| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 622, 10 August 2015
Welcome to this year's 32nd issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
Modern operating systems are full of features and options and sometimes current GNU/Linux distributions feel heavy and cluttered. This week we turn our attention toward projects which are trimming down, offering lightweight solutions or otherwise trying to improve performance. We begin with a look at antiX, a Debian based distribution which requires minimal resources while offering many features. In our Questions and Answers column we explore the subject of word processors for the command line. In the News last week the Fedora team called on testers to try the new, high speed kdbus messaging software. Meanwhile Debian developers unveiled a project to track and work around buggy UEFI implementations, The Document Foundation launched LibreOffice 5 and the PC-BSD project made Lumina desktop packages available for multiple Linux and BSD platforms. In our Torrent Corner we share the distributions we are seeding this week and then we provide a list of the projects released last week. In our Opinion Poll we discuss Adobe Flash and how some distributions are no longer shipping the plugin by default. We wish you all a wonderful week and happy reading!
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Playing with antiX 15
The antiX distribution is a lightweight operating system based on Debian. The latest release was put together using packages from Debian 8 "Jessie" and ships with SysV init software instead of systemd. The latest release, antiX 15, is available in three editions: Core-libre (233MB), Base (582MB) and Full (686MB). There are 32-bit and 64-bit x86 builds of each edition. The antiX wiki tells us that the Core edition ships with virtually no software pre-selected for us, allowing us to customize the operating system to our needs. The Base edition is for older computers, like Pentium II and Pentium III machines, while the Full edition is for more modern computers and people who want a complete desktop experience. I opted to download antiX's Full edition.
Booting from the antiX media brings up a graphical user interface, powered by IceWM. The wallpaper is bright and decorates our desktop with images of painted flowers. There are icons on our desktop for opening the file manager, launching the project's system installer and accessing documentation. The documentation covers such information as how to use the desktop, installing the distribution, acquiring additional software and customizing the operating system. At the bottom of the screen we find an application menu, task switcher panel and a system tray. We can right-click on any empty portion of the desktop to access the application menu.
The distribution's installer is a graphical application. The installer's window is divided into two panes. On the left side we are shown documentation explaining how to make use of the settings on the current page. On the right side are prompts and controls for configuring the distribution. The installer begins by asking us which branch of Debian (Jessie, Testing or Sid) we would like to use as the foundation of our copy of antiX. The default is to use Debian's Stable branch (Jessie) and I decided to stick with this option. We are then asked which hard disk should be used to house our new copy of antiX. Once we have selected a disk we can click a button to launch the GParted partition manager. GParted makes it easy for us to create and alter our disk's partitions. Using GParted we can set up ext2/3/4, JFS, XFS and Reiserfs disk partitions. Once we close GParted the installer gives us the chance to assign our partitions to the swap, root and /home mount points. One thing I appreciate about the installer is it asks for confirmation before it formats each of our partitions and attaches it to a mount point. I get nervous when an installer eagerly overwrites data and I like that antiX is cautious and makes very certain we want to proceed before it erases anything on our disk. The system installer next copies its files to our hard drive and walks us through some configuration screens. We are asked if we would like to install the GRUB boot loader and, if so, where GRUB should be placed. The installer once again pauses to confirm our choice before it installs GRUB on our hard drive. We can then select a name for our computer, set our keyboard's layout, confirm our locale and select our time zone from a list. The installer then gives us the chance to enable/disable background services like Bluetooth, OpenSSH, CUPS and the Wicd network manager. The last screen of the installer asks us to create a user account for ourselves and protect the root account with a password. With these steps completed we are prompted to reboot the computer.
I like the antiX installer. It is fairly easy to navigate, comes with built-in documentation and is careful not to over-write any data without our explicit permission. Plus, the installer works quickly and is fairly easy to navigate.
antiX 15 -- Browsing the project's documentation
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Our new copy of antiX boots to a dark login screen with stars and an image of the Earth in the background. We can press the F1 key to cycle through a list of available sessions. Our desktop session options include Fluxbox, JWM and IceWM. I typically stuck with using IceWM during my trial. Usually, distributions provide a way to shut down or reboot the computer from the login screen, however I did not see any obvious way to perform these actions. It appears as though we need to login in order to power off the computer.
I experimented with antiX in two test environments. When running on a physical desktop computer, antiX performed very well. The distribution booted quickly, set my screen to its maximum resolution and was highly responsive. I found networking and sound worked out of the box. When running inside VirtualBox, antiX again performed very well. The distribution worked quickly in the virtual environment and integrated seamlessly into VirtualBox, allowing me to run the virtual machine with my screen's full resolution. The distribution is quite light on memory and used about 140MB of RAM when logged into IceWM. The distribution does not require a lot of storage space either; the Full edition of antiX used 2.4GB of my hard drive space.
antiX 15 -- Exploring multimedia options
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The antiX distribution ships with a surprisingly large number of applications considering the operating system's small footprint. Looking through the application menu I found the Iceweasel web browser with Flash enabled. I also found the very lightweight Dillo web browser, the Claws Mail e-mail software, gFTP and the HexChat IRC client. The Droopy service is available to assist people in sending or receiving files. The Transmission bittorrent software is included, along with LibreOffice and the Ted text processor. To help us get on-line, the Wicd software is included. The antiX distribution features the Gtkam digital camera manager, the Mirage image viewer, the mtPaint simple drawing program, a simple scanner utility and the Xpdf document viewer. I found DOSBox and a few games were installed along with the Geany IDE. Digging further we find the Asunder audio CD ripper, the GNOME MPlayer application, the WinFF file format converter, the XMMS audio player and the "YouTube Browser for SMPlayer" application. The distribution ships with multimedia codecs, allowing us to play most media files. The operating system features a number of administration tools, including BleachBit, the GParted partition manager, ISO-snapshot, the Midnight Commander console file manager and the ROXFiler file manager. Grsync is available to help us synchronize files between directories and the luckyBackup program makes archiving our files quite straight forward. In the background we find the GNU Compiler Collection and antiX runs the secure shell network service. I found antiX uses SysV init software and runs version 4.0.5 of the Linux kernel.
antiX 15 -- IceWM and the application menu
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I found the software which ships with antiX worked well for me. I like that there is some variety. I especially like that there is a mixture of large, full featured applications (such as Iceweasel) and there are lighter applications for low-end machines (like Dillo). Usually distributions focus on either high-end or low-end applications and I like that antiX gives us options at both ends of the scale. I also like that antiX solves the common problem of "How do I receive a large file from someone?" The Droopy program makes it very easy to receive large files over the Internet and all the other person needs to send us a file is a web browser.
The antiX operating system ships with the Synaptic package manager to help us locate, install and upgrade software. Synaptic presents the software available to us in an alphabetically sorted list and we can click a box next to each entry to indicate the packages we wish to install, remove or upgrade. We can also search for packages by their name and enable or disable repositories. By default, antiX pulls software from a mixture of Debian's servers and its own repositories. Though not enabled by default, antiX provides a list of additional software repositories we might find useful and these can be enabled from within Synaptic with a mouse click. I found Synaptic worked well and performed its actions quickly. Shortly after installing antiX I checked for software updates and found 12 new packages were available in the project's repositories. These 12 upgrades totalled 34MB in size and installed without any problems.
antiX 15 -- Managing software packages and repositories
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One of the more interesting components of antiX is the operating system's Control Centre. The Control Centre is a simple panel we can use to launch configuration modules. The panel is broken into a number of different tabs, which nicely organize the various functions available to us. Through the Control Centre we can access configuration modules that will change our interface's background, configure window manager settings, browse system information, create new user accounts, configure the firewall and set the date & time. There are also modules for configuring dial-up networking, launching the package manager, changing our display's resolution, imaging a partition, backing up files, configuring the sound system and setting up printers. There are a few additional modules for synchronizing files between locations and configuring the mouse pointer. There are a few things I found interesting and maybe a touch unusual about antiX's Control Centre. One is that the modules mostly just launch programs we can access through the application menu, though sometimes with specific parameters. For example, some of the session and window manager configuration buttons simply open a text editor with the appropriate configuration files loaded. The system services manager button launches a text console program that displays a matrix of available services and run levels. While this technically may work, it's not the friendly point-n-click interface one usually expects from a modern control panel. Other Control Centre buttons will launch graphical programs to help us configure the system. For instance, the Firewall button launches the simple gufw graphical front-end to working with firewalls. The Control Centre works, and some of the programs it launches are friendly, but others will take us down the text file configuration rabbit hole.
antiX 15 -- Exploring system settings and hardware information
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During my time with antiX I only ran into one issue and I'm not sure if it was a bug or something I caused. Once, during a package upgrade, the screen went blank and turned blue. My windows and mouse pointer disappeared and most keyboard input was ignored. The only way I could find to rescue the system was to use the CTRL+ALT+Backspace key combination to shut down my desktop session and get back to the login screen. Having the screen go blank and turn blue only happened once during my trial, so I'm not sure if it was a side-effect of the package upgrade or a result of a key combination I may have hit while typing.
