| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 573, 25 August 2014
Welcome to this year's 34th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! Many of us got into Linux and other open-source operating systems, in part at least, because we are interested in how our computers work. What goes on under the hood, how do all of these software packages fit together, how is software made and how can we use these operating systems to improve our lives? These are all important questions and this curiosity many of us have is the focus of this week's DistroWatch Weekly. In our News section we talk about how a distribution is packaged, patched and maintained, using Kubuntu as an example. We also talk about how to use FreeBSD to act as a VPN gateway on the local network, securing our Internet traffic. Plus we wish happy birthday to Debian, one of the world's oldest and most successful distributions. In honour of Debian's birthday, our feature review this week examines SolydXK, a Debian-based distribution that offers many flavours and builds. SolydXK has its roots in the Linux Mint community and we will see how it compares against Linux Mint Debian Edition. In our Question and Answer section this week we talk about trust and how we can verify that a binary package has not been compromised during the build process. As usual, we cover the distribution releases of the past week and look ahead to exciting developments to come. We wish you all a wonderful week and happy reading!
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (30MB) and MP3 (33MB) formats
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
First Impressions of SolydXK 201407
The SolydXK project has its roots in the Linux Mint Debian Edition distribution. According to SolydXK's website, "there were two distributions which I liked very much: Linux Mint KDE and Linux Mint "Debian" edition (LMDE). There were once rumours that the two would merge, but unfortunately that didn't happen. So, I decided to make my own distribution. First as a tutorial in the forum, but later it became known as 'The unofficial LMDE KDE'. When Linux Mint dropped their LMDE Xfce edition, I started that one from scratch and 'The unofficial LMDE Xfce' was born." So what is SolydXK now? "SolydX and SolydK are Debian based distributions with the Xfce and KDE desktops. SolydXK aims to be simple to use, providing an environment that is both stable and secure. SolydXK is an open-source alternative for small businesses, non-profit organizations and home users."
The SolydXK project divides its focus into two main parts. On the one hand we have the Business edition which is available in Xfce and KDE flavours. There is also a "Back Office" flavour of the Business edition that features more business oriented options. The Business edition of SolydXK is based on Debian's Stable branch and ships with the SysV init system. The Home edition of SolydXK is offered in two flavours (Xfce and KDE) and is based on Debian's Testing branch. The Home edition of the distribution ships with the systemd init technology. Each flavour of SolydXK is available in 32-bit and 64-bit x86 builds.
I decided to try the Home edition of SolydXK and downloaded the 64-bit build of the Xfce image. This image file is approximately 1.3GB in size. Booting from the distribution's live media brought me to a Xfce desktop environment that was themed to look surprisingly like a KDE 4 desktop. The application menu, task switcher and system tray sit at the bottom of the screen. The default wallpaper features the SolydXK branding and, on the desktop, we find icons for browsing the file system and launching the project's system installer.
SolydXK's graphical system installer appears to be a derivative of the Linux Mint "Debian" edition installer. This installer walks us through a series of screens where we select our preferred language from a list, pick our time zone from a map of the world and confirm our keyboard's layout. We are asked to create a user name for ourselves and set a password on our new account. Next, the system installer will offer to partition out hard disk for us. We can take this guided option which defaults to using the ext4 file system for our root partition and creating a small swap partition. Alternatively we can launch the GParted partition manager using a button in the system installer and divide up the disk however we wish.
We are then given a few configuration options. These options ask whether we wish to install a boot loader along with SolydXK, whether we wish to see a graphical boot screen when we start SolydXK and whether we wish the distribution to include multimedia support out of the box. Once we have checked boxes indicating which options we want to enable we are shown a confirmation screen where our previous selections are displayed. Once we confirm the configuration is correct the system installer copies its files to the local drive and, when it is finished, we are asked to reboot the computer.
Booting SolydXK brings us to a graphical login screen. Signing into the account we created during the installation process brings us back to the Xfce desktop. Upon logging in the first time a welcome screen appears. This welcome screen mostly offers to open our web browser to key pages of the project's website. The welcome screen can take us to the SolydXK user support forum, the contribution and donation pages, the partnership page or to a collection of tutorials for newcomers to the distribution. The welcome screen can also launch the distribution's Device Driver Manager, a graphical application which helps us identify which pieces of our hardware can benefit from third-party drivers. The Device Driver Manager can then download new kernels or drivers and install them for us.
SolydXK 201407 - reviewing software updates and release notes
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Shortly after logging in an icon appeared in the system tray indicating software updates were available. Clicking this icon brings up the distribution's software updater. The updater has a simple interface which shows us a list of waiting software updates. We cannot select which items we wish to install, we can choose only to install waiting updates or not. On the day I installed SolydXK there were 16 new packages available, totalling about 3MB in size. The update manager downloaded these items and installed them without any problems. The update manager does have a few additional features. Using the software updater we can select which repositories we wish to use, how often to check for updates and we can freeze selected packages at a specific version. SolydXK releases quarterly update packages and detailed release notes on these packages can be be found in the update manager.
Digging into SolydXK's application menu we find lots of useful desktop software. The Firefox web browser is included and, if we chose to install third-party multimedia support at install time, Adobe's Flash plugin is available too. The Thunderbird e-mail client is included in the application menu along with the Pidgin messaging software, the Transmission bittorrent application and the XChat IRC client. SolydXK ships with the AbiWord word processor and the Gnumeric spreadsheet software. We are also given the Orage calendar software, a PDF viewer and a dictionary application. The GNU Image Manipulation Program is installed for us along with an image viewer and the Shotwell photo organizer. The distribution supplies us with the VLC multimedia player, the Exaile audio player and the Xfburn disc burning software. I found these multimedia applications supported a wide range of media formats and played all the media files I threw at them.
The application menu further includes a bulk file renaming utility, a graphical configuration tools for managing the firewall and the LuckyBackup software. The Clam anti-virus software is included for us along with applications for managing printers, creating Samba shares and working with system services via the systemd software. There is an application for managing user accounts and Network Manager is present to help us get on-line. SolydXK ships with Java, the GNU Compiler Collection and an e-mail server is running in the background. Behind the scenes the distribution ships with the Linux kernel, version 3.14.
SolydXK 201407 - running LuckyBackup
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I feel two of the applications which ship with SolydXK deserve special mention. The first is LuckyBackup which, as the name implies, helps the user create backups of their documents. LuckyBackup is interesting because, by default, it offers us a pretty easy set of choices. We choose a directory of files to backup and a location where we wish to place copies of those files. LuckyBackup then synchronizes our files from the source location to the destination. Where LuckyBackup gets its power is in the levels of configuration it allows. We can choose to configure our backup further, excluding certain directories or types of files, we can choose to backup our files to a directory inside the source directory and there are all sorts of filtering and tweaking options we can adjust. This makes LuckyBackup a surprisingly powerful application which is also, with its default settings, easy to work with for simple tasks. I like the balance struck with this application.
The other application I felt deserved a mention was the system services management program. This application acts as a graphical front end to systemd and I felt it lacked polish. The names of services are not easily recognizable. Further, there are three status fields and these are not particularly intuitive. For example, it took me a minute to figure out the difference between the "active state" and the "unit state" of services. This was further complicated in that the status fields do not update when we enable or disable a service. When I disabled a service or started a service its status would not change until I had clicked on another item and then come back to click on the changed item again. I was further frustrated by the fact that the application does not prompt for administrator permissions when it is launched from the application menu. This means we need to manually run the service manager from the command line if we want to start/stop services.
SolydXK 201407 - desktop settings and various applications
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SolydXK uses the Synaptic graphical package manager to handle adding or removing software. The Synaptic package manager shows us a simple list of available software, presented in alphabetical order. The package manager allows us to queue packages for installation or removal by clicking a checkbox next to each item. Using Synaptic we can create batches of actions we wish to perform, filter available packages by their status or search for items by name. Synaptic processes actions to be performed in batches, locking the interface while it works. I found Synaptic was not a pretty package manager, it can take a little while to get comfortable with the application, but it does work quickly and functioned for me without any issues. SolydXK is based on Debian, but it pulls software from its own repositories which appear to be copies of Debian Testing with some additional distribution-specific additions such as the Firefox web browser.
