| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 605, 13 April 2015
Welcome to this year's 15th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
Open source distributions are constantly evolving and improving and we often do not think about the work involved or the people who put our operating systems together. This week we talk a bit about code, tools for collaboration and the people who create our operating systems. In our Questions and Answers column we discuss the closing of Google Code and why the free collaboration service is being discontinued. In our Ask-A-Leader column debut we hear from Vince Pooley, the man behind the Chapeau distribution, as he talks about how Chapeau came about and the work which goes into making a distribution. Our main feature this week is a review of SuperX, a project which combines Ubuntu packages with the KDE desktop. In our News section this week we discuss work being done on DragonFly BSD's advanced HAMMER2 file system, new features coming to openSUSE and the recent trouble Manjaro had with their website security certificate. Plus we celebrate the arrival of version 4.0 of the Linux kernel. In our Torrent Corner we share the open source torrents we are seeding and then we cover the distributions released last week. Plus we welcome Bella OS as the most recent addition to our distribution database. We wish you all a terrific week and happy reading!
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Exploring SuperX 3.0
The SuperX distribution began as a one-person project and was first put together by a developer in India. However, the distribution grew and is now maintained by Libresoft Technology. The latest release of SuperX, version 3.0 "Grace", offers users the KDE 4 desktop and ships with a number of features designed to make the desktop operating system more responsive. As the project's website states, "Grace gives more priority to application responsiveness; you will feel it right from the start -- a fast, smooth, responsive system. Grace, by default, compresses unused memory pages within RAM rather than swapping out to the swap partition, making it responsive even when the system memory is low. Commonly used applications are preloaded and cached in memory for faster start-up of your favourite applications." SuperX provides users with multimedia support out of the box and a useful collection of desktop applications.
Version 3.0 of SuperX can be downloaded as a 1.6GB ISO file. There are two builds available, one for 32-bit and another for 64-bit machines. Booting from the live media brings up the KDE desktop environment. The desktop's wallpaper is soft blue. On the desktop we find a single icon for launching the distribution's system installer. At the bottom of the screen we find the application menu, task switcher and system tray. Clicking the application menu button brings up a full screen application menu with large, colourful icons. I want to talk about the application menu more, but first let's briefly talk about SuperX's system installer.
The SuperX system installer is a graphical application which appears to be borrowed from the Kubuntu project. The installer has a nice, friendly interface that is easy to navigate. We are first shown the distribution's license agreement. From there we are guided through selecting our preferred language, partitioning the computer's hard drive, selecting our time zone from a map of the world and confirming our keyboard's layout. We conclude by creating a user account for ourselves and then we wait while the installer copies its files to our computer's drive and configures the operating system. The process is fairly quick and I especially like how the partition manager is set up. Manual partitioning is quite straight forward and there is an automated partitioning option for people who want to let the installer decide what partition layout will work best.
SuperX 3.0 -- Visiting the SuperX website
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When we boot into our new copy of SuperX we are brought to a graphical login screen. Signing into the account we created during the installation process brings us back to the KDE 4.13 desktop. I experimented with running SuperX in two test environments, a VirtualBox virtual machine and a desktop computer. When I was running the distribution on physical hardware everything worked as expected. My display was set to my monitor's maximum resolution, networking and sound worked automatically and the desktop was very responsive. When I ran SuperX in a VirtualBox virtual machine the experience was similar. Once again the distribution performed quickly and everything worked, but my screen was set to a very low resolution (640x480 pixels). Once I had installed the VirtualBox guest packages from SuperX's software repositories I was able to visit the distribution's control centre and increase my desktop's resolution. In both environments the distribution required approximately 370MB of memory to log into the KDE desktop.
Earlier I mentioned SuperX offers users a full screen application menu with large icons. This menu is divided into three screens or tabs. The first tab displays commonly used applications and documents we have accessed recently. We can add or remove program launchers from this first screen by right-clicking on them. There is also a button to wipe our document history if we wish to unclutter the screen. The second tab displays all available desktop applications installed on the operating system. Applications are separated into categories, making it easier to find what we need. The third tab provides us with shutdown, reboot and logoff options. In the upper-right corner of the menu we find a search box we can use to locate applications by their name or description.
SuperX 3.0 -- The Home tab of the application menu
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One aspect of the application menu I appreciate is that programs are usually labelled based on what they do rather than their official name. For example, LibreOffice's Writer program is labelled "Word Processor". The GNU Image Manipulation Program is simply called "Image Editor". This approach to naming menu entries is especially beneficial for KDE applications since KDE program names tend to be spelled with extra "k"s. For instance the Okular document viewer is labelled "PDF Viewer" and Kamerka is simply called "Webcam".
