| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 632, 19 October 2015
Welcome to this year's 42nd issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
Presentation can count for a lot and we often find that what an operating system or application can do is less important to people than how the software interacts with its users. In a similar vein, how an application looks or what information is available in a distribution's release notes make an important first impression. This week we explore presentation and form, beginning with Linux Lite. The Linux Lite distribution is based on Ubuntu and a lot of work has gone into making the operating system newcomer friendly. Read our Feature Story to get the details on the latest Linux Lite release. In our News section we report on CentOS rolling out a 32-bit build of CentOS 7 and DragonFly BSD's attempt to port the Wayland display technology. We also talk about the GhostBSD project unveiling support for ZFS storage pools at install time. Plus we share an opinion piece on communication styles and the Linux kernel mailing list. Also in this issue we share the torrents we are seeding and provide a list of distributions released over the past week. In our Opinion Poll we ask how our readers feel about convergence, a concept which several OS designers are promoting. We wish you all a wonderful week and happy reading!
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (36MB) and MP3 (29MB) formats
• Music credit: Clouds Fly With Me by Matti Paalanen
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
The friendly face of Linux Lite 2.6
Usually when I review a distribution it is because one of three things have happened. Either it is a recent release of one of the mainstream distributions, someone has specifically requested that I talk about the project or the developers are doing something unusual that I personally find interesting. By contrast, I basically tripped and fell into Linux Lite.
"Linux Lite deserves more credit than it gets," someone commented on a Linux-related thread I was reading. Since it has been some time since I last experimented with Linux Lite, I paid a visit to the distribution's website. It looked pretty good and I kept reading and then browsed the release announcement for Linux Lite 2.6. It read, in part, "Linux Lite 2.6 Final is now available for download. This release cycle has seen a number of improvements and additions to Linux Lite. With the introduction of the Linux Lite Control Centre, we aim to provide one central location for everything that you need to configure your computer. What's new - Systemback, a system restore and creation tool. Disks, an easy to use partition, hard drive and SSD manager. A new Dark Theme. Updates to some of our Lite applications. As well as the usual latest versions of Firefox 40.0.3, LibreOffice 126.96.36.199, Thunderbird 38.2.0."
All of the above sounded pretty good to me, and I admit to being tempted by the talk of a new Control Centre. However, what pushed me over the edge and got me to download Linux Lite 2.6 was this little gem toward the bottom of the release announcement:
Minimum recommended specs:
It is surprisingly rare to find a project that lists minimal hardware requirements. And though it is a small detail, a little thing, the hardware requirements list was enough to get me to download the latest release because it showed the developers cared, even if just a little more than the developers of projects which do not share this information. Linux Lite (hereafter sometimes simply referred to as "Lite") is available in 32-bit and 64-bit builds for the x86 architecture. I opted to try the 64-bit version which is available via a 780MB ISO file.
VGA screen capable of 1024x768 resolution
DVD drive or USB port for the ISO image
Booting from the Lite media brings up a menu asking if we would like boot the distribution's live desktop environment, start the live environment using safe graphics mode, boot from our local hard disk or check the integrity of the Lite disc. Taking the live desktop option loads the Lite distribution and presents us with the Xfce 4.10 desktop environment. The Xfce desktop is arranged with the application menu, task switcher and system tray placed at the bottom of the screen. On the desktop we find a large icon for launching the distribution's system installer. When Xfce first loads, a welcome screen is displayed in the middle of the screen. This welcome screen presents us buttons which can be used to install software updates, access on-line support, open a local help manual and access the project's hardware database. The welcome screen also provides links that invite us to contribute code, donate to the Lite project or visit the distribution's social media pages.
Linux Lite 2.6 -- The locally stored help manual
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Lite uses the same graphical system installer as Ubuntu and its family of community distributions. The installer is quite streamlined and many users will be able to get through the majority of configuration screens by simply taking the default options. We are first asked to select our preferred language from a list and given the chance to view the project's release notes. The next screen asks if we would like to download software updates and/or install third-party multimedia packages during the installation. I said yes to both, insuring I would have multimedia codecs and updated software packages on my system when the installation was finished. We are next asked if we would like the installer to automatically partition our hard drive or if we would like to manually divide up our disk. I went with the manual option and I quite like how easy the partition manager screen is to navigate. The layout is simple and we are shown a visual representation of our disk. Lite offers us support for most file systems, including ext2/3/4, Btrfs, JFS, XFS and LVM volumes. The first time I tried to install Lite, I opted to run the distribution on a Btrfs volume. Taking this option caused the system installer to display an error saying the partition could not be created and then the installer locked-up. I killed the installer's process and started over from the first screen. The second time through I opted to install Lite on a partition formatted with the ext4 file system and the installer proceeded as expected. We then select our time zone from a map of the world, confirm our keyboard's layout and create a user account for ourselves. The installer quickly copied its packages to my hard drive and then returned me to the live desktop environment.
Booting our new copy of Linux Lite brings us to a graphical login screen. The login page is decorated with grey wallpaper and we sign into our account by clicking a floating head icon and supplying our password. The first time we sign into our account the welcome screen appears again. There is a highlighted button on the welcome screen that urges us to install software updates before we do anything else. I like this feature as it shows the developers are putting some emphasis on security. Clicking the update button brings up a screen that displays a list of available software updates (there were twelve in total on my first day with Lite) and the update window offers to install all the waiting upgrades. The update process went smoothly for me (and quickly, since I had already downloaded these packages during the initial installation). I don't think Lite has an update notification app, at least I did not see any indication of additional software updates during my trial. However, the update manager is listed in Linux Lite's application menu under the Favourites category to encourage us to check for new versions of software from time to time.
