| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 661, 16 May 2016
Welcome to this year's 20th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
Technology is always changing, always moving. This can make exploring software a fun and interesting experience, but it also means people need to adjust to keep up and adopt new methods of doing things. This week we focus on change, beginning with a look at the latest version FreeBSD which introduces a number of interesting new features and we report on how they work. In our News section we discuss Manjaro Linux's website infrastructure and security certificate expiry and we cover one Ubuntu developer's experiment with using Unity 8 on Mir full time. Plus we talk about OpenMandriva switching to the Clang compiler and PCLinuxOS dropping support for 32-bit computers. We also share a report that Debian is packaging ZFS and link to a couple of stories about how Linux got started in honour of the Linux kernel's 25th anniversary. In our Questions and Answers column we explore the perks and drawbacks to switching from CentOS to Red Hat Enterprise Linux and then we share the torrents we are seeding. Plus we provide a list of the distributions released last week and welcome two new projects to our waiting list. In our Opinion Poll we ask how many of our readers engage in testing development releases. We wish you all a terrific week and happy reading!
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (32MB) and MP3 (46MB) formats
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
FreeBSD 10.3's new features
FreeBSD is a venerable operating system, often deployed on servers due to the project's focus on performance and stability. At the beginning of April the FreeBSD project released version 10.3 of their operating system. The release announcement for FreeBSD 10.3 mentioned several features and improvements which caught my attention. Specifically the availability of ZFS boot environments, 64-bit Linux compatibility and jail improvements were of interest to me. I was especially eager to try out FreeBSD's new jails technology using the iocage front-end. The iocage software has been presented as an improvement on (and replacement for) Warden, a friendly front-end for handling jail environments.
I already reviewed FreeBSD 10.0 when it was launched and so I plan to skip over most aspects of the new 10.3 release and focus on the key features I listed above, along with the notable changes I encounter. The new release is available in many different builds, ranging from x86 and ARM, to SPARC and PowerPC. For the purposes of my trial I downloaded the 2.6GB DVD image of FreeBSD's 64-bit x86 edition.
Booting from the FreeBSD media brings us to a text-based menu system where we can choose to drop to a command line or launch the project's system installer. The FreeBSD installer has not changed much in recent years so I won't spend a lot of time on it. I will say that the installer is quite thorough, allowing us to set up background services and create as many user accounts as we would like, We are also able to select which components of the base operating system (documentation, games, ports, system source code and 32-bit compatibility) we want to install. The one area where I noticed a difference was with the disk partitioning section of the installer. FreeBSD gives us the option of manually partitioning the disk or allowing the installer to take over the available space. There are two automated options, one which uses UFS (the traditional file system used by FreeBSD) while the other automated option uses ZFS. As I wanted to explore using boot environments, which are made possible through ZFS, I decided to take the automated ZFS option. In total, even with its many prompts and options, it only took me ten minutes to get through the FreeBSD installer and perform a full installation of everything except the operating system's source code.
FreeBSD boots to a text console in under twenty seconds and from there we can sign into the operating system's command line interface. My fresh install of FreeBSD used about 83MB of memory (including the 27MB overhead required by ZFS) and used approximately 1GB of disk space.
One of the first things I wanted to do was experiment with boot environments. For those who have not used them before, a boot environment is basically a snapshot of our operating system. Before performing any major configuration change or software upgrade we can take a snapshot of the operating system. This gives us a point in time when we knew the operating system was working. We then perform any changes or upgrades we want. When we boot the system we can choose, from the boot menu, which snapshot we want to use. This allows us to effectively move backward in time and boot older copies of the system. This makes the operating system virtually bullet proof as almost any change (short of hardware failure) can be fixed by simply rebooting and selecting to boot an older copy of the operating system. The PC-BSD and openSUSE projects have used boot environments successfully for some time now, but the technology has not widely caught on elsewhere.
To create and manage boot environments we first need to install the beadm package from the FreeBSD software repository. I tried running the pkg package manager and found that it was not set up by default. The pkg command line package manager will bootstrap itself, downloading and configuring the necessary software and repository configuration. The pkg utility gives us access to approximately 25,000 packages, including beadm.
I find the beadm program easy to use. The syntax is simple and allows us to create, list and destroy boot environments. We can also use beadm to "activate" an exiting snapshot which will cause it to be automatically booted the next time the operating system starts. The creation and destruction of boot environments happens almost instantly. It is also nice that boot environments take up almost no space on the drive as each snapshot only stores the changes to our files.
When we do a fresh boot of the system the FreeBSD boot loader gives us the option of selecting which boot environment to load. I soon found, however, that if I selected a snapshot from the boot loader that was not the current default (or active) snapshot, then the system would fail to start-up. My screen would display some errors about being unable to find files and then FreeBSD would hang, unresponsive to input. While selecting a snapshot from the boot menu did not work, I was able to select which snapshot to use from the command line using the beadm utility. This makes boot environments quite a bit less useful as it means we need to be able boot the system in order to switch to a different snapshot.
I was not the only person to run into this problem. There is an ongoing discussion of the problem of being unable to successfully select snapshots from the boot menu on the FreeBSD forums. For now, it appears as though, if we wanted to, we could create a new boot environment, copy it into a FreeBSD jail to make a copy of operating system. Then we could upgrade the jail to make sure everything works and then clone the jail back to the main operating system. This would allow us to confirm any configuration changes or upgrades worked in the jail before applying them, but that requires a good deal more effort than the approach to boot environments used by openSUSE and PC-BSD.
The next item on my list of things to try was 64-bit Linux compatibility. FreeBSD has a compatibility layer which allows the operating system to run Linux executables. There are some restrictions though. For example, up until now the Linux executable had to be compiled for 32-bit systems and any dependencies had to be copied into place manually. There is a package in the FreeBSD repository which installs the CentOS core userland software. In essence, this gives us a bare bones installation of CentOS 6 in a directory on our FreeBSD computer. This is handy if we need to run Linux software alongside FreeBSD software or if we want to run Linux software without the resource overhead of a full featured virtual machine.
