| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 630, 5 October 2015
Welcome to this year's 40th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
First impressions count for a lot and small details can make a big difference in people's minds. That is why it is important for system installers to work well and look polished. It is why a desktop's defaults matter, even if it is easy to change the interface's settings. This week, in our News section, we talk about system installers, default configurations and first impressions. We cover how Fedora's package maintainers keep up to date with constantly changing upstream software. We also discuss new designs proposed for Ubuntu's system installer and Raspbian's move to make the Raspberry Pi more attractive to end users. Plus, the Linux Mint team has shared news that their distribution has been bundled on a series of small computers. Our Feature Story this week explores Android-x86 and how well the operating system works on a laptop computer. In our Questions and Answers column we explore ways to keep a home directory clean of unwanted files and then we share the torrents we are seeding. Plus, we list the releases of the past week and, in our Opinion Poll, we ask how our readers prefer to acquire new installation media. We wish you all a wonderful week and happy reading!
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
An Android living in your computer
The Android-x86 project is an on-going effort to make Google's Android operating system, typically run on phones and other mobile devices, run smoothly on laptops, desktop computers and tablets equipped with x86 processors. Android-x86, on paper at least, offers most of the features one would expect from a desktop operating system.
This week I decided to download the project's latest release, version 4.4-r3, and see how well it would work as a desktop operating system. The Android-x86 download page is a bit cluttered, but I eventually found what I was looking for, a 411MB ISO file I could use to install this unusual operating system.
The Android-x86 media boots and presents us with a menu where we can select to run Android from the live media, run Android from the live media in safe graphics mode or install Android on our hard drive. Let's explore what happens when we jump straight into the installer. Android's installer consists of a series of text screens. The first screen asks us to select a partition where Android-x86 will be installed. If no suitable partition is available, we can choose to run a text-based partition manager (cgdisk) to destroy or create partitions on our disk. Once we have navigated the cgdisk partition manager and returned to the installer we can select which partition will hold Android-x86 and proceed to the next step. We are then asked which file system we would like to use with our options including ext2, ext3, NTFS and FAT. Here I ran into a problem. It did not matter which file system I selected from the menu, the installer told me it was unable to mount my partition and returned me back to the previous step. At this point I rebooted, launched the installer again and found I could select any file system to use and the installer would accept it, format the partition and proceed. We are then asked if we would like to install the GRUB boot loader and whether we would also like to install GRUB with EFI support. We are then asked if we would like to set up Android-x86's /system partition to be writeable (the default is to make /system read-only).
The first time I booted Android-x86 I was brought to a graphical configuration screen which asked me to select my preferred language from a list. An error message then popped up, letting me know "Google App" had crashed. Then the screen went blank and the computer did not respond to mouse or keyboard input. I forced the computer to reboot and was again shown the graphical configuration screen. This time when the error message about Google App stopping appeared I was able to dismiss the error and continue through the initial configuration process. We are then asked to select an available wireless network from a list. The next screen asks us to associate our installation with a Google account. We then have the option of syncing our data and settings on-line with Google. The next screen asks us to input credit card information and we can skip this screen if we wish. The final screens ask us to confirm our time zone and enter our name.
Android-x86 4.4-r3 -- The application menu
(full image size: 1.4MB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
With the configuration steps completed we are brought to a screen which acts as Android's version of a desktop. Near the bottom of the screen we find a button which opens a full-screen application menu. Just below this button are three buttons for navigating the interface. One button moves us back to a previous screen, the middle button brings us to the home screen (or desktop) and the third button displays a list of open applications, allowing us to switch between tasks. The background is green and there is a notification bar at the top of the display letting us know software updates are available. Dragging this notification area down with the mouse pointer allows us to click on the update notification and install new versions of packages available in Google's repositories.
At this point in the process I ran into an interesting problem. Specifically, while Android-x86's interface would respond to mouse clicks and gestures, when running in a VirtualBox virtual machine the mouse pointer was not visible by default. The Android interface does not lend itself to navigating by keyboard after we finish the initial set up and this makes Android-x86 very awkward to navigate in a virtual environment with the default settings. I found I could work around this by disabling VirtualBox's mouse integration. With mouse pointer integration turned off, the mouse became visible in the Android interface.
Android-x86 4.4-r3 -- Viewing system notifications
(full image size: 1.2MB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
Something else I noticed was, when running in a virtual machine, Android-x86's screen resolution was quite low. When I ran Android-x86 on a laptop computer the operating system used my display's full resolution. When running on the laptop computer I found extra icons were visible on the desktop. These icons could be used to launch a messaging app, open Google's YouTube app, launch a web browser or open a music player.
