| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 627, 14 September 2015
Welcome to this year's 37th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
As much as we enjoy exploring interesting new features and debating merits of one technical design over another, at the end of the day, what matters to most people is whether their computer performs the functions they want it to perform. Most people want their operating system to be easy to use and to run a specific set of applications. This week we turn a practical eye to friendly, desktop distributions and applications. We begin with a look at Mageia, a desktop distribution designed to be easy for newcomers to use. In our Questions and Answers column we talk about the common concern of creating accessible document archives in an office environment. In the news last week we heard from Mark Shuttleworth as he discussed Ubuntu's new Snappy package manager and how it relates to Debian packages. Speaking of Debian, the project released updated media for Debian Jessie last week and we share the details. Plus, we talk about efforts by the Antergos developers to create a new, application-focused package manager. As usual, we cover the distribution releases of the past week and provide a list of the torrents we are seeding. In our Opinion Poll this week we would like to know whether our readers prefer to use one operating system for everything or to install different distributions for different tasks. We wish you all a wonderful week and happy reading!
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Exploring the magic of Mageia 5
Mageia, a community distribution forked from the now-discontinued Mandriva project, released Mageia 5 a few weeks ago. The new version of Mageia ships with updated software packages and UEFI support. (Secure Boot is not supported at this time.) The development team provided a good deal of documentation with the new version, supplying release notes, a summarizing release announcement and errata to guide us through potential problems. The Mageia distribution is available in many different builds and editions. There are plain installation discs, live discs (offered in GNOME and KDE editions) and discs for network installations. Each of the download options is available in 32-bit and 64-bit x86 builds.
I decided to try the project's live KDE DVD which is a 1.7GB download. Booting from the live media brings up a boot menu where we are asked if we would like to experiment with the distribution's live desktop or if we would like to launch the project's system installer. Regardless of which option we select, a graphical configuration wizard appears and asks us to select our preferred language from a list, confirm our time zone and then confirm our keyboard's layout. If we opt to try the live environment we will next find ourselves looking at the KDE 4.14 desktop environment. The interface is presented with the application menu, task switcher and system tray placed at the bottom of the screen. If we instead choose to install Mageia from the boot menu, a graphical system installer is launched.
Mageia's system installer begins by asking if we would like to manually partition our hard drive or if we would prefer a guided experience. I decided to try my hand at manual partitioning and found the partition manager is both easy to navigate and flexible. The installer shows us a visual representation of our disk and we can click on sections we wish to change or click buttons to create new partitions of various types. Mageia's installer supports working with LVM volumes, Btrfs, ext3, ext4, JFS and XFS. RAID configurations are supported and partitions can be encrypted. I chose to set up my copy of Mageia on a Btrfs volume. One aspect of the partition manager I quite like is that the controls are simple by default, giving us just the necessary basics. However, there is an "Expert" button we can click that makes it possible to access additional disk manipulation features such as resizing and labelling partitions. Once we have partitioned our hard drive, the installer offers to remove packages from the distribution we may not need. These packages include localization files and hardware drivers and we can choose to keep these extras if we think we will need them at a later time. The installer then copies its files to our hard drive. Later, we are asked if we wish Mageia to install the GRUB boot loader and, if so, where GRUB should be installed. We can optionally set a password on GRUB to protect our boot settings. At this point the installer reports it is finished and we can reboot the computer. However, we still have some remaining configuration steps to walk through. The first time we boot our new copy of Mageia the system downloads a collection of files. Though we are not given details on these fetched files, I believe they contain information about Mageia's software repositories. Once these files finish downloading we are asked to create a password for the root account and we are asked to create a user account for ourselves. With these steps completed, we are presented with a graphical login screen.
Mageia 5 -- The welcome screen
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The first time we sign into our user account a welcome screen appears. This welcome screen is divided into two tabs. In the first tab we find links to Mageia's documentation, wiki, support forums, release notes and support chat room. There are also links in this first tab for opening Mageia's Control Centre and package manager. Clicking the second tab brings up a simplified software manager. On the left side of the page we find categories of software and on the right there are short lists of popular applications from those categories. From the welcome screen's application tab we can install a handful of popular programs, multimedia codecs and Flash. Each item can be installed with a single click and the interface is easy to navigate.
Upon dismissing the welcome screen we find ourselves exploring version 4.14 of the KDE desktop environment. The application menu, I was surprised to note, is arranged as a classic tree menu rather than the newer launcher style menu most distributions use with their KDE desktops. Looking through the list of installed applications we find a broad collection of open source programs. The Firefox and Konqueror web browsers are installed for us along with the Konversation IRC client. Mageia ships with a program called Network Centre to help us get on-line. For people who need to connect to the Internet through a dial-up system, Mageia includes the KPPP dial-up software. The LibreOffice productivity software is installed for us as is the Okular document viewer. I was pleased to discover two links to documentation, one which opens the KDE Help documents and another which provides documentation for the powerful Mageia Control Centre (more on the Control Centre in a bit). Mageia ships with the GNU Image Manipulation Program, the Amarok music player, Dragon Player, the KsCD audio disc player and TVtime. I also found the distribution provides us with an archive manager, a calculator and the KWrite text editor. Mageia provides us with the K3b disc burning software, the Dolphin file manager and the systemd init software (version 217). I found Java installed on the system and version 3.19 of the Linux kernel. In the background we find the OpenSSH secure shell service is running.
Mageia 5 -- Installing software from the welcome screen's Applications tab
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By default, Mageia does not ship with any compilers, multimedia codecs or Flash. It is possible to install these extras through the package manager or through the distribution's welcome screen. In practice, I found most codecs (and Flash) installed and worked well, but there were a few exceptions. For example, once the codec bundles were installed I was able to play audio files. I could also open video files and see the visuals, but I could not get sound to work when playing videos. Through the Mageia Control Centre I was able to gain access to additional repositories, including the distribution's "Tainted" repository where non-free packages are stored. I then attempted to add more codecs and tried installing a variety of media players (VLC, Dragon Player and SMPlayer). VLC and Dragon would play videos without sound while SMPlayer would simply crash when asked to play a video file. I had similar poor luck with the TVtime application which would always crash on start-up.
Apart from these set backs with playing video files, the applications which shipped with Mageia worked well. I generally found I could perform most tasks I wanted to with the default applications. Mageia provides an up to date collection of software and the default applications perform quickly and offer a good deal of functionality.
I tried running Mageia in two test environments. When running on a physical desktop machine I found Mageia performed well. The distribution booted quickly, the desktop was responsive and all of my hardware was properly detected. When running in a VirtualBox virtual machine Mageia worked well. I found the distribution was responsive and integrated into VirtualBox so that I could get full screen resolution from Mageia without any effort on my part. In either environment, Mageia used approximately 380MB of RAM when logged into the KDE desktop.
Mageia 5 -- Running various desktop applications
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While I was using Mageia I did not see any notifications letting me know when security updates were available. A few times during the week I ventured into the Control Centre and checked for software updates using the update manager module. During my trial only one package update (for Flash) was made available and it installed without any problems.
On the subject of package management, Mageia ships with a software manager which can be accessed as either a stand alone application or as a Control Centre module. The software manager has a nice layout which I found easy to navigate. On the left side of the window we find categories of software we can explore. Individual packages in the selected category are shown on the right. We can click a box next to each package we wish to install or remove. One aspect of the software manager I found interesting was that the application allows us to filter packages in a number of ways. For instance, we can order the software manager to show us packages for desktop applications exclusively. We can also narrow our search results to show software updates, security updates, only packages which have already been installed or which are not yet installed. The list of filters goes on and the filters make it quite easy to narrow down our search results. One characteristic of the software manager I liked less was that it would, by default, display both 32-bit and 64-bit packages. This essentially doubled the length of search results and the number of packages in a selected category. I found it was possible to weed out the 32-bit packages by disabling 32-bit repositories in the "Configure Media Sources" Control Centre module.
Since I have mentioned the Control Centre a few times, I feel it deserves more attention. The Control Centre is divided into eight screens or categories. These screens provide us with configuration modules we can use to manage the operating system. The Control Centre provides us with modules for installing and removing packages, configuring repositories and installing software upgrades. There are modules for configuring sound, visual effects, our monitor resolution, the keyboard and the mouse pointer. Other modules will assist us in setting up printers, configuring the network, sharing files and setting up proxy services. We can manage system services, adjust the system clock and enable snapshots. I also found modules for managing user accounts, importing settings from a Windows partition and exploring network shares. There is a Security category where we can set up the firewall, audit the system and enable parental controls.
Mageia 5 -- The Control Center and KDE System Settings panel
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Generally speaking, the Control Centre modules worked very well for me. The modules tend to be presented with simple layouts and with clearly labelled controls. I greatly appreciate how easy it is to administer a Mageia system through one central panel and I wish other distributions would adopt a similar configuration interface. I ran into just two minor issues while using the Control Centre. The first was that there is an option to enable periodic file snapshots, but there does not appear to be any way to schedule these snapshots or to take a snapshot immediately. In fact, the Snapshots module does not tell us when snapshots will be taken. Another problem I ran into came about when I tried to enable log monitoring. The operating system downloaded the extra packages it needed to monitor logs and then displayed an error saying the log files it was going to monitor could not be found in my /var/log directory. Later in the week I noticed log monitoring had started working without any effort on my part to resolve the situation.
Mageia 5 -- Configuring the firewall
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Generally speaking I liked exploring Mageia and I particularly like that this distribution has stayed with KDE 4.14 rather than upgrading to KDE's Plasma 5. While Plasma 5 has good characteristics, it does not yet feel as polished and complete as KDE 4. The desktop provides a responsive and highly customizable interface. For the most part I enjoyed the defaults the Mageia developers had selected, with one exception. I found that hovering the mouse pointer over an icon on the task switcher caused all other windows to disappear. This meant when I was typing and the mouse drifted toward the bottom of my screen my web browser or word processor would suddenly disappear. Fortunately, it is easy to change this behaviour in the task switcher's settings and gain a less dynamic desktop experience.
Mageia 5 has a lot to recommend it. The distribution has plenty of installation and live disc options, including all-in-one DVDs and small net-install discs. The graphical system installer is easy to use and gets the job done. I found Mageia handled my hardware well, the system was responsive and I like the way the KDE edition was set up. I also like the project's welcome screen which not only provides links to documentation, but makes it easy to install popular open source programs.
Mageia's primary selling point is probably the flexible and newcomer friendly Control Centre. The modules in the Control Centre allow the administrator to adjust almost any aspect of the operating system without requiring any interaction with the command line. I found Mageia ships with a good default selection of applications and there are plenty of additional programs in the distribution's repositories.
