| 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.
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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.
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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."
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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.
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||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 220.127.116.11 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 18.104.22.168 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)
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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)
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Distributions added to waiting list
- OBRevenge OS. OBRevenge is a lightweight distribution based on Arch 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, 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)
|Linux Foundation Training
|Reader Comments • Jump to last comment
1 • Opinion poll (by DaveW on 2016-11-07 01:06:19 GMT from United States) |
I selected other because I use a different methods. My most used apps are in a dock, just click and go. For other programs, I browse the application menu. I never use search, because if its not one of my favorite programs, I generally wouldn't know what to type anyway.
2 • search v. browse (by linuxista on 2016-11-07 01:13:32 GMT from United States)
Searching for apps has become an essential feature for me. Even if I'm using openbox or i3, I still use dmenu primarily. So much faster and easier, I have a hard time imagining going back to a menu tree.
3 • Poll Question (by cykodrone on 2016-11-07 01:17:22 GMT from Canada)
Like all good trained rats, my MS brainwashing is still alive and well..."menu tree". I'm proof that people can get 'conditioned' and stuck in their ways. Even the icons on my desktop are still in the same locations from 1998, how sad is that? FYI, I've been completely MS free since 2010.
4 • Menu designers (by Greg Zeng on 2016-11-07 01:20:03 GMT from Australia)
Glad that menu designers have some metrics, on what to offer us.
1) type searches: 7 (19%)
2) menu tree: 18 (50%)
3) flat grid of icons: 0 (0%)
4) all of the above: 11 (31%)
5) Other: 0 (0%)
The leading menu creators (Amazon, eBay, YouTube) know what works best; All of these choices, simultaneously, plus intelli-search.
Initially (4) was my choice. However the major missing category is: the intelli-search.
Intelligent-search "remembers" the users' preferences. My IP shows my nation, currency, language, metrics, etc. My user-name remembers my last use, my preferences, my indexes.
Using my preferred Web-browser (Slimjet on Linux & Windows), I just enter the first letter. "d" will automatically show this url (distrowatch.com). "f" will autoshow "freewarefiles.com". "fi" will modify my choice to "fileforum.betanews.com".
5 • Poll (by Martin on 2016-11-07 01:37:55 GMT from Czech Republic)
I use keyboard shortcuts to launch most applications. Searching using rofi is there for the rest.
6 • Search (by argent on 2016-11-07 04:32:37 GMT from United States)
Will use whatever is quickest and depending on which Wm, find some tiling Wm's to be better than others, use dmenu with most.
Very anti-icon, just don't like the distraction and clutter. Some people even use them in Openbox, Fluxbox menus and find that very distracting. But easy to remedy that if I choose to keep a distro installed.
Use tint2 on Openbox and Fluxbox, but without icons or clock. No conky as well.
7 • poll (by mes on 2016-11-07 08:26:21 GMT from Netherlands)
No icons on the desktop.
I use Cairo dock for the applications that I frequently use.
A few applications are favorites in the menu (kde5) so easy to find.
Other applications: When I know where the application is located in the menu I use the menu otherwise I will search.
8 • FreeBSD 11.0 Review (by Andy Mender on 2016-11-07 09:10:06 GMT from Austria)
Thank you kindly for this detailed review and especially looking at the boot environments. However, it seems most of your problems came from the fact that you did not properly install FreeBSD 11.0, hence no /boot directory/partition and later issues. I'm using FreeBSD 11.0-RELEASE-p3 on a UEFI-compliant commodity ASUS ultrabook and not only is the /boot directory/partition there, but also everything else works fine :).
In case of issues with ZFS on GPT I would try rolling with the standard UFS setup to see how it compares.
9 • Another vote for Search (by BeGo on 2016-11-07 10:48:05 GMT from United States)
Yups, I always search my apps, whether in Bodhi or KDE
10 • Launching apps (by PePa on 2016-11-07 12:15:56 GMT from Thailand)
I am mainly using a dock/panel launcher for all most used applications, and configure the same for my users. I am never tempted to type in a menu when offered the option. I think the option "dock/panel launcher" should have been part of the poll.
11 • search vs browse (by wally olson on 2016-11-07 13:37:17 GMT from United States)
ditto DaveW: 4 or 5 items in a dock, everything else via menu or typed directly on command line.
12 • FreeBSD review (by Jordan on 2016-11-07 13:46:56 GMT from United States)
Thank you for that review. I'm always looking around for reviews and info on the various BSD projects.
I admit to being too chicken to actually install BSD of any flavor on my machines, as I keep seeing hardware issues brought up, no matter which BSD.
I do like the whole idea of an alternative to linux, but sometimes it seems like the BSD philosophy is pretty close to what systemd does in linux. I obviously need more info and understanding. These reviews help.
13 • Searching vs Browsing Application Menus (by Kevin on 2016-11-07 13:49:51 GMT from United States)
Other - I use DWM as my window manager. There is no search function. Although there is a menu app available for it, I don't use that either. I type commands at a ZSH prompt to launch apps.
14 • FreeBSD (by aary on 2016-11-07 14:19:53 GMT from Japan)
Thanks for putting focus on Free BSD 11.0. since it's become my recent favorite distro. I love the balance of details and simplicity in the handbook, the solid and pro-ish feeling of the working distro. It installs and works fine on my asus z97 mobo with haswell refresh i5 cpu. BTW Jesse, did you configure the xorg related files (/etc/rc.conf, ~/.xinitrc) both in root and users settings? I bet you did, bu I am just saying because I got stuck there and could not make it work properly for a while. Wish you guys the best here at DW.
15 • FreeBSD (by Jesse on 2016-11-07 14:28:04 GMT from Canada)
>> " However, it seems most of your problems came from the fact that you did not properly install FreeBSD 11.0, hence no /boot directory/partition and later issues."