I tried running SolydXK in two environments, on a physical desktop machine and in a VirtualBox virtual machine. In both cases I found SolydXK ran smoothly. The distribution detected and properly utilized all of my desktop's hardware. When run in VirtualBox the distribution detected its environment and loaded the VirtualBox guest modules to provide a better experience. In both environments the distribution booted quickly, the desktop interface, powered by Xfce 4.10, was responsive and devoid of any clutter or distracting visual effects. The distribution required approximately 230MB of RAM when signed into the graphical environment.
SolydXK 201407 - firewall and anti-virus software
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The hardest part of getting started with SolydXK, for me at any rate, was picking the edition I wanted to try. There is quite a tree of options (Business vs Home edition, Xfce vs KDE, 32-bit vs 64-bit). I mention this mostly because I suspect my experiences with the distribution will not match the experiences of others and a large part of that may be the great range of options available even before we get to the system installer. That being said, I think SolydXK makes the range of choices available an asset. It can be a little overwhelming at first, but I like that the project offers a little something for just about everyone, ranging from small businesses to home users to people with lower-end equipment to people who want all sorts of features.
Once SolydXK was installed I felt as though I was running a copy of Debian with a few extra application and conveniences. The distribution was fast, stable and using the operating system was fairly straight forward. The distribution ships with a good collection of useful software and users have access to a huge collection of software packages in the repositories. On the other hand I feel as though SolydXK suffers from some small issues, many of which the distribution shares with its Debian base. For example, while Synaptic is a capable package manager, it feels a bit dated and I found myself missing more modern package managers such as Linux Mint's Software Manager or the Ubuntu Software Centre with their nicely presented interfaces, categories and ratings.
Other aspects of the Xfce edition of SolydXK presented this same sense of being capable, but not particularly attractive. The services manager, the update manager, application menu and default productivity software generally offered the desired functionality, but in a skin that felt several years out of date. This is not just a matter of one desktop theme verses another, but involves the placement of controls and the behaviour of these controls. I found this presentation interesting as Linux Mint Debian Edition has the same base and shares some similar tools, but where Mint carries the look and feel of a modern operating system, SolydXK's Xfce edition presents a more conservative style. Many may find this classic style appealing, even preferable, but I found it made SolydXK feel slightly out of date.
Otherwise, apart from the service manager, all the tools which shipped with the distribution worked very well. The operating system presented a good combination of power, performance and stability. SolydXK provides the power and performance of Debian while adding in some conveniences, such as a nicer system installer, more useful desktop applications in the default installation and I found the distribution had a pleasant lack of surprises. As I mentioned before, SolydXK has a lot of different editions and I will probably revisit the project again in the near future to try another flavour to compare and contrast last week's experiences. And I think the fact I look forward to installing SolydXK again is a good indication of my overall feelings for the distribution. SolydXK may have a few minor rough edges, but on the whole the project did a great job of providing a useful, appealing user experience.
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Hardware used in this review
My physical test equipment for this review was a desktop HP Pavilon p6 Series with the following specifications:
- Processor: Dual-core 2.8 GHz AMD A4-3420 APU
- Storage: 500 GB Hitachi hard drive
- Memory: 6 GB of RAM
- Networking: Realtek RTL8111 wired network card
- Display: AMD Radeon HD 6410D video card
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith and Ladislav Bodnar)
Kubuntu plans changes to infrastructure, building VPN gateway with FreeBSD, Ubuntu MATE to become official Ubuntu flavour, what is Raspbian, Debian turns 21
Building a Linux distribution is a huge undertaking. It requires packaging thousands of pieces of software, building these packages, testing them and making sure all the components work together. On top of that there are bug fixes, backports and tracking feedback. There is a post on the KDE blog by Jonathan Riddell which talks about the work that goes into building and maintaining the Kubuntu distribution. Riddell also talks about changes coming to Kubuntu's infrastructure and invites feedback from the community. "At Kubuntu we've never shared infrastructure with Debian despite having 99% the same packaging. This is because Ubuntu to an extent defines itself as being the technical awesomeness of Debian with smoother processes. But for some time Debian has used Git while we've used the slower Bzr (it was an early plan to make Ubuntu take over the world of distributed revision control with Bzr but then Git came along and turned out to be much faster even if harder to get your head around) and they've also moved to team maintainership so at last we're planning shared repositories. That'll mean many changes in our scripts but should remove much of the headache of merges each cycle. There's also a proposal to move our packaging to daily builds so we won't have to spend a lot of time updating packaging at every release."
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Would you like to be able to make sure all the traffic leaving your home network is encrypted? Privacy is a serious concern these days and encrypting the data being transmitted to and from your home can help maintain a level of privacy when on-line. The Network Filter blog has a detailed tutorial on how to route all network traffic through a VPN gateway using the FreeBSD operating system. "I already linked before to many articles showing evidences about global automated privacy violation, automatic recording of everything we do online, as well as our phones, just in case it would be needed for "national interest". We are assumed criminals by default. You have to actively retain your privacy, or it will fade away by itself. In my last article, Defend Your Network And Privacy: VPN Gateway With OpenBSD, I explained how to build a home gateway to encrypt all of your outgoing traffic with OpenBSD. Now I come back with the same, but with FreeBSD 10 this time. There are many advantages in both OpenBSD and FreeBSD, I love both operating systems."
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Those readers who enjoy Ubuntu but prefer the more traditional desktop layout of GNOME 2 will be pleased to learn that Ubuntu MATE is on the path to become the latest addition to the family of official Ubuntu flavours. The ./themukt website reports: "Martin Wimpress updated the current development status of Ubuntu MATE in the distro's blog today. In addition to the regular update, he has confirmed that the MATE variant is going to be recognized as an official Ubuntu flavor. Rejoice, MATE lovers! The MATE desktop environment is a continuation of the GNOME 2 desktop environment for those who don't like the bells and whistles of GNOME 3 but loved the simplicity and productivity GNOME 2. The MATE team requested the Ubuntu Technical Board for an official flavor status recently and the board is supportive of the proposal. Martin also confirmed that there are no known show stoppers right now and things look good for an August 28th release of Ubuntu MATE beta 1."
Ubuntu MATE 14.10 Alpha 2 - the return of the "classic" interface
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Raspbian has emerged as the most popular general-purpose Linux distribution for the Raspberry Pi single-board computer. But what exactly is Raspbian? The Linux User magazine has published a useful article explaining Raspbian and why it has become a de-facto "default" distribution for Raspberry Pi: "It's mostly down to luck and good timing, really. A couple of years ago there was a Fedora spin that was being touted as the official Raspberry Pi distro, however there were some major problems with it. The project that became Raspbian ended up being chosen as a preferred distro around that time and the community really latched onto it. Since then, all the major Raspberry Pi Foundation announcements regarding software have involved Raspbian and pretty much all shared community projects are done on Raspbian, which is why we do a lot of our projects on it as well."
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Finally, we are happy to report that last week the Debian project turned 21 years old. On August 16 the following message appeared on Debian's website, "Today is Debian's 21st anniversary. Plenty of cities are celebrating Debian Day. If you are not close to any of those cities, there's still time for you to organize a little celebration! Happy 21st birthday Debian!" Debian is not only a respected distribution, especially popular in the server market, but it is also the basis for other well known distributions such as Linux Mint, Ubuntu and Raspbian for the Raspberry Pi. Happy birthday, Debian!
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Trusting binary packages
Establishing-trusts asks: People in the open-source world are mostly a little bit more aware of security issues. Many of us are worried about the spying activities done by NSA, GHCQ and others. We could see (and some people even suspected this even over 15 years ago) that products from Microsoft and Apple aren't really safe and agencies like NSA can force US-companies at any time to build back doors for them into their software and operating systems. Such secret extra access probably hides inside services from Google, Facebook, Amazon as well. American companies don't seem to have real choice of denying such requests from US-secret agencies.