I quite enjoyed my time with antiX 15. The distribution is fairly easy to install, offers the user the choice of working with stable software repositories or rolling release/development repositories and antiX is very careful not to overwrite any data without our explicit permission. The distribution runs quickly and offers a fairly friendly interface that is also minimal in its resource usage.
I especially like that antiX ships with a wide variety of software and can complete many different tasks out of the box. Everything from productivity software to web browsing to transferring files to enjoying multimedia is available. If we need more software, we can access Debian's massive software repositories where there are over 40,000 packages.
The antiX distribution worked quickly, properly detected all of my hardware and offered a nearly trouble-free experience. The one item on my wish-list is I would like to see some of the Control Centre modules launch nice graphical configuration tools rather than text editors, thereby lowering the bar to customizing the distribution's interface. Those rare descents into configuration files aside, antiX was pretty beginner friendly. I think it is an excellent distribution for reviving old hardware or for giving a little additional pep to a computer that could do with a lighter user interface.
* * * * *
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)
Fedora experiments with kdbus, Debian tracks UEFI problems, LibreOffice 5 launches and PC-BSD expands Lumina support
The D-Bus software is a system by which programs running on Linux can pass messages to each other. When new hardware gets plugged into the computer or a task completes, often times programs need a way of communicating that information. Generally, D-Bus runs quietly in the background and we do not even notice it is there. The current implementation of D-Bus runs as a userspace program which means it does not have any special privileges, it behaves like any other application we run. Recently some developers have been pushing the idea of implementing D-Bus inside the Linux kernel. Ideally, this would make message passing faster and possibly more secure. The new implementation, called kdbus, is still a young technology and has not been adopted by most distributions.
The Fedora developers are offering users a chance to test kdbus to see how well it works in real life scenarios. An article in Fedora Magazine talks about kdbus becoming available to people running Fedora's Rawhide branch: "For the past decade, [D-Bus] has run as a user-space daemon - a system service that runs in the background, but outside of the Linux kernel. Fedora is experimenting with a new implementation, called kdbus, which - as the "K" might imply - is actually integrated into the kernel. This will allow it to be available at early boot (before other system services are running), may also allow for better performance, and because it's connected to the kernel, better security features. Some developers have been running this themselves for a while now, and now we're asking for broader testing, at least among those of you brave enough to run our always-moving development branch, Fedora Rawhide." Further discussion of D-Bus, kdbus and how to enable the latter in Fedora can be found in the Fedora Magazine article.
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Getting Linux distributions to boot on UEFI enabled computers can be difficult. This is especially true when Secure Boot is involved and, since each manufacturer implements UEFI in a different way, navigating UEFI is often problematic. A group of Debian developers is taking initiative to maintain UEFI related packages and to track buggy UEFI implementations. "There can be issues with shipping installer images including UEFI. But they're mainly due to crappy UEFI implementations that vendors have shipped. It's fairly well-known that Apple have shipped some really shoddy firmware over the years, and to allow people to install Debian on older Apple x86 machines we've now added the workaround of a non-UEFI 32-bit installer image too. But Apple aren't the only folks shipping systems with horrendously buggy UEFI, and a lot of Linux folks have had to deal with this over the last few years. I've been talking to a number of other UEFI developers lately, and we've agreed to start a cross-distro resource to help here - a list of known-broken UEFI implementations so that we can share our experiences." The new wiki will help developers document and work around problems with UEFI so that Linux distributions will better handle booting on UEFI enabled machines.
* * * * *
Usually we focus on news relating to Linux distributions and other open source operating systems, but there were two significant software releases last week which will soon find their way into most distributions. The first was LibreOffice 5.0. The latest version of the popular, open source productivity suite features a number of key features and improvements. Specifically, LibreOffice now offers better compatibility with Microsoft Office, plus the suite runs and supports editing documents on Android and Ubuntu Touch devices. A list of the new features and fixes available in LibreOffice 5.0 can be found in the project's release notes.
Another interesting release last week came from the Lumina Desktop project. Lumina is a lightweight, cross-platform desktop environment which was originally developed for PC-BSD. However, despite being created with PC-BSD in mind, the desktop's performance, flexibility and its lack of dependencies on any one operating system or on low-level technologies (such as D-Bus, HAL and systemd) has encouraged people to package Lumina for other operating systems. In the release announcement for Lumina 0.8.6, lead developer Ken Moore mentioned that Lumina now has its own website. The new website provides documentation and installation instructions for people running Arch Linux, Debian, Fedora, FreeBSD, Manjaro, OpenBSD and PC-BSD.
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Command line word processors
Wanting-no-distractions-while-writing asks: Is there such a thing as a word processor for the command line? I want to have a program I can use anywhere with minimal resources and no desktop distractions.
DistroWatch answers: It has been a long time since I last worked with a word processor that was designed to run in a text console. I think, at the time, Word Perfect for DOS was still a popular application. What I mean is, I'm out of the loop as far as console-only word processors are concerned, but I did manage to find one. WordGrinder is, according to its website, "a word processor for processing words. It is not WYSIWYG. It is not point and click. It is not a desktop publisher. It is not a text editor. It does not do fonts and it barely does styles. What it does do is words. It's designed for writing text. It gets out of your way and lets you type. The author wrote it to have something to write novels on."
WordGrinder, I found, runs on Linux, FreeBSD and Windows. In fact, WordGrinder is available in the Debian and FreeBSD package repositories. The word processor uses ncurses to provide a minimal interface text interface and supports Unicode. It will also work with HTML, LaTeX and OpenDocument file formats, according to the project's website. That being said, I was unable to get WordGrinder to open an OpenDocument file that was created with LibreOffice, so compatibility is not guaranteed. Mostly WordGrinder just lets the user type and gets out of the way, there are very few options. However, I did find most of the word processor's features can be accessed by pressing the ESC key and navigating the small menu that appears. Text can be highlighted and changed using the CTRL+SPACE keys.
Before rushing off to install WordGrinder (or any other word processor designed for text consoles), I would like to point out there are good reasons most people do not use tools like these anymore. It is very tricky to get an idea of how a word processor document will appear when it is created in a text-only environment. Formatting options like font size, font family, text style and colour are typically lost. Quite often these tools lack spell check and the file formats often are not 100% compatible with other processors, meaning it might be hard to share documents you create with other people.
A simple text editor like nano will provide about the same functionality, work faster and offer a similar interface while providing a file format that can be opened by virtually any other text editor. For people who just want to type without distractions and produce simple pages of text, nano is probably a better option. On the other hand, people who want more features without distractions might want to run an application such as AbiWord or LibreOffice from a minimal desktop environment (LXDE, for example) and disable their network connection.
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 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. 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: 95
- Total downloads completed: 47,617
- Total data uploaded: 9.9TB
|Released Last Week
Simplicity Linux 15.7
David Purse has announced the release of Simplicity Linux 15.7. The new version of the Puppy-based distributions for desktops and netbooks was already announced last Friday, but because of a critical bug in one of the released images, a new respin was required and it was finally delivered yesterday. From the original announcement: "We are very pleased to announce Simplicity Linux 15.7. Our two main editions, Netbook and Desktop, are available for 32-bit or 64-bit processors. The 32 bit edition comes with the 4.0.4 kernel and the 64 bit version comes with the 4.0.2 kernel. The Netbook edition, our light-weight variant of Simplicity Linux comes pre-installed with Google Chrome and focuses on Cloud-based applications. The Desktop edition is for users who want a fully featured distro; it contains more local applications such as Spotify, LibreOffice and Thunderbird and it could easily become your everyday operating system. And if you are feeling adventurous you might want to give our experimental X edition, a try."
Simplicity Linux 15.7 -- Running the Xfce desktop
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Matthias Klumpp has announced the launch of Tanglu 3.0. Tanglu is a Debian-based desktop distribution which focuses on ease of use. The new release of Tanglu ships with a new graphical system installer, the Apper package manager front-end has been replaced with Muon Discover and the KDE edition of Tanglu now ships with the Plasma 5 desktop environment. "Tanglu 3 comes with fresh new packages, a Linux 4.0 kernel, systemd 224, KDE Plasma 5.3 and the latest GNOME release, GNOME 3.16. On the installer side, the previous live-installer has been replaced with Calamares, which is now available as additional option to the Debian-Installer installation method. The KDE Plasma flavor of Tanglu now comes with Plasma 5, and replaces the Apper package manager with Muon Discover, for installing new software (Apper will come back in future, when it is fully ported). A lot of the KDE packaging is now shared with Kubuntu and the KDE flavor of Debian. GNOME is available in version 3.16, although a few components are still on their previous 3.14 release." Additional information on Tanglu 3.0 can be found in the project's release announcement and detailed release notes.