I soon ran into a second problem with running Android in a virtual environment. If left idle for more than a few seconds, the display would go dark and Android-x86 would essentially put itself to sleep, much like a smart phone does. However, there does not appear to be any button or mouse gesture to wake up Android-x86 when it is running in a virtual machine. What I found would wake up Android-x86 was selecting VirtualBox's "ACPI Shutdown" option. Sending this shutdown signal to Android-x86 would, perhaps counter-intuitively, wake up the operating system. I later found an option in Android's Settings panel which would force the display to stay on, avoiding sleep mode altogether.
In the upper-right corner of the screen is a settings menu we can pull down from the top bar. This menu gives us quick access to Android's settings panel, battery charge information, the ability to change screen brightness and a button to power off the device. When running on my laptop there was an option available to lock the screen's orientation which prevents applications from rotating the display. The rotation-lock feature was not available when I ran Android-x86 in a virtual machine.
Android-x86 4.4-r3 -- Installing a new application from the Play Store
(full image size: 126kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
Android-x86 provides us with access to a huge collection of software through Android's software manager, called Play Store. Play Store presents us with collections of popular programs and media we can download to our computer. I noticed some items are not listed in Android-x86's version of Play Store that are available when using an Android powered phone. Some games, for instance, are simply not listed. I did some investigating and it seems applications which are known to not work on the Android-x86 platform are automatically filtered out. That's not to say all applications listed in the Play Store always work. Some applications do work, especially smaller, simpler programs. For instance, I got the Jota Text Editor to run and edit text files. Firefox's mobile browser, the Netflix application and most games I tried failed to load when run in a virtual environment. Microsoft's Word application installed and would run, but forced the screen to flip sideways and then wouldn't open or create any documents. Android-x86 ships with a YouTube client and this works. There is also a built in web browser, but it tended to crash while loading complex web pages. When I switched from my virtual machine installation to my Android-x86 installation running on a laptop I found more applications worked. Netflix, for example, would launch and I could browse through available media. No videos would actually play, but I could change my account settings and queue available titles. The Microsoft Word application would load and I could open documents in the Word app. However, the Microsoft Word application did not recognize keyboard input, making it impossible to edit documents on my laptop. YouTube and the default web browser worked well when run on the laptop and my screen's orientation lock kept apps from rotating my screen 90 degrees.
By this point it had become pretty clear that running Android-x86 on a laptop computer produced a much better experience than running the operating system in a virtual machine. When running on the laptop my screen resolution was higher, the graphical interface was more responsive, my screen's orientation could be locked and more applications would run without crashing. Most applications responded well to keyboard and mouse input and the operating system was generally stable (even if some applications were not). There were a few problems I ran into though when running Android-x86 on the laptop. As I mentioned previously, some applications did not respond to keyboard input. Presumably these applications were waiting for input from a software keyboard which was not present. Another issue I ran into was my laptop's fan would run at full speed constantly, even when my CPU was running at under 10% utilization.
Android-x86 4.4-r3 -- The Settings panel
(full image size: 56kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
I use an Android powered smart phone on a daily basis and so I had assumed, going into this review, that it would be fairly easy for me to transition to using Android-x86 as a desktop operating system. I was mistaken. While I knew where settings were, how to navigate features and knew the names of applications I wanted to use, I still found Android-x86 was not easy to navigate. Some of that problem was muscle memory, I think. For instance, on Android (even when running Android-x86 on a laptop) we scroll through content by dragging the visible page up or down. On a touch device this is accomplished with a quick finger gesture, but on a laptop scrolling is accomplished via an awkward click and drag motion. There are no scroll bars. We cannot simply click on a notification or button to navigate, the user must click and drag the icon or screen edge to access more information or to switch desktop work spaces. With a laptop's touch pad these gestures feel alien and it takes longer to explore Android-x86's interface than most other desktop interfaces. Likewise, multitasking is awkward because it takes two clicks and more mouse movement to switch tasks rather than just the one click required on a traditional desktop.
Another feature of Android-x86 I noticed early on was, during the set up phase, I always selected not to synchronize my settings and data between devices. Yet in both my test environments I found my list of installed applications, contacts and calendar had been automatically downloaded. When I went back to my mobile phone I found the items and contacts I had set up in my test environments had been automatically synchronized back to my phone, despite explicitly opting out of this feature during Android-x86's initialization.
I think it is fair to say Android-x86 has a lot of rough edges. Even when we ignore how the operating system performs in a virtual environment and focus on the experience I had using a physical laptop, there are still several problems. The laptop runs hot and needs to run its fan constantly, several applications are not available, won't run or do not work properly. Navigating the interface is a bit awkward when we compare Android-x86's interface with more traditional graphical desktops like Xfce or KDE.
