| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 653, 21 March 2016
Welcome to this year's 12th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
Ever since Canonical announced the next version of Ubuntu will ship with ZFS support, there has been a lot of debate in the Linux community over the potential licensing conflicts and the legality of shipping ZFS support in a Linux distribution. Meanwhile, the Arch-based Antergos distribution has already started supporting ZFS storage volumes in the project's installer. This week we begin with a look at the Antergos distribution, its ZFS support and the distribution's flexible system installer. Read on to find out what other features this rolling release distribution has to offer. In our News section we discuss Debian's upcoming election for Project Leader, talk about a new Unix-like operating system written in Rust and link to a tutorial that explains how to get Netflix working on PC-BSD and FreeBSD. In our Myths and Misunderstandings column we talk about version numbers, what they mean and why they can be confusing. Plus we share the torrents we are seeding and then provide a list of the distributions released last week. In our Opinion Poll we ask how our readers test new distributions prior to installing them. We wish you all a fantastic week and happy reading!
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Antergos is a cutting edge Linux distribution which is based on Arch Linux. The project creates a powerful desktop oriented operating system that supports several desktop environments and install-time add-ons. Around the middle of February the Antergos project released a snapshot carrying the version number 2016.02.19. At the time I downloaded the ISO image, but was unable to get the distribution to boot on my hardware. I then moved on to explore other projects, but then discovered the Antergos developers had released an updated ISO, this one labelled 2016.02.21. I downloaded this new ISO and found it booted on my test system and so proceeded to experiment with the distribution.
There are two editions of Antergos, "Antergos Live" and "Antergos Minimal". Both editions are available in 32-bit and 64-bit x86 builds. The Minimal edition is about 530MB in size while the larger edition is a 1.6GB download. I decided to explore the larger edition.
Booting from the Antergos live media brings up a menu asking if we would like to boot from the computer's hard drive, start a live graphical desktop session or boot Antergos in text mode. Taking the desktop option loads the GNOME Shell desktop environment. A dock on the left side of the screen provides access to a few commonly used programs and the Antergos system installer, which is called Cnchi. Shortly after the desktop finished loading, a message popped up in the upper-right corner of the screen and let me know the system was checking for updates to the Cnchi system installer. A few seconds later, I was assured I had the latest copy of the installer. Then another window appeared in the centre of the desktop and asked if I would like to explore the live desktop further or install the distribution.
Antergos 2016.02.21 -- MATE desktop and application menu
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The Cnchi installer is a graphical application which starts by asking us to select our preferred language from a list. The next two screens ask us to supply our country and our time zone, which we can find on a map of the world. We then confirm our keyboard's layout. The following screen asks which desktop environment we would like to install with options including Cinnamon, GNOME, KDE, MATE, Openbox and Xfce. We also have the option of installing Antergos without a desktop environment and interacting with the operating system via a text console. I decided to run Antergos with the MATE desktop. The next screen asks which optional software packages we would like to install. There are several add-ons: The Arch User Repository (AUR), Bluetooth support, Firefox, Truetype Fonts, Adobe Flash, a long term support kernel, printing support, LibreOffice, Steam, PlayOnLinux, the Uncomplicated Firewall utility and Samba. I chose to install everything except the LTS kernel and Bluetooth support. One thing I like about the screen which lists the optional add-ons is hovering the mouse pointer over any item in the list displays a brief description of the package.
Disk partitioning comes next. We can either let the installer take over the computer's entire disk with some suggestions from us or we can manually divide up our disk. If we take the manual option, Cnchi offers us a very nice, streamlined partition manager where we can work with Btrfs, ext2/3/4, JFS, XFS, fsfs and Reiser file systems. I quite like Cnchi's manual partitioning screen, but one feature that caught my eye is the guided partitioning option features ZFS support. In fact, Antergos may be the only desktop Linux distribution I have used so far that enables ZFS support out of the box and I decided to try it. When ZFS is enabled we are given the chance to adjust some settings, such as telling Cnchi how big our swap partition should be, whether to enable mirroring or RAID support, whether we want our /home directory on its own sub-volume and the name of the ZFS storage pool. There are a lot of options, but most people can get by just by taking the default settings. Once disk partitioning has been handled, we are shown a list of the actions the installer will take and we are asked to confirm Cnchi may proceed. We are then asked to provide a username and password so the installer can create an account for us. The installer downloads the components we have selected and installs its files. Installation took a long time during my test runs. Each installation (I performed five in total) took over an hour, including the time to download and unpack all the optional packages. Since it seems the entire operating system (over 850 packages) is downloaded each time we install it, I would recommend only using Antergos on computers that have access to a high-speed Internet connection.
Our freshly installed copy of Antergos boots to a graphical login screen where a digital clock sits in the middle of the display. Pressing a key or clicking on the clock presents a login form where we can sign in. I found the login screen's elements offered very little contrast and it was difficult for me to see the input fields.
The first time I installed Antergos I was unable to sign into my user account, the system merely returned me to the login screen without providing an error message. Switching to a command line terminal, I was able to sign in, but found my user did not have a home directory. With a little exploring, I discovered that while the ZFS volume which housed the base operating system had been mounted, the sub-volume containing my home directory had not mounted. I also found I was unable to list the available volumes using the zpool and zfs command line utilities. Other ZFS related commands worked, but the ones used to list volumes would immediately crash. I suspect this explains why the /home sub-volume did not mount properly. At this point I discovered I could fix the problem in one of two ways. I could place the command "zfs mount data/home" in a start-up script and that would force the sub-volume to mount and allow me to login to my account. The alternative was to run through the install process a second time, choosing to place all my data on one ZFS volume. I opted to try the latter approach to confirm everything would work properly if I kept the /home directory in the main storage volume.
Going through the Cnchi installer a second time and putting all my data on one storage volume did work as expected. However, I did discover a second problem: Cnchi is unable to remove existing ZFS pools. The user needs to manually destroy any existing ZFS volumes before trying to install Antergos on the hard drive. Otherwise the installation fails when Cnchi fails to remove the old ZFS volume.
Antergos 2016.02.21 -- Running various desktop applications
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Once I got the ZFS volume and login issue sorted out, I was able to sign into my account and begin exploring the MATE 1.12.1 desktop environment. The desktop places the application menu and system tray at the top of the screen. A task switcher panel sits at the bottom. The background is plain blue. MATE's application menu is presented as one menu divided into three sections: Applications, Places and System. The Applications section of the menu is then further divided into Favourites and All Applications. Selecting All Applications splits the menu again with categories of software displayed to the left and specific applications from each category shown on the right. Personally, I found the menu to be both cluttered and a bit too nested for my taste as it always felt like there were a few extra steps involved in finding the application I wanted. I do want to give the menu designers credit though for making it easy to move applications from the depths of the nested menu to the Favourites section via a context menu, reducing the time it took to access frequently run programs.
In the system tray there is an icon which indicates when security updates are available. Right-clicking on the update icon gives us the option of launching the distribution's software manager or an update manager. Left-clicking the icon immediately launches the update manager. The update manager displays a simple list of available software updates waiting in the Antergos repositories. Each item in the list is displayed with the package's name and size. We can check a box next to each update to indicate whether we wish to install it. On my first day using Antergos, there was one update available, less than 1MB in size. The following day there were two more updates, each also smaller than 1MB. By the end of the week, more than 30 additional updates became available, totalling 91MB in size. The update manager successfully downloaded and installed each of the waiting packages.
By default, it seems the update manager does not check the Arch Linux AUR repository for new software updates. We can enable checks for updates in the AUR by opening the update manager's settings and putting a check in the appropriate box.
Antergos 2016.02.21 -- Managing packages with Pamac
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Antergos ships with a graphical package manager called Pamac. The Pamac window is divided into two main panes. On the left we can set parameters for finding software. The left pane has tabs that will help us search for software by name, by category, by status or by repository. On the right side of the window is an alphabetical list of packages that match our current search parameters. Each package is displayed with its name, size and version number. We can click a box next to a package to choose whether to install or remove the selected item. Pamac is remarkably responsive and fairly easy to navigate. It may not be pretty, but it is certainly functional.
