| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 593, 19 January 2015
Welcome to this year's 3rd issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
Development happens quickly in the open source community where any engaging idea can be shared, tested and modified. This week we focus mostly on new developments, beta releases and experimental features. We begin with a look at two experimental projects: the Mir display server and the ReactOS operating system. Both projects are in the early stages of development and we take a sneak peek at the progress both projects are making. We also talk about Bluetooth devices and support this week along with ways members of the open source community can help improve their favourite projects. In our News section we discuss Debian releasing new installation media, the openSUSE's Board election and new audio software entering DragonFly BSD. Plus we talk about a new security feature coming to OpenBSD, attractive features coming to Ubuntu phones, Linux Mint's upcoming Debian Edition and a tutorial on setting up an open source router for the home. Our Torrent Corner column features the new open source images we are seeding, plus we ask readers to weigh in on our new front page feature that shows previews of distributions' desktops. As usual, we cover the distribution releases of the past week and look forward to fun new developments to come. We wish you all a great week and happy reading!
- Reviews: The Mir display server and ReactOS
- News: Debian releases updated images, openSUSE is electing new board members, DragonFly BSD gains improved sound system, OpenBSD kernel receives new security feature, Ubuntu phone features, a Linux Mint Debian Edition status report and setting up a home router using open source
- Questions and Answers: Improving Bluetooth support
- Torrent Corner: ExTiX, OpenBSD, NixOS
- Released last week: Parted Magic 2015_01_13, Tails 1.2.3, UberStudent 4.1
- Upcoming releases: Ubuntu 15.04 Alpha 2
- DistroWatch.com News: Changes to the front page
- New distributions: AliyaLinux, Edu * Ro
- Reader comments
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
The Mir display server and ReactOS
Usually, for my reviews that appear on DistroWatch, I stick with distributions and software that are considered stable. I like to focus on final, official releases as it gives developers time to polish their products before I start messing about with their software. This usually makes for a smoother experience. However, sometimes I get the urge to peek behind the curtain, to see what new technologies might be coming, to see what is being created in the lab. Last month I had the opportunity to try GNOME Shell running on a Wayland display server, courtesy of the Fedora distribution. I am sorry to say GNOME running on Wayland did not work for me at all, I was not able to get a session running. But the experience did make me wonder about the status of the Unity desktop running on the Mir display server. Both Wayland and Mir are being pushed as replacements for the X display server and, given that Wayland on GNOME still has a way to go, I wondered if Unity on Mir was any further along.
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Unity on Mir
I downloaded the most recent development snapshot of Ubuntu 15.04 "Vivid" which is said to feature Unity 8 running on Mir. I then tried running the technology preview in VirtualBox and on a desktop machine. When running in VirtualBox, at first Ubuntu with Unity 8 seemed quite similar to Ubuntu running the classic Unity desktop. The system booted, asked if I would like to try running the desktop in live mode or if I would like to install the operating system. Attempting to try the live desktop mode brought me to a login screen. I was unable to login or reach a terminal from the login page and so I rebooted my VirtualBox instance and tried installing Ubuntu's Vivid preview.
When I booted from the Ubuntu install media and took the installation option, I found the installer proceeded just as it normally would for stable releases of Ubuntu. The installation process completed without any problems and I was asked to reboot the machine. When I launched my fresh installation of Ubuntu in VirtualBox, I was brought to a login screen. Attempting to sign in caused the display to freeze for a few seconds and then I was returned to the login page. This is as far as I got with the Unity/Mir preview in VirtualBox.
Running Ubuntu's Unity/Mir preview on physical hardware gave an entirely difference experience. When I booted the live media from my desktop computer I found the live operating system acted exactly as I would expect Android to operate. A series of prompts appeared, referring to my computer as a phone. I was walked through a brief tutorial where I was prompted to "swipe" my mouse across the screen to unlock the display, access a status panel at the top of the screen and access an application menu to the left of the display.
Technically, the desktop worked. I could click on icons, launch a very limited number of applications and browse through status and settings information. Keyboard input was ignored and accessing features with the mouse was awkward as any twitch of the mouse would cause my focus to shift to a different window or panel. The desktop interface was mostly empty and windows I had open tended to be either very small or full screen.
In short, running Unity 8 on my desktop computer essentially turned my machine into an awkward mobile phone that acted like a lot like Android, but with more swiping to access features and fewer icons. While I was able to "logout" of Unity to get back to the operating system's lock screen, I was unable to power off the machine from within Unity's interface and I eventually resorted to hard powering off my test computer. I am sorry to say I did not find any utilities which would allow me to take screen shots of the Unity 8 interface.
At the moment, it seems, Unity running on Mir has a long way to go before it is ready for desktop computers. In fact, a good first step would be to have it properly detect when Unity is running on a desktop computer and act accordingly. At any rate, with Unity on Mir not working properly for me, I had several days left in the week and so I decided to install an operating system I have not tried in quite some time: ReactOS.
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ReactOS is an open source operating system though it is not a part of the Linux/BSD/UNIX family tree. As the project's website states, "The main goal of the ReactOS project is to provide an operating system which is binary compatible with Windows. This will allow your Windows applications and drivers to run as they would on your Windows system. Additionally, the look and feel of the Windows operating system is used, such that people accustomed to the familiar user interface of Windows would find using ReactOS straightforward. The ultimate goal of ReactOS is to allow you to use it as alternative to Windows without the need to change software you are used to."
I have tried running ReactOS every few years, usually in a virtual machine, and have always had poor luck with the operating system. ReactOS has never booted for me, until last week. This is understandable, ReactOS is still in its alpha stage of development and is currently offered up for testing and development purposes only. ReactOS is available in various builds. There is an installation CD (which I downloaded), a live desktop CD and some images for running in virtual machines. The installation image is about 200MB in size.
ReactOS has low resource requirements and some limitations when it comes to running on physical hardware, so I decided to run the operating system in a VirtualBox virtual machine. Booting from the installation disc brought up a text screen with a blue background where I was walked through selecting a preferred language, formatting a disk partition with the FAT file system and selecting a directory where ReactOS would live. We are also asked if a boot loader should be installed. The installation process is very similar, in style and steps, to the installation procedure used by Windows 2000 and Windows XP. Copying files to my virtual machine took less than one minute and then I was asked to reboot.
The first time I booted into ReactOS a configuration wizard appeared. I was asked to select my preferred language and language settings. The first time I attempted to run through the configuration wizard the operating system locked up when I attempted to change my language settings. I forced the virtual machine to reboot and, the second time through, took the default language settings. Once I proceeded beyond the language selection screen I was asked to enter my name, create a password for my account and set the current time (and time zone). The operating system then reboots and, when it comes back on-line, presents us with a desktop environment which looks very much like Microsoft Windows 2000.
ReactOS 0.3.17 -- System administration tools
(full image size: 40kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
One of the first things I noticed when I first started exploring ReactOS was that the operating system is presented to the user almost identically in style and organization to legacy Windows systems. People who have memorized where to find event logs, disk clean up utilities, hardware information, desktop settings or registry information will feel immediately at home. Almost every feature is carefully cloned from versions of Windows around the 98/2000 releases. This makes it very easy to find features and settings if a person is coming from a Windows platform. The second thing I noticed is clicking on the Help button in the ReactOS Start menu brings up a message saying "Help not yet implemented". This is unfortunate for people who are new to ReactOS.