I enabled the Linux compatibility layer and installed the CentOS software on my system from FreeBSD's repository. First, I tried running a dynamically linked, 64-bit Linux application. Attempting to run this program displayed an error on my FreeBSD system indicating there were no 64-bit Linux libraries available. I had to go back to my Linux desktop, find out which libraries the program needed and copy them into a directory on my FreeBSD test system. Then I tried running the program again and a new error appeared on the screen: "FATAL: kernel too old". FreeBSD's is compatible with older Linux kernels (of the 2.6 series), but is apparently not up to speed with all the features of the newer Linux kernels. I hunted down an older, statically linked application from an old Debian system and installed it on FreeBSD. Again, I ran into the "kernel too old" error message and was unable to get the Linux software to run.
At this point I felt as though I had found the limits of the FreeBSD compatibility layer. While FreeBSD was able to run 32-bit Linux software which was packaged as part of its CentOS 6 userland software and while 64-bit applications may run, in theory at least, the problem I had was I did not have any Linux software old enough to test. All of the Linux boxes I have access to use version 3.2 (or higher) of the Linux kernel while it seems FreeBSD's compatibility is limited to the Linux 2.6 kernel and older. This means FreeBSD should be able to run any binary-only software packaged for CentOS 6, but it will not run newer applications, for example modern versions of the Chrome web browser or command line software packaged for the latest versions of Ubuntu or Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
The final feature I wanted to look at was FreeBSD jails, specifically the way the iocage software works and how it compares to the older Warden jail management software. Jails on FreeBSD are basically very lightweight virtual machines. Part of the file system is roped off and processes can run in this area (jail) without knowing about or being able to affect the rest of the system. What primarily separates jails from virtual machines is jails all share the host's kernel, meaning jailed processes must be able to run on our version of FreeBSD. In recent years Docker has provided similar functionality on Linux.
I installed iocage from the FreeBSD software repository and tried to create a new jail. The iocage command line program first had to fetch a copy of a FreeBSD release and it offered to let me choose which release I wanted. This allows us to run, for example, a FreeBSD 9 jail on a FreeBSD 10 host. The iocage program downloaded the necessary files and, in the process, created about two dozen new mount points in my ZFS volume. This made things a little cluttered, but it put the pieces in place to allow me to create a jail.
I would like to say at this point that iocage has some very well written documentation. The iocage manual page is a shinning example of how software should be documented with clear explanations and examples. Following the iocage documentation I was able to create new jails, take ZFS snapshots of existing jails, clone jails and revert damaged jails back to earlier snapshots. The one problem I ran into early on was being unable to connect a jail to the network. I followed a helpful on-line guide to get networking enabled in my iocage jails and was able to connect to the outside world from within the jails. However, I was unable to connect to remote computers using OpenSSH. At first I ran into "Host key verification failed" errors and, when those were fixed, OpenSSH would connect, fail to find a way to authenticate and immediately disconnect. This happened when trying to contact both Linux and FreeBSD servers from within the jail. When trying to use secure shell from my host FreeBSD system, OpenSSH worked properly.
The connection problems puzzled me a bit as I have used Warden in the past to create jails and had no problems connecting to the network or using OpenSSH to transfer files or access a shell on a remote server. To verify this, I install Warden from FreeBSD's repositories. Once I had assigned an IP address to my Warden jail, I was able to contact remote servers and use OpenSSH to login to remote Linux and FreeBSD hosts. The Warden also allows us to create ZFS snapshots, roll back changes to jails and easily manage running jails. The Warden's one defect was that it did not provide a manual page. So at this point I would say Warden offers a more polished experience while iocage offers top notch documentation.
There were a number of new and intriguing features introduced in FreeBSD 10.3. The ones I experimented with show promise, the initial building blocks are in place, but each one seems to be missing a final, key component. Having boot environments is great, but for them to be useful we need to be able to select a snapshot from the boot menu and have it load. The 64-bit Linux compatibility is a great feature to see and I am sure a lot of work has gone into it. Unfortunately, at this stage, it is rare to find Linux software that is old enough to be compatible with FreeBSD's implementation. I loved the documentation that shipped with iocage and the software shows real promise, especially with regards to the way iocage integrates and makes use of ZFS snapshots. However, at this point, there seem to be some issues with iocage that do not exist in the older Warden jail management system.
Each of the problems I ran into will probably be fixed in time for FreeBSD 11.0, due out later this year. I suspect what we are looking at now is a preview of things to come. The features I experimented with are all promising, but I don't think the items I explored this week are quite ready to be rolled into production.
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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)
Manjaro's website certificate expired once more, exploring Unity 8, OpenMandriva switches to Clang, PCLinuxOS has dropped 32-bit support, Debian packages ZFS and Linux is turning 25
The security certificate used by the Manjaro Linux project to secure the distribution's website has expired. This is not the first time parts of the website have become inaccessible to visitors due to a lapsed security certificate, a similar issue befell the project in April 2015. A message on the Manjaro website reports the developers are looking at moving from their existing certificate authority to Let's Encrypt which will allow the team to automate the certificate renewal process. "Our SSL certificate has once again expired. We are waiting for a new one to be issued (while also looking at more sustainable alternatives, i.e. Let's Encrypt). If you're having problems accessing any of the sites please use a different browser profile, or Private/Incognito Browsing. You will then be able to add a temporary exception."