Black Lab Enterprise Linux 6.6
The developers of Black Lab Linux have announced the launch of an updated image of their Enterprise Linux product line. Black Lab Linux is based on Ubuntu and the new release, Black Lab Enterprise Linux 6.6, offers updated software packages, bug fixes and support for Docker 1.7. "Today we have released Black Lab Enterprise Linux 6.6. Black Lab enterprise Linux 6.6 is a bug fix and application update for the Black Lab Enterprise Linux 6.x line. With this release we added full Docker integration and it also includes the Black Lab SDK 2.0. Black Lab Enterprise Linux 6.6 being based on LTS Technologies will continue to get security updates until 2021. All current licensees will be able to update through the updater or you can request the ISO file. With this release the following packages have been updated: Xfce 4.12, GNOME 3.10, VirtualBox 5.0, Webmin 1.760, Firefox 39, Thunderbird Groupware Suite 31.8, LibreOffice 4.4, GLOM, GCC 4.9, Kernel 3.16.0-43, kernel 4.1.4 Installable, Docker 1.7 and all security updates until August 1, 2015." Purchase details and further information on the new release of Black Lab's commercial edition can be found in the company's release announcement.
Adam Conrad has announced the release of an updated version of the Ubuntu distribution and Ubuntu's many community spins. The new download media does not represent a separate new release, rather it provides fresh installation media with up to date packages and bug fixes. Apart from Ubuntu itself, fresh installation media is also available from the Edubuntu, Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Ubuntu Studio, Ubuntu GNOME, Ubuntu Kylin, Xubuntu and Mythbuntu projects. "We have expanded our hardware enablement offering since 12.04, and with 14.04.3, this point release contains an updated kernel and X stack for new installations to support new hardware across all our supported architectures, not just x86. As usual, this point release includes many updates, and updated installation media has been provided so that fewer updates will need to be downloaded after installation. These include security updates and corrections for other high-impact bugs, with a focus on maintaining stability and compatibility with Ubuntu 14.04 LTS." Further information is available in the release announcement. Download links, upgrade information and more technical details can be found in the release notes.
Karanbir Singh has announced the availability of a new release of CentOS, a distribution made from the source code used to create Red Hat Enterprise Linux releases. "CentOS Linux 6.7 is derived from source code released by Red Hat, Inc. for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.7. All upstream variants have been placed into one combined repository to make it easier for end users. Workstation, server, and minimal installs can all be done from our combined repository. All of our testing is only done against this combined distribution. There are many fundamental changes in this release, compared with the past CentOS Linux 6 releases, and we highly recommend everyone study the upstream Release Notes as well as the upstream Technical Notes about the changes and how they might impact your installation. (See the 'Further Reading' section if the CentOS release notes). All updates since the upstream 6.7 release are also on the CentOS mirrors as zero day updates. When installing CentOS-6.7 (or any other version) from any of our media, you should always run 'yum update' after the install to apply these." More information on CentOS 6.7 is available in the project's release announcement and in the release notes.
Linux Mint 17.2 "KDE", "Xfce"
Linux Mint is a desktop oriented distribution based on Ubuntu. Clement Lefebvre has announced two new editions to the Linux Mint 17.2 family which feature the KDE and Xfce desktop environments, respectively. The new KDE and Xfce editions ship with a more flexible Software Sources manager, improved UEFI support and the ability to alias packages in the Update Manager. There are a number of other miscellaneous improvements: "The USB Image Writer and the USB Stick Formatter now recognize a wider variety of USB sticks. They also feature improvements in terms of partitions alignment, boot flags. Sticks are better described and the tools also now use less CPU than they did before. LibreOffice was upgraded to version 4.4.3. HPLIP was upgraded to version 3.15.2, for more HP printers to be recognized and supported. HAL was reintroduced to support DRM playback in Adobe Flash (note that this helps with certain video websites, but not all of them, a tutorial was written to workaround other DRM/Flash issues). In the repositories, Inkscape was upgraded to version 0.91." Further information can be found in the release announcements (KDE, Xfce) and in the release notes (KDE, Xfce).
Linux Mint 17.2 -- KDE edition
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GParted Live 0.23.0-1
The developers of GParted Live, a live CD distribution which provides tools for managing hard drive partitions, have announced the availability of GParted Live 0.23.0-1. The new release is based on Debian's Unstable branch and fixes a number of bugs, including one which would cause the interface to hang during disk operations. The new release also includes additional hardware support, thanks to version 4.1 of the Linux kernel. "The GParted team is happy to announce a new stable release of GParted Live (0.23.0-1). This release includes GParted 0.23.0 which permits naming a GPT partition on creation, displaying the serial number in device information panel, and preventing a user interface hang when resizing FAT16/32, HFS and HFS+ file systems. Items of note include: Based on the Debian Sid repository (as of 2015/Aug/06); Linux kernel updated to 4.1.3-1. This release of GParted Live has been successfully tested on VirtualBox, VMware, BIOS, UEFI, and physical computers with AMD/ATI, NVidia, and Intel graphics." More information on GParted Live and its features can be found on the project's home page.
Slackel 4.14.3 "KDE Live"
The developers of Slackel, a distribution based on Slackware and Salix, have announced the release of Slackel 4.14.3 "Live KDE". The new release ships with version 3.18.11 of the Linux kernel, offers support for 32-bit and 6-bit x86 machines and supports booting on UEFI enabled devices. "Slackel Live KDE 4.14.3 includes the latest 3.18.11 kernel and latest updates from Slackware's 'Current' tree. This release is available in both 32-bit and 64-bit architectures with both fitting comfortably within the size of a DVD. Iso images are isohybrid. The 64-bit iso supports booting on UEFI systems. Secure Boot is however not supported. The 32-bit flavor supports both i686 PAE SMP and i486, non-PAE capable systems. Slackel Live KDE 4.14.3 includes the current tree of Slackware and KDE 4.14.3 accompanied by a very rich collection of KDE centric software. Linux kernel is 3.18.11. Firefox 38.0.1esr is the web browser, KMail and KTorrent are the main networking applications included in this release, followed by Akregator, an RSS reader for KDE, Kopete, the KDE instant messenger and more. It comes also with OpenJRE-7u79, rhino, Icedtea-web, GParted. Wicd is used for setting up your wired or wireless networking connections. In the multimedia section Dragon multimedia player, Clementine 1.2.3, K3b 2.0.2 included. The Salix codecs installer application can be used, to quickly and easily install patent encumbered codecs to your system. A wide variety of office applications are included. Calligra Words, Calligra Stage, Calligra Tables are the main office applications present while there are many more like the Okular document viewer. In Slackel repositories there is the latest stable LibreOffice version 4.4.5. In the Graphics section Gwenview, KColorChooser, KSnapshot." Further information is presented in the project's release announcement.
ExTiX 15.3 "LXQt"
Arne Exton has announced the launch of a new version of ExTiX, a desktop distribution based on Ubuntu. The new release, ExTiX 15.3 LXQt, ships with the lightweight LXQt desktop environment and version 4.1 of the Linux kernel. "I have made a new version of ExTiX - `The Ultimate Linux System'. I call it ExTiX 15.3 LXQt Live DVD. (The previous version was 15.2). ExTiX 15.3 LXQt DVD 64-bit is based on Debian 8.1 Jessie/Ubuntu 15.04. The original system includes the desktop environment Unity (Ubuntu). After removing Unity I have installed LXQt 0.9.0. LXQt is the Qt port and the upcoming version of LXDE, the Lightweight Desktop Environment. It is the product of the merge between the LXDE-Qt and the Razor-qt projects: A lightweight, modular, blazing-fast and user-friendly desktop environment. The system language is English." More information on the latest version of ExTiX 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
Adobe's Flash plugin
For many years Adobe's Flash plugin was used across the web to deliver multimedia content to users. Chances were if you saw a video, an audio player or a game embedded into a website, it was powered by Flash. Because Flash was so widely used, users generally came to expect it to be available in their web browsers and many Linux distributions delivered, including Adobe Flash as part of the default installation.
In recent years Flash has slowly been falling out of favour due to its resource requirements, closed source nature and security vulnerabilities. Last month System76, a company which sells computers bundled with Ubuntu, announced they will no longer ship computers with Flash installed. Two weeks ago the Korora project launched Korora 22 without Flash included.
