolydK Business edition has been developed to provide long-term support based on Debian 'stable'. The Home editions consist of the 32-bit, and 64-bit variants of SolydX, and SolydK, including the SolydXK multi DVD. They are still based on Debian 'testing' with our update packs." Here is the brief release announcement.
IPFire 2.13 Core 73
IPFire 2.13 Core 73 is the latest stable release from the project that provides a hardened firewall distribution with corporate-level network protection: "IPFire 2.13 Core Update 73 comes with a bunch of smaller bug fixes and updates. The most important ones of these are updates of the Squid web proxy server, OpenSSH and the PHP Hypertext Processor. It is recommended to update as soon as possible. The Squid web proxy server has been updated to version 3.3.10. The most notable changes since the current version of Squid running in IPFire are better SMP scalability, an updated logging infrastructure and fixes. The transparent mode has been dropped in favour of the more general intercept mode which requires a different port than for the transparent mode. There is no intervention by the user required, when updating your IPFire system." Continue to the release announcement to learn about the changes and updates.
Manjaro Linux 0.8.8
Phil Müller has announced the release of Manjaro Linux 0.8.8, a lightweight distribution a choice of Xfce or Openbox desktop user interfaces, based on Arch Linux. The release was already announced on Sunday, but the installable live CD/DVD images were only made available yesterday. From the announcement: "Manjaro Linux 0.8.8 is ready. We worked hard and managed to get Pamac 0.9.3 done. Here are some features of our redesigned package manager: stable backend for updates or transactions with a custom pyalpm; the transaction progress window was redesigned, it includes a details expander; post-install script output is visible in the expander; you can install local packages from pamac-manager; an about window; D-Bus daemon is back to perform transactions; high CPU usage bug should be completely fixed; checking updates rewritten...."
Linux Deepin 2013
Linux Deepin 2013, a new version of the Ubuntu-based community distribution developed in China, has been released: "Linux Deepin 2013 is released. Focusing on improving user experience, Linux Deepin has made several attempts and various innovations on the Linux desktop in the last two years. During the process, Linux Deepin has become more mature and stable. The new 2013 release has retained the highlights of its predecessors. It has also made many improvements based on our users' feedback and suggestions. Users of Linux Deepin are all recommended to upgrade to the 2013 version." Read the rest of the release announcement to find out more about the improvements and bug fixes in this release.
Linux Deepin 2013 - an Ubuntu-based distribution with a customised user interface
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Jacque Raymer has announced the release of MakuluLinux 4.3, an updated release of the project's Debian-based desktop distribution with Xfce as the default desktop environment: "MakuluLinux Xfce 4.3 released. MakuluLinux 4.3 is the final build in the Xfce 4 series. In simple terms, apart from a lot of bug fixes and optimizations, you get more of everything, more apps, more games, more themes, more icon sets, more wallpapers... Based on PAE kernel 3.11.2, now sporting a more refined and polished look and using a new installer, MakuluLinux 4.3 really is just bigger and better in all departments. Complete new installer used for 4.3, now with novice and advanced modes for users to go wild with; new installer supports encryption; added option to make live image on USB drive directly from live desktop; replaced LibreOffice with Kingsoft Office; fixed user reported issues with theme, menu, icons and dependencies." Here is the full release announcement with a complete list of changes.
Peppermint OS Four-20131113
Kendall Weaver has announced the release of an updated respin of Peppermint OS Four, a lightweight, Ubuntu-based Linux distribution with Openbox: "We're proud and happy to announce the first re-spin of Peppermint Four in both 32-bit and 64-bit editions. The downloads are live now via our standard download links and are also available for purchase in both CD and USB format. The re-spins offer a fully updated install as of November 5th, 2013, so you aren't left needing to download hundreds of megabytes of updates immediately after the install. In addition, we changed the desktop notifications back to the way they were in Peppermint Two after several users noted that the way they were implemented in Four seemed to be a bit of a step backward compared to the previous iterations. For users already running Four that also want this, it's actually quite simple: simply install the packages 'notify-osd' and 'notify-osd-icons'." Continue reading the release announcement for further details.