Looking through the rest of the distribution's application menu we find the Firefox web browser, the Thunderbird e-mail client, LibreOffice 5, a PDF document viewer and a simple image viewer. The GNU Image Manipulation Program is included along with the VLC multimedia player and the Xfburn disc burning software. Lite includes media codecs and Flash (assuming we enabled these components in the system installer). Linux Lite ships with an application finder (handy for locating a program if we are not sure of its specific name), an archive manager, a calculator and a text editor. There are utilities for installing third-party hardware drivers, managing user accounts and setting up printers. Linux Lite includes the Xfce desktop configuration tools and these utilities make Xfce 4.10 quite flexible in its behaviour and appearance. Lite includes links to support forums and a detailed local help manual which includes clearly written step-by-step instructions and screen shots to assist us in navigating the distribution. Network Manager is available to help us get on-line. Linux Lite ships with Java and the GNU Compiler Collection. The distribution uses Upstart as its init software and ships with version 3.13 of the Linux kernel.
Linux Lite includes a handful of additional applications which I think deserve attention. For example, the program simply labelled "Backups" in the application menu is Deja Dup. This program makes it very easy to create backups of the files in our home directory as well as schedule future backups. Deja Dup also restores files from backups with very little effort on our part. It's nice to see a backup solution that basically involves clicking "Next" a couple of times, whether we are saving archives or restoring files from them.
A companion to Deja Dup is Systemback. The Systemback program focuses on backing up or duplicating our operating system rather than a user's data files and configuration. Using Systemback we can create restore points and make a live disc image of our running operating system.
Linux Lite 2.6 -- Cleaning up the system with Lite Tweaks
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Lite Tweaks is another helpful program that assists the user in performing routine maintenance. Lite Tweaks presents us with a list of tasks it can perform and we just check a box next to the tasks we wish to have done. Lite Tweaks will clean our package cache, fix the boot menu, remove old kernels and wipe our web browser cache. There are some other tasks Lite Tweaks will perform and I like that each available task is given a safety rating so we know which ones may cause problems (like removing old kernels) and which ones are completely safe (such as cleaning web browser cache).
Next up was the System Information application which is basically a hardware information browser. This program gives us easy access to the components of our system and we can check on the hardware in use and the drivers being utilized.
I would like to give a nod to LibreOffice 5. Not many distributions have shipped with LibreOffice 5 yet and I was curious to see how the productivity suite would perform. I think LibreOffice 5 is a little faster to start than version 4 was. The icon set Linux Lite ships with looks really nice in LibreOffice too. Otherwise LibreOffice 5.0 worked about the same for me as LibreOffice 4.3 has in the past. In other words, the software works quickly and gave me no trouble.
Linux Lite 2.6 -- Lite Control Centre
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I'd also feel the Lite Control Centre deserves some attention. The Lite Control Centre is a central configuration panel that is divided into multiple screens. Down the left side of the window we find tabs which help us find groups of configuration modules. On the right side we are shown information or specific control modules. The first screen we see provides a sort of dashboard for the operating system. The Control Centre shows us our IP address, some hardware information and lets us know the last time we checked for software updates. Other tabs give us access to desktop settings, similar to the way Xfce's control panel works. There is a software management tab that gives us access to programs like Lite Software (more on that later) and the update manager. There is a Hardware tab where we can set up printers, install third-party drivers and change our monitor and power settings. The Network tab helps us browse for or create network shares. There is a System tab where we can manage user accounts, perform backups, run the Lite Tweaks tool and partition our storage drives. There is also a handy tool that will provide a detailed report of the hardware present on our computer, the packages we have installed and other status information. This report tool can be quite helpful when it comes time to file a bug report.
On the whole, the Lite Control Centre doesn't really offer us many unique features, rather it provides an easy way for us to find specific configuration modules in one place. Using the Control Centre is easier than searching for a specific tool in the application menu. After all, the Control Centre is less crowded and organized neatly into tabs. The visual look of Lite Control Centre is quite similar to OpenMandriva's Control Centre. The tabs, icon style and general layout are about the same. I think the Control Centre will be especially helpful for Linux newcomers as it gives us a lot of information and options in one place without being overwhelming.
Linux Lite 2.6 -- Managing applications with Lite Software
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Linux Lite supplies us with two graphical software managers. The first is called Lite Software and it is used to add or remove commonly used desktop applications. Lite Software begins by refreshing our local database of available software. We are then asked if we wish to add or remove packages. Taking the "Add" option brings up a list of popular software packages that is about a page in length. Each package name has a checkbox next to it along with a brief description. Some of the items include PlayOnLinux, Skype, Google Talk's web browser plugin, a music player, the Steam gaming portal, VirtualBox and WINE. We can check the box next to items we want and Lite Software will install the selected items for us. The "Remove" page of Lite Software works much the same way where we are shown a list of installed applications and we can check items we wish to remove. I found Lite Software worked well for me and it was an easy way to locate and install popular desktop programs.
The second graphical package manager is the venerable Synaptic application. Synaptic provides us with an alphabetically sorted list of available packages. We can search for specific items and mark packages we wish to install, remove or upgrade. Synaptic processes our requested actions in batches and works quickly. According to Synaptic, we have access to over 46,000 software packages, most of which are pulled from Ubuntu's 14.04 "Trusty" repositories. Some packages are also pulled from personal package archives (PPAs) and Google's package repositories.
Linux Lite 2.6 -- The Synaptic package manager
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I ran Linux Lite in two test environments, a physical desktop machine and a VirtualBox virtual machine. In both environments, Lite performed very well. My screen was set to its maximum resolution, audio worked and the volume was set to a medium volume. Networking was enabled and the distribution was very responsive. Lite had short boot times and the Xfce desktop always responded quickly to input. The distribution used approximately 250MB of RAM when sitting idle at the Xfce desktop and Linux Lite used about 3.5GB of disk space for a fresh installation. I was pleased to find Lite integrated automatically with VirtualBox and would allow me to make full use of my host's screen resolution when running in the virtual environment.
I greatly enjoyed my time with Linux Lite 2.6. The distribution does a lot of things well, is easy to set up and use and the project offers us a lot of beginner friendly documentation. Linux Lite provides a great balance of speed, user friendliness, features and stability.
