| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 589, 15 December 2014
Welcome to this year's 50th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! Modern operating systems are made up of many complex components. Our computers need to deal with user accounts, permissions, multiple file systems, any number of removable devices, drivers and the many programs which make up a modern desktop operating system. Understanding how all the pieces fit together is difficult and being a developer who works on those pieces is even harder still. This week we talk about a book, appropriately called How Linux Works, that explains the many interlocking pieces of a Linux-based operating system and how they fit together. In our Feature this week we share a review of the Parsix distribution which takes the popular Debian GNU/Linux operating system and tries to make it more appealing to desktop users. In our News section we discuss Fedora's latest release, Canonical's plans for a minimal server distribution with isolated services and the PC-BSD project's attempt to fix problems with their upgrade process. Plus we share the latest distribution releases and list the new projects added to our waiting list. We wish you all a delightful week and happy reading!
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Parsix GNU/Linux 7.0 - a desktop Debian distribution
According to the distribution's website, "Parsix GNU/Linux is a live and installation DVD based on Debian. Our goal is to provide a ready to use, easy to install, desktop and laptop optimized operating system based on Debian's stable branch and the latest stable release of GNOME desktop environment." I quite enjoyed the last few versions of Parsix. I feel the project has done a nice job of taking Debian and using it as a base to create a friendly, desktop-oriented operating system. Parsix, in its purpose and past performance, has appeared to me to be similar to Linux Mint "Debian" edition, a user-friendly layer on top of a stable Debian base.
The latest version of Parsix GNU/Linux is available in two builds. There is a 32-bit and a 64-bit x86 build. Both downloads are approximately 1.1 GB in size. Booting from the project's media brings up a menu asking if we would like to launch Parsix in graphics mode or in a text mode. Taking the graphical option launches the GNOME 3 desktop.
GNOME is laid out with its application menu in the upper-left corner of the display and the system tray in the upper-right. The central section of the top bar displays the current time. Icons for browsing the file system and launching the project's installer sit on the desktop. Shortly after GNOME finished loading I clicked on the application menu button and GNOME immediately crashed. I was logged out and presented with a login screen. From the login screen we can sign in to either GNOME 3's full featured desktop (from which I had just been evicted) or we can sign in to a GNOME Classic environment. The Classic environment looks and acts in a similar fashion to the legacy GNOME 2 desktop, though with some slight differences to the appearance of menus and buttons. With a little trial and error I found I could login to the default user account (and access GNOME Classic) if I provided the operating system with the password "parsix".
Parsix GNU/Linux 7.0 - browsing the web with Iceweasel
(full image size: 347kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Once I was logged into GNOME's Classic desktop and determined the environment was stable I launched the distribution's system installer. Parsix ships with a graphical installer which first checks to see if we have a spare partition available and swap space on the hard drive. We are then told we can change the drive's layout if we want and we are given a chance to open the GParted partition manager. Using GParted we can divide up the local drive as we wish and then return to the system installer. Parsix's installer asks if we would like to install a fresh copy of the operating system or upgrade an existing installation. Taking the option for a fresh installation we are then asked which partition should hold the Parsix operating system and we can select the partition from a list.
We are then asked which file system should be used on the partition with options including ext3, ext4, JFS and ReiserFS. The next few screens ask us to create a user account for ourselves and to set a password on the root account. We are then asked to create a name for our computer and, finally, we are shown a confirmation screen where the installer lists all the actions it will take. Once we confirm the installer may proceed, it copies its files to our hard drive. When the installer finishes its work, it exits and returns us to the desktop.
Upon rebooting the computer, Parsix GNU/Linux loads and we are shown a grey graphical login screen. Here we can sign into our account and launch either the GNOME Shell desktop or GNOME Classic. I mentioned a few weeks ago in my review of Trisquel that I haven't been using the GNOME desktop much of late. However, my time with Trisquel was quite positive and so I felt optimistic going into my trial with Parsix. The positive feeling did not last. As I mentioned earlier, GNOME Shell proved to be an unstable (and slow) desktop environment. Even with the proper drivers installed for 3-D support, GNOME Shell lagged a lot. As a result, I spent most of my time using GNOME Classic.