One of my few complaints when it came to running Mageia was that my videos did not have sound and some media players crashed. The multimedia experience aside, the distribution was stable, functional and nice to look at. Mageia tends not to get as much attention as a newcomer friendly distribution as it (and its parent Mandriva) used to. Mageia tends not to receive as much attention as Ubuntu or Linux Mint these days. I think that might be about to change, and perhaps it should change, based on my experiences this past week. Mageia is a solid distribution, easy to install and pleasant to use. I definitely think it should be recommended for novice Linux users more than it is.
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Hardware used in this review
My physical test equipment for this review was a desktop HP Pavilon p6 Series with the following specifications:
- Processor: Dual-core 2.8GHz AMD A4-3420 APU
- Storage: 500GB Hitachi hard drive
- Memory: 6GB of RAM
- Networking: Realtek RTL8111 wired network card
- Display: AMD Radeon HD 6410D video card
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
Mark Shuttleworth explains Snappy packages, Debian releases Jessie update and Antergos unveils a new software manager
The Ubuntu developers have been working for a while now on Snappy, a new package manager that will offer more secure packages and the ability to rollback software upgrades. Since Snappy was announced there have been people questioning whether Ubuntu will drop Debian (deb) package files, if deb packages and Snappy will co-exist and what their relationship will be. Mark Shuttleworth appears in a video in which he tries to clear up the relationship between deb packages and Snappy. ServerWatch has a summary and a link to the video. "Shuttleworth explained that it's not an either/or situation with using deb or Snappy packages. For example, Shuttleworth said that if there is a security vulnerability, like a Heartbleed flaw, the way Ubuntu fixes the issue is with a deb package. `We build Snappy out of the built deb, so we can't build Snappy unless we first build the deb,' Shuttleworth said. Going forward, Shuttleworth said that Ubuntu users will still get access to an archive of deb packages. That said, for users of a Snappy Ubuntu-based system, the apt-get command no longer applies. However, Shuttleworth explained that on a Snappy-based system there will be a container that contains all the deb packages. `The nice thing about Snappy is that it's completely worry-free updates,' Shuttleworth said."
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The Debian project released its second update to its Stable (aka "Jessie") branch last week. The new installation media does not indicate a new version of Debian, but rather is an updated spin of Debian Jessie with fixes for known bugs. A post on the Debian website reads, "The Debian project is pleased to announce the second update of its stable distribution Debian 8 (codename `Jessie'). This update mainly adds corrections for security problems to the stable release, along with a few adjustments for serious problems. Security advisories were published separately and are referenced where applicable. Please note that this update does not constitute a new version of Debian 8 but only updates some of the packages included. There is no need to throw away old `Jessie' CDs or DVDs, but only to update via an up-to-date Debian mirror after an installation, to cause any out of date packages to be updated. Those who frequently install updates from security.debian.org won't have to update many packages and most updates from security.debian.org are included in this update." The new installation media carries the version number 8.2 and can be downloaded from Debian's mirrors.
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|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Creating PDF/A documents on Linux
Working as a lawyer, I'm often in the need to produce documents that have to be readable by clients, courts, etc., no matter their system of preference. Therefore, we (as lawyers) use lots of PDF files.
However, in some scenarios, we have to produce a PDF "type A" file or "PDF/A". This type of PDF ensures that the document will be readable for a very long time, being perfect for long time archiving.
Nowadays, most (not to say all) Linux distros have a built-in feature to print files directly to PDF. However, this feature does not support the creation of PDF/A files. For that, I have to turn to LibreOffice and use the "Export to PDF" function. Although most of the time this function works well, it limits the use of PDF/A to using LibreOffice. Sometimes I just wish I could print directly from my browser to a PDF/A file.
So, my questions for you are:
- Is there any Linux distro with built-in support for PDF/A files creation?
- Is there any way to add this support to the built-in feature of printing to PDF files?
- Can this topic be discussed or appear at DistroWatch Weekly for further comments, suggestions and discussion?
DistroWatch answers: In brief, I do not think there are any Linux distributions which ship with the capability to create PDF/A files through a virtual printer. At least not with the default configuration. Linux distributions can produce plain PDF files using the CUPS PDF package. This package creates a virtual printer on the system which, when documents are sent to it, creates a copy of the document as a PDF file. However, these are not PDF/A documents, just plain PDF files. So far as I could find, there is no option or CUPS add-on that will produce PDF/A files.
The good news is there are a number of solutions and, if you already have a copy of LibreOffice on your computer, then there is a command line solution for creating batches of PDF/A files from any number of document formats. One of the programs which ships with LibreOffice is lowriter and one of the things this program does is convert any document LibreOffice can open into another format, such as PDF or PDF/A.
To utilize this program, first open LibreOffice, go to the File menu and select "Export As PDF..." In the options window that pops-up, make sure the "PDF/A-1a" box is checked. Then click "Export". This will save your PDF exporting settings, telling LibreOffice that we always wish to use PDF/A as the default format for future PDF files.
From now on, whenever we want to convert a document to PDF/A format, we can open a terminal and run lowriter and tell it to convert our document (or multiple documents) to PDF/A format. As an example, here we convert all Microsoft Word documents in the current directory to PDF/A format:
lowriter --convert-to pdf *.doc
In this next example we convert one OpenDocument file to a PDF/A file.
lowriter --convert-to pdf myfile.odt
While the command line is not exactly a nice point-n-click interface, this does allow us to convert hundreds of documents at a time, if we need to do so. One important thing to note is that the lowriter program does not work if LibreOffice is already open. On my computer running lowriter while LibreOffice is open simply causes the LibreOffice window to gain focus. I had to close LibreOffice before I could convert documents using lowriter.
There are other options. For instance, I found this on-line document converter which claims to support converting a wide range of files to PDF/A format. While useful, on-line options are probably not considered suitable where confidential documents (especially legal documents) are concerned.
There are some Windows-based applications which can create PDF/A files. For instance, one could use Adobe Acrobat in a virtual machine or through WINE to convert existing documents to PDF/A format. There is also a utility called PDFCreator which runs exclusively on Windows, but is open source (licensed under the AGPL). According to the product's features page, PDFCreator will convert documents to PDF/A format. Since the software is open source, hopefully someone will port it to Linux. For now, PDFCreator could be run using WINE or a virtual machine.
Those were the best options I was able to find up to this point. If any of our readers know of a better native Linux solution for creating PDF/A files, please leave us a note in the comments.
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Past Questions and Answers columns can be found in our Q&A Archive.
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: 109
- Total downloads completed: 50,444
- Total data uploaded: 13.0TB
|Released Last Week
Peppermint OS 6-20150904
Mark Greaves has announced the release of an updated build of Peppermint OS 6, a lightweight Linux distribution based on Ubuntu 14.04 and featuring the Xfwm window manager with the LXDE desktop environment: "Team Peppermint is pleased to announce a respin of our latest operating system, Peppermint 6, with full UEFI, GPT and Secure Boot support (64-bit edition only), and a new version of Ice (our in-house site-specific browser framework) that now supports the Firefox web browser as well as Chromium and Chrome. We've fixed a few minor bugs and tweaked the Peppermix-Dark theme a little in line with user feedback. And all updates to the original Peppermint 6 respin are also included in the respin. The Peppermint 6 feedback we've received so far has been overwhelmingly positive, so we've not made any major software or UX changes this time around, we hope the UEFI support opens up Peppermint 6 to a whole group of users and we'd love to hear from you at the Peppermint forum." Read the rest of the release announcement for a more detailed list of changes and improvements.
The 4MLinux project, which creates a minimal rescue and utility distribution, has released 4MLinux 13.1. The new release ships with the GTK+ 3 libraries and the X display server has been rebuilt to provide better 3-D support. "I am happy to announce that the stable version of 4MLinux 13.1 is ready for download. Four major changes in this release: the Linux 3.18 LTS kernel series is now included in the core of the system, the GTK+ 3.x series has been added, Mesa and Xorg have been totally rebuilt to ensure full 3D support for modern video cards, and so called Legacy Installer (which makes it possible to install 4MLinux on old computers) has been included in the 4MLinux installation CD (see: the 4MLinux Blog for details)." Information on the new release can be found in the project's release announcement.
Ultimate Edition 4.6 "Gamers"
TheeMahn, the developer of the Ubuntu-based Ultimate Edition distribution, has once again produced a special "Gamers" edition of the product. This is a 4GB live DVD with a nice collection of games, as well as the XBMC (now called Kodi) media centre software, PlayOnLinux and the Steam client: "It is the ultimate entertainment system. It has a list of games that just scrolls by on the screen even on a 4K monitor. It does not stop there - XBMC has been pre-injected and set up into the system with over a million channels and streams to cut the cable TV bill on 69 networks, and the ability to add more. Compiz is back and rocking right off the live disk. Productivity? The entire LibreOffice suite is also included. Wine and PlayOnLinux are pre-installed to allow you to play your Windows games, not to mention Steam. This one fits on a DVD. I want to break down this for the gamers - I can play more games in this OS than on any Windows OS." See the release announcement for more information.
Pinguy OS 14.04.3
The developers of Pinguy OS, a desktop distribution based on Ubuntu, have announced the release of a minor update to the distribution 14.04 series. The new release, version 14.04.3, offers users a number of enhancements, including support for booting on EFI-enabled computers. This release also includes Firefox 40 and Pepper Flash has replaced Adobe Flash. "This is just a real quick update. All images of Pinguy OS 14.04.3 have now got EFI Support. Apart from that very little changes. All packages are up-to-date as of September 11 2015. Some Info: Nemo updated to 2.6.7, running kernel 3.13.0-64, Firefox 40.0.3, using Pepper Flash in Firefox instead of Adobe Flash, added the H.265/HEVC Codec for VLC, desktop wallpaper changer disabled by default (open Variety to enable)." The release announcement goes on to mention that the Firefox web browser will download the Silverlight plugin the first time it is launched.
Pinguy OS 14.04.3 -- Running a customized GNOME desktop
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Eric Turgeon has announced the final release of GhostBSD 10.1, the latest stable version of the project's FreeBSD-based operating system with a choice of MATE or Xfce desktop environments: "After a year of development, testing and debugging we are pleased to announce the release of GhostBSD 10.1 MATE and Xfce which are available from SourceForge for the amd64 and i386 architectures. What's new? GhostBSD ISO image is hybrid and it can be burnt on DVD or USB sticks; Xfce is back; users can choose to install the BSD boot manager, the GRUB boot manager or no boot manager; Station Tweak, a fork of MATE Tweak; OctoPkg GUI frontend for pkgng written in Qt; Station Update Manager to update FreeBSD base system and third party software; software from pkg or ports can be installed in the live DVD/USB session; VT Console by default; instant verification for user and root to know if the password is strong and it it matches the one in the system installer..." Read the rest of the release announcement for more details.