What do you think of this trend? Do you see Flash as a useful tool which should be included or as a dangerous security liability that should be avoided? Should Linux distributions offer the free Gnash alternative instead of Flash? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section.
You can see the results of last week's poll on contributing to open source projects here.
Adobe Flash should be
|Installed by default: ||183 (9%)|
| Available in distro repositories: ||971 (47%)|
| Not offered at all: ||427 (21%)|
| Replaced by Gnash: ||386 (19%)|
| Other: ||82 (4%)|
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 17 August 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)
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1 • antiX (by Paraquat on 2015-08-10 00:10:26 GMT from Asia) |
Thanks for reviewing antiX Jesse. As it turns out, this is now my favorite Linux distribution. Not only is it fast, stable, and boasts a very large repository (thanks to Debian), but it allows us to enjoy all the benefits of Debian WITHOUT systemd. I'm not sure how the author managed that, but I'm grateful for the fine effort.
Also, thanks for the tip about Droopy. I hadn't heard of that app, but I can see why it would be useful.
2 • antiX, (by dolphin_oracle on 2015-08-10 00:52:56 GMT from North America)
nice review. there is also a slew of liveUSB persistence features for those that like running off usb sticks.
FYI the login manager is "slim" and you can reboot and shutdown from the login prompt, although it isn't obvious.
instead of logging in with a user name, use "reboot" or "halt" for the username and the root password for the password.
3 • antiX (by Ken on 2015-08-10 00:56:44 GMT from Oceania)
I'm using antiX on a netbook with limited RAM. It's just the ticket. Boots fast and it copes as best as it can with the limited screen space. Lots of packages available thanks to the Debian base. Well recommended.
4 • AntiX on legacy laptop (by Anna Merikin on 2015-08-10 00:58:56 GMT from Planet Mars)
A friend had an old Dell laptop with 256Mb RAM and a !0 Gb hard drive; it was loaded with Windows XP. It had been unused for seven years because it did not have enough RAM to load its PCMCIA card WiFi attachment. Could I make this a second computer for his wife?
AntiX loaded, installed and works perfectly. I downloaded the .deb for Google Chrome and now they can share his docs through Drive.
It works enough like Win XP his wife had no problems moving over, if she even noticed.
5 • Flash (by mrdachshund86 on 2015-08-10 01:01:48 GMT from North America)
The problem about Adobe Flash is that many websites still use it: BBC, Bloomberg, and Fox, just to name a few. Flash isn't going anywhere if *websites* don't reject it. Until websites start using alternatives, or a major corporate backer funds an alternative to Flash, the reaction to Flash won't last long. I still don't think that Flash should be included, or enabled by default, since there may well be a security issue(s) that the "good guys" haven't stumbled on yet.
As far as Gnash goes... tried it, but doesn't seem to work too well. No sense including libre software if it doesn't work, it sounds like a good project, but it just doesn't have enough exposure to get more devs working on it.
Just kinda curious, what DEs or WMs do you tend to use? No particular reason, just curiosity :)
6 • Flash Alternatives (by Unknown on 2015-08-10 01:16:41 GMT from North America)
Yes Linux distributions should use free "Gnash" alternative instead of Flash. Flash has a dangerous security liability that should be avoided! In all cases, work to secure OUR internet. Congrats to "Korrora" and "System76" for not encluding Flash!
7 • Flash (by Al on 2015-08-10 01:38:31 GMT from North America)
I have Flash disabled by default but it does hurt the functionality of a lot of websites so I have to keep it around. Even Youtube asks to use it. I thought they had switched to all html5.
8 • Installing Ubuntu 14.04.x on IMac OS x 10.4.11 (by howard reagan on 2015-08-10 02:25:43 GMT from Planet Mars)
I have just obtained an IMac with Mac OS X Tiger 10.4.11 and really would like to install ubuntu 14.04.3 or newer as a dual boot with other distros. Dual booting with Mac OS x is not needed. Making it a linux machine would be just great. I have no experience with the Imac so a fairly complete set of instructions of "how to" would be very appreciated. I am trying to search the web but so far not able to gleam sufficient data to get it done.
9 • @5 re: Flash Lternatives (by Rev_Don on 2015-08-10 02:41:53 GMT from North America)
There already is a viable flash alternative, and have had for a couple of years no. It's called HTML 5 and lots of major sites are using it. If you want to speed along the adoption of it stop supporting sites that only rely on Flash and be sure to tell them why. Once their traffic and business drops off enough because of it they'll switch in a hurry.
But I think you overestimate how many of them are relying only on flash. Try going to them in an HTML 5 compliant browser without flash install and you'll find that most of the flash use is their ads, and who cares about the ads.
10 • Multiboot, Flash (by Somewhat Reticent on 2015-08-10 03:44:16 GMT from North America)
There are several apps for putting multiple ISOs on a single USB drive. That said, knowing hardware details is often key.
YouTube added support for HTML5 some time ago; many uploaders support it as well. While initial load of a youtube page may seem to require flash, often a re-load will reveal additional options - and sometimes eliminate a dual playback problem. Keeping flash on "Ask to activate" helps keep it under control, and minimize risk.
11 • Flash? (by DJ on 2015-08-10 04:38:03 GMT from North America)
Shumway in Iceweasel and SMtube for youtube if needed only miss flash for Internet Radio. Hmm, if I could put AntiX on a Chromebook? My mom's is Intel'-based and I want the NVIDIA Tegra Logan K1.
12 • Re: 7 Youtube HTML 5 (by hobbitland on 2015-08-10 05:13:44 GMT from Europe)
Youtube in Firefox on Linux stills defaults to Flash. I use UAControl to change useragent for youtube.com domain to:
Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:99.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/99.0
This makes Youtube use HTML5 for Firefox without using stupid cookie opt in. I throw all my cookies away everything I restart Firefox.
Flash is a pain. But BBC and Facebook both are still using them.
13 • antiX 15 (by patrick on 2015-08-10 05:49:39 GMT from Asia)
I have installed antix 15 in my IBM T23 . . .
- it is not that fast in booting, and even, the line display feels quite laggy in uxterm mode; that comparaing with my Wheezy installation in another HDD, Wheezy runs smooth in T23.
- running CMUS is a total failure, not because it crash, nut because it display wave format only; compaaing with my Wheezy installation in another drive, I just apt-get install cmus, run cmus, that it displays and plays all wave and mpeg4 I got.
- mplayer2 display no video in console mode.
So, I put the Wheezy/LXDE back in my old T23. BTW, my X40 is running well with Wheezy/gnome; it runs CMUS straight out of the box with all wave and mp4.
If anybody runs well with CMUS and mplayer in antiX15, give me a hint, please.
14 • Flash just won't die (by AT on 2015-08-10 06:21:42 GMT from Europe)
From what I can see in the IT sector, almost everyone is tired of flash, but for some reason they still keep using it. It is a memory hog, it has security issues, not to mention the bismal support on Linux.
I am glad that Youtube took an initiative towards HTML5 and moved away from Flash, however a lot of big sites still use Flash, and continue to build their empire on a dying technology.
15 • Console Word Proc (by Arch Watcher 402563 on 2015-08-10 06:36:03 GMT from North America)
Question was too vague.
If the notion is "formatted text" then some kind of markup language will answer it. There are many, pick one. (TeX???)
If the notion is "console GUI" then 'mined' is menu-driven with top-of-class Unicode and cross-platform support. You may try 'tilde' - which on Arch isn't packaged right - the versioning is off - but works.
I haven't used WordGrinder, but it fits this category.
I think mined deserves a lot more attention than it gets because nothing else on earth, not even most desktop GUI word processors, match its language support. It also sports a number of style features like smart quotes, list formatting, etc.
If the notion is "plain text" then your choices are legion. I frequently use nano. Some text editors have large cults - I avoid (both of) them. However they give a terminal feel complete with input. Take note that even Geany (a desktop GUI editor) has a terminal input tab.
If the notion is "edit office docs in console" then study the office suite itself for console import/export commands. Some suites have conversion routines to a text-based markup format. Then you can use any console editor on it and back-import to the office suite.
However, LibreOffice is compressed XML, so you can technically just decompress the office file and use any XML editor you please on it. In your case, you'd want a console text editor that knows XML syntax highlighting and bracket-matching. It might be smart to write a little open-sesame wrapper script to handle the decompress/recompress you need to surround the XML editing.