One feature ReactOS has which did not have a direct parallel in legacy versions of Windows is a package manager. Using the package manager we can view packages currently installed on the system (and optionally remove them). We can also browse through lists of available applications and install them. The package manager will attempt to download packages from upstream projects and then automatically launch the program's installer for us. Looking through the list of available software it seems as though there is a balance of open source programs and proprietary applications available. I tried to install a handful of free (as in cost) programs, including LibreOffice, OpenOffice, the VLC multimedia player, Firefox and Putty. I had mixed results. The LibreOffice package would not download at all. The OpenOffice package downloaded and installed. Some errors appeared indicating OpenOffice did not install properly, but I found I was able to launch OpenOffice and use it. The VLC player installed and ran. Firefox installed and ran, but not all the buttons in Firefox worked and sometimes the browser would lock-up. Putty worked well when I wanted to access remote shells, but Putty's secure file transfer program refused to connect to any remote hosts, even ones I could log into via secure shell.
ReactOS 0.3.17 -- The settings panel and package manager
(full image size: 107kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
I tried installing some third-party Windows software not available in the ReactOS package manager. I attempted to install the GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP), the WinSCP file transfer program and Filezilla. I found GIMP would install, but would display dozens of errors at start-up, one for each loaded plugin. Once GIMP was running, it was quite buggy and tended to lock-up making it impractical to use. WinSCP refused to connect with any servers, much the same way Putty's file transfer program did. Filezilla would not install. Essentially, I found most programs that ran locally without any need for talking to the outside world worked, but any attempt to install or run an application which connected with the outside world ultimately failed.
ReactOS ships with a few programs, cloning the software available in early versions of Windows. For example, we have access to a simple drawing application, a game of solitaire, a control panel and text editor. A DOS command prompt is available too. There is a simple web browser installed for us, but it ran very slowly and so I preferred using Firefox.
ReactOS 0.3.17 -- Running various desktop applications
(full image size: 129kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
ReactOS was only run in a VirtualBox virtual machine during my trial so I cannot say how well the operating system would work on physical hardware. I will say that ReactOS did not always function well as a virtual guest. The virtual machine hosting ReactOS tended to use 100% of the host computer's CPU. I encountered frequent lock-ups with ReactOS, especially when I was running many applications or heavier applications such as GIMP or Firefox. ReactOS never shutdown cleanly, I always had to force the virtual machine to power off. One might sarcastically quip that ReactOS completely captures the legacy Windows experience.
I did find there were some perks to running ReactOS. While few Windows programs worked perfectly, most worked well enough to get up and running and get a few things done. Running native Windows applications in ReactOS was similar, I found, to running Windows applications in WINE on Linux -- it's not perfect, but ReactOS usually gets the job done. ReactOS typically responded quickly. It is a lightweight operating system by modern standards and I found it was usually responsive. In fact, ReactOS in a virtual machine could easily out perform any modern version of Windows I have seen running on physical hardware.
ReactOS is, in a way, an impressive feat of coding. It very faithfully recreates the Windows 2000 experience in style and in features. ReactOS typically offers better performance and a smaller disk footprint. I also like the fact ReactOS has a package manager, which is friendlier and faster than any I have seen on Microsoft Windows. There are rough patches, especially when running larger Windows applications. The system does not appear to be stable and application compatibility is not up to par yet. Neither is hardware support, judging by the project's wiki. However, ReactOS does appear to be getting to the point where it could serve as a drop-in replacement to pre-XP versions of Windows.
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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
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
Debian releases updated images, openSUSE is electing new board members, DragonFly BSD gains improved sound system, OpenBSD kernel receives new security feature, Ubuntu phone features, a Linux Mint Debian Edition status report and setting up a home router using open source
The Debian project has made available updated media for the distribution's 7.x "Wheezy" release. The new media does not represent a new version of Debian, but rather fresh images containing the Wheezy release along with security updates and fixes that have become available since Wheezy was first launched. The project's website states, "The Debian project is pleased to announce the eighth update of its stable distribution Debian 7 (codename wheezy). This update mainly adds corrections for security problems to the stable release, along with a few adjustments for serious problems. Security advisories were already published separately and are referenced where available. Please note that this update does not constitute a new version of Debian 7 but only updates some of the packages included."
* * * * *
The openSUSE project is in the process of electing a new Board. Members of the openSUSE community will be voting for Board members to guide the community project from January 13 through to January 26. One interesting rule openSUSE's election carries is that no single organization can control a majority of the Board's seats. "Note that no single organization or company can control more than 40 percent of the electable board seats (more than 2 seats). For this election, this means that at max two SUSE employees can be elected." This is significant because three of the candidates up for election (Craig Gardner, Peter Linnell and Robert Schweikert) are SUSE employees. More details on the election are available on openSUSE's website.
* * * * *
The DragonFly BSD project recently announced a major overhaul of the operating system's audio software. The new improvements bring DragonFly's sound system into line with the audio software currently available in FreeBSD. Francois Tigeot outlined some of the audio improvements in a mailing list post: "Among many improvements, we get: much smarter volume controls, improved HDMI/DisplayPort audio support, an easy way to switch the default sound device with the `hw.snd.default_unit sysctl', HTML5/YouTube videos should play with sound out of the box. On top of the FreeBSD code, we also have additional support for the Acer C720 Chromebook family of laptops."
* * * * *
Theo de Raadt, founder and lead developer of the OpenBSD project, shared some important news for users of the security-focused operating system. The OpenBSD kernel now features the ability to support W^X (write exclusive-or execute), a feature which prevents data written to memory from being executed. Writing data into a part of memory and having the data run as code is a common attack vector against applications and operating system kernels and the new W^X code will effectively make compromising the OpenBSD kernel harder for attackers. Details on the new feature are available in Theo de Raadt's post.
* * * * *
In February the first wave of Ubuntu phones is expected to become available in parts of Europe. With the mobile market already saturated with Android and iOS and with other players like Mozilla already trying to break into the market, what can Ubuntu's mobile operating system do to set itself apart? The OMG Ubuntu site has some commentary on why consumers may find Ubuntu powered devices appealing. "Mobile devices are our primary way of getting essential information (e.g. bus times, movie reviews, Facebook statues) quickly. The data matters more than the box it sits in, right? One could install and launch three separate apps to check the weather, find a restaurant and view a friend's Instagram photos. That works. Ubuntu Phone evolves the behaviour to its natural endpoint. With a Scope you can see all three items right there, on the screen, at your fingertips, ready to go."
* * * * *
The Linux Mint team posted their monthly status report last Friday and they share some interesting details about the project and the upcoming release of Linux Mint Debian Edition. The project's new Debian Edition will be based on Debian "Jessie" and include software currently available in Mint's Ubuntu-based editions. Another point of interest is that Mint's Debian-based release will differ from vanilla Debian by not featuring systemd as the default init software. "Similar to Linux Mint 17.x, LMDE 2 "Betsy" will be using the traditional sysvinit. The move to systemd could happen with Linux Mint 18 and LMDE 3, giving this new technology and the Linux ecosystem 2 years (or more) to mature and to iron out integration and compatibility issues. Cinnamon in particular is built without systemd support by default and the development team is planning to change this in version 2.6 to give the DE the ability to switch at runtime between systemd and consolekit/upower without the need to recompile anything."
