| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 683, 17 October 2016
Welcome to this year's 42nd issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
This past week saw the release of several new versions of open source operating systems, including Ubuntu 16.10 and its many community editions, as well as a new version of the venerable FreeBSD. We have the details on what to expect from these operating systems below, but before that we begin our News section with a look back at 386BSD and where the modern BSDs came from. We also look at Alpine Linux's switch from OpenSSL to LibreSSL and Black Lab Linux becoming a commercial distribution. In our main feature this week Robert Storey takes Refracta, a Devuan-based distribution with re-spin authoring tools built-in, for a test drive and reports on the project's status. Plus, in our Questions and Answers column, we talk about creating software packages for a variety of distributions. Then we share the torrents we are seeding and provide a list of last week's releases. In our Opinion Poll we discuss preferred methods for acquiring new releases and, finally, we welcome Linux Kodachi as the newest distribution to be added to our database. We wish you all a superb week and happy reading!
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (34MB) and MP3 (48MB) formats
|Feature Story (by Robert Storey)
Refracta 8.0 - Devuan on a stick
There are probably some people living in the world today who still haven't heard of systemd, though I doubt that any of them read DistroWatch. More digital ink has been spilled debating the topic of init systems than any other in techie history. There is probably nothing I can say about systemd that hasn't already been said, and no argument either for or against it that hasn't been repeated ad nauseum. So I won't waste this review seeking converts for The Cause™. I don't expect the issue to be finally settled until the Sun swells up to become a red giant and evaporates the Earth.
Geeks determined to resist the systemd juggernaut have several options. For me, the most interesting project is Devuan, a fork of Debian. I will say by way of disclosure that I have downloaded Devuan, installed it, used it for months, and like it. However, it does have a few flaws - the installer in particular needs some more work. The first beta forces you to do a network install that - depending on your Internet connection speed - can take an hour or more. This has defeated curious newbies who decide to give up long before the first boot-up prompt appeared.
It was my search for a quick and easy way to get Devuan up and running that led me to Refracta, a unique distro that fills a niche that has long been neglected. Refracta's existence predates the systemd wars - it was originally based on Debian 5.0, otherwise known as "Lenny." But when Debian 8.0 "Jessie" went full systemd, Refracta moved to the Devuan camp.
Refracta's chief selling point is this: it's a live image that can be quickly installed, customized, and re-installed back to live media again. So basically you can roll your own live CD, configured for your hardware and tweaked to suit your personal tastes. It is currently my favorite distro, and I'd recommend it to any Linux geek who has had a little bit of experience. A total Linux newbie might feel more comfortable with a distro that mimics Windows' point-and-click friendliness, but once you've got the basics down, Refracta is easy to get used to.
It's also worth mentioning that even without being installed, a Refracta live CD or USB stick makes an excellent diagnostic and rescue tool. It contains quite a few command line utilities that aren't in a default Devuan or Debian installation, including gddrescue, testdisk, smartmontools, hdparm, lm-sensors, iftop, and iptraf. I have personally used testdisk to recover data from a crashed hard drive.
Refracta on a USB stick
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There are i386 and amd64 versions, both live media sporting an Xfce4 interface. The ISO files are available for download from SourceForge.
ISO size is approximately 700MB, because the developer wants to make it fit on a CD. These days many people prefer to install on a USB flash drive. You can use a dedicated program like UNetbootin to do that, but I'm fine with the Linux dd command. Note that UNetbootin wants your USB drive to be formatted with the FAT32 file system and mounted, but dd demands that it be unmounted (and file system format is a non-issue). The syntax for dd should look something like this:
sudo dd if=refracta8_Xfce_amd64_rc1-20160923_1334.iso of=/dev/sdb bs=4M
Your USB stick might not be /dev/sdb if you've got something else plugged in - be careful of that. You can use the lsscsi command to find the name of your USB device.
Once you've got a bootable CD or USB flash drive, reboot into your exciting new Refracta desktop. You can login as "user" (with password "user") or "root" (password "root").
In the System menu, you can click on Refracta Installer which presents a simple GUI interface. Or, if you prefer, as root you can run refractainstaller which is a command-line tool. Either way, installation is simple and fast. There is no need to connect to the network - everything required is already on the installation disk. This is in sharp contrast to Devuan's current installer, which grabs everything off the network (and thus takes much longer).
Refracta 8 -- Running the Xfce desktop
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I discovered a major glitch getting online via wifi, though it's easily solved once you understand the problem. With mainstream Devuan, the installation program detects the required wireless firmware driver and installs it. Refracta's installer currently lacks this ability, so you have to install the driver manually - not difficult, but it's these little things that make me hesitate to recommend Refracta to a complete Linux newbie. On the other hand, experienced geeks will easily rise to the occasion.
