| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 583, 3 November 2014
Welcome to this year's 44th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! The Ubuntu operating system is a fast moving, experimental Linux distribution that, for the past ten years, has been one of the world's most commonly used GNU/Linux distributions. Ubuntu packages also form the foundation of many community re-spins and so a new Ubuntu release always draws attention as changes appearing in Ubuntu often cause ripples which are felt across much of the open source community. This week Jesse Smith takes the latest release of Ubuntu for a test drive to see how the most recent version of the popular desktop distribution performs. In the news section this week we discuss openSUSE's plans to merge the distribution's Tumbleweed and Factory repositories. We talk about Firefox OS coming to the Raspberry Pi hobbyist computer, link to an interview with an Ubuntu Kylin developer and celebrate FreeBSD's 21st birthday. Plus we share news of OpenBSD dropping dynamically loaded kernel modules. This week we also have a review of a text called "The Book of PF" which explains how to set up firewalls in many different networking configurations. Plus we continue our rolling-release trial and talk about the commercial Elive distribution. Finally, we are pleased to announce that the recipient of the September 2014 DistroWatch.com donation is the KDE project. We wish you all a wonderful week and happy reading!
- Feature: Taking Ubuntu 14.10 for a ride
- News: openSUSE explains Tumbleweed and Factory merger, Firefox OS on Raspberry Pi, Ubuntu Kylin interview, PelicanHPC update, OpenBSD drops dynamically loaded kernel modules, FreeBSD's 21st
- Book review: The Book of PF
- Opinion: On commercial aspect of Elive
- Rolling-release testing: Week four
- Released last week: SUSE Linux Enterprise 12, CentOS 6.6, OpenBSD 5.6
- Upcoming releases: openSUSE 13.2, Fedora 21 Beta
- Donations: KDE receives €300.00
- New distributions: eZeY, Nard GNU/Linux, SEANux
- Reader comments
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Taking Ubuntu 14.10 for a ride
Ubuntu is one of the more widely used GNU/Linux distributions in the world with the project's parent company, Canonical, reporting around 30 million computers shipping with Ubuntu pre-installed in the past two years. Ubuntu, along with its many community editions, continues to be used by millions around the world and the decisions made by Ubuntu developers have an direct impact on many computer users.
The latest release of Ubuntu, version 14.10, arrived on October 23rd and the release notes painted a picture of a tame release with minor changes from Ubuntu's previous version. Most components, including the Linux kernel and Firefox, received minor updates. Ubuntu 14.10 features a short, nine month life cycle, and the release notes warn us changes have been made which make it less likely we can use the USB Creator utility to write certain USB images to thumb drives. "Due to changes in syslinux, it is not currently possible to use usb-creator from 14.04 and earlier releases to write USB images for 14.10." Ubuntu is available in several flavours, including Desktop, Server and net-install editions. There are also countless community variations of Ubuntu. The distribution is available in 32-bit and 64-bit builds for the x86 hardware architecture. The ISO image for the Desktop edition is 1.1GB in size and this is the image I downloaded.
I feel it is worth pointing out that Ubuntu recommends most users stick with long term support (LTS) releases, which are released every two years and are supported for five years. Non-LTS releases, such as this one, are provided more for the benefit of developers and people who like to have access to the latest features and hardware support.
Ubuntu 14.10 - Unity desktop with default theme
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Booting from the Ubuntu live media brings up a graphical page where we are asked to select our preferred language from a list. We are also given the choice to either try working with the live Unity desktop or launching straight into the project's system installer. I decided to play with the live desktop environment first. When Unity loads we are shown a screen with a list of keyboard short-cuts. These short-cuts give us access to various Unity features and assist us in manipulating application windows. When this page of short-cuts is dismissed we see a quick-launch bar (that doubles as a task switcher) on the left side of the screen. The system tray and a button for accessing the settings panel sit in the upper-right corner and the Unity Dash, a location for finding files and launching applications, is located in the upper-left corner.
Launching Ubuntu's graphical system installer brings up a screen where we are asked to select our preferred language and, optionally, we can click a link to view the project's release notes in our web browser. The next screen of the installer asks if we would like to download software updates during the install process. We can also choose to install third-party multimedia support during the install process. The next page covers partitioning. The Ubuntu installer offers to partition our hard drive for us, optionally using LVM volumes and encryption. Alternatively, we can manually partition the drive and this is the option I chose.
Ubuntu has a very straight forward approach to partitioning and I find the installer's method of getting us to select file systems and mount points easy to navigate. I decided to set up my copy of the operating system on the Btr file system with a small swap partition. Once we have partitioned the hard drive the Ubuntu system installer begins to copy its files to our disk while we are asked some more questions. We are asked to confirm our time zone or select a new time zone from a map of the world. We are asked to confirm our computer's keyboard layout and we are asked to create a user account for ourselves. We can choose at this time to encrypt our home directory. Then we wait a few minutes for the installer to finish its work. When the installer is done we are asked to reboot the computer.
Ubuntu 14.10 - the System Settings panel
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Booting into our locally installed copy of Ubuntu brings us to a graphical login screen where we can sign in as the user we created minutes before or we can login as a guest. The operating system's guest account is not protected by a password and is wiped clean after every use. A few things I noticed upon logging in were that, first, Unity feels a big more responsive now than it has in the past. Second, the Dash still includes on-line search results when we type search terms. On-line search can be disabled through the distribution's System Settings panel.
Shortly after logging in I was notified there were software updates available. The Ubuntu update manager is a compact utility which displays a brief summary of available updates. We can check boxes to indicate which items we wish to download. We can also click on an update's entry to get more detailed information about the new software. On the day I installed Ubuntu there was just one update available and it was less than 1MB in size.
I tried running Ubuntu 14.10 in two environments, a physical desktop machine and a VirtualBox virtual machine. When running on physical hardware, Ubuntu performed well. The desktop was responsive, sound worked out of the box and my screen was set to its maximum resolution. Unity operated smoothly and I encountered no problems. In the VirtualBox environment Ubuntu worked properly, but there were two small problems. The first was Ubuntu's screen resolution was very low (about 800x600, I think) in VirtualBox until VirtualBox guest add-ons were installed. The second issue I found was that the Unity desktop, especially the Dash, was sluggish in the virtual machine until 3-D acceleration was enabled. Once 3-D video acceleration was enabled Unity performed well. In both environments Ubuntu required approximately 480MB of RAM when logged into the Unity desktop.
Ubuntu ships with several useful and popular open source applications. We are given the Firefox web browser and, assuming we enabled third-party multimedia support during the installation of the distribution, Flash is also included. The LibreOffice productivity suite is provided for us along with the Thunderbird e-mail client and a document viewer. The Totem video player, the Rhythmbox audio player and the Brasero disc burner are installed by default. With third-party multimedia codecs enabled these players can handle popular media formats. I found an archive manager, a text editor, a calculator and a backup utility installed. There are also a few small games, the Orca screen reader application and the Transmission bittorrent software. Network Manager is available to help us get on-line. I didn't find Java installed, but I did find the GNU Compiler Collection installed along with the usual command line utilities, manual pages and the Linux kernel, version 3.16.
Earlier in the year, the Ubuntu team announced they would be following Debian's example and adopting systemd in the future. I was curious, going into this trial, whether Ubuntu would ship with the Upstart init software or if the distribution had switched over to systemd. A quick check showed systemd processes to be running on the system and running "man init" on the command line brought up the manual page for systemd. However, looking at the init process itself revealed Upstart is still responsible for bringing the operating system on-line. It appears as though Ubuntu is adopting pieces of systemd, using it to maintain compatibility with some software while relying on the older Upstart software to act as init.
Ubuntu 14.10 - finding packages through Software Centre
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Managing software on Ubuntu is handled through the Software Centre. This application allows us to search through categories of software and locate packages by name or by function. We can click on a package's entry to bring up detailed information about our selection, complete with user reviews and screen shots. We can add or remove software from the system with the click of a button. Actions performed on packages happen in the background while we continue to browse through the Software Centre. One aspect of the Software Centre I like is that it will make recommendations to us based on popular downloads. This makes the Software Centre more attractive to newcomers who might not be sure what works best. The Software Centre, in its current form, worked well for me and I found it to be both responsive and easy to use. I feel it noteworthy that we can also install new software through the Unity Dash. When searching for programs in the Dash we are shown both installed applications and applications available in the repositories that match our search. Clicking on an application that has not yet been installed brings up the option to add the application to our system.