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Selecting distributions for different tasks
When setting up a new laptop, desktop, NAS or server one of the first choices we need to make is which operating system to install on the new device. Some of us like to stick with tools we already have in our toolbox and will try to use the same operating system in multiple situations. Others will try to pick the best tool for each separate task, using different distributions for each situation.
This week we would like to know if you prefer to install the same operating system across all your devices (laptop, workstation and server), or do you prefer to select different distributions for different tasks?
For instance, do you slap Debian or Arch on everything and customize them to suit your needs, or would you rather run Fedora on your workstation, Mint on a laptop and FreeNAS on your backup server? Leave us a comment below with your thoughts.
You can see the results of last week's poll on running non-native software here. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
When selecting distros for different tasks I...
|Prefer to use the same distro everywhere: ||737 (45%)|
| Use different distros for different tasks: ||409 (25%)|
| Evaluate each situation case by case: ||457 (28%)|
| Have no preference: ||42 (3%)|
Distributions added to the database
OPNsense is a FreeBSD-based specialist operating systems (and a fork of pfSense) designed for firewalls and routers. It is developed by Deciso B.V. in the Netherlands. Some of the features of OPNsense include forward caching proxy, traffic shaping, intrusion detection and easy OpenVPN client setup. The project's focus on security brings a number of unique features, such as the option to use LibreSSL instead of OpenSSL (selectable in the GUI) and a custom build based on HardenedBSD. OPNsense also includes an update mechanism that delivers important security updates in a timely fashion.
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Distributions added to waiting list
- Apricity OS. Apricity OS is a lightweight, Arch-based distribution that features the GNOME desktop environment. Apricity OS ships with ICE, allowing the user to access websites and web apps as though they were local applications.
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DistroWatch database summary
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This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 21 September 2015. To contact the authors please send email to:
- Jesse Smith (feedback, questions and suggestions: distribution reviews, questions and answers, tips and tricks)
- Ladislav Bodnar (feedback, questions, suggestions and corrections: news, donations, distribution submissions, comments)
|Linux Foundation Training
|Reader Comments • Jump to last comment
1 • I use one OS for everything. (by tom joad on 2015-09-14 02:31:05 GMT from Europe) |
I nearly always use some Debian based OS for everything. With the plethora of apps offered and available I get done what I need to get done. I have Ubuntu Mate on my tower and Mint mate on my laptop.
If this hasn't been polled yet I would like to see it polled; Do you encrypt your hard drive and what do you use to do it?
In this day and age of internet security I think encryption is becoming much more common. I would be interested to learn how common place encryption has become or has it.
Just a thought.
2 • Distro Selection (by Lurking on 2015-09-14 02:54:07 GMT from North America)
I have two different setups: Arch based for development and Linux Mint for general usage.
3 • Some interesting things about Mageia 5 (by eco2geek on 2015-09-14 03:18:05 GMT from North America)
If you have an nvidia card, the live DVD will load the proprietary driver for it. And it'll be there if you install it.
Also, if you make changes during your live session (such as installing software or changing system preferences), and then decide to install Mageia to your hard disk, the changes you made will carry over to your installed version of it (unlike, say, Ubuntu).
4 • No to PDFCreator. Adware alert. (by Seatux on 2015-09-14 03:57:15 GMT from Asia)
The PDF Creator software you mentioned is in the shit list for installing unwanted (ie: installs even after unselecting the said offers).
I use PDFill's PDF Tools and PDF Combiner, but I am not sure if either would do the PDF/A formats lawyers want.
To be honest, for batch convert work, I just reboot into Fedora to get it done, Windows lack the scripting power needed to do impromptu batch work.
5 • Linux-created PDFs seem larger... (by Eddystone on 2015-09-14 04:35:03 GMT from North America)
Subject is a bit of a hook. Specifically, I use ImageScan for Linux with an Epson WorkForce 520. Using the same settings for size, resolution etc with the software under Windows, the PDFs created are significantly smaller in size versus the ones created with the same hardware under Linux. There are times when this is a major hindrance, and most of my heavy-duty paper-to-PDF scanning must be done under Windows. I have been unable to find a more EFFICIENT scanning application in Linux that lets me use most of the features of my scanner. ImageScan for Linux is mostly satisfactory except that the algorithm (or whatever) used yields excessively large files. Any suggestions would be appreciated, although I think I have tried just about every Linux scanning application.
6 • Apricity OS Beta (by Tran Older on 2015-09-14 04:38:19 GMT from Asia)
While Peppermint OS has been Ubuntu-based and got stuck to Gtk+2 using LXDE and elements of XFCE, Apricity OS Beta is Arch-based and provides Gnome 3. The look and feel is cool and very promising. The Apricity OS Team has done a good job. They, however, can do a better job by offer Apricity OS Lite (Beta version minus LibreOffice and Wine/Playonlinux) to give users of download constraint more ease to install their favourite Arch-based apps later.Distrowatch.com should definitely host the bittorrent file of Apricity OS once the Team make more improvements and bugfixes.
7 • Distros (by Aty on 2015-09-14 04:59:39 GMT from Europe)
I use a very customized Ubuntu where I need stability, Arch Linux for where having the latest software is more important and recently SUSE Studio for making customized live media for when things go wrong.
8 • Cloudiness (by Arch Watcher 402563 on 2015-09-14 05:32:40 GMT from North America)
Apricity follows the scary trend of clouds / webs / nets: new labels for mainframe-terminal. Very retro, and the worse for corporate spying and big illegal brother. Besides, as an op-ed someplace stated, people should quit their screens and visit a pub.
Big biz does plenty to puff clouds as the profit centers they are. I see little need for distro help. We need more distros for privacy and security. Thank you, musl and LibreSSL. Thank you, Alpine. Thank you, PC-BSD. Tails is OK but for its stale apps. I wish it were based on Arch instead of Debian. A lot of Debian distros are at least based on sid.
Tails is extreme anyway. There's unexplored territory between Tails and Apricity, the other pole (of extreme cloudiness). Simple tweaks even our beloved upstream devs don't make work. Systemd should at least obey its own man page on MACAddressPolicy. My experiments showed no effect a couple of years back. I hope it's fixed.
If find a lot of people pick a distro for their favorite apps or desktop being up-to-date in the repos. The set will differ, one person to the next. Apps can include eg development environments/languages. Others pick distros for security requirements, e.g. servers or lawyers or grandma, who thinks Facebook is the Internet. These days many also pick distros based on the systemd invasion. Others just use Ubuntu because of all the PR it gives itself and the endless number of derivatives it has. That is to say, they follow the crowd without shopping at all.
9 • Which distro? (by Roy Davies on 2015-09-14 05:49:00 GMT from Europe)
Quite simply, lxle for boot-up speed and for being up-to-date out of the box; Linux Mint or ChaletOS for comfort and style. Always a Debian/Ubuntu based distro with an LXDE or xfce desktop, and taskbar at the bottom of the screen. RD
10 • @5 Linux Scanning (by Old Grumpy on 2015-09-14 05:58:21 GMT from Europe)
There is only one application that brings scanning to Linux in any kind of sane way and that is VueScan - yes it is commercial and given the constant development and cross platform nature it is worth every penny. One purchase and then upgrades for life. The purists will hate it because it is a 3 file binary - I love it 'cos it makes my Canon 8800F work including the slide/film scanner. It does scan to PDF.
11 • We got both kinds of music here, Country & Western (by Microlinux on 2015-09-14 06:31:38 GMT from Europe)
I'm running various distributions on a dozen servers and a couple hundred desktop clients. Slackware on older hardware, Slackware64 on more recent stuff.
12 • @4 PDF Creator (by Davide on 2015-09-14 06:32:47 GMT from Europe)
Stick with version 1.7.3 and deselect all. Then disable check for updates.
13 • Mageia installer (by jb on 2015-09-14 06:55:00 GMT from Europe)
"The first time we boot our new copy of Mageia the system downloads a collection of files. Though we are not given details on these fetched files, I believe they contain information about Mageia's software repositories."
No real sysadmin would like to have that happening before she configured and secured the newly installed system.
"Once these files finish downloading we are asked to create a password for the root account and we are asked to create a user account for ourselves."
My preference would be to have at least the root account created early at install time. Just in case the system fails at this stage and you need to debug/save it.
14 • New OS (by zykoda on 2015-09-14 07:11:54 GMT from Europe)
Prefer to use same distro but evaluation case by case is often necessary. One fits all is still far from possible.
15 • Opinion poll -- distros and tasks (by solt87 on 2015-09-14 09:29:35 GMT from Europe)
+ disk and partition preparation/modification: SytemRescueCD
+ for everything else, there's Debian 8 with SysVinit
16 • pdf/A (by ybolu on 2015-09-14 10:00:36 GMT from Europe)
If you want to save a document (a web page from your browser, as asked above) as PDF/A then you may do it this way:
First save/print as a regular pdf document. Then open this created pdf document in Libreoffice Draw. You must have libreoffice-pdfimport extension to do this. Once the document is opened in Draw, then save/export it as a PDF/A.
I tried this with some document and it worked.
17 • @5, 10 Scanning in linux (by Niko Z. on 2015-09-14 10:07:04 GMT from Asia)
"There is only one application that brings scanning to Linux in any kind of sane way and that is VueScan"
What is wrong with xsane? I've scanned many thousands of pages with it without issues.
18 • PDF (by fg on 2015-09-14 10:46:23 GMT from Europe)
The number one PDF tool is ghostscript, and it can convert from PDF to PDF/A too. The command line args are just a google away.
19 • Mageia (by Carlos on 2015-09-14 10:48:14 GMT from Europe)
Mageia is very stable, it doesn't have many regular updates.
If you like to "live on the edge", you can point to the Cauldron repositories and you get a rolling distro.
I've been using Cauldron for more than 2 years and never had major problems, only small glitches once and a while, which are simple to fix.
Cauldron is more stable IME than Arch or Debian SID.
About the audio problems, I bet that it has to do with that piece of crapware that is Pulseaudio. It should be banned from the Linux world.
20 • @8, tails (by pcninja on 2015-09-14 11:20:34 GMT from North America)
No, tails really shouldn't be based on an unstable and inconsistent distro like Arch.
I think it should be based on something stable like Slackware.