16 • Flash vote (by far2fish on 2015-08-10 07:02:15 GMT from Europe)
I voted 'Not offered at all'. Since Apple gave Flash the boot 5 years ago, its use has been declining. Then Microsoft sort of also joined the movement 2-3 years back by announcing Internet Explorer on Windows RT without plugin support. Plus they deprecated their competing Silverlight technology.
All major content providers have thus had a long time to prepare their websites for HTML5 solutions rather than content with Flash, Silverlight, Widewine or Java Applets.
Given the history of major security flaws discovered in Flash and Java Applets, I think it is a welcome move that browser vendors stop supporting plugins.
17 • AntiX is incompatible with YUMI USB Multiboot software (by Bob Carroll on 2015-08-10 07:18:11 GMT from North America)
For years, YUMI (Your USB Multiboot Integrator) Windows and Linux software has enabled booting several multiple OS distros and utilities from a single USB flash drive.
Most Linux distros work fine with YUMI (although some require a bit of path or parameter tinkering).
Unfortunately, AntiX, Mageia, Simplicity 64-bit, and a few others just seem to be incompatible with YUMI.
18 • word processors (by nolinuxguru on 2015-08-10 07:19:16 GMT from Europe)
Line editors like "ex" and WYSIWYG text editors like "nano" do not treat long lines very elegantly. Programs like Leafpad and Kwrite can be used for files containing long lines with "words", by implementing word-wrap.
I use Leafpad extensively for writing, yet the files generated are just plain text: they can be printed by Leafpad itself or lpr using a suitable word-wrap filter. I used to use LibreOffice[Writer] for writing prose, but decided that it was over-kill for that purpose.
WordGrinder is a strange hybrid: it implements "word wrap", but from Nano-style curses application. It is WYSIWYG, but the screen is too "busy" for my liking. I suppose if you are writing a novel over a 9600 baud terminal line, it may helpful.
19 • Flash (by Sondar on 2015-08-10 07:24:15 GMT from Europe)
Afraid that Flash is essential to Brits and those who regularly access the BBC iPlayer. It's a well-trodden path, but briefly it all comes down the stupidity of our politicians, notably Blair, who publicly admitted he didn't know how how to switch on a PC. He was made a bigger fool during a visit by Gates, who he later granted an honorary knighthood. The right-wing isn't interested in good technology, just making money. This is a universal mantra in today's world.
20 • Command line Word Processor (by Alexandru on 2015-08-10 07:32:32 GMT from Europe)
For me, the Command Line Word Processor is TeX family (LaTeX, XeLaTeX, LuaTeX). It deserves exactly this purpose: writing documents with reach formatting with no GUI at all. You can even write a document without having xorg installed.
All font and format related issues are handled through specialized commands. The TeX suite (e.g. TeXLive) is highly portable and capable of producing documents in various formats: PDF, ODT, HTML to name some.
21 • flash (by nolinuxguru on 2015-08-10 07:38:12 GMT from Europe)
I have stopped using Adobe Flash, disabling it in Firefox and Chromium. The constant need to replace the bug-riddled old version with an equally bug-riddled new version is just a waste of time my. I will put up with cute messages from the likes of the BBC until they get the growing move to ditch Flash in favour of HTML5. There may well be security problems with HTML5 in the future, but far fewer than with Flash.
22 • Distraction-free word processing (by BIlly Larlad on 2015-08-10 08:02:09 GMT from North America)
@18 -- yes, nano seems to break lines once they reach the edge of the screen. that is odd and useless in many cases. better to use vi or vim.
another option for distraction-free writing -- albeit in a graphical environment -- is the very fine focuswriter. it is widely available and simple but feature-rich. a similar, somewhat lesser alternative would be pyroom.
23 • Getting rid of flash entails some sacrifices (by Billy Larlad on 2015-08-10 08:11:47 GMT from North America)
If we leave it up to the clueless people behind various corporate websites to voluntarily give up flash, we're going to be waiting a very long time. Better to drive the process ourselves and miss out on some mediocre content for a much shorter period.
Just as when we use free software despite their being superior proprietary alternatives, we sometimes have to make sacrifices for securing our rights and promoting our ideals. Getting rid of flash is no different.
24 • nano breaking lines (by Hndovir on 2015-08-10 08:34:16 GMT from Europe)
@22 running nano with the -w (nowrap) option seems to fix this for me. In fact i have "nano" aliased to "nano -w".
25 • flash (by nolinuxguru on 2015-08-10 08:53:10 GMT from Europe)
@23 Agreed. I tell listening organisations about it, but don't bother with mega-corporations - they can't listen. However, if I need to login to my bank or credit card company, then morals go on the back burner.
26 • Long nano lines @18 @22 (by Arch Watcher 402563 on 2015-08-10 09:00:26 GMT from North America)
Nano is fine for long lines and handles wrapping very respectably (section "Power users rejoice").
Promote simpler tools to attract people to Linux. I use nano all the time myself. Granted bigger editors have more but nano is handy and intuitive, with stock mouse support.
Line endings get much more complicated (esp. in Unicode) than any editors respect. Only mined does them right.
For simple *nix configs, nano is the best tool for newcomers, and even some of us admins with only so many brain cells left to cram with keystroke sequences.
27 • Antix and nano (by dbrion on 2015-08-10 09:32:45 GMT from Europe)
1) Maybe I missed somethin, but is antix translated into various languages? Can its keyboqrd be configured (choosing between AZERY and QWERTY, say?)
2) joe http://joe-editor.sourceforge.net/ seems a little better ( small footprint, too) than nano, as it can syntax highlight ...
28 • Lumina Installation on Fedora 22 (by Graham_J on 2015-08-10 10:05:43 GMT from Oceania)
Instructions given on the website only work if you're using an x86_64 machine :(
29 • Flash (by lashley on 2015-08-10 10:10:08 GMT from North America)
Point is "trust", something that is no longer a priority, then it is time to do away with it and move on, even if you can't run certain apps or browser functions. I have not tried gnash, but plan on it when I'm done here. Exploiting peoples faith and trust is a great big no-no and sooner or later google, firefox, adobe-flash and a host of others are going to realize that Linux is not Windows, maybe ubuntu wants be like Windows but that is also another no-no story. Feel sorry for people who just don't "get it" with all this spying.
30 • @1 Debian without systemd (by Chris on 2015-08-10 10:39:21 GMT from Europe)
There are also instructions on how to install debian jessie without systemd from the start in the debian wiki. So please be grateful to Debian aswell for giving you an Option you seemed to be unaware of.
31 • @30 Debian without systemd (by Mitt on 2015-08-10 11:06:54 GMT from Asia)
How about that systemd dependency hell? You cannot simply remove systemd and its bloated friends from your system without removing the whole world unless you repack everything. If that would be so easy, there would be no such projects as antiX and Devuan where guys work hard to provide us minimalistic, "UNIX-way" experience.
32 • Flash (by Sam on 2015-08-10 11:31:38 GMT from Europe)
There are not many sites left that still require flash. If any that you use still do then send them an email explaining why they should switch to HTML5.
33 • without systemd (by nolinuxguru on 2015-08-10 11:32:34 GMT from Europe)
I am testing Devuan+openbox on a spare computer; froze once, but not sure why. I may use it properly in future if it behaves. In the meantime, I'm staying with Debian7.
34 • @33 Devuan (by Paraquat on 2015-08-10 11:41:56 GMT from Asia)
Kudos for at least giving Devuan a try. But of course, you know the latest release is alpha2, and is not yet considered stable, so I'm not surprised if it froze once (or more than once) on your computer.
I'm only planning to get serious with Devuan experimenting myself when it hits beta1. That is still a few months in the future. In the meantime, I keep my eye on the mailing list.
All that said, I like antiX just fine right now.
35 • flash (by Euler on 2015-08-10 11:51:29 GMT from Europe)
I do not think flash will go away as long as there are flash developers out there, and I think desktop distributions have to support it. For beginner distribution it should be pre-installed or very easy to install. Most people want to use the internet before the learn about repositories and software installation.
36 • The problem is the language, not the editor (by Magic Banana on 2015-08-10 12:06:40 GMT from South America)
A markup language like LaTeX makes you focus on the content. Any text editor can be used, including those running in terminals. I personally use AUCTeX in Emacs (with the graphical interface but its runs in a terminal too). Besides, LaTeX is the best when it comes to the quality of the output: all typographic rules are satisfied by default.
37 • comments... (by jay c on 2015-08-10 12:41:56 GMT from North America)
Have NEVER liked Flash and am usually just migrating from those sites that require it.
AntiX is an old friend, but it "fails" as a micro-linux and is not usually compelling when compared with larger distros. Prefer Simplicity for "legacy" puters, of which am possessed of many.