The Classic desktop was not going to win any speed tests either, it lagged noticeably, but did perform better than GNOME Shell. Several times GNOME Classic crashed or froze, either sending me back to the login screen or forcing me to reboot the machine. By default, Parsix's desktop is designed to lock after a few minutes and rather than have the user simply press a key to restore the display, the user must click and drag the screen saver out of the way, an awkward movement to perform with a mouse. Perhaps on a touch screen the swiping gesture would be more convenient, but on a traditional desktop, it feels out of place.
I also noticed that GNOME Classic ran a "Location" service by default. There isn't a lot of documentation I could find about what Location does, but it appears as though the Location service tracks the user's current position. This may be useful for programs like weather widgets. The Locations service can be disabled through the system tray. Another quirk I discovered was GNOME Classic, for the first day I was running Parsix, would not allow me to logout or shutdown the computer from within the Classic desktop. Clicking the shutdown/logout button simply returned me to the Classic desktop. On the second day of my trial the logout/shutdown button started working, immediately following a software update.
Parsix GNU/Linux 7.0 - managing software packages and services
(full image size: 189kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Speaking of updates, there does not appear to be any form of notification in place to let the user know when a software update becomes available. Instead we can locate the update manager in the distribution's application menu. The update application is pretty simple in its design, showing us a list of waiting software updates. We can click a box next to each item we want to download. During my trial I downloaded 10 new packages, totalling 37 MB in size. These updates all installed cleanly and I had no problems with the update manager.
On the subject of software management, Parsix ships with a graphical package manager we can use to find, install and remove software. The package manager is divided into two parts. On the left side of the window we see categories of software and on the right we see specific packages in the given category. We can also search for packages using a specific name. Installing or removing software is straight forward and just requires clicking a box next to a package's name and clicking the "Apply" button at the top of the window. For the most part the package manager worked well for me. The simple approach to managing software is convenient and the interface is clean.
I did find that search results pulled in a lot of items, sometimes making me wish there were more filtering options. A search for the Totem video player, for example, brought up over a page of results that included libraries, data packages and plugins. It would have been nice to have been able to filter results to include just desktop applications. The Parsix project maintains its own software repository which borrows a good deal from Debian Stable. I did notice though that some available packages do not match version numbers in Debian's main repositories. I suspect Parsix is either creating some custom packages for their users or drawing from Debian's Backports repository to get more up to date software.
Parsix GNU/Linux 7.0 - changing GNOME's desktop settings
(full image size: 269kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Digging through Parsix's application menu we find a fairly standard collection of software. The Iceweasel web browser (a re-branded version of Firefox) is included along with the Adobe Flash plugin. We are given the Transmission bittorrent client, the XChat IRC client, the Empathy instant messaging software and the FileZilla file transfer software. The LibreOffice productivity software is included along with the Grisbi accounting software and the Evolution e-mail client. We can also find the Brasero disc burning software, the Cheese web cam utility, an audio recorder and the VLC multimedia player.
I found that audio files played without any problems but I ran into a few issues with video files. For example, playing a video in the VLC player would offer audio and video, but the video was always in black and white. I installed the Totem multimedia player and found it produced audio, but there was no accompanying video. Looking further through the application menu we find the GNU Image Manipulation Program, the Inkscape application and the xFar Dic translation program. I found xFar Dic could be used to translate text, but asking the application to "speak" a word out loud caused the application to crash.
Parsix GNU/Linux 7.0 also ships with the Htop process monitor, the Midnight Commander file manager, a settings panel and a document viewer. There is also a desktop environment tweak tool for changing the appearance of GNOME. Parsix ships with a services manager, but I found this program did not display available services properly as only one item in the list of dozens of services could be viewed at a time. Parsix provides us with a calculator, archive manager, the GParted partition manager and a text editor. In the background we find Java is available, the GNU Compiler Collection is installed and Network Manager is provided to help us get on-line. Parsix ships with the Linux kernel, version 3.14.