But this would also mean that companies like Red Hat are affected from this problem too. So I ask: can we still trust the binary packages from Red Hat? Who guarantees us that their compiled code doesn't bare secret installations from NSA and others? Who has got the time to compare all the source code from Red Hat with the resulting binaries they deliver with their distro and products?
Furthermore we then have to question the reliability of the binary packages from Fedora as well. What do you think about this? Is it a worthwhile topic for further investigations or an article on this issue for you?
DistroWatch answers: First of all I want to repeat what I said a few weeks ago and point out that idle speculation and rumours do more harm than good. We can wildly speculate on whether one operating system or another is compromised for one reason or another, but without some form of evidence there is not any reason to point fingers and label a project or company as suspect. I believe a small dose of paranoia is helpful when it comes to matters of security, but wildly pointing fingers at organizations and declaring them compromised (or likely compromised) is not helping anyone. As I wrote before, most governments spy on people (both foreign and domestic) and singling out one operating system because it is based in America, China, Russia or the United Kingdom smacks of tribalism.
For that matter, why focus on Red Hat? There are lots of open-source operating systems developed in the United States of America and a huge portion of the GNU userland tools and the Linux kernel itself are maintained by people living in the USA. Personally, were I interested in compromising computer systems, I would be much more likely to try to sneak code into the Linux kernel or the GNU compiler and take over all Linux-based operating systems (including Android) than I would be to focus directly on one distribution, even one as popular as Red Hat's.
But let's get back to the root of the matter. How can one verify whether the packages they are running are untainted, truly representing the source code that is publicly available? That can be tricky. The first thing we need to do is figure out what we can trust. At some point we need to decide whether we trust the hardware we are running on, the kernel and the compiler. If we are running tests in a virtual machine, can we trust that it is giving us good results? Without an initial starting point of trust somewhere it is not possible to verify anything.
Let us assume, for sake of argument, that we trust the source code of all open-source projects. We may not trust the binary packages provided by distributions, but let's pretend we trust the source code. To verify a distribution's packages are clean we would need to build all of our tools from scratch (or find an existing binary we trust). We would then need to try to build and configure our compiling tools to match exactly the build environments used by organizations like Red Hat or Fedora. Then we could download the source RPM packages from the distribution's repository. Then we would have to build each tool ourselves and compare the output with the binary package provided by the distribution. This is a lot of work. In fact, it is basically rebuilding someone else's distribution from scratch.
The problem is, minor differences in just about any part of the build process can throw off the results. Over on the KDE blog, there is a post by Jos van den Oever where the author talks about trying to verify binary packages from Debian, Fedora and openSUSE. The results were not positive. "A cherished characteristic of computers is their deterministic behaviour: software gives the same result for the same input. This makes it possible, in theory, to build binary packages from source packages that are bit for bit identical to the published binary packages. In practice however, building a binary package results in a different file each time. This is mostly due to timestamps stored in the builds. In packages built on openSUSE and Fedora differences are seen that are harder to explain. They may be due to any number of differences in the build environment. If these can be eliminated, the builds will be more predictable. Binary package would need to contain a description of the environment in which they were built."
In short, I am afraid the answer to the question "Who has got the time to compare all the source code from Red Hat with the resulting binaries they deliver with their distro and products?" is very few of us have the time, few have the skills necessary and, even if one does have the skill and time to perform these tests, the results are not necessarily conclusive. When searching for misbehaving software you are probably better off setting up a network with a variety of operating systems. Then monitor the network to see if any unexpected traffic appears. Having different operating systems from different sources makes it more likely you can spot a misbehaving software packages when they send or receive packets.
|Released Last Week
Bill Reynolds has announced the release of PCLinuxOS 2014.08, the latest update of the project's "KDE", "FullMonty", "MiniMe", "LXDE" and "MATE" editions. Released on 12 August, it was formally announced earlier today: "All official ISO images were updated on 2014-08-12 and are available for direct download or via torrent. Features: Linux kernel 3.15.9 for maximum desktop performance; full KDE 4.13.3 desktop; updated desktop theme; X.Org Server 1.14.6; MESA 10.2.5; NVIDIA and ATI fglrx driver support; multimedia playback support for many popular formats; addlocale allows you to convert PCLinuxOS into over 60 languages; LibreOffice manager can install LibreOffice supporting over 100 languages..."
Anke Boersma has announced the release of KaOS 2014.08, a desktop Linux distribution featuring the just-released KDE 4.14 desktop: "With KDE releasing the new major version, KDE 4.14.0, offering primarily improvements and bug fixes, KaOS is happy to be able to present you a new ISO image with KDE 4.14.0 the same day it is released. KDE Applications 4.14 is not about lots of 'new and improved stuff'. As with KaOS, many KDE developers are focused on the Next Experience (Plasma 5) or porting to KDE Frameworks (based on Qt 5). Mostly, the 4.14 release is needed by aspects of the workflow. This release offers more software stability, with little emphasis on new and less-proven stuff. For KaOS, a new major KDE is not the biggest news on this ISO, that part goes to the all new installer." Read the rest of the release announcement for more information and screenshots.
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
July 2014 DistroWatch.com donation: OpenStreetMap|
We are pleased to announce that the recipient of the July 2014 DistroWatch.com donation is OpenStreetMap, a collaborative project to create a free editable map of the world. It receives US$350.00 in cash.
For those unfamiliar with the concept behind the project, Wikipedia has a nice description of OpenStreetMap: "Created by Steve Coast in the UK in 2004, it was inspired by the success of Wikipedia and the preponderance of proprietary map data in the UK and elsewhere. Since then, it has grown to over 1.6 million registered users, who can collect data using manual survey, GPS devices, aerial photography, and other free sources. This crowd-sourced data is then made available under the Open Database License. The site is supported by the OpenStreetMap Foundation, a non-profit organization registered in the United Kingdom." See also the project's About page for further information.
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$40,475 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), Linux Voice ($510)
- 2014: QupZilla ($250), Pitivi ($370), MediaGoblin ($350), TrueCrypt ($300), Krita ($340), SME Server ($350), OpenStreetMap ($350)
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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, 1 September 2014. To contact the authors please send email to:
- Jesse Smith (feedback, questions and suggestions: distribution reviews, questions and answers, tips and tricks)
- Ladislav Bodnar (feedback, questions, suggestions and corrections: news, donations, distribution submissions, comments)
- Bruce Patterson (feedback and suggestions: podcast edition)
|Linux Foundation Training
|Reader Comments • Jump to last comment
1 • Pisi Linux (by DrSaleemKhanMarwat on 2014-08-25 10:04:40 GMT from Pakistan) |
Welcome back home Pisi Linux !! Thanks for adding Pisi Linux into database , I am using it since its RC release and this distribution is working much better than the ex Pardus Linux and the small team running this project are very friendly, always willing to help. Good news is that I was told by one of their team member that Pisi Linux is going to be a rolling release distribution as compared to Pardus Linux which was a point release distro.
2 • SolydXK kernel (by Pumpino on 2014-08-25 10:10:50 GMT from Australia)
I tried SolydXK recently and liked it but wanted to run kernel 3.16 rather than the included 3.14, but couldn't find it in Experimental. Is there an easy way to install it?
3 • RE: 2 (by Pumpino on 2014-08-25 10:19:35 GMT from Australia)
I guess I didn't search properly...
4 • SolydXK abandoning the rolling release model (by rufovillosum on 2014-08-25 12:24:51 GMT from United States)
I'm sure this is due to the time lags involved in reviewing and publishing, but it should be noted that the SolydXK semi-rolling model described above will be changing to one that follows Debian stable, and the home edition will merge into the business edition. This is detailed in the following release:
5 • MATE or Flashback (by viktor on 2014-08-25 13:28:32 GMT from France)
Can someone explain me the need for a MATE flavour when it was already possible to simply use the Gnome 3 Flashback package to have the same desktop?
I guess MATE may be lighter but then if you want lightweight why not go all the way down to LXDE then? Or just XFCE?
6 • SolydXK Changes (by dhinds on 2014-08-25 13:31:42 GMT from Mexico)
According to the link you provided (thanks for that) the upcoming changes (once Debian Jessie replaces Wheezy & becomes Debian Stable) will NOT do away with Debian Testing but rather, support it only through the SolydXK Community, and not the SokydXK staff itself.