On the subject of Dash, I feel it has evolved well in these past few releases of Ubuntu. The Dash makes it fairly easy to find documents and software by name. We can also filter items, showing only specific categories of software, for example. I think the Dash performs a little faster now than it did in previous releases (though I have not performed strict tests) and I find it useful when I want to access a program, but I'm not sure if that program is installed locally yet. I also feel the HUD is worth mentioning. When operating in the Unity environment tapping the ALT key brings up a search box, called the HUD. Typing in the name of a command or feature causes the HUD to display a list of matching features the currently active application supports. For example, if we are running LibreOffice and type "export" the option to export the current document to PDF format appears. Tapping ALT and typing "spell" brings up the option to run LibreOffice's spell checker. The HUD is useful when we know what we want to do, but not where to find the desired feature in an application's menu tree.
Ubuntu 14.10 - browsing applications with Unity Dash
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I also want to mention the backup utility, available through the Dash or System Settings panel. The backup application is designed to be very easy to use and it guides us through setting up scheduled backups with a few mouse clicks. We can choose which directories to save and how often to perform backups (daily or weekly). Archives we create can be saved to a local directory on our computer, to a network share or to another computer running the OpenSSH secure shell service. I found the backup utility worked well and was easy to use. My only complaint was that when we attempt to restore a file, we need to unpack the entire archive (either to its original location or to a directory we have set aside). There does not appear to be any way to extract a single, specific file out of an archive using the backup utility. That being said, the archives created appear to be regular tar archives and we can extract single files from the archives using an alternative utility.
After using Ubuntu 14.10 for a few days it occurred to me that this release is unusual in that it seems as though very little has changed since the previous release. The Ubuntu distribution is infamous for its little changes and tweaks. Fans and critics typically have something to talk about, whether it is a different scroll bar style or window control buttons moving from right to left or a change in the way the Dash functions. This release of Ubuntu is uncharacteristically tame with just subtle differences in the version numbers of some key applications and the Linux kernel. Big changes, like the shift to Mir and the Unity 8 desktop, are being held off until October of 2015 and it seems, for now, the developers have decided to focus on minor bug fixes.
I think this tame release of Ubuntu is a good sign. Instead of talking about a new desktop layout or getting distracted by cosmetic changes, two of the few things which attracted my attention while using Ubuntu 14.10 were that it appears to be slightly faster than Ubuntu 14.04 and Unity is more stable on my test machine. When Ubuntu 14.04 came out, I felt it was a solid release and I had a very positive experience with it. One of my few complaints with Ubuntu 14.04 was the appearance of the occasional error message telling me some part of Unity had crashed and would I like to send a bug report? So far, while using Ubuntu 14.10, I have not seen a single crash notification. Nothing has glitched, nothing has crashed. The operating system has performed smoothly and quickly.
Ubuntu is, in my opinion, one of the easier Linux distributions to install and use. The Unity desktop, while some people don't care for its approach to doing things, has proven to be easy for people to learn when I've introduced non-Linux users to it. The system comes with a good collection of default software, the settings panel is easy to navigate and the Unity desktop has become more configurable in recent releases. There are some aspects of Ubuntu I don't like. I'm not a fan of on-line search being enabled by default. While it's possible to opt-out of on-line searches I would prefer not having data transmitted to Canonical (and third-parties) by default. I am not a fan of the unified menu bar at the top of the screen, but this too can be configured, restoring menu bars back to their traditional location inside application windows. I guess what I'm coming to is Ubuntu may do some things I don't like, but I have to admit those features I don't like are easily configurable.
On the whole, I think Ubuntu 14.10 is a good release, it adds a touch of polish on top of the already solid 14.04 version. This is one of the more newcomer friendly distributions I have used this year and I am happy with what the Ubuntu team has done, specifically focusing on minor improvements and bug fixes.
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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 2.8GHz AMD A4-3420 APU
- Storage: 500GB Hitachi hard drive
- Memory: 6GB of RAM
- Networking: Realtek RTL8111 wired network card
- Display: AMD Radeon HD 6410D video card
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Ubuntu and ownCloud security
At this time I would like to take a moment to discuss something which involves Ubuntu, but is not strictly about the distribution. Rather this is more about ownCloud. The ownCloud project creates server and client software for synchronizing files between multiple computers. The ownCloud software works a lot like Dropbox or iCloud or the now discontinued Ubuntu One service. People can install ownCloud on a computer (a desktop or a server) and then use client-side software to synchronize directories of files between computers. For people who like to create their own solutions rather than rely on third-party vendors (like Dropbox or Google) ownCloud provides an easy way to set up self-managed file synchronization. I use ownCloud and I'm a fan of the software.
A few weeks ago ownCloud developer Lukas Reschke contacted the Ubuntu team and requested the ownCloud server software be removed from the Ubuntu repositories: "On behalf of the ownCloud project (www.owncloud.org) I'm requesting that 'ownCloud server' is removed from the Ubuntu packages (including all versions). Let's hope that this is finally the right mailing list for this kind of request. These packaged versions are all vulnerable to multiple critical security bugs and no security fixes have been backported."
Marc Deslauriers, a Canonical developer, responded, saying software could not be removed from versions of Ubuntu already released, but suggested the ownCloud team could work with Ubuntu on a solution. Potential solutions included helping to back-port fixes from newer versions of ownCloud into Ubuntu's packages or possibly helping the Ubuntu team to package a new version of ownCloud. Either solution would allow Ubuntu users to continue using ownCloud and protect them from vulnerabilities.
Reschke declined to work with the Ubuntu developers, replying: "From my side, my work is done here, I have informed the responsible persons via multiple channels and if they have no intentions to fix the problems on their own we can very well life [sic] with that and will just add a big security warning to our installation guide. That will take much less time to do and has the same result for us." He also stated the Debian developers had cooperated with the take-down notice, posting: "I want to use this opportunity and state that with different distributions (such as Debian) it was absolutely not a problem to get the freezed packages removed." As it turns out, Debian still packages ownCloud and the server software is still available in all branches of Debian.
In the end, a bug report was filed, requesting the ownCloud server software be removed from Ubuntu 14.10 (prior to release) and it appears ownCloud is no longer offered in the latest version of Ubuntu. People who run Ubuntu can still download ownCloud via packages the ownCloud project maintains.
There are a few key points to this story I find disturbing, both as a developer and as an end user. Perhaps the primary issue here is the idea an upstream developer feels it is appropriate to request (legally packaged and distributed) software be removed from distribution archives, even from archives of distributions that have already been released. With a relatively niche software package like ownCloud people might not notice, but imagine the turmoil that would erupt if GNU requested Debian and Ubuntu drop the bash shell interpreter in the wake of the Shell Shock bug. Or imagine if Mozilla insisted distributions remove old versions of Firefox from their frozen repositories. Most users would be very upset with the upstream developers and any distribution that complied with the request. Yet a single ownCloud developer can request (and succeed) in having software pulled from Ubuntu.
I also think it is a shame the ownCloud project doesn't mind putting the work into maintaining packages for seven different distributions, but they apparently refuse to work with downstream projects to keep packages up to date. I think (speaking from experience) working with those seven distributions to help keep packages maintained would not only be less work in the long run, but it would also likely result in more bug fixes and faster deployments downstream. As it stands, ownCloud's approach of doing all the work themselves, while refusing to cooperate with downstream projects, seems like more effort for the ownCloud developers and more work for people deploying ownCloud.
Above I mentioned I run an installation of ownCloud and it happens to reside on a server running Ubuntu. Following the removal of ownCloud from Ubuntu I decided to upgrade to a newer version, using a package provided by the ownCloud team. I installed the package provided by upstream and discovered a few things. One is that the upstream ownCloud package over-wrote my configuration. This meant that the new ownCloud installation did not recognize my existing files, declared my account "empty" and caused the ownCloud clients on each of my computers to erase my synchronized directories. A second thing I noticed, when I tried to rollback my ownCloud installation, is that major versions are not backward compatible. For example, trying to run ownCloud 7 with a copy of my ownCloud 6 database/configuration did not work.