Jack Radigan has announced the availability of an updated build of Centrych, an Ubuntu-based distribution featuring a customised Xfce desktop environment: "12.04.3 released. This release upgrades the desktop to Xfce 4.10.2+ and includes the 4.11 versions of xfwm4 and xfce4-session. The Centrych desktop profile gets a customized notification theme, and both desktop profiles now use whiskermenu. The GNOME and KDE services are no longer started by default, which provides additional RAM savings and shortens login time. Also present is the most recent version of LibreOffice, 4.1.3. The current stable release of open-vm-tools is included and has been modified to build properly under all LTS supported kernels - 3.2, 3.5, 3.8, and the soon to be released 3.11. Finally, GRUB 2 has been updated to 2.00-19 and modified to select the most appropriate kernel when multiple kernels are installed for a given version." Here is the brief release announcement.
Tiny Core Linux 5.1
Tiny Core Linux 5.1, a new stable version of the project's minimalist but extensible Linux distribution, has been released: "Team Tiny Core is pleased to announce the release of Core 5.1: Change log: kernel: updated from 3.8.10 to 3.8.13 to correct long sync issues (this is a minor update to fix a specific bug. no configuration changes); tce-fetch - updated to support $KERNEL parameter; version: added multi-architecture support; tc-functions: getbootparam updated to properly match a parameter that is a substring; tc-functions: getpasswd updated to preserve last character entered in a password. Note that this version is available in three formats: core - fully 32-bit; core64 - 32-bit with 64-bit kernel modules; corepure64 - fully 64-bit." Here is the brief release announcement with update instructions.
Linux Mint 16
Clement Lefebvre has announced the release of Linux Mint 16: "The team is proud to announce the release of Linux Mint 16 'Petra'. Linux Mint 16 is the result of 6 months of incremental development on top of stable and reliable technologies. This new release comes with updated software and brings refinements and new features to make your desktop even more comfortable to use. Cinnamon 2.0 represents five months of development and 856 commits from 28 developers. It features a lot of bug fixes but also brand new features and many improvements. Cinnamon is now able to play sounds when you perform common events such as closing windows, switching workspaces etc." There are separate release announcement for the Cinnamon and MATE editions, with further links to the release notes and the "what's new" pages.
Oracle Linux 6.5
Oracle has announced the release of Oracle Linux 6.5, an enterprise-class distribution based on the recently-released Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.5. "Oracle is pleased to announce the general availability of Oracle Linux 6.5 for x86 (32 bit) and x86_64 (64 bit) architectures. Oracle Linux 6 Update 5 ships with three sets of kernel packages: Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel Release 2 (2.6.39 for x86); Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel Release 3 (3.8.13 for x86_64); Red Hat Compatible Kernel (2.6.32 for x86 and x86_64). UEK R3 includes the following major improvements over UEK R2: integrated DTrace support in the UEK R3 kernel and user-space tracing of DTrace-enabled applications; Device mapper support for an external, read-only device...." The release announcement was published on 27 November, but the installable DVD images were only made available for download November 30.
Karanbir Singh has announced the release of CentOS 6.5, the latest stable build of the enterprise-class Linux distribution compiled from the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.5 source code: "We are pleased to announce the immediate availability of CentOS 6.5. CentOS 6.5 is based on the upstream release EL 6.5 and includes packages from all variants. There are many fundamental changes in this release, compared with the past CentOS 6 releases and we highly recommend everyone study the release notes as well as the upstream technical notes about the changes and how they might impact your installation. All updates released since upstream 6.5 release are also released to the CentOS 6.5 mirrors." See the release notes for detailed information about CentOS 6.5.
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
November 2013 DistroWatch.com donation: GNU Octave|
We are pleased to announce that the recipient of the November 2013 DistroWatch.com donation is the GNU Octave project, a high-level interpreted language primarily intended for numerical computations. It receives US$300.00 in cash.
A more detailed description and feature list is provided on the project's about page "GNU Octave provides a convenient command-line interface for solving linear and nonlinear problems numerically, and for performing other numerical experiments using a language that is mostly compatible with Matlab. It may also be used as a batch-oriented language. Octave has extensive tools for solving common numerical linear algebra problems, finding the roots of nonlinear equations, integrating ordinary functions, manipulating polynomials, and integrating ordinary differential and differential-algebraic equations. It is easily extensible and customizable via user-defined functions written in Octave's own language, or using dynamically loaded modules written in C++, C, Fortran, or other languages. GNU Octave is also freely redistributable software." It's interesting to note that the idea was first conceived back in 1988 and that GNU Octave is in active, full-time development since 1992. The latest version is 3.6.4.
