| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 648, 15 February 2016
Welcome to this year's 7th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
In the open source community Linux tends to be the dominant player, attracting a lot of developers and attention. This week we begin with a look at an alternative open source project, XStreamOS. The XStreamOS project has its roots in Solaris and features both server and desktop editions. In our Feature Story we talk about XStream Desktop, its strengths and weaknesses. In our Questions and Answers column we discuss free hardware (the physical counterpart to free software) and explore where to find hardware that respects user freedoms. In our News section we discuss new features available to Raspberry Pi owners through Raspbian, reasons why WebKit-based browsers may be vulnerability to security exploits on Linux and Ikey Doherty's vision for future versions of Solus. In our Torrent Corner we share the torrents we are seeding and then we cover the distributions released last week. In our Opinion Poll we ask our readers if you like to customize your desktop environment or stick with the default settings. Plus, we have added two new projects to our database, the BSD Router Project and the Guix System Distribution. We wish you all a wonderful week and happy reading!
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
XStream Desktop 153
I have mentioned before that I have a special place in my heart for open source forks of the Solaris operating system. Solaris was my first exposure to UNIX and represented the first step in my journey into the Linux and BSD communities. Getting to know Solaris was a challenging and educational experience for me and, as a result, I look upon derivatives of Solaris fondly.
For this reason, I was happy to learn Sonicle is still working on their open source branch of Solaris, called XStreamOS. Specifically, I was interested in their desktop edition, which is called XStream Desktop. XStream Desktop is based on Illumos, which is itself a fork of the discontinued OpenSolaris project. The Sonicle website describes XStream Desktop in the following way:
XStream Desktop unites a free, light and modern desktop, with the unique characteristics of the Illumos kernel, including a number of pre-installed applications, as LibreOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird, GIMP, VLC and more.
XStream Desktop appears to be compatible with 64-bit x86 computers only. The project provides two installation images: a 1.8GB ISO file and a 2.2GB image file for USB devices. I decided to download both to cover all my bases. Booting from the project's media brings up a text console. We are shown a list of supported keyboard layouts and asked to select one. The system then shows us a list of 22 supported languages and asks us to pick our preferred language from the list. The next menu gives us the option of launching the XStream system installer, installing additional drivers, dropping to a command line shell or rebooting the computer. I decided to jump straight into the installer.
Sonicle will continue the effort to add support for more software, publishing them on the public repository, directly accessible from the desktop.
Launching XStream's system installer brings up a series of text screens. Each screen displays a group of fields or menus we a can navigate with the page up/down keys and the function keys. The installer begins by asking us on which hard disk we want to install XStream. We are then given the option of using the entire disk or installing XStream on a specific partition. Once we have selected a free partition, we are asked to provide a hostname for our computer. We are then given the option of automatically setting up networking using DHCP or we can set up our network card by manually providing network settings. We then select our time zone from a list and confirm the system clock has the correct time. The following screen gets us to create a password for the root account and set up a new user account for ourselves. The installer copies its files to our hard drive and then gives us the option to either view the installation log or quit. Taking the latter option returns us to the menu where we can run the installer, access a command line shell or reboot.
When we reboot the computer the system brings up the GRUB Legacy boot loader. From the GRUB menu we can launch XStream which brings us to a graphical login screen. I think it is worth noting that XStream uses boot environments, file system snapshots that get created when the operating system is updated. Each boot environment is listed in the GRUB menu. When we upgrade packages on the system, a new boot environment is added to the list. Selecting an older boot environment allows us to restore the operating system to a previous point in time. In short, if a software update breaks the operating system, we can reboot and select the previous boot environment to restore the system to its working state.
Signing into our user account brings up the LXDE desktop running on the Openbox window manager. The desktop's application menu and task switcher panel are placed at the top of the screen. An OS X style launch bar is placed at the bottom of the display. The wallpaper offers a plain, soft blue background.
XStreamOS 153 -- Adjusting the look of LXDE
(full image size: 322kB, resolution: 1024x768 pixels)
Before going any further, I would like to acknowledge that the biggest problem I usually face with members of the Solaris family of operating systems is hardware support. I tried running XStream Desktop in three test environments: a desktop computer, a laptop and a VirtualBox virtual machine. I was unable to get the operating system to boot on either the laptop or desktop computer. This left me to experiment with XStream Desktop in a virtual environment. The project's website provides a special ISO file that is supposed to provide us with VirtualBox guest modules as Sonicle reports the default VirtualBox guest modules will not work with XStream Desktop. I downloaded this small ISO file and mounted it. I installed the guest modules from the mounted disc and rebooted, but found the VirtualBox modules did not produce the desired effect. As a result, I was stuck with a low-resolution desktop in a virtual machine for the duration of my trial. Still, despite the hardware issues I encountered, I felt it was worthwhile exploring the features XStream Desktop offers.
While running the operating system, I found XStream Desktop used a little over 10GB of disk space with the default set of applications. Measuring memory usage on XStream is a little different than doing the same on Linux distributions. XStream presents memory statistics differently, but I found the operating system tended to consume about 750MB to 1,100MB of memory, including application data and cache when sitting idle at the LXDE desktop. This may seem high compared to most Linux distributions, but when I measure memory usage on Linux (and the BSDs) I do not include statistics on cached data, which places XStream at a disadvantage.
The operating system ships with a graphical software manager called Package Manager. This application looks and acts a good deal like Debian's Synaptic package manager. Down the left side of the window we find filters and software categories. Over on the right side of the window we see a list of software available to us. By adjusting the filters we can narrow down the list of packages displayed in the list. We can also search for items by name. Clicking a box next to a package's entry gives us the option of adding or removing the software. Package Manager also has a button which triggers an upgrade process that will install all available software updates.
It has been a while since the last stable version of XStream Desktop was released and this meant I had 384 updated packages waiting to be installed in the project's repositories. These updates totalled 495MB in size. After the initial update, I did not receive any further updates during the week. One aspect of Package Manager I like is that when a package upgrade is performed, the software manager will create a new boot environment. We can name the boot environment, making it easy to roll back to older versions of the operating system if something goes wrong. I am happy to report that in my trial, nothing did go wrong with packages or upgrades.
XStreamOS 153 -- Managing software packages
(full image size: 297kB, resolution: 1024x768 pixels)
XStream also ships with a command line package manager, called "pkg". This program works a lot like dnf on Fedora or the pkg command on FreeBSD. It allows us to search for software, perform installations and removals, upgrade selected items and gather information on software in the project's repositories. I did not use pkg much, preferring to stick with the graphical software manager, but pkg worked well enough for me.
One aspect of XStream I found unusual was that the package manager sometimes provides a full category and path name for packages rather than just a name. For instance, a package might have the name "system/data/terminfo" instead of just "terminfo", or "terminal/screen" rather than just "screen". This did not happen all the time, but the longer names did come up sometimes in searches and I found it a little jarring to switch back and forth between the partial name and the full names. I suspect this is done because some Solaris utilities have the same names as GNU utilities. Having a longer path name allows both versions to coexist in the repositories.
On the topic of software, the XStream application menu contained a fairly common collection of open source software. We are given copies of the Firefox web browser, the Thunderbird e-mail client, the Filezilla file transfer program and the Ekiga software phone. LibreOffice 4.4 ships with the operating system and LibreOffice 5 is available in the repositories. The VLC media player is included along with the GNU Image Manipulation Program. The Wireshark network monitoring tool is installed by default. XStream also treats us to an archive manager, a calculator, an image viewer and a text editor. There are a few configuration tools for changing the look of the LXDE desktop. Both Java and the GNU Compiler Collection are installed. I also found a background services manager, a tool for working with user accounts and an application for changing the system time.
XStreamOS 153 -- Running LibreOffice
(full image size: 120kB, resolution: 1024x768 pixels)
While using XStream, I made a number of observations which I will present here in no particular order. One is that XStream provides the "sudo" command and the first user account we create automatically has sudo access. In a similar manner, the first user account we set up can add, remove and update software without being prompted for credentials. Any additional user accounts we create do not automatically have this privilege.
Another thing regular users could not do, aside from the first user account created, was shut down the computer. Regular users need to sign out of their accounts and shut down the computer using a button on the operating system's login screen.
One aspect of XStream I found very unusual was that I could not use its secure shell utilities to connect to any of the Linux computers on my network. The secure shell utilities would display an error essentially saying the protocols used by the two secure shell programs were not compatible. However, I was able to form connections between XStream and FreeBSD servers. This meant if I wanted to access a console on a Linux computer from XStream, I had to first connect to a FreeBSD server and use that operating system's secure shell utilities to connect to my Linux computer. In a fun twist, XStream's copy of Filezilla was able to connect to my Linux computers via OpenSSH and transfer files, though XStream's version of "sftp" could not.
Early on I had trouble getting Firefox and Thunderbird to open. This turned out to be a permission problem with the directories these two programs were using to store their configuration files. Once the directories were assigned proper permissions both applications worked well. By default, Firefox would try to open a local file containing documentation for the OpenIndiana operating system, a close sibling to XStream. However, the documentation did not exist and so Firefox would simply open an error page. I found Firefox generally worked well for web browsing and was up to date with Mozilla's recent releases. My only gripe with Firefox was when it would play HTML5 video files it would not produce any sound.
The user account manager utility and the services control panel worked well for me. I had no complaints with either of these programs. While using the service manager, I noticed the CUPS printing software was installed. XStream does not ship with a printer manager utility though. I installed a printer manager from the software repositories, but the printer manager did not appear in my application menu. This left me to try to set up printers from the command line.
XStreamOS 153 -- Managing system services
(full image size: 186kB, resolution: 1024x768 pixels)
There are two process managers listed in the application menu. One would launch and the other did not. The task manager which did work did its job, but incorrectly displayed the amount of memory on the system, reporting memory sizes as being in megabytes instead of kilobytes. This makes it seem like the computer has a thousand times more memory than it really has.
XStream uses ZFS as its default file system. I like ZFS and the features it offers. File system snapshots and boot environment are especially nice to have. The ability to easily add more disks to the system is another benefit I enjoy when using ZFS.
I think XStream Desktop does a lot of things well. Admittedly, my trial got off to a rocky start when the operating system would not boot on my hardware and I could not get the desktop to use my display's full screen resolution when running in VirtualBox. However, after that, XStream performed fairly well. The installer works well, the operating system automatically sets up and uses boot environments, insuring we can recover the system if something goes wrong. The package management tools work well and XStream ships with a useful collection of software.
I did run into a few problems playing media, specifically getting audio to work. I am not sure if that is another hardware compatibility issue or a problem with the media software that ships with the operating system. On the other hand, tools such as the web browser, e-mail, productivity suite and configuration tools all worked well.
What I appreciate about XStream the most is that the operating system is a branch of the OpenSolaris family that is being kept up to date. Other derivatives of OpenSolaris tend to lag behind, at least with desktop software, but XStream is still shipping recent versions of Firefox and LibreOffice.
For me personally, XStream is missing a few components, like a printer manager, multimedia support and drivers for my specific hardware. Other aspects of the operating system are quite attractive. I like the way the developers have set up LXDE, I like the default collection of software and I especially like the way file system snapshots and boot environments are enabled out of the box. Most Linux distributions, openSUSE aside, have not caught on to the usefulness of boot environments yet and I hope it is a technology that is picked up by more projects.