In the end, I was able to get the new version of ownCloud working on my server and, thanks to my paranoid approach to backups (using rsync to copy all my documents, daily, to another server that doesn't run ownCloud), I didn't lose any of my work. Still, I'm left with a few questions. Such as why does ownCloud insist on rolling their own packages and why do they refuse to work with downstream projects to secure their software? Why does Canonical allow upstream projects to demand legally packaged software be removed from their repositories, isn't that a slippery slope? Why didn't the Ubuntu team pull in the latest packages from Debian since Debian's packages act as an upstream source for the Ubuntu distribution? I feel this situation could have been handled better by both sides and, judging by my own experience, it seems the only people who will get hurt are the people ownCloud is trying to protect.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith and Ladislav Bodnar)
openSUSE explains Tumbleweed and Factory merger, Firefox OS on Raspberry Pi, Ubuntu Kylin interview, PelicanHPC update, OpenBSD drops dynamically loaded kernel modules, FreeBSD's 21st
Last week we shared an announcement from openSUSE in which the project reported the openSUSE Factory and Tumbleweed repositories would merge. Factory and Tumbleweed have both become rolling-release distributions and the openSUSE project will be changing the way it works with both repositories. The project has since posted a follow-up in which the future roles of Factory and Tumbleweed are clarified. The post takes a questions and answers style approach to explaining what will happen to Factory and Tumbleweed: "What does this mean for existing Factory users? Do I need to do anything? Yes and no -- When this goes live on November 4, it is our intention to 'alias' the current Factory repositories to the 'new' Tumbleweed repositories. So existing Factory users should not need to do anything. However, it will be recommended that people change their repositories to point to the new ones as we will phase out the current Factory URLs in about six months. We'll be sending out how-to guides and reminders close to the November 4th launch of the 'merged Tumbleweed' and the retirement of the 'old Factory repositories' in six months time."
* * * * *
Mozilla, the organization behind the Firefox web browser, the Thunderbird e-mail client and the Firefox OS mobile operating system, is working on a version of Firefox OS for the Raspberry Pi hobbyist computer. The new Firefox OS build should currently be able to work on Raspberry Pi computers and Mozilla is looking to refine and expand on the platform: "We are looking to demonstrate that Firefox OS can be a viable and valuable operating system for Raspberry Pi boards, and for the wide variety of use cases that are being imagined today by the Webmakers of tomorrow. Our goal is to release a downloadable or flashable version of Firefox OS for Raspberry Pi boards in conjunction with the Mozilla Festival."
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Ubuntu Kylin, a geographically-oriented distribution designed specifically for China, is just one of the many official flavours of Ubuntu, but interestingly enough, it is the only one that gets a mention on Ubuntu's home page. Last week Ubuntu Insights published a nice interview with Dr Jonas Zhang, an operating system researcher at National University of Defence Technology in Changsha, China, who talked about Ubuntu Kylin and its role in China's operating system ecosystem: "Q: How is Ubuntu Kylin different from standard Ubuntu? A: Ubuntu Kylin is a recognised flavour of Ubuntu and it takes Ubuntu as a base and reference. On the one hand, we cooperate with Ubuntu developers to make Ubuntu better. We submit blueprints and patches on many upstream projects, such as Ubiquity, Friends, Dash, Unity, fcitx. Currently, we are working on Unity 8 and Mir as well. We also devote time and energy to make Ubuntu Kylin more suitable for Chinese users. Our work spreads over a wide range of the OS, including UI/UX, language support and system applications. We also have a series of Youker applications, such as Youker Assistant (a desktop management tool that supports English, Spanish and Chinese), Youker Weather, Youker Calendar and Youker Search. What's more, we have cooperated with several popular Chinese software providers, such as Kingsoft, Xunlei and Sougou, to develop the Linux editions of their products."
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Good news for the fans of high-performance computing and cluster management - the PelicanHPC distribution has been revived. Michael Creel, the original maintainer of the Debian-based live CD, discontinued the project in early 2013. But last week his website announced a revival of PelicanHPC: "I'm very pleased to announce that Aissam Hidoussi has taken over development of PelicanHPC and has made a 3.0 release that is based on the current Debian stable release "Wheezy". The new web site is pelicanhpc.awict.net where you can get more information. The image is also available at this site." The distribution's new home has big plans, including a forthcoming 3.1 release, as well as a brand-new 4.0 build based on Debian GNU/Linux 8.0 "Jessie": "We're actively working on PelicanHPC 3.1, which contains fixes for PelicanHPC 3.0. It will be available after the release of stable Debian 8 (Jessie) or February 1, 2015 (whichever comes first). Also, we're working on the next release, PelicanHPC 4.0, which will be based on Debian 8 (Jessie) and live-build 4.x."
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The OpenBSD change log contains an interesting item which caught some attention recently. According to the log, the OpenBSD kernel will no longer support dynamically loading modules. Often operating systems, such as GNU/Linux or FreeBSD, will include common functionality built straight into the kernel while optional functionality is kept separate, as a module that can be loaded as needed. The module approach is often used to keep the size of the kernel, and the amount of memory it requires, low. The OpenBSD project appears to be dropping this functionality, requiring all drivers and features to be compiled into the kernel directly. No explanation for the change is mentioned in the log, but one might assume the OpenBSD developers hope to avoid potential security issues by no longer allowing modules to be dynamically loaded into the kernel.
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It was on 1 November 1993, exactly 21 years ago last Saturday, that the FreeBSD project announced their first ever stable release - version 1.0. Among many other (at the time) modern features, it came on "updated floppies" and had support for XFree86 2.0: "The first 'official' release of FreeBSD 1.0 is now available, no more greek letters - this is the 'production' release. While a fair number of bugs were also whacked between EPSILON and RELEASE, the following additional features deserve special mention: a dynamic buffer cache mechanism that automagically grows and shrinks as you use the memory for other things, this should speed up disk operations significantly; the Linux sound driver for Gravis UltraSound, SoundBlaster, etc. cards; Mitsumi CD-ROM interface and drive; updated install floppies; more fail-safe probing of devices on the ISA bus, this makes it much harder for devices to conflict with each other; advance syscons support for XFree86 2.0." Happy 21st, FreeBSD!
|Book Review (by Jesse Smith)
Book review: The Book of PF (Third Edition)
A packet filter, sometimes referred to by the generic name "firewall", is a piece of technology which blocks, forwards or re-routes network traffic. Packet filters come in a wide variety of styles and can be found running on most computers, from laptops to workstations to servers. One of the more powerful and flexible packet filters available today is PF, a technology which first appeared in the OpenBSD operating system. The OpenBSD website describes PF as follows:
Packet Filter (from here on referred to as PF) is OpenBSD's system for filtering TCP/IP traffic and doing Network Address Translation. PF is also capable of normalizing and conditioning TCP/IP traffic and providing bandwidth control and packet prioritization.
Using any packet filter and using it well takes practise and the PF software is especially complex and flexible. This flexibility, combined with some impressive features, makes PF one of the more respected packet filters, especially in the BSD community. People who are serious about network performance and security should know how to configure at least one packet filter and, if you only have time to learn one, it should probably be PF.
Enter the The Book of PF, written by Peter N. M. Hansteen. Mr Hansteen is a network administrator, an OpenBSD user and a fan of PF. In his book he sets out to explain what a packet filter is, why they are important and how to make use of the many features of PF. Though Hansteen mostly talks about working with PF on the OpenBSD operating system, he also takes time to talk about small differences which exist in the FreeBSD and NetBSD implementations of PF. (PF does not, at the time of writing, have a workable implementation on Linux distributions.)
After giving us a little background on PF, Hansteen begins showing us examples of PF configurations. PF is mostly managed using plain text files with lists of rules. Each rule is typically made up of a few parts, namely characteristics of network traffic to look for and what to do if a matching network packet is found. Hansteen begins with the most simple possible configurations (either allowing all traffic or blocking all traffic) and then quickly builds from there. Once the author explains how to create some very basic rules he goes on to talk about checking to make sure rule syntax is valid and testing existing rules. Then we get thrown head first into approaching network security from a variety of angles.
A packet filter can be used in several different ways. It can block network traffic, throttle connections for smoother network performance, route incoming traffic to the proper locations and stop attacks in progress. Hansteen tackles each of these scenarios, starting with some simple examples and building on them until we have some quite detailed solutions. We then move on to the next topic and start a new configuration from scratch.
I feel it is worth pointing out The Book of PF expects the reader to have a passing familiarity with working from the command line. It would also be helpful to know a little about network technologies and the differences between terms such as TCP and UDP, for example. We need not be experts in these fields, but knowing a little about how computer networks behave is a requirement for following the examples laid out in this book. It might also help to have experience using one of the BSD operating systems prior to cracking open this text.
While I was reading The Book of PF, a few things stood out. One is that the sub-title, "A No-Nonsense Guide..." seems appropriate. Most of the technical books I read on working with operating systems or networks contain funny asides or stories about gaining hard won wisdom. The Book of PF is more terse, dealing strictly with the subject at hand without wandering. In some ways the text acts more as reference material than a personal guide. Another thing which stood out was that there were a lot of practical examples. PF is a complex piece of technology which allows for all sorts of useful tools, including macros, variables, logging and prioritizing traffic. It is one thing to know PF can do these things, but it is great to see functional examples presented for us. Working with network packets can feel abstract and complex and seeing complete examples, not just snippets, is very helpful.