My one serious complaint with Pamac is that the available software categories are oddly specific and not always intuitive. Instead of the "Internet", "Graphics" and "Office" categories usually found in other package managers, we are presented with dozens of technical names like "Base", "System", "Qt", "Qt5" and "xorg-drivers". I suspect most new users are going to struggle with names like these. I encountered some confusion myself when searching for specific packages. For instance, there is a "Browsers" category where we can find web browsers, but there is also a "Firefox" category which does not contain the Firefox web browser, only plug-ins for Mozilla's web browser. There is an "Email" category which only contains one email client, but if we search for the term "email" in the search tab Pamac offers us a list of half a dozen email applications. The "System" category has ZFS packages and utilities, but the "ZFS" category does not contain ZFS utilities. This sort of maddening behaviour caused me to search for most items using keywords rather than categories. For people who want to manipulate software from the command line, Antergos ships with the pacman package manager. The pacman utility is very fast, though I find its syntax more terse (perhaps even cryptic) compared to other command line package managers.
Antergos 2016.02.21 -- The settings panel
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Antergos provides us with a control panel where we can launch configuration modules to change our desktop environment and manage some aspects of the operating system. The control panel has modules for changing the desktop's theme and wallpaper. We can also find modules for managing printers, setting up network connections, configuring the firewall, the screen saver and start-up applications. These modules generally worked well. One module, the one for configuring the firewall, always failed to launch. I also regretted that I was unable to find a module for working with user accounts, either in the control panel or in MATE's application menu. Another minor annoyance appeared while I was using the Appearance module which changes the look and theme of the desktop. At one point I accidentally clicked on an alternative theme, causing MATE to immediately change its look. The original theme, called Custom, was immediately lost, preventing me from switching back. This quirk is not specific to Antergos, but rather seems to be common across distributions which ship with a special "Custom" MATE theme.
The distribution ships with a varied and useful collection of software. Looking through the application menu we find the Firefox web browser with Adobe's Flash plug-in, the Pidgin instant messenger software and the Transmission bittorrent software. LibreOffice is available along with the Atril document viewer and the Eye of MATE image viewer. PlayOnLinux and Steam are available to help us install Windows software and Linux games, respectively. Unfortunately, Steam would not launch on my test system. PlayOnLinux did work most of the time, but was not always able to successfully complete installations of Windows applications. The Pragha audio player and Totem video player are included. I found I was able to play music files, including mp3 files, in Pragha. However, I was not able to play video files using Totem. I downloaded a copy of the VLC media player from the Antergos software repository and found VLC was able to play my video files. Antergos also ships with the Xfburn optical disc burning software, a text editor, calculator and archive manager. Antergos ships with the GNU Compiler Collection for developers. In the background we find systemd 229 and version 4.4.1 of the Linux kernel.
The first user we create when setting up Antergos has the ability to perform administrator actions using the su and sudo commands. This concerns me a little as I do not think there is any part of the installation which asks us to set up a root password. It seems as though the root password is just automatically set to match the first user's account. Personally, I would rather the root account have its own password or the system lock root and get users to perform administrative actions using sudo exclusively. Having one password to access two accounts feels like a potential problem to me.
I tried running Antergos in two test environments, a physical desktop computer and a VirtualBox virtual machine. Antergos performed well in both environments, properly detecting my hardware and running smoothly. My one complaint was that when booting Antergos took over a minute and a half to reach the login screen. I am uncertain if this is an issue specific to ZFS or a result of some services (like dev-disk) which took an unusually long time to start-up. However, once the system had booted, Antergos was responsive. The distribution, with all optional add-ons installed, used about 6GB of disk space, plus a 500MB /boot partition formatted with the ext4 file system is set aside when we install Antergos on a ZFS volume. When logged into the MATE desktop, Antergos used approximately 560MB of memory. Some opponents of ZFS like to state the file system requires several gigabytes of RAM, but the ability to run the operating system, MATE and ZFS with under 600MB of memory indicates none of the distribution's components is particularly heavy.
Throughout the week, I was impressed with the features Antergos brings to the table. There is a lot of cutting-edge software included in the distribution. Antergos worked well in both of my test environments, has a very friendly system installer and lots of useful features. I especially like how the project ships one ISO image and we can select our desktop and add-ons from the Cnchi installer. This gives us a good deal of flexibility without cluttering up the project's download page with extra editions. I was also happy to see Antergos supports both Btrfs and ZFS as both are useful, advanced file systems. This may be the first Linux desktop distribution I have encountered which supports ZFS at install time.
However, on the other hand, I occasionally ran into problems. Usually small things, but ones that made Antergos feel less polished. For example, I mentioned earlier that asking the installer to place our /home partition on its own ZFS sub-volume would cause /home to not be mounted at all. Also, while most ZFS functions worked, listing volumes and snapshots did not, which puts a damper on some of the more useful ZFS functions. The Steam gaming portal did not work for me and Totem was unable to play my video files and I had to install an alternate media player. Most configuration modules worked beautifully, particularly the printer manager, but the firewall utility failed to launch.
I think the Antergos project is doing some interesting things and the developers are providing a great deal of flexibility combined with cutting edge software. Personally, I wish there was an off-line version of the Cnchi installer so I did not need to wait so long for packages to download each time I installed the distribution. And I did run into a few problems. However, overall I liked Antergos. The distribution is fast, easy to customize and provides access to a huge repository of software via the main repositories and Arch Linux's AUR community repository.
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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)
Debian prepares for Project Leader election, Redox developers create Unix-like OS, and a tutorial for watching Netflix on PC-BSD
Each year the Debian project elects a leader who helps guide and coordinate the efforts of groups within the Debian family of contributors. The election for Debian's next Project Leader is underway and it looks as though there will not be any competition for the office. At the moment, there is just one nomination: Mehdi Dogguy. Voting in the election will take place from April 3rd through to April 16th and it seems likely Dogguy will then take over the job of leading the hundreds of Debian developers. Dogguy has stated he would like to create a central roadmap for Debian which would outline a list of goals the distribution will strive to achieve in each release cycle: "I will initiate an effort in order to help our project to publish a roadmap; have each item described in a S.M.A.R.T way and make sure progress is made. I am sure that each team has its own set of ideas to implement. However, it is important to centralize those ideas to give them more visibility and have a better understanding of the big picture." The rest of Dogguy's platform is available on the Debian website.
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Redox is a Unix-like operating system that is written in the Rust programming language. Rust is considered safer than traditional languages, such as the C language which is used to develop the Linux kernel. Redox uses a microkernel design and runs drivers in userspace for improved security and reliability. The developers have also stated their operating system will support the ZFS advanced file system. The project's documentation states that Redox will support running some Linux applications without virtualization. "Redox is a general purpose operating system and surrounding ecosystem written in pure Rust. Our aim is to provide a fully functioning Linux alternative, without the bad parts. We have modest compatibility with Linux syscalls, allowing Redox to run many Linux programs without virtualization. We take inspiration from Plan9, MINIX, and BSD. We are trying to generalize various concepts from other systems, to get one unified design." Redox development is still in its early stages, but the most recent release is reported to work on some hardware as well as in VirtualBox and Qemu virtual environments.
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Accessing the Netflix video streaming service is a task that has posed a problem for FreeBSD and PC-BSD users for some time. It's a situation many FreeBSD users find frustrating as Netflix uses FreeBSD servers to provide their content. While Linux users can access their Netflix accounts using Google's Chrome web browser, the closed-source Chrome browser does not run on FreeBSD-based systems. Chrome has also resisted attempts to run it through both the WINE compatibility software and FreeBSD's Linux emulation software. One enterprising PC-BSD user has found a workaround which involves Pipelight and the Firefox browser that allows PC-BSD (and FreeBSD) users access Netflix. A video tutorial which explains how to set up Pipelight with Firefox is available. The video also covers some trouble-shooting steps in case things do not immediately work as planned.
|Myths and Misunderstandings (by Jesse Smith)
The value of version numbers
When it comes to software, version numbers are everywhere. If you check with your distribution's package manager you will see each component of the operating system has its own version number and these numbers mean something. Though what they mean varies a lot, depending on the project that develops the software.
A common source of confusion I often run into comes from the way people interpret version numbers. You might have heard someone say, "I never install a point-zero (x.0) release. Wait until x.1 or x.2 has been released before trying it." Or perhaps you have heard people say the opposite: "This version should be stable, the project has hit version x.0."
To be fair, in certain contexts, either of the above statements can be true. There are projects which produce multiple development builds prior to launching an x.0 release and their x.0 version will likely be stable. But there are also projects which push out x.0 releases as an early preview of things to come and their software might not be stable until x.2 or x.3 of the series arrives.