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Hardware used in this review
My physical test equipment for this review was a desktop HP Pavilon p6 Series with the following specifications:
- Processor: Dual-core 2.8GHz AMD A4-3420 APU
- Storage: 500GB Hitachi hard drive
- Memory: 6GB of RAM
- Networking: Realtek RTL8111 wired network card
- Display: AMD Radeon HD 6410D video card
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
Raspbian unveils new OpenGL feature, a review of WebKit package security and Ikey Doherty shares thoughts on design and the Solus distribution
The Raspbian project announced a new release of its Debian-based distribution for Raspberry Pi computers last week. The update includes a number of bug fixes and tweaks to the user interface to make the distribution's desktop more consistent. A bigger change though is the introduction of an OpenGL driver for the desktop which makes use of the Pi's hardware and offers much better performance. "In this release we are shipping an experimental OpenGL driver for the desktop which uses the GPU to provide hardware acceleration. This is turned off by default - if you want to enable it, you can find it in the command line version of raspi-config, under Advanced Options->GL Driver. Due to memory requirements, this will not work on Pi 1 or Pi Zero boards - it is solely for Pi 2. (raspi-config will only allow it to be enabled on a Pi 2; be warned that if you enable it on a Pi 2 and then move that SD card into a Pi 1 or Pi Zero, the Pi will not boot.) If you don't use this option, the desktop does have OpenGL support, but it uses a very slow software renderer, which makes all but the most basic OpenGL applications pretty much unusable. The hardware-accelerated version is much faster, and makes some quite decent OpenGL games playable on the Pi." A full list of changes and more details on the new OpenGL driver can be found in the project's announcement.
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WebKit is an open source web browser engine which is used in many applications, including the Chromium web browser and the Evolution e-mail client. Earlier this month, GNOME developer Michael Catanzaro posted a detailed report on the WebKit packages available in most Linux distributions and why he believes they are not properly patched against security vulnerabilities. "Historically, WebKitGTK+ has not had security updates. Of course, we released updates with security fixes, but not with CVE identifiers, which is how software developers track security issues; as far as distributors are concerned, without a CVE identifier, there is no security issue, and so, with a few exceptions, distributions did not release our updates to users. For many applications, this is not so bad, but for high-risk applications like web browsers and e-mail clients, it's a huge problem." Catanzaro also points out Debian is unique in that the project has a public policy regarding WebKit-based web browsers which states, "Browsers built upon the WebKit, QtWebKit and KHTML engines are included in Jessie, but not covered by security support. These browsers should not be used against untrusted websites." (Debian's Chromium package, while based on WebKit, is an exception and receives security updates.) Catanzaro goes on to explore how distributions such as Fedora, Arch Linux, Debian and Ubuntu handle WebKit updates and the benefits and drawbacks to each approach.
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The LinuxUser website has an interview with Solus project founder Ikey Doherty. The interview talks about Doherty's past projects, his goals with regards to the Solus project and the powerful features planned for Solus 2. Of the design of his distribution's Budgie desktop environment, Doherty said: "I want something that's pretty, but functional so I can just get on with my job while the operating system gets out of my way. At the end of the day, the only purpose of an operating system is enabling me to safely and easily use my software. The problem with too many distros and too many desktops is that they try and get up in your face: having welcome screens, first-run tours, `Look at our massive software centre that takes eight minutes to load'. Not interested in all that. I just want something that gets out of the way."
Doherty said the next major version of Solus will make some interesting changes which will set it apart from other Linux distributions: "With Solus 2, package management will only be a build tool - the end operating system that you get will not have a package manager. We will be completely separating the operating system itself from the apps, so your operating system itself will be updated in one atomic operation. The advantages you're going to have there are that if you're using a particular GTK version - say, for the Budgie desktop - you're going to be having your own version if necessary for your apps. An update to the apps will not affect the operating system, and an update to the operating system should definitely not break the applications, which is the problem that we see in every single Linux distribution out there today." The rest of the interview can be found on the LinuxUser website.
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Hardware that respects user freedom
Seeking-free-hardware asks: There are lots of free software solutions available to us Linux users, but so much hardware requires proprietary blobs. Where can I find hardware that supports user freedom the same way free software does?
There are a few resources for people who want to find hardware that respects user freedom the same way free software does. The Free Software Foundation, a champion of software freedom, also certifies hardware that respects user freedom. Their website explains why certifying hardware that respects user freedom is important: "The `Respects Your Freedom' computer hardware product certification program encourages the creation and sale of hardware that will do as much as possible to respect your freedom and your privacy, and will ensure that you have control over your device." In 2015, the Free Software foundation (FSF) certified just six new devices which they found respected the rights and privacy of users.
The full list of FSF certified hardware can be found on the Foundation's website. Several of the items are sold by Think Penguin which tests and sells computer equipment, including laptops and desktop computers, that respect user freedom.
Another valuable resource for finding hardware that respects user freedom is h-node. The h-node website maintains a database of hardware devices which respect user freedom. The h-node database tends to focus on individual pieces of hardware rather than end-user products such as laptops and workstation computers.
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Past Questions and Answers columns can be found in our Q&A Archive
Bittorrent is a great way to transfer large files, particularly open source operating system images, from one place to another. Most bittorrent clients recover from dropped connections automatically, check the integrity of files and can re-download corrupted bits of data without starting a download over from scratch. These characteristics make bittorrent well suited for distributing open source operating systems, particularly to regions where Internet connections are slow or unstable.
Many Linux and BSD projects offer bittorrent as a download option, partly for the reasons listed above and partly because bittorrent's peer-to-peer nature takes some of the strain off the project's servers. However, some projects do not offer bittorrent as a download option. There can be several reasons for excluding bittorrent as an option. Some projects do not have enough time or volunteers, some may be restricted by their web host provider's terms of service. Whatever the reason, the lack of a bittorrent option puts more strain on a distribution's bandwidth and may prevent some people from downloading their preferred open source operating system.
With this in mind, DistroWatch plans to give back to the open source community by hosting and seeding bittorrent files. For now, we are hosting a small number of distribution torrents, listed below. The list of torrents offered will be updated each week and we invite readers to e-mail us with suggestions as to which distributions we should be hosting. When you message us, please place the word "Torrent" in the subject line, make sure to include a link to the ISO file you want us to seed. To help us maintain and grow this free service, please consider making a donation.
The table below provides a list of torrents we currently host. If you do not currently have a bittorrent client capable of handling the linked files, we suggest installing either the Transmission or KTorrent bittorrent clients.
Archives of our previously seeded torrents may be found here. All torrents we make available here are also listed on the very useful Linux Tracker website. Thanks to Linux Tracker we are able to share the following torrent statistics.
Torrent Corner statistics:
- Total torrents seeded: 163
- Total data uploaded: 28.9TB
|Released Last Week
Simon Long has announced the release of Raspbian 2016-02-03, the latest version of the project's Debian-based distribution for the ever so popular Raspberry Pi computer: "Some of you may have spotted that there is a new Raspbian release available for download. For most people, this is primarily about updates and bug fixes - but there's one exciting new feature that might be of interest to some people. ... In this release we are shipping an experimental OpenGL driver for the desktop which uses the GPU to provide hardware acceleration. This is turned off by default - if you want to enable it, you can find it in the command-line version of raspi-config, under Advanced Options, GL Driver. Due to memory requirements, this will not work on Pi 1 or Pi Zero boards - it is solely for Pi 2. If you don't use this option, the desktop does have OpenGL support, but it uses a very slow software renderer, which makes all but the most basic OpenGL applications pretty much unusable. The hardware-accelerated version is much faster, and makes some quite decent OpenGL games playable on the Pi. " Continue to the release announcement for more details.
RebeccaBlackOS is a distribution which provides live media that showcases Wayland running various desktop environments. The latest release of RebeccaBlackOS, version 2016-02-08, includes a number of changes. The Ubiquity system installer has been replaced by Calamares. The KDE Plasma desktop is now a session option and runs on top of Wayland. The Linux kernel has been updated to version 4.3. "ISOs are now EFI bootable, (both the 32-bit and 64-bit ISOs). For booting on Macs, you may need rEFInd. This has not been tested on Macs. EFI booting has only been tested on QEMU and TianoCore, and also VirtualBox. To comply with Canonical's new licensing requirements for Ubuntu, Ubuntu is no longer the base tier 1 distribution providing core packages. Debian Testing is now used for tier 1 packages. Casper and Lupin from Ubuntu are pulled in from BZR, which allow Debian Testing ISOs to be bootable, when generated with Remastersys." A full list of changes can be found in the project's release notes.
RebeccaBlackOS 2016-02-08 -- Running a Wayland-powered desktop environment
(full image size: 942kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Parsix GNU/Linux 8.5r0
Alan Baghumian has announced the launch of a new stable version of the Parsix GNU/Linux distribution. Parsix GNU/Linux is based on Debian Stable and features a number of extra desktop features and optimizations. The new release, version 8.5r0, ships with GNOME Shell 3.18, version 4.1.17 of the Linux kernel and the BFS kernel scheduler which offers improved responsiveness on the desktop. "Parsix GNU/Linux 8.5 (code name Atticus) ships with the stable GNOME 3.18 desktop environment and an updated kernel. This version has been synchronized with Debian Jessie repositories as of February 13, 2016. Parsix Atticus ships with GNOME 3.18 and LibreOffice 4.3.3 productivity suit by default. Highlights: GNOME Shell 3.18.3, GRUB 2, GNU Iceweasel (Firefox) 44.0, GParted 0.19.0, Empathy 3.12.11, LibreOffice 4.3.3, VirtualBox 4.3.36 and a kernel based on Linux 4.1.17 with TuxOnIce 3.3, BFS and other extra patches. Live DVD has been compressed using SquashFS and XZ." Further information can be found in the project's release notes.
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Customizing the desktop
Some computer users never customize their desktops. The icons, wallpaper and theme are just part of the tool they are using and they do not spend time trying to alter them. Others like to have their desktops arranged in a specific way, arranging the panels, theme and short-cuts to suit their preferences.
This week we would like to know if you prefer to customize your desktop or keep the defaults. Let us know what customization steps you like to perform in the comments.
You can see the results of our previous poll on using swap space here. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
Customizing the desktop
|I keep the desktop defaults: ||154 (8%)|
| I perform a little customization on each machine: ||941 (47%)|
| I perform a lot of customization on each machine: ||652 (33%)|
| I transfer the same custom settings to each new system: ||249 (12%)|
Distributions added to the database
BSD Router Project
BSD Router Project (BSDRP) is an embedded free and open source router distribution based on FreeBSD with Quagga and Bird. Unlike other embedded networking tools, BSDRP focuses exclusively on routing packets and not on advanced firewall techniques. Additional functionality can be added to the operating system via FreeBSD's ports collection.
Guix System Distribution
Guix System Distribution (GuixSD) is a Linux-based, stateless operating system that is built around the GNU Guix package manager. The operating system provides advanced package management features such as transactional upgrades and roll-backs, reproducible build environments, unprivileged package management, and per-user profiles. It uses low-level mechanisms from the Nix package manager, but packages are defined as native Guile modules, using extensions to the Scheme language.