Something that came to mind while reading this book is that PF appears to be much more flexible and extendable than, for example, most Linux packet filters. However, the trade off is PF also has a more complex syntax to learn. While reading some early examples of PF in action I couldn't help but feel using Linux-based tools would be much faster and easier to understand. (The section on setting up FTP connections, for instance, describes a very complex solution using PF that would be trivial on a Linux server.) However, by the end of the book I had to acknowledge PF appears to be able to do things Linux firewalls either cannot do, or cannot do without a great deal more work. My point is that, for people coming from Linux land, PF may seem strange and overly complex, but there is a great deal we can accomplish with PF. The technology shines when facing difficult problems which its many features make relatively easy.
Hansteen has a straight-to-the-point writing style, he explains tough networking situations clearly and he dives deep into the capabilities of PF. If you need to set up a network gateway or want to learn firewalls inside and out, then The Book of PF is a very helpful resource. It sticks to the topic, covers a wide range of use cases and provides detailed examples.
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- Title: The Book of PF (Third Edition)
- Authors: Peter N. M. Hansteen
- Published by: No Starch Press
- Pages: 248
- ISBN-10: 1-59327-589-7
- ISBN-13: 978-1-59327-589-1
- Available from: No Starch Press, Amazon and other bookstores
|Opinion (by Jesse Smith)
On commercial aspect of Elive
It is not often I browse the comments left at the bottom of DistroWatch Weekly, but the last few times I have there have been posts commenting on the Elive distribution. There seems to be a strong level of mistrust directed at this project and posts have called for DistroWatch to either remove the distribution or post warnings next to the project's release notices. So let's talk about Elive and why a vocal few are concerned about this particular distribution.
From what I have read there are two main concerns with regards to Elive. The first is that Elive is a commercial distribution. Some people, usually due to a misunderstanding of what "free and open source software" means, believe open source software should not be sold. I find this a curious complaint as several popular Linux distributions are commercial in nature, including such heavyweights as Red Hat Enterprise Linux, SUSE Linux Enterprise and Mandriva Linux.
The second, and more common, concern appears to be that Elive is not up front about the fact it is a commercial distribution. People can download and use the project's media to experiment with the live desktop without making a payment. The request for payment, US$15, only comes into play when the user attempts to install the distribution. Further, there does not appear to be any mention of Elive's commercial nature on the project's website. (Or if the website mentions this aspect of the distribution, I have been unable to find it.) The only place I could find mention of users paying for Elive was on the project's forum, under the Suggestions section. Some people feel Elive should be more upfront about the fact the distribution charges for installations.
Personally, I'm a bit indifferent to whether distributions charge for their use or how much they advertise that fact. There are plenty of distributions and many of them are supported by funds in one form or another. It might be a slight surprise to potential users when they go to install Elive when they discover the project charges for installations. However, Elive is a Debian-based distribution and there are dozens of those available. People who do not want to pay for Elive can download any number of other distributions based on Debian GNU/Linux.
Prior to writing this commentary I downloaded the latest beta of Elive to see just how the payment system was implemented. The live disc brought up a boot menu with several options, offering various approaches to either experimenting with the live Enlightenment interface or launching the installer directly. All options caused the distribution to bring up the desktop interface, the options to launch the installer directly did not work. When Elive boots we are shown the Enlightenment desktop and we can play with this interface and a handful of popular open source applications.
Elive 2.3.9 - attempting to run the system installer
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When I attempted to launch the distribution's system installer a voice came out of my speakers welcoming me to this "futuristic" operating system. The system paused to connect to the Internet (I was already connected) and then asked me to confirm that I was on-line. When I clicked the button confirming I was on-line the installer reported it could not find an Internet connection and closed. I attempted several times to run the installer, each time confirming I was on-line and able to browse the web. Each time the installer reported it was off-line and refused to continue. It never reached a point where I had to make choices or offer payment. Presumably this issue will be fixed before the upcoming stable release.
As to whether DistroWatch should let people know that Elive is a commercial distribution or not, well, DistroWatch does. In each announcement regarding Elive that appears on the front page there is a link to the Elive description page which includes the comment: "Elive is a commercial distribution; while the live CD is available as a free download, those wishing to install it to a hard disk are asked to pay US$15 for an installation module." Anyone who takes even a brief few seconds to learn about the distribution they are about to download will be aware of the project's commercial nature.
|Rolling-release trial (by Jesse Smith)
Rolling-release trial - week 4
The fourth week of my rolling-release trial was a fairly calm affair, with one exception. Last week I mentioned my copy of openSUSE did not include the ability to boot into old Btrfs snapshots of the file system from the boot menu. At the time this feature was missing from my copy of openSUSE and I thought it might have been a configuration problem. However, this week, after installing the available updates from openSUSE's repositories, the option to boot read-only Btrfs snapshots appeared in my boot menu. It seems as though this feature has been added recently and I now benefit from being able to boot into older copies of my operating system. If openSUSE Factory breaks during my trial I can now revert to an older version of the operating system simply by rebooting. This is a feature I greatly appreciated having on PC-BSD and I am very pleased to see this new feature on openSUSE.
Since all of my updates went smoothly (including one large update to LibreOffice on PCLinuxOS) I am simply going to supply the statistics of my updates below. Here are the number of updated packages provided by each project and the amount of bandwidth required to download them. The chart below does not include the LibreOffice update I applied to PCLinuxOS as the LibreOffice suite is updated by a separate utility from the distribution's package manager.
Here is a list of key packages on each operating system and the version numbers of key packages following the updates.
|Released Last Week
MakuluLinux 1.0 "Cinnamon"
Jacque Raymer has announced the release of MakuluLinux 1.0 "Cinnamon" edition, a Debian-based distribution featuring the Cinnamon desktop environment: "It has been a dream of mine to build a Debian-based OS with Cinnamon for well over a year now, and on a few occasions I managed to actually get it to compile and boot, it proved to be highly unstable after a few patches. Each time I found myself disappointed, putting the idea on the back burner. You can imagine my delight when I heard that Cinnamon has a new team of guys porting it to Debian and thus once again I made the effort. To my great delight it seemed a bit smoother and more stable. A few months ago I got to work on this baby and although I was limited with my schedule I managed to make great progress in a very short amount of time. Today I am releasing the result to the world." Read the release announcement and release notes for further information.
SUSE Linux Enterprise 12
SUSE has announced the availability of SUSE Linux Enterprise 12 "Desktop" and "Server" products, commercial distributions built primarily for deployment as enterprise desktops or servers: "SUSE today announced the general availability of SUSE Linux Enterprise 12, the newest version of its reliable, scalable and secure platform for efficiently deploying and managing highly available enterprise-class IT services in physical, virtual or cloud infrastructure. New products based on SUSE Linux Enterprise 12 feature enhancements that more readily enable system uptime, improve operational efficiency and accelerate innovation. The foundation for all SUSE data center operating systems and extensions, SUSE Linux Enterprise meets the performance requirements of data centers with mixed IT environments, while reducing the risk of technological obsolescence and vendor lock-in." Read the press release and browse the detailed released notes (desktop, server) for further information.
SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 12 - the default GNOME desktop
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Cecil Watson has announced the release of LinHES 8.2, the latest stable version of the project's specialist Arch-based distribution designed for set-top boxes and home entertainment computers: "The LinHES dev team is pleased to announce the release of LinHES 8.2. LinHES 8.2 brings updates to the kernel, system libraries, service menu options, MythTV 0.27.4, LinHES theme and many other parts of LinHES. Due to consolidating /bin, /sbin, /usr/sbin, to /usr/bin upgrading to 8.2 is more involved than the normal pacman -Syu. There are two options to update, the update81-82.sh script or upgrade from the ISO. The update81-82.sh script will assist in updating LinHES. As always, make sure you have a good backup. There is no backout plan or partial update, once started the upgrade needs to complete or the system may not boot correctly. The largest stumbling block that will cause the update to fail are non-LinHES packages that have been installed. Please uninstall the non-LinHES, update to R8.2 and then re-install the 3rd party packages." See the release announcement and release notes for more details.