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Canonical has been working on the Mir display server and new Unity 8 desktop environment for a few years now, but the release date of these two technologies keeps getting pushed back. Ubuntu developer Michael Hall recently accepted a challenge to use Unity 8 running on the Mir display server for two weeks to see how well (or how poorly) the new Unity desktop performs. In a blog post titled "Dogfooding Unity", Mr Hall walks through the steps required to install Unity 8 on Ubuntu and run the new desktop environment. He also covers some of the pros and cons he has faced to date with the Mir-powered desktop. "Now that you've got some apps running natively on Mir, you probably want to try out support for all of your traditional desktop apps, as you've heard advertised. This is done by a project called Libertine, which creates an LXC container and XMir to keep those unconfined apps safely away from your new properly confined setup. The first thing you will need to do is install the Libertine packages..."
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OpenMandriva may have become the first Linux distribution to switch to using Clang as the default compiler to build its thousands of open source packages. To date, Linux distributions have defaulted to using the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) to build software. Clang offers a number of advantages in error reporting, has a more liberal license and can provide performance gains in some situations. This has made Clang increasingly popular among BSD developers and, it appears, a few Linux developers too. A blog post on the OpenMandriva website states: "OpenMandriva is currently the only distribution that uses Clang as [the] main compiler. Though there is no clear difference between both compilers, that proves, at least, that we are not wrong using it."
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In a short and to the point Twitter post, the PCLinuxOS project has made it clear that the distribution will be developed exclusively for 64-bit x86 computers. "Official announcement since some don't seem to want to accept what I've been saying for the past six months. PCLOS 32-bit is dead dead dead!" People who are still using the 32-bit version of the rolling release distribution should look at performing a fresh installation from 64-bit media.
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Debian has become the latest Linux distribution to package ZFS, an advanced file system which supports snapshots, deduplication, copy-on-write and mirroring. Petter Reinholdtsen announced the news in a brief blog post: "Today, after many years of hard work from many people, ZFS for Linux finally entered Debian." The ZFS packages are currently available in Debian's unstable branch and will likely migrate into Debian's next Stable release, Stretch, later this year.
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The IEEE website is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the creation of Linux with two articles in its widely read magazine. The first, Linux at 25: Why It Flourished While Others Fizzled focuses on where Linux came from and what was happening in operating system development at the time. The second article, Linux at 25: Q&A With Linus Torvalds, involves a discussion with Linus Torvalds about the Linux and Git projects, why he created them and the transition from Linux as a hobby to a world-wide phenomenon. "The fact that I didn't really know where [Linux] would end up meant that I was perhaps more open to outside suggestions and influence than I would have been if I had a very good idea of what I wanted to accomplish. That openness to outside influences I think made it much easier, and much more interesting, for others to join the project. People didn't have to sign on to somebody else's vision, but could join with their own vision of where things should go. I think that helped motivate lots of people."
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These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Switching from CentOS to Red Hat Enterprise Linux
Seeking-official-supports asks: I have a bunch of servers running CentOS and our shop is growing to the point where it would be nice to have official support for these machines. Can I purchase support subscriptions from Red Hat for my CentOS servers?
DistroWatch answers: The most qualified person to answer this question is probably a Red Hat sales representative. My guess though is the answer will be "no", unless you are willing to wipe the servers in question and re-install Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
This topic is addressed on the CentOS wiki: "CentOS Linux is NOT supported in any way by Red Hat®, Inc."
The topic is also covered on the Red Hat website. Their community site states: "Converting from using CentOS to Red Hat Enterprise Linux is not changing as a result of Red Hat's participation in the CentOS Project. CentOS users seeking commercial support will need to install Red Hat Enterprise Linux and purchase a subscription. Subscribers will also need to re-install any existing applications."
* * * * *
Eyeing-Red-Hat's-free-subscription asks: Now that Red Hat has a free subscription to their services, I am wondering if I should upgrade from CentOS to RHEL. Are there any benefits for me to upgrade my laptop at home to RHEL? Any problems?
DistroWatch answers: First, I would like to point out that the free subscription is for Red Hat's Developer Program, not for computers in production and it does not seem the subscription is intended for personal home computers. The subscription does not include support, meaning if you use the free subscription and something breaks, you are on your own; Red Hat will not assist you. This means there is virtually no benefit to switching to an official Red Hat build, unless you are a developer testing software that must be deployed and supported on Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
There are, in my opinion, a few drawbacks to switching from CentOS to Red Hat's free subscription. With CentOS you can download and install the operating system without having an account or setting up the subscription or managing repositories. CentOS is a community distribution and there is no need for you to maintain any account or credentials or log into the CentOS website. With Red Hat you need to have a (free) developer account and you may need to log into their on-line management system in order to set up extra repositories.
In short, the free subscription will not provide support and will probably not benefit you (unless you need to test your software in a pure Red Hat Enterprise Linux environment) and it will likely be more hassle to set up and maintain the operating system. Red Hat produces a fine operating system, but it is (in my opinion) best suited for people who know they need to pay someone to support the system. Chances are a personal laptop does not fit that situation.
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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: 194
- Total data uploaded: 35.8TB
|Released Last Week
Rebellin Linunx 3.0
The Rebellin Linux project has announced the launch of Rebellin Linux 3. The new release of the Debian-based desktop distribution features updates to the GNOME and MATE desktop environments as well as new fonts and new hardware support courtesy of an updated Linux kernel, version 4.5. "Building a stable system on Debian Sid that's reliable for day to day usage is hard. It took me quite a while this time. But I'm immensely happy with the result. Here's Rebellin Linux v3. With the latest and greatest software from Debian. It's fast, reliable and got all you need for a great multimedia experience. List of updates: GNOME Shell upgraded to v3.20, MATE version upgraded to v1.12, kernel upgraded to v4.5..." In addition, Bluetooth support has been added to the MATE edition and the project features a user manual. A complete list of changes, new features and screen shots can be found in the distribution's release announcement.