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Distributions added to waiting list
- Pragmatic Linux. Pragmatic Linux is an Arch-based, lightweight distribution.
- AscendOS. AscendOS is a user-friendly desktop distribution based on Linux Mint. It features desktop elements from the Me-OS project.
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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, 22 February 2016. To contact the authors please send e-mail 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
|Reader Comments • Jump to last comment
1 • Ikey words (by MC on 2016-02-15 01:09:39 GMT from North America) |
~"The problem with too many distros and too many desktops is that they try and get up in your face: having welcome screens, first-run tours, `Look at our massive software centre that takes eight minutes to load'.~
As a seasoned user, I completely agree with this statement, however, for a new Windows refugee, this is probably a good thing to have after installing their first Linux distro.
2 • Hadoop (by email@example.com on 2016-02-15 01:57:57 GMT from North America)
Using Hadoop??? You are probably using Ubuntu. Mine on!
3 • solus (by erinis on 2016-02-15 02:11:26 GMT from North America)
Having read Mr Dohertys comments a week ago I will say this. He is 100% right on and that was a very revealing interview for me. (if you know what i mean). As a side note It is rather disturbing that the comments lately have been rather uncool towards Distrowatch and it's content. It saddens me that the newer generation has little respect for this website. Carry on mate and thanks.
4 • Desktop customization (by Will B on 2016-02-15 03:17:07 GMT from North America)
I run Openbox with fbpanel (launchers, taskbar, system-tray and clock) and my Gtk Standalone Menu. I use PCManFM on Debian and Thunar on CentOS.
I don't like consuming any extra RAM, so that's why I prefer these relatively light-components and don't use a display manager, unlike 'fatter' desktops like Xfce, LXDE, Gnome and KDE.
If it takes more than one or two seconds for my desktop to appear after login, it's not light enough for me.
5 • I perform a lot of customization on each machine ... (by Greg Zeng on 2016-02-15 03:23:46 GMT from Oceania)
For all Desktop Environments (DE), it is very rare (impossible?) for the full customization to be set as default, or even as an example for the "general" user.
The only recent exception seems to be the latest "Zorin 11", which defaults to being as close as possible to "Windows 7" (or optionally Win-XP, or Gnome). This introduces Linux to the users of the most used operating systems.
Most distros stay with the original DE designers. Because DE designers are so rapid evolving their creations, it is very difficult for everyone to optimize or use fully the abilities of each DE.
The closest that all and every DE has in emulating "GKREL" desktop real-time monitor are the newest widgets for Cinnamon DE (Linux), or the "Sidebar701 Windows Desktop Gadgets" on Windows-10. It is like the instrument panel on a motor vehicle. These are needed for all unpredictable users.
Other optimizations needed are for whether the end-user prefers mouse, keyboard or other inputs. Varying degrees of "eye-candy" are chosen, depending on the final user. So Linux Mint loves feeding us White-Fonts on a Near-White background.
Perfect anti-ergonomics. Ergonomics, including emotional "uniqueness" is important for desktop creators to be imposed on end-users. Work-output-effectiveness has nothing to do with good desktops.
6 • Desktop customization (by Will B on 2016-02-15 03:25:11 GMT from North America)
I meant "light-weight components" above in number 4.
Also, my panel is 20 pixels high and at the bottom of my screen. I don't use icons on my desktop, only a background picture.
7 • BSD and Solaris-like OS's (by Will B on 2016-02-15 03:48:05 GMT from North America)
Sorry, not trying to spam the comments...just a little out of it tonight.
After *much* testing, usage and pain, it's my unscientific opinion that BSDs (FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD) and Solaris-like OS's (OpenIndiana, XStream, Solaris) are utterly worthless as desktop systems. It sounds like a broad sweeping generalization, but from my years of experience in this area, I feel qualified to 'call it'. For servers, BSDs and Solaris-like OS's are just dandy (my local file server runs FreeBSD and is quite reliable).
It's been an impossible dream for me to get FreeBSD and OpenIndiana to work reliably as a desktop. The biggest issue is the quality of ports/packages in BSD and Solaris-like OS's. Every-stinking-time I try to use these non-Linux OS's as a desktop, it's an exercise in frustration, pain and anger.
After setting up my desktop, compiling any tools that aren't part of the non-Linux OS and so-on, it's not long before Firefox, Thunderbird, PCManFM, Python and others crash, disappear off my screen and dump core. It's not a hardware issue as I've tested on varied systems (and VirtualBox), it's a problem with how these apps were ported over from Linux. It's probably some bad code deep in GLib or Gtk as non-Gtk and non-Qt apps don't have as many problems.
I serve my customers using my computer (I do remote IT) and just cannot have it dumping cores right in the middle of an intense remote troubleshooting session. But that's *exactly* what FreeBSD (and derivatives) and Solaris-like OS's do to me. Again, not hardware...all of these apps usually work great on Debian, CentOS and other Linux distros.
Until packages/ports are actually reliable and don't dump core every five minutes, BSDs and Solaris-like OS's are unusable as serious and reliable desktops.
8 • Desktop Customization (by Michael Kornblum on 2016-02-15 03:57:05 GMT from North America)
I definitely have to say yes. Even the most beautiful, and well thought out desktop environments are at least one to two flaws away from perfection in the eyes of its user. Fortunately, many DEs make up for this shortfall by offering options for customisability.
Currently, my DE of choice is GNOME 3.18. My favorite plugins are Taskbar, Dash to Dock, Easy Screencast, Skype integration, and the one that moves the system tray to the top taskbar.
9 • New distributions (AscendOS) (by Ari Torres on 2016-02-15 04:11:47 GMT from North America)
Just gave it a trial, it looks good and runs smooth, based on Linux Mint 17.2 Mate 64-bit
there are a couple of minor bugs like Automatic Login does not works well and other cosmetics but the overall impression is good, keep up the good work.
10 • on desktop customization... (by tom joad on 2016-02-15 04:35:00 GMT from Europe)
Back in the days of yesteryear when I was using XP I put a lot of doodads on my desktop. Why? I had too. There was not other place to personalize the desktop.
Another reason for me to love Linux is the panels. I didn't have panels in XP like I do in Linux. I can have several panels, usually, and at my discretion too. I love that. And I customize to my hearts content. I put things up there that I use a lot like Gimp and write. And I put all manner of doodads to keep in eye on the system to gauge how it is doing. I have to have the time down to the latest second. I have the date. I have something to keep an eye on my networking as well various sensors for the CPU and motherboard. I usually have a trash bin too but I just loaded Anti-x MX-15 (like it a lot) but don't have a trash bin just yet. I customize away.
On the actual desktop I have nothing. I changed the background which I always do. Right now I have a very, very close up picture of a pussy cat face. He is all black with two very, very big green eyes. And he stares at me. I love cats.
Lastly, distrowatch's commenters are very tame. Go by some political or news sites to get any idea of how 'in your face' ugly world really is. Everyone is pretty well behaved here. Sure, there are differences, how could there not be? But those are gentlemanly it seems to me.
11 • Customizing the Desktop (by slick on 2016-02-15 04:37:13 GMT from North America)
Prefer no DE, just a WM. Fluxbox absent of any wallpaper, plain black screen. Icons, styles and theme is dark charcoal color. I use Openbox as well.
Don't care for systemd either, now use Devuan and also Openrc, keeping the install as lightweight as possible and idling memory wise about 200mb for a desktop machine. Keeping the distro fast and breakage free as possible.
Install only what I use daily, nothing more and attempt to keep it all lightweight but
Don't use ubuntu, too bloated, dumbed down and untrustworthy. Puzzled by the high memory useage.
Lack of a decent browser still plaques Linux, but it beats being a Microsoft user.
12 • Desktop customization (by Bobbie Sellers on 2016-02-15 04:41:02 GMT from North America)
I started with Amiga OS 1.3 adding AmiDock and redesiging the icons for that.
On KDE I use a custom photo for a backdrop.
I change the main panel to the top center about 80% wide.
Then a blank panel at the left side to which I add a Program Launcher,
then Luna, a simple calculator, battery minder, Konsole, Pager
KWrite for the little things I do. Angband, Kmajhongg, Patience.
At the bottom of this panel are the icons for Lock, Leave, Suspend
and Hibernate which is lately broken.
As KDE's Plasma 5 updates it gets harder to keep customization
as a lot of the panel background are not adapted to the new schemes.
Under Mageia 4.1 it was possible to have these panels fully transparent
but under 4.1 the same effects do not seem to be possible.
I tried Gnome 2.4 when running Mandriva years ago but it was not
the preformer that KDE's Plasma is.
13 • Customizing the desktop (by Dinux on 2016-02-15 04:46:17 GMT from Europe)
I customize my desktop and OS so much that it actually is faster for me to install a distribution like Arch Linux where I can customize everything like I want from start than customizing some other more user friendly distribution where I first have to change all the default settings and applications.
Also, some user friendly distributions don't let you change some of the defaults, for example in the Ubuntu family you have to keep some packages that are not actually necessary because other important packages (usually meta packages) have dependencies on them so you can only disable them and not remove (for example plymouth, but there are many others).
OpenSUSE and rpm based distros seem to be more flexible with this, I don't know how pure Debian is since I have not worked directly with it for a long time.
Usually I customize the desktop around LXDE since it uses less resources and it's much faster than all the other more used environments and once customized properly it can look very good.
LXQt on the other hand is even worse than XFCE when it comes to being lightweight.
14 • Desktop Customization (by SilverBear on 2016-02-15 04:46:47 GMT from North America)
I always customize if I"keep" a distro on my HDD after a short trial. Although I've tried and like several DE/WMs, since 2005 the winner & still champ for me is KDE. Mostly using Deb Jessie & Mint KDEs right now.
1] Since I have a wide-screen FP monitor, I put the panel on the left side --I'd rather lose some real estate out of 1920px than from the 1080px height.
2] NO desktop icon/shortcuts! Under my KDE Launcher Menu Icon I have QuickLaunch widget with a dozen of my most-used progs (4 icons x 3 rows) .
3] Under them, the Window List widget, because I set my panel taskbar to only show running progs from my current desktop.
4] The Pager widget, showing the 6 (3x2) virtual desktops I run.
5] Below the Pager is the taskbar, showing running progs &minimized windows
6] At bottom left is the sys tray, including local time & date.
The desktop wallpaper gets changed to suit my mood, with no obstructions to the view. But I do sometimes run a custom transparent Conky display in the lower right corner. For me it's simple, functional & attractive.
15 • Customization (by claudecat on 2016-02-15 05:05:27 GMT from North America)
The amount of customization I do depends on the DE or WM, but it's always quite a bit. For KDE I like to clean unnecessary items from the system tray, add the icon-only task switcher, make things pretty with transparency, get the fonts looking decent, etc. Gnome gets the dock moved to the bottom with an extension (something with "Simple" in the name...), and the clock moved to the right. With Xfce I usually get rid of the bottom panel altogether, maybe add cairo-dock or something similar, sometimes get rid of the top panel too.