The report from Mint also mentions network traffic to their software repositories grew a great deal in November and December, causing trouble for people trying to install or update software on their Mint systems. This situation resulted in the project setting up new servers to deal with the increased demand. "During a week or so this resulted in very slow response times, download speeds or even in timeouts and errors in various APT applications (apt-get, the Software Manager, the Update Manager, Synaptic etc..). We would like to apologize for this. Although it's good news to see more people use Linux Mint, issues which affect everybody like this are our worst nightmare. A cluster was put in place and two servers now handle requests for the main repositories. We're happy to report that they've been running smoothly for a few weeks now."
* * * * *
Open source operating systems running on old or minimalist hardware provide an attractive alternative to dedicated home routers. Off the shelf home routers are often less flexible than we would like, sometimes ship with insecure default settings and are sometimes harder to keep up to date with security patches than open source operating systems. With this in mind the PC-BSD blog features a how-to where readers are walked through turning a FreeBSD or TrueOS installation into a home network router. "Over the Christmas holidays I had some spare time and was ready to take the plunge and retire an old Asus router. It had begun getting rather slow, due to the increasing number of devices connected to our network, and of course I wanted peace of mind using a FreeBSD system I could be sure was up to date with security fixes. I used PC-BSD's server release, TrueOS 10.1, because I wanted to use ZFS with boot-environments to ensure upgrading and replacing disks would be risk-free down the road. The following details how I setup TrueOS on the new box." The rest of the post can be found on the PC-BSD blog.
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Improving Bluetooth support
Has-the-software-blues asks: The BlueZ packages, as they pertain to audio streaming, and Blueman too, seem to be having issues right and left. This appears to have been going on for months, through many operating systems in the Linux family.
My question to DistroWatch is: Can you do an article on it & ask for more people to help fix this problem? In a society with so many Bluetooth devices being used, you would think this would be a forefront issue, not something stuffed in the back of the line. I think it is an issue needing to be addressed ASAP! In my humble opinion, Linux has dropped the ball on this subject.
DistroWatch answers: Before tackling the topic of Bluetooth support, I'd like to touch briefly on an idea I come across quite often. Frequently I hear from people who feel Linux is lacking a particular feature set or that Linux developers should focus on issue A before they tackle project B. I often hear from people who think Linux developers should address, for example, desktop integration prior to optimizing a compiler. When people make claims such as these it gives me the impression that they are unaware of how development in the Linux ecosystem works.
Now, that's not to say the person who wrote the above question misunderstands Linux development, but often times people who suggest Linux developers have misaligned priorities do misunderstand how development happens in the Linux community. The Linux community is a large, largely independent group of people. As a whole, there is no central manager or authority in the Linux ecosystem. People who are familiar with closed source, commercial software companies such as Apple or Microsoft tend to think in terms of a company with limited resources directing developers toward certain tasks. If a serious problem or promising project is noticed by senior management in a commercial software company then developers can be hired or reorganized to make a specific task a priority.
Linux development is different in that development is wide spread and rarely coordinated through a central authority. There are thousands of developers out there working on their various projects and there usually isn't anyone to draw them off one project or assign them to something new. We get a taste of central management from distribution makers such as Red Hat or Canonical, but those organizations are relatively small when we compare them to the overall scope of the Linux community.
My point being that if someone feels their particular issue has been sent to the back of the priority queue it is probably because relatively few people share a passion for the issue, not because an authority figure is directing developers to focus elsewhere.
Getting back to the question at hand: Bluetooth support. If Bluetooth or some other feature is not working well for you, what can be done about it? The tricky part here is you probably need to take the initiative. One way to do that is to contact the developers of the software you are using and provide them with a detailed bug report or feature request. They may not know there is a problem, or they may be able to offer a solution. Likewise, if you use a commercial distribution, such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux or SUSE Linux Enterprise, then I recommend filing a bug report with the company (or sending in a support ticket). Basically, let the developers know about your issue as politely and in as much detail as possible.
Next, consider contributing toward the solution. The BlueZ team, for example, asks for donations of hardware or money to help them develop and test their software. Most projects will accept money, hardware or other forms of support. It is a good idea to support the people who can fix your problem.
Finally, consider starting a campaign on a site like Kickstarter or GoFundMe. Ask people for donations to hire a developer to fix the problem. Alternatively, post a bug bounty, offering to pay the developer who is able to provide the feature or bug fix you desire.
What it comes down to is, if you want something done in the open source community, you have three options: You can do it yourself, you can ask someone to do it and hope they have a passion for the subject, or you can hire someone to do the work. One way or another, when it comes to getting things done in the open source community, it helps to get involved.
Bittorrent is a great way to transfer large files, particularly open source operating system images, from one place to another. Most bittorrent clients recover from dropped connections automatically, check the integrity of files and can re-download corrupted bits of data without starting a download over from scratch. These characteristics make bittorrent well suited for distributing open source operating systems, particularly to regions where Internet connections are slow or unstable.
Many Linux and BSD projects offer bittorrent as a download option, partly for the reasons listed above and partly because bittorrent's peer-to-peer nature takes some of the strain off the project's servers. However, some projects do not offer bittorrent as a download option. There can be several reasons for excluding bittorrent as an option. Some projects do not have enough time or volunteers, some may be restricted by their web host provider's terms of service. Whatever the reason, the lack of a bittorrent option puts more strain on a distribution's bandwidth and may prevent some people from downloading their preferred open source operating system.
With this in mind, DistroWatch plans to give back to the open source community by hosting and seeding bittorrent files for distributions that do not offer a bittorrent option themselves. This is a feature we are experimenting with and we are open to feedback on how to improve upon the idea.
For now, we are hosting a small number of distribution torrents, listed below. The list of torrents offered will be updated each week and we invite readers to e-mail us with suggestions as to which distributions we should be hosting. When you message us, please place the word "Torrent" in the subject line and please make sure the project you are recommending does not already host its own torrents. We want to primarily help distributions and users who do not already have a torrent option. To help us maintain and grow this free service, please consider making a donation.
The table below provides a list of torrents we currently host. If you do not currently have a bittorrent client capable of handling the linked files, we suggest installing either the Transmission or KTorrent bittorrent clients.
All torrents we make available here will also be listed on the very useful Linux Tracker website. Thanks to Linux Tracker we are able to share the following torrent statistics.
Torrent Corner statistics:
- Total torrents seeded: 10
- Total downloads completed: 719
- Total data uploaded: 324GB
|Released Last Week
Parted Magic 2015_01_13
Patrick Verner has announced the release of Parted Magic 2015_01_13, an updated build of the project's commercial distribution designed mainly for disk management and data rescue tasks: "We reorganized the ISO image and removed a little over 40 MB from the download without removing any features. We actually added a lot of stuff. In the past a few people were getting hung up on 'Setting up system devices'. They had DVD drives hooked to ASMedia SATA3 ports. Parted Magic now boots with a DVD drive hooked to ASMedia ports. In this version you'll notice a set of lips in the panel. A few people requested some sort of speech program, but didn't give many details of what they wanted. I hope this is what they were looking for. You can now do a memory test from the EFI menu. Clonezilla has been updated to 3.12.7. Xfburn is now compiled to use GStreamer. Audacity 2.0.6 was added. Firefox was updated to 34.0.5." See the project's news page to read the release announcement with a changelog. Parted Magic 2015_01_13 is available from the distribution's online shop for US$9.99.