To know if you've got the wifi problem, at the command line type /sbin/ifconfig. This will show you all of your network interfaces. Most likely it will show that you've got an interface named eth0 (Ethernet) and lo (loopback interface). If your wireless device has been detected, there will also be a wlan0 interface (note: could be wlan1, 2 or 3). If it's not there, then you need to install the driver. At the command line you will find on your Refracta desktop a directory called wireless-drivers. You need to cd into that directory, and type ls to see the list of drivers available. Currently, there are 18:
I've made it a habit to use gdebi rather than dpkg -i to install a Debian package, because the former will try to resolve all dependencies. So to install the first package in the above list, for example, you'd su (or sudo) to root and type gdebi firmware-atheros_0.43_all.deb. That's fine, except that there are 18 possible drivers, and you might not know which one to install. You really wouldn't want to install all 18. The best way to find the correct one(s), is if you already have an existing Debian or Ubuntu installation, and type the following at the command line:
dpkg --get-selections | grep firmware
When I did this, I was informed thus:
After installing those two firmware drivers with gdebi and rebooting, the output of /sbin/ifconfig happily showed that interface wlan0 now existed. To activate this, as root type:
ifconfig wlan0 up
Again, that could be wlan1, 2 or 3. Type the following to check.
lshw | grep wlan
Having done all the above, I still found that my wireless network was disabled, though enabling it was really simple. To do so, fire up Refracta's Wicd Network Manager (found in the Internet menu). In Wicd, to the right of Refresh is a down-arrow - clicking on that will get you to Preferences dialog. In the box next to Wireless interface type "wlan0" then click OK and Refresh. You should be able to see wireless networks then.
In future reboots, you do not have to go through all of the above steps, though you do have to restart Wicd and choose the interface you wish to use. All things considered, I find Wicd very simple and elegant, and prefer it over the more complex NetworkManager used in most distros these days.
Refracta 8 -- Connecting to a wireless network
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Update and install packages
With networking enabled, your first priority should be to run (as root):
In theory you don't have to reboot after the above, though if a new kernel got installed it would certainly be a good idea. Considering that Refracta reboots very fast, it's effortless to do so.
Now that you at last have an up-to-date working desktop with connectivity, it might not be a bad idea to install a firewall, especially if you're relying on wifi (as opposed to a hardwired router). There are a number of firewall packages available - I personally find ufw to be easy and elegant to set up, so with root privileges do:
apt-get install ufw
Once installed and enabled, it will remain functional on subsequent reboots. It can always be turned off with the command
At this point, you should feel free to install whatever additional packages your heart desires. The Devuan archives closely follow Debian, so you've got a huge number of packages at your disposal. Standard Debian commands such as apt-cache search and apt-get install are your friends. Or you can use the Synaptic Package Manager from the System menu.
Refracta comes with openssh-server installed and running by default. That's a good reason to have the firewall and to change the passwords. The benefit of OpenSSH is that it allows you the possibility of booting a headless server with live media and logging in to do repairs.
Unfortunately, OpenSSH can be a honeypot for evildoers, and if you don't need it you may consider disabling or even uninstalling it. First, just to confirm that secure shell is (or isn't) running, type /etc/init.d/ssh status.
If you want to keep OpenSSH running but would like to configure it, you need to edit (as root) file /etc/ssh/sshd_config. There is one line in there that looks rather dangerous:
It's actually not as dangerous as it looks, because root can log in only with authorization keys. It's the new default setting in Debian, and that's why it's the default in Devuan (and Refracta). You can prevent any root logins by commenting out that line and adding another that reads:
You can allow individual users access with the AllowUsers parameter. This and other OpenSSH tweaks won't take effect until you either reboot or restart OpenSSH with
invoke-rc.d ssh restart
However, many people will want to just disable OpenSSH permanently. Simplest way to do that would be to run update-rc.d -f ssh remove. Another way is to run sysv-rc-conf in a root terminal and un-check openssh-server in all runlevels. A third way is apt-get remove openssh-server if you don't plan on ever using it.
Unlike Devuan which uses PulseAudio, Refracta employs ALSA (package "alsa-base") as a sound server. In the beginning I had no sound - turned out my sound was muted. To tweak your sound settings, run the command alsamixer (as a user, not root), and press F6 to switch your sound card and mess with volume settings.
In the great "UTC vs hardware clock" debate, Refracta's default is UTC (but Windows will hate you for it). You can change the setting by editing file /etc/adjtime. Reset the time zone by running dpkg-reconfigure tzdata. You could also try running (as root) the command ntpdate-debian. But if you set Refracta to LOCAL rather than UTC, you may notice a brief error message fly by during boot saying that the superblock has a write time in the future - this triggers an fsck (file system check), costing about two seconds extra during a reboot. I haven't found a way to fix this other than just going with UTC.