I like that Linux Lite manages to live up to its name by using few resources while still looking nice, the distribution manages to provide a stable base while shipping with up to date desktop applications and it offers good hardware support too. It is especially nice to see a distribution provide a control panel similar to the OpenMandriva Control Centre. This is one of the features I have most wanted to see adopted by distributions outside of the OpenMandriva family and it's nice to see Linux Lite take the lead on this one.
Lite ships with a good deal of functionality, providing users with most of the desktop software they are likely to need without, I'm happy to report, bogging down the application menu with a lot of extras, I feel a good balance was struck with regards to the default applications. Plus, I like that Lite offers us multimedia support out of the box.
Mostly, what I appreciated about Linux Lite was the distribution's sense of polish. I don't mean visually, though I did enjoy Lite's default look, I mean polish in the sense that the little details were addressed. Most distributions will have some small bugs or quirks or little annoyances. Perhaps too many notification messages or an application that won't launch or the software manager will not always run properly because PackageKit refuses to relinquish its lock on the package database. Linux Lite, by contrast, offered a smooth, pleasant experience. The one bug I ran into was with the system installer locking up when I attempted to use Btrfs as my root file system. Otherwise, I had a completely trouble-free experience with Lite. The documentation was helpful, the system was responsive, no applications crashed, there were no annoying notifications and the package manager worked as expected. I came away from my trial with Lite sharing the opinion that Linux Lite deserves more credit than it gets.
* * * * *
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)
CentOS offers 32-bit build, DragonFly BSD ports Wayland, GhostBSD unveils support for ZFS storage at install time, OpenBSD turns 20 and Bodhi releases AppPack
When CentOS 7.0 was released the distribution was made available for 64-bit x86 processors exclusively. In an effort to provide support for older or lower end machines, the CentOS team is launching a 32-bit build of their operating system, which is based on the source code for Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Johnny Hughes posted an announcement for the new builds: "We would like to announce the general availability of CentOS Linux 7 for the 32-bit x86 (i386) architecture. This is the first major release of the 32-bit x86 by the AltArch Special Interest Group. This release is based on the source code from the CentOS 7 (1503) x86_64 architecture and includes all current updates from the main CentOS 7 tree." More information on the 32-bit build of CentOS 7 can be found on the project's AltArch wiki page.
* * * * *
Wayland is a new technology for displaying graphical interfaces on GNU/Linux distributions and is intended to eventually replace the aging X11 software. For the most part, we have not yet observed efforts to port Wayland to other operating systems. The DragonFly BSD project has become a rare exception and ported Wayland (and the Weston reference compositor) to the DragonFly BSD operating system. A commit message announced the port: "An initial port of libwayland and the Weston reference compositor to DragonFly. Currently DragonFly specific because of, e.g. usage of libdevattr for device enumeration." Instructions for using the new Wayland port are available in the commit notes.
* * * * *
The GhostBSD project, a desktop operating system which uses FreeBSD as its base, is working to better support ZFS, an advanced file system. ZFS supports a lot of useful features like snapshots, multi-disk storage pools and data integrity checks. These features make ZFS appealing in many desktop and server environments. In a Google Plus post, the GhostBSD team unveiled a new page of their graphical system installer that walks the user through setting up a ZFS storage pool. Support for ZFS volumes is expected to appear in the upcoming release of GhostBSD 10.2.
* * * * *
The source tree for the OpenBSD operating system turned 20 years old on Sunday. The source code for the security-oriented BSD flavour was made available to the public by its founder, Theo de Raadt, in October 1995 and the project has been fixing bugs, writing documentation and improving features ever since. Mr de Raadt reflected on OpenBSD's humble beginnings yesterday in a mailing list post: "OpenBSD's source tree just turned 20 years old. I recall the import taking about 3 hours on an EISA-bus 486 with two ESDI drives. There was an import attempt a few days earlier, but it failed due to insufficient space. It took some time to repartition the machine. It wasn't terribly long before David Miller, Chuck Cranor and Niklas Hallqvist were committing... then more people showed up. The first developments were improvements to 32-bit sparc. Chuck and I also worked on setting up the first 'anoncvs' to make sure no one was ever cut out from 'the language of diffs' again. I guess that was the precursor for the GitHub concept these days." Happy birthday, OpenBSD!
* * * * *
The Bodhi Linux project has always been known for its minimal, Ubuntu-based distribution. The project ships a very small number of applications along with the Moksha desktop environment. While Bodhi Linux's main edition continues to be minimal, the developers are releasing a second, full featured edition of the distribution. This new edition is called AppPack and Bodhi's founder, Jeff Hoogland, describes AppPack in the following way: "Unlike the normal Bodhi Linux releases which come with a minimal amount of software pre-installed, AppPack releases will include a variety of software pre-installed for folks who want minimal setup work after installing their operating system." A list of the pre-installed software available in the AppPack edition can be found in Hoogland's announcement.
|Opinion (by Jesse Smith)
Communication and Linux kernel development
Last week we reported, briefly, on Sarah Sharp leaving Linux kernel development and Matthew Garrett putting distance between himself and the Linux kernel mailing list (LKML). Both of these developers have contributed great works to the Linux kernel and I feel the community, as a whole, is poorer now that these developers are withdrawing from kernel development. I also think the reasons for both of these fine developers distancing themselves from the LKML deserve further discussion.
Both Sharp and Garrett reported leaving the LKML due to the style of communication commonly present in mailing list. Sharp wrote:
"I finally realized that I could no longer contribute to a community where I was technically respected, but I could not ask for personal respect. I could not work with people who helpfully encouraged newcomers to send patches, and then argued that maintainers should be allowed to spew whatever vile words they needed to in order to maintain radical emotional honesty. I did not want to work professionally with people who were allowed to get away with subtle sexist or homophobic jokes. I feel powerless in a community that had a `Code of Conflict' without a specific list of behaviours to avoid and a community with no teeth to enforce it."