The unfortunate truth is there is no common practice when it comes to version numbers. Some projects use complex version numbers that carry a good deal of information. For example, one project might use "4.10.2" to indicate the 4th major version with 10 feature revisions and 2 minor patches. Another project might use "4.9" to indicate the version that comes after "4.8". Yet other projects create version numbers based on the date their project ships. All of these are valid ways to track software, the problem arises when people try to treat all version numbers in the same way. The truth is, whatever rules a project uses for labelling their software, those rules apply only to that project and do not automatically translate to other pieces of software.
As an example, I have worked on a few open source projects which used incremental version numbers. For instance, 4.8 was followed by 4.9, then 5.0, 5.1 and 5.2. It was a surprise to me how often our mailing list received comments from our users along the lines of, "There are a lot of great changes in this update. It feels like more of a 5.0 than a 4.6." Or perhaps, "This 6.0 release sounds good, but I'm going to wait for 6.1 or 6.2." Both sets of comments ignored how the project's versioning system worked. It didn't matter if we piled on lots of new features or spent the entire release cycle working on bug fixes, in the end the version number went up an additional 0.1.
I feel it is important to remember when looking at a product's version numbers that each project handles them differently. When in doubt, it is a good idea to ask on a mailing list or forum what kind of versioning scheme the project uses before trying to evaluate the software.
Another common mistake I encounter comes from people using version numbers to determine whether their distribution has addressed a security vulnerability. Often times, when a distribution patches a vulnerable piece of software, they do not increase the package's version number. For instance, let's say I am running a program called Foo with the version number 4.0. It comes to light that Foo 4.0 is vulnerable and the developers of Foo release a fixed version, Foo 4.1.
Often times, distributions will not package Foo 4.1 because it contains more than just the security fix, it also has a bunch of new features which have not been properly vetted. What they may do instead is copy just the fix from Foo 4.1 into their package of 4.0. Then I download the patched version of Foo 4.0 from the distribution's repositories and I'm safe. But, if I check the version number of Foo, I see it's at 4.0 when I know everything prior to 4.1 is considered vulnerable.
Package maintainers are in a difficult spot in these scenarios because if they keep the 4.0 version number, many people will think their software is outdated and contains the security vulnerability. But if they bump the version number of Foo to 4.1, then people will wonder why their software is missing the features advertised for the new version of Foo. Sometimes distribution package maintainers will add an extra version number to the end of the package, labelling their software Foo 4.0-1 or 4.0.1. That helps people keep track.
In the end, the best way to find out if your copy of a package has been patched against security vulnerabilities is not by looking at the version number, but rather checking the package's change log. This can be accomplished a few different ways, depending on the operating system you are running. On Debian and related distributions such as Ubuntu, the apt-get command will show recent changes and fixes applied to a package. For instance, to check on changes to the gcc package we would run:
apt-get changelog gcc
On Fedora and related distributions the equivalent command using the rpm package manager is:
rpm -q --changelog gcc
Other package managers have similar changelog and auditing features which can help identify fixed (or still vulnerable) software.
In the end, version numbers can be helpful, but they need to be viewed in context and they are usually not a good method for checking the state of a package's security.
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: 174
- Total data uploaded: 32.3TB
|Released Last Week
Anke Boersma has announced the release of KaOS 2016.03, the latest stable version of the desktop Linux distribution that features the latest Plasma desktop from KDE: "KaOS is proud to announce the availability of the March release of a new stable ISO image. The Plasma desktop includes Frameworks 5.20.0, Plasma 5.5.5 and KDE Applications 15.12.2. A few enhancements to the Plasma 5 experience have been added, these are KaOS-specific extras. You now have the option to calculate the MD5 sum from any file from the Dolphin service menu. Since the kf5 move there has not been a fully working GUI for user management, but there is one added now for KaOS - you will find it under system settings, account details. From there you can create new users, change existing user's role or delete a user. Also added is a KCM for locale and language settings. A new icon theme for light and dark themes has arrived. The Midna Dark theme received a complete overhaul with a new Plasma theme, window decorations, color scheme, and new SDDM and splash themes." Read the rest of the release announcement for further details and screenshots.
KaOS 2016.03 -- Welcome screen and drop-down terminal
(full image size: 212kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
The Robolinux project has announced the availability of a new stable release of the project's Robolinux Raptor series. The new release, Robolinux 8.4, is available in Cinnamon, LXDE, MATE and LXDE flavours and features several privacy and anti-malware tools. " All Robolinux Raptor 8.4 versions are based on 100% rock solid current Debian 8 stable source code running the newest Debian 3.16 Linux kernel plus over 180 important upstream security and application updates. We also included the newest Firefox 45 and Thunderbird 38.7, Tor Browser, VirtualBox and replaced all of our 32-bit operating systems end of life Google Chrome versions with Chromium." A list of changes and available security tools can be found in the distribution's release announcement.
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
How do you test new distributions?
Before installing a new operating system it is nice to know whether the software will work as intended. There are a number of ways to test a Linux distribution before we install it. Most projects provide live media, allowing us to experiment with the distribution's hardware support, performance and default applications before installing the operating system. Other tools, such as virtual machines, allow us to perform a test installation before making space for a new system on our hard drive. Some people keep test machines around to assist in exploring new distributions.
This week we would like to know how you test a distribution before installing it to your computer's hard drive.
You can see the results of our previous poll on purchasing computers with Linux pre-installed here. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
How do you test new distributions?
|Using a live disc/USB thumb drive: ||828 (37%)|
| Installing it in a virtual machine: ||519 (23%)|
| Running it on a spare computer: ||200 (9%)|
| A combination of the above: ||604 (27%)|
| None of the above: ||75 (3%)|
Distributions added to waiting list
- Studio 13.37. Studio 13.37 is a commercial distribution for audio and video production. The distribution runs from a live USB thumb drive.
- ubuntuBSD. ubuntuBSD combines the installer and utilities of Ubuntu with the kernel and file system support of FreeBSD.
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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, 28 March 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 • New distro testing (by Jordan on 2016-03-21 01:56:00 GMT from North America) |
Simple here.. just download and run on same machine, different hd.
2 • New distro testing (by Terry R. on 2016-03-21 02:12:05 GMT from North America)
I download the liveCD first and try it out and see what all the distro contains and what works and does not work either on my desktop or a laptop. If I like what I see and most things are working correctly then I'll check to se if there is an an install version. I'll install on a test system box and try out on the test system box for a a while. Check everything through and through and report any bugs to the site we master or bug dept.
3 • Antergos (by erinis on 2016-03-21 02:13:11 GMT from North America)
Thanks for the very informative review. Did the download and It was as you said approx 1 hour from begging to end. Installed Mate and used the keep it simple method. No ZFS. just the default install. No need for getting fancy after all. Odd though that during the install process I did want to have gufw yet after a reboot it would not load. Oh well not a problem, that will not work itself out. Looking good so far. Cheers
4 • antergos (by erinis on 2016-03-21 02:18:29 GMT from North America)
After a successful install when you reboot..... the clock will show up and blink . Click on the time to log in. This had me wondering for a second or 2. Thanks.
5 • New Distro Testing (by slick on 2016-03-21 04:03:16 GMT from North America)
USB drive for me, at one point tested everything to see what Linux was all about, then settled with just Debian. Now just test what is systemd-less such as Devuan or Openrc.
Often test with live first and if it looks interesting enough may install to test-drive for a closer look.
Testing distros can be a tedious experience unless you narrow the field down and stay with-in. Only test an image below 700mb and WM only distributions.
6 • Testing Distros (by Mike on 2016-03-21 05:37:33 GMT from Asia)
I only test 2 distros now: CentOS and Ubuntu. Life and work got in the way of trying out every major distro that comes out. Now it's just long-term supported versions for me. Always in a VM first, then on a spare server or workstation. That's it.
My servers will eventually use the latest versions. So I just dive in mostly and see how my configurations fit or don't, or if there's an easier, cleaner way of setting things up.
Actually looking into Ansible to help with this.
7 • Antergos updates (by Bill on 2016-03-21 06:15:27 GMT from Oceania)
Thank you for reviewing Antergos - but I have to say that you have missed talking about one very important detail which really shows a lack of meaningful research into Antergos and Arch. What happens when you update your system?
Users of the mighty Arch (I am a fan) know that they have to regularly check the Arch website before updating. The brilliant Arch documentation and "Latest News" give the user the information needed to keep the system up-to-date and correctly configured. Arch is unlike most distros - users have to get a bit more involved and cannot simply update without reading these news items.
Manjaro Linux (also based on Arch) protects users from these details. Antergos does not and Antergos users must become familiar with the reading necessary before updating.