21 • @8 and 20, tails double post (by pcninja on 2015-09-14 11:22:11 GMT from North America)
If tails really aims to defend security and privacy, they should really get rid of systemd.
22 • 19 • (pulse)audio (by Carlos from Europe) (by Kragle von Schnitzelbank on 2015-09-14 11:24:34 GMT from North America)
[opinion] Pulseaudio isn't popular because it works 'better', it's popular because it sports a usable GUI. ALSA or OSS could - but don't.
23 • PDF/A (by Christian on 2015-09-14 13:04:03 GMT from South America)
Thanks Jesse for dealing with this subject.
@16 Thanks for the tip, but I had a lot of formatting issues converting some PDFs this way...
@ 18 Thanks, I'll look for it.
24 • Use different distros for different tasks (by seacat on 2015-09-14 14:01:20 GMT from South America)
If I could, I would use one distro for all needs, but I have a problem with my on-board video card. Some apps crashed with 3D textures. I did all kind of tests and I concluded that open source driver isn't full compatible with hardware. When I tried using the official driver, I found with other problem: only works with kernels until 3.2 version.
I use SparkyLinux, a rolling release debian-based distro, since several years, so I have a lot of files and software and on the other hand, it´s difficult downgrade the kernel to 3.2 (current is 4.1) and maintain the rolling release nature.
Therefore, I decided use a separated distro for running the official driver with those apps that I can't run on SparkyLinux. The second distro is Debian 7.8 (now 7.9 after last week update). I know that best option is using a newer video card, but for the moment isn't possible.
25 • Pulseaudio (by Carlos on 2015-09-14 14:06:43 GMT from Europe)
@22 (Kragle von Schnitzelbank)
Pulseaudio is also "popular" because people don't care to listen carefully to what it does to the music.
It sounds really bad, no matter what you do to it.
Just stick to Alsa without resampling, it sounds the way it should.
26 • Different tasks (by César on 2015-09-14 14:25:00 GMT from South America)
In my PC for everyday use (office and multimedia works) i install PCLinuxOS (because Debian 8 has a problem with the level of the audio, in every reboot is in minimun, no sounds, nothing, with the 7 version i never have problems), everything works without problem, even Epson device (and i have a Windows partition for games only -obvious-), and in the Notebook install Sabayon (now the old Presario "it's a rocket"), everything works out the box, without problem, include the Broadcom wifi, is more fast than Mageia 5.
Greetings from Santiago.
27 • scanning (by Tim Dowd on 2015-09-14 14:35:30 GMT from North America)
I agree with @17. Your comment that there's no good free software to scan is wrong. I use simplescan to do a great job with pictures and gscan2pdf to digitize all my paper handouts (I'm a schoolteacher.) They're both fantastic.
As to the question of one distro versus multiple distros, I think most of us probably go through stages on this question. At first, when one doesn't know as much about Linux, I think it makes sense to pick the best distro for the job, even if that means multiple distros. It gets you asking yourself "why is this distro better at this" and this is the thought process you need to really start forming an opinion about what distro you want to be your main one.
Eventually you do find a favorite, and you reach a stage where you start being able to tweak your favorite to do what you want it to. But the process repeats itself again and again as you need to do new things. Maybe one distro has a wifi driver for your new computer and another doesn't. Maybe one has a stable copy of the software you want in its repos and the other doesn't. I suspect a fair number of people use Debian Stable for about 3/4 of its life cycle but then use Mint or Ubuntu for the very end, when software seems to be very stale. And that's ok.
28 • Mageia (by Chris on 2015-09-14 15:10:01 GMT from North America)
I was really enjoying Mageia 5 right after it was released. That is, until it "lost" the driver for my Wifi adapter. So, I booted up my laptop, downloaded the correct driver in .rpm format and went to install it on the desktop. Then Magiea wouldn't even boot and never did again. I have no idea what happened. The .md5sum was good and there was nothing wrong with the installation media or the hard drive being used. I'm sure it was just a fluke, but I sure hope others have a better experience with it than I did.
29 • Different uses (by mjjzf on 2015-09-14 15:31:15 GMT from Europe)
I like to use Slackware as my main system, but that is not particularly useful for when I want to pull in some software to play with it and then toss it... so I have a Debian and a Fedora installation as well.
30 • ApricityOS (by Bonky ozmond on 2015-09-14 15:52:27 GMT from North America)
@6 totally agree this distro could do with losing a few of its installed apps, making it a lot lighter....and with Arch it will no doubt be faster than Peppermint which i actually like for a Ubuntu based OS..
I quite like the idea of cloud based apps specially for old lappys with small disc space etc... which i would rather use than a tablet which i dispise intently
I have never had much success with Mageia for some reason whatever comp i have tried it on always seems to throw up some issue or another @28 i had that problem as well !!!!
inspite of both being Mandriva based (Mandrake was 1 of the first linux os's i ever used)
I find that PClinuxOS has a lot fewer issues than Mageia which is a shame as im sure it must be quite reliable as it has always had a lot of interest going by the DW rankings... i am going to give it another try with this release though my first DLattempt seems to have gone tits up...!!!haha
31 • Multiple distros (by David on 2015-09-14 16:34:23 GMT from Europe)
I use CentOS on my desktop, but my laptop (genuine IBM Thinkpad) isn't really up to it, so that gets Salix (Slackware made usable).
32 • Selecting distributions for different tasks (by Bof on 2015-09-14 16:36:59 GMT from Europe)
PCLinuxOS on all my equipment. 10 years on from P.91 and still happy ! In fact, more than happy........ highly delighted ! ! Cheers Texstar.
33 • Python is too slow (by a on 2015-09-14 16:44:43 GMT from Europe)
Python is a terrible choice to build a software installer, at least based on the excruciatingly slow ubuntu updater, as well as emerge on Gentoo, and of course the famous computer language benchmarks game. Python is fine for small tools that will only run rarely on a fast computer, but that’s about it.
34 • Multiple distros (by Wse on 2015-09-14 17:20:00 GMT from Europe)
I went through many stages on this question. Disrto-hopped and learned, and finally my distro was built around Openbox. I have 3 of them, based on Arch, Debian and Ubuntu. Linux is all about files, so I don't really need a desktop environment (DE).
Arch is bleeding edge and quick. Debian is okay, but has old apps. The distro based on Ubuntu is the most useful of all 3 of them, lot of apps and stable.
35 • @5 pdf (by mandog on 2015-09-14 17:32:01 GMT from South America)
Iscan works well epson scanner for Linux and so does Xsane if iscan is also installed
36 • Multiple Distros (by lashley on 2015-09-14 18:07:28 GMT from North America)
I use Debian exclusively, and it is easy to learn and maintain, running it on multiple drives. I respect greatly Arch, Slackware, Gentoo and a few others, however have found no use or need for ubuntu.
No need to mix distros with Debian. Suits me well with all my different interest and needs.
I do however use different window managers and desktop enviroments for flavour sake.
37 • LibreOffice batch conversion GUI (by AnklefaceWroughtlandmire on 2015-09-14 18:22:24 GMT from South America)
Regarding PDF/A conversion with LibreOffice, there's a useful GUI that I've personally used:
It's just an ODT document with a macro that you launch, and it allows very straightforward batch conversion. Works with LibreOffice as well as OpenOffice.
38 • Found a way to print directly to PDF/A from any program (by AnklefaceWroughtlandmire on 2015-09-14 19:12:27 GMT from South America)
The spam filter is blocking me, so I'm posting the instructions to print directly to PDF/A here:
39 • Multiple Distros (by Corbin Rune on 2015-09-14 20:32:56 GMT from North America)
While I tend to use Arch for bare-metal setups, I also keep Parrot Security OS around for live work, due to the amount of installed packages.
40 • Found a way to print directly to PDF/A from any program (by AnklefaceWroughtlandmire on 2015-09-14 21:46:53 GMT from South America)
I just found the solution to printing directly to PDF/A from any program.
1. First, install the cups-pdf virtual printer ("printer-driver-cups-pdf" on Ubuntu).
2. Open the /etc/cups/cups-pdf.conf file in a text editor as root.
3. Search for "GSCall" and add the following line to modify the defaults:
GSCall %s -q -dPDFA -dCompatibilityLevel=%s -dNOPAUSE -dBATCH -dSAFER -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -sOutputFile="%s" -dAutoRotatePages=/PageByPage -dAutoFilterColorImages=false -dColorImageFilter=/FlateEncode -dPDFSETTINGS=/prepress -c .setpdfwrite -f %s
4. Save the edited config file.
5. From any program's print dialog, print to the newly created "PDF" or "CUPS-PDF" printer. (If it doesn't exist, you'll have to add a cups-pdf virtual printer using your distro's printer config system.)
6. Look in your home directory for a newly created PDF file in the newly created "PDF" directory. If that directory isn't there, look in the /var/spool/cups-pdf directory. Open that file in your PDF reader and look at the document file properties. You'll see that its format is "PDF/A - 1b".
Hope this helps! The trick is the "-dPDFA" switch. Thanks to http://www.konradvoelkel.com/2013/03/scan-to-pdfa/ for the tip.
41 • parsix - current distro (by william Tust - USA on 2015-09-14 22:25:30 GMT from North America)
I just installed the current version of Parsix. It work for everything "Out of the Box" I best distro I've used in three (3) to trying different versions!!!
My Hats off the the people who created it!!!
This is my very first posting.
42 • My Distro (by Matt on 2015-09-14 23:53:11 GMT from North America)
I Use fedora for all of my computers. I try to run the latest qemu and kernel, so I compile those from rawhide source. I love how seamless the fedora rpmdev tools work to allow recompiling without needing root access.
43 • Re: tails (by Arch Watcher 402563 on 2015-09-15 00:33:39 GMT from North America)
@pcninja (20,21) Agreed on systemd. Probably Alpine would serve best for Tails, given Alpine's security focus and avoidance of systemd. Slackware would be a better basis than Debian, but Alpine better still.
The comment about Arch is Debian FUD, a perpetual excuse for failing to package upstream on schedule. Calling stale packages full of known bugs with known fixes in upstream "stable" is farce. Arch is far more stable. I've used both for years. Only Debian crashes. I used to drink the Debian kool-aid and finally escaped.
Debian's fallacy is that upstream releases are 90% shiny features, when they're actually 90% stability-enhancing bug fixes. Debian also tweaks upstream code that Arch leaves vanilla. Debian scares people into accepting its borked workflow and packaging laziness. BSD does ghastly sluggish packaging too, but without the FUD and better stability. Most Debian people should switch to BSD if they want stability with stale packages.