Following Sharp's self-removal from the kernel development community there were many commentators who speculated it was a matter of gender politics, that the (mostly) male development community had one way of communicating that was different from what a woman (Sharp in this case) wanted. Matthew Garrett put such arguments to rest the following day when he expressed his own frustrations with the LKML and the behaviour of its members:
"In the end it's a mixture of just being tired of dealing with the crap associated with Linux development and realizing that by continuing to put up with it I'm tacitly encouraging its continuation, but I can't be bothered any more."
Let us not forget, this certainly is not the first time Linux developers have grown tired of the communication and management style that goes hand in hand with Linux kernel development. One of the most prominent and talented Linux developers, Alan Cox, was driven to cease maintenance of a kernel sub-system six years ago after an ongoing argument with Linus Torvalds. More recently, Con Kolivas left the kernel development team after volunteering his time to improve the Linux scheduler with regards to desktop performance. When Kolivas quit his work on the kernel he was quoted as saying:
"The Linux kernel mailing list is the way to communicate with the kernel developers. To put it mildly, the Linux kernel mailing list (LKML) is about as scary a communication forum as they come. Most people are absolutely terrified of mailing the list lest they get flamed for their inexperience, an inappropriate bug report, [or] being stupid."
The issue of communication styles on the kernel's mailing list has come up time and again with people generally pointing to the kernel's founder and lead developer, Linus Torvalds, as a difficult person to deal with. Torvalds has responded to such remarks at length and occasionally with profanity. When Sharp, for example, suggested discussions on the LKML be kept professional back in 2013, Torvalds replied with the following:
"If you want me to `act professional', I can tell you that I'm not interested. I'm sitting in my home office wearing a bathrobe. The
same way I'm not going to start wearing ties, I'm also not going to buy into the fake politeness, the lying, the office politics and backstabbing, the passive aggressiveness, and the buzzwords. Because that is what `acting professionally' results in: people resort to all kinds of really nasty things because they are forced to act out their normal urges in unnatural ways."
While I usually try to stay out of subjective discussions on communication and management style, and I even less frequently enjoy taking sides in such discussions, I feel as though it is worth pointing out Torvalds is making two errors in his above comments. First, he suggests civility is "fake politeness" and that being polite also goes hand in with lying. To me, this seems absurd. People generally are not offering "fake politeness", they are simply being polite. When I say "please" and "thank you" to the person who makes my sandwich at the deli counter I am not being fake or lying, I am expressing my gratitude. When I reject patches sent to open source projects I maintain, an effort is made to explain why and reject the code, not the contributor. To me, that is basic human decency. It's not politics or being fake, it is how I think people should be treated and how I want to be treated.
The second mistake I think Torvalds is making is saying he does not want to "act professional" because it opens the door to passive aggressiveness, politics and backstabbing. But, as we have seen time and again over the years, those things are already happening in the LKML. So perhaps it is time to try another way since the current approach is creating the very environment Torvalds claims to want to avoid. As Sean Michael Kerner opined two years ago, "Do I expect Linus to change? No. Do I hope he will? Yes. Will Sharp change anything? I sure hope so. The fact that she's standing up and making her voice heard is the start of a conversation that should have started a long time ago."
Unfortunately, that 2013 conversation did not lead anywhere, other than a vague "Code of Conflict" released in early 2015, and the loss of a few more kernel developers in the process. Which caused Sean Michael Kerner to report again, in early 2015, on the kernel's then-new Code of Conflict: "There is a patch that has landed in the Linux 4.0 kernel release that is intended to be a 'Code of Conduct' for Linux kernel developers. The challenge in my view, is that that there is no code or real conduct in the patch."
This poses a problem because it means when people feel threatened or mistreated there is no path to resolution. Torvalds and other tough-talking members of the LKML will continue to be rude and there isn't much that can be done about it. For better or worse, Linux is Torvalds' project and no one can compel him to change his behaviour or step down from the post. The only course of action anyone wishing to work in a better environment can do is go elsewhere, either to take on another job or, as Garrett appears to be suggesting, maintain their own fork of the project.
I am open to the idea that Torvalds' management style may be valid and, historically, the Linux kernel has attracted a lot of talent and achieved great things. However, at this point in time, I cannot help but wonder if it isn't time for a new approach? A lot of people and a lot of companies have a great deal riding on the Linux kernel and I wonder if Oracle, Red Hat and IBM are really comfortable being associated with Torvalds and his temper? We can be pretty sure NVIDIA is not. We can also be sure that the Linux kernel is losing some very talented developers. Garrett, Sharp, Cox and Kolivas have all contributed greatly to the kernel and, despite their love of the technology, felt the need to leave. One wonders how many more will walk out the door before the Linux kernel is forked by someone who is willing to work in a professional manner? Perhaps the community needs to ask itself which is better to have: Torvalds or the many developers who find him too aggressive to work with.
In the wake of recent events, there has been a lot of positive discussion on LWN with regards to the Linux kernel's mailing list, how it compares to other open source communities and how things might be improved. The debate is well worth a read and I hope members of the LKML take note of the suggestions, especially since Torvalds himself has acknowledged there is a lack of people willing to take on certain roles in kernel maintenance: "We're getting lots of contributors, but we have more trouble finding maintainers," he commented at a conference in Dublin. "Probably because the maintainer's job is to read e-mails seven days a week." That is understandable, I happily answer e-mails seven days a week in my own job, but I would feel a lot differently about opening my inbox if I knew there was a high probability of being bombarded with profanity.
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: 121
- Total data uploaded: 16.8TB
|Released Last Week
BackBox Linux 4.4
The BackBox development team has announced the launch of BackBox Linux 4.4. BackBox is a penetration and security assessment distribution based on Ubuntu and this latest release contains some fresh security tools and package upgrades. "The BackBox Team is pleased to announce the updated release of BackBox Linux, the version 4.4! In this release we have some special new features included to keep BackBox up to date with last developments in security world. Tools such as OpenVAS and Automotive Analysis will make a big difference. BackBox 4.4 comes also with Linux kernel 3.19. What's new: Preinstalled Linux kernel 3.19, new Ubuntu 14.04.3 base, Ruby 2.1, installer with LVM and full disk encryption options, handy Thunar custom actions, RAM wipe at shutdown/reboot..." This release is based on Ubuntu 14.04.3, supports full disk encryption and includes a RAM wipe feature. Further details can be found in the project's release announcement.
