| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 686, 7 November 2016
Welcome to this year's 45th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
Last month we saw the launch of a new version of FreeBSD. While FreeBSD is often viewed as a server operating system and tends to perform well in that role, many of the features FreeBSD offers are also appealing to desktop users. This week we begin with a look at FreeBSD 11.0, some of the features the operating system provides through ZFS and how to get a desktop environment running on FreeBSD. In our News section we talk about the architectures the upcoming release of Debian 9 will support, Xubuntu's new status tracker, Simplicity Linux's new base and support options available for pfSense users. We also say farewell to the Mythbuntu project. Plus we continue our second rolling release trial, exploring the second week with four rolling release operating systems. In our Torrent Corner we share the torrents we are seeding and then supply a list of new releases from last week. In our Opinion Poll we talk about searching for applications and we are pleased to welcome the MX Linux distribution to our database. We wish you all a terrific week and happy reading!
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (30MB) and MP3 (41MB) formats
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
FreeBSD is a general purpose operating system which tends to get a lot of use on servers. FreeBSD has a well-earned reputation for stability and for making incremental updates rather than large, compatibility-breaking leaps. The latest release of FreeBSD is version 11.0. The new release features boot environments and support for guided installations on UFS and ZFS volumes. The project's updated system installer offers administrators a number of significant security features, including temporarily file clean-up, memory protections, PID randomization and hidden user processes.
FreeBSD 11.0 is available for several architectures, including ARM and both 32-bit and 64-bit x86 processors. In some cases we also have a choice of download sizes. For example, we can download CD-sized ISO files or larger ISO files that can be copied to a DVD or USB thumb drive. I decided to download the CD-sized (654MB) ISO for 64-bit x86 machines. I also downloaded the USB stick edition which was about 700MB in size.
Booting from the project's installation media brings up a text console where we are presented with a series of menus. The first menu gives us the choice of launching the project's system installer or dropping to a command line. FreeBSD's installer shows us a series of text menus and walks us through selecting our keyboard layout and setting a hostname. We are asked if we would like to enable optional system components like debugging information, documentation, third-party ports, system source code and 32-bit compatibility. I decided to start by installing documentation, ports and 32-bit libraries. Next we are brought to the partitioning section. We can choose to drop to a command line, manually divide up our disk with a series of menu screens or take one of two guided options. The installer supports guided UFS and ZFS configurations. UFS is FreeBSD's traditional file system which is relatively lightweight while ZFS offers more features such as file system snapshots, software RAID and disk mirroring. I took the guided ZFS option. I was then given the chance to set the size of my swap partition, set up RAID or mirrors and name my ZFS storage. The installer supports working with either MBR or GPT disk layouts.
The installer then copies the FreeBSD operating system to our hard disk and proceeds to walk us through additional configuration steps. We are asked to create a password for the root account, configure our network card and select our time zone from a list. We can also enable background services like network time synchronization, kernel dumps and the OpenSSH secure shell server. We can also enable security options such as hiding processes from other users, randomizing PIDs and disabling the mail service. We can then add additional user accounts to the system. The installer concludes by offering us a chance to go back and change our setting options or download the FreeBSD Handbook. With the install completed, we can reboot the computer to start using our new copy of FreeBSD 11.0.
I tried running FreeBSD 11.0 in two test environments, on a desktop computer and inside a VirtualBox virtual machine. FreeBSD worked fairly well as a VirtualBox guest. The system was quick to boot and ran smoothly. I did run into problems with my screen resolution which I will discuss later, but otherwise FreeBSD performed well in the virtual environment. The operating system did not work well with my desktop hardware. The installation media refused to boot at all when the desktop was in legacy BIOS mode. When I switched over to UEFI mode, the FreeBSD menu would show me a boot menu and then begin the boot process, but the operating system locked up while detecting hardware and failed to finish booting.
Booting the system begins by showing us the FreeBSD boot menu, which I will come back to later. The operating system then boots to a text console and presents us with a login prompt. We start off with a fairly minimal command line interface. We have access to the classic UNIX command line tools and manual pages. The system is quite light and fast, using around 100MB of memory when sitting at the command line. Later, when I had a desktop environment up and running, I found the operating system (with ZFS support and the Lumina desktop running) used about 430MB of RAM.