Command line wp's? Oh snap! First experiences on Osbourne running CP/M and using WordStar -- so -- REALLY lang syn. Had no trouble doing a VTK degree using same but understood even then that such was a real problem selling to secretarial types in offices using typewriters. When WP came around there was a loud hoo-ray. Still, it really needed a Mac to do anything requiring a page layout. And doing so in any non-Latin based alphabet was next to impossible! Much, much easier to move on. Still am personally NOT happy with "fully featured" WP like MS-Word; typing a letter requires -- maybe -- a 10th of those features, and use LibreOffice on linux puters or simplistic AngelWriter on lonely Dell running Windows :)
38 • Killah_P (by k on 2015-08-10 13:10:27 GMT from Europe)
Thank you Jesse and Distrowatch for another excellent and timely review. Yonn Lopez posted an excellent video on YouTube: "AntiX 15, Just Says No to Debian's Systemd". Really practical and comprehensive.
Have been using 64 bit Killah, almost exclusively, on desktop and 4 G flash drive, for some weeks.
Still missing: mounting ntfs partitions, and video out with Skype. Any help or tips would be much appreciated.
39 • to flash or not to flash... (by tom joad on 2015-08-10 13:27:58 GMT from Europe)
Regarding using Flash, at this point what choice do we really have? Despite all of Flash's well known short comings nothing works a well for audio, video.
Owing to lack of effective, improved and robust alternatives I am surprised by the poll question. Either we use Flash or go without enjoying a lot of the content that makes the Internet the Internet it seems to me.
40 • antiX (by dolphin_oracle on 2015-08-10 13:32:29 GMT from Planet Mars)
@ no. 27 - yes, keyboard is configurable and antiX is available in several languages.
41 • Flash... again... (by jay c on 2015-08-10 13:34:39 GMT from North America)
Don't wish to hog the comments section but this was just too apropos not to attach. Thank you Mr Hachman. And a kewpie doll for Mr Jung's synchronicity.
42 • Antix (by jc on 2015-08-10 14:05:09 GMT from North America)
I really liked Antix, but had a severe problem: heat. Cpufreq, intel_pstates, thermald, and several other methods to control cpu frequency and heat are broken in the kernel shipping with Antix. The first thing one should do upon installing is to install a stock debian kernel, reboot, and delete the antix kernel. Otherwise, it was a great experience, but users should know that heat control is a severe problem with the shipped kernel when they choose to install.
43 • UEFI/EFI problems? (by JustMe on 2015-08-10 14:23:19 GMT from Europe)
I've installed Windows on many UEFI and EFI machines, and OS X on many EFI machines. Never faced any problem with (U)EFI.
Why do so many Linux distributions have problems with installing onto UEFI/EFI? What might be so horribly broken in those UEFI/EFI installations since they clearly work well with Windows or OS X?
44 • Playing videos without Flash (by K.U. on 2015-08-10 14:35:16 GMT from Europe)
Tools like youtube-dl and pwnyoutube make it possible to watch videos from vide range of websites using a locally installed mediaplayer.
45 • Poll (by bison on 2015-08-10 15:10:19 GMT from North America)
I voted available in distro repositories, although with hesitation, since whether something "should be" installed by default, available in distro repositories, not offered at all, or replaced by Gnash is entirely up to the people who create the distros.
46 • temperature @42 (by Paraquat on 2015-08-10 15:28:56 GMT from Asia)
Funny, but I have no problem with high temperatures with antiX. Maybe it's a hardware issue for you?
Anyone can check the temperature of the cpu at the command line by typing this:
There are some GUI tools like gkrellm which can also be configured to display the temperature.
47 • nano (@18 @22 @24) (by SuperOscar on 2015-08-10 15:35:46 GMT from Europe)
Apparently people rarely edit their /etc/nanorc’s as it’s right there ready to be uncommented:
## Don't wrap text at all.
# set nowrap
48 • cpufreq on antix (by rog on 2015-08-10 15:41:09 GMT from North America)
jc, I have no problems here with cpufreq and antix15 64bit kernel.
I can't remember whether all necessary packages were preinstalled or if I needed to manually install someting additional. FWIW "cpufreqd" (depends: "libcpufreq0" and "libsensors4") and "cpufrequtils" are installed. thermald is NOT installed.
The command lscpu output mentions "CPU min MHz: 1200.0000" and without having done any tweaking, that's what I'm seeing -- the CPU freq is automatically being scaled back down to 1200 during periods of light load (which is nearly always, FWIW).
49 • @22 Distraction-free word processing (by C C on 2015-08-10 16:01:32 GMT from Asia)
Another vote for:
1. focuswriter (with auto-hide GUI menus that can be called out by moving the mouse to the top or bottom of the screen); and
2. pyroom (even simpler; control with quickkeys)
50 • UEFI (by Jesse on 2015-08-10 16:29:04 GMT from North America)
>> "Why do so many Linux distributions have problems with installing onto UEFI/EFI? What might be so horribly broken in those UEFI/EFI installations since they clearly work well with Windows or OS X?"
If you read the wiki it explains exactly what the problems are. In one case one UEFI implementation blocks all operating systems not called Windows or Red Hat from booting. One Apple implementation only works on HFS+ file systems. The bottom line is many UEFI implementations are designed to work exclusively with OS X or Windows and either don't work properly with Linux or intentionally block Linux from loading.
51 • antiX 15 (by Bill S on 2015-08-10 16:38:09 GMT from North America)
Using antiX right now. It's very nice indeed and gives an alternative to systemd. Only thing was I had to download all of the gstreamer pkgs in order to get sound working, but otherwise it is great!!
52 • antiX 15 (by zykoda on 2015-08-10 17:05:41 GMT from Europe)
Lean and mean: AntiX 15 working on an old Pentium 2 256MB RAM next to Slitaz. The mobo is FIC PA 2004, no USB, of the win 95 era, very solid still with original caps.Simple and excellent.
53 • Word processing with nano (and vim!) (by bison on 2015-08-10 17:30:20 GMT from North America)
I use vim for word processing. :)
I have a meta language that I use for markup, and run the input text through a program that converts it to HTML5 output. I actually have several variations of this for different domains; I need to combine these into a single set of rules. I would like to move closer to Carl Sassenrath's MakeDoc format, if I ever find the time.
54 • Command line word processors (by Oldken on 2015-08-10 17:41:15 GMT from North America)
Read your artical; had a few minutes so tried Wordgrinder. A bit too much for me but I got the picture.
Just a suggestion: run Pluma in fullscreen mode [F11] it looks about the same to me.
55 • vote in Opinion Poll re Adobe Flash (by champted on 2015-08-10 18:07:51 GMT from North America)
I voted for "replaced by Gnash", but only if Gnash works properly. The last time I tried Gnash about a year ago, it wouldn't render about half of the websites I visited, and I don't purposely visit graphics-heavy websites. I also would like to see Adobe Flash available in repositories for those who want to exercise their choice to use it.
56 • Distraction-free writing (by AnklefaceWroughtlandmire on 2015-08-10 18:39:22 GMT from South America)
For distraction-free writing, I would probably recommend something based on a simple markup language such as Markdown. For me, the biggest distraction while writing is worrying about formatting. So writing in Markdown lets me just focus on the content and let Markdown + CSS deal with the formatting later on.
For the person who sent in the question looking for a terminal-based editor, OrgMode seems to be the premium option for Markdown in the terminal:
And here are some very nice GUI options for writing in Markdown (under Linux of course):
- http://pad.haroopress.com/user.html (https://github.com/rhiokim/haroopad)
57 • Distraction-free writing (by AnklefaceWroughtlandmire on 2015-08-10 18:45:08 GMT from South America)
And two more I just found:
58 • UEFI (by More Gee on 2015-08-10 19:05:37 GMT from North America)
I don't know if this is UEFI bug or Grub with UEFI and SystemD issue.
Why is there no longer any Puppy Luv in Grub Update anymore? If the system has a puppy or puppies on it I have to break out a Puppy CD and boot from it and run Grub4DOS over it. This happens every update that causes a version change.
59 • @48 (by jc on 2015-08-10 19:34:03 GMT from North America)
Looks like it must be just a hardware issue on my end. Good to hear. Antix is fantastic.
60 • Flash (by Will B on 2015-08-10 21:01:22 GMT from North America)
I have, for a long time, wished Flash would disappear forever...one could dream ;-) Gnash still is too unstable and buggy for daily use, unfortunately.
61 • Antix (by Francesco on 2015-08-10 22:25:26 GMT from Europe)
Just tried antix on my netbook, quite nice ;) .
Maybe i'll install it instead of lubuntu.
Imho graphically unfortunatly is not as polished as other more famous distribution.