Tails 1.2.3, the latest update of the distribution designed to preserve privacy and anonymity while browsing the Internet, has been released: "Tails, The Amnesic Incognito Live System, version 1.2.3, is out. This release fixes numerous security issues and all users must upgrade as soon as possible. On January 3rd, the SSL certificate of our website hosting provider, boum.org, expired. This means that if you are still running Tails 1.2.1 or older, you will not get any update notification. Please help spreading the word! Changes: upgrade to Linux 3.16.7; upgrade to Tor Browser 4.0.3 (based on Firefox 31.4.0esr); improve MAC spoofing fail-safe mechanisms, which includes preventing one more way the MAC address could be leaked; disable upgrade checking in the Unsafe Browser; fix startup of the Unsafe Browser in some locales; repair the desktop screenshot feature...." Read the rest of the release announcement for more details.
Tails 1.2.3 -- Default desktop environment
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Stephen Ewen has announced the release of UberStudent 4.1, an Ubuntu-based Linux distribution featuring the Xfce desktop and specialist software made for students and teachers: "I'm delighted to announce the release of UberStudent 4.1 'Epicurus'. UberStudent is a Linux distribution for everyone, especially higher education and advanced secondary students, people who teach them, and their schools. It is designed for Linux beginners while being equally satisfying to advanced users. System: Ubuntu 14.04 long-term support release base (with updates applied up to Jan 15, 2015), Supported until April 2019. What's New? All known installation and other bugs have been fixed; robust EFI support; much faster boot time; cleaner, faster code throughout; UberStudent Panel Changer to switch between a traditional two-panel desktop (like GNOME 2) and a one-panel desktop...." Read the rest of the release announcement for further details.
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Changes to the front page|
A picture is worth a thousand words and an image of a distribution's desktop can tell us a lot about the desktop interface a project is using. A screen shot shows us a distribution's default theme and the layout of the user interface. With this in mind, last week we started displaying desktop previews next to distribution release announcements on the front page of DistroWatch. We hope these thumbnail previews will help readers get a feel for new distribution releases.
While we hope our readers will find the screen shots beneficial we also acknowledge showing these preview images adds more elements to our front page and some visitors to our website may find the new layout crowded. We want to hear what you think of having desktop previews on the front page. Is it helpful, is it a welcome splash of colour or are the previews visually distracting? Please let us know what you think in the comments section or send us an e-mail.
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Distributions added to waiting list
- AliyaLinux. AliyaLinux is a novice friendly Linux distribution designed to be familiar to people coming from Windows environments. AliyaLinux is based on Debian Testing.
- Edu * Ro. Edu * Ro is a Debian-based Linux operating system for use in school environments. This Romanian distribution includes a variety of free educational programs for students.
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DistroWatch database summary
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This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 26 January 2015. 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)
|Linux Foundation Training
|Reader Comments • Jump to last comment
1 • ReactOS (by Jon Wright on 2015-01-19 01:57:13 GMT from Luxembourg) |
Interesting to read about ReactOS - although I don't think writing up one's experiences running something inside a virtual machine is worthwhile.
I've decided either Ubuntu MATE or Mint MATE is where it's at for the foreseeable future, so I'm not interested in tracking progress of the mainstream distros or their respins. But very interested to read about the BSDs and the more esoteric Linux (and other) projects. And I think the next DW donation should go to sending Jesse a used ThinkPad (or two).
2 • Donated hardware (by Jesse on 2015-01-19 02:08:33 GMT from Canada)
If we are talking about sending me hardware, I vote for a Raspberry Pi B. That could result in some interesting experiments.
3 • Android-x86 (by Gustavo on 2015-01-19 02:20:01 GMT from Brazil)
One "alternative" operating system that is running very well is Android-x86 4.4. I've been using it as my main "desktop" OS on my Acer notebook and i'm very satisfied with the results so far. Good keyboard and mouse support, *very* fast display drivers (now I see how Xorg is obsolete), full Google Play access, good hardware support, updated software, good notification system and BASH shell. You can print directly to USB printers using 3rd party software. Most Linux distros feel very slow and "clunky" when I boot to them. Of course you can´t run GIMP or LibreOffice yet, but it´s getting there.
4 • Desktop Previews (by GuntherT on 2015-01-19 04:13:00 GMT from United States)
I am in favor of the desktop previews on the home page. I do not feel the thumbnails clutter things. I find screenshots illustrative and helpful when evaulating software. Thank you for your hard work, Jesse.
5 • Re: Donated hardware (by dicktater on 2015-01-19 05:53:44 GMT from United States)
Put a Banana Pi or an Odroid on your wishlist instead.
6 • Changes (by Milo on 2015-01-19 05:56:41 GMT from Poland)
I think my biggest qualms with the thumbnails are that they force dead space between "Latest News and Updates" entries where there is no text, spacing the entries out more, and that the thumbnails are too small to really convey much about the default look of the distribution. I prefer the project logos alone for the "Latest News and Updates" entries. As I said last week, it doesn't really bother me, it's just a preference. If they remain, so be it. It might be worth experimenting with adding them to the right of the text, rather placing them underneath the project logos.
"NewsDate" 2015-02-30 "NewsHeadline" Distribution Release: w00titis "NewsScreenshot" Screenshot
"NewsLogo" img src=☺ "NewsText" Hurty flurty schnipp schnipp! "NewsGUI" img src=pretty picture
Also as I said mentioned week, I would like to see screenshots added for the database entries which currently lack them (ex FreeNAS), where there is a default DE/WM/Web interface. Are reader submissions (if they meet certain criteria) accepted?
7 • Fedora on wayland (by Shishir on 2015-01-19 06:06:34 GMT from Ukraine)
I have been using F21, since its release date. Initially, GNOME on wayland didn't work for me. But, now it's quite stable (may be because of some update). Drag and drop still doesn't work well. Also there are problems with logging out and in. Apart from these problems, the system is quite stable.
8 • alteration (by Milo on 2015-01-19 06:18:43 GMT from Poland)
Actually, instead of generic "Screenshot" name, it might worth telling people what they are looking at, like
img src=pretty picture
9 • reactos (by greg on 2015-01-19 08:58:35 GMT from Slovenia)
the interesting part is hardware compatibility - if the OS is supposedly Windows compatible, shouldn't the drivers also be compatible?
10 • Desktop screenshots (by Jozsef on 2015-01-19 09:58:29 GMT from United Arab Emirates)
In my opinion the screenshots are too small. And also, I think only 1 thing should be enough, no need for both logo and screenshot. Doesn't looks good to me as it is right now.
Maybe only the name of the distro in plain text, above the screenshots? Many screenshots already got the logo on it.
What I would do, if the screenshots can't be larger, I would make them as links to the larger view of the screenshot instead of the link pointing to the distro's page. Name of the distro could be a link to distro's page.