Obviously I'm willing to use heavy DE's, as my systems allow for it and a second here or there doesn't bother me (any OS boots in 10-15 seconds with the SSD anyway).
I guess what's surprising is that so many distros ship with their DE set up so poorly, especially with regard to fonts. Maybe it's just me but they too often seem too small and need aliasing settings tweaked (Ubuntu being an exception there). Not an issue if you know what to do, but as a newbie I might see how bad the fonts look and wonder what I signed up for...
16 • :-) (by Late4dinner on 2016-02-15 05:47:08 GMT from North America)
Glad to see GuixSD added. Although the more I read about it the less Unix-like it seems.
17 • Transferring custom settings (by Simon on 2016-02-15 06:22:32 GMT from Oceania)
I'd rather have my software work according to my workflow than modify how I do things to suit the software, so my desktops are heavily customised: so much so that the underlying DE is not easily recognisable from the GUI itself (not even from right-clicking and poking around in menus, which are also heavily customised). Sticking with defaults makes sense in enterprise settings where you're working with lots of workstations (even if "working with" just means helping others to use them) and the software's updated so infrequently that learning the defaults is worth the effort. Otherwise, it's foolish not to spend a few hours tweaking the environment to your tastes if you're going to spend months or years working with it. That said, I'm not going to waste time repeating the customisations on new installations, so I never rely on GUI tools: I'm careful to identify all the relevant config files so that repeating the customisations on another installation is just a matter of copying these files across. My existing setup has been my workspace now for many years, across many different distros and machines. I do sample new DE's from time to time, but have yet to find a default configuration that's anywhere near as usable (to me) as my customisations...and I imagine this would be the same for most people, if they've taken the time to customise everything carefully to suit their habits and workflow.
18 • Desktop Customization (by firstname.lastname@example.org on 2016-02-15 07:02:00 GMT from Europe)
sudo -i /isodevice/boot/casper/su.sh
xfconf-query -c thunar -p /misc-volume-management -s false
xfconf-query -c thunar -p /misc-exec-shell-scripts-by-default --create -t bool -s true
xfconf-query -c thunar -p /misc-single-click --create -t bool -s true
xfconf-query -c thunar -p /misc-single-click-timeout --create -t bool -s false
xfconf-query -c thunar -p /misc-thumbnail-mode -n -t string -s THUNAR_THUMBNAIL_MODE_NEVER
xfconf-query -c thunar -p /last-window-width -n -t int -s 790
xfconf-query -c thunar -p /last-window-height -n -t int -s 590
xfconf-query -c xsettings -p /Net/ThemeName -n -t string -s "Adwaita"
xfconf-query -c xsettings -p /Net/IconThemeName -s "elementary-xfce"
xfconf-query -c xsettings -p /Gtk/FontName -n -t string -s "Sans 12"
xfconf-query -c xfwm4 -p /general/theme -n -t string -s "Adwaita"
xfconf-query -c xfwm4 -p /general/title_alignment -n -t string -s "left"
xfconf-query -c xfwm4 -p /general/title_font -n -t string -s "Sans 12"
xfconf-query -c xfwm4 -p /general/workspace_count -n -t int -s 1
xfconf-query -c xfwm4 -p /general/use_compositing -n -t bool -s true
xfconf-query -c xfce4-panel -p /panels/panel-0/size -n -t int -s 40
xfconf-query -c xfce4-desktop -p /desktop-icons/file-icons/show-home -n -t bool -s false
xfconf-query -c xfce4-desktop -p /desktop-icons/file-icons/show-trash -n -t bool -s false
xfconf-query -c xfce4-desktop -p /desktop-icons/file-icons/show-filesystem -n -t bool -s false
xfconf-query -c xfce4-desktop -p /desktop-icons/show-hidden-files -n -t bool -s true
xfconf-query -c xfce4-desktop -p /desktop-icons/single-click -n -t bool -s true
xfconf-query -c xfce4-desktop -p /backdrop/screen0/monitorLVDS-1/workspace0/last-image -s /usr/share/wallpapers/wood.jpg
xfconf-query -c xfce4-desktop -p /backdrop/screen0/monitoreDP1/workspace0/last-image -s /usr/share/wallpapers/wood.jpg
xfce4-panel -r &
19 • Custom Settings (by Zork on 2016-02-15 07:08:27 GMT from Oceania)
I perform few ( if any ) customizations to the Desktop...
Why??? 99% of my time is with either a productivity app ( LibreOffice ) or a browser taking up the full-screen... I rarely see the DE except when I first start... So I see little point tweaking the Desktop Experience...
20 • Deskop Customization (by Vukota on 2016-02-15 07:25:25 GMT from Europe)
Any desktop that I intend to use more than once in blue moon, I customize. There is always something to customize. Either background is hard on eyes, or fonts, or shortcuts are not working as I expect them to (like switching different language keyboards) or icons are not where they should be, or menus are at ridiculous position, don't have what I need, or something else. And when we are at it, I customize *indows desktops as well for pretty much the same reasons. Only problem (with DE customizations) is that migrating desktop settings from one installation to another (even of the same distro/DE, but upgraded version) is usually more work to do, than I am willing to put, so I try to change only things that annoy me enough to be worth of my time.
@7, I totaly agree on the *BSD distros state of desktop readiness. They are usually good at non-desktop tasks, but as desktops, there are always problems with them, and I as well gave up on using them for desktops.
Related to a Linux/BSD desktops I wonder if it is only my impression or state of the matter, that there are less and less distributions with really light desktops that can work on older hardware. In past 6-12 months I had problems finding anything that may run as a desktop (mostly just for browsing internet and watching videos) on machines with 512MB of RAM (not to mention 256MB) and even 1GB seemed to be low. CPU requirements seemed extensive as well (quad core required). I tried almost all distros that were claiming to be light and to work on older hardware, but not many of them, that were up to date, were up the task. I'll even dare to say none of them was up the task. I would like to see review of the distro that is up to date (has codecs to play different kinds of video and latest web standards like HTML5, CSS3, ES6, SVG, WebGL etc.) and can be used for this simple "task" reasonably well on older hardware (up to 1GB of RAM and single core CPU).
21 • @18 (by Vukota on 2016-02-15 07:32:26 GMT from Europe)
Your comment (customizing XFCE) with a script made my day. :-P
22 • DE mods (by zykoda on 2016-02-15 08:06:58 GMT from Europe)
Cinnamon/Mate (whichever works) launch menu, a few Desktop Icons and lower panel with: --right power management, weather, Update, network, sound, printer, psensor date and time. --left a multitude of "quick launch" icons, --centre current windows. Window management reduced to lower, raise and close. Nothing annoys me more than than an unintended mouse click, screen blanking or unconnected popup (ad) that interferes my ongoing operations.
23 • DE customizations (by far2fish on 2016-02-15 08:12:22 GMT from Europe)
It really depends on which distro and DE I'm using. I am currently using Gnome3 on Antergos, and the only customizations I have done are:
1. Replaced LightDM with GDM
2. Replaced the wallpaper for the desktop and login screens
3. Replaced default icons on the Activities bar.
With Xfce, which I also love, I would have done too many customizations to mention here.
24 • customizing desktop (by peer on 2016-02-15 08:15:15 GMT from Europe)
I use mint kde with:
- changed background (glacier from norway)
- no icons on the desktop
- panel moved to the top
- cairo dock installed at the bottom
25 • Default desktop (by Poet Nohit on 2016-02-15 08:30:43 GMT from North America)
I find it hard to believe that people can be productive with a default setup, especially when using Gnome or KDE. Those defaults, in particular, waste lots of space, make apps hard to find, and generally just slow me way down during my usual coding or graphic image processing sessions. I imagine defaults are good for people who use their computer as a glorified paperweight, but then why would it matter to desktop designers how they use their computer?
26 • customization (by frodopogo on 2016-02-15 08:31:12 GMT from North America)
I've always liked to customize, all the way back to GeoWorks, but I realize it's not really very productive.
Linux Mint gets me close and usable. Actually, earlier versions were even closer. I like a dark panel and program menu. So I add a Shiki theme to Mint MATE, increase the size of the panel, change the background, and I'm close to Mint 9 Isadora.
I like the looks of Cinnamon, but I'm still getting used to it.
I did take to making a tweaks check list, so I could do them more quickly.
At some point, a distro or desktop is just too far away, and it's not worth the effort to get it to feeling like "home".
27 • DE Tweaking Bottlenecks (by Arch Watcher 402563 on 2016-02-15 09:08:17 GMT from North America)
- Distros and theme artists: please package properly, do not leave us to install manually. At least get a few people to supply proper installation guides.
- Window managers are mandatory; login display managers are not. They drag in needless dependencies for 10 seconds of eye candy. Focus on the DE which lasts with the user session. Many people are fine logging into console and typing 'startx' if prompted. How grml.org CD boots is a good model. Make the login manager a separate and optional package (and optional dependency), easy to turn off.
- Someone write a good, sole-purpose, desktop icon manager that knows inotify, drag-n-drop, and file associations. The few that still exist don't work because they've been unmaintained. Some people organize by desktop icons.
- SpaceFM is a customizable file manager. It's a good choice for any light DE.
- Every DE needs an old-school tray. Push it off to the side if you like. But to handle apps and indicators properly, the DE needs a system tray. Too many apps still utilize tray calls. Without one, the user can't see what's going on. Tray plugins for panels generally don't work. Stand-alone trays work.
- Every app needs a toggle checkbox to disable its /etc/xdg/autostart/foo.desktop exec permissions. Having it installed doesn't mean I want it autolaunched. Most users do not know how to fiddle with perms. Provide a switch.
- Every DE should have a GUI widget for setting $XDG_... variables. Nobody knows about them otherwise. The widget belongs in the Settings Panel area.
- Distros, please package Deepin DE. And DEs, please learn from it. The only thing not to like is phone home stuff, which I'd toggle off. Here's a reivew from an experienced tweaker: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9y-QcYk3qY
28 • Free (AIF) hw (by John on 2016-02-15 09:14:52 GMT from Europe)
Phoronix just covered a completely Free Power8 workstation. That's not old or performing any worse than a modern Intel cpu, but it does cost 3k.
29 • Geoworks (by c00ter on 2016-02-15 11:12:02 GMT from North America)
#26, thank you for mentioning the best OS ever, GeoWorks, which PC World touted as, "A better Windows than Microsoft Windows 3.0." Thanks!
30 • Desktop Design Is Hardware Constrained & Pretty Much the Same (by joncr on 2016-02-15 11:39:46 GMT from North America)
Re: customization -- "A lot" vs "a little" is pretty subjective. It would be interesting to see how many defaults are changed or disabled, though, since presumably distro packagers make an effort to create defaults they think have the widest appeal among their target audience.
Like a lot of people, I have a specific way I prefer to use a desktop. If I can convince a desktop to work like that, I can use it. The rest is cosmetic. However, I will avoid an environment if I can't find an appealing theme. (For me, KDE).
That said, all desktop designs are much alike because they all are made of the same ingredients At present, we have traditional textual menu-and-panel designs and we have dock-and-screen-of-icons (AKA menu) designs. The only difference is what we click on and where. These hardware-imposed design constraints mean too many people think simple cosmetic changes -- Deepin and KDE's Breeze -- are fundamental changes.