I tried running Parsix in two environments, a physical desktop machine and a VirtualBox virtual machine. Parsix was unable to boot on my desktop test box. I downloaded both the 32-bit and 64-bit builds and neither would load on physical hardware. When running in VirtualBox, even with 3-D support and guest additions installed, Parsix was sluggish. This was most obvious when running GNOME Shell, but I found GNOME's Classic desktop was slow to respond too, especially when opening the application menu. This was in strong contrast to the way the GNOME Classic desktop ran in my trial of Trisquel 7.0. Under Trisquel, GNOME Classic was responsive and stable, but Parsix's GNOME desktop was slow and crashed nearly every day of my trial. I found the 64-bit build of Parsix used approximately 260MB of RAM when logged into the Classic desktop.
In the past I have generally had good experiences with Parsix. In recent years I've tended to think of Parsix as a solid, conservative branch of the Debian family, adding just enough desktop oriented software and configuration tweaks to make Debian more desktop ready. However, Parsix 7.0 was a disappointment for me. While the installer worked well and the configuration panel was functional, I ran into several bugs. The operating system wouldn't run at all on my physical test machine, the desktop crashed, on average, about once per day and a couple of default applications either crashed or locked up during my trial. The package manager was functional, but tended to provide too many search results to be helpful. Multimedia support was provided, but didn't work as well as I would have liked. Being based on Debian's Stable branch some software felt out of date, particularly the LibreOffice productivity suite.
Overall, my experiences with the latest version of Parsix GNU/Linux made a poor impression. Some of the issues were certainly hardware related and may not affect other users, but several appeared to be poor design/implementation decisions or a result of bugs missed during testing. I'd also like to see the Parsix distribution offer a wider range of editions to provide a wider variety of desktop environments out of the box. Perhaps a different desktop environment would have offered a more stable and more responsive experience.
* * * * *
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)
Fedora 21 arrives, Canonical introduces "Snappy" images, PC-BSD tests new update process, Gentoo migrates handbooks to Wiki
The big news last week was the launch of Fedora 21, a long awaited release from the Red Hat sponsored community distribution. It has been a year since the usually fast-moving distribution put out a new version and the project has been talking a lot about their new product line up. Fedora 21 will be the distribution's first release with three product branches (Cloud, Server and Workstation), accompanied by several community spins. The new release also features a new graphical package manager and experimental Wayland display server support. Further details can be found in the distribution's release notes.
* * * * *
Mark Shuttleworth announced last week that Canonical is testing new Ubuntu images called "Snappy". The Snappy images are an attempt to improve application isolation and prevent software updates to one program or library from affecting other applications or services. Snappy applications will run on top of Ubuntu Core, a minimal distribution that will allow administrators to apply atomic updates and roll back upgrades to recover the operating system: "The snappy system keeps each part of Ubuntu in a separate, read-only file, and does the same for each application. That way, developers can deliver everything they need to be confident their app will work exactly as they intend, and we can take steps to keep the various apps isolated from one another." The new Ubuntu Core with Snappy applications presents a solution which appears to be similar to Red Hat's Atomic Host.
* * * * *
Two weeks ago the PC-BSD project removed updates which would allow users to upgrade PC-BSD 10.0 installations to 10.1. This change followed several reports of users being unable to successfully upgrade their operating system. Work has been done to the PC-BSD update manager and the project is now in the process of testing the upgrade procedure: "The new PC-BSD Update Manager CLI utility is available and ready for testing. There is a lot of fresh code and a lot of new methodology so we need your help to test the update before release to the rest of the community." Instructions for testing the new upgrade procedure can be found on the project's testing mailing list.
* * * * *
One of the best aspects of a highly technical distribution like Gentoo Linux is the project's ability to deliver excellent documentation. In the old days, the developers chose to provide their handbooks in XML format, but the emergence of easy-to-use Wiki-style documentation has superseded most other formats in many open-source software projects. Gentoo Linux is no exception. As reported last week by Sven Vermeulen the ever so excellent Gentoo handbooks have now also been migrated to the Gentoo Wiki pages: "The Gentoo Handbooks were the only user-oriented documents that were not on the Gentoo Wiki yet. And although 'back in the days' the choice for the XML-based documentation development was valid (offline development of documentation was a primary concern) times have changed, as well as documentation developer abilities. The need to train users into the dark corners of GuideXML (and the almost programmatic approach to the Gentoo Handbooks) pushes down hard on the team's growth. And that in essence is the second reason as well: the Gentoo Documentation Project is no longer the huge project it once was. We reduced from over 20 authors/editors to only one or two active members - and even those do not do it "full time" anymore. Moving towards a better known (and popular) documentation platform makes sense."