The developers of Emmabuntüs, a Xubuntu-based distribution for low-end and refurbished computers, have announced an update to their 3.x series. The new release, Emmabuntüs 3-1.02, is based on Xubuntu 14.04.3 LTS, includes Pipelight Flash for Firefox and includes the ability to put the computer into hibernation mode. "This version 1.02 includes the following fixes and enhancements: Release based on Xubuntu 14.04.3, Plugin updates for Firefox, Chromium and Thunderbird, Ltools 3.0 extension update within LibreOffice, Kiwix 0.9 update, HPLIP 3.15.7 update, Picasa for Windows 3.9.140 update, Radio list update for RadioTray, Search engine Start page replaced by Qwant" The developers have suggested fresh installations should be performed without an active network connection: "To ensure a correct installation of Emmabuntüs, we strongly suggest to run it without Internet connection, and to connect back the computer to the network during the first system restart, when it is time to install (or not) the optional non-free software." Further information on this release of Emmabuntüs can be found in the project's release announcement.
Emmabuntus 3-1.02 -- Running the Xfce desktop
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The developers of Q4OS have released an update to their distribution. The new release, Q4OS 1.4.3, includes changes to the application menu layout and methods for acquiring third-party multimedia codecs. "Another update of Q4OS 'Orion' desktop is available, version 1.4.3. Bunch of important packages updates and security patches has been delivered. There are quite significant under the hood improvements, for example the 'Desktop Profiler' tool to be able to handle and fix possible software database inconsistencies automatically. Proprietary multimedia codecs installation script has been superseded by native Q4OS 'Setup' tool, that enables smooth and user friendly installation of external applications. The new version brings slight look and feel improvements, updates in the Q4OS Start menu structure, support for Asus Eee-PC devices and more. If someone misses to install specific language package during Q4OS setup, the desktop shortcut for easy additional language installation will be created." Information on the latest version of Q4OS can be found in the project's release announcement.
The NuTyX operating system is a French distribution based on Linux From Scratch and featuring a custom package manager called "cards". The NuTyX project has released a new version, NuTyX 8.0, which carries the code name "Houaphan". The new release offers a number of upgraded packages, including LibreOffice 5, KDE 4.14, MATE 1.10, Xfce 4.12 and version 4.2 of the Linux kernel. The release of NuTyX also features a package for KDE's Plasma 5 desktop environment. "Eleven months after the Saravane 14.11 version release and five months after the release of the 15.05 Saravane, I am proud to announce the release of NuTyX. His code name is Houaphan. The first version available is 8.0. Why that number? Time passes very quickly, Houaphan is already the 8th major release since the first public version of NuTyX in 2007." A list of updated packages along with new features available through the cards package manager and installation instructions can be found in the project's release announcement.
John Martinson has announced the release of Robolinux 8.2, an updated build of the project's commercial distribution which features a virtual machine for running the Windows operating system inside Linux: "Robolinux is extremely pleased and excited to announce its new faster Robolinux Raptor Cinnamon, MATE and Xfce 32-bit and 64-bit 8.2 based on the 100% rock-solid Debian 8.2 stable source code sporting Debian's improved 3.16 Linux kernel. Non-stop time and effort went into finding ways to significantly speed up and optimize all three of our upgraded Robolinux Raptor series versions so that Linux beginners and advanced users will be very pleased. As usual the trio of Robolinux Raptor operating systems are loaded with many popular user applications, such the newest Tor browser, i2P, Firefox, Thunderbird, Kazam screencaster, Google Chrome, Google Earth, Skype and VirtualBox plus 12 incredibly powerful security and privacy applications to keep our users safe." Visit the distribution's SourceForge page to read the full release announcement.
Bodhi 3.1.0 "AppPack"
Jeff Hoogland has announced the availability of a new edition of Bodhi Linux 3.1.0. Called "AppPack", this variant differs from the standard Bodhi Linux in that it adds many popular applications to the base system so that the user can be immediately productive without having to first download new software. From the release announcement: "Today I would like to announce something new we will be maintaining at the Bodhi project - AppPack releases. Unlike the normal Bodhi Linux releases which come with a minimal amount of software pre-installed, AppPack releases will include a variety of software pre-installed for folks who want minimal setup work after installing their operating system. The software included by default in the 3.1.0 AppPack ISO images includes: Chromium web browser, LibreOffice 5, VLC media player, OpenShot video editor, Pinta graphics tool, Evince document viewer, ePhoto image viewer, Qalculate calculator, Geany text editor, Exterminator task manager, Terminology terminal emulator, PCManFM file manager... Also included by default are a plethora of themes for the Moksha Desktop."
Theo de Raadt has announced the release of OpenBSD 5.8. The OpenBSD project focuses on providing code and documentation that are correct and of high quality. This has lead to OpenBSD being regarded as a highly secure and reliable operating system. The new release features several new or improved drivers, the sudo command has been replaced with doas and some of the system installer's default settings have been changed. "We are pleased to announce the official release of OpenBSD 5.8. This is our 38th release on CD-ROM (and 39th via FTP/HTTP). We remain proud of OpenBSD's record of twenty years with only two remote holes in the default install. As in our previous releases, 5.8 provides significant improvements, including new features, in nearly all areas of the system." Further information and a detailed list of changes can be found in the release announcement and in the errata.
Arne Exton has announced the availability of a new release of the ExTiX distribution. The new version, ExTiX 15.4, comes in two editions: LXQt and KDE. Both editions are based on the upcoming Ubuntu 15.10 release and feature version 4.2 of the Linux kernel. This release is for the 64-bit x86 architecture exclusively. "ExTiX 15.4 LXQt/KDE Live DVD 64-bit is based on Debian 8.1 Jessie/Ubuntu 15.10 Wily Werewolf. The original system includes the desktop environment Unity (from Ubuntu). After removing Unity I have installed LXQt 0.9.0 respectively KDE Frameworks 5.15.0 with KDE 4.15. LXQt is the Qt port and the upcoming version of LXDE, the Lightweight Desktop Environment. It is the product of the merge between the LXDE-Qt and the Razor-qt projects: A lightweight, modular, blazing-fast and user-friendly desktop environment." Additional information on this release is available in the project's release announcement.