31 • (by joncr on 2016-02-15 11:45:21 GMT from North America)
@27: "Many people are fine logging into console and typing 'startx' if prompted."
That's just silly. You'd be banned from any marketing team.
You want to know how consumers are willing to use their computing devices? Look at phones.
Notions like that are bent on keeping Linux as the plaything of a tiny cadre of pretend geeks who think they're special because they know how to run an Arch package's install script.
32 • @20 - low resource distros (by Uncle Slacky on 2016-02-15 12:01:27 GMT from Europe)
I think antiX or its cousin MX-15 might be what you're looking for. Otherwise, Slitaz could be an option.
33 • #10 I didn't have panels in XP l (by dmacleo on 2016-02-15 12:27:21 GMT from North America)
Another reason for me to love Linux is the panels. I didn't have panels in XP like I do in Linux.
dexpot works in xp, win7, 8.1 and win10 and gives panels. pretty useful.
so if you have use for a win machine and still want the panels there is an option.
34 • Note on voting (by BeGo on 2016-02-15 13:13:47 GMT from Asia)
Bodhi Linux + (Moksha, KDE, XFCE, LXQt, OpenBox) + Variety + Make everything transparent.
Variety is a must! ;)
Multiple DE, cause I use different DE for different situation. To impress client, use KDE or XFCE. Need to work fast? Moksha. :)
Make everything transparent, thats means heavy dependence to QtCurve as central theme. :)
Icons usually chosen from whatever good looking from Noobslab.
Enable 9 workspaces is a must. :)
Other than that, Enabling KDE PIM. No good alternative to Kontact yet. :)
After that, customized to works currently running. :)
35 • @20 - A day in life of a very old laptop (by jg53 on 2016-02-15 13:18:25 GMT from Europe)
Two months ago I revitalized my antique Toshiba laptop A.D. 2000 (372MB RAM, 16 GB HDD, 1 GHz Pentium). When I was working on it in the yesteryears, it run win 98, then win 2000 and finally, xp. So I decided to find a "lightweght" distro, and tried to install all and every one of those listed as lightwieght. To my surprise, I could either install but then I would not be able to play video or browse the Web or I would outright run out of resources and not install at all. And so, I just reinstalled XP which to my amazement can still perform like a normal graphical desktop (provided I use Green Browser because Firefox is too resource gobbling). When I checked system requirements for XP, to my astonishment, I found it needs just 64MB RAM to run. Well, it just shows one can always find some room for improvement in every department.
36 • customize (by Bob Hayden on 2016-02-15 13:25:02 GMT from North America)
I am 71 and though I can still see well enough to drive I can't see well enough to use many new distros. I get the impression that they are designed to wow the user on bootup rather than to facilitate getting work done. Sometimes the default desktop makes it really difficult for me to see how to turn off all the annoying effects. I generally use KDE despite its bugginess because I at least have some hope that I can make the desktop useable. I would favor a boot option on all distros that lets you choose between an art show and a working tool;-)
37 • Desktop (by Didier Spaier on 2016-02-15 13:28:10 GMT from Europe)
I didn't vote, because I do not use a desktop, just a window manager, Fluxbox at the moment. I consider using Lumina in the future though when it will make a real difference over Fluxbox.
But I also consider using a tiling window manager. I didn't make this move yet out of laziness, and because I am afraid that my laptop's screen (14.6") would be too small.
38 • Desktop (correction of post #37 (by Didier Spaier on 2016-02-15 13:30:22 GMT from Europe)
My laptop's screen size is actually 15.6".
39 • StartX (by vtpoet on 2016-02-15 14:15:18 GMT from North America)
@27: "Many people are fine logging into console and typing 'startx' if prompted."
31 Answers: That's just silly. You'd be banned from any marketing team.
I'm with 31. Reminds me of the heated Linux debates from the late 90's and early aughts, when the DE of choice, unless you were a mindless Microslop Fanboi, was the command line. The Linux intelligentsia, true Scotsmen all, were mortally offended by the efforts of KDE and Gnome to dumb down Linux. If you optomized your monitor's resolution without frying it and you got your sound card to correctly pronounce "Linux" without losing 30 pounds and your hairline, then you were doing something wrong.
Linux in 2000 -- no pain, no gain.
40 • XStream (by Jordan on 2016-02-15 14:29:23 GMT from North America)
Thanks for the XStream review. It appears that it went about as well as some distros I've tried here and there. I get the feeling that at least 50% of those on the "top 100" distrowatch list are not worth even testing, let alone considering for a desktop. XStream included. Probably more.. more like 75%. Perhaps even more than that.
The linux landscape is largely a wasteland of releases that probably only work on the machines of one or two developers of the release. But they come in swarms as the weeks go by.
The SUSEs, Fedoras, Manjaros, Mints, Archs etc are the real deal in my opinion. But there is also so much waste that I think it demeans the linux world. I know that sounds negative, but gosh, just because it's a free kernel doesn't mean it has to be treated like dirt.
41 • SolusOS (by frodopogo on 2016-02-15 14:31:06 GMT from North America)
Interesting interview with Ikey Dougherty. He sounds like a genius, and I wish him all the best. I didn't realize he was once with Mint, but now that I think about it, the name sounds familiar. I'm also not surprised he's out of there... an entirely different mindset. Mint focuses on the end-user experience- he's talking about the DEVELOPER experience! And since he says he's the only "code monkey", it sounds like he's writing SolusOS for himself! It's sort of like he's a pro coder, but doing the OS as a hobby. That's fine, but it makes me wonder if it will ever be very widely adopted as he doesn't seem to have a clear sense as to who SolusOS is actually for, besides himself.
Also, there are different leadership models in the Linux world. Linux Torvalds is obviously one- if you don't agree with someone, curse them out, and that should motivate them to code better! Well, the ones that are left, anyway!
Then there's the corporate leadership model, like Mark Shuttleworth... don't agree with someone, and they are fired or the equivalent- like the kerfluffle over the Kubuntu developer last year, who was forced to leave the project.
I think Clement Lefebvre has a third leadership model. He respects people, and can disagree without being disagreeable. (The need to disagree is a given, since bugs are inevitable.) This fosters a large and diverse community. That means more eyes reviewing the code, more volunteers testing and reporting bugs, which is exactly what you need. A big part of the idea that open source is a virtue is the idea that you'll have more people reviewing the code, but if you've chased away all except a handful of thick-skinned developers, you've lost that advantage. There may be other people finding the bugs in other communities or parts of the world, but they have very little reason to hunt you down and tell you about it, and indeed may not even know how to do so.
So I think there may be an actual quality advantage to the respectful style of leadership as it relates to Linux and Open Source.
42 • Customizations & Low-Resource Distros (by Chris on 2016-02-15 15:03:22 GMT from North America)
I too am in the minimal customizations camp. I typically only use a WM, Openbox, setup very plain - I'll save you the boring details but think of a stripped-down Crunchbang. Plus, I can copy three config files to nearly any custom net/core install (e.g. Arch, Debian, Manjaro Minimal, Salix Core, Etc.) and be up in a familiar environment in minutes.
If I feel particularly bloated on occasion, I may also install LXDE tweaked to my liking (although with the switch to LXQT, this is not likely to happen much in the future). If I'm helping a Windows convert, XFCE is usually what I will install for them (hardware permitting) and show them how to customize it.
@20 - I too regularly encounter the need for 'true' low-resource distros and have found, like you, that those distros 'advertising' themselves as such are typically not. I have found that looking 'outside the box' and beyond the 'advertising' has worked best for me. You are likely best suited looking at a custom net/core install (e.g. Arch, Debian, Manjaro Minimal, Salix Core, Etc.) and a fair sized swap partition.
Recently, I had a project to rebuild a Dell Inspiron 1100 laptop (P4, 256 MB RAM, 20 GB HD) with no hardware upgrade budget and the need for a Windows-like DE. While this particular model suffers video issues (a long separate issue), suprisingly, I found the best (fully functional, fairly quick, easy to use (dependency resolution), and Windows-like) distro to be Salix XFCE, which is not advertised for such purposes. I had not had much exposure to this distro in the past but with this recent success on such modest hardware, I'm keeping this distro handy, especially with the pending, upstream, new Slackware release...
43 • Desktop customisation (by Frosch on 2016-02-15 15:21:52 GMT from Europe)
I always customise desktop environments. I use KDE Plasma and I change its settings a lot : default font, theme colors, window buttons, panel items... I like Plasma's ease of customisation, although a few options that were to find in the 4.x series are still missing to me, mostly regarding desktop icons (they are kept aligned but I don't like it...).
44 • SolusOS (by frodopogo on 2016-02-15 15:22:45 GMT from North America)
Ummmm... make that LINUS Torvalds! ;^D
45 • Geoworks (by Walt on 2016-02-15 15:38:09 GMT from North America)
Fun to see the mentions of Geoworks in this discussion. Geoworks was my first foray into the non-Windows OS world, and it might still be my favorite. I loved Geoworks and might still be using it if it had survived. The only problem now is that I ended up with a bunch of files from my Geoworks days that I can no longer access, some of which I wish I could somehow recover.
46 • DE customisation (by bonky on 2016-02-15 16:00:19 GMT from North America)
I have pretty much always used Fluxbox or Openbox...and the most customisation i do is change background pic.....either 1 of my dogs or my GF (whichever is less annoying at the time)
I see no reason for wobbly windows etc..no body really sees or uses my comps but me..so no one needs to be impressed
My GFs PC which has Gentoo running on it..had Openbox but she couldnt cope with R clicking for a menu ??????? so we settled on XFCE..and i did try some customisations which never seemed to work right for long...so i reset to default ....and so it has stayed and shes happy chatting to mother 20hrs a day on Facebook...again ony her or me look at it or use it..so flashy customisations are pretty pointless
47 • @45 - Geoworks (by Uncle Slacky on 2016-02-15 17:02:38 GMT from Europe)
You can still buy the modern version, Breadbox Ensemble, here: http://www.breadbox.com/
48 • Customizing my desktop (by Microlinux on 2016-02-15 18:46:26 GMT from Europe)
Here's how I customize my Xfce desktop:
The corresponding packaged user profile:
Here's what this looks like:
49 • Light Distributions (by Justin on 2016-02-15 19:35:42 GMT from North America)
@20, 32, 35, 42, etc.
I completely agree with your findings. Back in the day, I found Puppy and xPud exciting because I wanted to run VMs on my XP machine, but I didn't have a ton of RAM. It was also cool to find distros with CDs under 100MB (I had a smaller HD as well), and I used to seek out anything that size that would run <256MB (preferably 128MB, but some liked 256MB more). Nowadays, this is virtually impossible except for maybe TinyCore (font too small on a high DPI display) or Slitaz.
Like @35, I sort of rediscovered XP. That OS was just awesome (though I remember it breaking a lot by the end, and along with EOL, that moved me to Linux). I used nLite to build a custom ISO to do most customizations I needed at install time, which I wish I could do for Linux (I have a long list of packages to remove on a fresh install among other things).