After using SuperX for a while I realized the system had not notified me of any available security updates. I found the Software Updates program in the application menu and launched it. The update manager displays a list of software upgrades available in the project's repositories. Each new package is listed with its name and size. We can check which items we want to install and then the update manager goes to work. The first day I ran SuperX there were several updates (I did not get an exact count) and these updated packages totalled 41MB in size. The Software Updates application downloaded and installed all available upgrades without any problem.
SuperX 3.0 -- The App Center and desktop settings panel
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On the subject of package management, SuperX provides us with two graphical package managers. The first one is labelled "SuperX Apps Center" and appears to be a re-branded copy of Linux Mint's mintInstall. The Apps Center shows us categories of software where categories and individual applications are represented by large, colourful icons. Each application is listed with the program's name, an icon, a brief description and user rating. Clicking on an application brings up a full page description with a screen shot and reviews supplied by other users. We can install or remove an application with the click of a button. The App Center performs its actions in the background, leaving us to browse for more software while it works. The second package manager is called Muon. This package manager deals with individual packages rather than just desktop applications. Muon displays a simple list of packages in alphabetical order. We can filter items based on categories. To install or remove an application we right-click on the package. The Muon package manager processes its actions in batches, locking the program's interface while it works. I noticed Muon reported there were 71,599 packages available in the SuperX repositories, a surprisingly large number. The distribution maintains its own package repositories with most packages being pulled from SuperX servers. A few packages are provided by VideoLAN.org servers.
The distribution ships with a good deal of desktop software. Looking through the application menu we find the Firefox and Chromium web browsers. Flash is installed for us and works in both web browsers. SuperX also ships with the Thunderbird e-mail client, the Filezilla file transfer program, Telegram and the Konversation IRC client. KTorrent is available for downloading and sharing torrents. SuperX provides users with the VLC multimedia player, the OpenShot video editor, the K3b disc burning software and Sound Recorder. The Musique audio player is available as is the Minitube YouTube client. The distribution ships with multimedia codecs installed, allowing us to play a wide range of media files. The LibreOffice productivity suite is provided along with the Okular document viewer and the Gwenview image viewer. A few games ship with SuperX. Users are given the GNU Image Manipulation Program, the KolourPaint drawing application, an archive manager, text editor and calculator. The distribution provides us with a hardware information browser, the KDE System Settings panel (labelled Control Panel in the application menu) and the KDE Partition Manager. The KGpg application allows us to work with security keys and encryption. To help us get on-line SuperX offers Network Manager and a USB modem/3G manager. In the background we find Java, the GNU Compiler Collection and the Linux kernel, version 3.13.
SuperX 3.0 -- Watching videos with Minitube
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The SuperX distribution worked well for me. The system was always responsive and the applications provided worked as expected. I was especially happy to find the dial-up networking application with support for 3G modems in the application menu. Sometimes connectivity is hard to come by and it is nice when distributions include plenty of options to help us access the Internet.
Perhaps the only aspect of SuperX I did not like was of minor concern. I found I was able to add different application menus to the KDE panel which offered more traditional approaches to launching programs. However, I was unable to remove the SuperX menu button from the panel. It's not a serious issue as there is a lot of space on the panel, but I found it interesting I could add/remove other launch buttons, but not the default one. Perhaps there is done as a safety measure to prevent people from disabling the application menu by accident.
I enjoyed my time with SuperX. The distribution performs quickly, the application menu is easy to navigate and the system installer is very friendly. The operating system ships with two friendly package managers (one for desktop software and one for lower-level package operations) and we have multimedia support out of the box. All of my hardware was handled properly and the KDE desktop is wonderfully flexible.
In the past I have sometimes found KDE could be distracting, showing the user lots of notifications. SuperX seems to have done away with most notifications and the desktop remains pleasantly calm. Actually, I might have preferred it if SuperX had been more aggressive in letting me know when software updates were available, but checking for updates manually is easy as the Software Updates application is present in the Home menu.
I did not find any special features that set SuperX apart from other polished KDE distributions, but I do feel SuperX is indeed very polished. Working with this operating system was a smooth and trouble-free experience. I definitely think people who try this distribution will enjoy it.
* * * * *
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)
Details on DragonFly BSD's HAMMER2 file system, new features in openSUSE's Tumbleweed, Manjaro's security certificate expired and Linux reaches 4.0
DragonFly BSD is mostly known for its performance enhancing design and its HAMMER file system. The latter has been gaining attention recently, especially with HAMMER version 2 under development. The HAMMER2 design document has been updated and presents readers with a list of changes and improvements over the original HAMMER design. Some of the more interesting advancements coming to HAMMER2 include writing to file system snapshots (the original HAMMER file system used read-only snapshots), a low memory footprint, support for multiple compression algorithms, deduplication, whole disk encryption and support for massively large file systems. "A single physical disk from H2's point of view can be sized up to 2^56 which is 64 Petabytes, and the total file system size can be up to 16 Exabytes." Further details on the design of HAMMER2 and how it differs from the original HAMMER file system can be found in the design document.