FreeBSD provides users with two methods of package management. The first, and probably most convenient for most users, is the pkg command line package manager. The pkg software manager offers a simple syntax for finding, installing, removing and upgrading applications. pkg has a syntax which is similar in style to APT on Debian and DNF on Fedora and works quickly. I found pkg worked well for me and I encountered no errors while using it. Alternatively, we can use FreeBSD's ports system to install third-party software. The ports collection provides recipes for installing and removing libraries and applications on FreeBSD. Since using ports means software is complied from its source code on our system, using ports takes a good deal more time than using pkg, but it also means we can customize out software a little and tweak options. FreeBSD has a robust collection of ports and package, with a little over 26,000 items available in the project's repositories.
FreeBSD keeps the core operating system logically separate from third-party packages. This means packages are generally located in different directories from the rest of the operating system and it means there are separate tools for upgrading and patching the operating system. To keep the core system up to date we use a tool called freebsd-update. I tried running the freebsd-update tool to check for new security updates, but ran into errors. Specifically, checking for updates would return the message, "Cannot identify running kernel". I also found the utility for checking the current version of the operating system, freebsd-version, would report it could not identify the running kernel. This seemed all the more strange because the uname command does correctly identify the running kernel.
One of the first things I wanted to do with FreeBSD was set up a desktop environment and a few applications. This required I install the Xorg packages and a preferred desktop. I decided to install Lumina, a fairly lightweight, Qt-based desktop. The Xorg software, Lumina and login manager (xdm) packages, when combined, made for a 960MB download. The FreeBSD Handbook has directions which explain which software needs to be installed and how to configure the services. I enabled the xdm display manager and made sure HAL and D-Bus were enabled as these are not set up for us automatically when the packages are installed. While I did get all the pieces in place, I ran into a few problems. For example, I could not sign into a desktop environment from the graphical login screen when the system booted and no error message was displayed. On the other hand, my user account was able to sign into the Lumina desktop environment by running startx from the command line.
FreeBSD 11.0 -- Running the Lumina desktop
(full image size: 696kB, resolution: 1024x768 pixels)
Once I got signed into the desktop environment and started added applications, I found my screen resolution was limited in the VirtualBox environment. The FreeBSD wiki has instructions for adding VirtualBox modules and improving display resolution. I tried the steps outlined in the wiki, but was unable to improve display resolution above 1024x768 pixels.
When I last experimented with FreeBSD 10.3, one of the features which held a lot of promise was boot environments. A boot environment uses file system snapshots to save the state of the operating system. We can then roll back the operating system to an earlier point in time. TrueOS and openSUSE both enable boot environments by default and it means if any package update or configuration change breaks the system, we can reboot to revert the change. FreeBSD 10.3 introduced boot environments and they worked while the system was running, but it was not possible to select alternative boot environments from the operating system's boot menu. This greatly reduced the effectiveness of boot environments as a rescue tool.
FreeBSD 11.0, when installed on a ZFS storage pool, should support boot environments, but I ran into a number of issues while trying to use them. The first thing the user needs to do is install the boot environment admin tool, beadm. Once beadm has been installed from the FreeBSD package repositories, we can try to create snapshots of our operating system. At first I was unable to get beadm to work. When attempting to create new snapshots beadm returned errors and reported there was no entropy file present.
A little poking around revealed that the /boot directory was just a symbolic link to a location which did not exist. I set up the missing /boot directory and was then able to create boot environments. However, then I ran into a few other problems. At start-up time, I was unable to select alternative boot environments from the boot menu as no snapshots were listed in the boot menu. Once the operating system was up and running, I was able to use beadm to set a specific snapshot to use the next time the system was restarted. Unfortunately, selecting any but the default boot environment would cause the system to fail to boot properly. FreeBSD could not connect to the network when booting alternative snapshots and failed to reach the login prompt. The only way I could find to restore the system to a working state was to boot in rescue mode and switch the active boot environment back to the default option.
Earlier I mentioned there was no /boot directory on my system when I started using it and this appeared to be related to a variety of other issues. The lack of /boot directory meant there was no /boot/loader.conf file, which meant early on I was unable to set certain system parameters, at least until I had manually created the /boot directory. I also ran into warnings when the system was starting that no entropy file was present and data could not be written to the /dev/random file, which I suspect meant my system was not safely generating random numbers. As I mentioned earlier, tools such as freebsd-update and freebsd-version were unable to detect my kernel version and I suspect this was related to the missing /boot directory. Though even after this directory had been created, these two programs still failed to work.