Only my opinions :)
11 • Waiting list (by e on 2015-01-19 10:29:27 GMT from Germany)
Long time visitor, but never went through the waiting list.
275 distros are waiting and some of them since 2007...
It doesn't seem very efficient...
12 • ChaletOS (by Joe on 2015-01-19 11:42:39 GMT from Mexico)
Oh my God! the recent incorpored distro named ChaletOS is a wonderful OS. Gased in LTS Ubuntu (xubuntu) very easy to configure with an exquisite design. speedy an bug free. for me it is the best distro in many many years.
13 • UberStudent (by Jake Mills on 2015-01-19 11:52:47 GMT from United Kingdom)
UberStudent looks to not only provide a system that I want as a tool for learning, but also as a tool for development. I often have to make notes on new pieces of research, languages, projects... All these applications in one place - I look forward to looking through the list and finding a lot of new and exciting tools.
Providing the system works following install, you can bet I will be donating to this project to keep it going. It's been many years since I have been so excited to install a new Linux distro.
14 • RE1 : testing a package manager is worthwhile for many readers (by dbrion on 2015-01-19 12:41:52 GMT from France)
and an emulator is enough for that .
I qemulated a RPi before buying a real one : I could notice every package I needed was installed and worked (and emulaters are going to emulate more and more hardware). If I had seen broken packages, I would not have bought (or would have tried Pidora instead of Rasbian).... Then, once I had a RPi, it was very easy to have things working (an Internet café landlord, who installs lots of XP/7 computers when he is rich, was amazed because it seemed very easy to install and I answered "its is because I trained myself with arm-qemu").
15 • Thumbnails get the thumbs up (by Mike on 2015-01-19 13:31:26 GMT from United Kingdom)
Really like the thumbnails under the news section, gives the site a more modern feel (rather than a wall of text).
16 • Enjoying Gnome 2 again. (by Bill on 2015-01-19 14:23:33 GMT from )
For those of you who long for the good-old Gnome 2 days, there is a way to enjoy what once was. I installed a Mint 9 Isadora 64 bit iso on a Quad-Core i7-4771 CPU with 16 gigs of RAM and an SSD Hard Drive together with a Nvidia Geforce GT 650 graphics card.
Granted it took some hacking to find the kernel which would play the original Ubuntu login and other sounds like radiotray music correctly on Internal Audio Stereo Duplex, hint: (Kernel: 2.6.34-020634-generic), and I had to struggle to get the NVIDIA accelerated (version current) installed so that the video could be 1440x900 or better (thanks to Mint's Hardware Driver locator), but, I installed all of my favorite apps and dressed the system up with an Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy look and installed all the original COMPIZ bells and whistles and wow!!
I now have the worlds last best OS/DE and it is blazingly fast!
Everyone to their own for sure, but I really enjoy my Gnome 2 System!
Here are the screenshots:
Put The Fun Back Into Your Linux!
17 • Thumbnails are GREAT! (by Jim on 2015-01-19 14:41:32 GMT from United States)
Another +1 on the implementation of desktop thumbnails next to the logo!!! I'm a bit of a distro junkie who is always trying out new and interesting distros in a VM. My level of interest is often dictated by the appearance of a desktop that is implemented in a new & interesting way!
I know what a "standard" Gnome, KDE, XFCE and LXDE desktop look like, so there's really no compelling reason to see what I've already seen...unless there's a new & interesting twist on those DEs. But I still need to click on additional pages to see if there's an interesting twist. A small task which usually leads to the disappointing conclusion that "I've seen this before..." Conversely, what's a Deepin? What's a Pantheon? What is this Elive?
I used to have to click on the distro page, then possibly, the screenshot page in order to learn more. Now I can do the majority of aesthetic assessment right on the home page, with no additional clicks! It definitely makes my surfing easier and more enjoyable. I hope you decide to keep it!
18 • Thumbnails - MORE! BIGGER!! (by Sam on 2015-01-19 16:07:04 GMT from United States)
I like the addition of thumbnails of the default desktop of each OS, but as currently displayed, they seem a)a bit small and b) a bit squished against each distro's logo. I'd suggest increasing the screen shot size, off-set and space the logo away from the thumbnail. This would make each distro's "text description" need to be narrower and taller, but would balance the graphics nicely.
19 • raspian (by ray carter on 2015-01-19 16:13:27 GMT from United States)
It would be interesting to see a review of raspian linux on a raspberry pi - a very interesting platform for learning electronics
20 • LMDE (by Barnabyh on 2015-01-19 17:16:01 GMT from United Kingdom)
Good to hear there'll now be another alternative for people wanting to run Debian, or at least pull from their repositories, and stick to the current sysvinit system without having to mess around and recompile networkmanager and others or be presented with 'Broken Packages'.
So people on Debian now have three options:
2.) Waiting for Devuan to materialise
3.) Start from a Grml base and avoid packages that would pull in youknowwhat. I suppose this may be difficult to do, in particular for people who want a convenient network management console and VPN, dongle support etc.
Of course one can stay on 'Wheezy', still very good with backports. But already no updated Chromium any more since 37, although the spat behind it will affect newer Debian versions as well until resolved.
21 • @2 Raspberry Pi B (by Ron on 2015-01-19 18:01:10 GMT from United States)
:If we are talking about sending me hardware, I vote for a Raspberry Pi B. That could result in some interesting experiments. "
Awh, go for the Pi B+. Its the latest and so inexpensive, everyone should get one. By the way, a previous DW by Jesse prompted me to not only get a Pi B+, but also a BeagleBoardBlack. I have been experimenting with both and learning lots more about Linux because of them.
The BeagleBoardBlack costs a few dollars more, but either one is great. The BBB is probably more useful and easier to startup than the Pi, but go for either.
22 • #20 sysvinit on Debian Jessie (by anticapitalista on 2015-01-19 19:21:18 GMT from Greece)
I'm sure there are a lot more than the 3 available options you mentioned.
Here are 3 others.
23 • Debian choices (by Barnabyh on 2015-01-19 20:08:05 GMT from United Kingdom)
Is antiX not going to be using systemd 215 as suggested by the listing for 14alpha here on DW? Please tell me more. Are you only implementing a placebo/shim or how will it work?
24 • Your Announcement of Parted Magic 2015_01_13 on your Site. (by Halil I Celik on 2015-01-19 21:16:41 GMT from Turkey)
I have seen the mention of your pmagic_2014_01_13 distro on your web site. I followed their Online shopping web link. But I had bought pmagic_2014_11_19.iso instead of pmagic_2014_01_13. Because Online shopping link was not updated by partedmagic.com.
25 • Your Announcement of Parted Magic 2015_01_13 on your Site (continued) (by Halil I Celik on 2015-01-19 21:22:07 GMT from Turkey)
I downloaded the correct version of Parted Mapic after my e-mail warning. Thanks to Partedmagic.com for quick response.
26 • Debian choices (by anticapitalista on 2015-01-19 21:59:03 GMT from Greece)
The latest alpha5 of antiX is 99.9% systemd free. No systemd-shim, no libsystemd0, and various apps like cups have been de-systemded (is that a word?)
The only thing remaining to remove is udev, but that is almost impossible at the moment in Debian.
27 • ChaletOS (by Carlos on 2015-01-19 22:36:12 GMT from Portugal)
@12: that XFCE menu looks like Windows 7.