I don't know what happened in the past few years, but there is a definite resource creep that is hard to get around. I've tried to do my own stuff and found I spend many (frustrating) hours of making nothing useful (though I do learn more each time).
50 • I perform a lot of customization on each machine (by Joe on 2016-02-15 21:04:40 GMT from North America)
I am an Xfce fan, one of the reasons being the ease of customizing.
I want my desktop to be bland and boring. My bar is at the bottom with the menu on the left and my clock on the right. I do away with the Wisker menu and put back the old Applications menu. Needless to say, I remove all Dockies and extra bars. When I am done, my desktop looks a lot like Windows 2000.
51 • @26 GeoWorks (by Jose on 2016-02-15 21:55:39 GMT from North America)
OMG! Somebody remembers the great OS that was GeoWorks. Far faster and stable than the early versions of Windows that was out in those days.
It was a fantastic OS with no support from the big guys.
Thanks for bringing it up!
52 • Minimal Distros (by Martin on 2016-02-15 22:12:45 GMT from Europe)
@ 11 Spot on with your comments, I do pretty much exactly the same using Fluxbox on AntiX, plain black background, etc., etc.
I generally change the theme to a black background with white font for legibility, increase desktops to six, etc.
Desktop is there to be used, with as few distractions as possible for me, and on a minimal distro using as few resources as possible in the interests of speed.
AntiX is systemd free too, which I prefer.
53 • [ 36 • customize (by Bob Hayden ] (by Almost a blind on 2016-02-15 22:54:54 GMT from South America)
" I am 71 and though I can still see well enough to drive I can't see well enough to use many new distros. "
Mr. Hayden, I am 34 and just cannot read any dialog in the new installer of Vector Light... With such a ridiculously tiny font size, it seems to be made by idiots. Then I switched to antiX MX-14, which has a wonderful (and READABLE) installer.
Lately I replaced my old 17-inch LCD with a 55-inch HDTV connected by HDMI. The difference was like night and day. Fantastic!
For people like me, who have both myopia and astigmatism, the traditional videomonitors suck. I will never use them anymore.
By the way, I havily customized the default XFCE desktop of antiX to get it much easier to use and much prettier.
54 • Desktop Customization (by Bill on 2016-02-15 23:49:19 GMT from North America)
I prefer setting up Debian 8 Xfce similar to Windows XP. Use one panel at bottom of screen and have all my favourite app icons placed there. My wallpaper is a Windows 10 screen..."Windows 10" miles above the rest.
I also have the same set up on a computer in our Condo Internet Cafe and people think they are running windows 10 on it, just like an actual Windows 10 computer sitting beside it.
Also dual boot Manjaro xfce on my home computer and use default settings.
Ain't Linux wonderful?
55 • Comments • (by Kragle von Schnitzelbank on 2016-02-16 01:04:54 GMT from North America)
On the _DebIan_Jessie_ WebKit "security" article
"… high rate of vulnerabilities and partial lack of upstream support in the form of long term branches …" … "… library interdependencies make it impossible to update to newer upstream releases…" (except for DebIan's own IceWeasel and Chromium, of course…)
…is this a _WebKitGTK+_-developer/Fedora-maintainer (full_disclosure?) rant?
…has a "simple" solution - force downstreams to accept the latest upstream "bugfix", no matter what it breaks, and don't ask for backports! Sounds like a tentacle would rather wag the whole squid.
Perhaps the most salient point was that Apple isn't eager to publish correlations between CVE and bugfix…
Would anything else be like holding feet to the fire for bad coding practice?
Customization - how many distros provide usable tools for generating an ISO-file with current customizations? While using an initial Live ISO?
49 • resource creep
But doesn't that help sell new hardware … one reason for vendor interest in contributing to Freed Open-Source software? Especially combined with crippled Open-Source drivers …
53 • 36 • resolution
Without the right boot parameter and display setting, allowing de'fault maximum resolution may get minimum readability…
1 • Ikey's words - Perhaps we'll see an _open_ Android-like app-store system?
56 • Legacy Cruft Carnival Barkers (by Arch Watcher 402563 on 2016-02-16 02:05:04 GMT from North America)
@joncr#31 @vtpoet#39 We're actually saying the same thing, but you bozos are too busy knee-jerking to see it.
There are no marketing teams but RedHat's. It sells to enterprise / military / intel / gov / academe suits. The result is System D- which commandeers user login duty, among others.
Your mum and drinking buddy are not RedHat's customers. My admin method is bare essentials. Ever had a borked login display manager?
I've set up nongeek users to startx, and they have no issues with it. Others I've set up to autostart into X11, just like a phone. Any method like this is just a trivial script or two that the user doesn't need to see. None of it needs a login display manager.
Still there exist lightweight DMs on github I'd use if they got attention from distros or desktops. I didn't say eliminate the display manager. I said make it optional and easy to disentangle. That advice was what professionals call software factoring. Maybe you've heard of it. Have fun trying to remove the needless dependencies:
I'll see your phone chip and raise you a legacy cruft chip. The reality of "users" on a "personal computing" device is that it's legacy unix cruft which should have been stripped long ago. Servers are the only devices that actually cater to multiple users and thus need login screens. On personal devices they're hideous overengineering. Phone boot-ups ARE what people want. So why aren't we doing that?
57 • XP Panels... (by tom joad on 2016-02-16 03:19:02 GMT from Europe)
Thanx for the tip on the XP panels add-on. Nowadays I only use XP for games; never for production. I never let it on the Internet either. So panels for XP are on the trash heap of computer history I think. Silly me still plays Doom on occasion...just for grins I guess. Does one ever out grow Doom?
But thanx again.
58 • 56 • Legacy Cruft (by Kragle on 2016-02-16 04:30:58 GMT from North America)
"the only devices that actually cater to multiple users" are any used by a group, like a business, an internet café, a family, or just visited.
Or, apparently, some have never been ¿and will never be? a parent, supervisor, or host.
I'd agree a creeping invasion of dependencies could drive one to radical simplification, like choosing your personal OS at boot.
59 • Many extremist desktop environments in DW. (by Greg Zeng on 2016-02-16 05:03:20 GMT from Oceania)
DW readers seem atypical of most computer endusers. Eye-candy only, to the very bare-bones CLI alpha-numerics-only, judging by their choice of Desktop Environments (DE).
These extremist endusers must live with homes, offices, cars ... that are the extreme opposite to their computer desktops. Computing is such a horrendous experience for them, that it is not integrated into their overall life. They are just childish rebels, fighting against a balanced work-life setting?
Linux is clearly unaware of the bulk computer users, with their default screens. Smartphones are the most popular use of computers, this century. Windows, Google (Android) & Apple desktops sell well, because healthy adults prefer work-life balancing. Linux users here in DW seem to disagree with the Linux distribution creators, who really need to learn more from the market leaders.
60 • agree_antiX_usability_readability_for_Seniors_and_Juniors (by k on 2016-02-16 07:39:27 GMT from Europe)
@36 and 53
Fully agree with Almost a blind, antiX -- currently using MX-15.0.1 -- most powerful (versatile) and user-friendly Distro for all users, and hardware.
61 • pool (by whatdesktop on 2016-02-16 08:19:50 GMT from Europe)
A Desktop should be plain bare basic. Then, leave to the user the chance to choose. There are lots of tools to get that done: extensions, add-ons, apps, ...a.s.o.
62 • Crunchy Kragle Sticks (by Arch Watcher 402563 on 2016-02-16 10:35:53 GMT from North America)
@58 Kragle. We buy kids their own PCs. Many have a smartphone too. Every office worker has a PC on his desk that nobody else uses. In fact, if someone else does, she will be called into HR for a little chat.
Any machine shared in common will be a kiosk of some sort, say industrial control panels. A library kiosk has a hard-wired user account. Starbucks and hotels offer "bring your own device" WiFi. I don't see a need for LDM.
The Internet cafe that must track usage time (or in China, people) may be the only case for LDMs ... unless the user is always "Machine 342A," in which case, no LDM per se is needed (LDMs select from multiple user logins). Time tracking can be done in several other ways.
So in reality, we use LDMs to hide our stuff behind a password. There are better ways to do that.
@59 Greg Zeng. Dunno about your extremists and rebels, but I test things to see what works for people, like Microsoft and Apple. Please watch the review and give Deepin a whirl.
63 • customising. (by Willi-amp on 2016-02-16 12:28:39 GMT from Europe)
How I agree with Zork, no19. If you've got work to do and a dist. that lets you do it, then get on with it. I've used PClos for ten or more years, never had to fiddle with DE, and it's better just as it is than most of the newcomers (like Ubuntu), as I have found. It's even 32 bits, how awful is that.
64 • @47 - Geoworks (by Walt on 2016-02-16 13:36:28 GMT from North America)
As far as I can tell it is not backwards compatible with all versions of Geoworks. I no longer have the original disks to know which version I had, but I think it was one of the 1.x versions, which are not compatible with current versions without jumping through a number of additional hoops.
65 • @64 - Geoworks (by Uncle Slacky on 2016-02-16 16:36:49 GMT from Europe)
You could try asking for help here:
66 • X or (by Dschtz on 2016-02-16 18:04:44 GMT from Europe)
@ 31 *LOL*
@39 Grml reduced that to typing "X" followed by hitting the key. And I think Puppy starts X11 automatically for the first one who logs in, it's built into the .profile script that runs on every start of the shell, with a check whether X11 is already running, of course.
What's the difference between typing your username & password into a display manager or onto a console? It's exactly the same number of key presses. What's left is only eye candy that's visible during the login, payed with having the display manager hogging memory and doing nothing as long as the window manager is running, that is, for the rest of the day.
THAT's just silly, IMHO.
67 • geoworks and BSD desktop (by Tim Dowd on 2016-02-16 21:46:27 GMT from North America)
I found out many years later that I had used Geoworks (as had millions of people) because the DOS based AOL software was based on it. It just booted a version of the DE that had been disabled in a way that only the AOL application could load. Even as a kid I noticed that there was clearly more software than I could access, and I thought it looked cool, was easy to use, and I wanted more of it. I only found out what it was long past the days of 16 bit computing.
As far as BSD on the desktop goes... it isn't "utterly worthless" as a desktop. It just might not be a default choice- you need a reason to use it. I had Free BSD with MATE and slim running early last year on an old Pentium 4 and it was actually quite quick and responsive. I had installed all this as a learning tool, and ended up keeping it 5 months because it was faster than the linux distros I was using. The only reason I'm not still using it is that I repurposed the box as a server.
I will say this: it's a fine desktop OS, but there's enough work required to get it to such that I think you need a reason to use it on the desktop (for me the reason was that I had the system set up and it worked well, which is as good a reason as any.) I also have XFCE running on NetBSD on an old iMac, which was chosen because NetBSD works well on that computer, and no linux since debian 6 has.
I'm not saying that I'd recommend desktop BSD to the masses (BSD's strength I agree is in how elegant it is as a server OS) but it's not true that it's utterly worthless.
68 • Classic DE customizability (by mikef90000 on 2016-02-16 22:40:29 GMT from North America)
Good to see a lot of XFCE fans here. After finding out how easy and Fast it is to customize the Panels, I only use the default menu to find 'lost' applications.