FreeBSD 11.0 -- Hiding other users' processes
(full image size: 718kB, resolution: 1024x768 pixels)
There were definitely some attractive features in FreeBSD 11.0. I especially enjoyed the changes to the system installer. The ability to set up UFS and ZFS through a series of guided steps was a welcome feature. I also really appreciate that the installer will allow us to enable certain security features like PID randomization and hiding the processes of other users. Linux distributions allow the administrator to set these options, but they often require digging through documentation and setting cryptic variables from the command line. FreeBSD makes enabling these features as straight forward as checking a box during the initial installation.
I also like how pkg has progressed. I think it has become faster in the past year or two and handled dependencies better than it did when the new package manager was introduced. In addition, FreeBSD's documentation is as good as ever, though I feel it has become more scattered. There were times I would find what I wanted in the Handbook, but other times I had to switch to the wiki or dig through a man page. The information is out there, but it can take some searching to find.
Other aspects of running FreeBSD were more disappointing. For example, I had hoped to find boot environments working and accessible from the boot menu. However, progress seems to have reversed in this area as switching boot environments prevented the system from loading. There were some other issues, for example I was unable to login from the graphical login screen, but I could access the Lumina desktop by signing into my account from the command line and launching an X session.
Hardware was a weak point in my experiment. FreeBSD did not work on my desktop machine at all in BIOS mode and failed to boot from installation media in UEFI mode. When running in a VirtualBox environment, the operating system did much better. FreeBSD was able to boot, play sound and run smoothly, but screen resolution was limited, even after VirtualBox modules had been installed and enabled.
Perhaps my biggest concern though while using FreeBSD 11.0 was that I could not update the base operating system, meaning it would be difficult to keep the system patched against security updates. Even once I had manually created a /boot directory to fix the boot environment creation issue, freebsd-update and freebsd-version continued to fail to detect the running kernel. This leaves the system vulnerable and means our best chance for keeping up with security updates is to manually install them from source code, not an ideal situation.
All in all, FreeBSD 11.0 does have some interesting new features, but it also has several bugs which make me want to hold off on using the operating system until a point release has been made available to fix the existing issues.
* * * * *
Hardware used in this review
My physical test equipment for this review was a desktop HP Pavilon p6 Series with the following specifications:
- Processor: Dual-core 2.8GHz AMD A4-3420 APU
- Storage: 500GB Hitachi hard drive
- Memory: 6GB of RAM
- Networking: Realtek RTL8111 wired network card
- Display: AMD Radeon HD 6410D video card
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
Debian plans supported architectures, Xubuntu launches new status tracker, Simplicity switching to antiX base, support for pfSense, farewell to Mythbuntu
Jonathan Wiltshire has announced which CPU architectures will be supported in the upcoming release of Debian 9 (code name Stretch). The future release will run on ten architectures, down one from the eleven previously supported. The PowerPC family of processors is being dropped for Debian 9. "The only change from Jessie is the removal of PowerPC as a release architecture. We discussed this at length, and eventually took the view that the least disservice to users of that port is to provide reasonable notice of its discontinuation. We recognize and acknowledge that discontinuing any port is unavoidably disruptive." The list of supported architectures can be found in Wiltshire's e-mail.
* * * * *
The Xubuntu project began November by unveiling a new status tracker website. The new status and issue tracker gives the project and its fans a chance to see what tasks are being worked on and the progress made so far. "Until 2015, the Xubuntu team had been using the common status tracker for Ubuntu teams. For a reason or another, it suddenly stopped working as tracking data from Launchpad didn't make it into the tracker database. That was unfortunate, but on the other hand, it helped the team make an important decision which had been floating around for quite some time already; we need our own status tracker that is ideally better than the common one used this far. Today, we want to present you the Xubuntu status tracker. For the impatient, head down to dev.xubuntu.org to see what it looks like." The tracker provides multiple views of ongoing tasks, including a general overview for the upcoming version of the Xubuntu distribution and a more detailed view with specific, ongoing tasks.