Android-x86 4.4-r3 -- Exploring the YouTube app
(full image size: 500kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
Despite the problems I ran into with Android-x86, there were some aspects of the project which impressed me. The fact developers have been able to get Android working on a consumer x86 laptop at all is a feat in itself. I was also happy to note many of Google's applications do run well on Android-x86. For instance, the Maps program, YouTube and other bundled applications usually worked smoothly. As I pointed out above, contacts and my calendar synchronized correctly (even if I didn't want them to do so). What I'm saying is, when we consider the Android-x86 project is taking an operating system and porting it to another platform, getting anything to run at all is quite an accomplishment. Being able to run Android on a laptop computer, install some working software, transfer files between computers, watch YouTube videos and jot down notes in a text editor are all impressive accomplishments by the Android-x86 team. If I were using a tablet device with a x86 processor instead of a laptop, I think Android-x86 would probably be a good operating system to run on the device.
What it comes down to is Android-x86 offers most of the functionality of Android on a desktop or laptop computer. Not everything works and there are some quirks because Android is typically used on small, touch devices. Some programs in the Play Store will not work, or lack some functionality. However, a lot of programs do run, the operating system is stable and most of the functionality of Android is present in the Android-x86 port. If you can grow accustomed to using the mouse pointer to perform finger gestures, running Android-x86 is an interesting experience that mostly works.
* * * * *
Hardware used in this review
My physical test equipment for this review was a de-branded HP laptop with the following specifications:
- Processor: Intel i3 2.5GHz CPU
- Display: Intel integrated video
- Storage: Western Digital 700GB hard drive
- Memory: 6GB of RAM
- Wired network device: Realtek RTL8101E/RTL8102E PCI Express Fast
- Wireless network device: Realtek RTL8188EE Wireless network card
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
How Fedora tracks software releases, Ubuntu's redesigned installer, Raspbian enables desktop by default and purchasing computers with Linux Mint pre-installed
Modern distributions are made up of thousands of software packages. Since each distribution has more packages in its repositories than it has volunteers to maintain these packages, it is important for distributions to have methods of monitoring upstream projects and to automate parts of the package building process. Fedora Magazine showcased some of the tools Fedora uses to help Fedora's many package maintainers keep up with the latest upstream developments. "Most Fedora package maintainers maintain multiple packages. Often they do their work in their personal, spare time. So the Fedora Infrastructure team does its best to help them easily keep an eye on new upstream releases. The Infrastructure team develops, deploys and maintains all of these apps, including an upstream monitoring application." Information on some of the tools used and details on how package maintainers get update notifications are covered in the Fedora Magazine article.
* * * * *
The Ubuntu developers are changing the look of their distribution's system installer. The installer's new interface attempts to simplify navigation and provide a common interface across all devices. As one of the designers commented, "One of the major changes we wanted to achieve was to give the user the same experience across all devices, moving us closer to achieving a seamless convergent platform." Commentary on the system installer's new design, along with screen shots, can be found in the design team's blog post.
* * * * *
Last week the Raspbian project released a major update of its Debian-based operating system for Raspberry Pi computers. The new update brings Raspbian up to date with features and packages from the Debian distribution. There is also another significant change, designed to make Raspbian more accessible to a wider audience: Raspbian boots into a desktop environment by default. Previous releases of Raspbian booted into a minimal command line environment and the user could then choose to launch a graphical interface. By booting into a desktop by default the project hopes to put a friendly face on Raspberry Pi computers. "The first thing anyone starting the new Jessie image from scratch will notice is that the default behaviour is to boot straight to the desktop GUI, not to the Linux command line. This was a decision taken because this is the expected behaviour for all modern computers; the default interface for a personal computer in 2015 is a desktop GUI, not just text on a screen. It is still possible to set the Pi to boot to the command line for people who prefer that - just toggle the relevant setting in the Raspberry Pi Configuration application." More information on the Raspbian "Jessie" release can be found on the Raspberry Pi's website.
* * * * *
Historically, it has been difficult to purchase a computer with Linux pre-installed on the hard drive. In recent years some retailers have started offering buyers laptop and desktop computers bundled with Ubuntu, but other distribution options have largely been absent. Last week the Linux Mint team shared news that CompuLab is selling small computers, called the Mintbox 2 and Mintbox Mini, with copies of Linux Mint 17.2 pre-installed. Specifications and prices for the Mintbox computers can be found here.
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Clearing out dot files from the home directory
Cleaning-my-home asks: Over time the dot files in my home directory have grown out of hand. Is there any tool or application that can clean out old or unwanted dot files?
DistroWatch answers: Cached data, configuration files and history data all get tossed into hidden files in each user's home directory. After a while the amount of data can build up, taking up disk space and slowing down backup processes. Often times the data stored in dot files (files and directories that have names beginning with a "." character) is unnecessary and therefore can be deleted from time to time. The problem is, with most applications leaving behind a steady trail of files, it can be time consuming to clean them up and difficult to even know what can be safely deleted.