Rebellin Linux 3.0 -- MATE edition
(full image size: 527kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
Chandrakant Singh has announced the launch of AryaLinux 2016.04. AryaLinux is based on the systemd edition of Linux From Scratch (LFS) and Beyond Linux From Scratch (BLFS). The latest release features version 1.12.0 of the MATE desktop environment, scripts that support building on 32-bit and 64-bit systems and support for GPT partitioned hard drives. "This version of AryaLinux primarily focuses on creating a stable from-scratch system and eliminating as many small nuances as possible that sum up to a not-so happy build experience: Updated all packages to the latest development of LFS and the current development version of BLFS systemd. Upgraded MATE to 1.12.0. Fixed a lot of broken features with alps like selfupdate, clean and updatescripts. Eliminated boot time warning messages..." This release sees the Brasero disc burning software replaced by Xfburn and the Audacious media player replaces Banshee. A full list of changes can be found in the project's release notes.
Univention Corporate Server 4.1-2
Univention Corporate Server (UCS) is a Debian-based distribution with integrated management system for central administration of servers and Microsoft Active Directory compatible domain services. The latest stable release of UCS, version 4.1-2, offers mostly bug fixes to the 4.1 series. "We are pleased to announce the availability of UCS 4.1-2 for download, the second point release of Univention Corporate Server (UCS) 4.1. It includes all errata updates issued for UCS 4.1-1 and provides various improvements and bug fixes especially in the following areas: The Active Directory Connector now uses Active Directory standard interfaces for synchronizing the password hashes. Thus, the Windows password synchronization service is no longer needed. The update to Samba 4.3.7 includes various security updates. In addition, several issues have been fixed, for example, failed login attempts are now counted correctly. Several important security updates have been integrated in UCS 4.1-2, among others for Samba, Apache, OpenSSL and the GNU C Library (glibc)." Additional details can be found in the distribution's release announcement and in the release notes.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.8
Red Hat has announced the availability of an updated version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6. The latest version, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.8, provides both updated installation media for Red Hat's customers and a few new features. The release announcement lists some of the new improvements to Red Hat's main product line: "Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.8 delivers new capabilities and provides a stable and trusted platform for critical IT infrastructure. With nearly six years of field-proven success, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 has set the stage for the innovations of today, as Red Hat Enterprise Linux continues to power not only existing workloads, but also the technologies of the future, from cloud-native applications to Linux containers." A list of changes, including the availability of the Relax-and-Recover system archiving utility, can be found in the release notes.
Simon Long has announced the release of Raspbian 2016-05-10, an updated build of the popular Debian-based distribution designed for the Raspberry Pi: "We've just released a new version of our Raspbian image with some (hopefully) useful features. When the Pi 3 launched back in February, we'd not had time to do much in terms of getting access to the new on-board Bluetooth hardware. There was a working software stack, but the UI was non-existent. I'd hoped to be able to use one of the existing Linux Bluetooth UIs, but on trying them all, none were really what I was looking for in terms of usability and integration with the look and feel of the desktop. I really didn't want to write one from scratch, but that ended up being what I did, which meant a fun few weeks trying to make head or tail of the mysteries of BlueZ and D-Bus. After a few false starts, I finally got something I felt was usable, and so there is now a Bluetooth plugin for the LXPanel taskbar." Read the rest of the release announcement for a detailed list of changes.
Cecil Watson has announced the release of LinHES 8.4, the latest stable version of the specialist Arch-based distribution designed for set-top boxes and home entertainment computers. This release features OpenPHT, a community-driven fork of Plex Home Theatre: "The LinHES development team is pleased to announce the release of LinHES R8.4. LinHES R8.4 updates MythTV to 0.28-fixes as well as updates to the kernel, system libraries, NVIDIA drivers and many other parts of LinHES. LinHES R8.4 has moved to OpenPHT, a fork of Plex Home Theater and Kodi has been updated to 16.1. Also, the /myth/recordings directory has been improved to better support Plex media scanning. Simply create a Plex library with Myth in the name (i.e. Myth TV Shows , Myth Movies or Myth Sports) and the directory (/myth/recordings/TV Shows, /myth/recordings/Movies or /myth/recordings/Sports) and the Plex library will be re-scanned when /myth/recordings is updated." See the release announcement and release notes for more details and upgrade instructions.
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Most Linux distributions engage in development cycles where the project will release Alpha and Beta snapshots prior to a stable release. These development snapshots give users a chance to test out new features, find bugs and provide feedback to the distribution. Ideally, most issues will be discovered early in the development cycle and everyone benefits from a better final release.
Of course, for this development process to work people need to download and try the Alpha and Beta releases and report any bugs they find in the software. Since development snapshots tend to be relatively unreliable, some people do not want to try them.
This week we would like to know if you take part in Alpha/Beta testing your primary distribution? If you do, please share some of your best and worst experiences testing development releases.
You can see the results of our previous poll on upgrade methods here. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
|I participate in Alpha/Beta testing: ||167 (14%)|
| I sometimes Alpha/Beta test releases I will use: ||500 (41%)|
| I do not Alpha/Beta test: ||472 (38%)|
| My preferred distribution does not Alpha/Beta test: ||88 (7%)|
Voting for projects on the waiting list and donations
Earlier this year we ran a poll in which we asked whether people should be able to vote for interesting projects on our waiting list in order to bring them to our attention. The answer we got from our readers was a tentative "yes", provided the popular vote was handled as a suggestion rather than a guarantee a project would get included in our database.
We listened to the suggestions we received and have made it possible for people to vote for their favourite projects on our waiting list. Distributions which receive a lot of votes will be evaluated sooner. We will still make the final decision on whether a distribution gets added to our database based on its quality, unique features and support infrastructure. This means distributions which gain a lot of votes may not make it into our database, but voting will draw our attention and get the project evaluated faster than projects with fewer votes.
In this way we hope to respond faster to projects people are interested in while still filtering out projects which may still need time to mature and grow.
