| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 647, 8 February 2016
Welcome to this year's 6th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
Computers are complex, intricate machines and using them at all can be difficult. Using a computer effectively and securely is doubly so. This week we discuss projects and resources which try to make computers a little easier to use and more secure. We begin with a review of Tails, a distribution which attempts to keep users anonymous while they are communicating on-line. Joshua Allen Holm's review has the details on the latest release of Tails and its new features. This week we look at Linux Phrasebook, a text which offers simple instructions and examples for using the Linux command line. In our News section we discuss Ubuntu developers debating when to drop 32-bit installation media and Canonical's upcoming Ubuntu tablet. Plus we cover a project that showcases the latest software coming out of the KDE project. We also share some interesting developments happening in the Manjaro and FreeBSD communities and report on a serious UEFI bug that threatens many Linux users. In our Torrent Corner we provide a list of the torrents we are seeding and then cover the distributions released last week. In our Opinion Poll we ask if you still use swap space on your computers. We wish you all a superb week and happy reading!
|Feature Story (by Joshua Allen Holm)
Linux distributions come in many forms, each with their own unique focus. Tails -- The Amnesic Incognito Live System -- is a distribution designed to protect the user's privacy and anonymity. Designed to run off a live CD, USB stick, or SD card, Tails provides users with a tool to work on projects and collaborate with others in a secure manner without the end user having to be a security expert.
The newest 2.0 release of Tails brings many enhancements to the distribution. Tails is now based on Debian 8 (Jessie), so packages from the 1.x releases of Tails have been updated to much newer versions. The desktop environment is now GNOME 3.14 running in Classic mode, which is a major advancement over the GNOME 3.4 desktop used in Tails 1.x. However, there is one drawback to this update -- Tails' optional Windows 8 look-alike theme is no longer available. While I normally do not like look-alike themes, having the desktop look like Windows 8 was an understandable and helpful feature in Tails. GNOME 3's Classic mode is a nice, clean environment, but it does not look like Windows or Mac OS X, so using Tails in public is bound to attract some attention.
Tails 2.0 -- Running the GNOME desktop
(full image size: 34kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
In addition to the various GNOME utilities being upgraded to their 3.14 versions, several other applications also received major updates. LibreOffice has been upgraded from version 3.5 to version 4.3 and the Tor Browser has been updated to version 5.5, which is based on Firefox 38.6.0 ESR. While not the latest and greatest, these updated apps are more than serviceable. However, current Tails 1.x users who are fans of Claws Mail need to be aware that Claws Mail has been removed and Icedove (a re-branded version of Mozilla's Thunderbird) is the now the default e-mail client.
Tails 2.0 -- Running the Tor web browser
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Overall, Tails comes with a very nice selection of software pre-installed, which is important since it is designed to be run from a USB flash drive without persistent storage. Enabling persistent storage is an option, but it is designed more for storing documents and retaining system settings, than for trying to add a large amount of software to the system. In addition to the aforementioned LibreOffice, Tor Browser, and Icedove, users will also find Pidgin for chat; the Liferea RSS feed reader; KeePassX for password storage; MAT (Metadata Anonymisation Toolkit) for cleaning metadata from files; the Gobby collaborative text editor; GIMP, Inkscape, and Scribus for desktop publishing and graphic design; Audacity, PiTiVi, and Traverso for audio/video editing; and a variety of other utilities. Basically, every key program a user might need to communicate on the Internet and to create written, audio, or visual projects is available in some form. I had no problem creating a few simple projects using the installed programs, but I do imagine that larger A/V projects might not perform all that well on slower USB flash media. If the user really does need to try installing a different program, the Synaptic package manager is included and everything that is available in Debian 8, plus a few extra repositories, is available in Tails.
Beneath the surface, the Linux kernel version is 3.16 and the init system is now systemd. The way Tails is designed, the end user will not have much need to interact with systemd, but the Tails developers have used systemd to "sandbox many services using Linux namespaces" and "make the launching of Tor and the memory wipe on shutdown more robust."