One tool you may want to explore is BleachBit, an application designed to clean out old, unwanted or unnecessary files. The BleachBit application's website says: "BleachBit quickly frees disk space and tirelessly guards your privacy. Free cache, delete cookies, clear Internet history, shred temporary files, delete logs, and discard junk you didn't know was there." BleachBit provides users with a nice graphical interface to help explore the jungle of history files, cookies, application preferences and old database files. It is also available in the software repositories of most distributions.
Another possible approach is to use a shell command to search for any files that have not been accessed recently and remove them. This will only work if the "noatime" flag is not set in your /etc/fstab file for your home directory's file system. In other words, if you are not sure if your system tracks the access times of files, it is best not to use this approach.
Assuming your file system does track access times, you can clear out any files not accessed in the past year by using the following commands. These two commands check through the contents of the home directory, looking for any files older than 365 days contained inside hidden directories. A hidden directory is any directory whose name starts with a "." character. Any files in a hidden directory not accessed in the past 365 days are deleted.
Before running the above commands it is a good idea to back up your files, in case the cleanse wipes out something that might have been useful, or in case a typo is made. If you want to see which files will be deleted without actually removing them, replace the "-delete" flag in the above command with "-print". This will provide a list of stale files that can be removed.
for i in .[^.]?*; do find "$i" -depth -atime +365 -type f -delete; done
for i in .[^.]?*; do find "$i" -depth -atime +365 -type f -print; done
* * * * *
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: 117
- Total data uploaded: 15.4TB
|Released Last Week
Joost Ruis has announced the release of Sabayon 15.10, the latest monthly build of the Gentoo-based distribution available in GNOME, KDE, MATE and Xfce desktop flavours. This is Sabayon's first release that features KDE's Plasma 5 desktop, as well as a new system installer. From the release announcement: "As already pre-announced, we switched the default installer. Anaconda served us well, but we decided to embrace the community-baked Calamares, the distribution-independent installer. If you don't know it, check out their website. Also if it is young and some features are missing, it is lighter and more bug-free with respect to our old installer. The KDE edition now ships the new Plasma 5 by default. Since we had to put much effort in making a working release with Calamares, we had to ditch Steam Big Picture mode and Media Center installation options."
Simon Long has announced the released of the first Debian "Jessie"-based Raspbian, version 2015-09-24, a distribution designed specifically for the Raspberry Pi single-board mini-computer. What's new in this major update? "Many of the changes between Wheezy and Jessie are invisible to the end-user. There are modifications to the underlying system to improve performance and flexibility, particularly as regards the control of system processes, and as with any update, there are numerous bug fixes and tweaks. And at the same time as the upgrade to Jessie, we've added a bunch of changes and improvements to the desktop user interface. The first thing anyone starting the new Jessie image from scratch will notice is that the default behaviour is to boot straight to the desktop GUI, not to the Linux command line. This was a decision taken because this is the expected behaviour for all modern computers; the default interface for a personal computer in 2015 is a desktop GUI, not just text on a screen." Read the rest of the release announcement for more details and screenshots.
Calculate Linux 15
Alexander Tratsevskiy has announced the availability of Calculate Linux 15, a major new release of the project's Gentoo-based distribution for desktops (with a choice of KDE, MATE or Xfce), servers and media centres: "We are happy to announce the release of Calculate Linux 15. Main changes: a new method for packages updates - better reliability, each mirror stores version history, updates are faster, the update tool selects the fastest mirror, update configuration defaults to parallel fetching and installation; common binary repositories - distribution profiles were unified, you are free to choose between three brand-new flavours, each with USE flags adapted to different needs; new Calculate Utilities 3.4 - system build tools were completely rewritten, Calculate Console comes with a GUI mode, Overlayfs support was added for fast deployment...." Here is the complete release announcement.
Calculate Linux 15 -- Running the KDE desktop
(full image size: 1.1MB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
NixOS 15.09 has been released. NixOS is an independently developed Linux distribution with a unique approach to package and configuration management, Nix package manager, atomic upgrades with rollbacks, and other interesting features. "NixOS 15.09 'Dingo' has been released, the fourth stable release branch. In addition to numerous new and upgraded packages, this release has the following highlights: the Haskell packages infrastructure has been re-designed from the ground up; NixOS now distributes the latest version of every single package registered on Hackage, i.e. well over 8,000 Haskell packages; Nix has been updated to version 1.10 which, among other improvements, enables cryptographic signatures on binary caches for improved security; you can now keep your NixOS system up to date automatically; this release is based on glibc 2.21, GCC 4.9 and Linux kernel 3.18." A brief release announcement has been published on the project's home page and there are more detailed release notes with information on upgrade incompatibilities.