* * * * *
The openSUSE developers continue to roll out new and appealing features to the Tumbleweed rolling release repository. In a blog post the team unveiled plans to include Appstream application data in their package manager. They also revealed an upgrade of the Firefox package to version 37 will be coming soon. "What is really cool about this snapshot is Appstream meta-data being published in Tumbleweed repos. On the client side, GNOME Software uses that information to display software in a more user friendly way and the availability of this meta-data is likely to influence other developments and projects. Everyone is encouraged to fix packages that provide no or incomplete Appstream meta-data since this is a major improvement." The blog post goes on to warn that a bug in Tumbleweed may cause the operating system to lock-up after a crash if openSUSE is running on the Btrfs file system.
* * * * *
Philip Müller, a member of the Manjaro development team reported last week that the project's security certificate expired before the team was able to get a replacement. This resulted in web browsers showing security warnings when visiting the Manjaro website and support forums. The developers originally suggested some workarounds and later posted an update letting everyone know the issue was resolved. "We will soon replace our current broken web server, holding our forums, wiki, mailing list and merge to a new one. We plan to provide a packaging service for packages and ISO images soon. Regarding the expired SSL certificate: Roland got a reminder on Mon, 23 Mar 2015 18:14:37 +0900 (JST) from GlobalSign. He also replied in time for extension. Sadly we got no response from GlobalSign back then. Luckily today, I got mail with a new certificate code from GlobalSign. They will sponsor us a Wildcard SSL from now on. Also, we want to thank all our community members who donated so far. These donations will finance us for another half year." It is nice to see the situation handled transparently and hopefully the Manjaro project will continue to receive funds from happy users so they can keep their infrastructure running.
* * * * *
The Linux kernel has reached a new milestone. On April 12th, Linus Torvalds updated the kernel's version number to 4.0. Despite the increase of the kernel's major version number, the new release of the kernel appears to carry relatively few changes. In a mailing list post Torvalds wrote, "Linux 4.0 was a pretty small release both in linux-next and in final size, although obviously 'small' is all relative. It's still over 10k non-merge commits. But we've definitely had bigger releases (and judging by linux-next v4.1 is going to be one of the bigger ones). Which is all good. It definitely matches the 'v4.0 is supposed to be a stable release', and very much not about new experimental features etc. I'm personally so much happier with time-based releases than the bad old days when we had feature-based releases."
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Google Code closing and social media
Not being a developer, I was still very interested to read about Google Code's closure and the success of GitHub. Can you explain what GitHub is and how it serves developers in a way non-developers can understand? What Google Code didn't offer, and why it's closing down?
Why don't we start with what GitHub and Google Code are. According to GitHub, the website provides a place for "powerful collaboration, code review, and code management." Perhaps the easiest way to think about services like GitHub is to regard them as a place where developers can store and share code. I like to think of GitHub as a big pot where developers can ladle out portions of code and contribute back their own personal modifications.
A more simplified way of looking at Google Code and GitHub is to think of them as places where developers can post code for people to copy. Sometimes other developers offer their own pieces of code back in the hope of fixing bugs or adding features. GitHub is a sort of software bazaar.
As to why Google Code is closing down, according to Google, other code hosting services were better: "We've seen a wide variety of better project hosting services such as GitHub and Bitbucket bloom. Many projects moved away from Google Code to those other systems. To meet developers where they are, we ourselves migrated nearly a thousand of our own open source projects from Google Code to GitHub."
Personally, I have never used Google Code so I cannot comment on what they did or did not have as far as features go. I can say that GitHub is fairly flexible, has a good deal of documentation that is pretty easy to follow and they have a number of free and commercial solutions to match what developers need. Perhaps just as importantly, GitHub seems to have gained a good deal of mind share. GitHub, for many people, has become the default place to work. I sometimes hear from developers asking why a project is hosted with Company A, rather than GitHub, or if a project will consider moving to GitHub to follow the crowd of developers already working there. I suppose you could say GitHub has become to open source development what Google Search has become to finding things on the Web.
* * * * *
Some people have asked if DistroWatch has any presence on social media and the answer is a bit mixed. As you can see, we do not clutter up DistroWatch with social media buttons. We don't think they look good and we know some people are concerned about their web browsing habits being tracked by "share" buttons. With this in mind, we try to keep the DistroWatch website a social media free zone. For that matter, we do not have the time to interact with people on social media. People are welcome to contact us through e-mail or discuss topics in our comments section, but we don't hang out on social networks.
However, we do acknowledge there are people who like to follow (and share) news through social media. To that end we (along with others) have set up news streams that allow people to find, share and discuss material published on DistroWatch. People who are on Facebook can get the latest news and distribution release announcements from facebook.com/distrowatchnews. People with Google+ accounts can keep up with DistroWatch announcements at the +DistroWatch page and readers can get DistroWatch announcements from Twitter by following @DistroWatch.