Refracta uses the Light Display Manager (LightDM) to supply a graphical login prompt. By default, it will not offer up a choice of user names, so if you're called aardvark you will be forced to type "aardvark" each and every time you wish to login. That's kind of inconvenient, and probably overly paranoid. To make user names visible at login time, uncomment the following line in /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf (Note: make sure you do it in the section after [SeatDefaults], not # Seat defaults):
Other fun things you can do at the graphical login: change prompt font with the F1 and F2 keys. F9 gives you the opportunity to choose a different default session (other than Xfce) if you've got one installed. F10 allows you to select a language from any installed locale. F11 and F12 will give you the restart/shutdown menu.
If you plug in a USB external storage device, it will not automount. This is due to the absence of gvfs-daemons, which require libsystemd0, which is also missing. And you may notice that you can't install some other things for the same reason.
You can use the green and red USB icons on the left side of the top panel for mounting/unmounting removable media. That should work with USB, SDcard and optical media. Another option would be to install spacefm. Either way, it's done with pmount/pumount. Or, you could allow libsystemd0 (note that I personally do not, but appreciate that others might want to do so).
To install libsystemd0, you need to remove the APT pinning on it. You can find a Debian wiki explanation of APT pinning here. Actually, that wiki is slightly out-of-date - it says that you enable/disable pinning in file /etc/apt/preferences. Rather than file /etc/apt/preferences, pinning files are in a directory: /etc/apt/preferences.d/ which in Refracta contains three files:
File 00nosystemd prohibits any package with "systemd" in the name, so delete it if you want libsystemd0. Then run apt-get update. You may then wish to install the package gvfs-daemons to get all the pop-up icon stuff that Xfce4 is capable of. You don't need to install libsystemd0 - it will be automatically installed if you install any packages that need it, and it will be marked for autoremoval if you remove those packages. Note that installing libsystemd0 does not install the systemd init package).
True geeks make heavy use of the command line, so it's really useful to have a nice keyboard shortcut to bring up a terminal. Typically, the shortcut Ctrl-Alt-T is used for this purpose, but it's not enabled by default in Refracta.
To add it, click Menu->Settings->Settings Manager, then Keyboard and choose the tab Application Shortcuts and the box that says Add. You'll then be presented with a box where you can either type in the command, or choose it by clicking the Open button. You'll probably want to choose xfce4-terminal though other options could include uxterm or just xterm.
One common frustration at this point (it's an Xfce4 thing) is that to finish the final step, you hit the OK button (or Enter key), but when you do this a box called "Command Shortcut" opens. But there is no space for you to type in the command shortcut. So what would most people do then? They would hit the Cancel button (only option offered!) and the box would close and the shortcut setup would be canceled. Actually, when the "Command Shortcut" box/window opens you are suppose to hit the keys on your keyboard that you want to use for your shortcut and then hit Enter - only then will the command shortcut window/box disappear and your new shortcut is in the Application Shortcuts list.
Install "most" as pager
This is just a matter of aesthetics. Among other things, a "pager" controls how your man pages will look when you view them in text mode. To make for colourful man pages:
apt-get install most
And then choose "3" to make most the default pager.
update-alternatives --config pager
Roll your own live image
Having deployed some or all of the above-mentioned tweaks, it's at last time to unleash Refracta's killer feature - its ability to create customized live images. Do note that if you've added a bunch of apps, the resulting ISO file will probably no longer fit on a CD, but in this era of DVDs and USB flash drives, that's hardly a problem.
Point-and-click Menu->System, you'll find two useful utilities, Refracta Snapshot and Refracta2usb. These can also be accessed at the command line by typing in lower case, refractasnapshot and refracta2usb.
Use refractasnapshot to make a bootable live ISO from a running Linux system. It has to be a Debian-based system (and not necessarily even Refracta).
With refracta2usb, you can take a live ISO and put it on a USB stick. It does not image the stick using dd or cat, and it does not require an isohybrid file (a regular live ISO will work).
Refracta was originally created for the purpose of allowing anyone to create customized live CD Debian images, a job it still does well. Starting with version 8.0, Refracta has gone whole-hog at banishing systemd, not to mention PulseAudio. All that plus the fact that Refracta's installer currently works better than the Devuan one, one could say that Refracta is actually more Devuan than Devuan.
In addition, it's fast. The Xfce4 interface - with annoying pop-ups disabled by default - just feels speedier than almost anything else out there. The price one pays though for not having automated everything is that it's sometimes necessary to dip into the command line, though seasoned Linux geeks should hardly mind this.