Launched in 2004, this monthly donations programme is a DistroWatch initiative to support free and open-source software projects and operating systems with cash contributions. Readers are welcome to nominate their favourite project for future donations. Those readers who wish to contribute towards these donations, please use our advertising page to make a payment (PayPal, credit cards, Yandex Money and Bitcoins are accepted). Here is the list of the projects that have received a DistroWatch donation since the launch of the programme (figures in US dollars):
Since the launch of the Donations Program in March 2004, DistroWatch has donated a total of US$37,405 to various open-source software projects.
- 2004: GnuCash ($250), Quanta Plus ($200), PCLinuxOS ($300), The GIMP ($300), Vidalinux ($200), Fluxbox ($200), K3b ($350), Arch Linux ($300), Kile KDE LaTeX Editor ($100) and UNICEF - Tsunami Relief Operation ($340)
- 2005: Vim ($250), AbiWord ($220), BitTorrent ($300), NDISwrapper ($250), Audacity ($250), Debian GNU/Linux ($420), GNOME ($425), Enlightenment ($250), MPlayer ($400), Amarok ($300), KANOTIX ($250) and Cacti ($375)
- 2006: Gambas ($250), Krusader ($250), FreeBSD Foundation ($450), GParted ($360), Doxygen ($260), LilyPond ($250), Lua ($250), Gentoo Linux ($500), Blender ($500), Puppy Linux ($350), Inkscape ($350), Cape Linux Users Group ($130), Mandriva Linux ($405, a Powerpack competition), Digikam ($408) and Sabayon Linux ($450)
- 2007: GQview ($250), Kaffeine ($250), sidux ($350), CentOS ($400), LyX ($350), VectorLinux ($350), KTorrent ($400), FreeNAS ($350), lighttpd ($400), Damn Small Linux ($350), NimbleX ($450), MEPIS Linux ($300), Zenwalk Linux ($300)
- 2008: VLC ($350), Frugalware Linux ($340), cURL ($300), GSPCA ($400), FileZilla ($400), MythDora ($500), Linux Mint ($400), Parsix GNU/Linux ($300), Miro ($300), GoblinX ($250), Dillo ($150), LXDE ($250)
- 2009: Openbox ($250), Wolvix GNU/Linux ($200), smxi ($200), Python ($300), SliTaz GNU/Linux ($200), LiVES ($300), Osmo ($300), LMMS ($250), KompoZer ($360), OpenSSH ($350), Parted Magic ($350) and Krita ($285)
- 2010: Qimo 4 Kids ($250), Squid ($250), Libre Graphics Meeting ($300), Bacula ($250), FileZilla ($300), GCompris ($352), Xiph.org ($250), Clonezilla ($250), Debian Multimedia ($280), Geany ($300), Mageia ($470), gtkpod ($300)
- 2011: CGSecurity ($300), OpenShot ($300), Imagination ($250), Calibre ($300), RIPLinuX ($300), Midori ($310), vsftpd ($300), OpenShot ($350), Trinity Desktop Environment ($300), LibreCAD ($300), LiVES ($300), Transmission ($250)
- 2012: GnuPG ($350), ImageMagick ($350), GNU ddrescue ($350), Slackware Linux ($500), MATE ($250), LibreCAD ($250), BleachBit ($350), cherrytree ($260), Zim ($335), nginx ($250), LFTP ($250), Remastersys ($300)
- 2013: MariaDB ($300), Linux From Scratch ($350), GhostBSD ($340), DHCP ($300), DOSBox ($250), awesome ($300), DVDStyler ($280), Tor ($350), Tiny Tiny RSS ($350), FreeType ($300), GNU Octave ($300)
* * * * *
New distributions added to waiting list
- Microlinux Enterprise Desktop. Microlinux Enterprise Desktop is a Slackware-based distribution available in KDE, MATE and Xfce editions.
- Nanolinux. Nanolinux is a very tiny Linux distribution based on MicroCore Linux with BusyBox.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 9 December 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)
If you've enjoyed this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly, please consider sending us a tip.