Most Used App launchers are placed on a left panel. Less used apps go into the whisker menu 'favorites'. Use search or desktop right-click menu for the rest. Top panel gets the workplace switcher, window buttons, and notifiers / indicators.
BTW a good history of the Windows start menu and other DE features recently appeared in The Verge:
69 • 62 • Sharing (by Kragle on 2016-02-16 23:07:08 GMT from North America)
"We buy kids their own PCs. Many have a smartphone too. Every office worker has a PC on his desk that nobody else uses." I don't begrudge you your affluence.
There are times, however, when sharing hardware is beneficial. Multiuser access-control is not just hiding stuff, it's also safety, and allows per-user customization.
And as noted, password and multiuser design is not the only way to sort it; some use alternate systems on portable storage devices, even multi-booting. There may be till other "better ways".
It's clearly true many people don't want to be bogged down with details (most of the time); there are times when access to "advanced" options is necessary. Some prefer DIY, others prefer to delegate.
70 • @ extremist desktop enviroments (by Spacex on 2016-02-17 01:58:22 GMT from Europe)
"Linux is clearly unaware of the bulk computer users, with their default screens."
Nope, Linux is fully aware. The big commercial ones are trying to please that crowd, but the vast majority of linux-distributions are small personal project, where people make something for themselves, which they kindly share with anyone who wants to try/use it.
Obviously they do not think about the bulk computer user, as they make their personal distro to suit their own needs and preferences, and couldn't care less about how many who use it.
You see, most of us don't make any money out of this. On the contrary, we let others leech on our free time, and the money we invest in it. We do it because we like it, not because we want tens of thousands of end users, or to make money.
Therefore, if you aren't happy, then go to someone who are paid to please the bulk computer user, instead of expecting people to use their spare time and money to please you for free.
That's not how it works. The dev/devs decides how it's going to be, and you use it, or not. That's up to you. But don't expect anyone working for free to care about your needs and wants. We don't do it for you. We do it for our selves. Is that really so hard to grasp?
71 • 68 • Classic DE customizability (by Greg Zeng on 2016-02-17 01:58:35 GMT from Oceania)
"BTW a good history of the Windows start menu and other DE features ..."
Thank you for this url. It is not quite correct on how DE evolves, when it states that "Microsoft’s Start menu made its first appearance with Windows 95". Others with clearer memories than myself might remember the precursors, which were the 3rd party add-ons.
It seems to me that all DE "breakthroughs" are done by 3rd party coders. Each year, the hundreds of Linux distributions innovate improvements. The major distribution publishers optimize these creative experiments to fit tightly into their systems. Observers to this evolution may notice this. Documenting the exact details might become another person's PhD thesis.
The fastest evolving operating system is Linux's Android. Each version borrows some features of the 3rd party add-ons. The most famous BSD derivative (iPhone's operating system) now has a touch-sensitive screen. Like other iPhone "initiatives", this is stolen (unacknowledged) from a third party developer. Historian's might one day fill-in the exact details later?
72 • @59 - extremist desktop environments? What? (by Hoos on 2016-02-17 03:44:21 GMT from Asia)
Your paragraph 3 does not follow from your paragraphs 1 and 2.
You comment in paras 1 and 2 on specific DW readers going all the way in their customisation of the desktop layout - either to make it minimalist or total eye candy. You are saying that they are "extremist endusers" or "childish rebels".
Somehow you then extrapolate from that to para 3 where you make general statements pronouncing that Linux distro creators need to learn from market leaders, presumably about their DEs and default screens, ie, BEFORE customisation. If you criticise what you see as extremist behaviour by some DW users in changing the default layouts, how does it follow that the default settings themselves are extremist or not for the normal user?
Your statements about Windows in para 3 also aren't accurate IMO.
"...Windows, Google (Android) & Apple desktops sell well, because healthy adults prefer work-life balancing...."
From what I can see, initially Windows grabbed a large market share due to clever (or sharp, depending on your viewpoint) business tactics. It continued to sell well for various reasons, and some were due to its anti-competitive, monopolistic practices. I'm not sure it selling well had anything to do with its default screens. And once the majority of people were using it, it was difficult to displace. Windows is not really a good example of popularity due to interface/default screen, or "work-life balancing".
As for Windows 8, I'm surprised you didn't find its default screens an "extremist" DE for desktop/laptop computers, particular for work. It had a mixed response to put it mildly. Now of course they have moderated it with Win10, which seems to have learnt a little from Linux DEs, e.g. virtual desktops. I'm not sure Win8 devices sold well at all, and if it did, surely it wasn't because of 'work-life balancing'.
For Linux distros, I try many different desktop environment with an open mind to see which I like. Gnome 3 is not my favourite interface. I'm only happy once I install the dash-to-dock extension to make the dock permanent on the desktop, and the Applications Menu extension.
Apart from that, I see nothing extremist about DEs like XFCE, KDE, MATE, Cinnamon. I believe the non-customised basic or default set up should be quite understandable and easy to get used to.
Even LXDE, while simple and not that full of features, has a layout that even people unfamiliar with Linux DEs should have no problem understanding and navigating.
73 • Freedom-respecting hardware (by Magic Banana on 2016-02-17 11:22:20 GMT from South America)
ThinkPenguin *guarantees* that all the hardware it sells work with Linux-libre, hence any 100% free GNU/Linux distributions such as Trisquel or Parabola.
By using the following link, 25% of the benefits on the purchase are donated to the Trisquel project: http://libre.thinkpenguin.com
As far as I know, the only other vendor that guarantees the compatibility with Linux-libre is Tehnoetic: http://tehnoetic.com
Both ThinkPenguin and Tehnoetic ship internationally.
74 • Desktops and light distros (by zarg2 on 2016-02-17 15:03:00 GMT from North America)
I like the configurability of XFCE and will tweak the panels to get a set up I like. I have an old Pentium 4 with 1GB memory that I run MX15(From the Mepis/AntiX folks) on and an old Compaq laptop withan Athlon XP and 512MB memory running AntiX 15 with IceWM/Rox. While IceWM is not very configurable the speed it gives one on old hardware is hard to beat. I think casual Linux users want what Mint provides, stability and familiarity. Folks like me that want to squeeze as many years as possible gravitate to smaller, hobbyist distros; to expect small distros to meet ALL ones needs is unrealistic, as long as an OS makes my old hardware capable of performing the task I need it to perform I don't care if it's "pretty".
75 • Light Distributions (by Vukota on 2016-02-17 15:26:57 GMT from Europe)
Just wanted to thank @32 and @42 for suggestions. I will try them in the following days. I would like as well to criticize Jesse for using "Dual Core" CPU machine with 6GB of RAM while testing "light" distributions that are "advertised" (mentioned) in the reviews as "for reviving old hardware". I would suggest Jesse, before mentioning "for older hardware" (or similar) to test during a review what was really low requirement that does not behave sluggish. I don't think that would be hard in a VM. Also, going forward, it would be nice to mention what was minimal requirement (number of CPU cores and RAM) for distribution to not behave sluggish. Despite the fact that I usually use computers with no less than 8GB of RAM, I do have occasionally to "revive" some older hardware for F&F.
76 • Light Distro as in machine @35 (by MoreGee on 2016-02-17 17:59:04 GMT from North America)
The Update cruft is going to kill that box on a regular basis using a regular linux. I would triple boot it with XP, FreeDos/GEM and Puppy 5.7 should run fine. Puppy and Freedos would be in folders on the C: drive. Install puppy last and run Grub4dos as the boot loader. You would be amazed at what it could do.
If it had more disk (which they are almost giving away at the flea market) I would Web Install Debian with the text installer and a light DM (LXDE, IceDM etc.). You could also do it with a flash drive but it might be slow with the version 1.1 USB ports.
77 • Desktop Customization (by mrwn on 2016-02-18 01:59:43 GMT from Asia)
just re-do past theme customization, namely the stuff from lassekongo83 of deviantart :D
78 • Canonical's new licensing requirements for Ubuntu (by Kazlu on 2016-02-18 16:14:40 GMT from Europe)
In Rebecca Black OS annoucement, "Canonical's new licensing requirements for Ubuntu" struck me. It lead the devs to switch to a Debian base. I couldn't find more information about that, what are those "Canonical's new licensing requirements for Ubuntu" and what do they imply? Does anyone here have a clue?
I found this:
"Any redistribution of modified versions of Ubuntu must be approved, certified or provided by Canonical if you are going to associate it with the Trademarks. Otherwise you must remove and replace the Trademarks and will need to recompile the source code to create your own binaries. This does not affect your rights under any open source licence applicable to any of the components of Ubuntu. If you need us to approve, certify or provide modified versions for redistribution you will require a licence agreement from Canonical, for which you may be required to pay. For further information, please contact us (as set out below)." (http://www.ubuntu.com/legal/terms-and-policies/intellectual-property-policy)
Maybe RBOS cannot afford to recompile everything and uses Debian since it can reuse its repositories? That is just an assumption, I couldn't find the actual reason.
79 • Expectations for small distros. (by frodopogo on 2016-02-18 22:15:02 GMT from North America)
yes, many devs in hobbyist distros DO do it for themselves, and yes, a limited willingness to respond to requests by other users for changes IS understandable in that case.
But that's by far not ALL of Linux.
Some distros of course have corporate sponsors. Others don't make a salary, but the contributions can be substantial, allowing the main devs to do it as a living.
In those cases, "the customer is always right" is the expected norm.
Coming into Linux from other platforms, Apple and Windows are obviously corporate sponsored. They are often hi-handed in the way they treat customers, but that's not generally seen as a virtue, and a Linux distro that listens to users is a welcome alternative. Then, there really isn't a lot on Linux sites to indicate the differences between how distros are run. They are all lumped together on Distrowatch as far as I can tell. This tends to create similar expectations for all distros.
So yes.... it CAN be hard to understand!
80 • @78, Simple Translation Really (by Chris on 2016-02-19 00:02:24 GMT from North America)
From a non-lawyer, the simple legal-to-english translation of Canonical's cited terms, 'We don't want you doing to us what we have done to Debian for years.'
From the far-too-common respins to the generally better rated Mint, the Ubuntu family of distros has lost/missed market share and wants to make it stop! So long as they can continue to do it to their upstream...
However, in Canonical's defense, a long time ago they quit having direct, live, links to Debian's repositories. IMO, Mint and the respins should quit freeloading on Ubuntu's repository bandwith. YMMV.
81 • @72: DEs like XFCE, KDE, MATE, Cinnamon (by Greg Zeng on 2016-02-19 04:11:36 GMT from Oceania)
These standard, longterm DEs are all undergoing change and evolution imho. XFCE, LXDE have almost zero changes now. KDE Plasma rapidly learning its baby steps, still. MATE almost mature as XFCE. Cinnamon trying to outspace and better KDE.
Canonical's Unity DE seems to have just a couple of near-still-born orphan-babies. The other major DEs are available on several spins of Linux: based on Debian, Ubuntu, Mint, Arch, RedHat, etc.