Despite all the above positives, Refracta's market share is still tiny. Perhaps this is because it simply wasn't well known - indeed, I only learned of its existence a few months ago. And now it is my personal favorite distro. One thing I have learned over the past few years is that the only thing I can reliably predict about the future of Linux is that I can't predict it.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
386BSD re-released, Alpine switches to LibreSSL, Black Lab becomes a commercial distribution
Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s some developers took it upon themselves to work on the existing BSD code and port it to modern personal computers. This project took on the name 386BSD (aka Jolix) and gave people running consumer hardware the chance to run an open source UNIX-like operating system. Over time, new projects formed to grow and evolve the 386BSD code base, giving rise to the FreeBSD and NetBSD projects. These descendants of 386BSD continue to be developed and used today. The 386bsd.org website has been set up to provide access to the project's original source code and reference articles.
* * * * *
The Alpine Linux project has announced the distribution's developers are replacing the popular OpenSSL security library with the OpenBSD-backed LibreSSL library. This will result in many software packages being rebuilt and linked against the newer LibreSSL code. "We decided to replace OpenSSL with LibreSSL because we believe it is a better library. While OpenSSL is trying to fix the broken code,
LibreSSL has simply removed it. As a result (almost) everything linked to OpenSSL has been rebuilt." Further discussion on this topic can be found on the Alpine developer mailing list.
* * * * *
The Black Lab Linux project is making some important changes to the way the distribution is released. Specifically, new versions of Black Lab Linux will be commercial products when they are launched. The new releases will become available, free of cost, after 45 days. "Due to lack of funding for the Black Lab Linux Project we have decided the best way to move forward for Black Lab Linux is to provide it as a commercial only software product. Hardware and systems that come with Black Lab pre-installed will be provided by PC/OpenSystems LLC. So with that there are a few changes being made to the delivery of Black Lab Linux. Effective today net/OS is discontinued. We will honour our support contracts for net/OS and as Service Packs are released we will be rolling out to you Black Lab Enterprise Linux." Additional details and pricing can be found in the project's announcement.
* * * * *
These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Making packages for distributions
Putting-it-all-together asks: I would like to start giving back to the community and package some software. Any thoughts on where I could get started? What should I package and how? Where do I submit new packages?
DistroWatch answers: Where you start will depend on which operating system you are running and what your interests are. It probably makes sense to package software for your preferred operating system. I also recommend packaging software you either use or that touches on your interests. If you have a music player, game or utility you like that has not been packaged for your distribution yet, consider starting there.
Since different flavours of Linux (and the BSDs) use different package formats and procedures, you will need to locate documentation on how to package software for your operating system. Many of the major distributions feature detailed documentation, explaining how to get started. Fedora has a guide for making .rpm packages for Fedora, Red Hat Enterprise Linux and CentOS systems; Debian has a guide to making .deb packages for Debian, Ubuntu and related systems; the Arch Linux wiki includes a guide to making packages for Arch-based systems; and FreeBSD has a guide for porting and packaging software for FreeBSD. Other distributions may have their own guides and packaging formats. If you are looking for something that will work across multiple Linux distributions the AppImage wiki has some examples of how to create a portable AppImage package.
Earlier I suggested creating a package for software you use, but which is not included in your distribution's repositories. While that will give you a fresh start and likely be interesting to you personally, another approach would be to take over maintaining an abandoned package. The package maintainers of distributions often move on to other projects or get busy and leave behind stale packages. Debian and Fedora maintain lists of abandoned packages which could use a new maintainer. Starting with one of these might be easiest as someone else has done most of the work and the packages just need to be updated as new releases and patches become available.
As to where to submit packages, that will depend a lot on which project you wish to help. There are guides for getting involved and submitting packages for Debian, Fedora, Arch Linux and FreeBSD. I recommend reading these guides before you get started as each project has its own set of requirements concerning mentorship and submitting packages.
* * * * *
For more questions and answers, visit our Questions and Answers 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: 246
- Total data uploaded: 45.5TB
|Released Last Week
The FreeBSD project has announced a new stable release of the project's operating system. The new release, FreeBSD 11.0, drops support for the aging OpenSSH Protocol 1, adds wireless support for 802.11n, provides native graphics support for the operating system's bhyve hypervisor and an arm64 architecture port has been added. "Please note, as a result of the timing between the withdrawn FreeBSD 11.0-RELEASE images being available before the official announcement and several last-minute issues being discovered, uname(1) will display FreeBSD 11.0-RELEASE-p1, as the images were generated from a patch-level revision of the releng/11.0 branch. Users that have installed FreeBSD 11.0-RELEASE from the images originally available on the mirrors or from freebsd-update(8) prior to the rebuild of the final release are urged to upgrade their systems to FreeBSD 11.0-RELEASE-p1 immediately." The release announcement has more information on upgrading older builds of FreeBSD or obtaining fresh installation media. Detailed changes available in 11.0 can be found in the release notes.