|Book Review (by Jesse Smith)
Book Review: How Linux Works
One of the nice things about Linux is that it is honest. What Linux does and how its tasks are accomplished are open to public viewing. At any point we can pop the proverbial hood on our operating system and see what Linux is doing and why. This makes it easier to understand why Linux does things the way it does, transparency makes it easier to spot and fix problems and it makes it easier for people to extend and improve their operating system. The book How Linux Works by Brian Ward dives straight into the transparent depths of Linux-based operating systems and shows us how all the pieces fit together.
Typically when I share a book or resource it is because I feel that resource will be of immediate, practical assistance to people. I like to share books that discuss setting up services, trouble-shooting network problems or getting the most out of desktop applications. How Linux Works deals less with practical day-to-day issues and deals more with what the operating system is doing under the surface while we are using it. While other texts talk about creating files or scanning through logs, How Linux Works deals with the methods programs use to talk to the Linux kernel and how files are organized and located on the hard drive. Other books discuss setting up permissions on files and directories, How Linux Works shows us how permissions are implemented. Recently we've been hearing debates over different types of init software, How Linux Works discusses how each init implementation works and goes over the benefits and drawbacks of each one.
Brian Ward's book is for a specific sort of person, someone that is less interested in what their operating system does and more interested in why. Why is accessing swap space slow? What do inodes do and why do we have them? How do threads work? What goes on behind the scenes when the kernel is scheduling processes? Why do we need a boot loader to bring the operating system on-line? All good questions curious people want answers to and Ward has those answers (and many, many more).
Something I like about How Linux Works is there is a certain abstract approach to the text. There are relatively few practical examples or tutorials on display, most of the book is focused on explaining what goes on in the background when we do certain things. As an example, when we browse the contents of a directory, what is going on behind the curtain that allows us to see files and folders? When we measure resources used by a program, what exactly are we looking at and how can that help us? People often talk about userspace and kernel space, but what are these things and what is the difference between the two? These are the sorts of topics tackled by Ward and I found the explanations to be wonderfully clear and to the point. Ward has a gift for describing complex concepts in simple language and he does not let the details of the material bog us down. The book hops quickly from one concept to the next, rapidly painting a broad (and accurate) picture of what Linux is doing behind the scenes and why.
Admittedly, if you are new to Linux and trying to figure out web browsing and package management, then this book is probably going to provide more information than you want to digest right now. However, if you are curious as to how Linux (and similar operating systems) do the things they do, if you want to know (in gritty detail) how the pieces of your operating system fit together, then How Linux Works will answer your questions in clear, concise terms. Modern operating systems are massive, complex systems and Ward has managed to cover all the basics (and then some) in under 400 pages. It is an impressive feat and Ward does an excellent job, in my opinion, of putting the many functions of Linux in context. If you want to know Linux, inside and out, then How Linux Works is a good guide book to get you started.
* * * * *
- Title: How Linux Works, Second Edition
- Author: Brian Ward
- Published by: No Starch Press
- Pages: 392
- ISBN-10: 1593275676
- ISBN-13: 978-1-59327-567-9
- Available from: No Starch Press. Amazon and other bookstores
|Released Last Week
SparkyLinux 3.6 "LXDE", "MATE", "Razor-qt", "Xfce"
Paweł Pijanowski has announced the release of SparkyLinux 3.6, a set of lightweight Debian-based distributions with a choice of LXDE, MATE, Razor-qt and Xfce desktops: "I am happy to announce the fourth release, and the last this year, of SparkyLinux - 3.6 'Annagerman' LXDE, MATE, Razor-qt and Xfce. At the beginning, I’d like to thank all of our small but strong community members for their help with searching and solving bugs and problems. SparkyLinux 3.6 provides (as usual) all package updates, some bug fixes and small improvements, such as: Linux kernel 3.16.7, Xfce 4.10.1, LXDE 0.99.0, Razor-qt 0.5.2, MATE 1.8.1, Openbox 3.5.2; Twitter's microblogging client Hotot has been replaced by Turpial; the new wallpaper 'Vortex'; Sparky Conky Manager updated to version 0.1.7 with a new battery status applet...." Read the rest of the release announcement for further details.