None of this is meant as criticism of Arch or Antergos, two of my favourite distros. Maybe Antergos has gone more like Manjaro in doing the work for users, I have not used it for a couple of years - either way an informed reviewer would have discussed this.
8 • small typo (by g1 on 2016-03-21 06:42:36 GMT from Europe)
You probably meant "rpm -q --changelog gcc".
9 • Package versions (by Alexandru on 2016-03-21 06:58:25 GMT from Europe)
Several core concepts of package version strategies were not mentioned.
1. When a new release coming after x.y its version will usually be x.y+1 if it is backward compatible with version x.y. When backward compatibility is not guaranteed, its version may be x+1.0.
2. When two different distributions ship some package with their specific version, the version number is usually divided into upstream version and distribution specific subversion number. Usually these two parts are made easy to distinct. For example:
Both use upstream version 1.2.3 of package foo with fedora or debian specific patches subversion, each 4.5. This feature is almost standard across linux distributions and helps comparing the upstream version of some package among them.
10 • Nominating_Jesse_Smith_for_Debian_project_leader_but... (by k on 2016-03-21 07:12:37 GMT from Europe)
... then what would happen to us who really depend on his contributions to our community through DWW?
11 • Distro tests (by zykoda on 2016-03-21 07:27:31 GMT from Europe)
Download .iso to a hard drive. Use GRUB2 stanza or command prompt to fire up iso. Gparted to partition 2nd hard drive on which to install. Boot from 2nd hard drive. To keep update pre-existing grub.cfg, otherwise delete iso and install partition.
12 • @7 - Manjaro and news; Antergos review (by Hoos on 2016-03-21 08:03:41 GMT from Asia)
Manjaro in general does a good job of making the updates mostly trouble-free even if the user does not check first for warnings in the forum.
However once in a rare while, a big problem might arise and those who jumped into upgrading without first checking, find themselves having to spend a fair bit of time seeking help and then to solve the problem. It happened recently. An update left some users not able to access their encrypted disks or partitions.
So it is still a good habit even for Manjaro users to check first, particularly if you're not knowledgeable enough to solve serious issues yourself, and I include myself in this group. At worst you've "wasted" a few minutes reading the developer's first post in the thread.
As for the Antergos review, I agree that for any rolling distro, a key part of any review should be how the reviewer updated the system and what that experience was like.
13 • Testing Distros (by linux user on 2016-03-21 09:14:39 GMT from North America)
I try to test out a variety of distros for all needs/purposes.
Download torrents of said distros versus full .iso files whenever possible to save bandwidth.
Use a program to help download the torrent files to full .iso files of said distros.
Use a program to write them to a USB flash drive (I'm finding out Unetbootin isn't the best or sometimes approved medium to do such).
Load up the live version of the distro I want to test on a lone computer and make sure I check out every feature and program available.
14 • Testing Distros (by anticapitalista on 2016-03-21 10:13:09 GMT from Europe)
Firstly in VirtualBox.
If I like, then fromiso boot from hard drive.
If I still like, install to hard drive.
15 • Antergos (by RickG on 2016-03-21 12:12:27 GMT from North America)
I understand your protocol of testing and trying everything that is offered, but I would put zfs and btrfs in the experimental category for now. I have been using Antergos for over a year now and I love it. As a long time Ubuntu family user, I found myself becoming tired of release cycles and PPAs. I was attracted to the concept of a rolling distro with a software base that rivaled Debian/Ubuntu and a package system that was at least as fast as dpkg. That left Arch. While I appreciate the philosophy of build it from scratch, Antergos gives you a nearly stock Arch setup with very little work. As such it is as close as you can come to Arch with out installing everything by hand. I prefer Gnome Shell as my desktop and running an always current Gnome Shell is worth lots of little updates everyday that a rolling release requires. Ubuntu Gnome is also a great distro, but they are hampered by the Ubuntu release cycle. That being said they are my second go to distro followed by Ubuntu Mate. I encourage folks to view Antergos as a way to get an Arch like system up and running fast. Try it with your choice of desktop and it may convert you!
16 • Linux & happiness ($$, training, employment, sex, etc) (by Greg Zeng on 2016-03-21 12:48:10 GMT from Oceania)
CTO, CIO and more junior workers might be interested in the below report.
"Speaking of the Linuxes, Ubuntu is tops among them with 12.3% of the entire OS market for developers. Fedora, Mint, and Debian accounted for 1.4%, 1.7%, and 1.9% of all responses, respectively."
Mint is just one of the Ubuntu-derivatives. The reports probably assumes Canonical's main marketing Ubuntu with Unity, rather than the several members of the Ubuntu "flavors" or the 66 other versions of Ubuntu tracked as "live" by Distrowatch's search engine.
Industry coders seem fearful of other Linux versions. Arch is reportedly popular with Linux claimants on Distrowatch, etc. The RPM groups are still trying hard but unsuccessfully trying to get any popularity imho.
17 • Antergos (by Bob on 2016-03-21 12:48:18 GMT from Europe)
As an Antergos enthusiast I must say that it is not only one of the best arch distros, their community is also very friendly and reliable. Just ask any questions in the forum and it won't be long before you get the answer you were looking for.
18 • Antergos Review (by Andy Mender on 2016-03-21 13:52:30 GMT from Europe)
Very nice review, I really liked it. Great that you looked into ZFS support for Linux and into the root account business. However, I would strongly discourage locking the root account out and doing administrative tasks solely through sudo. Should the sudo config break somehow, you're stranded and have to do a chroot from outside the drive. This happened to me once on a Debian Testing installation.
19 • version numbers (by Jason F. on 2016-03-21 14:42:45 GMT from Europe)
Another way of handling version numbers is to increment the appropriate numbers whenever a smaller-value digit gets too big for your taste. (a'la Linus "Professional" Torvalds =P )
20 • Testing new distributions (by Bobbie Sellers on 2016-03-21 15:17:59 GMT from North America)
I am restricting my testing to interesting variants like Qubes and the majors plus what
I am using personally.
Using Mageia 5 presently, but had used PCLOS in the past so those get my
attention as I originally used Mandriva. Because I help the LUG I will get into
Ubuntu, Fedora especially the alternative spins, the more compact distros
deriving from Puppy and DLS Linux, 4MLinux is very functional and of
course I have to keep up on Knoppix which I used for a while as my
main but now keep for dealing with problems.
Recently I learned by means of a brief note in the DistroWatch Weekly that
PCLOS was bring out updates again. Some complaints have been made neglect
of 32 bit machines but the Community Releases have it covered.
<http://communityiso.pclosusers.com/>. Some of those with the lighter
weight desktop managers are coming in at under 700 Megabytes and
are suitable for CD distributions.
21 • Partitions (by Ron on 2016-03-21 17:59:32 GMT from North America)
I usually just create another partition on my main desktop computer to test other distros.
22 • Arch FUD (by linuxista on 2016-03-21 21:36:33 GMT from North America)
@12 said, "However once in a rare while, a big problem might arise and those who jumped into upgrading without first checking, find themselves having to spend a fair bit of time seeking help and then to solve the problem. It happened recently. An update left some users not able to access their encrypted disks or partitions."
There was a bug last year that could cause data corruption on file systems mounted with the discard option and residing on software RAID 0 arrays. (If you do not use software RAID 0 or the discard option, then this issue does not affect you.)
This affected almost nobody. I've been using the same installation of Arch for over 6 years, and I never check for bugs before I update. It's never any kind of catastrophic problem or fail. Overall the system if very robust, and any small breakages or bugs, which are infrequent, I deal with as they arise. Even when I buy a new laptop, I'll probably migrate my same old Arch install to the new machine because it's that stable and cruft-free.
23 • Testing New Distros (by Bill S on 2016-03-21 21:55:41 GMT from North America)
I first test the Distro in Virtualbox and if it looks promising I burn a CD-RW and install it to one of my 8 HD's many partitions. If that works well, I keep it until I get tired of it, then I make an image of it and save it to one of 4 external HD's. DW definitely put the fun back in for me.
24 • Archistas and Linus Worship (by Arch Watcher 402563 on 2016-03-21 22:30:50 GMT from North America)
@7 Bill: Antergos updates, if only Arch were so informative. The home page is mostly dead but for a package scroll. Arch Overlords of Doom expect you to subscribe and read the dev mailing list. They tell you so if you ever ask why something didn't hit the home page. Ugh.