NixOS 15.09 -- Running the KDE 4.14 desktop
(full image size: 535kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Linux From Scratch 7.8
Bruce Dubbs has announced a new release of the Linux From Scratch (LFS) guide to building a Linux distribution from the ground up. The latest edition of the LFS book, version 7.8, and its companion book Beyond Linux From Scratch (BLFS) explore how to set up a functioning Linux system from individual source packages. While the main edition of LFS guides the user through setting up a system with SysV init, there is an alternative edition of LFS which explores using the systemd init software. "The Linux From Scratch community announces the release of LFS stable version 7.8. It is a major release with toolchain updates to glibc 2.22, Binutils 2.25.1, and GCC 5.2.0. In total, 30 packages were updated and changes to boot scripts and text have been made throughout the book. You can read the book online, or download to read locally. In coordination with this release, a new version of LFS using the systemd package is also being released. This package implements the newer systemd style of system initialization and control and is consistent with LFS in most packages." The release announcement for LFS 7.8 can be found on the project's website.
Qubes OS 3.0
Joanna Rutkowska has announced the availability of a new release of Qubes OS, a Fedora based platform which isolates a user's tasks for improved security. The new release, Qubes OS 3.0, includes a number of important improvements over the 2.0 release. Key among the new features are separating Qubes from the underlying hypervisor (which may allow Qubes to use alternative hypervisors in the future), Debian templates and an upgrade from Xen 4.1 to 4.4. "New features since 2.0: HAL (Hypervisor Abstraction Layer) - based on libvirt, opens a whole new possibilities of using different hypervisors. Currently Qubes OS uses Xen. Xen 4.4 - many new features, but for us the most important is much more mature libxl tool stack. Qrexec 3 - greatly improved performance by using direct VM-VM connections and bigger buffers. Debian templates gets official support. Whonix templates. Build system improvements - especially support for distribution-specific plugins (makes supporting multiple distributions much easier) and building templates using DispVM. Automated tests - makes much easier to find bugs, before its even shipped to users." Further information can be found in the project's release announcement and the release notes.
The developers of SparkyLinux, a desktop distribution based on Debian's testing branch, have released SparkyLinux 4.1 in several editions. The latest release features packages from Debian Stretch, version 5.2.1 of the GNU Compiler Collection, LibreOffice 5.0.1, systemd 226 and version 4.1.6 of the Linux kernel. "New ISO images of SparkyLinux 4.1 are ready to go. SparkyLinux 4 is based on and fully compatible with Debian testing 'Stretch'. It's the first update of SparkyLinux 4.x, which provides a few important changes, such as: full system upgrade from Debian testing repository as of 28 September 2015. Linux kernel 4.1.6, GCC 5.2.1, systemd 226, Plasma Desktop 5, LibreOffice 5.0.1." The new release includes some additional changes, for example the Adobe Flash player has been removed from the default installation, but is still available in the distribution's repositories. Further information on SparkyLinux 4.1 can be found in the project's release announcement.
Network Security Toolkit 22-7248
Ron Henderson has announced the release of a new version of the Network Security Toolkit (NST) distribution. The latest release, NST 22-7248, includes a new geolocation map with the ability to plot IPv4 network addresses on the map. This release also features a new systemd management widget and the NST web service now runs on non-standard ports, freeing up the standard network ports for serving user created websites. "We are pleased to announce the latest NST release: `NST 22 SVN:7248'. This release is based on Fedora 22 using Linux kernel: 4.1.7-200.fc22. This release brings the NST distribution on par with Fedora 22. Here are some of the highlights for this release: Development of a new geolocation map presentation using technology from the WebGL Globe project. This allows for gelocated IPv4 addresses to be rendered on a globe within your browser using WebGL. See the live demo on the NST Wiki site: NST WebGL (View Globe). One can now populate the NST Networking Tools Widgets with results from many of the NST integrated applications...." Additional information on NST 22-7248 can be found in the project's release announcement.
The developers of KaOS, a rolling release distribution which ships the latest releases of the KDE desktop and the Calligra productivity suite, have announced the availability of a new release. The new version, KaOS 2015.10, offers a number of interesting new features, including better protection in against data corruption enabled in the XFS file system. The new release also features the option of signing into the Plasma desktop running in a Wayland session from the login screen. "Bigger news though is two changes. This ISO image is the first time that the default XFS file system is CRC and finobt enabled. CRCs enable enhanced error detection due to hardware issues, whilst the format changes also improve crash recovery algorithms and the ability of various tools to validate and repair meta-data corruptions when they are found. The free inode btree does not index used inodes, allowing faster, more consistent inode allocation performance as file systems age." Further details can be found in the project's release announcement and in the release notes.