* * * * *
The Simplicity Linux distribution has previously based its releases on Puppy Linux. However, the Simplicity team is exploring an alternative and it looks as though the next release of Simplicity will be based on the antiX distribution. In a post on the project's website a message was displayed which read: "We've moved from Puppy Linux to antiX since releasing X 16.07 which was based on antiX as well. We've done this because we think that basing Simplicity Linux on a lightweight Debian base will allow us to produce a better distro." The "X" flavour referenced is Simplicity's experimental edition, which had moved to antiX ahead of the Desktop and Mini editions. With the upcoming release of Simplicity Linux 16.10 it is expected all three editions will use antiX as a base for the lightweight distribution.
* * * * *
People who wish to have around-the-clock support for their open source firewalls have a new option available to them. The pfSense project announced that Netgate has started offering 24x7 support for their pfSense customers. "Netgate, the leading provider of open source security solutions and the host of the pfSense open source firewall project, is proud to announce the availability of professional 24x7 support for pfSense software. Our new extended support hours are available to all customers who have active pfSense software support incidents on their account. Support incidents are available both for pfSense hardware purchased from Netgate and for customers who have installed pfSense CE on their own hardware." Details of the arrangement can be found on the pfSense blog.
* * * * *
Fans of Mythbuntu, an Ubuntu-based distribution for setting up MythTV systems, will be disappointed to learn the project's developers have decided to discontinue the distribution. In the team's farewell message they report that the number of developers working on Mythbuntu has dwindled from ten down to two. While Mythbuntu will no longer be developed, MythTV users will be able to continue using the packages the team provided on other Ubuntu-based distributions. "MythTV will continue to be available from the repositories just like any other package. For users wanting to install new installations, there will no longer be an ISO, the mythbuntu-desktop package, nor the Mythbuntu-Control-Centre. We recommend installing a slim distro (perhaps Xubuntu), add the Mythbuntu repos, and install and configure MythTV from there. For users looking for up to date versions of MythTV, we will continue to provide these updates through our PPA."
* * * * *
These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Rolling release trial #2 (by Jesse Smith)
Rolling release trial #2: Week two
My trial with rolling release distributions, which I began last week, continued this week with relatively few changes. What follows are the observations I made while updating and testing the new packages available to these rolling release projects.
The Arch Linux distribution performed well this week. After getting off to a rough start last week, the distribution probably offered the best experience of the four this time around. There was a fairly sizable update, but Arch's Pacman package manager handled the updates quickly and I encountered no problems. Likewise, Sabayon's new upgrades were applied cleanly and I encountered no problems with the Gentoo-based distribution.
The openSUSE Tumbleweed distribution received the largest collection of updates this week, pulling in 349 new packages (354MB). These updates applied cleanly and introduced no problems. I did find openSUSE continued to boot slowly and offer poor performance this week. The system crawls when running openSUSE while the other three distributions tend to offer a responsive desktop environment.
TrueOS was the odd project out this week, offering no new package upgrades at the time of writing. I did run into an unusual problem though this week that I did not the previous week. Specifically, the top panel on the Lumina desktop disappeared and I was unable to restore it. Trying to add a new panel through the settings manager yielded no new visible panel. I also found I was unable to logout through the desktop's context menu and I had to resort to rebooting the system from a virtual terminal. Once the system had rebooted, the top panel in Lumina was restored and the context menu resumed working as expected.
* * * * *
||Bandwidth required (MB)
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: 253
- Total data uploaded: 46.1TB
|Released Last Week
Linux Lite 3.2
Jerry Bezencon has announced the release of a new version of Linux Lite. Linux Lite is based on the Ubuntu 16.04 distribution and strives to provide a light, fast and user friendly desktop operating system. The latest release, Linux Lite 3.2, features several package updates as well as improvements to the look and contrast of several components. "Linux Lite 3.2 Final is now available for download. The overall theme of this release is a focus on security. Linux Lite will now download and install the latest Linux kernel security updates when they become available via Install Updates. In this release we introduce for the first time the Lite Desktop Widget. This features basic system information as well as updates status to emphasize the importance of keeping your computer up to date. Also in this release we've included several theme enhancements, lots of updates to our Lite packages, as well as the usual fixes from the 3.2 Beta." Additional information and screen shots can be found in the project's release announcement.