Puppy Linux 6.0 "Tahrpup"
Barry Kauler has announced the release of Puppy Linux 6.0 "Tahrpup" edition, a minimalist distribution compatible with Ubuntu 14.04 binary packages: "We have another official Puppy Linux release. Since I retired from developing Puppy Linux early in 2014, keen members of the Puppy community forked my Woof Puppy builder, naming it woof-CE. Since then, 01micko has been active with a Puppy built from Slackware packages, named 'Slacko Puppy'. The guys have also been working on another pup, built from Ubuntu 'Trusty Tahr' binary packages, under the leadership of Phil Broughton and this has now reached release status. It is named 'Tahrpup' and is version 6.0. Tahrpup is an official release of Puppy Linux for those who would like the package manager to have compatibility with the large collection of packages in the Ubuntu repository." Here is the complete release announcement with relevant links.
Puppy Linux 6.0 "Tahrpup" - the default desktop
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Johnny Hughes has announced the release of CentOS 6.6, an updated build of the project's legacy branch, compiled from the source code for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.6: "We are pleased to announce the immediate availability of CentOS 6.6 install media for i386 and x86_64 architectures. CentOS 6.6 is based on source code released by Red Hat, Inc. for Red Hat Enterprise Linux. There are many fundamental changes in this release, compared with the past CentOS 6 releases, and we highly recommend everyone study the upstream release notes as well as the upstream technical notes about the changes and how they might impact your installation. All updates since the upstream 6.6 release are also on the CentOS 6.6 mirrors as zero day updates. When installing CentOS 6.6 (or any other version) from any of our media, you should always run 'yum update' after the install." See the release announcement and release notes for detailed information about this version.
Zentyal Server 4.0
José Antonio Calvo has announced the release of Zentyal Server 4.0, a new version of the project's Ubuntu-based distribution designed for small business servers: "The Zentyal development team is proud to announce Zentyal Server 4.0, a new release of the open-source Linux small business server with native Microsoft Exchange protocol implementation and Active Directory interoperability. Zentyal Server 4.0 comes with improved mail and mail-related directory features. It is based on the latest Ubuntu 14.04.1 LTS. New features and improvements include: improved provisioning of Zentyal as first Microsoft Exchange server; improved PST import; improved support for RPC over HTTP (Microsoft Outlook Anywhere); improved Autodiscover service; improved support for multiple virtual mail domains; improved support for Microsoft Outlook 2007, 2010; improved support for shared calendars and contacts; improved multi-language support for mailboxes...." Read the release announcement for further information.
Simplicity Linux 14.10
David Purse has announced the release of Simplicity Linux 14.10, a set of Puppy Linux-based distributions with LXDE as the preferred desktop (and now also an experimental edition with KDE): "Simplicity Linux 14.10 is now available for everyone to download. It uses the 3.15.4 kernel. The Netbook and Desktop editions both use LXDE as the desktop environment and the X edition uses KDE 4.12.3. As usual, Netbook is our cut-down variant, with mostly web based applications which are made easily available from the Wbar dock. Desktop is our full-featured edition which features a host of beautiful wallpaper images pre-installed, as well as a lot of local applications such as Firefox, TOR Browser, Thunderbird, LibreOffice and Dropbox. The X edition is our experimental version and, as such, not everything will work. It is intended as a glimpse into what Simplicity Linux may become in the future. As mentioned above, it uses KDE 4.12.3 as the desktop environment rather than LXDE." Here is the full release announcement.
Antoine Jacoutot has announced the release of OpenBSD 5.6, the latest version of the free, multi-platform UNIX-like operating system focusing on proactive security and integrated cryptography: "We are pleased to announce the official release of OpenBSD 5.6. This is our 36th release on CD-ROM (and 37th via FTP/HTTP). We remain proud of OpenBSD's record of more than ten years with only two remote holes in the default install. As in our previous releases, 5.6 provides significant improvements, including new features, in nearly all areas of the system. LibreSSL: this release forks OpenSSL into LibreSSL, a version of the TLS/crypto stack with goals of modernizing the codebase, improving security, and applying best practice development processes; no support for legacy MacOS, Netware, OS/2, VMS and Windows platforms, as well as antique compilers; removal of the IBM 4758, Broadcom ubsec, Sureware, Nuron, GOST...." Visit the OpenBSD 5.6 release page to read the complete list of changes and improvements.
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
September 2014 DistroWatch.com donation: KDE|
We are pleased to announce that the recipient of the September 2014 DistroWatch.com donation is KDE, a cross-platform graphical desktop environment. It receives €300.00 in cash.
Few people in the free software communities around the world need an introduction to KDE. First launched in October 1996, the project produces, among other things, the KDE desktop (re-branded as Plasma desktop in the last couple of years). Recently the Germany-based KDE foundation launched a KDE End of Year 2014 Fundraising campaign: "As we approach the end of the year we begin the season of giving. What would suit the holiday better than giving to the entire world? Here is a unique way to give back to KDE allowing us to keep giving free software to humankind. KDE is committed to improving technology and software to make the world a better place. We produce great quality free software that everyone is free to use or modify without any cost or restriction." Please visit the above page if you are a KDE fan and wish to contribute to the project's current sprint towards the upcoming stable release of Plasma 5.
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$41,225 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), iTALC ($350), KDE ($400)
* * * * *
Distributions added to waiting list
- eZeY. The main goal of eZeY is to provide IT students an easy Linux distro to learn and "play" with.
- Nard GNU/Linux. Nard GNU/Linux is a software development kit (SDK) written from scratch for the Raspberry Pi family of boards. Nard runs entirely in RAM on the Raspberry Pi board.
- SEANux. SEANux is an Ubuntu-based Linux distribution with a modified GNOME Shell interface. It ships with penetration testing tools and software developed by the Syrian Electronic Army.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 10 November 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 • Rolling release trial (by Wim Herremans on 2014-11-03 09:33:22 GMT from Belgium) |
In the table with the package versions, the kernel version for Arch is showing 3.16.4.
I am using Arch myself and I am at kernel version 3.17.2.
Is that a mistake, or are you keeping the kernel version at 3.16.4 deliberately?
2 • Rolling release trial (by Pierre on 2014-11-03 10:55:59 GMT from Germany)
Same for openSUSE. As Factory ships Linux 3.17.1 and not the mentioned 3.16.4 I am a little confused about that difference between Factory and your test machine.
3 • ownCloud ./. Ubuntu packages (by Pierre on 2014-11-03 11:14:45 GMT from Germany)
This is one of the few times I have to disagree with Jesse on the ownCloud ./. Ubuntu issue.
I support the demand to remove packaged versions of ownCloud from fixed releases like Debian etc.
ownCloud gets frequently updated and if the package maintainers are not willing to backport at least security patches then it's better to stop packaging ownCloud for freezed repositories at all.
Or stop packaging of ownCloud alltogether as it's super easy to download the sources, copy them over into it's own webserver's virtual host instance and run updates from ownCloud itself. This way you have it up to date, database changes are done by the updater and therefore you wont end up with a messed up ownCloud server.
Simple as that.
4 • Good Post on Elive (by joncr on 2014-11-03 11:47:44 GMT from United States)
Good, to-the-point, post on Elive. This expectation that everything is supposed to by provided gratis comes from people who think they're entitled. (It's also the reason the web is full of ads and annoying monetizing schemes: People won't pay for content, no matter how good it might be. So, instead, the web gives them dumbed-down swill.)
I booted up a live Elive beta just to see what Enlightenment looks like these days. If I liked what I saw, I'd happily pay for it. Better than I remember the last time I looked at Enlightenment, especially the non-dark theme. Still, I won't use anything without Ubuntu's font rendering patches these days.
5 • Excellent issue (by Wine Curmudgeon on 2014-11-03 12:14:32 GMT from United States)
Another winning issue of DistroWatch -- great reviews and commentary.
Jesse, you should should read the comments more often. Most of us have praise for you.
6 • Simplicity 14.10 surprises very pleasantly (by Joe Tie on 2014-11-03 12:27:33 GMT from Philippines)
X was not part of the alpha stage of Simplicity but I remembered how good its first iteration was in March so I tried it on a 2005 PC. Performance is very impressive but this experimental release has a few application and package hitches. The Desktop version should be the one considered for production use.
7 • Rolling release trial (by Mohammadreza Abdollahzadeh on 2014-11-03 12:43:18 GMT from Iran, Islamic Republic of)
I am using Arch and about kernel version: Yes my Arch kernel version is 3.17.2 but this update come recently and I think that's why the kernel version that Jesse Smith mentioned is different.
by the way Archlinux is a wonderful and awesome distribution. I could say that all my knowledge about linux came from working with this great distro and I strongly recommend using this distro to every one who truly wants to learn linux and love linux.
8 • Kylin Linux and the Chinese market share (by gee7 on 2014-11-03 12:51:08 GMT from United Kingdom)
Thank you for the link to the interview with Dr Jonas Zhang of China's Defence Technology University and Ubuntu Kylin.