My personal experience trying out Tails 2.0 was very positive. For users not already running Tails, Debian, or Ubuntu, installing Tails is a little more complicated than the normal live USB creation process, but simple enough. Properly installing Tails requires two USB flash drives, one to install an insecure installation of Tails to boot from to use to install a secure version of Tails on the second USB flash drive. Since my laptop's USB ports are too close together for me to use a flash drive on both ports at the same time, I had to resort to booting the 1.1 GB Tails ISO in a virtual machine and using that to install Tails to a Sandisk Cruzer Glide 16GB USB 2.0 flash drive passed through to the virtual machine. This process worked well enough, but is probably not as secure as the official install instructions. Tails even notified me of the fact that it was running in a virtual machine and that it was not secure. Since I was installing this way using my own computer, I felt safe enough that nothing interfered with the Tails installation, but I would not recommend using this process for installing Tails for real-world usage, if you do not fully trust the host operating system the virtual machine is running under. On the flash drive partitioned by the Tails installer, the operating system is stored in a 2.6 GB partition with the rest of the drive available for the optional persistent storage.
Tails 2.0 -- Installing Tails
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After I had my USB flash drive ready, I rebooted my computer and started running Tails from the flash drive. The boot process was quick enough, but not noticeably slower or faster than what I have come to expect when using live releases on this particular drive. The initial login screen appeared and presented only a few options. At the bottom of the screen are the language options: language, region, and keyboard layout. The language option provides a wide variety of options, including German, English, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Arabic, and Farsi. In the centre of the screen there is a "Welcome to Tails" dialog box with a yes/no prompt that just says "More options?" and the login button. Tails does not require the user to enter a username or password to login, there is only one non-root account. Selecting "yes" to the "More options?" prompt and clicking the "login" button takes the user to a screen that asks if the user would like to set an administrator password (if the user does not, there is no way to do anything that would require root privileges, which is safer, but makes some tasks impossible), enable/disable MAC address spoofing, and configure the network, if firewall or proxy settings are required. If the user is booting from a drive with persistent storage configured on it, the initial login screen will also have an option to use it in either read/write or read-only mode. The persistent storage partition uses LUKS encryption, so a password is required to unlock and enable it.
Tails 2.0 -- Running Persistence Wizard
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The GNOME Classic desktop environment performed well on my computer, and right after logging in, with no extra applications running, the memory usage for the machine was just a little over 1GB. As a GNOME user, I found the desktop to be very familiar. Tails only adds a few minor tweaks to GNOME's Classic mode. A GPG applet and an on-screen keyboard are added to the GNOME's top bar near the clock. Pidgin, KeePassX, and Vidalia will also show up in the same area when they are running. On the desktop there are icons for "Tails documentation" and "Report an error", making two useful features easily accessible. However, the "Report an error" icon opens up the locally installed version of the Tails support page in the web browser, while the WhisperBack program in the Applications menu (which has the same icon) actually launches a bug reporting program.
Tails' primary concern is with making sure the user's privacy is respected, so many of the tweaks and enhancements involve doing that. Some are small or well hidden and might escape notice, while others are highly visible. The web browser available that bypasses Tor is called "Unsafe Browser." Attempting to start this browser results in a dialog box explaining that the browser is not anonymous and asks if the user really wants to run the browser. If the user agrees, the browser that launches has a red theme and starts with a page that, again, warns the user against using it for browsing the web. The page clearly states that Unsafe Browser should only be used to load a login page to enable Internet access when using an Internet cafe or other public network which requires authenticating before being able to browse the web.
Tails is well put together, but not perfect. I did run into a few minor issues, nothing major, but still worth noting. Because there is no administrator password set by default, some things will not work, which is understandable, but not all of them fail in a user friendly manner. For example, trying to launch the "Root Terminal" application, results in absolutely nothing happening. Clicking on the program's icon does nothing -- no dialog box or program window ever appears -- instead of telling the user that they do not have sufficient privileges to use the program. On a similar note, attempting to run the Laptop Mode Tools Configuration results in a slightly cryptic dialog stating that "amnesia [the username of the user account on Tails] is not root. You need to run with root privileges. Please use kdesudo, gksu, or sudo/sux." This dialog shows up even when the administrator password is enabled. The only way to launch Laptop Mode Tools Configuration is to figure out what is the proper command to launch the program from the command line (the command is "lmt-config-gui" and does require root privileges).