We do not maintain these pages, post personally or check their mailboxes. The accounts are all automated or maintained by people not working directly on DistroWatch. Still, if you want to have announcements of new releases and articles come to you via social media, the above pages will act as social media news feeds.
|Ask A Leader
Vince Pooley from the Chapeau project
Chapeau is a remix of the GNU/Linux distribution Fedora Workstation with the GNOME desktop environment and this article gives an insight into the motivation and work behind Chapeau. The following column was written by Vince Pooley, the man who created (and maintains) the Chapeau distribution.
I am the creator and maintainer of Chapeau, I live in the South of England and I've tinkered with and played video games on personal computers & consoles since I was a little lad with a VIC20. I've worked in IT professionally for almost two decades, GNU/Linux has been my primary platform of choice for the past eleven years and I've been a system analyst and system administrator of enterprise Unix & Linux based systems for about nine years. Fedora was my preferred desktop/laptop distro since about 2005 until Chapeau was a thing, but I still use various distributions, for example Ubuntu LTS runs my media centre & NAS, Raspbian on my Raspberry Pis and I currently admin HP-UX, RHEL & OEL servers at my day job, now Chapeau powers my desktops & laptops used for work and play.
What lead to the creation of Chapeau?
To summarize the motivations that led to the creation of Chapeau: I often carry around with me a pendrive with a live bootable GNU/Linux installation which comes in handy fairly often, it's a habit I've had for years. This can be used to boot up Linux on most PCs and use it how I want without affecting the installed OS.
Also, as any IT professional can tell you, family and friends will often think you can help them out when they have computer issues, even if you have nothing to do with PC maintenance in your work life. For those you don't mind helping it is handy having a bootable toolkit OS that you can use to fix file systems, scan viruses, take backups etc. These two requirements are often mutually exclusive when you're using live bootable Linux distributions. You can't boot up an Ubuntu or Fedora live session and change an NT user account password on a Windows installation, scan for offline viruses or recover a missing partition, nor can you boot up GParted Live, System Rescue CD or other toolkit distros and use them like a normal desktop OS to watch BBC iPlayer, edit photos, listen to music etc.
Chapeau covers those use cases and is installable as a complete daily-driver operating system that newbies could use, something that just works without extra faff.
Chapeau is simply what I wanted from a GNU/Linux distribution but could not find, it runs on my laptops & desktops and it's on that USB stick I carry around. It's designed so I'm never without the best that open-source currently has to offer. Because it's based on Fedora, the software is as up to date as you could possibly want without being unstable and it is running the toolset of the sysadmin's favourite Linux platform, Red Hat.
Chapeau has been and continues to be a personal technical exercise, something to tinker with, creating and learning along the way using skills that add to my professional portfolio. I saw what Ian Firns & Chris Smart are doing with Korora and liked their take on Fedora although it didn't tick all my boxes as described above, I thought "Can it be that hard to do my own?"
I began not knowing where to start and overcame each hurdle as they arose. There is no rebranding guide for Fedora & there's next to no themeing documentation for Plymouth, for example, so starting something like this is not all just reading the appropriate manuals.
I'm not a software developer so packaging, releasing and version control were also new to me and the project turned out to be more involved than I thought it could be. Chapeau is a motivator for me to keep learning new things. It's not just putting an ISO image together, that's the easiest bit. It's everything involved in making it a solid, releasable thing for others to use and putting together the infrastructure to distribute and maintain it, that's where it gets interesting. From using livecd-creator & creating RPM packages to managing YUM repos, learning Git and thinking about how to create a community (which is yet to happen) many of these things I have learned from scratch for this project.
It's another hobby when I'm away from work and when off my bikes and whilst it hasn't built a huge following of its own, if it does it may have an influence on what I choose to do next in my career and what my opportunities might be. In the meantime I'm enjoying it and giving something back to others in a way I know how which is all good for the karma bank.
How is Chapeau built?
The Chapeau live image is built using the livecd-creator tool available from Fedora's repositories which reads in kickstart files, builds a chrooted live system and writes it to a bootable ISO image. I don't just run livecd-creator directly as I have a script that automates this and other related tasks that the build process depends on. This script is one of a collection of scripts and files that make up Chapeau's 'build-kit' which is available on GitHub
To prepare for each major Chapeau release I'll start by reviewing a new set of kickstarts and I'll create a dedicated build and testing environment in a KVM virtual machine running Fedora (the same release as the Chapeau release being built), all the VMs running on my fairly well-specced workstation are currently running Chapeau 21. The project data is on my file server & the hypervisor's storage pools are all local storage either on SSD or spinning disk depending on the VM. This system builds a bootable image in about 25 minutes or so which is fast, my previous Core 2 based system I used during the Chapeau 20 release cycle would take over 2 hours to build an image.