That's not how I want linux to look like.
Btw, I love Mageia's XFCE.
28 • Bluetooth (by Carlos on 2015-01-19 22:39:06 GMT from Portugal)
I hate Bluetooth audio on linux.
It needs Pulseaudio. Which I hate even more. :')
29 • antiX (by Barnabyh on 2015-01-19 22:45:15 GMT from United Kingdom)
Desystemd'ed, nice one. That will certainly put it on my shortlist for install media alternatives for Debian 8 when the time comes.
Thanks for all your work on this btw, I like antiX more than it may sometimes seem, in particular fluxbox is elegant.
30 • Front page (by dbrion on 2015-01-19 23:24:02 GMT from France)
" We want to hear what you think of having desktop previews on the front page. Is it helpful, is it a welcome splash of colour or are the previews visually distracting? "
* Desktop previews are too tiny : it is only a splash of colors, uninformative for my old eyes -or for "net""book" screens- .
* Logos remain a good idea (one can find easily ones favorite distribution(s)); at least for graphical mode browsers.
* Release announcement, too (one can find out what the authors think of their distribution if they feel necessary to write about that).
* linking to the distribution description is (remains? I do not know) a _very_ good idea: it makes faster to find selected packages, reviews ... before thinking about downloading.
31 • Tails no burn? (by George on 2015-01-19 23:37:56 GMT from United Kingdom)
I realise it's a niche poduct but is anyone else unable to burn an ISO of Tails to a USB stick and /or a DVD?
I have burnt many Linux ISOs over the past ten years to CDs and DVDs but I just cannot burn a copy of Tails, even though the MD5 checks out.
I have just burned a copy of Tahrpup to my USB stick and tested it so I know the stick is OK, so it must be something wrong with Tails.
I have tried it with 1.2 and 1.23 with constant failures though 1.1.1 burns normally.
32 • @31 -Tails USB (by Pedro on 2015-01-20 01:38:18 GMT from United States)
It is recommended to use the Tails installer - within Tails - for installations on USB sticks. This way, you will be able to make use of incremental updates.
If you prefer manual USB installs using "dd", the Tails iso has to be modified first, using the "isohybrid" utility. The exact command can be found in the install instructions on the Tails website.
33 • Desktop previews (by Alberto5 on 2015-01-20 02:10:18 GMT from Uruguay)
I'm also in favor of the front page previews. Nice new feature. Both the thumbnails and the logos help us have a glimpse of the distribution's character (in the case of Makulu, for instance, which I consider to be a good distro, it is immediately apparent its childish -or too naive at least- spirit. Sorry, Jacque Raymer)
34 • Thumbnails (by cykodrone on 2015-01-20 02:14:50 GMT from Canada)
They're OK but maybe move the distros' icons to the right of the text? The way it is now looks a little clumsy and cluttered.
ReactOS, I had relatively the same experience. It's an interesting project but I divorced MS, so it kinda creeped me out, lol. Before anybody asks why I tried React, because I was curious, I test things, that's what I do.
35 • Thumbnails (by Will B on 2015-01-20 02:53:11 GMT from United States)
I like the thumbnails, but I propose the direct opposite of @34...put the distro logo on the left of the description as in the past, but put the desktop previews on the right of the text. :-)
36 • childish spirit??? (by frodopogo on 2015-01-20 04:51:10 GMT from United States)
@33- What about Tux???
(the Linux Penguin...)
37 • @11 (by Milo on 2015-01-20 05:51:03 GMT from Poland)
Operating systems do get removed from that list from time to time (as well as readded, or even occasionally duplicated). For example, Arch Hurd and LSD (Less Systemd) GNU/Linux are gone. Perhaps there should be a set time period (4 years?) after which an OS is removed from the waiting list if it has failed to meet the criteria for addition to the database, and then perhaps the developer(s) can reapply. I wish the waiting list "submitted on" dates were hyperlinked to the appropriate DWW "Distributions added to waiting list" descriptions.
For example, for the waiting list entry for Edu * Ro, "submitted on 2015-01-14" could be linked to distrowatch.com/weekly.php?issue=20150119#waiting. Sometimes project pages do a poor job of describing their respective projects, and succinct DWW "added to the waiting list" descriptions cut through the cruft.
There are some decent operating systems or otherwise interesting startups on the waiting list, a few of which are more solid than some of the me-too listings currently in the database. Bitrig finally saw a 1.0 release. Bedrock Linux, noop, Maui, Void, Arch BSD, VyOS and OmniOS seem to be surviving. As far as Fedora remixes fly, Chapeau and Viperr are worth ackowledging. Speaking of ReactOS's Windows-esque reimplementation that holds appeal for some, Icaros Desktop should bear a familiar feel for anyone who's used AmigaOS (particularly circa 3.1). Some distros remain unsung, and fade away. Speaking of which, does anybody know what is going on with Progress Linux (developed by the guy behind the discontinued Unofficial Maintainers repo for Debian)? In December, the home page read, "We're currently reorganizing our homepage.. stay tuned for 2014-12-15." Now it reads, "We're currently reorganizing our homepage.. stay tuned for 2015-01-15." Given its SourceForge page, livarp seems to be dead again. I'm pretty sure Ascendos is a ghost ship (check the mailing list). It was supposed to merge with GoOSe Linux, but the GoOSe Project disbanded before than happened. I also think Pardus Anka failed to become its own thing separate from Pisi (if it ever was intended to be; that's still unclear).
38 • ChaletOS for ones coming from Windows XP (by Garon on 2015-01-20 13:05:54 GMT from United States)
@27, I really doubt that this distro was made for you. I have not tried the distro but the screenshots look very good and useable for a person new to the Linux landscape or really for anyone who is not a "I hate Microsoft" zealot. They would prefer something that they are familiar with and not something from 10 or 15 years ago. Sad to say tho that most people in the Linux community and here really don't want new people walking in the Linux landscape and for the most part they are successful in keeping them away. It's distros like ChaletOS, Ubuntu, LinuxMint, elementaryOS, Zorin, PCLinuxOS, and many others that will keep Linux a name that in general people may be able to relate to.
39 • Mint and Android-x86 (by Georgia on 2015-01-20 13:38:43 GMT from Canada)
I am now running Mint 17.1 XFCE on my ARM notebook, in addition to 17.1 with Cinnamon on my desktop computer. Both are flawless, both are faster than 17.0. So thank you to Clem's team of hardworking people, you folks really sweat the details. I will donate again.
Incidentally, I tried Android-x86 on the notebook before I did the Mint update, it also ran well, but I wouldn't give up a fully featured and functional OS (Mint) for the skeletal Android. Still, if you have and an ancient notebook gathering dust in the closet, it might just worth giving it a whirl.
Note to Jesse: I like it, and I notice and appreciate all the little changes you've made. Even small changes can mean a lot of work. Thank you.
40 • Front page (by bfl on 2015-01-20 14:39:21 GMT from Austria)
My opinion to the front page previews:
1. The page takes pretty much more time to load.
2. With the previews less information fits on the page than before, and if someone visits the page once a week, important news might not reach him/her.
3. From an artistic view, the previews are visually distracting - they do not really fit in the picture of the whole page.