Update Packs will no long be provided and it will be depend directly on Debian Testing, which is not expected to result in major problems.
Other Distros (i.e. Sparky Linux) will continue to be based on Debian Testing. Apparently, SolydXK is following the lead of it's parent, LMDE,
7 • Future of SolydXK (by AnklefaceWroughtlandmire on 2014-08-25 13:43:19 GMT from Ecuador)
@ #4: This link is more clear and detailed:
Basically, they will offer a new "Enthusiast's Edition" to replace the current Home Edition, and it will essentially be Debian Testing plus SolydXK's custom packages. It won't be as rock stable as the current SolydXK.
8 • SolydXK changes (by Rocky on 2014-08-25 13:47:22 GMT from Ireland)
@6. Although SolydXK did initially arise from LMDE it is not correct to regard LMDE as it's parent in that there is no ongoing relationship. The decision to go to a stable base arose independently in both distros at about the same time. The SolydXK team is small and the Update Pack system was eating up too much developer time and preventing the team from focussing on its primary target "market" - small business , not for profits and municipal authorities.
9 • MATE or flashback (by fernbap on 2014-08-25 14:24:25 GMT from Portugal)
"Can someone explain me the need for a MATE flavour when it was already possible to simply use the Gnome 3 Flashback package to have the same desktop?"
A desktop is more than its default look. It is not how it looks, it is what you can do with it and how.
Gnome 3 infuriated gnome users by removing most of its functionality and by doing things in a way that is not suitable for a desktop computer.
We have all functionality with MATE, besides making it look like whatever we want. It is irrelevant whether we can make Gnome 3 look like Gnome 2. It still is uncapable of doing what we could do with Gnome 2.
Besides, many companion products were made for Gnome 2 that can't be used on Gnome 3, like Compiz. with which we can chose exactly which and how many eye candy we want.
The fact that Gnome 3 is incompatible with thousands of freely available GTK2 and Metacity themes that are, on Gnome 2 or MATE, extremely simple to use.
We can do whatever we want with MATE, while with Gnome 3 we are stuck with whatever the Gnome developers have decided we want, and they are too stubburn to admit that what we want is not what dey did.
10 • Installing any Linux kernel, in minutes after source-code is available. (by gregzeng on 2014-08-25 14:43:24 GMT from Australia)
To quickly update (or downgrade) almost any Debian-based distro to any Linux kernel, download the files needed from:
Put the two or three files of interest (header & an image files, <70 Mbytes, total) on your desktop. Double-click them, & they will self-install in seconds, after asking for the admin password.
If you need to have dirty hands, use the terminal command from the desktop:
sudo dpkg -i *.deb
I found the latest RC & kernels are available, several hours (minutes?) after the source-code is released. Some claim Arch-based distros are uptodate. Using the PPA methods, I found that the Ubuntu-based distros are updated, much quicker.
11 • RE: 9 • MATE or flashback (by fernbap..from Portugal) (by Az4x4 on 2014-08-25 15:16:20 GMT from United Kingdom)
" 'Can someone explain me the need for a MATE flavour when it was already possible to simply use the Gnome 3 Flashback package to have the same desktop?' "
"A desktop is more than its default look. It is not how it looks, it is what you can do with it and how.
Gnome 3 infuriated gnome users by removing most of its functionality and by doing things in a way that is not suitable for a desktop computer.
We have all functionality with MATE, besides making it look like whatever we want. It is irrelevant whether we can make Gnome 3 look like Gnome 2. It still is uncapable of doing what we could do with Gnome 2....."
Very well said. Couldn't agree more..
You can make Gnome 3 "look" something like Gnome 2, but it still doesn't have the capabilities and functionality that Gnome 2 became world famous for.
Little wonder that keeping Gnome 2 dead and buried was impossible. Restored to vibrant new health by way of the MATE project, the Gnome 2 experience is again claiming hearts and minds with its depth of character and ability to be easily configured the way each user desires it to be configured. MATE puts the concept of "personal computing" back in the desktop where it belonged all along.
12 • First Impressions of SolydXK 201407 (by Orbmiser on 2014-08-25 15:35:04 GMT from United States)
"The other application I felt deserved a mention was the system services management program. This application acts as a graphical front end to systemd and I felt it lacked polish. The names of services are not easily recognizable. Further, there are three status fields and these are not particularly intuitive. "
A show of hands please of SolydXK users that actually use this program day to day? Number low of actual users? And what does a Debian program have to do with SolydXK? As comes across that this a SolydXK thing then in actuality a Debian thing.
Sorry just don't see the need to tag SolydXK for something outside their perview.
13 • First Impressions of SolydXK 201407 (by Ghostdawg on 2014-08-25 16:59:47 GMT from United States)
I gave SolydXK a try awhile back and really enjoyed it. I ran if for around a month. The one reason I stopped using it was the Forum kept asking for verification and I believe it didn't accept my email address (or maybe it was my IP address) for some strange reason. I also wasn't able to get it resolved through their IRC channel.
14 • SolydXK (by KickRocks on 2014-08-25 18:13:15 GMT from Sweden)
I tried the latest release, it does not "play nice" with UEFI/secure boot (turned off secure boot in Bios). I could not boot to live DVD.
15 • Backdoors... wherefore art thou? (by Scott Dowdle on 2014-08-25 18:37:41 GMT from United States)
I concur with Jesse Smith about the backdoor situation. Why put a backdoor in a particular distro when there are probably already at least a half dozen 0days in any given mainline kernel? Wait. That's not what he said but you get the point.
I'm not complaining. That's just the nature of such a huge and mature software project... there will always be bugs and some of those bugs will have security implications.
Why wouldn't Red Hat allow a backdoor? Because they know it would have a devastating impact on their business if it got out. I'm not aware of any legit software that has been caught implementing a backdoor for a government. Oh wait, RSA did get a bunch of cash to use less secure code. I don't necessarily believe that Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X have backdoors... because there are enough bugs that lend themselves to infiltration and the last twenty years of existence has proven they aren't going away any time soon.
And if you are going to be paranoid... why only be paranoid about binary packages from commercial companies in the US? How hard would it be for state-sponsored programmers to infiltrate community-based distros... and obviscate backdoors within source code?
16 • Confusion surrounding Ubuntu's "gnome-session-flashback" (by eco2geek on 2014-08-25 19:10:28 GMT from United States)
The package "gnome-session-flashback" is an Ubuntu-maintained package that will give you a desktop that highly resembles the look and feel of GNOME 2. I think it's what Canonical quietly did to make users who preferred GNOME 2 happy.
It is not in the Debian (stable) repositories.
It is _not_ the same as the "classic" session you can get if you install GNOME 3. Unlike GNOME 3's "classic" session, it is very customizable. It uses Ubuntu's app-indicators; you can add buttons and launchers to the top and bottom panels just like you could with GNOME 2 (although you have to press Meta+Alt while right-clicking); you can add Compiz effects like a desktop cube; etc. It uses apps from GNOME 3.
(The one limitation that it seems to have - correct me if I'm wrong - is that you're stuck with the Ambiance and Radiance themes. But they're not bad-looking. Also, since it uses current GNOME applications, you may wish to find and install another file manager, since Nautilus 3.10.1 is a bit brain-dead.)
I was going to post a recommendation for people to check out "gnome-session-flashback" if they're already running Ubuntu and are interested in MATE.
Hopefully the folks who produce Ubuntu MATE will include some aspects that differentiate it from Mint's existing version of MATE, which is quite good and based on Ubuntu.
17 • Backdoors (by Barnabyh on 2014-08-25 19:48:00 GMT from United Kingdom)
Am I correct in thinking that compiling from source like in Crux or even with additional applications and libraries for Slackware would make software that is compromised in this way less likely?
Unless of course, as Jesse stated, the compiler has already been infiltrated.
18 • OpenStreetMap (by AleCon on 2014-08-25 20:11:55 GMT from Italy)
So glad your donation scheme took in consideration OpenStreetMap.