Jay Flood has announced the release of Porteus 3.1, a set of lightweight Slackware-based distributions and live CDs that come in four separate flavours - with KDE, LXQt, MATE and Xfce desktops: "The Porteus community was delighted to find that Santa had dropped into our chimney a little early this year and left a shiny new Porteus Desktop edition 3.1, as well as Porteus Kiosk edition 3.2.0. A major change in the new desktop edition is the inclusion of the new LXQt desktop which replaces both Razor-qt and LXDE. Changes in this release (relative to 3.1) include: Linux kernel 3.17.4; kernel configuration 0 compiled support for FB_EFI, increased number of Aufs branches to 1024, added input drivers; Porteus installer - user must type 'OK' before MBR will be updated; added 'ntpdate' utility from NTP package which synchronizes the clock over Internet if 'timezone=' cheatcode is enabled...." Read the rest of the release announcement for a full changelog.
Jordan Hubbard has announced the release of FreeNAS 9.3, a brand-new version of the specialist FreeBSD-based operating system for network-attached storage (NAS) systems: "After months of work and close to a thousand bugs resolved, we are very proud and pleased to announce the official release of FreeNAS 9.3. Please come and get it while it's hot! We have also prepared some important upgrade notes for this release which even folks coming from 9.3-BETA may wish to read. If you are one of the folks who jumped on board with 9.3-BETA then you need merely check for and apply the update that will be waiting for you - this will update you to 9.3-RELEASE and automatically jump you to the 9.3-STABLE update train (note: if you got the very last update already, you may need to simply switch manually to the 9.3-STABLE train). If you are not currently on 9.3, then simply grab the GUI or ISO update image and update in the usual way; this is the last time you will need to do so!" See the release announcement and release notes for further information.
Matthew Miller has announced the release of Fedora 21, the latest stable version of Red Hat's community distribution for desktops, servers and the cloud: "The Fedora Project is pleased to announce the release of Fedora 21, ready to run on your desktops, servers and in the cloud. Fedora 21 is a game-changer for the Fedora Project, and we think you're going to be very pleased with the results. As part of the Fedora.next initiative, Fedora 21 comes in three flavors: Cloud, Server, and Workstation. The Fedora Workstation is a new take on desktop development from the Fedora community. Our goal is to pick the best components, and integrate and polish them. This work results in a more polished and targeted system than you've previously seen from the Fedora desktop." Read the release announcement and release notes for detailed information about the release.
Fedora 21 - the default GNOME Shell desktop
(full image size: 941kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Clonezilla Live 2.3.1-18
Steven Shiau has announced the release of a new stable version of Clonezilla Live, a Debian-based specialist live CD designed for disk cloning and file backup tasks: "This release of Clonezilla Live (2.3.1-18) includes major enhancements and bug fixes: the underlying GNU/Linux operating system has been upgraded, this release is based on the Debian 'Sid' repository as of 2014-12-08; Linux kernel has been updated to 3.16.7; the drbl package has been updated to 2.11.13 and Clonezilla to 3.12.7; syslinux has been updated to 6.03; a mechanism has been added to check if i386 library (libc6-i386 or glibc.i686) exists on x86-64 system when running makeboot.sh due to the fact that syslinux included in Clonezilla Live is 32-bit; Linux kernel i486 has been replaced by i586 because now only i586 kernel exists in the Debian 'Sid' repository...." Read the full release announcement for more details.
Alpine Linux 3.1.0
Natanael Copa has announced the release of Alpine Linux 3.1.0, a security-oriented distribution built from scratch and designed (not only) for server deployments: "We are pleased to announce Alpine Linux 3.1.0, the first release in the 3.1 stable series. This release is built with musl libc and is not compatible with 2.x and earlier, so special care needs to be taken when upgrading. Please refer to the documentation for information on how to perform the upgrade. Some of the new features are: support for Open vSwitch; Xen 4.4; a release build for Rasberry PI (arm hardfloat); some of the desktop applications that got upgraded and are available for 3.1: X.Org Server 1.16.2, Firefox 31.2.0, Gnumeric 1.12.18, Evince 3.14.1, virt-manager 1.1.0, Claws Mail 3.11.0, Hexchat 2.10.2, VLC 2.1.5, Inkscape 0.48.5, GIMP 2.8.14, Audacity 2.0.6." Here is the brief release announcement.