In other news, we have set up a page which tracks the donations DistroWatch has made to various open source projects and distributions. We try to give back to the developers who make the software we use every day as we truly appreciate their hard work.
The new donations page lists the projects we have donated to in the past and this page has been added to our sitemap. We encourage our readers to nominate their favourite projects which have not yet received a donation. Who do you think deserves to be funded?
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Distributions added to waiting list
- Andrei Linux. Andrei Linux is a fast, Arch Linux-based distribution which follows the KISS principle. It provides default desktop applications and focuses on performance.
- Uruk GNU/Linux. Uruk GNU/Linux is a distribution of the GNU operating system, with the Linux-libre kernel. The distribution is based on Trisquel GNU/Linux.
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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, 23 May 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)
- Bruce Patterson (podcast)
|Linux Foundation Training
|Reader Comments • Jump to last comment
1 • Testing betas (by Jordan on 2016-05-16 00:15:16 GMT from North America) |
I've done it several times and most often come away from it feeling like I may have gotten into that particular beta too late, as it worked fine.
Network adaptor issues was the most common bug, it seems. A few other de isues etc.
2 • Beta Testing (by Furkin daRode on 2016-05-16 01:50:54 GMT from North America)
If you're running linux, you're beta-testing.
3 • @2 Beta testing (by Thomas Mueller on 2016-05-16 02:26:08 GMT from North America)
"If you're running linux, you're beta-testing."
Even truer for NetBSD, this would apply to the release as well as stable and head/trunk/current. I also run FreeBSD-current. Haiku is still alpha; I was unsuccessful trying to cross-build the Haiku source code but intend to try again.
4 • Torrents (by Trevor on 2016-05-16 02:33:01 GMT from North America)
When I try to download a torrent on this site, a tab pops up and says "The owner of torrent.resonatingmedia.com has configured their website improperly. To protect your information from being stolen, Firefox has not connected to this website." and won't let me download it. How do I get around this?
5 • Whoa, whoa, whoa!!! (by tom joad on 2016-05-16 02:37:05 GMT from Europe)
I am running Mint 17.3 and MX-15. There is no way on God's green Earth I am beta testing anything with either of them. Both are official production releases. Both are rock solid stable and predictable for what I do.
I am hardly the only person using Linux who feels just as I do. I am beyond happy and comfortable using Linux everyday.
Perhaps you might try Windows 10. I hear it is their best OS ever. Well, until Windows 11 comes out. Just plunk down a couple of hundred bucks for a copy of 10. I am sure it has lots of 'nagging' and hand holding built right in. Good luck with getting help too. MS is legendary with their response to user questions. And remember to load up on the Anti Virus / Spyware programs. You will surely need them. I bet you could coak at least one Blue Screen of Death out of Windows 10, too, if you really try.
Have fun troubleshooting. We will be working Linux machines.
6 • BSD's jails the users. (by Greg Zeng on 2016-05-16 02:52:38 GMT from Oceania)
The Dw test was done on an AMD CPU, using the very new ZFS file system. Very unusual, leading to unusual results? Perhaps if I use FreeBSD-10.3-RELEASE-amd64-uefi-dvd1.iso (699.16 MB) or FreeBSD-10.3-RELEASE-amd64-uefi-dvd1.iso (2.57 GB), I might have better luck with a more common Intel CPU and the ext4 file system?
"FreeBSD". Wikipedia is overloaded with jargon. Distrowatch http://distrowatch.com/search.php?ostype=BSD
tells me that Debian is the main (#2) BSD operating system. To sort my confusion, Google gave me: https://www.digitalocean.com/community/tutorials/a-comparative-introduction-to-freebsd-for-linux-users
Hopefully BSD might solve all our problems with Linux's kernel-only interests, rather than BSD's trick that put users into jails that do not disturb the kernel afik.
7 • Beta testing (by stu on 2016-05-16 03:03:14 GMT from North America)
I've been following Slackware64-current for about a year on two machines and staying with Slackware64-14.1 on two others. I tried the current branch due to the unusually long wait (2.5 years now) for 14.2 and my newer hardware needed a few up-to-date drivers. Slackware is conservative and emphasizes reliability, I've found the current branch more stable than most other release-quality software.
In my experience with other release-quality operating systems I've had no problems with OpenBSD, a few problems with FreeBSD and OS X, too many problems with Arch Linux, and almost nothing but problems with Windows.
8 • FreeBSD / @2 / Beta testing (by Will B on 2016-05-16 03:08:55 GMT from North America)
- - - - - - -
Yep, that's good ol' FreeBSD for ya. I am a big fan of FreeBSD, but have found that I cannot use it full-time for running my business day-to-day because of really crummy packages/ports quality. That being said, I'm using FreeBSD 11-CURRENT right now and it, so far, is the most stable I've seen FreeBSD for a while. Here's hoping it only gets better.
- - - -
> If you're running linux, you're beta-testing.
Haha, you're a funny one, mate.
Just about any operating system has issues in one way or another. I think @5 sums it up nicely. I support quite a few customers who use Windows 10, and it's been nothing short of frustrating and painful. On the other hand, I have had nothing but solid performance from Linux distros like Debian.
- - - - - - - - - -
As mentioned earlier, I just started running FreeBSD 11-CUREENT. I typically don't beta-test distros because I have a busy business to run during the day and need my main workstation to be reliable and predictable.
Another thing about beta-testing is that reporting issues sometimes is worse than pulling teeth. If you are developing a Linux or BSD distro and you want bug reports and feedback, make it as easy as possible for users to report issues. Don't make them do all the work!
We'll see how this beta-testing of FreeBSD 11 goes. Hopefully 11 will be the one that stays on my computer.