It was an interesting interview but what I found most illuminating at this point in time is what information was left unsaid: the percentage of user use of Kylin Linux in China.
The omission points to it still being extremely small, so I would guess (and of course may well be wrong on this) that the majority of Chinese computer users are still using (often pirated copies of) Windows XP.
Any information on the Chinese desktop market that Distro Watch can provide would make fascinating reading.
The Chinese government is slowly making the changeover from American proprietary software to Linux but the population will be slow to follow suit.
However, when they do, it will be a world changer.
No longer will we read reports of desktop and tablet use such as Microsoft 91.53% and Linux 1.41% see:
but I would hope to see Linux as a major global desktop force in the next decade, as China sets an example to Asia and the third world.
Remember that China has nearly 20% of the world population, India has over 17% and The USA only 4.5%.
9 • Again on the Ubuntu ./. ownCloud Issue (by Pierre on 2014-11-03 13:05:35 GMT from Germany)
Statement provided by the ownCloud Project:
10 • Package versions (by Jesse on 2014-11-03 13:42:23 GMT from Canada)
A few people asked why my package versions are out of date (especially the Arch kernel). This is because the article you are seeing posted here today was written last week, following an upgrade I did the previous weekend. There is a time lag of about ten days between when I run the upgrades and when the article talking about my experiences appears. For obvious reasons I'm not doing the upgrade and writting the column the night before DWW gets published.
The version numbers you see in the Rolling Release articles are a snapshot in time from about ten days ago. No packages are being held back on any of my test OSes.
11 • OwnCloud major version incompatibility (by Dale Visser on 2014-11-03 13:47:18 GMT from United States)
> A second thing I noticed, when I tried to rollback my ownCloud installation, is that major
> versions are not backward compatible. For example, trying to run ownCloud 7 with a copy
> of my ownCloud 6 database/configuration did not work.
This shouldn't come as a surprise. Assuming they are using standard SemVer-based version numbering. From the http://semver.org/ summary:
> Given a version number MAJOR.MINOR.PATCH, increment the:
> MAJOR version when you make incompatible API changes,
12 • 10 • Package versions (by Jesse) (by Pierre on 2014-11-03 14:07:25 GMT from Germany)
> The version numbers you see in the Rolling Release articles are a snapshot in time from about ten days ago.
This explains the older version numbers.
Maybe could mention in your next update about your rolling release tests an which date you made these upgrades to make that a little more transparent.
13 • Why is SEANux even on the waiting list? (by GJones on 2014-11-03 14:43:59 GMT from United States)
Seriously? The Syrian Electronic Army is a bunch of unabashed blackhats, working in support of a criminal regime that has murdered tens of thousands of people. They, their Linux distribution, and anything associated with them should not be given the slightest hint of legitimacy.
14 • openSUSE Factory (by ferri on 2014-11-03 14:45:53 GMT from Slovakia)
Actual coorect state:
15 • Elive (by linuxista on 2014-11-03 15:29:35 GMT from United States)
Thanks for addressing Elive, Jesse. From some of the comments of disillusioned Elive users, it seems the payment gotcha comes AFTER the installation to the hdd is complete in order to get some basic productivity software. If this is the case, at such a point there is already a certain amount of commitment on the part of the user having erased their hdd and completed the installation. This is the part that seems deceptive and somewhat extortionist. I can't think of any reason not to disclose the commercial aspect of the distro on the front page of the website, especially since users/devs such as @4 seem so proud of the commercial aspect. I guess the rest of us entitled linux users and contributors will just have to settle for the dumbed-down swill of the non-commercial linux ecosystem.
16 • eLive "Pay or not to pay"? (by Larry Apakian, iXi on 2014-11-03 16:35:42 GMT from United States)
Yes, I agree with most users concerning eLive and it's down right sneaky approach to selling eLive even though on first glance you would get the impression it is freely available. I find it somewhat manipulative as well since you don't find out about paying until your hard drive has already been formatted for the new OS. Furthermore, it's in beta cycle right now, why do you have to pay for beta software to install it. Who knows if it actually works to anyone's satisfaction for that matter! It's not even a bug-free full product if I understand beta correctly. I'm surprised the key file downloaded when you pay their asking price hasn't been hacked so it been freely installed for everyone to check out first and if you like it and it's stable then you should have the option whether to pay or not! The reviewer really didn't cover many aspects of eLive when he/she should have.
17 • Elive (by More Gee on 2014-11-03 16:49:56 GMT from United States)
I had a similar thing happen to Robolinux, I bought the VM for a donation and did an update and wanted me to redonate to access my VM.
18 • Ubuntu 14.10 (by More Gee on 2014-11-03 17:05:02 GMT from United States)
Any word on Ubuntu studio 14.10?
Also, Symantec is currently broken at the moment for Artist-x since the new release because it is supposed to roll.
19 • Rolling releases and systemd commentary (by Jesse on 2014-11-03 21:17:03 GMT from Canada)
@12: Pierre, I am all for transparent. In fact, I go one better. Every week, as I mentioned in earlier columns regarding rolling releases, I live tweet (@blowingupbits) the rolling release upgrades as they happen. You can not only see when an OS is upgraded, but how the upgrade went, and people can ask questions while the upgrades are happening.
This week I had some extra commentary on systemd and Debian which I felt was too personal/colourful for DWW. I placed that extra commentary on my website, in case anyone wants to read it. Fair warning, it is subjective and full of bias. http://blowingupbits.com/2014/11/thoughts-systemd-freedom-choose/
20 • @19 - systemd commentary (by Paraquat on 2014-11-03 23:19:58 GMT from Taiwan)
Your commentary on systemd is spot on, I couldn't agree more. Everyone with an interest in Linux should read this.
21 • @19 systemd and Debian (by ButtHurt on 2014-11-04 00:30:41 GMT from United States)
Jesse, excellent commentary posting. I agree more freedom and choice, not less. Real common sense, in regards to open source software. :)
22 • The *BSDs and systemd (by cykodrone on 2014-11-04 04:56:23 GMT from Canada)
Or virusd as I like to call it, anyway, the *BSDs aren't bending over backwards to adopt it. I was a die-hard Deb-head, not anymore, I'm wiping my old machine as we speak to do my PC-BSD learning on it before I put it on my main machine, that way I know what to expect. I feel betrayed, like finding out my gf has been sleeping with my best bud, or bro even.
Truth be told, it's not a bad technology, it just has had bad PR and it's trying to be too much too soon, I think the perfect balance would be the community maintained uselessd, that way Poett-hats won't be dictating to us.
23 • linux-base-api? (by Kragle von Schnitzelbank on 2014-11-04 05:59:37 GMT from United States)
Isn't the RH/Gnome/system+68d's-project simply a (hardware?/enterprise?) 'vendor' initiative to "reduce the testing-matrix for all use-cases, establish a full (vendor?)trust-chain, standardize installation on servers, embedded systems, multiple desktops and/or thin-clients ... and unify app market platforms"? Who could possibly argue against such virtuous purposes? Why, we could finally see the resolution of dependency-hell!
Surely it's more cost-effective to co-opt other (competing) distros' infrastructure than focus on your own? And outsource the debugging burden? Surely that's a fair trade for such a grand vision?
In Unity there is strength ... efficiencies of scale ... meaningful standards ... convergence (via btrfs-subvolume-deltas toward ZeroInstall?) ...
(Did I miss any marketing buzzies?)
24 • "SEANux" -- What the hell? (by eco2geek on 2014-11-04 09:18:49 GMT from United States)
From the "distros added to the waiting list" section above:
"SEANux is an Ubuntu-based Linux distribution with a modified GNOME Shell interface. It ships with penetration testing tools and software developed by the Syrian Electronic Army."
"The Syrian Electronic Army (SEA), is a group of computer hackers supervised by the Syrian Assad regime. Using spamming, defacement, malware (including the Blackworm tool), phishing, and denial of service attacks, it mainly targets political opposition groups and western websites including news organizations and human rights groups. The Syrian Electronic Army claims to be "a group of enthusiastic Syrian youths who could not stay passive towards the massive distortion of facts about the recent uprising in Syria", however the SEA is believed by experts to be "a state-supervised operation" that is linked to the Assad regime. The SEA is thought to be the first public, virtual army in the Arab world to openly launch cyber attacks on its opponents."
Lovely. A Linux distro sponsored by and in support of a state that's killed tens of thousands of its own citizens. I'd say something snarky about it -- "And now you can use it, too!" or "Of course it runs GNOME shell!" -- but the thought that a Linux distro that's being used in the Assad regime's war against its own citizens is being offered for public consumption is not even remotely funny.