KaOS 2015.10 -- Running the Plasma 5 desktop
(full image size: 745kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
Netrunner 15.09 "Rolling"
The Netrunner development team has announced a new release of the project's Rolling edition. The new release, Netrunner Rolling 2015.09, is based on the Manjaro distribution and features a number of important changes. The most visible is a switch from using KDE4 to KDE's Plasma 5 desktop environment. Netrunner has adopted the Calamares system installer and the new release ships with LibreOffice 5. "The Netrunner team is proud to announce the release of Netrunner Rolling 2015.09 64-bit. Netrunner Rolling 2015.09 has gotten a complete overhaul: The desktop transitioned from KDE4 to Plasma 5 together with KDE Applications 15.08 and hundreds of packages updated to their latest versions. Calamares is now used as the default Installer. LibreOffice and VirtualBox now ship in their 5. versions. Gmusicbrowser has been fine tuned to load and display large music collections in an efficient and easy way, automatically adding album covers from the Internet." Additional information on the new Rolling installation media along with screen shots can be found in the project's release announcement.
Alexander Pyhalov has announced the release of OpenIndiana 2015.10, the latest update of the distribution originally forked from the now-defunct OpenSolaris operating system: "So, after half a year we have a new ISO image. We synced IPS with the Everycity version, which includes Oracle updates and fixes necessary for IPS to work on illumos. Two major changes from previous IPS shipped with OpenIndiana Hipster - now we have Python 2.7 IPS version (in addition to the Python 2.6 one) and the linked image is the default zone type now. IPS knows about the zones and enforces some restrictions - for example, now GZ's publisher list should be subset of NGS's publisher list. Also distribution constructor was updated to use Python 2.7. Other changes include some preparations to support non-GRUB boot loaders. The text installer now creates separate file system for /var. We also included the text installer in the GUI ISO images. The main issue with GUI installer is that it is written in C and there's no one supporting it. The text installer, written in Python, is easier to maintain, so it gets more attention." Read the rest of the release notes for further details.
Slackel 6.0.4 "Openbox"
The developers of Slackel, a Slackware based desktop distribution, have released Slackel 6.0.4 "Openbox". The new release of the Openbox edition features the 4.1.6 version of the Linux kernel, the ability to choose between the GRUB and LILO boot loaders at install time and many package upgrades. "Slackel 6.0.4 Openbox has been released. Slackel is based on Slackware and Salix. Includes the Linux kernel 4.1.6 and latest updates from Slackware's 'Current' tree. The ncurses installer includes the option to install GRUB or LILO boot loader. For users installing on a GPT EFI laptop or desktop PC there is this video for helping them. Changes are: SpaceFm has been replaced by SpaceFM file manager. OpenJRE, Rhino, icedtea-web. Gnumeric has been removed because of ISO image fitting on a 700 MB CD. Slackel 6.0.4 Openbox includes the Midori 0.5.11 web browser, Claws-Mail 3.9.2, Transmission, Pidgin 2.10.11, Gftp 2.0.19, wicd. AbiWord 3.0.1 office application included." Further details and screen shots can be found in the project's release notes.
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Preferred way to acquire an ISO file
There are several ways one can go about getting installation media to try out a new distribution. Some of us like to download ISO images using bittorrent as it provides automatic data integrity checks and a chance to help others download the same media. Others prefer the tried and true approach of downloading over the HTTP or FTP protocols, some of us are on slower Internet connections and find it easiest to purchase physical installation media.
Our question this week is: What is your preferred method for acquiring installation media?