Manjaro Linux doesn't "protect" users from details. Arch does, by burying them in its dev mailing list. Manjaro offers a far more informative blog which gets regularly updated and much friendlier forums without the Arch Warlord Moderators of Doom who get their kicks booting people about.
Arch only supports two kernels, main and LTS. Manjaro supports far more Linux kernel versions than Arch. (You can use AUR kernels, but have you ever done it, kid? I have, and it isn't easy like precompiled Manjaro choices.) Manjaro's lead dev actively bisects the Linux kernel to isolate bugs.
I'm glad Antergos is out there doing its thing. For those wishing to avoid systemd yet use Arch, there's Obarun.org on runit. After installing Antergos, probably you can overlay Obarun. Obarun isn't attempting to be a distro, but rather a "mod kit" of sorts.
@23 linuxista: Sorry to disagree a little on Arch FUD. To an extent I'm with you. When Arch fails, the fault lies not in us, and not in Arch, but in Linus and Lennart. I have machines that won't boot the current kernel. I have to use LTS. It's a systemd thing. I am never again going to install systemd, ever.
@Jesse: thanks for the news on Redox OS. I am so glad to hear of sane people trying to produce a decent micro kernel in a proper language, which is what we should be using, not Linus and Lennart madhouse craziness.
The minimum that Linux distros should do is switch to musl libc and LibreSSL. Gentoo is working on it:
About versioning, I thought the consensus had arrived?
I rather prefer date-based versioning. Git tags are horrible...
25 • @25 Arch/Systemd (by linuxista on 2016-03-21 23:39:55 GMT from North America)
I also have a Manjaro install, and I have no complaints at all about Manjaro. It's a great project, and installing alternate kernels is more straightforward than with Arch. That being said, I find little to no difference in stability b/t Arch and Manjaro, and I've never had a kernel upgrade with Arch not boot, nor any issues whatsoever with systemd, so our experiences are quite different in those respects.
If I were to install from scratch on a new machine would I install Arch or Manjaro? Probably I'd install Manjaro, since installation is easy and a few other small issues are made easier. It's not significantly better than Arch, but on the other hand, there's no downside at all to Manjaro vs. Arch unless one needs so much to be on the cutting edge that 2 weeks is somehow an unreasonable. It's hard to imagine where that's justified.
26 • Arch/Manjaro (by Bushpilot on 2016-03-22 00:04:09 GMT from North America)
I installed manjaro xfce a couple of months ago. It is a very fast and easy install compared to other distros I have tried. Had two difficulties after an update and know know that automatic updates are nor always safe. If it wasn't for these recent issues, I would recommend it for new users. Manjaro is quite a bit slower to boot and operate that Debian Xfce that I have been using as well, even with a SSD. Manjaro downloads and updates files twice as fast as Debian and I prefer pacman over synaptic pack manager.
Manjaro has a lot going for it. It automatically sets up discard in fstab when using a SSD. Debian install is more complex to install because one needs to know what applications are required to get everything working. Learning Linux is required for both of these two Distro's and both are superb distro's for newbies willing to learn.
27 • Antergos, Testing Distros (by freetux on 2016-03-22 04:40:06 GMT from Europe)
has gained a guaranted spot in my multiboot rig by its own merit: bleeding edge, speed, stability, aesthetics, user friendliness.
"None of the above", a direct install to Hd. Some distros are problematic, e.g. if they change Swap UUID (Manjaro) or lack an option not to install Grub (Manjaro?). Though, both easy to sort out and sure all important data is backed up in advance.
28 • @22 - Arch & Manjaro and their user bases not exactly the same (by Hoos on 2016-03-22 05:20:53 GMT from Asia)
@22 said: "...There was a bug last year that could cause data corruption on file systems mounted with the discard option and residing on software RAID 0 arrays.....I've been using the same installation of Arch for over 6 years, and I never check for bugs before I update. It's never any kind of catastrophic problem or fail. Overall the system if very robust, and any small breakages or bugs, which are infrequent, I deal with as they arise.... "
Maybe the issue arose in Arch last year (not sure it's the same issue), but for whatever reason, in Manjaro this problem seemed to really kick off in the 21/2/2016 update (see https://forum.manjaro.org/index.php?topic=31356.0 ).
One or two users on the forum were quite upset. The difference is what a user expects coming into Manjaro, maybe from Debian/Ubuntu. When you get an issue, after running Arch for 6 years you are experienced and just get on with solving it. A new user of Manjaro might expect that all Manjaro updates would be problem-free and able to be installed with a click of a button. And when it doesn't go well...
My @12 post was addressing another poster's view that Manjaro had sheltered users a lot from the details of having to read the "latest news" or update announcements from the official site before updating. I was just pointing out that sometimes a little check saves a user grief and aggravation. See for instance from page 11 onwards of the forum thread I linked to.
Note: I don't run Arch so can't comment on it. I have been using Manjaro for 3+ years and I really like it. They have a great forum, very helpful and patient. I just don't think users should treat it exactly the same as a fixed release type of distro like Debian stable or Ubuntu.
29 • @28 Manjaro bug (by linuxista on 2016-03-22 06:04:30 GMT from North America)
It doesn't look like it's the same issue, but something about a kernel update causing problems for people who encrypted their root drive across lvm. I'm sure it's a bug and shouldn't have happened, but for me I like to keep things simpler than that. Sort of an invitation for complication.
You said: "When you get an issue, after running Arch for 6 years you are experienced and just get on with solving it. A new user of Manjaro might expect that all Manjaro updates would be problem-free and able to be installed with a click of a button. And when it doesn't go well..."
That is a true statement, but the question doesn't seem to be whether a new user has to solve anything on Arch or Manjaro (which, after installation, require about the same amount of maintenance), but whether a new user has to solve more on Arch/Manjaro relative to other distro options.
For example, 1) I don't think I have to troubleshoot small bugs any more than I did when I used to run Ubuntu/Mint even with the more frequent updates, 2) a combination of the Archwiki and a clean patch-free system means my troubleshooting on Arch is far easier more successful than it ever was on Ubuntu/Mint, 3) there is no need for release upgrades, which are both daunting and confusing for new users and quite risky and crufty.
I've installed Manjaro for a newbie/non-tech interested friend, and he comes running to me when something as simple as a lock file left in the /var/cache/pkg prevents him from updating. He's not going to learn; has no desire to learn. But, guess what? He'd get into pickles no matter what distro he was using. The only solution for a case like that would be don't update your OS regardless of what distro you're using and go for as long as you can.
I guess I resist the idea that any new user is going to get away with pushing a gui button and having things work 100% of the time, regardless of the OS, be it Windows, OSX or Linux. After choosing their OS the user is going to have to get his hands dirty to some extent, and my experience with Arch/Manjaro is that they don't require anything significantly more than any other OS I've used, and in the long term, less. A lot of traditional thinking in the Linux world objects to this, but I use Arch/Manjaro b/c in my experience it is both the easiest and most stable.
30 • "usually just create another partition" ... snails only. (by Greg Zeng on 2016-03-22 06:25:28 GMT from Oceania)
21 • Partitions
"I usually just create another partition on my main desktop computer to test other distros."
This is secret ... don't tell everyone! My old (2013) Dell XPS-15 has mSATA SSD on board (so easily upgraded from its 128GB, which I did). My Linux partitions are generally 10 to 15GB. They (ten of them) share the same SWAP partition (2GB) and the same NTFS-compressed "data" partitions.
Grub-customizer allows easy selection of any of the ten Linux partitions, or the two Windows-10 partions (25 GB each).
Installation from the USB3 flash drive, onto any of the nine partitions on the SSD takes about five (5) minutes. Manjaro took longer (15 minutes), and has its own Grub-Customizer type application, which will recognize all the other nine Linux distributions, but not the two Win-10 operating systems. Customizing the DE and the software (Opera, Firefox, etc) takes another hour, if I wish to do so.
My W10 partitions are all NTFS-compressed, and very easily & quickly defragmented, repaired, etc with W10 utilities. All my Linux operating systems easily & reliably read-write all my NTFS-compressed partitions.
ZFS, BTRFS Linux partitions are having great trouble with Grub Customizer atm. This Customizer is all-GUI, but has some trouble with the newer Ubuntu-16.04 beta releases. Generally it allows easy, flexible access to any Linux distro, with any selection of Linux kernels (old, new, beta or alpha) installed for that distro.
All the above techniques involve no CLI, except the initial installation of Grub-Customizer. This has been very reliable for my over the last several years, and literally hundreds of Linux distributions. Only one other Linux reviewer is using Grub-customizer it seems, as I use it. Instead of just researching, perhaps I'll need to publish these simple methods of easy, quich & reliable multi-booting.