Tails 2.0 is great at what it does and, looking at the distribution's development roadmap, it looks like the developers have a clear idea of where it is going and its place in the Linux distribution ecosystem. Configuring a system to do what Tails offers would take a lot more technical know how than people that just want to safely and securely use the web might have time to learn, so Tails fills a valuable niche. Given its specialized nature and live USB design, Tails is not going to supplant Debian, Fedora, Ubuntu, Mint, or the like as the primary distribution of choice for Linux users, but it is not meant to. It is, however, something that every Linux advocate should be aware of for the times that it is needed.
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Hardware used in this review
My physical test equipment for this review was an Acer TravelMate X483 laptop with the following specifications:
- Processor: Quad-core 1.5GHz Intel Core i3-2375M CPU
- Storage: 16 GB Sandisk Cruzer Glide USB 2.0 flash drive
- Memory: 4GB of RAM
- Networking: Qualcomm Atheros AR9462 Wireless Network Adapter
- Display: Intel HD Graphics 3000
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
Ubuntu considers dropping 32-bit media, KDE launches Neon, Manjaro unveils ARM support, FreeBSD releases quarterly report and developers debate serious UEFI bug
It is becoming increasingly common for Linux distributions to no longer support computers running on 32-bit x86 CPUs. Last week a discussion was started on the Ubuntu developer mailing list with the purpose of deciding when to drop support for 32-bit desktop installation media. Some see it as unlikely people will install Ubuntu with its heavy Unity desktop environment on old, 32-bit machines. Others see 32-bit installation media as a small investment. The debate over when to stop creating installation media for 32-bit machines can be found on the developer mailing list. Both sides of the discussion seem to agree that 32-bit packages should be kept in the Ubuntu repositories in order to support applications which rely on 32-bit libraries.
In other Ubuntu-related news, Canonical has revealed more details about their upcoming tablet which will be sold by BQ. "The Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition is the first device to offer an Ubuntu convergent experience. It is also the first tablet with the Ubuntu operating system. Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition brings Ubuntu's rich full touch experience to life. It's simple to connect a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard to convert the Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition into a full Ubuntu PC, featuring everything you know and love about Ubuntu. Then, connect the tablet to an external display for a full-sized PC experience." The tablet is expected to launch later this year. Hardware specifications can be found in Canonical's announcement.
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People who want to test the latest software coming out of the KDE project will soon have a new way of experimenting with KDE's latest and greatest. KDE Neon will provide official packages for Ubuntu and Kubuntu along with live disc images that feature the latest KDE software. The KDE Neon project website offers more details: "KDE Neon is the intersection of these needs using a stable Ubuntu long-term release as its core, packaging the hottest software fresh from the KDE community ovens. Compute knowing you have a solid foundation and enjoy the features you experience in the world's most customizable desktop. You should use KDE Neon if you want the latest and greatest from the KDE community, but the safety and stability of a long term support release." Instructions for installing KDE Neon packages and download links for the live media will be made available on the project's download page.
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The Manjaro Linux project has announced their Arch-based distribution has been ported to the ARM architecture. While still in the early stages of development, the Manjaro Linux distribution will now run on Raspberry Pi computers. "We are proud to present the first alpha release of Manjaro-Arm. Currently only for the Raspberry Pi but we are looking to support more devices. This release includes a very basic setup for your Raspberry Pi. There is no GUI (but you can install it). We now have a full repo so anything can be built from this release." This initial release is considered to be an alpha test build and not yet ready for regular use. People who would like to try out Manjaro on a Raspberry Pi computer can find detailed installation instructions in the project's wiki.
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The FreeBSD project released its quarterly report last week for the closing months of 2015. The report covers development work being done in and around the FreeBSD project to improve the platform. Some of the highlights include work being done on various alternative init technologies such as launchd, security work being performed by the HardenedBSD project and performance enhancements initiated by the Netflix company. The report also highlights progress being made on ARM architectures and an interesting sub-project which uses the Linux kernel as a library to mount Linux file systems. "LKL (Linux Kernel as a Library) is a special `architecture' of the full Linux kernel that builds as a userspace library on various platforms, including FreeBSD. One application of such a library is using Linux file system drivers to implement a FUSE backend. fusefs-lkl's lklfuse binary is such a FUSE file system. It can mount ext4/3/2, XFS, and Btrfs read-write, using the native drivers from Linux."