Yann Le Doaré has announced the release of LinuxConsole 2.3, an independent Linux distribution made for game consoles: "LinuxConsole is primarily designed to turn old and semi-old computers into game console centers. The LXDE desktop includes some utilities, scripts to install Firefox 34, Flash player and Google Chrome), and system-management functions (like installing printers). As a bonus, a lightweight package manager called opkg-gui allows you to install and run stable source packages to fill out the basic live CD with the latest software. Several categories are available: games, office, system, education. Based on the goal to revive old computers, this distribution works well on old and semi-old computers with low resources (as low as 256 MB of RAM), it runs on old and new video cards (Intel, NVIDIA, ATI), it can be turned into a live USB image, and it can be installed as a dual-boot system with Windows. Features: locale support for English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Portuguese and Breton, Linux kernel 3.14.26...." Here is the full release announcement.
Matthias Klumpp announced the release of Tanglu 2.0, a desktop Linux distribution with a choice of KDE or GNOME, based on Debian's "Testing" branch: "We are glad to announce the availability of the second release of Tanglu, code name 'Bartholomea'. This release contains a large amount of updated packages, and ships with the latest release of KDE 4 and GNOME. Tanglu 2 ships with two options to install it: Debian Installer (d-i) and our own live-installer. We recommend to use Debian Installer ('Install Tanglu' option on the live CD boot menu), because a lot of testing went into it and it does a much better job compared to the live installer, which will be replaced with Tanglu 3. The KDE flavor of Tanglu received bug-fix updates for the Plasma workspaces and contains new versions of the KDE applications." See the release announcement and release notes for more details.
Tanglu 2.0 - the distribution's default KDE desktop
(full image size: 421kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Distributions added to waiting list|
- Cyborg Hawk. Cyborg Hawk is a Linux distribution for penetration and stress-testing tasks.
- Pratham OS. Pratham OS is a Debian-based Linux distribution for desktop users.
- Linux Royal. Linux Royal is a Ubuntu-based Linux distribution with Unity removed in favour of GNOME Shell.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 22 December 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
|• Issue 848 (2020-01-13): elementary OS 5.1, accessing USB ports directly, NetBSD expanding Wayland support, Fedora phasing out old Python packages|
|• Issue 847 (2020-01-06): Android-x86 9.0, Hypberbola switching to BSD base, Debian votes on init diversity, slow adoption of Wayland and delta packages|
|• Issue 846 (2019-12-23): NomadBSD 1.3, Tails publishes boot fix, Arch update requires intervention, Purism launches server lineup, password protecting files|
|• Issue 845 (2019-12-16): OpenIndiana 2019.10, BunsenLabs' "Lithium" preview, MX-Fluxbox, 10 years of Tails, installing local packages|
|• Issue 844 (2019-12-09): Project Trident Void alpha, alpha installer for "Bullseye", SparkyLinux portable edition, dealing with large log files|
|• Issue 843 (2019-12-02): Obarun 2019.11.02, Bluestar 5.3.6, using special characters on command line, Fedora plans to disable empty passwords, FreeBSD's quarterly status report|
|• Issue 842 (2019-11-25): SolydXK 10, System Adminstration Ethics book review, Debian continues init diversity debate, Google upstreaming Android kernel patches|
|• Issue 841 (2019-11-18): Emmabuntus DE3-1.00, changing keys in keyboard layout, Debian phasing out Python 2 and voting on init diversity, Slackware gets unofficial updated live media|