You can see the results of last week's poll on Steam and gaming here. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
Preferred way to acquire an ISO file
|Bittorrent: ||1073 (44%)|
| FTP/HTTP through a web browser: ||1098 (45%)|
| FTP/HTTP through a dedicated client: ||207 (8%)|
| Purchase physical media: ||27 (1%)|
| Physical media from a friend/peer: ||4 (0%)|
| Other: ||31 (1%)|
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 12 October 2015. To contact the authors please send email to:
- Jesse Smith (feedback, questions and suggestions: distribution reviews, questions and answers, tips and tricks)
- Ladislav Bodnar (feedback, questions, suggestions and corrections: news, donations, distribution submissions, comments)
|Linux Foundation Training
|• Issue 848 (2020-01-13): elementary OS 5.1, accessing USB ports directly, NetBSD expanding Wayland support, Fedora phasing out old Python packages|
|• Issue 847 (2020-01-06): Android-x86 9.0, Hypberbola switching to BSD base, Debian votes on init diversity, slow adoption of Wayland and delta packages|
|• Issue 846 (2019-12-23): NomadBSD 1.3, Tails publishes boot fix, Arch update requires intervention, Purism launches server lineup, password protecting files|
|• Issue 845 (2019-12-16): OpenIndiana 2019.10, BunsenLabs' "Lithium" preview, MX-Fluxbox, 10 years of Tails, installing local packages|
|• Issue 844 (2019-12-09): Project Trident Void alpha, alpha installer for "Bullseye", SparkyLinux portable edition, dealing with large log files|
|• Issue 843 (2019-12-02): Obarun 2019.11.02, Bluestar 5.3.6, using special characters on command line, Fedora plans to disable empty passwords, FreeBSD's quarterly status report|
|• Issue 842 (2019-11-25): SolydXK 10, System Adminstration Ethics book review, Debian continues init diversity debate, Google upstreaming Android kernel patches|
|• Issue 841 (2019-11-18): Emmabuntus DE3-1.00, changing keys in keyboard layout, Debian phasing out Python 2 and voting on init diversity, Slackware gets unofficial updated live media|
|• Issue 840 (2019-11-11): Fedora 31, monitoring user activity, Fedora working to improve Python performance, FreeBSD gets faster networking|
|• Issue 839 (2019-11-04): MX 19, manipulating PDFs, Ubuntu plans features for 20.04, Fedora 29 nears EOL, Netrunner drops Manjaro-based edition|
|• Issue 838 (2019-10-28): Xubuntu 19.10, how init and service managers work together, DragonFly BSD provides emergency mode for HAMMER, Xfce team plans 4.16|
|• Issue 837 (2019-10-21): CentOS 8.0-1905, Trident finds new base, Debian plans firewall changes, 15 years of Fedora, how to merge directories|
|• Issue 836 (2019-10-14): Archman 2019.09, Haiku improves ARM support, Project Trident shifting base OS, Unix turns 50|
|• Issue 835 (2019-10-07): Isotop, Mazon OS and, KduxOS, examples of using find command, Mint's System Reports becomes proactive, Solus updates its desktops|
|• Issue 834 (2019-09-30): FreedomBox "Buster", CentOS gains a rolling release, Librem 5 phones shipping, Redcore updates its package manager|
|• Issue 833 (2019-09-23): Redcore Linux 1908, why Linux distros are free, Ubuntu making list of 32-bit software to keep, Richard M Stallman steps down from FSF leadership|
|• Issue 832 (2019-09-16): BlackWeb 1.2, checking for Wayland session and applications, Fedora to use nftables in firewalld, OpenBSD disables DoH in Firefox|
|• Issue 831 (2019-09-09): Adélie Linux 1.0 beta, using ffmpeg, awk and renice, Mint and elementary improvements, PureOS and Manjaro updates|
|• Issue 930 (2019-09-02): deepin 15.11, working with AppArmor profiles, elementary OS gets new greeter, exFAT support coming to Linux kernel|
|• Issue 829 (2019-08-26): EndeavourOS 2019.07.15, Drauger OS 7.4.1, finding licenses of kernel modules, NetBSD gets Wayland application, GhostBSD changes base repo|
|• Issue 828 (2019-08-19): AcademiX 2.2, concerns with non-free firmware, UBports working on Unity8, Fedora unveils new EPEL channel, FreeBSD phasing out GCC|
|• Issue 827 (2019-08-12): Q4OS, finding files on disk, Ubuntu works on ZFS, Haiku improves performance, OSDisc shutting down|
|• Issue 826 (2019-08-05): Quick looks at Resilient, PrimeOS, and BlueLight, flagship distros for desktops,Manjaro introduces new package manager|
|• Issue 825 (2019-07-29): Endless OS 3.6, UBports 16.04, gNewSense maintainer stepping down, Fedora developrs discuss optimizations, Project Trident launches stable branch|
|• Issue 824 (2019-07-22): Hexagon OS 1.0, Mageia publishes updated media, Fedora unveils Fedora CoreOS, managing disk usage with quotas|
|• Issue 823 (2019-07-15): Debian 10, finding 32-bit packages on a 64-bit system, Will Cooke discusses Ubuntu's desktop, IBM finalizes purchase of Red Hat|
|• Issue 822 (2019-07-08): Mageia 7, running development branches of distros, Mint team considers Snap, UBports to address Google account access|