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An interesting and unpleasant bug was reported recently on the Arch Linux forums that revealed systems running Linux and some implementations of UEFI could be rendered unable to boot (or even power on properly) if the "/sys/firmware/efi/efivars/" directory was deleted. Who is to blame for this serious bug has been hotly debated. Some point fingers at the systemd project because the systemd software sets up the efivars directory automatically with both read and write access, something older init implementations, like SysV init, don't do. Others, including Linux kernel developer Matthew Gerrett, say dealing with hardware is the Linux kernel's responsibility and the kernel should be fixed to avoid breaking the user's hardware. Others point out that properly functioning hardware should not let the software running on it disable the computer permanently. At the time of writing the issue has yet to be fixed, so be extra careful not to alter the contents of the "/sys/firmware/efi/efivars/" directory.
|Book Review (by Jesse Smith)
Book review: Linux Phrasebook (Second Edition)
When planning a visit to another country it is a good idea to learn a little of the language and customs. We should probably know a bit of the common protocols and how to ask for directions, for example. A phrasebook is a wise investment which will help us locate common services, ask for food, find lodging and ask for help. A phrasebook might not make us fluent in a foreign country's language, but it can certainly come in handy when we need a quick reference. Just as it is possible to find books containing common phrases for various countries, there is a book which contains often used commands for the Linux operating system.
The Linux command line is a land of complex customs and rules and it features a strange language which has evolved over the decades. Even for people who have visited the Linux command line before, there are all sorts of pitfalls to avoid and complex syntax to remember. This is where having the Linux Phrasebook comes in handy.
Linux Phrasebook, written by Scott Granneman, is a relatively short text which explores common tasks and commands people will frequently want to run on the command line. Linux Phrasebook seems to assume we are somewhat familiar with the concept of the command line and does not spend much time explaining what a shell is or how it works. Instead we are given a quick tour of common tasks and syntax. The book begins with navigating the file system, moves into using popular commands, touches on combining programs that can work together and then explores more complex tasks such as writing shell functions and manipulating software packages.
While many programs and activities are covered in Linux Phrasebook, the text tends not to dive into any one topic deeply. We are given some context for the subject, shown a few simple example commands and usually given a warning about the mistakes people tend to make when using the tools discussed. The last part I especially enjoyed as the Linux command line is both flexible and powerful - a perfect environment for making serious mistakes. Granneman has been around long enough to see many of the ways people can go wrong with output redirection or removing files and has placed warnings throughout his book to help us avoid these mistakes.
Another aspect of the book I quite liked was that Granneman explores ideas without getting bogged down in the details. Some books do a great job of explaining, in detail, how and why things work. Others examine every possible command line option and flag. While those approaches can be helpful, Linux Phrasebook is much more streamlined. Granneman focuses on just what we need to know to make practical use of a command and tends to stick to the most commonly used features of command line programs. This makes the book easier to read the first time through and makes it easier to quickly find what we want when we later use the book as a reference.
Personally, I think the book shines best as a quick-reference. Linux Phrasebook seems to assume we have had a little exposure to the command line before and sticks to providing short explanations and examples of how commands are typically used. The author points out -- correctly, I feel -- that Linux manual pages usually do not include helpful examples of how programs are supposed to be used. In this way, Linux Phrasebook might be viewed as an add-on to the existing Linux manual pages. An add-on that contains the examples we miss having in the on-line documentation.
Linux Phrasebook is probably best suited to people who are relatively new to the Linux command line and want a quick and easy introduction to what commands are available and what tools are most useful. I would also recommend the book for people who have spent a little time on the command line, but want to become more proficient. Granneman covers a number of ways to customize the command line and set up functions that will save us time.
Last, but perhaps not least, I would like to acknowledge Granneman's sense of humour. Linux Phrasebook is a light read, partly because it moves quickly from one topic to the next. The book's energetic flow is also a credit to Granneman's conversational tone and humorous asides. Linux Phrasebook is not a dry, abstract textbook, it feels more like a buddy showing us cool stuff on his laptop. For me, that adds to the fun of learning and I appreciated the casual tone of the text.