I used icewm a lot of time ago (till 2008 iirc, and with satisfaction) and there were more polished and modern themes around.
E.g. that black borders around the menu button or around the workspaces indicator are imho quite outdated.
62 • antiX review (by anticapitalista on 2015-08-10 22:44:03 GMT from Europe)
Jessie, many thanks for taking the time to review antiX-15. Just a quick question. Did you test the 32 or 64 bit antiX-full version? The article doesn't make it clear.
63 • Flash in Distros (by M.Z. on 2015-08-10 22:44:04 GMT from Planet Mars)
I put 'Other' because like #45 I think it depends largely on the distro maker & more specifically it depends on their goals for their particular OS. If you want to be user friendly above all else & want things to more or less 'just work' for average users, then you still need flash either by default or a few clicks away. In fact the availability of Flash on Linux & the ability to watch all the online media I wanted was one of the few things that held me back from using Linux full time. I seem to remember switching over in 2011 after Flash expanded support to Linux. I'm a bit unhappy about the decision to only support older versions of Flash on Linux & I don't like the security holes, so some fix is still needed.
I'd like to see a better solution to online content than Flash, but nothing is really taking over & truly offering a replacement yet. There is still a need for Flash in user friendly distros & most other desktop distros should continue to offer it for some time to come. It's really just the reality of the situation like it or not, & given the small market share of Linux trying to remove Flash from the repos will only hurt & frustrate users & turn away possible converts.
64 • Composing Text (by Arkanabar on 2015-08-10 23:15:11 GMT from North America)
I write most stuff in leafpad. When I want to format it, I copy and paste to LOWriter. If I didn't have a GUI, I'd write in Nano, and then ... well, I dunno. I suppose I'd have to learn some mark up language (probably based on TeX), and apply that in emacs.
65 • antiX build (by Jesse on 2015-08-10 23:21:53 GMT from North America)
I was running the 64-bit "Full" version of antiX when I wrote my review. In all my reviews, unless I indicate otherwise, I am running 64-bit builds of distributions. I think the only exception is when I am testing out a distribution tied to a specific platform, like Raspbian.
66 • Antix (by a on 2015-08-10 23:59:11 GMT from Europe)
I’m glad some people like Antix and can use it, but when I tried it a couple months ago my experience was not great. Antix 15 RC1 worked, but I couldn’t select the keyboard layout before installation, it was a bit slow and not pretty, and I couldn’t find a GUI for software installation or updates in the menu. A bit later I tried Antix 15, and this time the installer didn’t work.
67 • 17 • AntiX, YUMI (by Bob Carroll from North America) (by Somewhat Reticent on 2015-08-11 01:06:39 GMT from North America)
YUMI has a long history with Windows; its Linux side has only generated one (token?) version AsFarAsIRecall. Since it uses the syslinux bootloader and either FAT or NTFS filesystem, groups hostile toward these aren't eager to "support" or "recommend" this approach. Some are even too lazy to support any multiboot parameter, period; others refer victims to obfuscated DebIan "documentation".
(That said, the multibootusb project at sourceforge also deserves honorable mention.)
But the shining star should go to Easy2Boot. It uses GrUB4dOS (Grand U-can Boot for all the Operating Systems?) and, while a bit slow on older hardware, Keeps managing many ISOs on one USB device Short & Simple - supporting Linux and Windows, with good online documentation.
68 • Flash (by Sabayon user on 2015-08-11 02:46:02 GMT from North America)
I use iceweasel without the flash fixings and lock it down for email and other stuff that is not streaming content. If I want to stream content I just use google chrome or chromium with the pepper flash plugin with noscript and adblock plus and kill java unless I need it turned on. AntiX is a great OS but when it comes to light weight operating systems you can not do without puppy linux.:-)
69 • legacy of Planet Mars (by Antix user on 2015-08-11 05:26:58 GMT from Europe)
@4 He doesn'want to divorce?
70 • command line word processor (by c on 2015-08-11 06:25:52 GMT from Asia)
Welcome to the days of wordstar and wordperfect! I wish those two sources would just be given to the open source community.
71 • 40 is keymap easy to configure with antix? (by dbrion on 2015-08-11 07:23:55 GMT from Europe)
This seems in contradiction with post 66 (configured after install). Post configuring a key;qp lqyout is somezhqt qzkzqrd : see http://www.armadeus.com/wiki/index.php?title=QEMU#Launch_it for a 16 MB GNU linux (antiX audience is rather 512 MB : life could be easier for people who do not distro(s) hop and prefer trivial things to be already done...)
72 • @63 M.Z. - Flash (by Kazlu on 2015-08-11 13:11:08 GMT from Europe)
I'm with you on this. Beginners might be turned away when, after making the effort to try a GNU/Linux distro, they discover that some websites do not work properly. They may blame Linux for that. The Ubuntu way is one of the best here in my opinion: Flash is in a repository, separated from the main OS repository since it is closed source, and you have the *choice* to install it at OS installation time. It is as simple as checking a box and is is quite clear to the user what it does. Even for a newbie, the given explanation is short and explains what it is. Yet, a more experienced user that would not want it can still avoid it.
I voted "in the repositories". I am progressively moving away from Flash, but since I know what I am doing here I don't necessarily want distro makers to do the job for me. I just want a distro to give me the possibility of not installing Flash, while still thinking Flash is necessary for a distro to appeal beginners. That's not hard to find :) On my Debian Wheezy setup, I use Gnash+Lightspark on Iceweasel. Gnash gets a fair amount of Flash content to work and since I added Lightspark, some sites that did not work with Gnash now work (Soundcloud for example), but sadly I also met websites that do not work any longer with Lightspark although they did with Gnash alone (I don't remember which ones). There are still websites that won't work at all without a recent version of Flash, particularly TV (live or replay) websites. For that, I also use Chromium and pepperflash, and even that does not always work. I don't use Chromium for day-to-day browsing.
73 • flash is still needed (by Tim Dowd on 2015-08-11 14:08:56 GMT from Planet Mars)
You guys have the right idea on this one. Those commenting that very few websites still use flash are simply incorrect. In the US, if you want to watch live sports, (for example baseball) the subscription service is still flash based. I get that this might not matter for some, but it does for many. Ultimately this comes down to the same debate we always fight out in FOSS circles: do we make any allowances for proprietary software in a FOSS world? I think that has to be up to the individual user. Without those striving for purely free software we wouldn't have OS alternatives. But do we say that using GNU/Linux means no access to any service that doesn't share our worldview? Everyone will answer this question differently and it's why the choice is still important.
74 • Flash "need" (by Kragle von Schnitzelbank on 2015-08-11 15:01:25 GMT from North America)
Can an audio/video stream be encrypted, and displayed in a "container"? Would DefectRequirementMethods be "necessary" in such a case?
75 • error http://distrowatch.com/weekly.php?issue=20150810 (by Sergey on 2015-08-11 17:00:05 GMT from Europe)
interface text interface - you have written double.
76 • Intel SMM - planned obsolescence? (by Kragle on 2015-08-11 20:47:52 GMT from North America)
Nice to see a firmware vulnerability in Intel chips made from 1992 through 2010 can be mitigated "hypervisor/VMM enforcement". How would that affect performance?
77 • Adobe flash (by Toran Korshnah on 2015-08-12 00:13:01 GMT from Europe)
Happy Debian8 user I reject the policy of adobe towards linux. We are doomed to 11.2 for 64 bit. So get rid of it. Pepperflash is the answer, but unfortunatly The King of Browsers does lack support. I changed to Opera as my default browser as I play games on Facebook. For this I still need flash. Please Facebook, go html5...I probably will stay with Opera. Great browser this is...
78 • Flash (by Kubelik on 2015-08-12 01:02:15 GMT from Europe)
@73. - Hope flash will be replaced with html5. - For the rest I fully agree with you.
79 • JOE for text editing (by KingNeutron on 2015-08-12 06:08:18 GMT from North America)
--I'm gonna put another +1 for the JOE editor. The package provides " jstar " for those of us that are Wordstar-proficient. :-)
80 • Adobe Flash (by Thomas Mueller on 2015-08-12 07:15:58 GMT from North America)
@14 If Flash support is abysmal on Linux, it is nonexistent in BSD; only possibility is Linux emulation or possibly Wine + Pipelight.
Tiger Direct uses Flash, and I couldn't view their videos; I told them through page feedback that I was on a platform that didn't support Adobe Flash, but I could view most YouTube videos thanks to HTML5. Another possiblility is a downloadable .mp4 video; I have successfully viewed some of them in FreeBSD and NetBSD.
For a time, I was able to use Gnash on FreeBSD, but that became broken with FreeBSD 10.x and current (unable to link in libboost_system). When Gnash worked on FreeBSD 9.x, it was on YouTube and nothing or nearly nothing else. Swfdec plugin never worked.