It is a great project and certainly deserve the support of the Linux community. Keep on this excellent work guys!
19 • Gnome3 vs. Mate (by linuxista on 2014-08-25 20:35:16 GMT from United States)
--Gnome3 has crippled nautilus in a number of serious ways. No doubt this was a hugely anti-desktop functionality move. Sure looks pretty, though!
--Gnome3 has a great choice of themes and they're all supported and keep up with new Gnome releases, as long as you never want anything other than Adwaita or Adwaita (global dark).
--Gnome3 has Mutter and Mate has Compiz. On this one I have to go with Gnome3. My experience with Compiz is it's bloated and buggy, and I like Gnome3's combined scale/expo mode with one hot corner. Just sayin. :)
--Gnome3 has the app-search functionality while Gnome2/Mate has the cascading drop down menu. I much prefer the Gnome3, Unity, KDE, Xfce Whisker menu approach.
--Gnome3 is user-config unfriendly. But I never thought Gnome2 was significantly better. At least not compared to KDE, XFCE and certainly openbox, etc.
::Given some of the other passionate comments in support of Yerba Mate, as a former Gnome2 user I'm thinking maybe I missed something. Aside from Compiz, which I can install with Xfce, what is it about Gnome2 that was so amazing about its "capabilities and functionality" that makes it "world famous?" That allows you to do "whatever we want" that is so much more "suitable for a desktop computer?" I don't want to catch any heat. I'm genuinely interested in hearing about these features that I may have overlooked.
20 • Mate (by CED on 2014-08-25 21:02:24 GMT from United States)
I never had luck with Mate. I found it unstable at one point or another. Cinnamon was always a better option for me.
Using it now with Antergos without an issue.
21 • Backdoors (by EarlyBird on 2014-08-25 21:31:05 GMT from Canada)
15) and 17) re backdoors in software:
It gets worse - there can be "backdoors in hardware!
Think about the bios on your motherboard, the firmware in your router and hard drives. Not only do you have to worry about the US government, but also the Chinese government, or the government or spy agencies of the country where your hardware was produced! Apparently there are even companies selling hacks and products tointentionally compromise such hardware. Supposedly government agencies would have no problem accessing the premises of their chosen target to install such hacks? Preinstalling backdoors at point of manufacture eliminates these issues. For a while it was thought that products from Cisco were safer than from a Chinese competitor that was coming up big in the marketplace (think it was Hawei? Not sure about the spelling). Now, who knows? I still have my trusty pen and paper and invisible ink, as well as some slide rules and maybe an abacus. Think the typewriter may still be buried in a mini-black hole around here as well. Still those solutions don't enable me to pass on my paranoias to the rest of you (at least, not so easily and efficiently). For now, maybe the best we can all do is for EVERYONE to "salt" all their communications with "tags' like Obama, war, bomb, NSA, etc. Short of firing off all our leaders into the sun (as in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy), it's hard to imagine what else the average person can do. And recently, NASA can't even send their own astronauts into space themselves. Oooh, maybe we should have all those experts at NSA working at NASA.....
22 • GNOME Flashback screenshots (by eco2geek on 2014-08-25 21:32:28 GMT from United States)
Running on Ubuntu 12.04 and 14.04.
23 • SolydX 201407 and MATE (by mikef90000 on 2014-08-25 21:36:58 GMT from United States)
Just fired up the latest SolydX iso, and I see why Jesse overlooked the SolydX Software Manager. Unlike the 201404 release, the S/M does not appear in the default Favorites list. It is accessible only when 'All' is selected in the menu. Hopefully this is a bug and not a new feature.
The default theme is the GTK version of the KDE Oxygen theme that the devs have further enhanced - I find it very pleasing but YMMV.
Until this review I was not aware of the new 'system services management program' apparently provided by the systemd-ui package. Despite its vestigal appearance it is at version 3-2. What does Fedora use and is it any better?
@19, as an Xfce user I'm with you. I asked the exact same 'Xfce vs MATE/Gnome2' question long ago on the Mint forum and IIRC the only MATE plus was network access from nautilus. No longer a thunar deficit. I'm also curious about this 'world famous capabilities and functionality'.
24 • re:Gnome3 vs. Mate (by session on 2014-08-25 22:21:41 GMT from United States)
"--Gnome3 has Mutter and Mate has Compiz. On this one I have to go with Gnome3. My experience with Compiz is it's bloated and buggy, and I like Gnome3's combined scale/expo mode with one hot corner. Just sayin. :)"
Mate *works* with Compiz; its default wm is Marco. Marco (and Mutter) is rock solid; I prefer it to Xfce's wm on older computers because opaque window moving is so much better. Heck, I'll argue Mate as a whole is better suited for older desktops than Xfce; it may take *marginally* more ram but individual apps (e.g. Eye of Mate vs Ristretto) run faster.
"--Gnome3 has the app-search functionality while Gnome2/Mate has the cascading drop down menu. I much prefer the Gnome3, Unity, KDE, Xfce Whisker menu approach."
Mate works well with Mintmenu, though I don't use it because it takes a lot of ram.
"--Gnome3 is user-config unfriendly. But I never thought Gnome2 was significantly better. At least not compared to KDE, XFCE and certainly openbox, etc."
Mate stresses the "sane defaults/intuitive" thing, Xfce may give you more options in the ui but Mate can be configured reasonably well with dconf.
25 • Solyd, Xfce, MATE and Gnome 2 (by cykodrone on 2014-08-26 01:28:03 GMT from Canada)
I've run both SolydX Home and Biz editions, it's a great distro with very few problems, the reason I jumped ship was because I can get Debian Wheezy Xfce to run on my Raid 0, there is no install support for Raid in Solyd (yet?). If there was Raid support, I'd still be using it. I actually managed to transform a Raid 0 Debian install in to a SolydX install, but I have Sheldon Cooper syndrome, I wanted a pure, 100% clean install, so I went back to Debian.
I can see how Software Manager got missed (maybe that was a subtle hint in the article to the maintainers?), it's there but a supposedly n00b friendly distro should have it more obvious, regardless of DE.
I never found Gnome 2 or MATE to be that great or functional, I can accomplish way more in Xfce than I ever did in Gnome 2 or MATE. I'll be the first to admit I have some Gnome 2 packages and apps installed (I have full system sounds in Xfce thanks to canberra), but that's what's great about Xfce, compatibility and tweakability across the board, Gnome 2 was and MATE still is a little too locked down for my blood, maybe locked down is too strong a term, they're just not as customize friendly as Xfce. I won't even mention abomination Gnome 3. "Flashback" to what? Zero functionality? Don't make me laugh. There's no law that says you can't install gtk3 anything in Xfce or MATE, I have loads of gtk3 files installed in Xfce and everything works fine.
I don't know if MATE fixed the renaming and overwriting of certain directories in Debian yet, but I tried to install MATE as a second DE on my Xfce system a while ago via MATE's repo, MATE worked but it trashed Xfce during the install process, never again, burn me once...
26 • RE: 10 (by Pumpino on 2014-08-26 02:07:37 GMT from Australia)
Those DEBs are for Ubuntu. Is it really a good idea to install them in SolydX?
27 • @16: Gnome3, Mate and gnome-session-flashback (by Hoos on 2014-08-26 05:21:19 GMT from Singapore)
@eco2geek: I have some questions about gnome-session-flashback.
1. when installed, will it default to 2D desktop effects automatically if the hardware isn't 3D capable?
2. I can't even run Gnome3 distros due to my old hardware (see? That's one big difference between between Gnome3, and MATE with or without Compiz). So it's not as if I can install a Gnome3 Ubuntu-derivative distro, log into the desktop, then install gnome-session-flashback. Am I right in saying that I would have to log into the distro in text mode and install gnome-session-flashback via command line?
Of course, if I had to do that, why in the world would I install a Gnome3 distro in the first place just to get gnome-session-flashback?