31 • @27 testing distros, my practice; @30 Grub-customiser (by Hoos on 2016-03-22 08:16:25 GMT from Asia)
@27 said: "None of the above", a direct install to Hd. Some distros are problematic, e.g. if they change Swap UUID (Manjaro) or lack an option not to install Grub (Manjaro?). Though, both easy to sort out and sure all important data is backed up in advance."
I have experienced the above 2 problems before, just not in Manjaro and not distros in the Debian/Ubuntu family,
I think the Manjaro installers do give you the option not to install grub, because I remember using that option. I recall that what they didn't permit was installation of bootloader into the root partition. Maybe that has changed, I don't know.
In respect of the swap issue, one example was either the Salix or Vector Linux CLI installer. The existing swap partition was displayed in one page of the installation process, but you couldn't unselect it. If you proceeded with install, it formatted afresh the swap partition, causing the UUID to change. Very annoying for all the other distros on my machine, and fstab files had to be edited.
For that reason, I start with Virtualbox installation of a distro I'm interested in. It's more to get a feel for the installer and the options it offers, especially in respect of choosing mount points and the bootloader options.
After that safe run-through of the installer in Virtualbox, if the distro in the VM still interests me, then I install onto HDD via a USB stick.
As for Grub-customiser, I used it in both an Ubuntu-based distro as well as Manjaro up to about 2+ years ago. It worked fine for a while, then I noticed it began to add additional os-prober entries in the grub files.
So your HDD will be checked more than once when you're updating the boot menu via Grub-customiser, and when you have many distros, some of which have multiple kernels, the process is long. Then on boot up the grub menu would show the whole list of distros twice or 3 times over. For that reason I uninstalled it on my machines. It may have improved now, I wouldn't know.
32 • Arch, Antergos, Manjaro, systemd (by Bill on 2016-03-22 09:07:34 GMT from Oceania)
@12 and others, I have used Arch and Antergos (among many other distros), now from the Arch family I use Manjaro with OpenRC. No systemd, Arch Linux underneath, a friendly and helpful community and some fantastic bespoke technologies.
But read the forums and website before updating! As 12 says, you should do this with any rolling-release distro.
33 • Testing distros, etc... (by claudecat on 2016-03-22 12:39:39 GMT from North America)
Like some others, I almost always go straight to a bare-metal install, having already done enough research to know whether I want it there. Playing with distros in VM's just seems like an exercise in futility to me, and aside from a Puppy flash drive for emergencies I don't find running live sessions to be very useful or indicative of how things will run once installed, at least with regard to speed.
In response to some other comments here, my experience with Arch/Manjaro mirrors one poster in that it's been very positive. Really not a single issue, ever, even back when Arch made the move to the dreaded systemd. I believe I did the reading on that one, but generally I don't even bother to read up before updating anymore. Pacman is very good at telling you what's what as it works its magic.
As for the swap partition issue someone mentioned, what I've learned to do (to avoid my existing swap being formatted and upsetting other distros) is to not even let the installer use swap. I just add it to that distro's fstab afterward. Much easier to edit one fstab rather than several (12 in my case).
34 • Antergos review (by genetics73 on 2016-03-22 15:11:17 GMT from North America)
A rather harsh review of Antergos, in my opinion. I am not a Linux expert by any means, but when I installed a recent release of Antergos (using ext4 file system), the process went without a hitch, took about an hour (including the burning of an ISO file), and the resulting KDE desktop functioned perfectly. One can modify, adjust, prettify the desktop easily, and the repositories are well stocked with a variety of software packages. Even Calibre is available, for e-book lovers. Antergos has become my preferred distro. Compared to such stalwarts as Debian or (heavens help us) PCLinuxOS Full Monty, the Antergos distro is a breeze to work with - pun intended.
35 • @32 Read b/f updating (by linuxista on 2016-03-22 15:23:20 GMT from North America)
"But read the forums and website before updating! As 12 says, you should do this with any rolling-release distro."
Disagree. The only time I was ever burned with an update was when Arch switched to systemd about 4 years ago. When I encountered problems, I read the fix, an implemented it painlessly after the fact. This idea of having to read b/f updating is oversold.
36 • Antergos, Manjaro and other Arch things (by Andy Mender on 2016-03-22 17:36:37 GMT from Europe)
I think both Antergos and Manjaro do Arch Linux right, but sooner than later I find myself wanting a bare-bone system, in which I am the administrator, manager, etc. Release cycle upgrades are like tsunami waves - when they hit, things get displaced. That's essential why I stopped using Ubuntu distributions. It was always easy and fun until a version upgrade. Hence, I find rolling-release distributions provide a much more stable experience in the really long run. Another thing is rolling out updates per package, not per operating system. Frequent updates mean one can very easily anticipate breakage and prepare for it suitably beforehand. Lastly, the minimal install of Arch. Lesser complexity = less problems.
For the above reasons I always return to Arch. It's my go-to distribution regardless of my current fancy.
37 • @36 upgrades, rolling, etc.. (by Jordan on 2016-03-22 19:41:07 GMT from North America)
I like rolling, too. But I do have to say that over the years the majority of my difficulties with the various distros I've installed were my fault, not the distros' fault. If the distro broke because of/after an update, I just moved on to another install of that distro or just went ahead and tried a new one.
I've reinstalled, changed distros, gone back to Windows, etc mainly out of impatience. Solutions, fixes for the issues I've encountered over time have been learned, but not because I set out to learn about linux so much as seen the same problems dealt with so many times; posts about these things here there and everywhere do finally get remembered, albeit accidentally most often.
38 • Versions (by Kragle von Schnitzelbank on 2016-03-22 19:45:41 GMT from North America)
For some, the value of version numbers extends to hardware (which vintage/version works with which vintage/version) as well as inter-dependencies (which version(s) work with which version(s)) which quickly becomes rather complex. Vendors' overloading model distinctions keeps it from ever being dull.
I wonder if build systems might be a suitable topic someday? Several distros are working on making them easier - UE, Solus, and Trisquel, for instance.
39 • @37 Rolling Linux, etc. (by Andy Mender on 2016-03-22 20:40:59 GMT from Europe)
I think everyone gets a 'bad update' from time to time. That's just the nature of things. However, when a system is minimal and only ever changing in a non-invasive manner...I think that's exactly when GNU/Linux shines.
I 'escaped' from Windows precisely because I had almost no control over what my operating system was doing. Who should have that control then? Microsoft? I believe it's dangerous if the user is deprived of understanding his or her own computer. Minimalist GNU/Linux distributions, such as Slackware and Arch Linux, but also BSD systems try to fix this :).
40 • @30 (by Ron on 2016-03-22 20:44:23 GMT from North America)
Oooops, I gave away the greatest kept secrete ;-) You are correct. It is very easy to create and boot into a partition. I have used both the CLI and programs like gparted to create partitions and file systems, etc. Works great. I don't usually worry about encryption while testing, unless I plan on switching to that distro if the test goes well.
So many options with Linux, it's what keeps me with Linux. It gets so frustrating using closed sourced operating systems, too limiting and costly to have and use what should simply be a part of the OS to being with.
41 • @39 GNU/Linux vs Windows (by Jordan on 2016-03-22 22:04:27 GMT from North America)
Well yes for sure the Windows strategy has been to at least hide and often obfuscate the inner workings of the OS. That is what seems to make most users comfortable with it, sadly.
Linux encourages first hand knowledge. That difference may be why it's about 2 percent of use as compared to Windows. What's telling is that distros keep me coming back, right after the first Windows BSOD back in '96.
As mentioned before, I don't have the ability to be an expert at any of it, but I am more like the person who tunes their car and changes tires on my own etc, so Linux is a better fit for me. Add to that the dangers you mention and the security/privacy differences in choice and I ended up being more at home with this or that distro rather than Windows.
Tumbleweed is on this machine's main hard drive now. Hoping it doesn't explode on the next update. ;)
42 • Antergos (by freetux on 2016-03-22 22:19:37 GMT from Europe)
There's many Distros based on Debian, Ubuntu, Slack, a.s.o.
Antergos is Arch-bseed. What I've found curious at current DW weekly edition, is the number of comments related to Arch-based Manjaro. It's not unusual to happen among common users of other derivative Distros that were reviewed here. What's the rational?
By the way ...there are 12 Manjaro release announcements in DW during 2015, not very much an Arch (none in three years) KIS thingy......