25 • OneMan'sTerroris (by linuxista on 2014-11-04 16:20:36 GMT from United States)
These linux distros/programs are also sponsored by states that have killed massive numbers of their own citizens or millions of other people around the world for the purposes of "regime change." Turkey, for example, appears to be responsible for the sarin gas attack against the Syrian population last year. So lets lay off the politics and quit the enemy of the week demonization in the western media.
Outside of the U.S., there are several "national" Linux distributions. These include China's Red Flag Linux; Turkey's Pardus, and the Philippines' Bayahnian. Other countries, like Russia, are on their way to moving their entire IT infrastructure to Linux and open-source software. In the U.S., the government, especially the military, makes use of Linux all the time. Indeed, Security-Enhanced Linux (SELinux), the most popular software set for hardening Linux against Linux is sponsored by the National Security Agency. But, there hasn't been a national American Linux desktop distribution... until now.
The Software Protection Initiative (SPI) under the direction of the Air Force Research Laboratory and the US Department Of Defense recently created Lightweight Portable Security (LPS). Like the name indicates, this is a small Linux desktop distribution that's designed for secure use.
26 • Elive (by kilgoretrout on 2014-11-04 17:02:41 GMT from United States)
I have no problem with Elive charging whatever they wish for their product. I do not suffer from some false sense of entitlement regarding open source software, nor do I believe most readers of DW have any such entitlement issues. Raising this as an issue is little more than an inflammatory straw man meant to divert attention from Elive's dubious business practices.
The obvious fact remains that virtually all linux distos are not only freely downloadable but also freely installable. Elive trades on these reasonable expectations to get potential users to download and install their distro without disclosing the true nature of their product anywhere on their website. Then if you want to use their distro they demand a $15 fee. This is a grossly deceptive business practice, plain and simple. Why anyone would even attempt to defend it is beyond me.
27 • A correction is in order. (by salparadise on 2014-11-04 17:09:00 GMT from United Kingdom)
I don't like such issues being raised on a Linux site, however, untruths are being spread and must be addressed.
The Syrian Government has NOT killed tens of thousands of its own citizens. The US backed "rebels" have killed many and have used, more than once, chemical weapons against civilians. So, before you bring politics into Linux - get your facts straight. (Hint - you will not find anything like the truth about this issue anywhere in the main stream media).
28 • Re: SEANux (by GJones on 2014-11-04 18:11:56 GMT from United States)
Don't cop that moral relativism crap, please. And by the way, if you have me figured for a wingnut, you're entirely wrong.
Yes, the US has committed its share of atrocities. Hundreds of thousands dead in Iraq, millions dead or enslaved as a result of the conflict mineral trade (which is part of why computers are so cheap now), ad infinitum. If you wanted to you could call most US civilians complicit for paying taxes that go into such things, and you'd be more or less right. If you think that makes what the SEA is doing perfectly okay, you're deluding yourself.
@salparadise: where do you get your info on this, pray tell?
29 • Re: "SEANux" comments (by eco2geek on 2014-11-04 18:18:10 GMT from United States)
> The Syrian Government has NOT killed tens of thousands of its own citizens.
Yes, they have. Full stop. Those would be facts. Here:
Now would I believe you, or the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights?
> These linux distros/programs are also sponsored by states that have killed
> massive numbers of their own citizens or millions of other people around the
> world for the purposes of "regime change."
And that somehow excuses the Syrian government, how, exactly?
30 • SEANux (by linuxista on 2014-11-04 19:52:35 GMT from United States)
The point is hypocrisy. Even putting aside disagreements about who in Syria is a terrorist and who is, in fact, fighting the terrorists, if you are going to denounce the SEAN distro then you ought to denounce all of them with dark sponsorship. How many projects get DARPA funding? Tor does, and SELinux is tied to the NSA. Venezuela (another government demonized in the western media) has a distro, as does/did/will North Korea, Russia, China, Turkey. NATO member fading colonial and neo-colonial empires tend to give themselves a pass on past and current atrocities, which are too numerous and horrific to list. So, let's move this discussion to some political site and focus on tech here at Distrowatch.
31 • Re: SEANux (by GJones on 2014-11-04 20:36:36 GMT from United States)
@linuxista, you have a point in that all nation-states are criminal when you get down to it. But I feel there's a difference between a Linux distro that is maintained or funded by a criminal nation-state; and one maintained by an organization whose purpose is to aid and abet war crimes, for the specific purpose of making it easier to aid and abet war crimes.
IDK, maybe I'm putting too much weight on intent, but I do think it matters in this case.
32 • @30 - More about SEANux (by eco2geek on 2014-11-04 21:36:17 GMT from United States)
@linuxista, you're certainly doing a good job at changing the topic away from Syria.
> So, let's move this discussion to some political site and focus on tech here at
It is about tech - tech made and used explicitly to support Syria's government, and its mass killing of civilians. Unlike the creators of all those other distros, the SEA seems to be pretty focused on only one thing.
Mr. Bodnar is, of course, welcome to put whatever distros he wants into his databases, but I'd like to register that this one's really offensive.
33 • No politics (by Barnabyh on 2014-11-04 21:40:20 GMT from United Kingdom)
Please guys, none of us will ever know the truth of what exactly happened in a particular scenario. 'Facts' can be bent either way and their interpretation appeals to people's pre-disposed inclinations. Everybody believes what they want to.
So let's keep the politics out of it and stick to our hobby - or livelihood for some. Have fun with Linux and BSD.
34 • SEANux (by Scrummy on 2014-11-04 21:41:26 GMT from Nicaragua)
Its Interesting that citizensof the leaders of World Morality, are the only people who seem to be complaining.. and seem to be more informed about Syria than any other people on the planet.. in the same way as they knew more than anyone else regarding WMDs in Iraq, and how Govt lies have cost how many Innocent lives in Iraq, Afghanistan, and even Pakistan and how many weapons did USA send the rebels in Syria to overthrow a legitimate soveriegn govt.. (how would they feel if China funded usa based rebels to over throw usa.) How many of those weapons are now in the hands of ISIS the same rebels who are trying to overthrow Syria......and are using them to attack the usa puppet leaders etc in Iraq..
Does it even matter who is using a Distro intended for hacking as the USA and UK etc are quite happily hacking everyone and for what ends..certainly not to benefit any of us....
let's see some actual proof that anyone involved with any terrorists is actually developing this distro.. or is it just assuption and rumour. or some ficticious hacking name.. for someone who really lives in Kansas..????
35 • SEANux (by linuxista on 2014-11-05 02:43:40 GMT from United States)
@34 Someone from Nicaragua ought to know pretty intimately the degree to which the US has supported terrorist proxy armies and death squads to force "regime change" on small countries. That western nations, and esp. the US and Britain, think they have they have the moral legitimacy to accuse other nations of human rights abuses is exquisitely and supremely ironic. So, again, let's back off the politics and focus on the tech. I'd be interested to know if there's anything interesting on SEANux. Apparently, they pulled off a number of impressive hacks.
36 • Stick to nerd politics (by cykodrone on 2014-11-05 04:20:05 GMT from Canada)
If you want to argue ethnic cleansing and genocide, Twitter would be the place for that.
There's a systemd jihad (don't worry NSA, I'm not a terrorist) going on, didn't ya know? lol
37 • KDE (by Jerry C. on 2014-11-05 10:09:13 GMT from United States)
I just don't get their reasoning behind the "brand" change from KDE to Plasma. I mean, "Plasma," in the commercial electronics world, is just a type of television no one buys anymore......
38 • SEANux (by Jerry C. on 2014-11-05 10:19:20 GMT from United States)
Regardless of whether you believe the Syrian government, the jihadis, or the truth, I don't think I'd run this on ANY computer without a full audit of it, first.
39 • Fan speed control for laptops (by Bill C. on 2014-11-05 12:31:38 GMT from United States)
Yes, I am not a developer but rather a curious and excited user constantly testing different operating systems.
Since I can not modify kernels I am disappointed that most of the OS's I've come to enjoy do not have inherent fan control routines. Consequently, many of my thinkpads overheat when I raise the resolutions or dare play a game.
So, how about making more effort to introduce and make it known that your distro has a good generic fan control routine with an interface to prove it and allow adjustments where possible by the end users.
Thanks to all for what you provide to the communities for free.
PS, why the Hell are you discussing Syria and other non-Linux BS in this forum??????????????????