|• Issue 840 (2019-11-11): Fedora 31, monitoring user activity, Fedora working to improve Python performance, FreeBSD gets faster networking|
|• Issue 839 (2019-11-04): MX 19, manipulating PDFs, Ubuntu plans features for 20.04, Fedora 29 nears EOL, Netrunner drops Manjaro-based edition|
|• Issue 838 (2019-10-28): Xubuntu 19.10, how init and service managers work together, DragonFly BSD provides emergency mode for HAMMER, Xfce team plans 4.16|
|• Issue 837 (2019-10-21): CentOS 8.0-1905, Trident finds new base, Debian plans firewall changes, 15 years of Fedora, how to merge directories|
|• Issue 836 (2019-10-14): Archman 2019.09, Haiku improves ARM support, Project Trident shifting base OS, Unix turns 50|
|• Issue 835 (2019-10-07): Isotop, Mazon OS and, KduxOS, examples of using find command, Mint's System Reports becomes proactive, Solus updates its desktops|
|• Issue 834 (2019-09-30): FreedomBox "Buster", CentOS gains a rolling release, Librem 5 phones shipping, Redcore updates its package manager|
|• Issue 833 (2019-09-23): Redcore Linux 1908, why Linux distros are free, Ubuntu making list of 32-bit software to keep, Richard M Stallman steps down from FSF leadership|
|• Issue 832 (2019-09-16): BlackWeb 1.2, checking for Wayland session and applications, Fedora to use nftables in firewalld, OpenBSD disables DoH in Firefox|
|• Issue 831 (2019-09-09): Adélie Linux 1.0 beta, using ffmpeg, awk and renice, Mint and elementary improvements, PureOS and Manjaro updates|
|• Issue 930 (2019-09-02): deepin 15.11, working with AppArmor profiles, elementary OS gets new greeter, exFAT support coming to Linux kernel|
|• Issue 829 (2019-08-26): EndeavourOS 2019.07.15, Drauger OS 7.4.1, finding licenses of kernel modules, NetBSD gets Wayland application, GhostBSD changes base repo|
|• Issue 828 (2019-08-19): AcademiX 2.2, concerns with non-free firmware, UBports working on Unity8, Fedora unveils new EPEL channel, FreeBSD phasing out GCC|
|• Issue 827 (2019-08-12): Q4OS, finding files on disk, Ubuntu works on ZFS, Haiku improves performance, OSDisc shutting down|
|• Issue 826 (2019-08-05): Quick looks at Resilient, PrimeOS, and BlueLight, flagship distros for desktops,Manjaro introduces new package manager|
|• Issue 825 (2019-07-29): Endless OS 3.6, UBports 16.04, gNewSense maintainer stepping down, Fedora developrs discuss optimizations, Project Trident launches stable branch|
|• Issue 824 (2019-07-22): Hexagon OS 1.0, Mageia publishes updated media, Fedora unveils Fedora CoreOS, managing disk usage with quotas|
|• Issue 823 (2019-07-15): Debian 10, finding 32-bit packages on a 64-bit system, Will Cooke discusses Ubuntu's desktop, IBM finalizes purchase of Red Hat|
|• Issue 822 (2019-07-08): Mageia 7, running development branches of distros, Mint team considers Snap, UBports to address Google account access|
|• Issue 821 (2019-07-01): OpenMandriva 4.0, Ubuntu's plan for 32-bit packages, Fedora Workstation improvements, DragonFly BSD's smaller kernel memory|
|• Issue 820 (2019-06-24): Clear Linux and Guix System 1.0.1, running Android applications using Anbox, Zorin partners with Star Labs, Red Hat explains networking bug, Ubuntu considers no longer updating 32-bit packages|
|• Issue 819 (2019-06-17): OS108 and Venom, renaming multiple files, checking live USB integrity, working with Fedora's Modularity, Ubuntu replacing Chromium package with snap|
|• Issue 818 (2019-06-10): openSUSE 15.1, improving boot times, FreeBSD's status report, DragonFly BSD reduces install media size|
|• Issue 817 (2019-06-03): Manjaro 18.0.4, Ubuntu Security Podcast, new Linux laptops from Dell and System76, Entroware Apollo|
|• Issue 816 (2019-05-27): Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.0, creating firewall rules, Antergos shuts down, Matthew Miller answers questions about Fedora|
|• Issue 815 (2019-05-20): Sabayon 19.03, Clear Linux's developer features, Red Hat explains MDS flaws, an overview of mobile distro options|