|• Issue 821 (2019-07-01): OpenMandriva 4.0, Ubuntu's plan for 32-bit packages, Fedora Workstation improvements, DragonFly BSD's smaller kernel memory|
|• Issue 820 (2019-06-24): Clear Linux and Guix System 1.0.1, running Android applications using Anbox, Zorin partners with Star Labs, Red Hat explains networking bug, Ubuntu considers no longer updating 32-bit packages|
|• Issue 819 (2019-06-17): OS108 and Venom, renaming multiple files, checking live USB integrity, working with Fedora's Modularity, Ubuntu replacing Chromium package with snap|
|• Issue 818 (2019-06-10): openSUSE 15.1, improving boot times, FreeBSD's status report, DragonFly BSD reduces install media size|
|• Issue 817 (2019-06-03): Manjaro 18.0.4, Ubuntu Security Podcast, new Linux laptops from Dell and System76, Entroware Apollo|
|• Issue 816 (2019-05-27): Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.0, creating firewall rules, Antergos shuts down, Matthew Miller answers questions about Fedora|
|• Issue 815 (2019-05-20): Sabayon 19.03, Clear Linux's developer features, Red Hat explains MDS flaws, an overview of mobile distro options|
|• Issue 814 (2019-05-13): Fedora 30, distributions publish Firefox fixes, CentOS publishes roadmap to 8.0, Debian plans to use Wayland by default|
|• Issue 813 (2019-05-06): ROSA R11, MX seeks help with systemd-shim, FreeBSD tests unified package management, interview with Gael Duval|
|• Issue 812 (2019-04-29): Ubuntu MATE 19.04, setting up a SOCKS web proxy, Scientific Linux discontinued, Red Hat takes over Java LTS support|
|• Issue 811 (2019-04-22): Alpine 3.9.2, rsync examples, Ubuntu working on ZFS support, Debian elects new Project Leader, Obarun releases S6 tools|
|• Issue 810 (2019-04-15): SolydXK 201902, Bedrock Linux 0.7.2, Fedora phasing out Python 2, NetBSD gets virtual machine monitor|
|• Issue 809 (2019-04-08): PCLinuxOS 2019.02, installing Falkon and problems with portable packages, Mint offers daily build previews, Ubuntu speeds up Snap packages|
|• Issue 808 (2019-04-01): Solus 4.0, security benefits and drawbacks to using a live distro, Gentoo gets GNOME ports working without systemd, Redox OS update|
|• Issue 807 (2019-03-25): Pardus 17.5, finding out which user changed a file, new Budgie features, a tool for browsing FreeBSD's sysctl values|
|• Issue 806 (2019-03-18): Kubuntu vs KDE neon, Nitrux's znx, notes on Debian's election, SUSE becomes an independent entity|
|• Issue 805 (2019-03-11): EasyOS 1.0, managing background services, Devuan team debates machine ID file, Ubuntu Studio works to remain an Ubuntu Community Edition|
|• Issue 804 (2019-03-04): Condres OS 19.02, securely erasing hard drives, new UBports devices coming in 2019, Devuan to host first conference|
|• Issue 803 (2019-02-25): Septor 2019, preventing windows from stealing focus, NetBSD and Nitrux experiment with virtual machines, pfSense upgrading to FreeBSD 12 base|
|• Issue 802 (2019-02-18): Slontoo 18.07.1, NetBSD tests newer compiler, Fedora packaging Deepin desktop, changes in Ubuntu Studio|
|• Issue 801 (2019-02-11): Project Trident 18.12, meaning of status symbols in top, FreeBSD Foundation lists ongoing projects, Plasma Mobile team answers questions|
|• Issue 800 (2019-02-04): FreeNAS 11.2, using Ubuntu Studio software as an add-on, Nitrux developing znx, matching operating systems to file systems|
|• Issue 799 (2019-01-28): KaOS 2018.12, Linux Basics For Hackers, Debian 10 enters freeze, Ubuntu publishes new version for IoT devices|
|• Issue 798 (2019-01-21): Sculpt OS 18.09, picking a location for swap space, Solus team plans ahead, Fedora trying to get a better user count|
|• Issue 797 (2019-01-14): Reborn OS 2018.11.28, TinyPaw-Linux 1.3, dealing with processes which make desktop unresponsive, Debian testing Secure Boot support|
|• Issue 796 (2019-01-07): FreeBSD 12.0, Peppermint releases ISO update, picking the best distro of 2018, roundtable interview with Debian, Fedora and elementary developers|
|• Issue 795 (2018-12-24): Running a Pinebook, interview with Bedrock founder, Alpine being ported to RISC-V, Librem 5 dev-kits shipped|
|• Issue 794 (2018-12-17): Void 20181111, avoiding software bloat, improvements to HAMMER2, getting application overview in GNOME Shell|
|• Full list of all issues|
Star Labs - Laptops built for Linux.
View our range including the Star Lite, Star LabTop and more. Available with a choice of Ubuntu, Linux Mint or Zorin OS pre-installed with many more distributions supported. Visit Star Labs for information, to buy and get support.
|Random Distribution |
OzOs was a Xubuntu-based Linux distribution that uses a heavily-customised Enlightenment 17 desktop, built from the latest development (SVN) sources. The distribution offers a minimal number of pre-installed applications, but additional ones can be added later - either via standard Debian utilities or by using the project's online package repository. It also includes optional extras - small applications, themes and eye candy for the desktop.