9 • CentOS - ScientificLinux - RHEL (by Somewhat Reticent on 2016-05-16 04:05:31 GMT from North America)
Conversion among these remixes is best done between same versions; the www is replete with fairly Short-&-Simple recipes
That said, such conversions are never an "upgrade"
10 • beta testing (by Hoos on 2016-05-16 05:31:07 GMT from Asia)
For me, it is more accurate to say I've am using beta releases, rather than being an actual beta tester.
Slackel openbox 6.0.5 beta has been working just fine for me, and since it's rolling, it naturally moved on to the official release, give or take my tweaks/changes to the installed packages.
It's Salix-based but with Slackware-current repo enabled. Most updates can be done by the gslapt graphical package manager, except for the slapt-get -i you have to do for kernels and glibc packages (a bit like how the Mint update manager holds back the kernel and level 4 and 5 updates).
This is my gentle introduction into Slackware/Salix, and to be honest, I'm not sure I want/need to delve any deeper into Slackware. I wanted to try another family of distros that eschewed systemd, although I use and enjoy systemd distros as well. It is just good to keep one's options open.
Slackel is very fast, I have to say.
11 • @10 correction (by Hoos on 2016-05-16 07:03:25 GMT from Asia)
First line should be "I've USED OR am using beta releases".
I was actually using Slackel 6.0.3 openbox (final) but then there was a transition from udev to eudev that messed up my installation somehow, and certain applications couldn't work anymore.
I had overlooked some important announcements on the slackel site and by the time I tried to follow their advice to install/remove certain packages, it no longer seemed to help. Tried a partition restoration from backup a few times and attempted to follow their rectification/upgrades CLI instructions. Could not resolve issues so I wiped it and installed 6.0.5 beta.
No issues with my configuration tweaks because I'd backed up my changes to fbpanel, bookmarks, wallpaper changer script previously.
12 • beta testing (by penxguin on 2016-05-16 09:25:02 GMT from Oceania)
Some things I have learned through alpha/beta testing.
Expect breakage. If possible use a spare as opposed to your daily driver. If this is not possible, be prepared to become very intimate with your HDD partitions.
Always use care with a new or unfamiliar installer.
Become very familiar with your distros bug reporting system.
It is always better to put as much info the report so that the person assigned to look into the bug has a more likely chance of reproducing it.
e.g.: "installer broken" is probably going to be ignored. (I have seen this as a report )
Keep ownership of the report, and reply to requests for more info.
You can (re)produce the bug, the fixer may not be able to do so.
If you abandon the report, why should the fixer care about fixing the bug if you no longer do?
If you do your testing well, the final product will be better because of your input.
13 • Downloading torrents (by Jesse on 2016-05-16 12:08:36 GMT from North America)
@4: Trevor, it seems to be working okay here so I have sent you an e-mail to get more details. If you're still having trouble downloading the torrents, please reply to my e-mail and we'll get things sorted out.
14 • @2 beta testing linux (by Jordan on 2016-05-16 12:54:55 GMT from North America)
Well the spirit of that notion, that if you are running linux you're beta testing, is well taken, but off center just a little.
Linux used to self correct at more frequent intervals than Windows. Anybody with a solid distro such as Manjaro or Mint can attest to the reliability, etc. Windows 10 does frequent updates, whether you want them or not, now. So, yes it appears that Windows 10 can run as reliably as linux's best distros.
Does this mean that Windows is a constant "beta test?"
15 • Beta testing (by cykodrone on 2016-05-16 13:47:09 GMT from North America)
I chose sometimes because I have a separate stable install of my everyday distro for testing beta kernels and packages.
16 • devuan beta (by dogma on 2016-05-16 14:28:22 GMT from North America)
I don't generally use non-final releases of OSes, but I have made an exception for devuan's recent beta release.
17 • Manjaro (by grouchy guy on 2016-05-16 15:26:59 GMT from Europe)
Manjaro needs to pay attention to more than just its security certificate. Its forum has no search feature, and whoever hand-approves new users seems to be permanently OTL.
Manjaro is different enough from Arch to cause trouble when you want to actually do something, and then it leaves you without any way to find help.
18 • Manjaro forum (by Kragle von Schnitzelbank on 2016-05-16 16:41:07 GMT from North America)
Search works, new users comment often, new version full o' bling.
Was troll's snark just reverse-psych ad?
19 • @17 Manjaro forums (by Jordan on 2016-05-16 16:49:02 GMT from North America)
I had trouble joining until I switched away from the spam-pot web based email domain I was using for contact address. You can be innocent enough, but if you're using that same domain used by the spam idiots you'll be on Manjaro's forum software spam list and you'll not be even contacted by them, let alone allowed to join.
20 • Beta testing (by slick on 2016-05-16 17:29:35 GMT from North America)
Using Devuan 1.0 beta currently, find it one of the most stable and dependable distributions I have tested in years. It is forked from Debian and free of systemd.
Often an alpha or beta release can be far superior to some distributions final release. So many final releases are just broken. But that is Linux, some distros are simply better.
Prefer a minimalist approach, no DE and a scant list of applications installed. Large bloated distributions along with systemd tend to be prone to failure and simply reject those futile efforts. Never understood why so much bloat goes into a distribution when the user can simply download what they need.
21 • Beta-testing (by magical on 2016-05-16 21:07:49 GMT from North America)
Regarding beta-testing...I don't use Microsoft products!