Nanni Bassetti has announced the release of CAINE 8.0. The CAINE distribution provides a live, Ubuntu-based disc which can be used for digital forensics and data recovery. The new 8.0 release offers UEFI and Secure Boot support. "Based on Ubuntu 16.04 64-bit - UEFI/secure Boot ready! CAINE 8.0 can boot on UEFI/UEFI+Secure Boot/Legacy BIOS/BIOS. SystemBack is the installer. The important news is CAINE 8.0 blocks all the block devices (e.g. /dev/sda), in read-only mode. You can use a tool with a GUI named BlockON/OFF present on CAINE's Desktop. This new write-blocking method assures all disks are really preserved from accidentally writing operations, because they are locked in read-only mode. If you need to write a disk, you can unlock it with BlockOn/Off or using "Mounter" changing the policy in writable mode." Further information on CAINE 8.0 can be found on the project's home page with a list of provided software available on the project's News page.
Manjaro Linux 16.10
Philip Müller has announced the release of a new snapshot of the Manjaro Linux distribution. Manjaro is a rolling release distribution which strives to be user friendly and provides a wide range of desktop spins. The new release, Manjaro Linux 16.10, offers mostly package upgrades, including systemd 231 and the Plasma 5.8 desktop environment. "We have now Plasma 5.8.2, Firefox 49.0, Nvidia 370.28, LibreOffice 5.1.6, Systemd 231, Octopi 0.8.5 and Pamac 4.1.5 added to these install medias. Calamares 2.4.3 has following highlights: fixed user creation so it obeys the list of default groups for new users; added Deepin support to the display manager module; fixed an issue which could cause a failed install with LUKS if other LUKS partitions are already present; improved system requirements configuration checking; fixed case-insensitive path handling when installing GRUB on VFAT file systems; fixed an issue which could cause a failed; install when resolv.conf is a broken symlink in the target rootfs; added support for disabling LUKS-related UI elements." Additional information and screenshots of Manjaro linux 16.10 can be found in the project's release announcement.
Manjaro Linux 16.10 -- Running the Xfce desktop
(full image size: 143kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
Josh Curl has announced the release of RancherOS 0.7.0, the latest stable version of the project's minimalist Linux distribution designed for running Docker containers: "Version 0.7.0 of RancherOS, which mainly contains bug fixes and enhancements, was recently released and is now available on our releases page. Since there hasn't been a blog post since the v0.5.0 release, this post also includes some of the key features implemented as part of v0.6.0 and v0.6.1. In addition to switching the default Docker version to 1.12.1 and kernel version to 4.4.21, the following features have been implemented. Better support for switching docker engines. It has always been part of the design of RancherOS to run two instances of Docker. The first is System Docker, which runs as PID 1 and is responsible for managing system services. The other, which we typically call User Docker or just Docker, is actually run as a container managed by System Docker. Starting with v0.6.0, the process for changing the User Docker container has been made much easier." Read the rest of the release announcement for a detailed description of all new features.
Alexander Pyhalov has announced the release of OpenIndiana 2016.10, an updated version of the UNIX operating system which evolved from the abandoned OpenSolaris project. The most notable changes are the switch from GNOME to MATE for the "GUI" edition, move from GRUB to the FreeBSD bootloader, and no more support for i386 architecture. From the release notes: "Hipster 2016.10 is here. This time we provide three types of pre-built images - GUI images with MATE, traditional server install images and minimal images which we stripped down to be small yet useful. The most notable change for users is migration to FreeBSD Loader. After installing new bits, upon the next beadm activate, the new loader will be installed instead of GRUB. This improvement allowed us to modify the text installer so that it can newly install the operating system on RAIDZ/mirror ZFS pools. Intel KMS (based on Oracle's version) was ported to OpenIndiana by Martin Bochnig. Current implementation has some rough edges and supports only 6th and 7th generation of Intel video adapters, but is clearly a giant step forward for desktop users."