44 • Distros (by wrkerr on 2015-09-15 01:58:28 GMT from North America)
I use Arch for pretty much everything. Sometimes I'll use an installer like Architect Linux to get it up and running more quickly, but I find it to be the best in virtually every scenario.
I suppose I could see myself utilizing a Tails live USB if I were in a situation where I needed a live environment on the go, but I haven't needed that in years.
45 • Parsix (by Hoos on 2015-09-15 05:31:45 GMT from Asia)
Parsix was a great favourite of mine when it was still on Gnome 2 and Debian Testing. Excellent, quick, and problem-free during updates.
Then it moved to Gnome 3 fallback, which while visually resembling Gnome 2, retained the high graphics requirements of Gnome 3 that my old computer was not able to handle.
I've now got a computer that can handle Gnome 3, but in the interim Parsix moved to Debian Stable. I find that I no longer have need for it even though I multiboot. I have MX14 and SolydX filling the Wheezy and Jessie slots.
I wish Parsix well.
46 • Debian FUD (by linuxista on 2015-09-15 05:33:44 GMT from North America)
@43 Well said. That's probably why I use Arch (or Manjaro) everywhere except on my server (I just don't want to bother with updates). I've never found Debian to be especially stable and have always eventually ended up with package conflicts or dependency problems that were a pain to resovle. If Arch disappeared tomorrow I would go back to Ubuntu based distros which are a decent enough balance of current and stable.
47 • OS (by Kikuji on 2015-09-15 08:25:11 GMT from North America)
i use ChromeOS on my CromeBook and Linux Mint 17.2(mate) on my desktop. When I have the time I'll install OpenBSD on the desktop.
48 • Mageia (by aguador on 2015-09-15 08:51:33 GMT from Europe)
Mageia KDE was my second major distro, still in use on one of my laptops, and at the top of the list of distros I recommend to newbies or relative newbies (although it can certainly serve more advanced users needs as well). I first installed it in version 3 and have upgraded online from there with no problems.
The delays and difficulties Mageia had in getting version 5 out worried me for a while. However, from a stability standpoint the wait was worth it -- and a couple of niggling glitches related to installing from LiveDVDs got ironed out and UEFI is now working.
In addition to the strong points mentioned, I would point to a good community and the transparency of the organization, important points in the open source world.
If you do not use Cauldron, program versions will be much less than the latest, but you can always open backports, e.g., should you want to update to KDE Plasma 5.
My two workhorse machines how sport Manjaro, but I will always have a soft spot for Mageia and hope it continues to delivery the best for many years to come.
49 • @46 Debian stability (by Corax on 2015-09-15 09:11:58 GMT from Europe)
That depends entirely on what branch of Debian yu used. Debian Stable is stable as a rock. I have virtually never run into package conflicts or dependency problems with it. But if you use Debian Testing, probably with some packages from Unstable or Experimental spliced into it, well, d'oh.
50 • @43 Arch (by pcninja on 2015-09-15 11:37:41 GMT from North America)
In my own personal experience. Arch has never been stable or consistent. They are always making all these changes that just break everything and you have to undo the stupidity of the developers.
51 • @50 Arch (by mandog on 2015-09-15 12:18:09 GMT from South America)
I must totally disagree with that statement after 10 years using Arch it has proved the most stable workhorse of them all. Most other OS break after a couple of updates.
52 • @43 and 46 - Debian (by Hoos on 2015-09-15 12:29:23 GMT from Asia)
As in all things, people have different use requirements and thus experiences.
I think that for certain users who only use their distro for pretty standard things like web browsing, email, listening to music/watching movies, basic photo organisation and editing, working with documents and spreadsheets, what you may consider "stale" may on their part be mostly viewed as "it works, why change it?". For them, they just want to install and forget. Occasional/security updates are also click and forget.
Would these users really want to use an Arch-based system?
I accept that sometimes there are updates to packages that rectify significant bugs or provide new functionality a user desires, leading to frustration when he can't find it in Debian Stable, but not everyone will have that experience. To each his own.
PS. Perhaps my feelings may be different if I had pure Debian, instead of Debian derivatives where community and developers can add updated packages not found in the Debian Stable repos to their own repos. But there appear to be people running pure Debian who are happy with it.
PPS. I am happy with both Manjaro as well as Debian-Stable based distros like MX14 and Solyd.
53 • Debian Rock Solid (by Muthu on 2015-09-15 12:32:20 GMT from Asia)
Iam using Debian Jessie XFCE(Voyager X8) as my Main Distro.Previously I used Solydk as my Main OS. I Feel like iam using Windows. Voyager X8 has all the utilites Windows has. I never Run into problems during Debian Updates. I tried Arch(Manjaro & Kaos) and i got update Problems(Manjaro) and Stability(Kaos) issues respectively. I have an idea of trying bridge linux when I find time. Arch may be stable for some people but the Spin Distros might be having problems i suppose.
54 • @ 53 You have not used real Arch (by Wse on 2015-09-15 13:58:45 GMT from Europe)
>Iam using Debian Jessie XFCE(Voyager X8) as my Main Distro.Previously I used Solydk as my Main OS. I Feel like iam using Windows. Voyager X8 has all the utilites Windows has. I never Run into problems during Debian Updates. I tried Arch(Manjaro & Kaos) and i got update Problems(Manjaro) and Stability(Kaos) issues respectively. <
You are not using the real Arch. Install Arch and see!
55 • @9 ChaletOS (by 7thDayRest on 2015-09-15 14:01:39 GMT from North America)
Good call on ChaletOS. This ChaletOS, is very nice. If anyone is even a slight fan of Xfce/Xubuntu, please do give ChaletOS a try. It definitely is giving Voyager a run, for best Xubuntu customized version.
@Jesse Smith please give a review of ChaletOS.
As far as the poll, I have been leaning more toward "leaner" DEs. Such as Xfce and MATE, the more resources saved, the better (to get things done.). On my "beefier" rigs, I do like to play with KDE and a little Cinnamon too, from time to time. YMMV
56 • @55 ChaletOS need for UEFI support (by 7thDayRest on 2015-09-15 14:07:59 GMT from North America)
I forgot one thing, ChaletOS truly does need, is support for UEFI. Strange the *buntus and the Linux Mints, boot up Live and install on my UEFI rig, without issue, also openSUSE does too, for that matter.
57 • Distros (by Wse on 2015-09-15 15:35:43 GMT from Europe)
"Prior to discovering Linux, we simply put up with issues in other Operating Systems as you had no choice. It was what it was, whether you liked it or not. With Linux, the concept of choice began to emerge. If you didn't like something, you were free, even encouraged, to change it."
That's from LFS. Is anyone using LFS?
58 • Producing PDF/A's (by Richard on 2015-09-15 15:41:06 GMT from Europe)
Qoppa Software's PDF Studio Pro can produce PDF/A's and is available for linux. It's commercial software, but they offer a free trial.
59 • PDF Covversion (by Asoka Dissanayake on 2015-09-15 16:46:15 GMT from Asia)
Big Thank YOU for the article above.
I use LibreOffice and did not know it has many options available.
For my books I use AbiWord and its page formatting is exact but need to work section by section.
I hope you write something about ABIWord capabilities (which I have not discovered myself) too.
60 • @59 Abiword capabilities (by Wse on 2015-09-15 17:15:29 GMT from Europe)
Asoka, would you write about these Abiword capabilities? Would be very interesting.
61 • Distribution preferences/usage (by Shashi Warrier on 2015-09-15 17:24:41 GMT from Asia)
It's often the desktop rather than the distro that makes most of the difference to me. I tend to use different distros across different machines - servers and desktops, mainly - with the same desktop environment, customized the same say, on all machines. That allows me to use distro strengths without having to change the way I work.
62 • Mageia review (by David on 2015-09-15 18:26:50 GMT from North America)
The TVTime issue isn't a Mageia problem, tvtime requires your video card to support YUV2, which apparently newer cards (at least Radeon ones) aren't doing anymore so tvtime no longer works. I had to switch to just using mplayer for TV on my newer computer.
As for the sound issues, you're probably trying to play things with the horrible AAC audio codec. There are packages for that in tainted, you just have to install the right ones. There's a task-codec-audio package that should pull in all of them.
You definitely should have seen some security updates. Make sure you have online repositories configured in the media manager.
As for log monitoring, that app uses rsyslog logs in /var/log, and Mageia doesn't install rsyslog by default anymore because of the systemd journal. That's why it didn't work at first, you had no logs. Once it installed rsyslog for you, when you checked later, it had some logs to look at. The app needs to be ported to use the systemd journal.
63 • Alternative way for PDF/A (by Matthias on 2015-09-15 18:30:37 GMT from Europe)
64 • differnt distros (by M.Z. on 2015-09-15 20:59:47 GMT from North America)
I use a few different distros on the desktop & one just for a firewall. I like PCLinuxOS, Mint, & Mageia for my desktop systems & had been using pfSense for a firewall. Interesting to see OPNsense listed as a firewall option because I'm considering a switch if I can't find an easy way to get pfSense going again soon. I had a hardware failure & then some trouble getting good old pfSense going on a slightly newer used PC. At any rate I think it's good to have a few different options in your tool kit for getting computers to do what you want. Sometimes Mageia works better with your laptops wifi than PCLinuxOS, & sometimes a version of Mint just works on your hardware while others fail. If it doesn't work in the live environment switch to plan B or C.
On the subject of Mageia, I have to say I like the flexibility of the straight install disc. There are lots of different check boxes & options when you start poking around. I think the ability to scale different DEs to different computers & install other specialized software could be very useful. It's basically still in the same ease of use category as Mint, but so much more flexible. On the other hand getting Chrome/Netflix to work in Mint was a snap & Mageia had some problems with security keys. I think I got it working now, but it was a bit of a pain compared to Mint, & of course PCLOS puts Chrome in the repos. I guess there are no perfect options, but there are plenty of good ones to chose from.
65 • Arch Debian and All That (by Arch Watcher 402563 on 2015-09-16 04:48:16 GMT from North America)
@pcninja (#50) Hi again. I am aware of your opinion. I concede some stupidity of Arch developers, like adopting systemd, and they have bad attitude. So I laugh at tips to use the "real" Arch. Please don't. Use Manjaro OpenRC.