22 • Main BSDs (by M.Z. on 2016-05-16 22:07:00 GMT from North America)
@6 - BSDs
No, you read that wrong. Debain is among the most popular OSs in the DW hit rankings & they offer a BSD version, which has always been far more experimental than their main Linux based version. No matter how high Debian is on the hit ranking at DW their experimental BSD release doesn't make them the most popular BSD based system, it just means that Debian is a popular project that has a BSD variant. The popularity of Debian among those looking at distros on DW is almost certainly based on hits among users interested in the main Linux based releases of Debian. If you want the most popular true BSD based system & one that offers a solid release, then you have to go with FreeBSD. It's very munch meant to be a true BSD & is essentially the equivalent of Debian in the world of BSDs, though I think their experiments with Linux are limited to the compatibility tools mentioned in the current DW weekly. Here are the sites related to the Debian BSD port:
23 • @5 Windows 10 (by Jack on 2016-05-16 22:54:06 GMT from Europe)
I keep hearing that Windows 10 is the best one ever but I think it's awful. The way it does updates is intrusive and has stopped me working more than once, the start menu is a mess, I even had more trouble configuring my printer than I have with both Ubuntu and Fedora and have various other complaints. I did use Windows 7 and 8 alongside Linux but I haven't logged into my Windows 10 install for about 6 or 7 months and I'm seriously considering deleting the partition.
I'm also considering buying my wife another Mac as she isn't getting on with Windows 10 either and she won't/can't use Linux. .
24 • No PCLinuxOS 32 bit? (by C.R. Lewis on 2016-05-17 00:55:49 GMT from North America)
Oh well. Guess I'm about to go hopping again. I run linux on two 32 bit laptops. Here I come, Mint. Might see you down the road, PCL, when my laptops die.
25 • @17 (by Bonky on 2016-05-17 04:13:42 GMT from North America)
Seach works on the old Manjaro forum if you are Registered ......This weekend Manjaro has moved to a new Forum and I have no idea how that works yet...
I have a Manjaro machine which has been used almost daily for approx 4 yrs, on Testing Repos and has never had more than slight annoyance when GTK theme issues pop up.....
@24 Same feelings here about PClinuxOS I have always kept a machine with it running out of some loyalty to Mandrake ...sadly I wont be anymore ..if they want to ditch loyal users it says a lot about them Think ill install Void Linux tomorrow fancy trying that out
26 • "If_you_not_living_"good",_you_gotta... (by k on 2016-05-17 06:07:51 GMT from Europe)
... travel wide" (Bob Marley, 1970)
@ 5, 2, and 14
One rebel to another, excellent summation of the "spirit" of Linus Torvalds's revolution at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux#Creation .
Naming -- alpha, beta, or gamma -- and ego aside, Linus's "Freax" has adapted and evolved to allow all users/minds to travel wide. GO FOR IT!
27 • Debian testing (by AT on 2016-05-17 08:59:28 GMT from Europe)
Technically if someone is running Debian testing or sid ... Aren't they already beta tester ?
28 • @23 "look and act like ... Mac OS X or ... " (by Greg Zeng on 2016-05-17 10:20:25 GMT from Oceania)
No need for your wife to abandon Linux. She won't notice the difference with:
"Zorin Look Changer
... lets you change your desktop to look and act like either Windows 7, XP, 2000, Ubuntu Unity, Mac OS X or GNOME 2 for ultimate ease of use."
My wife is ok with W-10. Her friend likes Mac OS X. So I might instead have her computer with Zorin, with the OS X face. Personally Zorin is made for simple people who like limited choices; not too much customization allowed nor possible. Multi-booting is one of my specializations, so it is very easy for me.
29 • FreeBSD review (by Andy Mender on 2016-05-17 11:24:15 GMT from Europe)
I hope you didn't take my last week's comment too personally. I was quite grumpy back then. Thank you plenty for doing the FreeBSD 10.3-RELEASE review :).
We know about the 'kernel too old' issue in the Linux compat layer. To some extent it can be fixed by changing the kernel version in sysctl.conf: sysctl compat.linux.osrelease=2.6.18
Nevertheless, it's true that some things like iocage and running Linux binaries requires fiddling. As always, a lot is covered by the Handbook. I cannot speak for FreeBSD developers, though as far as I understood, the major goal was to get 64-bit support for the Linux compat layer going and proceed from there :).
30 • Manjaro's unfortunate forum changes (by edked on 2016-05-17 18:14:39 GMT from North America)
I use Manjaro and love it, but the new forum is not an improvement at all, or at least the minor, minor advantages have not been worth all the problems.
I still can't get my confirmation e-mail, and I had no problem using an MS "live" e-mail address to join the old forum, which I never had any problems on (or made any problems on).
31 • 30 • Manjaro's unfortunate forum changes (by mandog on 2016-05-17 22:10:43 GMT from South America)
Just email PhillM.
I think as a older user wearing glasses the forum is terrible it gives you a headache with all that high contrast white, also its designed for smart-phone users not Linux users.
32 • @28 Zorin (by Jack on 2016-05-18 09:42:10 GMT from Europe)
Thanks for the tip. I've never tried Zorin myself.
The issue is software, mostly iTunes and Photoshop, rather than the look and feel though. At least if she gets the Mac I can delete the Windows partition off mine and then keep her current laptop as a spare Windows machine... just in case.
33 • FreeBSD and iocage (by Scott on 2016-05-18 14:10:19 GMT from North America)
iocage is great, but it is going to be rewritten in go. Not sure how well it will be supported in the interim.
34 • @ 27 Debian testing (by Kubelik on 2016-05-19 02:05:47 GMT from Europe)
Yes, you can say it technically is beta. In actual life it is more stable than, say,
Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. - I'm running both of them side by side on the same pc.
35 • @ 22, 29 (by azuvix on 2016-05-19 04:19:02 GMT from North America)
I'd like to add a little nudge in the direction of PC-BSD as well. It's extremely well-done and constantly getting better.
You know, even though GNU/Linux is my foundation, I'm of the opinion that all free software deserves our attention, particularly when it's developing in interesting ways or is of superb quality. You'll never hear me speak poorly of the *BSDs - when they implement new features, you know the end result is going to be great.
That's what makes the situation of GNU/kFreeBSD so sad, frankly... I really want to see it thrive, but who can really say how likely that is?