43 • Antergos (by daspicer on 2016-03-23 02:49:38 GMT from Asia)
"By the way ...there are 12 Manjaro release announcements in DW during 2015, not very much an Arch (none in three years) KIS thingy......"
The Arch Linux ISO is updated on the 1st of every month. It would be redundant to announce that monthly.
44 • @42 - discussing Arch-based distros (by Hoos on 2016-03-23 03:58:07 GMT from Asia)
It's because Antergos, an Arch-based rolling distro, was reviewed by Jesse this issue, and someone in commenting about Jesse's review made an offhand comment about Manjaro, also Arch-based, that I didn't really agree with.
Then linuxista replied because he didn't agree with me, and so on so forth.
Not surprising or curious at all. If a DW issue dealt with openbox, for instance, I'm sure there will be mention in the comments about certain distros that are associated with it, e.g. crunchbang, bunsenlabs, semplice, archbang. The usual suspects.
45 • Testing Distros (by Richrd on 2016-03-23 04:38:44 GMT from North America)
I used to test by installing to HD in a new partition and upgrading GRUB (or LILO before it) -- until I did so with Calculate Linux about four years ago. When it automounted my data drive, it changed ownership and group of all files to "user".
This did not play well with the other already-installed distros, including my favorite at the time, which had no "user" group, and, of course, could not read any data files at all. Easy to fix, yes, but very, very bad behavior.
Since then, I install Mint and upgrade once a year. No need to run risks with my data and Mint is as good as any, more or less, YMMV.
46 • Fly Safely (by Arch Watcher 402563 on 2016-03-23 07:20:30 GMT from North America)
@26 Bushpilot, "Manjaro is quite a bit slower to boot and operate..."
Switch to the Open RC spins and feel the speed. LXQt just shipped.
For any spin or init, learn tmpfs. Use it for pacman and /var/cache generally.
47 • @45 Testing distros - calculate linux (by Hoos on 2016-03-23 07:44:40 GMT from Asia)
Yes, I tested Calculate first in Virtualbox, and found the installer and installation process not very suitable for my multiboot machine, so I never went ahead with a HDD install.
However, the distro intrigued me, since I don't know much about Gentoo and its offshoots, so I still run it in the VM.
48 • @44 - GNU/Linux distros using component X and based on Y (by Andy Mender on 2016-03-23 16:44:54 GMT from Europe)
Spot on, this is exactly the case! I was one of the few people that mentioned Manjaro. This specific Arch-based distribution gets the most 'announcement time' on DistroWatch, because they simple have a lot of announcements on their website :). Be it an update to the most recent 16.09 dev release or fixes to the former 15.xx release. There is always something to inform the community about, which I think is great!
Arch proper doesn't talk about itself so much. It just gets the job done. Also, there are no grand Releases to highlight. On the other hand, the main website does in fact mention key changes, but they're not as groundbreaking as a new version of Fedora in a general sense :P.
49 • Manjaro speed up (by Bushpilot on 2016-03-23 17:00:44 GMT from North America)
Thanks (46) Will give tmpfs a try ans see is it helps.
50 • Antergos (by Sebastian on 2016-03-23 20:35:10 GMT from Europe)
Thank you for reviewing Antergos. I switched from Ubuntu to Antergos recently, and wouldn't go back (No issues on my system, MATE works just fine). I first thought about trying Mint, but it's just too mainstream ;-)
Keep on with the good work!
51 • Re: Manjaro speed up (by Arch Watcher 402563 on 2016-03-24 02:41:28 GMT from North America)
@49 Bushpilot, Your SSD may have degraded since you were running Debian on it.
52 • 3.20 (by Gnome on 2016-03-24 04:48:55 GMT from Europe)
Paldo, Gnome was (kind of) love (affair) at first sight. Gnome 3.20 has just been released today, and I'm more than happy to post from it.
A big thaks to "Jürg and Raffaele are both students of the Department of Computer Science at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland".
Get it here (unstable branch)
53 • SSD may have degraded (by zcatav on 2016-03-24 09:15:24 GMT from Europe)
@51 • Re: Manjaro speed up (by Arch Watcher 402563)
"Your SSD may have degraded since you were running Debian on it."
What does it mean?
54 • Maynard Desktop (by Jake on 2016-03-24 19:13:56 GMT from North America)
@Jesse: The next time you do a review for the Raspberry Pi, could you give us an update on the Maynard desktop? It was previewed in 2014, but I haven't heard anything since. Also, I had to go to archive.org to get the link for install script. It's based on Wayland, which is another topic monitored here, so I thought I'd throw this out there. Thanks!
55 • Manjaro Speed (by Bushpilot on 2016-03-24 19:19:32 GMT from North America)
Re: Spywatcher: @51,
I am using an Intel 530 SSD that has an application to measure the soundness of the drive. It says that it it performing at 100%. I formatted and installed Manjaro Xfce to this drive then reformatted and installed Debian onto it.
My conclusions remain the same. Manjaro is much slower on boot up and in system response than Debian. This is not the prime reason I am remaining with Debian. I can easily live with manjaro and in fact have Debian, Manjaro and debian testing on 3 separate drives.
The reason I have Debian as my main OS is that it is stable and polished in its operation. Manjaro has failed on 2 occasions when doing an update. Still, I marvel how good Manjaro is in so many aspects compared to Debian. If Manjaro keeps improving as it has in the past year, it could certainly be my number 1 OS. Stability is the only real issue I have it (Manjaro).
56 • Maynard desktop (by Jesse on 2016-03-24 19:20:45 GMT from North America)
@54: At the moment, it looks like Maynard is still pretty early in its development. Packages for Raspbian haven't made their way into the main repositories yet, for example. Once it hits a stable release I'll be happy to look at it.
57 • I'll Parachute Away Now (by Arch Watcher 402563 on 2016-03-25 00:24:07 GMT from North America)
@55 Bushpilot, if any Linux distro is "slow(er)" on a good SSD then something's mistuned. Differences on good SSD for boot or general performance should not be noticeable, perhaps modulo network stuff.
Saying the OS feels warm or cold is neither diagnosis nor benchmark. I have my own long experience with both distros, and my anecdotes point the opposite way from yours in absolutely every respect (Google me). Manjaro is faster, more stable, less buggy, and easier to use.
You may have some issue in XFCE tuning that's different between distros. Manjaro puts a lot of work into making XFCE run well, it being the flagship desktop, unlike Debian which has none. It could be one single component like the network manager or some daemon that differs. It could be kernel settings specific to your hardware. I think Manjaro has a lot more hardware detection activity, too.
The main bottleneck in any OS is the filesystem. I suggest reformatting your ext4, if that's yours, with journal off, not just to save SSD cells, but to speed up and stabilize ext4.
It would be wonderful if you could benchmark and isolate key performance differences and post them to both distros so THEY can retune for everyone.
58 • test new distributions & review (by LambNotDragonCharacter on 2016-03-25 03:27:31 GMT from Europe)
In testing a distribution, if I am very interested in it and like what it offers, then I shall try it on a Live USB/DVD. If it is only a curious situation, then for me, just run it in V-Box.
A great review Jesse, of a very fine Arch based distro-Antergos. I too had similar experiences with this rolling distro. I do like it a lot, but IMHO I considerate a "Bleeding" edge release, like Arch (of course). I have been of late very impressed with Manjaro. Manjaro does hold back new release packages, for extended testing before release (Maybe call it "Cutting" edge, instead of "Bleeding".), I prefer this. :) I am really enjoying the current KDE 5 release (Appears very stable to me. YMMV) and the Xfce version is top shelf, too. Manjaro also has a bunch of fine community releases as well. Manjaro, IMHO is very "new user" friendly, but not for total Linux Noobs (after a few months, ok.) Definitely deserving of being a "top 10" distro. It has shades of Teal, doesn't hurt that I am a fan of this color. ;) My 2 bits.
Hey Jesse, a possible future review of the Manjaro 16.06 release?
59 • @58 (by Blue Knight on 2016-03-25 04:30:56 GMT from Europe)
> Manjaro, IMHO is very "new user" friendly, but not for total Linux Noobs (after a few months, ok.) Definitely deserving of being a "top 10" distro. It has shades of Teal, doesn't hurt that I am a fan of this color.
Manjaro is to Arch what Ubuntu was to Debian in 2004.
60 • @59 (by LambNotDragonCharacter on 2016-03-25 09:01:50 GMT from Europe)
"Manjaro is to Arch what Ubuntu was to Debian in 2004."