GALPon MiniNo 2015 "PicarOS"
The developers of GALPon MiniNo have released a new edition of their Debian-based PicarOS distribution for school age children. The new release, GALPon MiniNo 2015 "PicarOS", features several application updates, new educational tools and additional hardware drivers. "We added new drivers printer / copier (Ricoh, Konica-Minolta, Gestetner ... and many others, taken directly from openprinting.org) We still have the same kernel, but we added new drivers for WIFI cards to use new devices that are coming to the market today. We added support for more whiteboards, in particular, support for StarBoard (Hitachi), SmartBoard, Multiclass and Promethean, besides having the system ready to quickly set up a low cost PDI using the Wii Remote. All with their corresponding programs to calibrate the board. There is the category System in the launcher, hidden by default. In order to access it, you need to open any category from the top panel and then press the backspace key (delete)." Further information can be found on the project's News page.
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
In recent years most of the technology industry has been pushing the idea of convergence, providing the same operating system and user interface across multiple devices and screen sizes. Companies, such as Canonical, believe offering the same operating system, applications and interface across all devices will make it easier for users to transition between their mobile devices and desktop computers. Opponents to the idea point out that each device has its own characteristics and that trying to make small smart phones work the same as desktop computers with large screens and keyboards means neither device will run the software best suited to its environment.
This week we would like to know how you feel about convergence. Does the idea of having multiple devices all work the same way appeal to you, or do you think each device should be developed independently with operating systems catering to a device's strengths? If you have used convergent systems, please leave us a comment with your experiences.
You can see the results of last week's poll on preferred productivity software here. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
|I am in favour of convergence: ||345 (19%)|
| I oppose convergence: ||698 (38%)|
| It depends on the UI/device: ||588 (32%)|
| I have not decided yet: ||191 (10%)|
Improving package searches
Over the past week we have been making improvements to our Search page, particularly with regards to the feature which allows our readers to find distributions that include a specific package. When visiting the Search page, visitors can select a package to find, enter a version number they want to locate and then click the Submit Query button. In the past, when the Version field was left blank our database would not find a match and no search results would be returned. This confused some people who wanted to find any version of a package, or any recent version.
The Search page has been updated to now display recent releases of packages when no specific version is entered. For example, let's say we are searching for the LibreOffice package. The most recent version of LibreOffice is 5.0.2. Performing a search for LibreOffice without specifying a version will provide a list of distributions that include any version of the productivity suite in the 5.x series (5.0.0, 5.0.1 and 5.0.2). We hope this will be more convenient for people who want to find a specific package, but are not concerned about the exact version available.
On a related note, we receive a lot of queries asking if there is a way to find distributions which do not include a specific package, particularly the systemd software. To find distributions which do not include a package, visit our Search page, select the package to be avoided and select Not in latest release from the drop-down box on the right. Then click Submit Query. A list of distributions which do not feature the package will be provided.
* * * * *
September 2015 DistroWatch.com donation: HardenedBSD
We are pleased to announce the recipient of the September 2015 DistroWatch.com donation is HardenedBSD. The project receives US$400.00 in cash.
HardenedBSD is a fork of the FreeBSD operating system which implements additional security features. These extra security features, such as Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR), can then be merged back into FreeBSD and shared with related projects. The HardenedBSD website explains further: "Founded in 2014 by Oliver Pinter and Shawn Webb, HardenedBSD is a security-enhanced fork of FreeBSD. The HardenedBSD Project is implementing many exploit mitigation and security technologies on top of FreeBSD. The project started with Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR) as an initial focal point and is now implementing further exploit mitigation techniques. HardenedBSD forked the FreeBSD codebase for ease of development. Prior to HardenedBSD's founding, Oliver and Shawn worked on separate repositories, occasionally causing collaboration issues. Unifying the code bases was a natural step in efficient, effective collaboration between the two individuals. Two years have passed since the unification of the work and HardenedBSD is growing faster than ever.
HardenedBSD's Goals HardenedBSD aims to implement innovative exploit mitigation and security solutions for FreeBSD. We will work with FreeBSD and any other FreeBSD-based project to include our innovations."
Launched in 2004, this monthly donations programme is a DistroWatch initiative to support free and open-source software projects and operating systems with cash contributions. Readers are welcome to nominate their favourite project for future donations. Those readers who wish to contribute towards these donations, please use our advertising page to make a payment (PayPal, credit cards, Yandex Money and crypto currencies are accepted). Here is the list of the projects that have received a DistroWatch donation since the launch of the programme (figures in US dollars):
Since the launch of the Donations Program in March 2004, DistroWatch has donated a total of US$44,575 to various open-source software projects.