40 • OpenSuse 13.2 (by jaws222 on 2014-11-05 15:42:46 GMT from United States)
Trying out the new OpenSuse 13.2 and it looks good. One knock I do have against OpenSuse in general is setting up shares similar to how Ubuntu or Debian does it. Does anyone know an easy way?
41 • systemd (by Kazlu on 2014-11-05 16:38:37 GMT from France)
Re #10 Jesse: Very well put. You pointed very rightly a problem that is not related to the technical benefits or drawbacks of systemd, but to how it is coming to the GNU/Linux community. This is also what worries me: I don't mind trying systemd, but if everyone goes for systemd and if systemd appears to be a bad solution in the long term, we will no longer have usable alternatives.
As you also pointed, I am surprised Debian decided to integrate systemd, considering it still evovles a lot. If systemd evolves too much and changes its APIs too often, supporting older versions for the lifetime of a Debian (and even worse, for a lifetime of an Ubuntu LTS!) seems complicated. Once systemd has reached maturity and some stability (I mean "stability" as in "less frequent evolutions", not as in "less crashes"), then it would seem more reasonable to consider a switch to it. For that reason, I plan on staying on Debian Wheezy when Jessie comes out and, if I have to, going back to Xubuntu or Linux Mint 5 year supported LTS versions with Upstart, or trying Salix. I will try systemd on some machines maybe, but not on my main one any time soon.
@19 cykodrone: "Truth be told, it's not a bad technology, it just has had bad PR and it's trying to be too much too soon, I think the perfect balance would be the community maintained uselessd, that way Poett-hats won't be dictating to us."
I second that. Although
42 • Elive (by Roy Reese on 2014-11-05 17:17:50 GMT from Spain)
I have to agree that "entitlement mentality" is a strawman in the case of Elive and add to the above what I consider a true deception: by prominently showing "We need mirrors!" and have an elaborate donations page, the financing looks completely voluntary. I also question counting the "Suggestions" setion of the forum as a reasonable mention given that I download from the site itself, not the forum!
Beyond that, sadly, Elive is shooting itself in the foot. By hiding the fee it risks exactly what seems to be happening: ticking people off -- and doing so when it has not had a stable release in four (4) years! Even though I do sometimes ask myself why, I am a fan, as well as a user, of Enlightenment -- and there are very few distributions that offer it as an option, let alone being devoted to it (none at present in the latter category other than Bodhi and Elive as far as I know). Given that, Elive has a really good opportunity to sell itself as a specialty distribution and note that it survives, in part, by charging for installs. There are ways to make the case compelling.
Putting the modest charge up front and explaining its importance will allow those who would not consider paying under any circumstances to move on. Those who really know the value of alternatives to overpriced commercial products and like the distro after trying it will be only too willing to pay. By not being upfront, some portion of those who might otherwise pony up the money will simply walk away in disgust.
I'll sign off with one last thought: How can we consider a hidden term of use (essentially what the charge amounts to) consistent with being "open?"
43 • Elive (by Microlinux on 2014-11-05 18:20:22 GMT from France)
I gave Elive a spin recently on one of my computers. The live CD started, I fiddled around with Enlightenment and decided to fire up the installer. I formatted the disk, and THEN I was asked to pay. I thought "what the heck?!?". And yes, the developers should be upfront with this. Should have been. Whatever. I don't want to test their product, since they've simply lost my trust.
44 • comments on feature story (by ken on 2014-11-06 17:32:05 GMT from )
Very few comments on the feature story, Ubuntu 14.10. Does this mean less interest among readers of DW on what is happening in Ubuntu?
45 • Ubuntu 14.10 (by linuxista on 2014-11-06 19:58:58 GMT from United States)
Since there is so little new in this release, I wonder if a much higher percentage than normal will stay with the LTS. Dedoimedo gave Utopic a terrible review (basically very buggy vs. Tahr).
46 • Dedoimedo non-review (by Somewhat Reticent on 2014-11-06 22:18:13 GMT from United States)
Hard to review when the screenshot function is broken (and temper's short)? Instead of fallback to low-tech, this one frustration essentially prevented a review. Only one other "bug" (a local-mirror issue) was noted.
Notably it has a link to a separate page about test equipment - which seems sadly short on specs, and shows no log of changes.
Jesse's review, OnTheOtherHand, is informative and complete.
47 • Plasma (by Whitespiral on 2014-11-07 03:36:50 GMT from Mexico)
" I mean, "Plasma," in the commercial electronics world, is just a type of television no one buys anymore......"
A plasma weapon is also something you want to have with you, when facing evil aliens in some popular computer games... I love the word Plasma.
48 • distro search tool suggestion (by cykodrone on 2014-11-07 06:48:30 GMT from Canada)
Dear DW, it may be time to implement a new distro search option choice:
'Not using package' -drop down list-
*cough* systemd *cough*
49 • systemd-journald (by zykoda on 2014-11-07 07:26:57 GMT from United Kingdom)
Fedora 20 updates have eventually revealed what is a point of Failure. 50+% CPU load and 700K/s disk writes can be considered a race condition, making the whole system basically unusable. Can anyone point to a cure for this? The deamon restarts if stopped.
50 • Questionable Origins (by M.Z. on 2014-11-07 09:52:17 GMT from United States)
I certainly won't be using anything made by the Syrian Government for a variety of reasons; however, similar projects with questionable origins have been tracked on distrowatch before. Just look at Red Flag Linux developed in part by a branch of the dictatorial government in communist China:
I suppose it's a risk in protecting the freedom of users that you'll end up with shady characters using your software while not caring at all about the rights that open licenses like the GPL were meant to protect. From what I remember that RMS guy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who created the GPL has always linked free/libre software with free speech. I think both free speech & free/libre software have a similar weakness, which is to say that free speech can be used by fascists who don't respect the freedoms of others & who actively seek to take freedoms away from others. It is much the same with free software, which despite the best intentions of many developers can be repurposed for use by regimes that seek to control, oppress, & even murder large numbers of their citizens. I think abuse of freedoms in both the realm of free speech and free/libre software are prices that you pay in an open society or an open source world.
51 • AV Linux 6.0.4 (by Harry on 2014-11-07 17:26:31 GMT from United States)
Downloaded AV Linux ,ran it on an MSI military class mobo, AMD 8120 8 core processor, 8 gig DDR3, one gig Nvidia card, and it worked great. Tried to run it on another box using the same mobe, AMD 8350 8 core processor, 16 gig DDR3, two gig Nvidia card and it would hang up at the same spot. Really wanted to install it on this box. Any suggestions?
52 • SEANux (by linuxista on 2014-11-07 21:28:26 GMT from United States)
I hope after all of this political demonization Jesse has the fortitude to review SEANux purely on the basis of tech to see what the distro's about.
53 • SEANux (by Glenn on 2014-11-08 19:35:29 GMT from United States)
I would add my support to others here who have commented regarding SEANux and respectfully ask it NOT be included.
54 • Just hope it goes away? (by M.Z. on 2014-11-08 21:03:01 GMT from United States)
Well so far SEANux is only on the waiting list & not even officially tracked here at Distrowatch, and some things never get off the waiting list. That being said I wonder if ignoring the issue isn't counter productive in the long run. I certainly agree with #53/Glenn that the project is very disagreeable & will be used to do bad things; however, to try & keep these sorts of projects off the waiting list would be to ignore the down side of free & open software.
Giving away source code as a right has the same problem as free speech rights, which is to say the very bad people will do bad things with that right & we should all remember that fact. I have the same basic attitude as the Jewish lawyer from the ACLU who defended the protest/ free speech rights of neo Nazis in court - they are horrible but they still have rights under the constitution (or GPL as the case may be). We should denounce the project & perhaps it should not be tracked; however, we should also remember that free software can be used for bad & we shouldn't ignore that fact by not acknowledging the existence of bad projects like SEANux. I happy with the fact that it was noticed & denounced by many of the readers here on Distrowatch, & we should remember that despite the best intentions of the developers of free & open software some of it is used for bad purposes.
55 • Elive cost (by browed koffee on 2014-11-10 02:43:41 GMT from Australia)
You could look at it this way. An OS allows you to use your own computer to access the Internet. You can send and receive emails to talk with all your peeps all over the world for free (and even talk to some hackers if they choose to intercept your messages). This saves a lot of money per year in postage costs - and speeds up collaborations compared to snail mail. An OS also allows you to produce work that you can earn money from. So it's reasonable for devs to charge a fee for an OS. Elive just uses Enlightenment to add a bit of extra bling to your otherwise mundane work and dreary emails (which even the toughest hacker would probably soon regret intercepting).
Number of Comments: 55
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