ExTiX is a desktop oriented distribution which is based on Debian and Ubuntu. The latest version of the distribution, ExTix 16.5, features the LXQt 0.10.0 desktop environment and version 4.8 of the Linux kernel. "ExTiX 16.5 LXQt DVD 64-bit is based on Debian 8.6 Jessie/Debian 9 Stretch and upcoming Ubuntu 16.10 Yakkety Yak. The original system includes the desktop environment Unity. After removing Unity I have installed LXQt 0.10.0. LXQt is the Qt port and the upcoming version of LXDE, the Lightweight Desktop Environment. It is the product of the merge between the LXDE-Qt and the Razor-qt projects: A lightweight, modular, blazing-fast and user-friendly desktop environment..." Additional information and a list of featured software can be found in the project's release announcement for ExTiX 16.5.
ExTiX 16.5 -- Running the LXQt desktop
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Canonical has announced the release of a new version of its popular Ubuntu operating system. The latest version, Ubuntu 16.10, offers users many updated packages, a preview session of the Unity 8 desktop environment and version 4.8 of the Linux kernel. The distribution also features LibreOffice 5.2 and the update manager application now shows changelogs from enabled personal package archives (PPAs). "Network performance is a primary focus of this release, with updated versions of Data Plane Development Kit (DPDK), OpenVSwitch (OVS) and virtualization technologies, all able to handle critical application traffic for lower latency and greater throughput. Ubuntu 16.10 and the corresponding updates to Ubuntu 16.04 LTS further enhance Ubuntu’s position as the leading private cloud infrastructure operating system, with OpenStack Newton, DPDK, enhanced OpenVSwitch and LXD machine containers alongside regular KVM based VM guests. Ubuntu 16.10 previews Canonical’s device convergence vision. Unity 8 developer preview includes apps that scale from phone to desktop, from mouse to touch screen, setting a precedent for the next wave of Linux devices." Further information can be found in the distribution's release announcement and release notes.
Ubuntu MATE 16.10
Martin Wimpress has announced the launch of Ubuntu MATE 16.10. The new version of this official Ubuntu community edition offers a desktop environment and applications which have been ported to the GTK3+ toolkit, replacing GTK2+. "Ubuntu MATE 16.10 is, more or less, a re-working of Ubuntu MATE from scratch, not just to accommodate GTK3+ but to also make most of the packages shipped by default with Ubuntu MATE 'Recommended'. This means most default applications can now be uninstalled without issue. The work to port MATE Desktop to GTK3+ has been ongoing for a couple of years and Ubuntu MATE is the first major distribution to ship a full GTK3+ implementation of the MATE Desktop. And the absolute latest release too, MATE Desktop 1.16! Firefox and LibreOffice are also GTK3+ only in Yakkety. This has been no small undertaking, we've changed toolkits twice this cycle. First from GTK 2.24.x to GTK 3.18, and then again to GTK 3.20. The themes required two significant upgrades during this process. We've also upgraded through three MATE Desktop versions this cycle, starting from 1.12 to 1.14, to 1.15 and finally to 1.16. We originally planned to complete the migration to GTK3+ for the Ubuntu MATE 17.04 release, but thanks to those of you who have generously supported the Ubuntu MATE crowd-funding we've achieved that objective well ahead of schedule!" Additional information and a list of changes can be found in the project's release announcement.
The Xubuntu project has released a new version of the project's Xfce-oriented distribution. The new release, Xubuntu 16.10, shares a package base with Ubuntu 16.10 and will be supported for nine months. The new version of Xubuntu features Xfce desktop packages built with the GTK3+ toolkit, which replaces the legacy GTK2+ toolkit. "The Xubuntu team is pleased to announce the immediate release of Xubuntu 16.10. Xubuntu 16.10 is a normal release and will be supported for nine months. This release has seen little visible change since April's 16.04, however much has been done towards supplying Xubuntu with Xfce packages built with GTK3, including the porting of many plugins and Xfce Terminal to GTK3. Those GTK3 ports can, if one wishes to test them, be installed from one of the team's development PPAs." Further details about this release, along with a list of known issues, can be found in the project's release announcement and release notes.
The Kubuntu development team has announced the release of Kubuntu 16.10, the latest version of the distribution that combines the Ubuntu base system with the KDE Plasma 5 desktop: "We, the Kubuntu team, are very happy to announce that Kubuntu 16.10 is finally here. After 6 months of hard but fun work we have a bright new release for you all. We packaged some great updates from the KDE community such as: Plasma 5.7.5, Applications 16.04.3, Frameworks 5.26.0. We also have updated to version 4.8 of the Linux kernel with improvements across the board such as Microsoft Surface 3 support. Plasma 5, the next generation of KDE's desktop, has been refined to make it smoother to use while retaining the familiar setup. The 7th set of updates to Plasma 5 is the default in this version of Kubuntu. Combined with KDE Frameworks 5.26.0 the Plasma 5.7 desktop brings improved workflows, rewritten and improved task manager and system tray...." See the release announcement and the release notes for further details and screenshots.