36 • "In_actual_life..." (by k on 2016-05-19 06:49:16 GMT from North America)
@ 34 • @ 27 Debian testing (by Kubelik
Might not your experience be more related to your specific hardware -- host computer environment -- than Debian tesing being "more stable than... Ubuntu 16.04 LTS"?
Nevertheless, partly agreeing with your observation, antiX-16-b1 seems to operate MUCH faster and more stably -- from a flash drive -- for most software run from Firejail sandbox than Ubuntu 14.04.4 LTS (Trusty Tahr) ever did for any application run from hardware installation. :)
37 • @4 Trevor Torrents (by Menfin!?! on 2016-05-19 21:15:54 GMT from North America)
Hi Trevor, I ran into the same messages and, for me, it turned out to be AdFender, if you have the same program, you can import a security certificate from it and it should allow you to visit most https sites without issues, I still have to disable it for certain sites still, you may have too as well. I hope it helps.
38 • @30 etc Manjaro forums (by Jordan on 2016-05-20 14:19:54 GMT from North America)
There's a link to the old forums at the Manjaro site. Also, I doubt if the new forum area is for smartphones, but maybe it is. All I know is I find it very intuitive and easy to use no matter which device I use; iPad, iPhone or laptop.
I'm very glad I discovered Manjaro a while back. No more distro hopping except to fool around with other distros here and there on thumb drives or my oldest computer.
39 • DistroWatch as a research tool, soon ? (by Greg Zeng on 2016-05-21 03:11:13 GMT from Oceania)
A few weeks ago, in Comments, DW had information of a third party tool that generated an inaccurate map of Linux distributions. Inaccurate, because DW was inaccurate. Jesse wrote that Dw was never intended for this research purpose.
Often here in DW are references to the ZFS partition format. DW again does not allow anyone to discover which Linux distributions allow this, nor nor other partition setting.
Recently I came across a news item: "Kubuntu 16.04 LTS to KDE Plasma 5.6.4". The original post was ignorant of Kubuntu. Using (or trying to use DW as an information source, I replied:
"Thanks for the PPA. This will work for all Kubuntu based distributions: BlackLab, Netrunner, ZevenOS, KXStudio, SuperX, Bardinux, Oz Unity, Ultimate, ExTiX, ... "
Again DW failed as a research tool, because it does not see Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Mint, etc. as unique starting points for derivative distributions. The correct way to research this information over hundreds of brandnames on the DW data base might be the intersection of the Ubuntu and KDE sets, if they were accurate. We need other third parties to create, research and check this process. Open source software like phpBB would greatly better Linux development imho. To me, it seems that DW has enough good will amongst it users atm to enable skilled, capble volunteers to assist its smooth running.
40 • "good_will"_and_the_Aaron_Swartz_story (by k on 2016-05-21 07:15:00 GMT from Europe)
@39 • DistroWatch as a research tool, soon ? (by Greg Zeng
Excellent comment, thank you, but probably you and most other readers of DistroWatch understand that if not financial interests, often ego presents a formidable challenge to "good will" as you put it.
Perhaps a relevant example at:
Hope to learn more from your research.
41 • Data accuracy (by Jesse on 2016-05-21 13:22:25 GMT from North America)
@39: I'd like to clear up a few points from your comment. First, regarding the distro family tree graphic, what I was saying in my previous comment is that we do not track when distributions were first created and we do not track which distro they were forked from (only based on). For example, openSUSE is an independent distro "forked from" Slackware. While Ubuntu is a distro "based on" Debian. We provide the latter information, but not the former. That's why there are some differences in the graphic between what people would expect and what the family tree shows. The information we have is accurate, but it needs to be interpreted correctly.
Regarding ZFS support, we do actually provide a list of distributions which include the Linux on ZFS module on their media: https://distrowatch.com/search.php?pkg=zfs&pkgver=0.&distrorange=InAny#pkgsearch
Regarding the Kubuntu article, I suspect the person was focusing on Kubuntu as people who want the latest KDE software usually use Kubuntu. The other dirivatives are not KDE-focused. That is not in any way a result of our information, but the author's focus. I'd also like to point out Kubuntu, Xubuntu etc are not unique starting points for derivatives as they all use the same packages (from Ubuntu).
You suggest we make more use of volunteers. That's is why we have a Contributing page. Anyone with ideas, free time, an urge to help is welcome to join us. And we do often get help from people this way (thanks everyone!). The contributing page can be found here:
Number of Comments: 41
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|• Issue 843 (2019-12-02): Obarun 2019.11.02, Bluestar 5.3.6, using special characters on the command line, Fedora plans to disable empty passwords, FreeBSD's quarterly status report|
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|• Issue 841 (2019-11-18): Emmabuntus DE3-1.00, changing keys in a keyboard layout, Debian phasing out Python 2 and voting on init diversity, Slackware gets unofficial updated live media|
|• Issue 840 (2019-11-11): Fedora 31, monitoring user activity, Fedora working to improve Python performance, FreeBSD gets faster networking|
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|• Issue 832 (2019-09-16): BlackWeb 1.2, checking for Wayland session and applications, Fedora to use nftables in firewalld, OpenBSD disables DoH in Firefox|
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|• Issue 810 (2019-04-15): SolydXK 201902, Bedrock Linux 0.7.2, Fedora phasing out Python 2, NetBSD gets virtual machine monitor|
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|• Issue 802 (2019-02-18): Slontoo 18.07.1, NetBSD tests newer compiler, Fedora packaging Deepin desktop, changes in Ubuntu Studio|
|• Issue 801 (2019-02-11): Project Trident 18.12, the meaning of status symbols in top, FreeBSD Foundation lists ongoing projects, Plasma Mobile team answers questions|
|• Issue 800 (2019-02-04): FreeNAS 11.2, using Ubuntu Studio software as an add-on, Nitrux developing znx, matching operating systems to file systems|
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|• Full list of all issues|
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