* * * * *
- Title: Linux Phrasebook (Second Edition)
- Author: Scott Granneman
- Published by: Addison-Wesley Professional
- Pages: 512
- ISBN-10: 0-321-83388-0
- ISBN-13: 978-0-321-83388-4
- Available from: InformIT and Amazon
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: 161
- Total data uploaded: 28.2TB
|Released Last Week
Simplicity Linux 16.01
The developers of Simplicity Linux have announced the release of their Puppy-based distribution which uses LXDE as the default desktop interface. The new version, Simplicity Linux 16.01, ships with the Chrome web browser and DotVPN in place of the Tor Browser. The distribution is available in two editions, Netbook and Desktop: "It's that time again! A new release of Simplicity Linux is available for download. Simplicity Linux 16.01 comes in two flavours, Netbook and Desktop, both 32-bit releases. Based on the excellent LXPup distro, we use LXDE window manager and 4.1.6 kernel. For those Simplicity Linux virgins, Netbook Edition is our cut down version using web based software rather than installed software which means you can keep all your data and satisfy all your computing needs in the cloud. Cloud computing FTW! On the other hand, we have Desktop Edition which is a lot heavier but comes pre-installed with great software like Audacity, LibreOffice and GIMP." Additional information can be found in the project's release announcement.
Zorin OS 11
Zorin OS is a Linux distribution that uses Ubuntu as its base and tries to provide a user interface which will be familiar to former Windows users. The latest release of Zorin OS, version 11, is based on Ubuntu 15.10 and features a number of tweaks to the desktop environment. "We're excited to finally announce the release of Zorin OS 11 with the availability of the Zorin OS 11 Core and Ultimate editions. With Zorin OS 11, we've focused on improving the overall desktop user experience, from the smallest details to the bigger picture. In addition to shipping new and improved versions of our standard pre-installed applications, we've included new applications to help you get more done in Zorin OS faster, better and more enjoyably. These apps include a built-in Contacts manager, Clocks - which allows you to set alarms, a timer, stopwatch as well as view the time in different parts of the world - and a simple and beautiful new video player." Additional information and screen shots can be found in the release announcement.
Zorin OS 11 -- Running Zorin Desktop
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Clonezilla Live 2.4.5-20
Steven Shiau has announced the release of Clonezilla Live 2.4.5-20, a new stable version of the specialist Debian-based live CD with utilities for hard disk cloning and backup tasks: "This release of Clonezilla Live (2.4.5-20) includes major enhancements and bug fixes: the underlying GNU/Linux operating system has been upgraded, this release is based on the Debian 'Sid' repository as of 2016-02-03; Linux kernel has been updated to 4.3.3; since Linux kernel version 4, the default Unionfs file system has been changed to overlay, therefore if you edit boot parameter manually, you have to use 'union=overlay'; due to the Linux kernel change in the Debian repository, the i586 kernel is no longer available, so the Debian-based Clonezilla Live is now only released with 3 architectures - i686, i686-pae and amd64; Partclone has been updated to 0.2.87 and a FAT16 issue has been fixed; a new file system, Nilfs2, is supported in this release...." Continue to the release announcement to read the rest of the changelog.
Scientific Linux 7.2
Pat Riehecky has announced the release of Scientific Linux 7.2, the latest stable version of the Red Hat-based distribution enhanced with scientific applications: "Scientific Linux 7.2 x86_64 released." Some of the changes in this version include: "yum-conf files pointing to non-base SL (such as EPEL, ELRepo, SL-Extras, SL-SoftwareCollections, ZFS) have moved to a central location; the install media now features the yum-fastest-mirror plugin which should locate a quickly responding mirror for network installs; SL 7.2 includes initial support for Scientific Linux Contexts which should allow for ease of creating local customization for specific computing needs; OpenAFS has been updated to version 1.6.16; the IPA packages have been customized to remove the upstream links to their support services....." Read the release announcement and release notes for more information.