Lubuntu 16.10 has been released. Lubuntu is a variant of Ubuntu with the lightweight LXDE as the preferred desktop. From the release announcement: "Thanks to all the hard work from our contributors, Lubuntu 16.10 has been released. With the code name Yakkety Yak, Lubuntu 16.10 is the 11th release of Lubuntu, with support until July 2017. We even have Lenny, the Lubuntu mascot, dressed up for the occasion. Lubuntu is an official Ubuntu flavor based on the Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment (LXDE) specifically targeting older machines with lower resources, but it also runs great on newer hardware. What's improved since 16.04? We now ship with Linux kernel 4.8; general bug fix release as we prepare to switch to LXQt; LXDE components have been updated with bug fixes; the artwork has received an update. Unfortunately, we could not get LXQt ready in time for 16.10, so Lubuntu 16.10 ships with LXDE." See also the release notes for further details.
Ubuntu Kylin 16.10
Ubuntu Kylin, a distribution designed primarily for the Chinese-speaking market, has been updated to version 16.10: "We are glad to announce the release of Ubuntu Kylin 16.10, code name 'Yakkety Yak'. In this release, we have fixed many internationalization and localization bugs in Ubuntu itself and bugs in software written by the Ubuntu Kylin team. Changes since 16.04: this release is based on 4.8 Linux kernel; the core applications have been updated to their latest versions - Firefox 49, Thunderbird 45.3, LibreOffice 5.2, Chromium 53, Nautilus (aka Files) 3.20; we have also released Sogou Pinyin 2.0.0.0082, it is not included in the image by default, but you can install it easily from the Ubuntu Kylin Software Center. Besides a plethora of bugs fixed in this milestone, several Ubuntu Kylin specific packages have also been updated." See the release announcement (in Chinese) and the release notes (in English) for further details, screenshots and known issues.
Ubuntu Kylin 16.10 -- Running the Unity desktop
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Ubuntu Studio 16.10
Ubuntu Studio 16.10, a brand new version from the project developing a Linux distribution targeted at musicians, video producers, graphics artists and publishers, has been released: "We are happy to announce the release of our latest version, Ubuntu Studio 16.10 'Yakkety Yak'. As a regular version, it will be supported for 9 months. Since it's just out, you may experience some issues, so you might want to wait a bit before upgrading. Changes in this release: new default Numix Blue theme; added DGEdit and DrumGizmo; replaced recordMyDesktop with vokoscreen; replaced GNOME Color Manager with dispcalGUI; added Gpick; added Calibre, PDF-Shuffler and Plume Creator; Krita has been temporarily removed from Yakkety Yak 16.10 due to build issues, but should be brought back as an updated version soon, and be installed automatically when upgrading your packages." See the release announcement and release notes for further information and a list of known issues.
Parrot Security OS 3.2
Lorenzo Faletra has announced the release of Parrot Security OS. 3.2, the latest release of the project's specialist distribution, based on Debian's "Testing" branch, featuring tools for penetration testing, computer forensics, reverse engineering, hacking, privacy and cryptography: "We have finished all the work on Parrot 3.2 and we are now proud to announce its official release. This new version comes after a long while due to some buggy packages in the Debian 'Testing' repository that we were forced to fix on our own (it's about the latest GTK+ updates that broke the MATE interface). We wanted this release to be just an improved version of the past release, but we were able to introduce some new interesting features, a new Linux 4.7 kernel, a more accurate set of pre-installed software and a more comfortable but familiar environment. We are also happy to welcome the University of Crete as a new mirror provider." Here is the brief release announcement.
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Downloading directly vs torrents
Virtually all open source operating systems provide direct downloads over the HTTP or FTP protocols. These direct links are easy to use and compatible with most web browsers and download clients. However, more and more projects are now providing torrents for their ISO files. Torrents take a lot of the strain off the download servers and give satisfied users a chance to contribute back, donating their bandwidth to helping others download open source software.
This week we would like to know, given the choice, do you prefer to download a distribution's ISO over direct HTTP/FTP links or using a torrent?
You can see the results of our previous poll on people working in IT fields here. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
Downloading directly vs torrents
|I download directly using HTTP/FTP: ||768 (35%)|
| I download using torrents: ||587 (27%)|
| I happily use either: ||807 (37%)|
| I purchase installation media: ||6 (0%)|
| I get install media another way: ||5 (0%)|
New distributions added to database
Linux Kodachi is a Debian-based distribution which can be run from a DVD or USB thumb drive. The distribution filters all network traffic through a VPN and the Tor network, obscuring the user's network location. The distribution attempts to clean up after itself, removing traces of its use from the computer.