All distros churn big time for upstream kernel issues. All distros hurt eventually. Arch is just first in line. Once upon a time it was udev. Next cycle time, systemd. So the big churns all come from Whinus, MadHat, and PottyRing. Nobody ever blames them for major reengineering every 3 years before the stink left their last pile of git. Only with systemd did anybody ask, "What's that smell upstairs, kids?" Arch devs do need more shrewdness about such massive kernel/init changes. Go back and read my remark #60 at
Still Arch is king for packaging userland apps on time. I'd use BSD if it kept up with packaging like Arch. I went to Arch for the pace of packaging (bug fixes). I left Debian to the only choice at the time.
@Hoos (#52) It's Debian's stock fallacy that bug fixes are "Occasional" and you even lump them with "security updates." Wow. Bug fixes are the vast majority of regular updates; sometimes called point releases. That "experience" is fuzzy-wuzzy talk. Use a decently objective metric.
Until Linux distros ship upstream fast without reengineering it, distros will feel broken to newcomers. Ubuntu is the worst: slower than Debian, with more bloat, bureaucracy, and odd spyware. Even Ubuntu's crypto/security software is perpetually out of date. It's tragic that distros base on Ubuntu just because it has money and PR. It's the worst distro on earth, a completely broken OS, and always trying "the new idea" -- some new packaging format, some new window displayer thingy, nothing anyone else in distroville wants. You don't believe me, go watch Linux4UnMe on YouTube. I'd almost rather that people use Windows than Ubuntu.
"Would these users really want to use an Arch-based system?" Not "real Arch" but any distro that packages fast, has friendly forums, and ships with a nice easy installer. Manjaro OpenRC wins in my book.
66 • @ 65 • Arch Debian and All That (by Wse on 2015-09-16 06:00:52 GMT from Europe)
>"Would these users really want to use an Arch-based system?" Not "real Arch" but any distro that packages fast, has friendly forums, and ships with a nice easy installer. Manjaro OpenRC wins in my book.<
Would Manjaro "happen" without someone creating Arch? Have a read; http://distrowatch.com/dwres.php?resource=interview-arch
Manjaro is still Arch, only it has live isos. You too can install Arch and create live isos. You can also move Manjaro to Arch too.
67 • Distro Choice for tasks (by Nick on 2015-09-16 11:28:06 GMT from North America)
I stick with Gentoo for one specific reason - I can mod it to my needs, if I want a webserver just configure it for a headless Apache server with needed USE Flags that I need and don't need. Same goes for being a NAS, or a Primary Domain Controller (PDC) for my network of Window's PC's and roaming profiles...
In short Gentoo may have its downfall on compile time....but I can turn it into anything I want and get rid of the bloatware/junk that I don't need.
68 • Linux and Windows (by Garon on 2015-09-16 12:34:37 GMT from North America)
In my work I write a lot of code for PLC's used for automation, and robotics applications using compilers that runs only under MS Windows. There is no way around this problem. On my home computers I run different versions of Linux, I always use the LTS version of Ubuntu because its always stable and with ppa's can alway have up to date apps if you so desire. Also I have no spyware problems with Ubuntu because I don't have problems setting up Ubuntu. Of course I have grandchildren so I do have a Windows install also for games but they are just as much at home using Ubuntu. I also have a laptop I use for distro testing and fun. If you are not a system admin then systemd is irrelevant as are a lot of the things that people are paranoid about. The type of operating system used largely depends on the application of the system and what it's purpose is. There is no "one size fits all".
69 • This Week Poll (by Ari Torres on 2015-09-16 13:03:20 GMT from Europe)
I prefer Ubuntu for everything that I own but use Linux Lite for old computers low on resources
70 • AbiWord-Short reply (by Asoka Dissanayake on 2015-09-16 21:05:57 GMT from Asia)
AbiWord is free software.
it is only 28 or so MiB tiny but powerful.
I use it Under Linux exclusively.
It can be used with XP but I never tried.
I may have written about it elsewhere.
I cannot remember but try search under Google please.
71 • AbiWord-ILibreOffice (by Asoka Dissanayake on 2015-09-16 21:16:16 GMT from Asia)
Why I use Abiword / LibreOfice for basic work?
There are many reasons.
I will list only a few.
2. Ability to remove all formats
3. Ability to remove annoying Macros (this is on reason I started using OpenOffice when word processing was dominated by Microsoft Word-97-when one starts opening a document, one was allowed this option).
4. Its page format is solid if one knows how to use them effectively.
5. It is print ready.
6. Let one uses the page view and print view before finalizing a document.
7. It has its own document format not recognized by any other word processor big or small and let them go into panic mode.
This I use as a security option and save option as well as to tease other word processors.
8. It is light weight when uploading a document.
9. It can be converted to any other word document format effortless and seamlessly except perhaps Latex.
10. It has PDF facility.
11. it does not have facility for index but makes good a good table of contents
12. I do not use images and photos at this stage of the document to simplify my work.
When and Why I use LibreOffice?
Having finished the basic document in Abiword and when I want to add few cutting edge formatting, I upload the Abiword file and do the final touch up in LibreOffice without infringing copyrighted material.
I add images and photos later (for example added by gimp)
If I am not happy with the touch up, I upload it back again to Abiword and remove the touch up and work upwards to my satisfaction.
Lot of people try to do everything on the first go and on the first file, that is why reworking is hazardous and time consuming on the original file and it has to be proofread before publishing.
72 • systemd & Ubuntu spyware (by M.Z. on 2015-09-16 22:55:08 GMT from North America)
I tend to agree with you about systemd, most of the talk is overblown. I know my Mageia install runs systemd & my PCLinuxOS install doesn't, but I don't notice any difference & it is generally unnoticeable for most users. There is some fear of it 'taking over' which makes no sense because it's GPL/free & open like most of the Linux ecosystem & can be modified or removed by any use with the know how. The fears of systemd dependency creep are also generally overblown as most Linux programs are either cross platform (including platforms without systemd), free & open (& therefore fork-able), or more than likely both. It doesn't seem like a problem.
On the other hand Ubuntu including spyware in the default version is a big problem for all Linux users. The inclusion of spyware in Ubuntu has been well known & aware users have been able to disable the 'feature' for some time; however, the fact remains that Ubuntu is targeted toward new users that may be unaware of the feature & Canonical never goes out of its way to let users know about this revenue source. If Canonical makes a single penny from users who don't know of this feature then Canonical is profiting from putting spyware in Linux. That is unethical & so is Canonical. Organizations that don't treat their customers/users ethically don't deserve their business. If you care about the privacy & rights of your fellow fellow users, then the right thing to do is ditch Ubuntu. After all there is that whole thing about 'first they came for x & I didn't care because I wasn't one of them...'. To make a long story short, if we all sit by in passive indifference while unethical behavior happens we'll be next. If we don't expect & demand better behavior from big Linux vendors things are likely to get worse for all of us.
73 • foxit (by dmacleo on 2015-09-16 23:55:20 GMT from North America)
iirc foxit (know there was an ubuntu version) does pdf/a and others.
it is paid software though.
74 • 25 • Pulseaudio (by Carlos from Europe) (by Kragle on 2015-09-17 01:08:39 GMT from North America)
As I noted, ALSA and OSS could be as popular as (or even more popular than) PA, but instead of developing a usable GUI, lazy geeks prefer to torture potential users with obfuscation and obscurities.
75 • Linux and Windows (by Arch Watcher 402563 on 2015-09-17 02:32:08 GMT from North America)
@68 Windows is a force in industry, sure. Linux has made headway in servers and embedded systems. PLCs use ladder logic, not Windows. Windows only offers programming tools, and such exist in Linux.
I am not paranoid about systemd, just unwilling to beta test every new subsystem it gobbles. Your networking stack is next. Read Linus's infamous rant against the bugs coming from systemd devs and their irresponsibility about them.
I would not use Ubuntu even off systemd. And as #72 said, spyware is an orthogonal issue. MY problem with Ubuntu is the crashing and packaging slowness. Many Debian distros use sid, not stable (read: buggy-stale branch). If you're happy with Ubuntuesque packaging pace, try BSD. At least the kernel will not panic.
@72 An Ubuntu derivative is the WORST possible scenario for packages. You get the slowness of Debian times the slowness of Ubuntu times the slowness of a derivative. Horrible, horrible. Use Manjaro OpenRC. There used to be a website of packaging stats across major distros.
76 • @75 (by Ostro on 2015-09-17 06:29:25 GMT from Europe)
>An Ubuntu derivative is the WORST possible scenario for packages. You get the slowness of Debian times the slowness of Ubuntu times the slowness of a derivative. Horrible, horrible. Use Manjaro OpenRC.<
Don't use Manjaro OpenRc, but use vanilla Arch. You don't need a derivative, do you? You may also use Funtoo, Gentoo or Crux, if you are so worried about "slowness."
77 • no silver bullets (by M.Z. on 2015-09-17 06:44:08 GMT from North America)
Well for one thing much of Ubuntu is based on Debian _testing_ so it is generally less stale than Debian stable. Also there are no silver bullets or perfect systems in terms of packaging. I've had new updates introduce new bugs along with features & can see the benefits of that something like Debian can provide. If stable distros like Debian didn't do things of value they wouldn't be so popular as both base systems & as end user systems.
Oh & on Mint 17 & Mint Debian 2 I'm running the latest Firefox (40.0.3) which rolled into the repos within days of the original release. I can also install anything else I need via either .deb files (like I did with Opera & Chrome) or via PPAs on Mint 17. Those .deb files are updated by the same sort of package management system on both Mint Debian an Mint 17 & are always on the latest versions. An interview I heard with someone from the LibreOffice project claimed you could install the latest version of their office suite beside the older preinstalled version on distros like Mint. From much of my experience you can get the latest stuff on Mint, either Ubuntu based or Debian based, if you want it.
Also I don't really notice any of those stale old bugs your talking about. The only thing that I've often noticed problems with in Mint 17 is the QupZilla browser (version 1.6), though the latest version which is in Mageia (1.8.6) is even buggier, just in totally different ways. I also run PCLinuxOS with the almost new kernels (currently 4.1.7) & like to keep it around as an option, so I see the appeal of newer software too. At any rate I don't think newer packages are any kind of panacea that will fix all your potential bugs, even though both rolling & stable distros have their merits & uses.
I'd also point out that there are genuine bug fixes back ported into older programs on Debian, so it isn't like they sit around acting as though security is the only possible problem with old software. I think the reputation for stability in Debian is well earned & their combination of both security & bug fixes on slightly older packages that are treated as 'feature complete' genuinely provides stability enhancements. If some arch based distro is right for you them fine, but don't pretend others are necessarily making bad or ill-informed choices just because they are different from the choices you made.