Chih-Wei Huang has announced the release of Android-x86 4.4-r5, a bug-fix update of an earlier release to fix a "hazy fonts" issue found on some devices. Android-x86 is a project that ports Google's operating system for portable devices to standard desktop and laptop computers. From the release notes: "Android-x86.org is glad to release the 4.4-r5 to the public. Android-x86 4.4-r5 is a bug fix of the 4.4-r4 release. It addresses the hazy font issue of MESA 10.5.9 found on 5th Generation Intel GPUs. You are encouraged to upgrade to this release if you have encountered the hazy fonts issue. This release contains only one files. The file is bootable on devices with legacy BIOS as well as UEFI firmware. The file can be dumped into a USB drive to produce a bootable USB stick. Known issues: suspend and resume may have problems on some systems; the installer can't format ext3 file system. Please report bugs to the android-x86 mailing list with detailed specifications of your machine and error logs."
MakukuLinux 10 "Xfce"
Jacque Raymer has announced the release of MakuluLinux 10 "Xfce" edition, a new version of the project's Debian-based distribution for the desktop: "More than 12 months in the making, Makulu 10 Xfce does not disappoint. The focus on this build was stability, speed, social integration, key features that really make it unique and noticeable. Some core elements and standardized traditional elements were kept in this edition, however some new features were also introduced. The new social integration is unmatched in the Linux world, nowhere else can you simply so easily access your preferred social platform in such manner of comfortability. Featuring: Linux kernel 4.2; x86_64 with x86 support; Xfce 4.12 desktop environment; flavored in 'charcoal look' theme; supports many drivers straight out of the box; 357 languages pre-installed; most commonly used software pre installed...." Visit the project's Xfce edition page to read the full release announcement and to view a video introducing the distribution.
After three months of beta testing, Korora 23 final is out. Korora is a Fedora-based distribution featuring many user-friendly enhancements as well as a choice of five desktop environments - Cinnamon, GNOME, KDE, MATE and Xfce. From the release announcement: "The Korora project has released version 23 (code name "Coral") which is now available for download. Existing 23 beta users do not need to re-install, just keep installing regular updates. For the last three months we have been waiting for the RPMFusion repositories to be declared stable before releasing Korora 23. These community packages provide support for things that Fedora doesn't normally ship, like multi-media codecs and proprietary kernel drivers. Normally, the stable RPMFusion repositories are available a few weeks after a Fedora release, however the community has moved to new infrastructure and this has caused some delays. Features: Cinnamon 2.8, GNOME 3.18, KDE Plasma 5.5.4, MATE 1.12, Xfce 4.12...."
Korora 23 -- Running the KDE desktop
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Do you use swap space?
Swap space extends the amount of memory our computers can use by transferring inactive programs from RAM into a partition or file on the hard drive. Swap space, while slow to access, has traditionally given computers the ability to keep more applications and services running at a time.
These days, RAM is relatively fast and cheap. This has led many people to regard swap space as a slow relic of the past, something that is no longer needed. Others say swap space is still useful since it can help the computer deal with sudden spikes in memory usage.
This week we would like to know if our readers still set aside a swap partition (or file) for their operating system. Do you use swap space, or do you prefer to use the disk space for something else and keep applications in RAM?
You can see the results of our previous poll on preferred video cards and drivers here. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
Do you use swap space?
|I have a swap partition: ||1998 (72%)|
| I have a swap file: ||139 (5%)|
| I do not use swap: ||447 (16%)|
| I sometimes use swap: ||181 (7%)|
Distributions added to waiting list
- Star. Star is a Linux distribution built from Debian and Devuan packages. It provides four graphical interfaces (Xfce, Fluxbox, Openbox and JWM) and ships with a small collection of desktop applications.
- LibertyBSD. LibertyBSD is a distribution of the OpenBSD operating system that removes non-free firmware from the default install.