Whilst the workstation hosts the virtual machines the hypervisor can be accessed over the network so l don't actually have to be at my desk to work on Chapeau but it's nicer to do so.
These build environment virtual machines are quickly setup with various dependencies for the job using a setup script (also in the build-kit) and these VMs are used to build and test Chapeau's packages, generate the package repos and build the ISO images. The ISOs are tested for functionality in fresh VMs to make sure they boot & install as expected, customizations & package defaults have applied and, of course, to see how it runs. If all's good then it'll be installed on bare-metal systems for further testing.
Onto the bare-metal testing, after the installation to a secondary or removable disk the rest is usually done simply by using it on a day to day basis and see how it performs or if it breaks when installing drivers, installing/updating/removing software, gaming, usual stuff. Chapeau includes Valve's Steam client for Linux, the hardware detection/driver installation tool Pharlap created by Ian Firns & Chris Smart for Korora and PlayOnLinux for running Windows software, these at least warrant some additional bare-metal testing of driver installation and the performance of native Linux games & Windows games with WINE.
Chapeau is Fedora and so there is already a solid base of structured testing already carried out before I can complete a Chapeau build so once I'm happy that I haven't introduced any problems with my changes then it usually good to go.
Being the only maintainer there is a limit to the amount of systems I can test this on before release and I welcome any feedback or problem reports from users. Thankfully Chapeau 21 has been as stable as a Fedora install which is pretty stable nowadays.
The hardware that I regularly run & test Chapeau on are:
||Acer V7 Ultrabook
||Lenovo Thinkpad T440
||Intel Core i5 4690K 4.5GHz
||Intel Core 2 Duo 3GHz
||Intel Core i7 3.1GHz
||Intel Core 2 Duo 2.1GHz
||Intel Core i5 2.6GHz
||Nvidia GTX 970 4GB
||Nvidia GTS 450 1GB
||Intel HD 4000 + Nvidia GTX 720M
||Intel 965 GM
||Intel HD 4600
||16GB 2500MHz DDR3
||8GB 800MHz DDR3
||12GB 1600MHz DDR3
||8GB 1600MHz DDR3
||Samsung EVO 840 SSD + WD Black HDDs
||Kingston SSD + Seagate HDD
||1600 x 900 Touchscreen
These are an adequate representation of 64-bit systems out there and Chapeau flies along on all of them. I don't have any systems with AMD GPUs so I'm not experienced with using their drivers, they haven't had a good history on Linux which is why I haven't bought any system with ATI/AMD graphics for over a decade but I hear their open source driver is getting better. I'll get a cheap AMD GPU to test eventually, funds permitting. After November a Steam Machine PC would be a good addition to these, again, funds permitting.
Chapeau follows Fedora's major release schedule and I aim to have the Chapeau remix of the latest Fedora ready within a month of Fedora's release date. The third party software repositories are a dependency of getting out a new major release so, for example, I couldn't release Chapeau 22 Alpha right now as the RPMFusion & VirtualBox repos are not available for Fedora 22 yet.
Because Fedora's packages can be so close to the upstream projects', such a fast moving set of packages means lots of updates. Fedora is renowned for pulling in a huge amount of package updates immediately after install and during the support cycle, it's just a symptom of being cutting-edge. This is lessened when installing Chapeau as I push out interim releases in between the major release cycles that include updates so the latest live image also moves along during the support cycle.
What's next for Chapeau?
I have a growing list of to-do items for Chapeau. I'm just about to release the next and final point release of Chapeau 21 then there's the next major release, based on Fedora 22, which is well on schedule to have a timely release very soon after the Fedora 22's release. After that there are these things to work on...
I feel a unique identity for Chapeau's desktop environment is the next bit to tackle on the technical side. I think GNOME is the best DE there is and I'm looking at including some more desktop customization on Chapeau 22 without ruining GNOME's core work flow and I'm interested in continuing this progression to Chapeau 23 & GNOME 3.18. Right now I'm intending on changing the default icons to the Moka icon set which is a start, unique GNOME-shell & GTK themes would be the next step after that.
These are needed so I can rehost my web server if I had to do so as currently the repo is on the same server as the web site.
I've only recently pushed the project out beyond the website and onto social media so there's plenty of improvement needed on that side to build a community around Chapeau.
One thing I had been putting off for too long is proper version control and recently got to grips with Git and pushed all the historic versions of Chapeau's scripts and sources to GitHub. The reason I did this was to promote collaboration as GitHub makes it so easy. So if anyone reading has ideas, or has a skill they can offer they are welcome to get in touch.
Thanks to Jesse Smith at DistroWatch for inviting me to tell you about myself and Chapeau. Grab yourself a copy over at the Chapeau website.