78 • Ubuntu (by linuxista on 2015-09-17 15:10:25 GMT from North America)
@77 Ubuntu is actually based on Debian Unstable, but your point about staleness still stands. Regarding the advantages of Debian stable, however, for a personal or work desktop I think the staleness is a bigger problem than any worries about unstable updates, especially with rolling releases, where any problems are usually minor glitches that do not result in program or global instabilities, and which are usually fixed in a matter of days.
79 • @78 (by Hoos on 2015-09-17 15:53:43 GMT from Asia)
But if you're talking about a program that is "stale" apart from needing updates to rectify instability, then it's not an issue that affects practical usage.
Rather, it looks to be dependent on personal value judgment. Maybe some people love that idea that things are changing and being updated all the time with new features, and they are happy to take the time to monitor rolling updates, check the forum/internet for solutions to bugs, watch out for fixes the next few days, etc.
But that's time and attention spent on updates. What about people happily using their Debian Stable applications without problems who don't need to be excited by new features or updates to the applications ever so often? Maybe there are bugs that might affect other users but which do not apply to them.
80 • re: Debian FUD vs Arch (by SilentSam on 2015-09-17 16:32:05 GMT from North America)
I'm laughing at all these comments declaring Arch more stable than Debian...
In particular, this: The comment about Arch is Debian FUD, a perpetual excuse for failing to package upstream on schedule. Calling stale packages full of known bugs with known fixes in upstream "stable" is farce. Arch is far more stable. I've used both for years. Only Debian crashes. I used to drink the Debian kool-aid and finally escaped.
Debian patches security holes. It doesn't enforce updates. That way, you know there are no introduced issues performed by an upgrade.
Why does this matter? Arch upgrades the kernel via rolling release. Even it's LTS kernel is only stuck on the major version, not the minor.
Take a Dell R900 server. The entire 3.x series fails to work with the hard disk controller on that model. So you perform a pacman -Syu, and low and behold, you cease to boot now.
How is this more stable than Debian?
There are a variety of different arguments I can also append, but that one alone means Arch is unstable for any server requiring uptime.
81 • @ 80 • SilentSam (by Ostro on 2015-09-17 17:40:12 GMT from Europe)
>Take a Dell R900 server. The entire 3.x series fails to work with the hard disk controller on that model. So you perform a pacman -Syu, and low and behold, you cease to boot now.<
Arch is not designed for any particular type of use. Rather, it is designed for a particular type of user. Arch targets competent users who enjoy its do-it-yourself nature, and who further exploit it to shape the system to fit their unique needs.
Become a user or throw away the Dell R900.
82 • rolling release rules!!! (by Arch-vant guard hipster on 2015-09-17 18:17:40 GMT from North America)
Dude you should all totally stop running Debian & switch to Arch. Arch is so fresh & hot & always new you'll love it. All Debian is is a stale musty old piece of cheese that's been ages for two freaking years by the time its done. Arch is not only fresh & hot, its super stable. Come here & feel this... you feel that? Arch is super hard & tone & stable because it has newer bug fixes than Debian. The only people that use Debian are old gray bearded guys working for the man. Don't be an old poser sell out working for the man, use Arch.
Seriously guys, get over yourselves, it's just a distro. Debian & Arch are mostly the same OS, just on a different schedule. I do think Linux is an important OS, but choosing the freshest sub version/distro isn't the end of the world.
83 • debian stable rules!!! (by linuxista on 2015-09-17 19:05:33 GMT from North America)
You could easily turn your sarcasm back around and apply it to the Debian stable users who claim the Debian is rock solid and spread the FUD that rolling releases are per se unstable. It can also be just as easily said that Debian is just another distro and that, seriously, you should get over yourselves.
84 • @79 (by linuxista on 2015-09-18 02:49:46 GMT from North America)
"...they are happy to take the time to monitor rolling updates, check the forum/internet for solutions to bugs, watch out for fixes the next few days, etc."
Where this perception comes from I don't know. I never do any of these things, except check the internet for bugs, but no more than I ever needed to do for any other distro, and probably less. All I do is hit update, and that's it. Once in a while there's a notice to do something after the fact that needs some attention. Over the long haul I find it less work and more stable than release upgrade distros, especially when you factor in release upgrades, which is why I'm still using it.
85 • Debian FUD vs. Arch FUD Chatter (by Chris on 2015-09-18 03:08:04 GMT from North America)
Well, at least it's more interesting than the typical "My Ubuntu Respin's wallpaper is better then your Ubuntu Respin's wallpaper" slap-fight...just barely... Ugh...
86 • Four Horsemen Ride as I Await Debian Patches (by Arch Watcher 402563 on 2015-09-18 06:22:04 GMT from North America)
@SilentSam I think you ignored my critique of kernel.org. That stewpot of dumbo gumbo on your wood stove just emitted a cloud of incoherence. I pulled from it two ideas. (1) Blame Arch roll for years-long kernel.org/Dell.com fail. (2) Arch forces upgrades on users. I call bullgit on all of it.
So drivers for R900 RAID controller worked in 2.x.x series, then broke in 3.x.x, a kernel series lasting some 4 years. You blame Arch. Wow. Ask Dell Support for their rolodex details on corporate partners RedHat, OpenSUSE, and Canonical. Why bother with Arch? Specialty hardware needs specialty support.
The other half of your claim is Arch forces upgrades on users. Arch does not force you to run upgrades, ever. You can leave a whole system sit and stew, just like Debian. You can upgrade one single package, say a security patch, just like Debian. You can make Arch do whatever Debian did for you. But wait, there's more.
You can full-roll yet pin the kernel with a simple one-liner in /etc/pacman.conf
You can compile your own kernels with Arch Build System, or use an unofficial repo listed on Arch Wiki. Kernel 2.6.x builds still float around. Manjaro offers more prebuilt kernels than any distro. And if you're running an old kernel then OpenRC might make more sense. It's all over the AUR and supported in Manjaro.
My impression of Debian people is that none have ever used Arch for any length of time at all. Their so-called critiques are silly. I have used both for years. I've had Arch systems with uptimes in months, full rolling the whole time. Debian alone gives me headaches and nightmares and crashes.
The 99% case is that Debian sits for months to years stalling bugfixes needed to keep a rig from crashing. That's why I left. I drank the kool-aid about stability, waiting for Debian to package bugfixes I saw with my own eyes sitting "SOLVED" and "CLOSED" in upstream official releases.
After half a year or so, quite full of kool-aid, and needing to relieve myself of Debian "stability" crashing me reliably and predictably at solved bugs, I would compile my own kernels and apps. They conflicted with Debian packages, because Debian adds "special sauce" to vanilla upstream code. I said to myself, "What benefit is this? It would be less work to run Linux from Scratch."
"All I do is hit update, and that's it. Once in a while there's a notice..."
Exactly right. In Debian you need to subscribe to the mailing lists to know what condition your rot-ware has attained.
"The only people that use Debian are old gray bearded guys working for the man..."
The unkempt beards are right, but the only people who use Debian are those who haven't used any other Linux distro in their entire life.
I'm not into the end of the world either, I just want my boxes to stay alive so I can get work done that isn't makework which Debian should handle. It's sort of, um, the point in using a distro at all, even if unrelated to Armageddon.
87 • Arch (by giggler on 2015-09-18 08:14:05 GMT from Europe)
You know, the attitude displayed by the Arch supporters is one of the reasons why I'm not interested in that distro. And as everyone knows, the official Arch forums are even worse.
88 • Debian @86 (by Hoos on 2015-09-18 08:28:05 GMT from Asia)
My observation and that of @77 (per: " If some arch based distro is right for you them fine, but don't pretend others are necessarily making bad or ill-informed choices just because they are different from the choices you made.") is that --- you appear to make definitive wide sweeping statements about Debian and Arch, based on your own experiences.
Example: "The unkempt beards are right, but the only people who use Debian are those who haven't used any other Linux distro in their entire life."
So Debian does not work for you and I'm sure your criticisms are justified for your use case. But you seem to draw an extreme conclusion that therefore all Debian users will face the same problems and are experiencing bugs that may never be solved. However, I'm merely pointing out that everyone's experiences are different and people may not encounter the problems or bugs you have.
To be clear, I also don't agree with those who say Debian is better than Arch in all cases, or make sweeping statements against Arch either.
I use both rolling and non-rolling distros. I have been running and updating the same Manjaro and Semplice (Sid) installations non-stop for close to 3 years now. But at the Debian Stable end of the spectrum, I'm also running MX14 and Solyd for some time. I had crunchbang 10 and upgraded it to version 11 (RIP now, yay for Bunsenlabs). They all worked for me.
I'm just saying they all have their place.
89 • Debian (by jymm on 2015-09-18 11:51:42 GMT from North America)
I agree Hoos, I started with PC Linux, then switched to Debian, so the statement "he only people who use Debian are those who haven't used any other Linux distro in their entire life." I have also ran many other distros on a USB key, from Bridge to Manjaro and I always come back to a Debian based distro.
90 • @ 88, 86 etc (by Wse on 2015-09-18 13:42:33 GMT from Europe)
Debian is not bad, but is damn too old. Arch is is bleeding edge. I am using Openbox on Arch, Debian-base and Ubuntu-base. Arch is actually a base. I keep Arch-Openbox updated, but am using Ubuntu-Openbox for work. Not looked at the Debian-Openbox for a month or so. Right now, I am thinking on having Openbox on Gentoo, which is more like Arch, but built on source. If I succeed on that, the Debian-Openbox would get deleted.
91 • Arch V others (by John smith on 2015-09-18 14:12:37 GMT from North America)
I have a lot of comps of various makes models etc...and i have quite a wide selection of distros running on them..
All fairness Debian Stable ..is that Stable...as long as you don't change things and install much...otherwise you could be in for a lot of issues..
Arch Pure ...never had anything very problematic in 3 yrs ...always up to date and stable
Manjaro probably i use more than any and is rarely more than 2 weeks behind Arch in updates if you use its Stable repos.. a lot quicker if you dont...I am still running from my initial install about 4 yrs ago when it was very new.....couldnt wish for a more up to date stable OS
PClinux OS again always been stable
Fedora ..was terrible so i dont use it any more,
Open suse was Stable just didnt like it much
Antix for Debian testing was suprisingly good,
Gentoo has never ever had any problems and is always up to date and
Slackware is very stable if not always up to date..
Ubuntu i dont use at all for my self
92 • oy vey... (by Tim Dowd on 2015-09-18 15:25:23 GMT from North America)
All y'all need to stop flaming. All OS's have advantages. All OS's have disadvantages. People who use one or the other are not stupid, they're not, ignorant, and they're not just waiting for your pithy comments to realize they've been wrong all along. Distrowatch is one of the first places newbies come to figure out what distro they should consider downloading and us looking like we're a bunch of trolls is not helping the FOSS movement.