The 4MLinux project has announced the availability of a new release. The new version, 4MLinux 20.0, supports booting in a range of environments and the distribution now works with both legacy BIOS and modern UEFI-enabled computers. The new release also features several package upgrades: "The status of the 4MLinux 20.0 series has been changed to STABLE. Create your documents with LibreOffice 188.8.131.52 and GIMP 2.8.18, share them using DropBox 12.4.22, surf the Internet with Firefox 49.0.2 and Chromium 53.0.2785.143, stay in touch with your friends via Skype 184.108.40.206 and Thunderbird 45.4.0, enjoy your music collection with Audacious 3.8 and aTunes 3.1.2, watch your favorite videos with MPlayer SVN-r37881 and VLC 2.2.4, play games with Mesa 12.0.1/Wine 1.9.20 support enabled. You can also setup the 4MLinux LAMP Server (Linux 4.4.27, Apache 2.4.23, MariaDB 10.1.18, and PHP 5.6.27). Perl 5.24.0 and Python 2.7.12 are also available." Further details can be found in the project's release announcement.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.3
Red Hat has announced the availability of a new upgrade to the company's Enterprise Linux line of products. The new release, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.3, is an update to the 7.x series and addresses known bugs and errata. "The general availability of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.3 coincides with updates to several specialized Red Hat Enterprise Linux offerings. These include: Red Hat Enterprise Linux Atomic Host 7.3, the latest version of Red Hat's container workload-optimized host platform, is also now available with most Red Hat Enterprise Linux subscriptions. Red Hat Enterprise Linux for SAP Applications, a variant optimized for running SAP environments, is now supported on IBM z Systems and IBM Power, big endian. Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server for ARM 7.3 Development Preview, a version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux designed for 64-bit ARM-based systems, has been updated to include: Single host virtualization based on KVM, one of the leading open source virtualization technologies. Red Hat Ceph Storage for prototyping and deploying scale-out, software-defined storage for object, block, and file. Initial support for Red Hat Developer Toolset, which provides C and C++ developers with the latest stable open source tools to create, diagnose, and debug applications for 64-bit ARM platforms." Further information on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.3 can be found in the company's release announcement and in the release notes.
GeckoLinux 999.161031.0 "Rolling"
The GeckoLinux project has announced the release of new snapshots of the distribution's rolling release branch. The GeckoLinux distribution is based on openSUSE and is available in eight editions. "Hi everyone, I'm pleased to announce updated releases of all eight (8) spins of the GeckoLinux Rolling editions. The GeckoLinux Rolling editions are live installable images based on openSUSE Tumbleweed with its frequent and extremely well tested stable rolling releases, combined with Packman driver and multimedia support. After installation, GeckoLinux Rolling systems can be easily updated in sync with the current release of openSUSE Tumbleweed. These GeckoLinux Rolling 999.161031 spins have been a long time in coming, as a huge number of Tumbleweed changes have occurred in the interim. But finally some minor bugs have been solved upstream, and numerous GeckoLinux tweaks have been implemented where necessary." Further information can be found in the project's release announcement.
GeckoLinux 999.161031.0 "Rolling" -- Running the Cinnamon desktop
(full image size: 809kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Searching vs browsing application menus
More and more of our computing experience involves searching for things rather than knowing where they are. Most of us do not memorize long lists of URLs for websites, remember the exact date an e-mail was sent or know the specific path of an executable file. These items are almost always indexed for us and made available through a search function.
In recent years, the search box has become more common in application menus. Cinnamon, GNOME, Unity and some versions of the Plasma application menu, among others, feature a search box to help users find the applications they want to launch. Some people find this search box useful while others prefer to browse through grids (or menu trees) to locate application launchers. This week we would like to know if you find it more convenient to browse for an application launcher or type a keyword to bring up the desired application.
You can see the results of our previous poll on window managers here. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
Searching vs browsing application menus
|I prefer to type searches: ||358 (19%)|
| I prefer to browse a menu tree: ||642 (35%)|
| I prefer to browse a flat grid of icons: ||82 (4%)|
| I use both searches and browse: ||734 (40%)|
| Other: ||35 (2%)|
New distributions added to database
MX Linux, a desktop-oriented Linux distribution based on Debian's "stable" branch, is a cooperative venture between the antiX and former MEPIS Linux communities. Using Xfce as the default desktop, it is a mid-weight operating system designed to combine an elegant and efficient desktop with simple configuration, high stability, solid performance and medium-sized footprint.
MX Linux 16 Beta 1 -- Running the Xfce desktop
(full image size: 1.1MB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
* * * * *
Distributions added to waiting list
- OBRevenge OS. OBRevenge is a lightweight distribution based on Arch Linux.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
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This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 14 November 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: 1, value: US$10.00)
|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 |
Freepia was small GNU/Linux distribution designed to run on VIA EPIA-M mainboards. It currently only runs on the M-9000 and M-10000 (ezra and nehemia CPU) but with some modifications like kernel and X11 modules it should run on others too. The main goal of this project was to build a full-featured, low-noise media box to play movies, MP3s, images, etc. It uses freevo as its media viewer, but in the future there may be support for others, like mythtv or vdr.