- 2004: GnuCash ($250), Quanta Plus ($200), PCLinuxOS ($300), The GIMP ($300), Vidalinux ($200), Fluxbox ($200), K3b ($350), Arch Linux ($300), Kile KDE LaTeX Editor ($100) and UNICEF - Tsunami Relief Operation ($340)
- 2005: Vim ($250), AbiWord ($220), BitTorrent ($300), NDISwrapper ($250), Audacity ($250), Debian GNU/Linux ($420), GNOME ($425), Enlightenment ($250), MPlayer ($400), Amarok ($300), KANOTIX ($250) and Cacti ($375)
- 2006: Gambas ($250), Krusader ($250), FreeBSD Foundation ($450), GParted ($360), Doxygen ($260), LilyPond ($250), Lua ($250), Gentoo Linux ($500), Blender ($500), Puppy Linux ($350), Inkscape ($350), Cape Linux Users Group ($130), Mandriva Linux ($405, a Powerpack competition), Digikam ($408) and Sabayon Linux ($450)
- 2007: GQview ($250), Kaffeine ($250), sidux ($350), CentOS ($400), LyX ($350), VectorLinux ($350), KTorrent ($400), FreeNAS ($350), lighttpd ($400), Damn Small Linux ($350), NimbleX ($450), MEPIS Linux ($300), Zenwalk Linux ($300)
- 2008: VLC ($350), Frugalware Linux ($340), cURL ($300), GSPCA ($400), FileZilla ($400), MythDora ($500), Linux Mint ($400), Parsix GNU/Linux ($300), Miro ($300), GoblinX ($250), Dillo ($150), LXDE ($250)
- 2009: Openbox ($250), Wolvix GNU/Linux ($200), smxi ($200), Python ($300), SliTaz GNU/Linux ($200), LiVES ($300), Osmo ($300), LMMS ($250), KompoZer ($360), OpenSSH ($350), Parted Magic ($350) and Krita ($285)
- 2010: Qimo 4 Kids ($250), Squid ($250), Libre Graphics Meeting ($300), Bacula ($250), FileZilla ($300), GCompris ($352), Xiph.org ($250), Clonezilla ($250), Debian Multimedia ($280), Geany ($300), Mageia ($470), gtkpod ($300)
- 2011: CGSecurity ($300), OpenShot ($300), Imagination ($250), Calibre ($300), RIPLinuX ($300), Midori ($310), vsftpd ($300), OpenShot ($350), Trinity Desktop Environment ($300), LibreCAD ($300), LiVES ($300), Transmission ($250)
- 2012: GnuPG ($350), ImageMagick ($350), GNU ddrescue ($350), Slackware Linux ($500), MATE ($250), LibreCAD ($250), BleachBit ($350), cherrytree ($260), Zim ($335), nginx ($250), LFTP ($250), Remastersys ($300)
- 2013: MariaDB ($300), Linux From Scratch ($350), GhostBSD ($340), DHCP ($300), DOSBox ($250), awesome ($300), DVDStyler ($280), Tor ($350), Tiny Tiny RSS ($350), FreeType ($300), GNU Octave ($300), Linux Voice ($510)
- 2014: QupZilla ($250), Pitivi ($370), MediaGoblin ($350), TrueCrypt ($300), Krita ($340), SME Server ($350), OpenStreetMap ($350), iTALC ($350), KDE ($400), The Document Foundation ($400), Tails ($350)
- 2015: AWStats ($300), Haiku ($300), Xiph.Org ($300), GIMP ($350), Kodi ($300), Devuan ($300), hdparm ($350), HardenedBSD ($400)
* * * * *
Distributions added to waiting list
- CloudReady. CloudReady is a fork of Chromium OS which offers improved hardware support.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 26 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)
- Michael DeGuzis of Libre Geek (podcast)
If you've enjoyed this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly, please consider sending us a tip.
(Tips this week: 0, value: US$0.00)
|Linux Foundation Training
|• Issue 793 (2018-12-10): openSUSE Tumbleweed, finding non-free packages, Debian migrates to usrmerge, Hyperbola gets FSF approval|
|• Issue 792 (2018-1203): GhostBSD 18.10, when to use swap space, DragonFly BSD's wireless support, Fedora planning to pause development schedule|
|• Issue 791 (2018-11-26): Haiku R1 Beta1, default passwords on live media, Slax and Kodachi update their media, dual booting DragonFly BSD on EFI|
|• Issue 790 (2018-11-19): NetBSD 8.0, Bash tips and short-cuts, Fedora's networking benchmarked with FreeBSD, Ubuntu 18.04 to get ten years of support|
|• Issue 789 (2018-11-12): Fedora 29 Workstation and Silverblue, Haiku recovering from server outage, Fedora turns 15, Debian publishes updated media|
|• Issue 788 (2018-11-05): Clu Linux Live 6.0, examining RAM consumpion, finding support for older CPUs, more Steam support for running Windows games on Linux, update from Solus team|
|• Issue 787 (2018-10-29): Lubuntu 18.10, limiting application access to specific users, Haiku hardware compatibility list, IBM purchasing Red Hat|
|• Issue 786 (2018-10-22): elementary OS 5.0, why init keeps running, DragonFly BSD enables virtual machine memory resizing, KDE neon plans to drop older base|
|• Issue 785 (2018-10-15): Reborn OS 2018.09, Nitrux 1.0.15, swapping hard drives between computers, feren OS tries KDE spin, power savings coming to Linux|
|• Issue 784 (2018-10-08): Hamara 2.1, improving manual pages, UBports gets VoIP app, Fedora testing power saving feature|
|• Issue 783 (2018-10-01): Quirky 8.6, setting up dual booting with Ubuntu and FreeBSD, Lubuntu switching to LXQt, Mint works on performance improvements|
|• Issue 782 (2018-09-24): Bodhi Linux 5.0.0, Elive 3.0.0, Solus publishes ISO refresh, UBports invites feedback, Linux Torvalds plans temporary vacation|
|• Issue 781 (2018-09-17): Linux Mint 3 "Debian Edition", file systems for SSDs, MX makes installing Flatpaks easier, Arch team answers questions, Mageia reaches EOL|
|• Issue 780 (2018-09-10): Netrunner 2018.08 Rolling, Fedora improves language support, how to customize Kali Linux, finding the right video drivers|
|• Issue 779 (2018-09-03): Redcore 1806, keeping ISO downloads safe from tampering, Lubuntu makes Calamares more flexible, Ubuntu improves GNOME performance|
|• Issue 778 (2018-08-27): GuixSD 0.15.0, ReactOS 0.4.9, Steam supports Windows games on Linux, Haiku plans for beta, merging disk partitions|