(Tips this week: 0, value: US$0.00)
|Linux Foundation Training
|• Issue 746 (2018-01-15): deepin 15.5, openSUSE's YaST improvements, new Ubuntu 17.10 media, details on Spectre and Meltdown bugs|
|• Issue 745 (2018-01-08): GhostBSD 11.1, Linspire and Freespire return, wide-spread CPU bugs patched, adding AppImage launchers to the application menu|
|• Issue 744 (2018-01-01): MX Linux 17, Ubuntu pulls media over BIOS bug, PureOS gets endorsed by the FSF, openSUSE plays with kernel boot splash screens|
|• Issue 743 (2017-12-18): Daphile 17.09, tools for rescuing files, Fedora Modular Server delayed, Sparky adds ARM support, Slax to better support wireless networking|
|• Issue 742 (2017-12-11): heads 0.3.1, improvements coming to Tails, Void tutorials, Ubuntu phasing out Python 2, manipulating images from the command line|
|• Issue 741 (2017-12-04): Pop!_OS 17.10, openSUSE Tumbleweed snapshots, installing Q4OS on a Windows partition, using the at command|
|• Issue 740 (2017-11-27): Artix Linux, Unity spin of Ubuntu, Nitrux swaps Snaps for AppImage, getting better battery life on Linux|
|• Issue 739 (2017-11-20): Fedora 27, cross-distro software ports, Ubuntu on Samsung phones, Red Hat supports ARM, Parabola continues 32-bit support|
|• Issue 738 (2017-11-13): SparkyLinux 5.1, rumours about spyware, Slax considers init software, Arch drops 32-bit packages, overview of LineageOS|
|• Issue 737 (2017-11-06): BeeFree OS 18.1.2, quick tips to fix common problems, Slax returning, Solus plans MATE and software management improvements|
|• Issue 736 (2017-10-30): Ubuntu 17.10, "what if" security questions, Linux Mint to support Flatpak, NetBSD kernel memory protection|
|• Issue 735 (2017-10-23): ArchLabs Minimo, building software with Ravenports, WPA security patch, Parabola creates OpenRC spin|
|• Issue 734 (2017-10-16): Star 1.0.1, running the Linux-libre kernel, Ubuntu MATE experiments with snaps, Debian releases new install media, Purism reaches funding goal|
|• Issue 733 (2017-10-09): KaOS 2017.09, 32-bit prematurely obsoleted, Qubes security features, IPFire updates Apache|
|• Issue 732 (2017-10-02): ClonOS, reducing Snap package size, Ubuntu dropping 32-bit Desktop, partitioning disks for ZFS|
|• Issue 731 (2017-09-25): BackSlash Linux Olaf, W3C adding DRM to web standards, Wayland support arrives in Mir, Debian experimenting with AppArmor|
|• Issue 730 (2017-09-18): Mageia 6, running a completely free OS, HAMMER2 file system in DragonFly BSD's installer, Manjaro to ship pre-installed on laptops|
|• Issue 729 (2017-09-11): Parabola GNU/Linux-libre, running Plex Media Server on a Raspberry Pi, Tails feature roadmap, a cross-platform ports build system|
|• Issue 728 (2017-09-04): Nitrux 1.0.2, SUSE creates new community repository, remote desktop tools for GNOME on Wayland, using Void source packages|
|• Issue 727 (2017-08-28): Cucumber Linux 1.0, using Flatpak vs Snap, GNOME previews Settings panel, SUSE reaffirms commitment to Btrfs|
|• Issue 726 (2017-08-21): Redcore Linux 1706, Solus adds Snap support, KaOS getting hardened kernel, rolling releases and BSD|
|• Issue 725 (2017-08-14): openSUSE 42.3, Debian considers Flatpak for backports, changes coming to Ubuntu 17.10, the state of gaming on Linux|
|• Issue 724 (2017-08-07): SwagArch 2017.06, Myths about Unity, Mir and Ubuntu Touch, Manjaro OpenRC becomes its own distro, Debian debates future of live ISOs|
|• Issue 723 (2017-07-31): UBOS 11, transferring packages between systems, Ubuntu MATE's HUD, GNUstep releases first update in seven years|
|• Issue 722 (2017-07-24): Calculate Linux 17.6, logging sudo usage, Remix OS discontinued, interview with Chris Lamb, Debian 9.1 released|
|• Issue 721 (2017-07-17): Fedora 26, finding source based distributions, installing DragonFly BSD using Orca, Yunit packages ported to Ubuntu 16.04|
|• Issue 720 (2017-07-10): Peppermint OS 8, gathering system information with osquery, new features coming to openSUSE, Tails fixes networking bug|
|• Issue 719 (2017-07-03): Manjaro 17.0.2, tracking ISO files, Ubuntu MATE unveils new features, Qubes tests Admin API, Fedora's Atomic Host gets new life cycle|