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DistroWatch database summary
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This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 15 February 2016. To contact the authors please send email to:
- Jesse Smith (feedback, questions and suggestions: distribution reviews/submissions, questions and answers, tips and tricks)
- Ladislav Bodnar (feedback, questions, donations, comments)
|Linux Foundation Training
|• 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 the 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 the 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, the meaning of status symbols in top, FreeBSD Foundation lists ongoing projects, Plasma Mobile team answers questions|
|• Issue 800 (2019-02-04): FreeNAS 11.2, using Ubuntu Studio software as an add-on, Nitrux developing znx, matching operating systems to file systems|
|• Issue 799 (2019-01-28): KaOS 2018.12, Linux Basics For Hackers, Debian 10 enters freeze, Ubuntu publishes new version for IoT devices|
|• Issue 798 (2019-01-21): Sculpt OS 18.09, picking a location for swap space, Solus team plans ahead, Fedora trying to get a better user count|
|• Issue 797 (2019-01-14): Reborn OS 2018.11.28, TinyPaw-Linux 1.3, dealing with processes which make the desktop unresponsive, Debian testing Secure Boot support|
|• Issue 796 (2019-01-07): FreeBSD 12.0, Peppermint releases ISO update, picking the best distro of 2018, roundtable interview with Debian, Fedora and elementary developers|
|• Issue 795 (2018-12-24): Running a Pinebook, interview with Bedrock founder, Alpine being ported to RISC-V, Librem 5 dev-kits shipped|
|• Issue 794 (2018-12-17): Void 20181111, avoiding software bloat, improvements to HAMMER2, getting application overview in GNOME Shell|
|• Issue 793 (2018-12-10): openSUSE Tumbleweed, finding non-free packages, Debian migrates to usrmerge, Hyperbola gets FSF approval|
|• Issue 792 (2018-1203): GhostBSD 18.10, when to use swap space, DragonFly BSD's wireless support, Fedora planning to pause development schedule|
|• Issue 791 (2018-11-26): Haiku R1 Beta1, default passwords on live media, Slax and Kodachi update their media, dual booting DragonFly BSD on EFI|
|• Issue 790 (2018-11-19): NetBSD 8.0, Bash tips and short-cuts, Fedora's networking benchmarked with FreeBSD, Ubuntu 18.04 to get ten years of support|
|• Issue 789 (2018-11-12): Fedora 29 Workstation and Silverblue, Haiku recovering from server outage, Fedora turns 15, Debian publishes updated media|
|• Issue 788 (2018-11-05): Clu Linux Live 6.0, examining RAM consumpion, finding support for older CPUs, more Steam support for running Windows games on Linux, update from Solus team|
|• Issue 787 (2018-10-29): Lubuntu 18.10, limiting application access to specific users, Haiku hardware compatibility list, IBM purchasing Red Hat|
|• Issue 786 (2018-10-22): elementary OS 5.0, why init keeps running, DragonFly BSD enables virtual machine memory resizing, KDE neon plans to drop older base|
|• Issue 785 (2018-10-15): Reborn OS 2018.09, Nitrux 1.0.15, swapping hard drives between computers, feren OS tries KDE spin, power savings coming to Linux|
|• Issue 784 (2018-10-08): Hamara 2.1, improving manual pages, UBports gets VoIP app, Fedora testing power saving feature|
|• Issue 783 (2018-10-01): Quirky 8.6, setting up dual booting with Ubuntu and FreeBSD, Lubuntu switching to LXQt, Mint works on performance improvements|
|• Issue 782 (2018-09-24): Bodhi Linux 5.0.0, Elive 3.0.0, Solus publishes ISO refresh, UBports invites feedback, Linux Torvalds plans temporary vacation|
|• Issue 781 (2018-09-17): Linux Mint 3 "Debian Edition", file systems for SSDs, MX makes installing Flatpaks easier, Arch team answers questions, Mageia reaches EOL|
|• Issue 780 (2018-09-10): Netrunner 2018.08 Rolling, Fedora improves language support, how to customize Kali Linux, finding the right video drivers|
|• 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 |
XigmaNAS (formerly NAS4Free) is an embedded open-source NAS (Network-Attached Storage) distribution based on FreeBSD. XigmaNAS supports sharing across multiple operating systems, including Windows, Apple and UNIX-like systems. XigmaNAS is easy to set up in most home and enterprise environments and will allow to manage and share large amounts of data easily across a network. XigmaNAS also incorporates many different streaming features for sharing multimedia with other devices on the network. XigmaNAS includes ZFS v28 (RAIDZ, RAIDZ2 and RAIDZ3) Software RAID (0,1,5), Disk Encryption, S.M.A.R.T / Email Reports, and it supports the following protocols: CIFS (samba), FTP, NFS, TFTP, AFP, RSYNC, Unison, iSCSI (initiator and target), HAST, CARP, Bridge, UPnP, and BitTorrent. All are highly configurable by using a web interface.