Linux Kodachi 3.3 -- Running the Xfce desktop environment
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* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 24 October 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)
If you've enjoyed this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly, please consider sending us a tip.
(Tips this week: 2, value: US$11.00)
|Linux Foundation Training
|• Issue 751 (2018-02-19): DietPi 6.1, testing KDE's Plasma Mobile, Nitrux packages AppImage in default install, Solus experiments with Wayland|
|• Issue 750 (2018-02-12): Solus 3, getting Deb packages upstream to Debian, NetBSD security update, elementary OS explores AppCentre changes|
|• Issue 749 (2018-02-05): Freespire 3 and Linspire 7.0, misunderstandings about Wayland, Xorg and Mir, Korora slows release schedule, Red Hat purchases CoreOS|
|• Issue 748 (2018-01-29): siduction 2018.1.0, SolydXK 32-bit editions, building an Ubuntu robot, desktop-friendly Debian options|
|• Issue 747 (2018-01-22): Ubuntu MATE 17.10, recovering open files, creating a new distribution, KDE focusing on Wayland features|
|• Issue 746 (2018-01-15): deepin 15.5, openSUSE's YaST improvements, new Ubuntu 17.10 media, details on Spectre and Meltdown bugs|
|• Issue 745 (2018-01-08): GhostBSD 11.1, Linspire and Freespire return, wide-spread CPU bugs patched, adding AppImage launchers to the application menu|
|• Issue 744 (2018-01-01): MX Linux 17, Ubuntu pulls media over BIOS bug, PureOS gets endorsed by the FSF, openSUSE plays with kernel boot splash screens|
|• Issue 743 (2017-12-18): Daphile 17.09, tools for rescuing files, Fedora Modular Server delayed, Sparky adds ARM support, Slax to better support wireless networking|
|• Issue 742 (2017-12-11): heads 0.3.1, improvements coming to Tails, Void tutorials, Ubuntu phasing out Python 2, manipulating images from the command line|
|• Issue 741 (2017-12-04): Pop!_OS 17.10, openSUSE Tumbleweed snapshots, installing Q4OS on a Windows partition, using the at command|
|• Issue 740 (2017-11-27): Artix Linux, Unity spin of Ubuntu, Nitrux swaps Snaps for AppImage, getting better battery life on Linux|
|• Issue 739 (2017-11-20): Fedora 27, cross-distro software ports, Ubuntu on Samsung phones, Red Hat supports ARM, Parabola continues 32-bit support|
|• Issue 738 (2017-11-13): SparkyLinux 5.1, rumours about spyware, Slax considers init software, Arch drops 32-bit packages, overview of LineageOS|
|• Issue 737 (2017-11-06): BeeFree OS 18.1.2, quick tips to fix common problems, Slax returning, Solus plans MATE and software management improvements|
|• Issue 736 (2017-10-30): Ubuntu 17.10, "what if" security questions, Linux Mint to support Flatpak, NetBSD kernel memory protection|
|• Issue 735 (2017-10-23): ArchLabs Minimo, building software with Ravenports, WPA security patch, Parabola creates OpenRC spin|
|• Issue 734 (2017-10-16): Star 1.0.1, running the Linux-libre kernel, Ubuntu MATE experiments with snaps, Debian releases new install media, Purism reaches funding goal|
|• Issue 733 (2017-10-09): KaOS 2017.09, 32-bit prematurely obsoleted, Qubes security features, IPFire updates Apache|
|• Issue 732 (2017-10-02): ClonOS, reducing Snap package size, Ubuntu dropping 32-bit Desktop, partitioning disks for ZFS|
|• Issue 731 (2017-09-25): BackSlash Linux Olaf, W3C adding DRM to web standards, Wayland support arrives in Mir, Debian experimenting with AppArmor|
|• Issue 730 (2017-09-18): Mageia 6, running a completely free OS, HAMMER2 file system in DragonFly BSD's installer, Manjaro to ship pre-installed on laptops|
|• Issue 729 (2017-09-11): Parabola GNU/Linux-libre, running Plex Media Server on a Raspberry Pi, Tails feature roadmap, a cross-platform ports build system|
|• Issue 728 (2017-09-04): Nitrux 1.0.2, SUSE creates new community repository, remote desktop tools for GNOME on Wayland, using Void source packages|
|• Issue 727 (2017-08-28): Cucumber Linux 1.0, using Flatpak vs Snap, GNOME previews Settings panel, SUSE reaffirms commitment to Btrfs|
|• Issue 726 (2017-08-21): Redcore Linux 1706, Solus adds Snap support, KaOS getting hardened kernel, rolling releases and BSD|
|• Issue 725 (2017-08-14): openSUSE 42.3, Debian considers Flatpak for backports, changes coming to Ubuntu 17.10, the state of gaming on Linux|