- Vince Pooley
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, make sure to include a link to the ISO file you want us to seed 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.
Archives of our previously seeded torrents may be found here. All torrents we make available here are also 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: 47
- Total downloads completed: 23,692
- Total data uploaded: 4.7TB
|Released Last Week
Kwort Linux 4.2
David Cortarello has announced the release of Kwort Linux 4.2, a new version of the project's lightweight distribution with Openbox, no systemd, and a custom package manager called kpkg - all based on CRUX: "As the title says, Kwort Linux 4.2 is out there in the wild. This new version is fast, stable and simple as always and a little bit smaller. Everything has been built from scratch in a clean way from a new toolchain to every X.Org package. Most significant technical aspects are: Linux kernel 3.19.2; Chromium 41.0.2272.76; as usual our system remains light and clean as Kwort users like it; new and improved GUI aspect. As usual, a big thanks to the CRUX people for developing it, as it is the system Kwort is based on; even though Kwort 4.2 isn't based on a CRUX release, their ports system was a key component to build this release. The eudev folks for supporting and approving our patch to make /run to be configurable (Kwort uses /var/run). And of course, the people who develop every project Kwort makes use of." Visit the distribution's home page to read the full release announcement.
Gabriele Martina has announced the release of SalentOS 14.04.2. Along with an updated set of core packages, the latest version of SalentOS features a number of visible changes. These changes include a new Control Center, a new Update Center for handling package upgrades, a new software repository and Firefox is now the default web browser. "The Full version is complete with all the software available so can be used right now to surf the web, enjoy multimedia content and work. The live ISO weighs around 850MB, it is installable and can be burned to DVD or used to create a bootable USB device. The Light version is planned to use alternative software and programs according to the tastes and preferences of each user. It contains the base system and has only web browser and text editor installed. The live ISO image weighs around 550MB and can be burned to a CD or used to create a bootable USB device." A full list of changes in the new version can be found in the project's release announcement.
SalentOS 14.04.2 -- Default desktop and application menu
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Semplice Linux 7
Eugenio Paolantonio has announced the release of Semplice Linux 7, a lightweight, Debian-based distribution that comes with a custom GTK+ 3-based desktop environment called "vera": "It's my pleasure to announce the release of Semplice 7, code-named 'Comfortably Numb'. Functionally and aesthetically-wise, you won't find that many differences from Semplice 6. But under the hood there are plenty. Openbox became a component of the desktop environment and not the desktop environment itself. This distinction will help me introduce vera, a plugin-based GTK+ 3 desktop environment, made from scratch by us. Currently Openbox and tint2 run as plugins, but they will eventually get replaced by our own ones. We are not fans of the NIH thing, but personally I feel that this is the right step to make in order to get things up and running on Wayland. Wayland is the future and it's actually already production-ready (I, for example, already run it in my phone, and it's pretty damn exciting)." Continue to the release announcement for more information, with additional details provided in the release notes.
Bella OS 2.2
Bella OS is a user-friendly Linux distribution based on the latest Xubuntu LTS release with a highly customised Xfce desktop that combines the best features of several popular operating systems. Bella OS 2.2, released yesterday, is the project's current stable release: "Launch release version 2.2 is now live! Fully functional live CD, or install to hard drive or virtual machine; comes complete with a curated suite of high-quality web, office and entertainment applications; takes design queues from several modern operating systems; declutters and beautifies the desktop; built from Xubuntu LTS and Debian GNU/Linux; large community support and software compatibility. The top Linux applications for work and play are already installed and configured with the most popular options: Firefox web browser, Shotwell photo album, Banshee music player, VLC media player, GIMP image editor, LibreOffice office suite, Brasero CD burner, KeePassX password manager, Ubuntu Software Center..." The brief release announcement is provided on the project's SourceForge page, but visit also the distribution's website at BellaOS.org for more information.
Linux Mint 2 "LMDE"
Clement Lefebvre has announced the launch of Linux Mint "Debian Edition", version 2. The new release, code named "Betsy", is available in two variants (Cinnamon and MATE) and is based on packages provided by Debian "Jessie". There are separate release announcements for Linux Mint Debian Edition 2 Cinnamon edition and for the MATE edition. Both announcements discuss the features of the new release and how it differs from Linux Mint's other products: "LMDE (Linux Mint Debian Edition) is a very exciting distribution, targeted at experienced users, which provides the same environment as Linux Mint but uses Debian as its package base, instead of Ubuntu. LMDE is less mainstream than Linux Mint, it has a much smaller user base, it is not compatible with PPAs, and it lacks a few features. That makes it a bit harder to use and harder to find help for, so it is not recommended for novice users. LMDE is however slightly faster than Linux Mint and it runs newer packages. Life on the LMDE side can be exciting. There are no point releases in LMDE 2, except for bug fixes and security fixes base packages stay the same, but Mint and desktop components are updated continuously." More information and workarounds for known problems can be found in the release notes.