I read that Flash does not work well on mobile devices; that may help diminish Flash's prevalence.
81 • Flash (by Somewhere in America on 2015-08-12 16:39:04 GMT from North America)
Anyone who hits Facebook and wants to play a game or two (a very large part of the computing population in these parts) is going to want Flash, period.
82 • Flash (by 4tux on 2015-08-13 01:36:06 GMT from Europe)
Would only install it if there's no other choice to watch something. And remove, afterwords. Hope no traces of it will be left after.
83 • 82 • (by 4tux from Europe) (by Kragle on 2015-08-13 02:19:08 GMT from North America)
"… only install … and remove… hope no traces will be left…" sounds like running from RAM (VM?) through anonymizer (VPN/TOR/…) from wardriven open wifi/cell-fi, right? But there's often another choice - be patient, download and watch later, for example. Traces will still exist all along the server chain of transmission.
It's easier to avoid watching some optional entertainment than it is to avoid required transaction-processing. Some alleged "requirements" are based on deliberate ignorance of actual necessities.
84 • 83 • by Kragle, North America (thanks Kragle) (by 4tux on 2015-08-13 04:53:26 GMT from Europe)
ah.. is not about navigation "traces", I meant the uninstaller to remove all traces of Flash from the operating system.
85 • @82 (by far2fish on 2015-08-13 06:40:23 GMT from Europe)
I wonder if that could be a good candidate for running Docker at home. For instance pulling a tiny Ubuntu image down, run it as a Docker container where you only install a browser with Flash support.
86 • Flash! (by imnotrich on 2015-08-13 06:44:29 GMT from North America)
On a recent bicycle ride through suburban Tijuana, I was almost bitten by a dog named Flash but I digress.
About 80% of the websites I frequent still use Flash, and this is not just a Linux issue because Firefix and Chome for Windows are also blocking Flash and Java by default, rendering the web pretty much useless to me.
I have additional countermeasures in place, and I acknowledge other users may not be as security savvy but the question needs to be asked: Why automatically block all plugins? Cant browsers integrate some sandboxie like technology or scan/whitelist safe code?
When the average user is asked to right click to run this whatever, how does the user know it's safe to run? Answer: They don't.
Speaking of Gnash, it's name is because users can only Gnash their teeth as pages refuse to load.
For obvious reasons there will never be a suitable, viable open source alternative for Adobe reader, Adobe Flash, Microsoft Silverlight, Java,certain codecs, Microsoft Office, proprietary video drivers other drivers and so on. Close maybe but no cigar. All distros should at least make the "real"versions available to users without having to pass an act of Congress. If you like your plugins, you can keep your plugins. Period.
87 • Yeah yeah, Flash (by Barnabyh on 2015-08-13 12:09:32 GMT from Europe)
It's very easy to keep control of Flash. Download it from Adobe website if and when needed, unzip/uncompress package, move plugin -it's only one binary- into mozilla plugin folder. Restart browser. Rename, move, delete or otherwise disable when done.
Best not to use it at all. You'ld be surprised how many websites offer html5 versions of their videos if using an extension that makes html5 the default or trying web pages without any Flash at all - and to my surprise vids often load.
88 • 87 • (by Barnabyh) (by 4tux on 2015-08-13 13:42:02 GMT from Europe)
As you said: "Best not to use it at all"! Or some solution as @85
"Rename...disable..." will deactivate the plugin,
but there's something else: after using flash in a specific site,
2 new folders were added: .adobe .macromedia
Other sites may store what else, in h.drive?
better no no, Flash
89 • 86 • "obvious reasons" (by imnotrich (by Fossilizing Dinosaur on 2015-08-13 15:30:52 GMT from North America)
What are these "obvious reasons" ?
"All distros should…" - how, when monopolistic fantasies drive proprietary licensing and secret coding?
(Did these "obvious reasons" apply to SSL/TLS web security maintenance?)
90 • Flash Plugin (by Michael on 2015-08-14 01:35:36 GMT from Oceania)
I would love to dispense with Flash but some sites check for it's existence before loading (www.speedtest.net). They will not work with alternatives.
91 • RPM, Fedora, KDE, MATE, XFCE (by Greg Zeng on 2015-08-14 05:00:31 GMT from Oceania)
Noteworthy news from: http://fedoramagazine.org/state-fedora-2015-edition/
RPM is not the favored desktop operating system, staying with servers and workstations. Of those who dare use RPM on the desktop, the preferred display managers are:
KDE (5%), MATE (2%), XFCE (2.5%), LXDE (2.5%).
Missed are Gnome & Cinnamon.
92 • 90 • Flash Plugin (by Michael - from Oceania) (by Somewhat Reticent on 2015-08-14 05:56:59 GMT from North America)
Consider the HTML5 speedtest by dslreports - no Flash or plugin required, though it may take some active security management to accommodate the servers it uses.
93 • @61 Antix - Francesco (by Wse on 2015-08-14 07:39:31 GMT from Europe)
"Just tried antix on my netbook, quite nice ;) .
Maybe i'll install it instead of lubuntu.
Imho graphically unfortunatly is not as polished as other more famous distribution."
Antix is based on Debian, while Lubuntu is of Ubuntu. You just can't compare them. Antix also mix repos, pulling Jessie, strefach etc.
94 • 90 • Flash Plugin (by Michael - from Oceania) (by Somewhat Reticent on 2015-08-14 07:42:37 GMT from North America)
Consider the dslreports HTML5 speedtest.
95 • @91 (by far2fish on 2015-08-14 08:37:02 GMT from Europe)
"Missed are Gnome & Cinnamon"
Not quite true. The graph states the 68% of all ISO downloads are Workstation downloads. The Workstation ISO comes with Gnome.
KDE, Mate, XFCE, LXDE and Sugar are official spins available for download.
Cinnamon is available as a DE in Fedora, but you first have to either download and install the Workstation (With Gnome) or any of the official spins with KDE, Mate, XFCE or LXDE. Since Cinnamon has to be installed AFTER a download, it makes no sense to include it in download statistics.
The same applies to other desktop environments or window managers. If you want Openbox, Enlightenment or whatever you can of course get it, but it won't show up in the ISO download statistics.
96 • command line word processor (by Jason on 2015-08-14 13:14:38 GMT from North America)
From reading the question, I was thinking they were looking for something like ed + TeX, but I probably ready too much into it.
97 • Flash (by JT on 2015-08-14 20:10:19 GMT from North America)
I have yet to meet a person who actually likes Flash-player. It's one of the most annoying/borderline-garbage pieces of software that everyone has seemingly accepted as part of the software they want to use. I personally voted that it should be in the repos, and not installed by default.
With most distros I use, I have Chrome/Chromium installed with pepper-flash, and set to Click-to-Play. I don't typically use it, but there have been a couple times where I didn't have a choice. One being the university's class registration web application was designed entirely in Flash. That's why it should still be in the repos without being installed by default. Get people away from it, if possible, but still let them install it easily if they need to.
98 • DE comparisons (by MirrorMirror on 2015-08-15 05:09:45 GMT from Oceania)
how about a distrowatch comparison of the older versus newer DEs:
KDE, GNOME, MATE, XFCE, LXDE versus Lumina, Budgie, Wayland, Mir/Unity.
99 • @ 98 • DE comparisons - MirrorMirror (by Wse on 2015-08-15 15:16:53 GMT from Europe)
>how about a distrowatch comparison of the older versus newer DEs:
KDE, GNOME, MATE, XFCE, LXDE versus Lumina, Budgie, Wayland, Mir/Unity.<
How about comparisons of WMs against DEs too?
100 • DE comparisons (by M.Z. on 2015-08-16 04:44:33 GMT from Planet Mars)
@98 & 99
All told there are over 3 dozen DEs listed in the DW search page & they come in all different sizes & functions. If you want a fair comparison it would be best to divide them into size classes & intended functions. If you don't separate them out you'd end up with either tiny meaningless blurbs on each or some war & peace like essay that most users wouldn't read. Perhaps categories like: 1) full featured & modern; 2) mid to light weight; & 3) lightweight WMs.
I'd also point out that Wayland is a display protocol or some such thing that runs along side a DE like Gnome or KDE & helps the DE decide how to draw windows, at least to my understanding. At any rate Wayland doesn't qualify as any sort of a DE, but is instead a piece of software that the DE relies on in order to function, much like the older X11 software currently used by most DEs in Linux & BSD. I would say that different DEs are a topic that most desktop Linux users would likely be interested in, though many DEs get a fair amount of coverage here via general distro reviews.
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