I might as well install a MATE distro, which again is another reason for MATE to exist ! :-)
28 • PiSi Cheatsheet mention (by :wq on 2014-08-26 06:55:25 GMT from United States)
Will PiSi be added back to the Package Management Cheatsheet? As far as I know, only Pisi Linux and Ikey Doherty's Evolve OS use it. I don't know of any other distros that have picked up apk, but Alpine's installed base may be larger than Pisi's and Evolve OS's combined at this point in time (pure speculation on my part), and thus apk documentation may be more in demand. Also, while Pisi is a fork/continuation of the old Pardus, and Evolve OS is somewhat of spiritual successor to SolusOS 2, Alpine Linux is well-established and reasonably historically steady. If PiSi isn't added back, "In contrast, PiSi, originally developed by Pardus Linux, is a relatively new utility" should be edited from the Cheatsheet.
29 • gnome2/mate vs. xfce (by linuxista on 2014-08-26 14:29:19 GMT from United States)
@27 Can I ask what gnome2/mate has that is significantly different/better than xfce (assuming you have experience w/ both)?
30 • OpenStreetMap (by cykodrone on 2014-08-26 14:47:23 GMT from Canada)
Thank you ever so much for your donation to them and for making me aware of their existence, I had no idea there was such a site. I've been looking for a GnsaGLE Maps replacement. I need to know where prospective employers are for transit reasons, which is none of GnsaGLE's busines.
Re backdoors: I have my router positioned so I can watch the traffic activity lights, I got in to this habit from my trojan infested Windhose days, my Debian is only 'chatty' when it's supposed to be.
31 • @28 (by jaws222 on 2014-08-26 14:53:22 GMT from United States)
" Ikey Doherty's Evolve OS "
Ikey's back in the game? Interesting.
32 • @29 (by Hoos on 2014-08-26 15:02:44 GMT from Singapore)
I use both in different distros, and in fact use more of XFCE (Manjaro, SolydX, MX14) than MATE (Mint).
My point was to compare Gnome3 and MATE, suggest why having the gnome-session-flashback package for Gnome3 may not be that helpful when you have old hardware in the first place, and why therefore there is a reason for MATE to exist.
If you refer to my caption in post 27, I did not mention XFCE and was addressing earlier questions asking, why have MATE? Why not use Gnome3 in classic mode or the flashback package?
I note you mentioned the search capability in XFCE through the whisker menu, but as far as I know, the latter wasn't developed by XFCE developers but by a 3rd party developer. On that basis, is it really fair to ascribe the great functionality in Whisker (hey, all 3 of my XFCE distros have it and I really like it!) to XFCE and use it as a plus point against MATE?
As you can see, I tend to be pretty inclusive about all the different DEs around.
33 • Mate and Xfce (by session on 2014-08-26 22:04:06 GMT from United States)
I have a reason to prefer Mate to Xfce: it works better on *my* hardware. Resuming from hibernate doesn't give a black screen, volumed doesn't need to be delayed to prevent from hijacking the wrong keys, native applications are snappier...
Cosmetically, too, I prefer Mate's "sane defaults" approach; for example, Xfce has two separate settings applets that control the same dpms feature (perhaps for the sake of modularity). Some take issue with it, but Gnome2/Mate is a more tightly integrated de, so I can, say, right-click a panel sub-menu and add it as a drawer to the panel.
I prefer Caja to Thunar for better implemented tab functionality. I vastly prefer Marco to Xfwm for better implemented opaque window moving. Xfce has some great traits: an excellent batch utility, a better way of handling removable media... but case by case, I prefer Mate.
34 • hardware backdoors (by spokewell on 2014-08-27 03:40:41 GMT from Australia)
#21 Very enlightening. You speak of things that others rarely speak of - well done.
35 • Mate & Xfce (by linuxista on 2014-08-27 03:50:01 GMT from United States)
@32 Sorry, I had questions of my own. But I am interested in Gnome3 vs. yerbaMATE also.
@33 Thanks. That was very informative. It seems aside from polish, rendering and small bugs, it comes back to the panel. I always assumed the task manager in the panel to be the thing everybody missed, but you seem to be talking about the functionality of the applets, drawers, etc. on it.
36 • @27 - re: gnome-session-flashback (by eco2geek on 2014-08-27 05:25:22 GMT from United States)
1. Flashback will put entries in lightdm (assuming you're using lightdm) for sessions with or without compiz.
2. You would need to have some Ubuntu-based distro already installed in order to install gnome-session-flashback. I guess that's the biggest drawback. On the other hand, it could be Xubuntu or Lubuntu, neither of which require support for accelerated graphics.
(The downside would be that you'd potentially have applications from the other desktop environment cluttering up your menus. Flashback actually dovetails pretty well with Unity in this regard.)
If I was in your shoes, I'd probably install Linux Mint 17 MATE, if MATE is what you want.
37 • @36 - gnome-session-flashback (by Hoos on 2014-08-27 08:34:44 GMT from Singapore)
Thanks eco2geek. So Flashback can be installed in Ubuntu derivatives other than those with Gnome3. Looks like it will pull in lots of gnome3 stuff though. I agree that if I were already running an Ubuntu derivative with XFCE or LXDE, I probably wouldn't want or need the flashback package, due to the clutter of additional apps for each task.
Unity and Cinnamon are in the same boat as Gnome3 - can't run on systems without 3D graphics.
So Gnome3's classic mode and flashback is only helpful if the user already wants and is able to run Gnome3.
I do have Mint 17 Mate installed. But I've noticed that distros based on the Ubuntu 14.04 LTS seem to run slower and with higher CPU usage on my system compared to 12.04 LTS. And I've tried 14.04 in Mint, Lubuntu (LXDE), elementary 'Freya' beta (Pantheon), Voyager (XFCE).
Mate seems to run much faster and lighter in the latest PCLinuxOS and WattOS.
38 • @ 37 Try Debian based XFCE or Mate (by Frank on 2014-08-27 10:53:45 GMT from Germany)
Noticed the same on my netbook thus switched from Ubuntu/Mint to Debian based XFCE some 3 years ago and will never look back.
Lighter, faster, more stable and less hot CPU (up to 20°C less on i3 cpu and some workload).
Both Debian stable and testing are rock solid.
Sparky Linux (Debian testing based) and Point Linux (stable) offer Mate out of the Box.
BTW: WattOS 8 is based on Debian now.
39 • @28 & @31 (by IkeyDoherty on 2014-08-27 12:35:34 GMT from United Kingdom)
@28: You're not wrong, the Evolve OS repo is somewhat lacking in size right now. With that said, its never going to be enormous and I strictly forbid it from ever happening, scope limitation is enforced to keep the project on target :)
Also note we use a fork of the original PiSi, as nowhere in public did we see it as maintained or actively developed. It wasn't a fork until long ago, because I essentially just continued developing it However the Pisi Linux guys say that they maintain pisi, so asked us to rename. Logistics aside, I'm happy people don't confuse the two as there is no binary compatibility and our code has already diverged. So, a fork of pisi it is :)
@31: I am indeed :)
40 • md5s and (by afcas86 on 2014-08-27 13:22:47 GMT from United States)
It seems to me that whenever I download something from Source Forge, there is never a cksum. Do I need new glasses or have they joined the dark side?
41 • SourceForge (by Bobby on 2014-08-27 13:45:08 GMT from Canada)
When you download a file from SourceForge there is an information icon next to the file. clicking the information icon (looks like a small "i") will display checksums for the file, both md5 and sha1.
42 • @39 (by :wq on 2014-08-27 14:47:25 GMT from United States)
eopkg- Sorry I didn't expressly state that, but I was focused on the commands for the cheat sheet, which seem to remain the same at this point, though I haven't run through all of them.
"the Evolve OS repo is somewhat lacking in size right now"
Yeah, but I'm willing to give the Evolve OS Project time to mature... I don't expect perfection until beta phase. I'm generous like that. :)
43 • @37 - more gnome-session-flashback (by eco2geek on 2014-08-27 15:24:59 GMT from United States)
> So Gnome3's classic mode and flashback is only helpful if the user already wants
> and is able to run Gnome3.
Not exactly, there's a difference in that GNOME 3's "classic" mode still requires accelerated (i.e. 3D) graphics, while Ubuntu's "flashback" doesn't. (Although, as with MATE, you can use compiz with it if you want to and your hardware supports it.)