|• Issue 777 (2018-08-20): YunoHost 188.8.131.52, limiting process resource usage, converting file systems on Fedora, Debian turns 25, Lubuntu migrating to Wayland|
|• Issue 776 (2018-08-13): NomadBSD 1.1, Maximum storage limits on Linux, openSUSE extends life for 42.3, updates to the Librem 5 phone interface|
|• Issue 775 (2018-08-06): Secure-K OS 18.5, Linux is about choice, Korora tests community spin, elementary OS hires developer, ReactOS boots on Btrfs|
|• Issue 774 (2018-07-30): Ubuntu MATE & Ubuntu Budgie 18.04, upgrading software from source, Lubuntu shifts focus, NetBSD changes support policy|
|• Issue 773 (2018-07-23): Peppermint OS 9, types of security used by different projects, Mint reacts to bugs in core packages, Slackware turns 25|
|• Issue 772 (2018-07-16): Hyperbola GNU/Linux-libre 0.2.4, UBports running desktop applications, OpenBSD auto-joins wi-fi networks, boot environments and zedenv|
|• Issue 771 (2018-07-09): Linux Lite 4.0, checking CPUs for bugs, configuring GRUB, Mint upgrade instructions, SUSE acquired by EQT|
|• Issue 770 (2018-07-02): Linux Mint 19, Solus polishes desktop experience, MintBox Mini 2, changes to Fedora's installer|
|• Issue 769 (2018-06-25): BunsenLabs Helium, counting Ubuntu users, UBports upgrading to 16.04, Fedora CoreOS, FreeBSD turns 25|
|• Issue 768 (2018-06-18): Devuan 2.0.0, using pkgsrc to manage software, the NOVA filesystem, OpenBSD handles successful cron output|
|• Issue 767 (2018-06-11): Android-x86 7.1-r1, transferring files over OpenSSH with pipes, LFS with Debian package management, Haiku ports LibreOffice|
|• Issue 766 (2018-06-04): openSUSE 15, overview of file system links, Manjaro updates Pamac, ReactOS builds itself, Bodhi closes forums|
|• Issue 765 (2018-05-28): Pop!_OS 18.04, gathering system information, Haiku unifying ARM builds, Solus resumes control of Budgie|
|• Issue 764 (2018-05-21): DragonFly BSD 5.2.0, Tails works on persistent packages, Ubuntu plans new features, finding services affected by an update|
|• Issue 763 (2018-05-14): Fedora 28, Debian compatibility coming to Chrome OS, malware found in some Snaps, Debian's many flavours|
|• Issue 762 (2018-05-07): TrueOS 18.03, live upgrading Raspbian, Mint plans future releases, HardenedBSD to switch back to OpenSSL|
|• Issue 761 (2018-04-30): Ubuntu 18.04, accessing ZFS snapshots, UBports to run on Librem 5 phones, Slackware makes PulseAudio optional|
|• Issue 760 (2018-04-23): Chakra 2017.10, using systemd to hide files, Netrunner's ARM edition, Debian 10 roadmap, Microsoft develops Linux-based OS|
|• Issue 759 (2018-04-16): Neptune 5.0, building containers with Red Hat, antiX introduces Sid edition, fixing filenames on the command line|
|• Issue 758 (2018-04-09): Sortix 1.0, openSUSE's Transactional Updates, Fedora phasing out Python 2, locating portable packages|
|• Issue 757 (2018-04-02): Gatter Linux 0.8, the UNIX and Linux System Administration Handbook, Red Hat turns 25, super long term support kernels|
|• Issue 756 (2018-03-26): NuTyX 10.0, Neptune supplies Debian users with Plasma 5.12, SolydXK on a Raspberry Pi, SysV init development|
|• Issue 755 (2018-03-19): Learning with ArchMerge and Linux Academy, Librem 5 runs Plasma Mobile, Cinnamon gets performance boost|
|• Issue 754 (2018-03-12): Reviewing Sabayon and Antergos, the growing Linux kernel, BSDs getting CPU bug fixes, Manjaro builds for ARM devices|
|• Issue 753 (2018-03-05): Enso OS 0.2, KDE Plasma 5.12 features, MX Linux prepares new features, interview with MidnightBSD's founder|
|• Issue 752 (2018-02-26): OviOS 2.31, performing off-line upgrades, elementary OS's new installer, UBports gets test devices, Redcore team improves security|
|• Issue 751 (2018-02-19): DietPi 6.1, testing KDE's Plasma Mobile, Nitrux packages AppImage in default install, Solus experiments with Wayland|
|• Issue 750 (2018-02-12): Solus 3, getting Deb packages upstream to Debian, NetBSD security update, elementary OS explores AppCentre changes|
|• Issue 749 (2018-02-05): Freespire 3 and Linspire 7.0, misunderstandings about Wayland, Xorg and Mir, Korora slows release schedule, Red Hat purchases CoreOS|
|• Issue 748 (2018-01-29): siduction 2018.1.0, SolydXK 32-bit editions, building an Ubuntu robot, desktop-friendly Debian options|
|• Issue 747 (2018-01-22): Ubuntu MATE 17.10, recovering open files, creating a new distribution, KDE focusing on Wayland features|
|• Issue 746 (2018-01-15): deepin 15.5, openSUSE's YaST improvements, new Ubuntu 17.10 media, details on Spectre and Meltdown bugs|
|• Issue 745 (2018-01-08): GhostBSD 11.1, Linspire and Freespire return, wide-spread CPU bugs patched, adding AppImage launchers to the application menu|
|• Issue 744 (2018-01-01): MX Linux 17, Ubuntu pulls media over BIOS bug, PureOS gets endorsed by the FSF, openSUSE plays with kernel boot splash screens|
|• Issue 743 (2017-12-18): Daphile 17.09, tools for rescuing files, Fedora Modular Server delayed, Sparky adds ARM support, Slax to better support wireless networking|
|• Issue 742 (2017-12-11): heads 0.3.1, improvements coming to Tails, Void tutorials, Ubuntu phasing out Python 2, manipulating images from the command line|
|• Full list of all issues|
|Random Distribution |
Freespire was once a community-run Linux distribution sponsored by Linspire. Freespire was discontinued in 2008. Starting in 2017 Freespire became a free operating system based on Ubuntu and run by PC/OpenSystems LLC. Freespire features the Xfce desktop environment.