Ahhhhh...the good ol' days. But definitely before my time in personal Linux history. Reading the history of Ubuntu, that was IMO, what appears an exciting time. :)
61 • @55 and 57 - boot and running times. (by Hoos on 2016-03-25 17:59:20 GMT from Asia)
My personal experience didn't gel with @55, so I decided to actually time with a stopwatch the bootups of 3 of my XFCE distros installed on the same hard drive, all of which are running kernel versions 4+. Note that these are installations of the official full versions. None are net- or minimal installs. I haven't tweaked any of them to try to make them run faster. All 3 bootup to the lightdm log-in screen.
Boot times from slowest to fastest:
1. SolydX (Debian-based XFCE with systemd, very close to vanilla Jessie) - 30.69s
2. Manjaro (XFCE with systemd) - 28.58s
3. MX15 (Debian based XFCE without systemd) - 20.5s
The stopwatch test was in line with my previous subjective gauge of their boot times.
I use both systemd and non-systemd distros and I'm not making any judgement or conclusion on the above results. Booting times are not a big issue for me when we are talking about a few seconds' difference.
However, once booted up, I find Manjaro very fast and responsive in operation. This is a subjective feeling, but I think Manjaro and MX15 are pretty quick and SolydX is just a tad slower than the other 2.
All 3 are very respectable distros and frankly the difference in running speed is really not significant to me. The difference lies more in the aspects of rolling vs fixed, and how up to date their respective packages are.
62 • Antergos reinstall and ZFS pools (by far2fish on 2016-03-25 20:25:04 GMT from Europe)
I switched to Antergos last year after being a Fedora fanatic for years. I love the speed and "lightness" of Antergos with Gnome DE compared to how Gnome runs on Fedora. Not too fond of the Light-DM login manager, but I have finally gotten used to it - but I did replace it with GDM for the first few months. Have had a few localization issues as I run Linux with English language, but with a different European locale, but nothing I could not fix by tweaking the config.
I did have to reinstall once. Not due to a broken update, but rather me messing up the Light-DM config and not having a backup. Faster to reinstall than to fix it manually.
During the reinstall, cnchi complained about being unable to re-create the LVM volumes, so possible the same "bug" as Jesse encountered with the ZFS pools. Had to boot the laptop up in Gparted and wipe the partitions before doing the reinstall.
63 • testing distros & /data partitions (by M.Z. on 2016-03-25 20:36:34 GMT from North America)
I occasionally try new distros via live USB/DVD, but for the last few months I've tended to try things on a VM more often. Also as with others I run multiple distros on my 3 main machines with shared /data partitions.
@30 & 40
I run a similar setup on most of my computers where I have 2-3 distros and a shared /data partition in ext4 format. I don't use Windows anymore so I don't really care about compatibility with the one copy I have sitting on a completely unused partition. The only PC I have that doesn't multi-boot like that is my firewall system with pfSense on it. I consider all of the distros to be somewhat disposable, but I also haven't gone out of my way to wipe & replace anything & prefer to use a VM on my laptop for most testing/distro hoping. As I've done before I'll spill the beans & link to the article by the lady who best explained to me how to best achieve my multi distro bliss. If you bookmark it on Firefox & sync your bookmarks with each new system it serves as a very helpful reminder of what to do with each new install. see here:
64 • Testing distros (by slick on 2016-03-25 21:02:16 GMT from North America)
Antergos, thought I would give it a try since it has been mentioned often in this particular readers comments section.
Found it to be a very awesome distro, chose openbox, installed to a test drive and very smooth install, trouble free event.
I normally use Debian, Devuan and Openrc distros, but happy I took a look and enjoyed what I found.
Kudos to the Antergos development team. Very good, rock solid Arch based distro!
65 • test distros (by John Silva on 2016-03-26 00:19:43 GMT from Europe)
Ubunto betas were just released and that's a great opportunity for a few test drives, live or whatever.
Many of us came to Linux from the Ubuntus and later explored, diverted to other Distros. So did I.
Still, after a quick view, the bottom line is terrific. The Ubuntus are miles up and better than any other Distro, Mints included.
Ubuntu is simply the best!
66 • @65 (by Gustavo on 2016-03-26 13:11:53 GMT from South America)
I´m typing this from Ubuntu 16.04 beta and it's running great, faster than previous versions. Ubuntu Software Center is finally gone. Maybe it is time to move back to Ubuntu after a season using LinuxMint.
67 • Matter of Opinion (by M.Z. on 2016-03-26 22:00:13 GMT from North America)
I am very much of the exact opposite opinion on Mint vs Ubuntu, though of course I've avoided Ubuntu for awhile now because of all the issues surrounding their main edition. Even ignoring that I really can't see anything better about Ubuntu than Mint. Mint even makes some Ubuntu things like PPAs easier to use with various Mint tools. Indeed part of the value of all downstream distros is that, when done well, they have all of their parent distros strengths & then add extra. I may eventually try a newer Ubuntu after the end the spyware issue, but none of the stuff I've read on Ubuntu makes me think it will do anything better than Mint. After reading the early reviews I'll probably put it on a VM on my LMDE system, but I can't see it going any further than that. While they did good things in the past I have yet to see Ubuntu do anything to move the bar on the desktop in a good long while. They seem far too concerned with the smart phone market to do anything big & new on the desktop.
68 • Redox review (by gfhakka on 2016-03-27 01:15:05 GMT from Oceania)
It would be good if Jessie could do a review of Redox. Do microkernels have anything useful going for them; and is Rust the next big thing in programming?
69 • Matter of Perspective (by John Silva on 2016-03-27 18:52:01 GMT from Europe)
Mint may be better than Ubuntu, but only for those who feel comfortable with Cinnamon!
I would name 3 kings in Linux: Debian under supported archiquetures, Red Hat for enterprises and Manjaro that releases 15 desktop environments (though we only see 2 to download, in its site). Ububntu has 8 well supported DEs!
I understand people concerns about spyware. Still, I state: Ubuntu is a safe paradise, if we consider what's going on in the world. See w10 in pc's and Android in smart phones.
70 • Mint versions (by M.Z. on 2016-03-27 19:31:35 GMT from North America)
Actually there are 4 desktops for the main version of Mint: Cinnamon, KDE, Mate, & XFCE. The Cinnamon & Mate versions are also available on LMDE 2. Personally I'm rather partial to Mint KDE & like LMDE Cinnamon as well. See here:
& both LMDE desktops are here:
I think the 4 DEs in the main edition cover the preferences of the vast majority of desktop Linux users, though some may want something else. It may take a little extra time for the KDE & XFCE versions to get released, but after that you get a very stable base & plenty of nice updates to both mint tools & things LibreOffice that you wouldn't get in the Ubuntu LTS. I think the combo of stability & updates is better for most users, & like I said they have all the most popular mainstream desktops covered.
71 • Mint Versions (by John Silva on 2016-03-27 19:55:07 GMT from Europe)
Thank you M.Z. Indeed, it's a long time since I had a look into some of the Mint and after your remarks I'm considering it's worth a revisit. I really regrety they don't have a Gnome Shell as it's my prefered environment, though I bet sometime they'll go for it :)
72 • Never Gnome Shell (by M.Z. on 2016-03-27 21:48:36 GMT from North America)
Well I'm also in the opposite camp on the whole Gnome 3 thing, & I think the Mint team were fairly explicit about Gnome 3 not fitting their target audience. It all boils down to that 'mainstream desktop' thing I mentioned in passing above. Mint is very much targeted to those who want an easy experience that is familiar to most desktop users. That means if it's popular among Linux users & can quickly & easily be set to look like the classic desktops from Windows of KDE, then it's likely to get in. If it's going off in some experimental direction like Gnome & to a lesser extent Unity, & it would require a work around like the Mint Gnome Shell Extensions that Mint tried after Gnome 3 came out, then it is meant for another distro.
I think I'm defiantly in agreement with the Mint team on that one because when I put Fedora 22 in a VM on my LMDE system & played with it I didn't like it much. I know the Gnome folks are trying to do something innovative, but I don't think it works well for me or most of the Mint target audience. I suppose if some big changes are integrated into a future Gnome release, or if it picks up enough extra momentum that the Mint folks think another version is warranted things could change. Of course anyone who wants Gnome can find plenty of distros that do a Gnome spin including Debian, Fedora, Mageia, & of course Ubuntu. I'd bet good options for Gnome users will stay plentiful, though I wouldn't bet on Gnome being a good fit for Mint or their target users anytime soon.
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