|• Issue 718 (2017-06-26): Debian 9, support for older hardware, Debian updates live media, Ubuntu's new networking tool, openSUSE gains MP3 support|
|• Issue 717 (2017-06-19): SharkLinux, combining commands in the shell, Debian 9 flavours released, OpenBSD improving kernel security, UBports releases first OTA update|
|• Issue 716 (2017-06-12): Slackel 7.0, Ubuntu working with GNOME on HiDPI, openSUSE 42.3 using rolling development model, exploring kernel blobs|
|• Issue 715 (2017-06-05): Devuan 1.0.0, answering questions on systemd, Linux Mint plans 18.2 beta, Yunit/Unity 8 ported to Debian|
|• Issue 714 (2017-05-29): Void, enabling Wake-on-LAN, Solus packages KDE, Debian 9 release date, Ubuntu automated bug reports|
|• Issue 713 (2017-05-22): ROSA Fresh R9, Fedora's new networking features, FreeBSD's Quarterly Report, UBports opens app store, Parsix to shut down, SELinux overview|
|• Issue 712 (2017-05-15): NixOS 17.03, Alpha Litebook running elementary OS, Canonical considers going public, Solus improves Bluetooth support|
|• Issue 711 (2017-05-08): 4MLinux 21.0, checking file system fragmentation, new Mint and Haiku features, pfSense roadmap, OpenBSD offers first syspatch updates|
|• Issue 710 (2017-05-01): TrueOS 2017-02-22, Debian ported to RISC-V, Halium to unify mobile GNU/Linux, Anbox runs Android apps on GNU/Linux, using ZFS on the root file system|
|• Issue 709 (2017-04-24): Ubuntu 17.04, Korora testing new software manager, Ubuntu migrates to Wayland, running Nix package manager on alternative distributions|
|• Issue 708 (2017-04-17): Maui Linux 17.03, Snaps run on Fedora, Void adopts Flatpak, running Android apps on GNU/Linux, Debian elects Project Leader|
|• Issue 707 (2017-04-10): PCLinuxOS 2017.03, Canonical stops Unity development, OpenBSD on a Raspberry Pi, setting up a VPN for privacy|
|• Issue 706 (2017-04-03): Super Grub2 Disk, Snap packages of deepin applications, Subgraph OS routes network traffic for one application, announcements from Linux Mint|
|• Issue 705 (2017-03-27): Minimal Linux Live, sharing control of the operating system, new KaOS features, Uplos32 provides 32-bit fork of PCLinuxOS|
|• Issue 704 (2017-03-20): ToarusOS 1.0.4, Linux Mint's security record, Debian starts Project Leader election, Ubuntu 12.04 reaches end-of-life|
|• Issue 703 (2017-03-13): SolydXK 201701, CloudReady, Solus announces new features, KDE Connect sends text messages from desktop, openSUSE's YaST module for Let's Encrypt|
|• Issue 702 (2017-03-06): Fatdog64 Linux, elementary OS bundled with new netbook, Haiku announces new features, security and the size of a distro's development team|
|• Issue 701 (2017-02-27): OBRevenge 2017.02, Mageia 6 delays, NetBSD reproducible builds, questions about swap space, trying to steam video on a Raspberry Pi|
|• Issue 700 (2017-02-20): RaspBSD, Debian replaces Icedove with Thunderbird, Fedora's licensing guidlines, tips for switching shells, finding battery charge, getting IP address and killing processes|
|• Issue 699 (2017-02-13): Clear Linux, GhostBSD network utility ported to FreeBSD, Ubuntu coming to Fairphone, elementary OS crowd funding an app store|
|• Issue 698 (2017-02-06): Solus 2017.01.01, comparing containers with portable applicatins, Tails dropping 32-bit support, Debian Stretch enters freeze|
|• Issue 697 (2017-01-30): Subgraph OS 2016.12.30, running Ubuntu on an Android phone, Arch Linux phasing out 32-bit support, Linux Mint testing updated LMDE media|
|• Issue 696 (2017-01-23): GoboLinux 016, remotely running desktop applications, Solus adopting Flatpak, KDE neon using Calamares, TrueOS tests OpenRC|
|• Issue 695 (2017-01-16): Zorin OS 12, Peppermint team fixes installer bug, Debian refreshes Jessie media, Ubuntu improves low graphics mode, Exciting things coming in 2017|
|• Full list of all issues|
|Random Distribution |
BlackArch Linux is an Arch Linux-based distribution designed for penetration testers and security researchers. It is supplied as a live DVD image that comes with several lightweight window managers, including Fluxbox, Openbox, Awesome and spectrwm. It ships with over a thousand specialist tools for penetration testing and forensic analysis.