44 • #43 - more gnome-session-flashback (by Hoos on 2014-08-27 17:25:17 GMT from Singapore)
Yes, I understood your explanation, but I'm just following your comment about clutter and repetition to arrive at a conclusion based on practicality.
If you install the flashback package when you're already on an XFCE/LXDE Ubuntu derivative, you might have to spend time removing or tweaking your system to remove the repeat applications or neaten the clutter unless it doesn't bother you.
If your aim is to have a Gnome2-type distro right from the start on your older hardware, would it not be easier to install a MATE distro, instead of first installing the XFCE or LXDE Ubuntu derivative, then installing 'flashback' and then removing the clutter?
Also, if I'm already on an XFCE distro, I would not really need the flashback package to get a Gnome2-like layout or functionality. XFCE is close enough, IMO, and can be tweaked. If you want a "true" Gnome2 experience OOTB, there is MATE.
So unless you just want flashback to exist side by side with your initial DE and you are ok with the clutter, I concluded that ultimately the flashback package is not that helpful to users with non-3D capabilities who wish a Gnome2 experience.
45 • XFCE deficiencies (by PePa on 2014-08-27 17:29:31 GMT from Thailand)
For me, MATE or Gnome-flashback is usable, XFCE is not. The main XFCE deficiencies are:
1. Lack of a decent integrated time zone watcher (world clocks) -- I use gsimplecal for this, but it has to be launched as an application, the one bundled with XFCE is laughable and unusable.
2. No free positioning of icons on the desktop, and poor configurability of the desktop. The icons take too much space. PCManFM can be used instead, but it's a bit of a fiddle to replace the XFCE desktop manager. In the end, I still prefer Nautilus, even in its current downhill stage.
46 • @42 (by IkeyDoherty on 2014-08-27 19:33:45 GMT from United Kingdom)
Hah, thank you, very kind :) Evolve OS has a slightly longer development than some projects as Budgie is being developed in parallel. Actually really happy with the gnome-panel-theme-integration, and how far its come lately, check https://plus.google.com/+IkeyDoherty/posts/95i6Lo2ngkL :)
(Relevant due to GNOME Flashback comments here) - this isn't the default look, the default is the Chrome OS inspired shots you may have seen dotted around the interwebz :)
47 • @46 (by jaws222 on 2014-08-27 20:30:49 GMT from United States)
I sure do miss SolusOS and Gnome 2. That was one cool OS. I look forward to EvolveOS and I know you will make Gnome3 look good.
48 • @45 "Xfce deficiencies" (by cykodrone on 2014-08-27 21:05:49 GMT from Canada)
1. No timezone watcher is a major complaint? You are kidding right? Try gworldclock, choose your time-zones (and save them), arrange them, leave gworldclock running, then set Xfce to remember its sessions, that's what I do, gworldclock starts every time, in the exact same place and workspace (1of 6). I don't know of any DEs that have what you described as a major built in feature. If it's YOUR timezone you're talking about, you can set it in Settings-Time And Date.
2. Again, I have no clue what Xfce version you are using, but my 4.8 allows icon resizing (I find size 31 to be the best size, makes for a better 'grid'). Not only that, I move icons around all the time, and every time I boot, they are exactly where I left them during the previous session. I have no problem configuring my 'Desktop', it's been customized to the boobs (1 transparent panel at the bottom, custom background colour, custom wallpaper, etc, etc, even my Desktop icon text shadow, colour, font, size, selected and not selected appearance are custom). Any search engine will reveal numerous Xfce tips and tricks.
You are either new to Linux and Xfce or you're just a fanboi zealot.
49 • @48 (by jaws222 on 2014-08-27 21:44:41 GMT from United States)
" it's been customized to the boobs "
That is why I love XFCE because it is highly customizable. I also like Mate but if you put a gun to my head I'd have to go XFCE. Also a big fan of Openbox because of its simplicity.
50 • @48 XFCE (by PePa on 2014-08-28 01:28:38 GMT from Thailand)
Not a zealot not new to Linux here. Not hating on XFCE at all, just outlining why it doesn't work for me after many years of trying.
The solution you mention, gworldclock, is a separate application, ugly, with horrible usability. In Gnome you can have a list of all the timezones you'd like to see as part of the clock applet. In LXDE it's easy to integrate gsimplecal into the clock (beautiful, but needs to be configured by editor).
On the XFCE desktop, my issue is that you're stuck to the grid, there is no pixel-positioning like in most other desktop managing solutions.
51 • Backdoors and Paranoia++ (by Ricardo on 2014-08-28 02:52:35 GMT from Argentina)
You wanna get really paranoid about software?
Then read Ken Thompson's Trusting Trust and you'll never.. er.. trust your software again :)
52 • @46 - Ike: EvolveOS, 3D graphics? (by Hoos on 2014-08-28 07:07:56 GMT from Singapore)
Welcome back, Ikey. I'm another one who was sad at SolusOS' demise.
I downloaded the Alpha3 of EvolveOS to try.
Unfortunately, my PC is 32-bit so I could only try it on my laptop but currently (as you are of course aware!), there's no connecting of wifi, so I couldn't actually do too much with Alpha3. :-P
Apart from that, Budgie desktop environment looks beautiful and runs smooth and fast.
And since you brought up the gnome-session-flashback discussion, does Budgie require 3D graphics a la Gnome3/Unity/Cinnamon to work?
53 • @47 @52 (by IkeyDoherty on 2014-08-28 09:13:14 GMT from United Kingdom)
@47: Apologies I did reply to your comment, but somehow it disappeared. I merely mentioned I looked forward to some beta-feedback (when we get to beta, obviously :))
@52: Thank you kind sir ^^ Yeah I kinda had to make a choice with the toolchain thing, and decided to only support 64-bit (not x86 and x86_64) due to limited resources. Yeah.. that wifi problem.. ^^ It will actually be resolved with Budgie v7 & the next Evolve ISO. We already have x11 tray support so we're going to use that until indicators etc are in.
I'm glad you like it, thank you :) It does require 3D as internally it uses libmutter, though arguably still quite fast. It will become possible to enable switching window manager for debugging purposes, but within Budgie, budgie-wm handles the desktop wallpaper. Something to be aware of :)
54 • @45+50 PePa: Xfce and MATE (by Kazlu on 2014-08-28 09:41:46 GMT from France)
Funny, I personnally don't use MATE for the same kind of details :) I call them details because these are clearly not major DE features, but those details can be deal breakers. You said "No free positioning of icons on the desktop" when you actually meant that icons are tied to a grid, that was maybe a bit strong wasn't it? :) But I see what you mean. I feel the opposite, I prefer having icons positioned on a grid, I don't have many and my desktop feels cleaner that way.
Here are my small deal breakers with MATE, that I otherwise find quite good:
1. Poor handling of vertical panels, in particular the time and date applet writes vertically, not practical at all.
2. I couldn't find a proper way of quickly find applications with a text search, like the one in the KDE kickoff meny, Whisker menu, Xfce's appfinder, Unity, etc. I tried MintMenu but I found it a bit slow and above all the search field has not focus at opening, which require to use your mouse (or hitting tab repeatedly) to get there... Really subobtimal.
Note that those two points would be dealt with if I used glx-dock as a panel in MATE. I used it for a while in Xfce and it was quite good but also a bit ressource-hungry and still not as good as xfce4-panel for what I need.
Also, a fundamental difference between Xfce and MATE is that the former is modular and the latter is not: MATE components are strongly tied to each other in the form of dependancies. That makes it more natural to swap an app for another that is not part of the DE in Xfce than in MATE, you use only the ressources you need. But if you're happy with all the MATE apps then MATE is great!
That being said, I have now a problem with the Xfce desktop: I lack a proper archive manager. I used to use file-roller in Xubuntu but now that I did a fresh Debian install I would really like to avoid polluting my system with a lot of GNOME dependancies just for one app, especially if in the future I have to deal with client-side-decorations. Neither Squeeze nor Xarchiver are able to deal with my 7z crypted archives. I also tried peazip in portable version, but it does not support subfolders inside my archives, every file is on the same level, argh. I am considering Engrampa (MATE's fork of file-foller), but it has Caja as a dependancy, which itself has a lot of MATE dependancies... If I can install Engrampa without Caja then I'll give it a try, else I'm pretty much screwed... If someone has a suggestion here, it would be much appreciated!