Linux Mint Debian Edition 2 -- Cinnamon desktop
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Slackel 6.0.3 "Openbox"
Slackel, a distribution based on Slackware and Salix, has launched a new release, version 6.0.3 "Live Openbox". The new release provides a lightweight desktop environment with useful, yet efficient, desktop applications. The new Slackel supports UEFI and ships with Midori as the default web browser and AbiWord for word processing. "This release is available in both 32-bit and 64-bit architectures with both fitting comfortably within the size of a single CD. ISO images are isohybrid. The 64-bit ISO supports booting on UEFI systems. Secure Boot is however not supported. The 32-bit flavor is also the first live release that supports both i686 PAE SMP and i486, non-PAE capable systems. The focus of this release has been to provide a lightweight and fast system and also to be easy for all users. The default web browser included in this release is Midori, while the default e-mail client is Claws-mail. The Internet/network applications also include the Pidgin instant messaging application, the Transmission torrent client, the gFTP for connecting to (S)FTP servers, the Wicd Network Manager for connecting to wireless and wired networks and Sakis3g for connecting to 3G mobile networks." More information can be found in the project's release announcement.
The developers behind HandyLinux, a beginner friendly distribution, have announced the availability of HandyLinux 1.9. The new release is based on Debian Wheezy and mostly focuses on minor improvements and bug fixes over the 1.8 release. The 486 and 686 builds have been merged, removing the necessity of selecting the correct ISO image for one's 32-bit architecture. Installing the Skype VoIP client should now be easier. Plus an upgrade path from HandyLinux 1.8 to 1.9 has been introduced and most users should be able to upgrade using a simple graphical utility. The new release also features a new tool for changing the desktop interface. Further information on the new version of Handy Linux, along with screen shots, can be found in the release announcement (the release announcement is in French).
elementary OS 0.3
The developers of elementary OS have announced the launch of a new stable release, code name "Freya". The new release features UEFI support, improved interactive notifications, a new firewall utility, designed administrative utilities and a unified login/lock screen. "elementary is proud to announce the stable release of elementary OS Freya. After a year and a half of development, over a thousand bug fixes, and countless lines of code, we can finally say it's here. Freya is the latest version of elementary OS, a design-oriented and open source Linux-based operating system for desktops and laptops. It succeeds Luna which was released in August of 2013." The new release offers Google Calendar support, improved network share support through Samba and more flexible search tools. More information on the new release can be found in the distribution's release announcement.
elementary OS 0.3 (Freya) -- Desktop and application menu
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Dustin Falgout has announced the release of a new version of the Antergos distribution. The new release, version 2015.04.12, offers an updated system installer and the GNOME 3.16 desktop environment. The distribution can be downloaded as one of two images, a Full edition and a Minimal edition. The Minimal ISO has been reduced in size and is now just 437MB. "We've updated our installation media to include all of the latest packages available in the Arch Repos. The most notable updates are our installer, Cnchi v.0.8.0 (released earlier today) and GNOME 3.16. Our Live Install Image includes a fully working GNOME 3.16 environment that you can use before making any changes to your system. Our Minimal Install Image includes only what is required to run our installer and thus offers a much smaller initial download." Further information on the new build of Antergos can be found in the project's release announcement.
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Distributions added to the database|
Bella OS is a beginner-friendly Linux distribution based on Xubuntu's latest LTS (long-term support) release and featuring a customised Xfce desktop. The project's primary goal is to provide a curated suite of high-quality web, office and entertainment applications on top of a desktop that combines some of the best features from several popular operating systems.