41 • Front page format (by Pearson on 2015-01-20 15:42:50 GMT from United States)
On a related note, are there any plans on a more phone-friendly Distrowatch and DIstroWatch Weekly? It is "usable enough" for me, but requires a fair amount of horizontal scrolling on my phone.
42 • ReactOS and ChaletOS (by Pmulax on 2015-01-20 16:06:20 GMT from Spain)
The first thing I wondered when I first heard about ReactOS was if it was so compatible with Win32 as to also be a potential virus/malware victim. If so, there might even be the case in which it could be infected by basic/old virus, but no recent antivirus was installable because it's not completely Windows.
And talking about "not being completely Windows", I recently tested ChaletOS on a USB HD, and was quite satisfied. As an experiment, I asked a Windows user to fiddle with it and he found no problems getting a grasp of the basic usage (I've long suspected some people start doubting on somethings workings the moment it has a different appearance). Though I wasn't able to switch locales (the author said he would look into it) the rest was trouble free, probably one of the most important aspects when introducing Linux to a Windows user (though ironically they are quite forgiving with MS's flaws).
43 • ReactOS (by M.Z. on 2015-01-20 19:06:48 GMT from )
"One might sarcastically quip that ReactOS completely captures the legacy Windows experience."
It sounds like Windows ME, which was the first OS I installed by myself. It caused so many crashes in Command & Conquer, and always right as I was about to vanquish my enemies! Still ReactOS has always sounded like an intriguing project. If it ever enters beta I might have an excuse to dust off all those old Windows games I have sitting around.
44 • @ 32 (by George on 2015-01-20 22:07:30 GMT from United Kingdom)
[... use the Tails installer - within Tails...]
How can I use the Tails installer (within Tails) when I can't burn a working copy of the distro in the first place? As it is, it's just a waste of my download bandwidth.
45 • Lets see some review of linuxes for the blind! (by Baltazar on 2015-01-20 22:18:54 GMT from Puerto Rico)
I have been trying to help a friend for some time now with visual limitations and have not been able to reccomend anything concrrete... none of the systems I hae tried are adecuate. Eider because of hardware requarements or dificulties with inconsitencies with the system overal... And no, puting a person with a totaly command line interface is not manageble for a computer iliterate person...
Orca has been practicaly abandomed... like many things gnome... even the page is incomplete... it is sadening to see practically no interrest for this area in Linux besides hardcore uber ccommannd line tools... and the sometimes asanine abreviations that are used... ad to this the language barier...
Am still trying to get something more funktional but I would like to see some focus shined to this... even if just once or twce a year...
lately part of my dificulties lie with managing the desktop with the keyboard and using descktop zoom... features that may work to some extend but I have enncouter problems with... imagine a newbee... Also, since she is limited with the hard ware anithing Genome 3 is trash... it might work but not in such and old hardware...
One thig that wories me is security... so I have tried to stay with resent stuff... but I find more and more abandoment from some progects...
sorry ffor my horible writing ... am on a celphone..
pleace review some apps or relevant linuxes!
46 • ChaletOS (by Carlos on 2015-01-20 22:41:10 GMT from Portugal)
@38: Garon, you misunderstood me, I was just giving MY opinion, yes, it is not for me and I understand that others may think otherwise and like it.
Instead of copying Windows, Linux should be user friendly but have a "style" of its own.
I understand that some people coming from Windows may want something similar to work with, and there is choice on Linux, that's the beauty of it.
Sometimes I ask myself why can Microsoft turn everything upside down (like in Windows 8) and Linux can't. Now please guys, don't try to copy the Windows 8 desktop, just for the Linux newbies to feel at home. The mistakes are not worth to copy.
Personally, I'm tired of Windows, too many years working with it, since the early 90's, way before 95.
You or anyone else's mileage may vary.
I'm not a Microsoft "hater", they are actually improving and Windows 10 may become something interesting. And bring stuff to the desktop that Unix and Linux already has, for decades (like virtual desktops).
You know, sometimes it's the other way around, :')
47 • DW front page layout, proprietary-system refugee interests, ReactOS (by Fossilizing Dinosaur on 2015-01-21 02:48:36 GMT from United States)
Perhaps the logo should not be so much smaller than the screenshot thumbnail, which does aid recognition and enhance presentation, and ought to link to a full-size image/slide-show ... and thence possibly to the distro page? Low-res (for dial-up) and columnar (for small-screens) versions would certainly be in keeping with modern adaptability.
What Apple/Windows refugees need is not so much a familiar appearance (it helps to look a bit different; themes are popular) but familiar functionality - similar organization is obviously a step in the right direction, and not just for the less-technically-inclined. A GUI is preferable, should best communicate function and avoid distractions like typing or syntax, and have a separate 'advanced' level (or two). Many users are nonetheless acquainted with Command-Line-Interface and basic plain-text batch/script files. Descriptive labeling of 'apps' is as important as unique naming, of course (Truth in Labeling).
As noted in the ReactOS review, they're likely already acquainted with lock-ups, errors (and related witless messages), and other imperfections - but the system has been beaten into a sufficiently reliable platform that a robust market has emerged. Backup procedures allow driver regression, software-package removal, and system-snapshot recovery; recently system portability is also available. It works predictably (not "It Just Works" until it doesn't) and is reasonably complete and robust. Minor updates do not break tools, development tools should not face an incompatible "upgrade" for years.
Speaking of ReactOS, the review took my breath away - it took a while to recover after ROFL! Just what I'd expect from (InMyOpinion) a primarily academic project which should always be in a VM/LXC/Qube. It's an educational demo of Retro Tech and Why We Don't Do It That Way Any More, though. Potentially, of course, it could could also show what could have been, had a long-term view prevailed.
48 • Q4OS (by Jan on 2015-01-21 10:46:56 GMT from Netherlands)
I have tried the latest versions of Q4OS on an older PC and notebook.
They all failed to find my WiFi hardware. So a no-go.
Maybe a point of attention for the distroa maintainers?
49 • No WiFi support (by Jeffersonian on 2015-01-21 18:28:49 GMT from United States)
You omit to mention which WifI chip does your PC have.
And also which WiFi chip it has (Command "dmesg" after booting will tell you).
I guess it is a Broadcom chip, supported by "closed source" driver, unfortunately.
Because Atheros, Realtec, and Intel WiFi chips are part of the kernel "main tree" usually work out of the box.
You may try Linux Mint 17.1 which allow support for Broadcom chips, ideally booting from USB flash drive if your system BIOS support it.
An other possibility is to use the TP-Link USB TLW821N (USB Wifi dongle, with Atheros Chip), inexpensive, works on any recent Linux "out of the box".
Because Broadcom never "allowed" an open source driver, Linux supporters should stop purchasing PC's with a Broadcom chip, at least until the Kernel "main tree" has open source support for Broadcom.
50 • If only the selection of wifi in a computer was easy (by Ben Myers on 2015-01-22 02:18:06 GMT from United States)
One can install most any wifi card in a desktop computer, if the card fits one of the slots inside. But choosing a wifi card to go inside a laptop is not so easy. Well, maybe it is. Many name-brands offer a more expensive Intel wifi card as an option. If it's an Intel wifi card, go for it. As previously noted, AND the name-brand company bothers to tell you, Atheros or Realtek are OK. That apprarently leaves two wifi chips, Broadcom and newcomer Ralink (now Mediatek). Broadcom? Fogeddabout it. Ralink? I dunno.