These DEs are used by the parents, offsprings and bastard-offsprings of the parents. The bastard-offspring, such as most of those using RPM, are so incompatible with the parents, that they need to have their own compilations of compiled applications & Linux kernels.
"a layout that even people unfamiliar with Linux DEs should have no problem understanding and navigating."
You seem to not notice the ergonomic "innovation" used by Apple and Canonical's Unity. Microsoft still has not understood ergonomics either, despite being very grand about their user interface rubbish.
In English (this planet's one international language, after the UN dropped French), the international eyes go to the top-left corner. Wrongly or correct, since most humans on this planet have their right eye (not their left eye) as their major eye. This means that the Major-Controls should be on the Top-Left corner.
Human-sensitive DE designers follow Apple & Canonical, by having the three major controls (Close, Minimize, Maximize) on the top-left corner. Some of the innovative child-distributions offer, or force this "Modern" ergonomically correct (?) layout.
This primitive "homo sapiens" crazily destroying this planet atm, is very much undervaluing its poor understanding of human ergonomics. The patriarchal military-industrial complex (including NASA and the other "research institutions", are basically raw emotional messes. They pretend to be logical-verbal. Gust simple integral numerics, with no stats, no imaginary numbers. Like the heavies in Linux, they pretend nothing exists in the GUI world. RTFM. Remember this koran-bible verbatim. It is all raw, basic alpha-numerics. So Very Simple. Noob 2u!
82 • Desktop customization (by slick on 2016-02-19 07:23:19 GMT from North America)
@79: I have been using Linux for 5 years, and have made many donations not only to distros but to those who build applications. It is a contribution, and by no means have I ever considered myself a "customer". First time ever seen or heard a Linux user as such. No way does it constitute a partnership.
Linux in most cases is 100 % free, it is left up to you to customize, add or take away as you see fit.
A person is limited only by their knowledge, but the forums are filled with knowledge and those who are willing to help you, but should read the forums first to see if your issue has already been discussed.
DistroWatch is actually very well laid out and navigable, and a plethora of info. Learn to just click on an interested distro of the right of the page, and a considerable amount of info is presented that satisfies most people's inquiries and questions.
Have no interest to tell a developer how to build his/her or their distro, can make all the changes myself, add or take away and customize as I see fit.
It took time and willingness to learn Linux, Debian in particular. It is a very rewarding experience, knowledge is a good thing to gain.
It is free...donate to help with the fees they may incur as a developer.
83 • Desktop environments (by Andy Bear on 2016-02-19 07:39:39 GMT from Europe)
I totally agree with you. I also have an old Pentium 4 box at home, still sporting Windows XP. I used MX15 some time ago and it fits perfectly onto that computer.
As for desktop environments, I have no idea why the push to compete with Windows or MacOS X. Windows is constantly trying to define its desktop look, as if it hasn't been defined per Windows 95 already :P. The abrupt design changes have not helped anyone, really. MacOS X may be intuitive to some, but it's not an absolute truth.
I feel that Linux has filled a certain niche long time ago and that niche has a place in the world. I don't see conquering the mobile or desktop markets as anything but a fancy. Workstations and servers will not disappear, and there will always be a need for simple, yet functional interfaces ;).
84 • @81 UN Official Languages (by J on 2016-02-19 14:56:19 GMT from North America)
"There are six official languages of the UN. These are Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish."
85 • cloud storage, syncing and backup-ing (by mike@louisiana on 2016-02-19 15:11:50 GMT from North America)
I have several operating systems running on various devices and I use Syncthing to keep certain files up-to-date across systems. I use a local physical backup, but worry about hurricanes and the like so I also back up to Dropbox once a week. My non-geek friends are more comfortable with Dropbox and similar solutions. I would like to see Distrowatch compare the usability and security of these kinds of applications. I'm not completely satisfied with how I'm managing backups and synchronizing.
86 • tax software (by mike@louisiana on 2016-02-19 15:26:06 GMT from North America)
With taxes coming due here in the US, I have lots of friends and hangers-on asking me to do their taxes for them. I use various tax preparation software, and sometimes people ask for and I use Turbo Tax. I get the same canned message each time I use Linux to run Turbo Tax -- something along the lines of "your experience won't be optimized, you really need to use Windows." But Turbo Tax runs fine on Linux (FWIW I've run it using google-chrome-stable in openSUSE with i3, Arch with Plasma and Fedora with LXDE and google-chrome-beta in Gentoo with Ratpoison). I think by "optimized" Turbo Tax means they didn't get a squib from Linux like they did from Windows. It makes we wonder how secure the Windows version is. What user data do they share?
I've used a bunch of different tax preparation software, but I've never felt especially comfortable with any of it. Does anyone know more?
87 • 86 • Don't get comfortable (by Fossilizing Dinosaur on 2016-02-20 15:21:41 GMT from North America)
Searching "Free File Fillable Forms" finds pdf forms for avoiding third-party complications
Searching "Open Tax Solver" finds version 13.02 is fairly recent Freed Open-Source
Why should anyone feel "especially comfortable" with a serious matter? National governments rarely have the best interests of individuals at heart.
88 • thanks fossilizing dino (by mike@louisiana on 2016-02-20 21:55:18 GMT from North America)
@87 Thanks. My concern about security has evolved so much from the 90s when I just cruised around and used basic encryption. Now -- maybe I'm just old and stupid -- I get worried about data security. I don't care about my stuff. But, I'm an attorney and people hire me with the expectation that their data will be secure and intact. I don't have an IT department I can palm this off on -- I'm responsible for it.
Again, thank you DistroWatch for helping me learn. I would love to see more articles about Selinux and firewalls and all that stuff.
89 • Linux Desktop Customization (by H. Güzelaydın on 2016-02-20 22:48:15 GMT from North America)
"KDE desktop or KDE SC (software compilation) is no longer looking like a good candidate for fast, simple and elegant desktop. It's the best time to choose something else, smaller, faster and nicer."
The above-stated statement belongs to Tom Matejicek.
Sadly, what he is saying about KDE can be said about ALL other Linux DE (Desktop Environments).
You're welcome to read the rest of the story at https://www.slax.org/en/blog.php
(when you get there; look for the title INTERVIEW WITH SLAX's AUTHOR by scrolling down just a bit).
90 • @20, @35 and @ others RE: Legacy or (so-called) light Distros (by Nemrut on 2016-02-20 23:07:53 GMT from North America)
I have tried (almost all) those self-identified "light" distros over the years.
Among all, the only ones that had worked for me are Slax https://www.slax.org/en/blog/22898-Quantum-OS-now-renamed-to-Papyros.html
@48 Thank you for Microlinux link.
91 • International Language ... not English? (by Greg Zeng on 2016-02-21 03:13:59 GMT from Oceania)
84 • @81 UN Official Languages (by J on 2016-02-19 14:56:19 GMT from North America)
"There are six official languages of the UN. These are Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish."
Thank you for the current url. Last century, when it concerned me very much, my opinion was correct on the UN. Seems that anglo-imperialism has not been so strong right, now (officially, in the UN) ... At The Moment ...
In major international areas, such as international travel, English is the one & only language, both spoken and written, afaik.
Stern magazine had a very detailed, well researched and explained article before the internet was invented. It showed that the German language is due to become extinct. You UN url proves this to be true. We both know international "secrets" that the Linux communities do not know. Some many Linux distributions are proud to not include any international languages at all.
92 • Lightweight distribution defined? Not just DE ... ? (by Greg Zeng on 2016-02-21 03:28:12 GMT from Oceania)
90 • @20, @35 and @ others RE: Legacy or (so-called) light Distros
> I have tried (almost all) those self-identified "light" distros over the years.
I assumed that you included "core" distributions? Why did you (or anyone?) reject Zorin Core, Ubuntu Core, WattOS, Peppermint? These four are all Ubuntu-based. Zorin Core will install onto 1GB memory, extremely slowly, even if you give it more memory. Ubuntu Core does not exist as a pre-compiled download.
Other lightweight distros may be 32 bit versions of the 64bit full distros. Or like Arch-based distros, where you may need to add modules and applications if you wish.
Lightweight distros can be "created" by removing the heavyweight junk on full distros which do not use heavy DEs like Gnome3, KDE, Unity, Cinnamon, etc. By "junk", I mean eye-candy, games & the strange human languages like Lao, Thai, Braille, etc. YMMV.
93 • Desktops & security (by M.Z. on 2016-02-21 20:43:17 GMT from North America)
Personally I think any half decent DE should include at least some ability to customize & I do change more than a few things on all the desktops I use regularly. I do so even more when I want to get serious work done, as the keyboard shortcuts & hot corners I have adapted to do a great deal to help me be more productive & handle numerous windows in a way that feels efficient. I tend to customize more the more I plan to use a Linux install.
@ 'extremist DE' guy
Why keep making such rude & foolish attempts to put all Linux users into some kind of rigid boxed in categories? All DW readers are either A or B? What utter nonsense.
On the #81 comment on ergonomic innovation - You first claim that Linux (developers presumably?) don't/doesn't pay any attention to how most people use their computing device, then you claim that we should all switch to top left centric design & controls like Unity? It seems fairly obvious that #72 is talking about the non-extremism in following standard layouts that the vast majority of users are familiar with (looking like Win 95-Win 7). Trying to push people toward using something else is far more extreme, & the vast majority of PC users already move toward the top left for things, it just happens to be the top left of their windows is where the menus are located.
The big desktops evolve because they have the resources & users to keep innovating & fixing bugs, & the normal/non-extreme ones tend to follow the basic design paradigms that most PC users are familiar with. The only common Linux DE I have seen that seems to want to be extreme is Gnome 3, though fans will simply call it 'extreme innovation'. Honestly the basic design paradigm is all most users will tend to notice easily, & in that regard there are lots of great traditional DEs for Linux that do what most users want & they offer them the opportunity to do more by adding some nice new features that some may not be familiar with. There is nothing extreme about that.
@93 - Mint security
Sad news indeed. There is also a posting on slashdot:
I'll continue to use Mint, but I do hope the Mint team treat this as an opportunity to look for ways to try and improve security throughout their project. Mint always delivers an outstanding & well polished desktop that most any user can get to work with immediately; however, I do think a stronger emphasis on security would eliminate their one weakness. I certainly see Fedora and their work on SELinux as one of the bigger innovators in this space, & Mageia offers their MSEC tool the help users improve their system security quickly & easily. After Mint gets their website issues fully under control I hope they start looking at such security tools & for other ways to improve security both for themselves & their websites, as well as for their users. I'm not sure which sorts of security tools would best fit the Mint desktop & their ease of use goals, but I would like to see the project better secured at both the end user desktop level & the up stream level where the project hosts forums, down servers, mirrors, etc. It is sadly a very rough world out there & there will always be security issues regardless of what OS you use.
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Septor is a Linux distribution which provides users with a pre-configured computing environment for surfing the Internet anonymously. It is based on Debian's "Testing" branch and it uses Privoxy, a privacy-enhancing proxy, together with the Tor anonymity network to modify web page data and HTTP headers before the page is rendered by the browser. The distribution uses KDE Plasma as the preferred desktop environment and it also includes a the Tor Browser, OnionShare for anonymous file sharing, and Ricochet for anonymous instant messaging.