55 • @51 Backdoors and paranoia++ (by Kazlu on 2014-08-28 11:07:34 GMT from France)
Very interesting and very instructive, thanks! And it was written 30 years ago, today it is even more amazing considering the place computers have in our world...
56 • Absolute (by Comp-Tech on 2014-08-28 14:52:16 GMT from Nicaragua)
I am very pleased to see Absolute linux make a resurgence...I always found it a very good and easy to use implimentation of Slackware.
Re Solyd I found it to be quite a nice distro.but then most entitied of Debian are similar. and without Rolling release it loses any of what made it interesting....
I found the Best Rolling release Debian i have used is AntiX i have never had many issues at all with it.
so now i have Antix, Manjaro, both rolling and no problems...with my new to be installed Absolute and not to forget mylatest version Knoppix dvd...which first got me interested in linux many years ago...
57 • @54 7z archiver (by linuxista on 2014-08-28 15:03:36 GMT from United States)
p7zip is in the arch repos, hopefully in Debian repos or at least Ubu ppa.
58 • @57 p7zip (by Kazlu on 2014-08-28 16:40:59 GMT from France)
p7zip is indeed in the Debian repos. Actually Xarchiver and Squeeze have it as an optional dependancy, but unfortunately support for 7z archives still doesn't work. This bug has already been reported loooong ago in both cases (see http://sourceforge.net/p/xarchiver/bugs/29/ and https://bugzilla.xfce.org/show_bug.cgi?id=2911). I could still use p7zip in command line, but I was used to just open the archive, read a couple of files, eventually add one or two and close it via GUI, everything was handeled automatically, included crypting. Dropping to command line would mean decompressing and decrypting the whole archive every time, do my changes and re-compress and re-crypt the whole thing... Less easy, involving more time and leaving a trace of my data in clear. I wish I could avoid that.
59 • @54+58 (by :wq on 2014-08-29 12:13:07 GMT from United States)
For Xfce, I can live with Engrampa's dependencies. It's certainly nothing on the level of File Roller or Ark dependency-wise. Given what you've written, I think Engrampa is probably your best option.
GUI 7z support:
• Squeeze has no 7z support.
• Xarchiver can open and add to password-protected 7z archives, but not if the file names are encrypted.
• PeaZip will display subfolders if you use it to create the 7z archive. However, if you try to add subfolders or files to a folder in that now existent 7z archive, they are added to the archive's root directory instead (https://code.google.com/p/peazip/issues/detail?id=59). If you use p7zip to create a 7z archive, as you experienced, there may be an issue where if you open the resultant archive in PeaZip, PeaZip will not display folders at all, due to the archive being displayed in flat view (https://code.google.com/p/peazip/issues/detail?id=159 & https://code.google.com/p/peazip/issues/detail?id=3).
• In Debian, Engrampa has caja-common and libcaja-extension1 as dependencies (along with a few other packages), but the entirety of Caja isn't installed.
• FreeArc can open encrypted 7z archives, but only creates archives in its own .arc format.
• B1 Free Archiver is written in Qt, though it is not awful dependency-wise (it does, however, require glibc >= 2.14), but it can only create archives in .zip format or its own .b1 format (it can open encrypted 7z archives).
• File Roller & Ark are not really options, IMO, due to their dependencies.
60 • follow-up to #59 (by :wq on 2014-08-29 13:09:14 GMT from United States)
I should have mentioned that installing File Roller without the addition of recommended packages makes it much more palatable.
61 • @59+60 :wq 7zip (by Kazlu on 2014-08-29 14:15:49 GMT from France)
Thanks for the advises.
"• Xarchiver can open and add to password-protected 7z archives, but not if the file names are encrypted."
Oh, that explains it :)
"• In Debian, Engrampa has caja-common and libcaja-extension1 as dependencies (along with a few other packages), but the entirety of Caja isn't installed."
Yesterday I tried to install Engrampa in Debian live before trying it in my actual system. I indeed realized what you describe, I admit I had only checked Engrampa's dependancies usink the Arch Linux wiki :) I also considered it reasonable and Engrampa worked like a charm.
"• File Roller & Ark are not really options, IMO, due to their dependencies."
I read that Ark did not support encrypted archives anyway, but maybe that changed. I will only consider Ark if I switch to the Qt side of the Force.
Thanks again, Engrampa seems indeed to be my best option and meets all my requirements. Thanks to the MATE team for doing GNOME apps right :)
62 • To Ikey Doherty - and to the MATE developers (by Ted H on 2014-08-29 19:58:34 GMT from United States)
From Ted H, formerly posting as TH...
To Ikey Doherty - Why are you going with Gnome3 instead of the Gnome2-fork MATE??
The only drawback to MATE is that Gnome2 would enable the user to right-click on an icon of a stick drive and had the option to format it, and the MATE developers removed that function for some unfathomable reason.
Still, take a look at what Point Linux did with MATE - Simple, clean, usable - making it a natural upgrade path for Windows XP users. Many of us do not like Gnome3, and would probably be wary even of your version of Gnome3 (and I was a big fan of Solus OS), so I do trust you to do a fine job of whatever you program. Please reassure me that you have a good handle on taming Gnome3 to make it more acceptable to those of us who like Gnome2/MATE) (??!) - Thanks! (A fan who was dismayed that you, understandably, pulled the plug on Solus OS. I understand your need to have secure steady income and more time with your family. Obvious and understood: Family first and economic security first, everything/everyone else, second!
To the MATE developers: How about restoring that formatting function?! The lack of it forces users to have another linux OS handy to do so! (Dual-boot on a given computer, or use two different computers!) Very poor/dåligt!
(Yes, GParted is provided, but it is like shooting rabbits with an elephant gun, plus one really needs to know what they are doing to avoid a big Ooops! I formatted the wrong drive! The formatting function in the Gnome2 menu was simple and mistake-proof when formatting the stickdrive!)
Ted H in Minnesota
63 • @62 (by IkeyDoherty on 2014-08-29 23:08:06 GMT from United Kingdom)
Hi there :)
I can assure you my reasons for shutting down SolusOS had nothing to do with either finance or family. What you are stating unfortunately comes through many skewed sources that I have suffered reading over the last year, with ever increasing degradation in quality..
One rumour was that I gave up SolusOS to start a new job, despite already being in said job for 6 months before starting it. The irony also being I work exclusively with open source software :P
Anyway, no sense in me repeating myself for the rest of my life, so on to your point about GNOME 3.
When most people say GNOME 3 they mean the Shell, which is incorrect in the context of Budgie. It does not use shell. Myself, personally, I really dislike Shell.
We use GNOME technologies, but so does everyone. Whether its glib, or network-manager, or libgweather, or pwquality, or various tons of projects that are part of the GNOME umbrella, in one way or another we're all using them.
This is what Budgie does. The window manager is built around libmutter, as is GNOME Shell, and Gala from Pantheon. Budgie uses its own session manager, and the panel is written in Vala/GTK3 by myself. Please see: https://github.com/evolve-os/budgie-desktop/
So in reality I am not taming anything, I'm creating something new by using things that exist :) I gain the advantage of integration, a far lower technical debt and a healthy upstream relationship with various projects, putting me in a position I thoroughly enjoy :)
Also note that budgie-desktop is simply one source package that can already be installed on 5 distributions, and officially in 1 derivative, and available in many other derivatives. As opposed to a vast number of packages for MATE that I do not need.
Also note MATE completely goes the traditional route of GNOME2, whereas Budgie doesn't. As an option, you can in fact make it look and behave very much like GNOME2, but this is not the default :)
Please see https://evolve-os.com/budgie/
64 • followup to Ikey (by Ted H on 2014-08-30 15:46:05 GMT from United States)
Sorry for my mis-information.
Thanks for your clarification on the nature and direction your upcoming Evolve will be.
I look forward to using it when you issue it!
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