|• Issue 724 (2017-08-07): SwagArch 2017.06, Myths about Unity, Mir and Ubuntu Touch, Manjaro OpenRC becomes its own distro, Debian debates future of live ISOs|
|• Issue 723 (2017-07-31): UBOS 11, transferring packages between systems, Ubuntu MATE's HUD, GNUstep releases first update in seven years|
|• Issue 722 (2017-07-24): Calculate Linux 17.6, logging sudo usage, Remix OS discontinued, interview with Chris Lamb, Debian 9.1 released|
|• Issue 721 (2017-07-17): Fedora 26, finding source based distributions, installing DragonFly BSD using Orca, Yunit packages ported to Ubuntu 16.04|
|• Issue 720 (2017-07-10): Peppermint OS 8, gathering system information with osquery, new features coming to openSUSE, Tails fixes networking bug|
|• Issue 719 (2017-07-03): Manjaro 17.0.2, tracking ISO files, Ubuntu MATE unveils new features, Qubes tests Admin API, Fedora's Atomic Host gets new life cycle|
|• Issue 718 (2017-06-26): Debian 9, support for older hardware, Debian updates live media, Ubuntu's new networking tool, openSUSE gains MP3 support|
|• Issue 717 (2017-06-19): SharkLinux, combining commands in the shell, Debian 9 flavours released, OpenBSD improving kernel security, UBports releases first OTA update|
|• Issue 716 (2017-06-12): Slackel 7.0, Ubuntu working with GNOME on HiDPI, openSUSE 42.3 using rolling development model, exploring kernel blobs|
|• Issue 715 (2017-06-05): Devuan 1.0.0, answering questions on systemd, Linux Mint plans 18.2 beta, Yunit/Unity 8 ported to Debian|
|• Issue 714 (2017-05-29): Void, enabling Wake-on-LAN, Solus packages KDE, Debian 9 release date, Ubuntu automated bug reports|
|• Issue 713 (2017-05-22): ROSA Fresh R9, Fedora's new networking features, FreeBSD's Quarterly Report, UBports opens app store, Parsix to shut down, SELinux overview|
|• Issue 712 (2017-05-15): NixOS 17.03, Alpha Litebook running elementary OS, Canonical considers going public, Solus improves Bluetooth support|
|• Issue 711 (2017-05-08): 4MLinux 21.0, checking file system fragmentation, new Mint and Haiku features, pfSense roadmap, OpenBSD offers first syspatch updates|
|• Issue 710 (2017-05-01): TrueOS 2017-02-22, Debian ported to RISC-V, Halium to unify mobile GNU/Linux, Anbox runs Android apps on GNU/Linux, using ZFS on the root file system|
|• Issue 709 (2017-04-24): Ubuntu 17.04, Korora testing new software manager, Ubuntu migrates to Wayland, running Nix package manager on alternative distributions|
|• Issue 708 (2017-04-17): Maui Linux 17.03, Snaps run on Fedora, Void adopts Flatpak, running Android apps on GNU/Linux, Debian elects Project Leader|
|• Issue 707 (2017-04-10): PCLinuxOS 2017.03, Canonical stops Unity development, OpenBSD on a Raspberry Pi, setting up a VPN for privacy|
|• Issue 706 (2017-04-03): Super Grub2 Disk, Snap packages of deepin applications, Subgraph OS routes network traffic for one application, announcements from Linux Mint|
|• Issue 705 (2017-03-27): Minimal Linux Live, sharing control of the operating system, new KaOS features, Uplos32 provides 32-bit fork of PCLinuxOS|
|• Issue 704 (2017-03-20): ToarusOS 1.0.4, Linux Mint's security record, Debian starts Project Leader election, Ubuntu 12.04 reaches end-of-life|
|• Issue 703 (2017-03-13): SolydXK 201701, CloudReady, Solus announces new features, KDE Connect sends text messages from desktop, openSUSE's YaST module for Let's Encrypt|
|• Issue 702 (2017-03-06): Fatdog64 Linux, elementary OS bundled with new netbook, Haiku announces new features, security and the size of a distro's development team|
|• Issue 701 (2017-02-27): OBRevenge 2017.02, Mageia 6 delays, NetBSD reproducible builds, questions about swap space, trying to steam video on a Raspberry Pi|
|• Issue 700 (2017-02-20): RaspBSD, Debian replaces Icedove with Thunderbird, Fedora's licensing guidlines, tips for switching shells, finding battery charge, getting IP address and killing processes|
|• Full list of all issues|
|Random Distribution |
Runtu is a Russian desktop Linux distribution based on Ubuntu's LTS (long-ter support) releases. It features full support for Russian and a variety of extra applications, tools and media codecs. There are two separate editions that are produced with a varying degree of frequency; the "Xfce" edition tend to get more attention while the "Lite" edition, featuring the LXDE desktop, is also released and updated from time to time.