|• Issue 814 (2019-05-13): Fedora 30, distributions publish Firefox fixes, CentOS publishes roadmap to 8.0, Debian plans to use Wayland by default|
|• Issue 813 (2019-05-06): ROSA R11, MX seeks help with systemd-shim, FreeBSD tests unified package management, interview with Gael Duval|
|• Issue 812 (2019-04-29): Ubuntu MATE 19.04, setting up a SOCKS web proxy, Scientific Linux discontinued, Red Hat takes over Java LTS support|
|• Issue 811 (2019-04-22): Alpine 3.9.2, rsync examples, Ubuntu working on ZFS support, Debian elects new Project Leader, Obarun releases S6 tools|
|• Issue 810 (2019-04-15): SolydXK 201902, Bedrock Linux 0.7.2, Fedora phasing out Python 2, NetBSD gets virtual machine monitor|
|• Issue 809 (2019-04-08): PCLinuxOS 2019.02, installing Falkon and problems with portable packages, Mint offers daily build previews, Ubuntu speeds up Snap packages|
|• Issue 808 (2019-04-01): Solus 4.0, security benefits and drawbacks to using a live distro, Gentoo gets GNOME ports working without systemd, Redox OS update|
|• Issue 807 (2019-03-25): Pardus 17.5, finding out which user changed a file, new Budgie features, a tool for browsing FreeBSD's sysctl values|
|• Issue 806 (2019-03-18): Kubuntu vs KDE neon, Nitrux's znx, notes on Debian's election, SUSE becomes an independent entity|
|• Issue 805 (2019-03-11): EasyOS 1.0, managing background services, Devuan team debates machine ID file, Ubuntu Studio works to remain an Ubuntu Community Edition|
|• Issue 804 (2019-03-04): Condres OS 19.02, securely erasing hard drives, new UBports devices coming in 2019, Devuan to host first conference|
|• Issue 803 (2019-02-25): Septor 2019, preventing windows from stealing focus, NetBSD and Nitrux experiment with virtual machines, pfSense upgrading to FreeBSD 12 base|
|• Issue 802 (2019-02-18): Slontoo 18.07.1, NetBSD tests newer compiler, Fedora packaging Deepin desktop, changes in Ubuntu Studio|
|• Issue 801 (2019-02-11): Project Trident 18.12, meaning of status symbols in top, FreeBSD Foundation lists ongoing projects, Plasma Mobile team answers questions|
|• Issue 800 (2019-02-04): FreeNAS 11.2, using Ubuntu Studio software as an add-on, Nitrux developing znx, matching operating systems to file systems|
|• Issue 799 (2019-01-28): KaOS 2018.12, Linux Basics For Hackers, Debian 10 enters freeze, Ubuntu publishes new version for IoT devices|
|• Issue 798 (2019-01-21): Sculpt OS 18.09, picking a location for swap space, Solus team plans ahead, Fedora trying to get a better user count|
|• Issue 797 (2019-01-14): Reborn OS 2018.11.28, TinyPaw-Linux 1.3, dealing with processes which make desktop unresponsive, Debian testing Secure Boot support|
|• Issue 796 (2019-01-07): FreeBSD 12.0, Peppermint releases ISO update, picking the best distro of 2018, roundtable interview with Debian, Fedora and elementary developers|
|• Issue 795 (2018-12-24): Running a Pinebook, interview with Bedrock founder, Alpine being ported to RISC-V, Librem 5 dev-kits shipped|
|• Issue 794 (2018-12-17): Void 20181111, avoiding software bloat, improvements to HAMMER2, getting application overview in GNOME Shell|
|• Full list of all issues|
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|Random Distribution |
Refracta is a Linux distribution based on Devuan GNU+Linux (a systemd-free fork of Debian), designed primarily for home computer users and also for use as a system rescue and recovery disk. It provides a simple and familiar layout using the Xfce desktop. Other desktop environments and additional software packages are available from the Devuan package repository. Besides providing a Linux distribution on a live CD, the project also develops useful tools, such as refractainstaller, refractasnapshot and refracta2usb which allow users to customize the installation and create custom live CD or live USB images.