Arch and Debian are both wonderful and they're thousands of hours of other people's work that we are given for free. They're not meant for the same use cases. Debian stable is a great choice for machines that can't spend a lot of time being updated (servers especially, but also workstations that may have limited internet connections, or people that just don't like to update all the time). Arch is great for being bleeding edge and really teaching people how their computer works. Wonderful- but pretending that's everyone's use case is wrong. In the middle is Debian testing, which has some of the benefits of both and some of the pitfalls of both. But at the end of the day we're supposed to respect that people who choose FOSS software have a brain and if they've got their OS working the way they need it that's what matters.
93 • oy vey (by linuxista on 2015-09-18 20:23:16 GMT from North America)
Not every disagreement is a flame war. Sometimes challenging iron-clad beliefs elicits resistence, but can still be an exchange of ideas. For example, while I agree wholeheartedly with your statement: "Debian stable is a great choice for machines that can't spend a lot of time being updated (servers especially, but also workstations that may have limited internet connections, or people that just don't like to update all the time)." In fact I use CentOS on my server for that very reason, and would consider Debian in the future because I'm more familiar with apt-get.
Your description of the Arch use case, however, is typically limited in scope. While Arch is indeed bleeding edge a great learning tool per the ArchWiki, for an intermediate user, Arch is also surprisingly stable, simple and easy to maintain over the long term. When you factor in doing release upgrades, claims of stability, ease and simplicity dramatically reverse, which is why there are so many discussions about "release upgrades vs. clean installs."
Users are obviously free to pick their own poison, but the point that Debian stable is clearly more stable and easier to maintain, etc. usually does not comprehend release upgrades with the various potential pitfalls (e.g. upgrade script interrupts or boot failures) and the recommended, fairly involved,multi-step procedure (https://www.debian.org/releases/stable/amd64/release-notes/ch-upgrading).
For me, having a stable workstation that requires a little bit of work now and then is much less work to one that, while a stable snapshot in the short term, may catastrophically break on me every 2 years and/or require a clean install and reconfiguring everything to my liking. The fact that I have greater package selection and that everything is up to date is just icing on the cake.
That some prefer a stable snapshot for two or so years with an involved and somewhat risky upgrade procedure at intervals is a valid preference that I respect. But I don't think the constant refrain that Debian stable (or any release upgrade model) is per se more stable than a rolling distribution is defensible when you include the long term.
94 • Arch flame war (by M.Z. on 2015-09-18 20:36:13 GMT from North America)
Comment #92 sounds about dead on correct. I guess comments #20 &21 implied that Debian made a better base for some distro than arch & it became a whole giant flame war. Why? Because Tails wasn't going to switch to another base due to some DW comment & someone agreed with that inevitable result? Silly nonsense. Use what you feel like & be happy with it. I'm unlikely to put up with the antiquated & manually intensive installer of straight Debian again even though I found it quite stable & reliable after I set it up. I'm also feeling quite turned off from Arch after all this. I have a good pragmatic reason to avoid Debian stable based on the lengthy install/set up; however, I think its sad that I'm gonna feel like avoiding Arch 'just because', but I guess that's the way it is. At any rate I'll avoid both Arch & Debian.
95 • suse (by Jordan on 2015-09-18 21:42:43 GMT from North America)
Good Lord.. after all these years! Suse isn't the subject dujour atm, but I want to post
somewhere about it and this is the place.
It still doesn't work! It's still got the same software issues it had years and years ago.
Hardware detection and function were fine.. but...
From the venerable Dedoimedo site, a review reflecting what I just went through with the
"OpenSUSE 13.2 Harlequin delivers a two-face performance. When it comes to hardware, it is truly top-notch, with an extremely fast and elegant installation, splendid support for UEFI in a complex, multi-boot setup, and good detection of all the different components on a fairly new device. You can't print to Samba, and the Realtek Wireless card suffers from the same woes as it does in Ubuntu, but other than that, it's spotless. The system was also stable, without any crashes, and it would sleep and wake instantly."
"On the other hand, software management is clunky. You have to sacrifice quite a bit of patience, time, knowledge, bandwidth and luck to get everything you need. There are just too many steps, too many traps, too many ways to obtain the software, and you are tempted to wander about the Web, searching for third-party content. That's not how Linux should behave. Worse still, there were errors with packages, plugins, codecs, conflicts with dependencies, and still other issues that would deter veterans, lets alone noobs."
Sheesh! I went in with such high hopes. I am bothered by this because of how old and
high ranking this distro is. What the hell??
96 • flame wars (by Tim Dowd on 2015-09-18 22:36:37 GMT from North America)
I agree that not every disagreement is a flame war, but I do think this one was. At one point it was implied that everyone who chooses Debian is part of a nonthinking cult that's just too dumb to see the big picture. I'm not anti Arch I just really like Debian and I hate seeing it trashed.
As for underselling Arch above I didn't mean to... I've just never used it. It doesn't surprise me that once you know how it works well, that it's simple, stable, and wonderful. I will have to try it at some point... it's just that right now my computers (running a mix of Debian Testing and NetBSD) are doing what they're supposed to be doing and that's a good time to let them keep doing such. If I looked more pro Debian than Arch it's just that I know it better.
My comment above (92) was basically to make this point: arguments over what's better, Debian or Arch, serve no real point. My original comment on the thread (27) tried to make the point that a lot of picking a distro depends on personal preference, and those preferences arise from what use cases one has and what their history is. The flame war started with an attack on Debian stable and comparing it negatively to Arch. Comparing those two distros is absurd. They're not meant for the same purpose.
Would it be fair to say that Arch and Debian testing are more like one another? I think discussing the pros and cons of each in that case would be appropriate, as long as we don't call each other morons.
I'm curious what about the Debian installer you don't like? I'm actually quite a fan. I think it gives you more options than most, like which mirror you want, etc, but for me that's an advantage and the defaults are usually pretty obvious. The one time it's not great is if you're trying to install over wifi. That's not an installer issue but rather the restrictions on no non-free software on the default install that's part of the Debian philosophy.
97 • My 2 cents on Arch stability... (by wrkerr on 2015-09-19 03:36:56 GMT from North America)
I used Ubuntu as my primary for about seven years, then Fedora as my primary for about two years, and now Arch as my primary for about the last two years. For me, Arch has been more stable than Ubuntu or Fedora. I highly recommend it to anyone patient enough to follow directions, and with at least a basic understanding of Linux.
Now Arch is even easier to recommend, because there's a very helpful installer that can get a full vanilla Arch system up and running in less than 15 minutes.
98 • set up & install (by M.Z. on 2015-09-19 03:44:09 GMT from North America)
Well it's been a while so it's a bit fuzzy; however, as I remember it the Debian installer seemed to need 5x as many steps as others to get things done. In truth the worst part of it was that I was running into issues where I couldn't get a proper connection to the software repos. It felt like it took forever to hunt down & apply the answer, though I'm not sure how long it really took. At any rate I think Mint Debian is a lot better for PC users than Debian proper, and their mirror selection tool is top notch. Like I said Debian 7 was fairly solid & reliable after initial setup process, but I'd prefer something easier to get going.
99 • @96 flame wars (by linuxista on 2015-09-19 06:28:27 GMT from North America)
>>Would it be fair to say that Arch and Debian testing are more like one another?
Yes, in the sense that they're both rolling. The perceived advantage of Debian testing would be that it would be more stable, maybe especially in a LMDE situation where packages are held back in service packs. Maybe it's more stable, and maybe it's not. On the one hand there has been some degree of additional testing, but on the other hand if there are any bugs or lack of features, you're generally stuck with them for a longer period. With Arch or Sid, while there is a risk of more bugs, they're usually fixed within a few days and sometimes a few weeks.
In my experience with Arch (5 years on the same install) the bugs have been infrequent and insignificant enough that I think rolling on the edge is a more than acceptable balance of new features and bug fixes vs. risk of breakage than holding onto snapshots for 3 months, 9 months, 2 years or whatever. Debian testing offers a different balance that might appeal to many, but for me, if the edge is quite stable, I can't see any advantage in backing up.
I think this is a tribute to the quality of Linux and free software in general, that you can serve up generic binaries and build scripts from newly released source with simple package management tools, and it overwhelmingly just works.
100 • Debian vs. Arch (by Ari Torrs on 2015-09-19 10:54:33 GMT from Europe)
They both suck big time when it comes time to install it on a hard drive
In live mode Arch is almost impossible while Debian is OK
Ubuntu Rules :)
101 • @5 - big pdf's (by Aeg on 2015-09-19 15:51:50 GMT from Europe)
Just fyi - I have come across the same issue on several packages: yes, pdf pproduced in Linux seems much larger than when produced in Windows. I am actually very happy with gscan2pdf.
Check this simple workaround: pdf2ps <filename> to produce a .ps file, I then ps2pdf <.ps file just made>. It will produce a 6-8 times smaller .pdf without major quality loss.
102 • Evaluate each situation case by case (by thatmetroguy on 2015-09-19 20:19:43 GMT from Europe)
I don't like to use the same distro for everything I do as for certain things you will need to install certain packages and/or fix broken packages by the new ones that you have put on. e.g. At the moment, I am doing a video of my time at Rewind (an 80's festival) and thought of using Kdenlive to do it, but when looking at it on Linux Mint 17.2, I noticed that it was using KDE 4 and also that the version of Kdenlive was a very old version (had not been updated in a long time). When looking online (and with a little bit of help), installed a beta version of Kbuntu 15.10 (which is the only version to have KDE 5 at this time). Now using this, I have a newer and better version of Kdenlive and am able to complete the video faster (even though it is very buggy), makes it a lot easier to do and complete it. It was lucky that I checked to see if there was a better version and there was!!! It really did pay off and I am pleased! But for other tasks, it is a different story, but yes, I do like to evaluate each situation case by case because you can always get better results when you do.
103 • LMDE & Ubuntu (by M.Z. on 2015-09-19 21:31:15 GMT from North America)
Actually since LMDE 2 snapshots/service packs are gone & only the the desktop & a few specific apps like Firefox roll. From version 2 on the plan is that the base system for Linux Mint Debian is Debian stable. It's a good way to get the latest version of Cinnamon or MATE before regular Mint users, but there are no more service packs & most of the underlying bits are straight from Debian stable.
Only if you don't mind spyware. If you prefer a distro from a more ethical source there are plenty of good Ubuntu derivatives though.
Number of Comments: 103
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