Bella OS 2.2 -- Default desktop interface
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* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 20 April 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
|• 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, the 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 the 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|
|• Issue 793 (2018-12-10): openSUSE Tumbleweed, finding non-free packages, Debian migrates to usrmerge, Hyperbola gets FSF approval|
|• Issue 792 (2018-1203): GhostBSD 18.10, when to use swap space, DragonFly BSD's wireless support, Fedora planning to pause development schedule|
|• Issue 791 (2018-11-26): Haiku R1 Beta1, default passwords on live media, Slax and Kodachi update their media, dual booting DragonFly BSD on EFI|
|• Issue 790 (2018-11-19): NetBSD 8.0, Bash tips and short-cuts, Fedora's networking benchmarked with FreeBSD, Ubuntu 18.04 to get ten years of support|
|• Issue 789 (2018-11-12): Fedora 29 Workstation and Silverblue, Haiku recovering from server outage, Fedora turns 15, Debian publishes updated media|
|• Issue 788 (2018-11-05): Clu Linux Live 6.0, examining RAM consumpion, finding support for older CPUs, more Steam support for running Windows games on Linux, update from Solus team|
|• Issue 787 (2018-10-29): Lubuntu 18.10, limiting application access to specific users, Haiku hardware compatibility list, IBM purchasing Red Hat|
|• Issue 786 (2018-10-22): elementary OS 5.0, why init keeps running, DragonFly BSD enables virtual machine memory resizing, KDE neon plans to drop older base|
|• Issue 785 (2018-10-15): Reborn OS 2018.09, Nitrux 1.0.15, swapping hard drives between computers, feren OS tries KDE spin, power savings coming to Linux|
|• Issue 784 (2018-10-08): Hamara 2.1, improving manual pages, UBports gets VoIP app, Fedora testing power saving feature|
|• Issue 783 (2018-10-01): Quirky 8.6, setting up dual booting with Ubuntu and FreeBSD, Lubuntu switching to LXQt, Mint works on performance improvements|
|• Issue 782 (2018-09-24): Bodhi Linux 5.0.0, Elive 3.0.0, Solus publishes ISO refresh, UBports invites feedback, Linux Torvalds plans temporary vacation|
|• Issue 781 (2018-09-17): Linux Mint 3 "Debian Edition", file systems for SSDs, MX makes installing Flatpaks easier, Arch team answers questions, Mageia reaches EOL|
|• Issue 780 (2018-09-10): Netrunner 2018.08 Rolling, Fedora improves language support, how to customize Kali Linux, finding the right video drivers|
|• Issue 779 (2018-09-03): Redcore 1806, keeping ISO downloads safe from tampering, Lubuntu makes Calamares more flexible, Ubuntu improves GNOME performance|
|• Issue 778 (2018-08-27): GuixSD 0.15.0, ReactOS 0.4.9, Steam supports Windows games on Linux, Haiku plans for beta, merging disk partitions|
|• Issue 777 (2018-08-20): YunoHost 18.104.22.168, limiting process resource usage, converting file systems on Fedora, Debian turns 25, Lubuntu migrating to Wayland|
|• Issue 776 (2018-08-13): NomadBSD 1.1, Maximum storage limits on Linux, openSUSE extends life for 42.3, updates to the Librem 5 phone interface|
|• Issue 775 (2018-08-06): Secure-K OS 18.5, Linux is about choice, Korora tests community spin, elementary OS hires developer, ReactOS boots on Btrfs|
|• Issue 774 (2018-07-30): Ubuntu MATE & Ubuntu Budgie 18.04, upgrading software from source, Lubuntu shifts focus, NetBSD changes support policy|
|• Issue 773 (2018-07-23): Peppermint OS 9, types of security used by different projects, Mint reacts to bugs in core packages, Slackware turns 25|
|• Issue 772 (2018-07-16): Hyperbola GNU/Linux-libre 0.2.4, UBports running desktop applications, OpenBSD auto-joins wi-fi networks, boot environments and zedenv|
|• Issue 771 (2018-07-09): Linux Lite 4.0, checking CPUs for bugs, configuring GRUB, Mint upgrade instructions, SUSE acquired by EQT|
|• Issue 770 (2018-07-02): Linux Mint 19, Solus polishes desktop experience, MintBox Mini 2, changes to Fedora's installer|
|• Issue 769 (2018-06-25): BunsenLabs Helium, counting Ubuntu users, UBports upgrading to 16.04, Fedora CoreOS, FreeBSD turns 25|
|• Issue 768 (2018-06-18): Devuan 2.0.0, using pkgsrc to manage software, the NOVA filesystem, OpenBSD handles successful cron output|
|• Issue 767 (2018-06-11): Android-x86 7.1-r1, transferring files over OpenSSH with pipes, LFS with Debian package management, Haiku ports LibreOffice|
|• Issue 766 (2018-06-04): openSUSE 15, overview of file system links, Manjaro updates Pamac, ReactOS builds itself, Bodhi closes forums|
|• Issue 765 (2018-05-28): Pop!_OS 18.04, gathering system information, Haiku unifying ARM builds, Solus resumes control of Budgie|
|• Issue 764 (2018-05-21): DragonFly BSD 5.2.0, Tails works on persistent packages, Ubuntu plans new features, finding services affected by an update|
|• Full list of all issues|
Star Labs - Laptops built for Linux.
View our range including the Star Lite, Star LabTop and more. Available with a choice of Ubuntu or Linux Mint pre-installed with many more distributions supported. Visit Star Labs for information, to buy and get support.
|Random Distribution |
Porteus Kiosk is a lightweight Gentoo-based Linux operating system which has been downscaled and confined to allow the use of one application only - the Firefox web browser. The browser has been locked down to prevent users from tampering with settings or downloading and installing software. When the kiosk boots, it automatically opens Firefox to the user's preferred home page. The browsing history is not kept, no passwords are saved, and many menu items have been disabled for increased security. When Firefox is restarted all caches are cleared and the browser reopens with a clean session.