So this leaves the possibility of buying a laptop, often at a big box emporium like Best Buy or Walmart or Staples, where you have no idea what the wifi card is inside. The sealed package doesn't tell you. And the uninformed sales person sure does not know. So now, the computer comes home, one puts in the trusty distro install DVD or USB stick, runs the install and (H-E-L-P!) the wifi card is a stinking Broadcom. What next? Well, if you can get the drivers elsewhere and install them, you are home free. If your distro does not even have Broadcom drivers, you have to replace the wifi card.
Here is where it gets dicey. A USB wifi stick is messy because it sticks out the side of the laptop, where it can get damaged and so can the laptop. So now you go for an internal wifi card. Well, the combination of the laptop BIOS and factory customization of laptop wifi cards poses obstacles.
1. Obstacle #1 - The laptop BIOS has a white list of allowable cards, customized to the specifications of the name brand company. At the factory, wifi cards get a vendor ID and card ID burned in. Your card has to match the white list on both IDs.
2. Obstacle #2 - No white list in the laptop BIOS, but the BIOS does make sure that the vendor ID of the wifi card is the same as the name brand. If there is no match, the laptop probably won't boot.
Yes, you can reprogram the vendor ID on a wifi card with some low-level software code that accesses ports on the card. But it's not worth the effort. I've investigated. Wifi cards are inexpensive.
So the punch line here is to make sure you are getting a Linux-compatible (not Broadcom and maybe not Ralink) wifi card when you buy a system, desktop or laptop. Saves a lot of effort.
51 • Ralink (by Somewhat Reticent on 2015-01-22 03:01:15 GMT from United States)
Per WikiPedia: (acquired by MediaTek 2011May)
+ "While Linux drivers for the older RT2500 chipsets are no longer updated by Ralink, these are now being maintained by Serialmonkey's rt2x00 project"
+ "drivers for MediaTek Ralink wireless network interface controllers were mainlined into Linux kernel version 2.6.24"
+ "Ralink provides GNU General Public License-licensed (GPL) drivers for the Linux kernel."
? "Current Ralink chipsets require a firmware to be loaded."
(see also: wikidevi.com, wireless.kernel.org/en/users/Drivers)
Note: presence of a driver does not imply complete/reliable functionality; NO brand guarantees anything.
As always, Version/Vintage Rules; Do Your Homework FIRST.
For example, research specs for the given model online - sometimes at a store kiosk.
52 • @51 Ralink - Good to know (by Ben Myers on 2015-01-22 05:33:50 GMT from United States)
I've run into very few Ralink wifi cards. Installed one today and it fixed a client's wifi problem. So it's good to know that the odds are pretty good of a Ralink wifi card working with many Linux distros, as is.
53 • tails from thumbdrive to thumbdrive ? (by Roland on 2015-01-22 12:16:21 GMT from United States)
@31 @32 @44:
You need to modify the ISO before dd'ing it:
isohybrid [tails-isohybrid.iso] -h 255 -s 63
dd if=[tails-isohybrid.iso] of=[device] bs=16M
I did not use this method, but they claim it works.
Debian family ISOs all have problems with USB install. Optical media are
cheap, but that eliminates most laptops these days. I used a desktop with
an optical drive make a DVD, ran it to make thumbdrives.
54 • @53 (by Uncle Slacky on 2015-01-22 17:06:27 GMT from France)
Unetbootin also works for TAILS, I've found, though obviously it's not recommended. You need to select the "Live" option on booting, rather than just the "Default" option, however.
55 • @50 WiFi Options on a Laptop (by Rev_Don on 2015-01-23 00:05:17 GMT from United States)
You can always get a NANO sized usb WiFi dongle. They only stick out about 1/4 of an inch so the chances of doing any damage is extremely remote. Unless you have to connect under really crappy conditions they should work just fine. I've seen GOOD ones for as little as $10 US.
Or you can do some homework prior to purchase. Find out what's available locally, then check the manufactures support site to see what WiFi chip it uses. I've never had a problem being able to determine what chipset brand is used, although the specific model can sometimes be more difficult to determine.
Also try taking in a live CD/USB and get the sales people to allow you to boot into it or help you look in device manager of the display models to see what they have. Except for WalMart (and I would never purchase any computer from them) I've never had one of those requests turned down. I have had to wait around a bit until the right person became available as not all of the sales people have access to that, but that is just part of what you have to deal with to run Linux.
56 • USB WiFi (by Fossilizing Dinosaur on 2015-01-23 03:10:45 GMT from United States)
Potentially effective if you avoid mixing 2.4GHz and USB3, right?
57 • Desktop Environments; Wikipedia is always wrong? (by gregzeng on 2015-01-23 05:46:09 GMT from Australia)
By design, Wikipedia, like all recorded "reality", is always outdated & incorrect. But coders who use Wikipedia are too self-absorbed to properly monitor/ care about the noobs who use Wikipedia. Active Chief Information Officers (CIO, which I used to be before my medical-aged-frail forced retirement), are too busy-incompetent to worry about noobs as well.
is very wrongly outdated. It misses others in our DistroWatch room: Enlightenment, KDE Plasma, & LXQt. Android & its many derivatives are often avoid; perhaps because by USA-legal restrictions, these are not considered free". Pity the noobs who think that this planet is limited to only the laws of the USA.
The Wikipedia url above is used in other discussions of Desktop Environments. Ignored are many other operating systems in our DistroWatch room:
Microsofts' (many), Apple (many), Nokia, Blackberry, ... and of course, Android & its many derivatives.
Surprisingly, it seems that only Android enthusiasts seem to believe that Android is a Linux distro. Apple people try to hide the fact that they are really a BSD distro derivative. Both Apple newer operating systems & Android, like Linux, are based on Unix.
Microsoft seems to be dropping their very primitive, illogical operating systems, very slowly moving to a Unix-based system, like the rest of the planet. Google pays Microsoft much in legal fees; hence the Android derivatives entering the markets.
Is there some way that Distrowatch's spreadsheet data base include the D-W "popularity" ratings? Or a way that Wikipedia's spreadsheets be interogated, like DistroWatch's can?
58 • WiFi Linux (by Jan on 2015-01-23 14:01:43 GMT from Netherlands)
Interesting and constructive, practical comments on my point on WiFi and Q4OS.
Thanks for that.
One additional remark:
I have tested a few other distros for older hardware/notebook (just for fun of distrohopping).
AntiX + LXLE + Lubuntu detect the WiFi obvious in a good way. So detecting WiFi in Linux seems probably not a big deal?
59 • Xorg (re #3) (by Jorday on 2015-01-23 16:33:48 GMT from United States)
How does "good display drivers" render Xorg "obsolete?"
It's about more than the display servers. Seems weird to have to say that.
60 • Eye of the beholder (by Somewhat Reticent on 2015-01-26 00:10:14 GMT from United States)
Perhaps Gustavo refers to his perception of software designed and tuned for his device of choice? Ignorance often begets confusion.
(Display-server protocols: X11, Wayland, Mir, SurfaceFlinger.)
Number of Comments: 60
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