This seems highly unlikely. Partly because there are no ways to mess up an installation and not have things like /boot enabled. There is just not an option I could change to made that happen. Remember I'm pretty much taking all the default options in the installer. If taking the installer's defaults results in a non-working system, that is a bug. And partly because I've done a lot of installs of FreeBSD. I mean a lot. This is the first time I've had these problems. The issue does not exist in any of the 10.x series, the 9.x series or previous versions.
>> "In case of issues with ZFS on GPT I would try rolling with the standard UFS setup to see how it compares."
That wouldn't do me much good since my primary issue was with boot environments. UFS does not support boot environments. It might fix the freebsd-update issue, but at the expense of one of FreeBSD's best features. It would be a bit like cutting off my leg to fix a limp, technically it might work, but at the expense of losing what I wanted to do in the first place.
>> " Jesse, did you configure the xorg related files (/etc/rc.conf, ~/.xinitrc)"
Yes, indeed I did. These are nicely laid out in the documentation.
16 • Searching vs. browsing (by Microlinux on 2016-11-07 15:13:03 GMT from France)
After fifteen years of using Linux exclusively, I've found the perfect solution for handling applications. I've added Whiskermenu to my upper Xfce panel while replacing the lower panel with ElementaryOS' Plank dock. This way, I can easily drag-and-drop much needed applications to the dock. My clients also love it. Here's what it looks like.
17 • RE: FreeBSD (by Andy Mender on 2016-11-07 15:26:53 GMT from Austria)
>> "This seems highly unlikely. Partly because there are no ways to mess up an installation and not have things like /boot enabled. There is just not an option I could change to made that happen. Remember I'm pretty much taking all the default options in the installer. If taking the installer's defaults results in a non-working system, that is a bug. And partly because I've done a lot of installs of FreeBSD. I mean a lot. This is the first time I've had these problems. The issue does not exist in any of the 10.x series, the 9.x series or previous versions."
The computer I mentioned had UEFI related issues until I went with the defaults (GPT + UFS). However, since you did roll with the defaults for GPT + ZFS, I think it's worth posting the specific issue on the FreeBSD forums or the bugzilla, or testing the most recent .isos. There were around 3-4 patches already since the release. Some of them related to GPT + ZFS.
18 • No Menus Needed (Almost) (by Rich'rd on 2016-11-07 16:03:16 GMT from United States)
Though I now use Mint's KDE-4 I don't need a menu much. I keep a terminal window open in one Virtual Desktop in which I type commands like "top" and "ls" or the name of a browser or file manager; for the rest, I use Dolphin or any file manager and open the *document* on which I want to work. All doc types are associated with applications to open them, so I need not open a menu at all for most tasks.
Very rarely I will need a utility without a doc type association. For this I use the search function in Mint Menu.
There are no icons on my desktop except documents on which I am currently working.
It works for me; I have used this method for fifteen years, starting on Blackbox with RH-6.2 (the old one.)
19 • MX Linux (by albinard on 2016-11-07 16:04:12 GMT from United States)
Just a brief recommendation for MX Linux, which is at MX-16 right now. I've used this on and off since MX-14, and it seems to be a solid distro, somewhat conservative (it’s based on Debian Stable, after all) with a few surprising tweaks. The documentation is largely a series of exceptionally well-presented videos by Dolphin Oracle which provide both information and a whole lot of encouragement.
20 • Simplicity on AntiX (by Linux Apocalypsis on 2016-11-07 16:16:54 GMT from Ireland)
I, for one, welcome the new AntiX-based Simplicity. I will give it a try as soon as possible.
21 • Panel (by Doug on 2016-11-07 16:22:53 GMT from United States)
I voted for the menu tree. But, for the applications I use most, Chromium and kpatience, I access them from the panel.
22 • FreeBSD (by silent on 2016-11-07 17:43:30 GMT from Hungary)
I use FreeBSD without any extras. I did not have any problem with the boot directory, update works. I configured SLIM as a DM with Mate DE and a lightweight WM. The SWF plugin with wine is a bit fuzzy, but it works with firefox. I can even use DVB-T USB sticks. The upgrade from 10.3 to 11.0 was smooth. I have an old PC with BIOS, just chain load FreeBSD from grub. May be I am lucky, for me it just works :).
23 • Searching vs. browsing (by David on 2016-11-07 17:45:48 GMT from United States)
I use keyboard shortcuts for commonly used applications and the menu for the rest. I'm puzzled as to why anyone would want to type in the name of the program: isn't that what GUIs were invented to replace?
24 • MX Linux documentation (by Jerry on 2016-11-07 17:48:55 GMT from United States)
@ #19 "The [MX Linux] documentation is largely a series of exceptionally well-presented videos by Dolphin Oracle" Is there a reason you ignore the full Users Manual (https://www.mxlinux.org/user_manual_mx16/mxum.html) and the Technical Wiki (https://www.mxlinux.org/wiki)?
25 • MX and Simplicity (by G Savage on 2016-11-07 18:19:03 GMT from Canada)
I loved Mepis. It was my first successful Linux. I also think Simplicity was the best Puppy after MacPup development ended.
I am looking forward to trying both. :-)
26 • #19 MX Linux (by anticapitalista on 2016-11-07 18:49:08 GMT from Greece)
You may have missed out on the fact that due to the excellent work carried out by MX packagers many of the included apps on MX-16 are the latest available.
27 • Very useful review of FreeBSD (by oko on 2016-11-07 19:18:46 GMT from United States)
Often times I skim the DW review on Monday's just to be irritated by the very low quality reviews. For once the review of FreeBSD was really useful. I have bunch of TrueOS 10.3 in production which I was planning to upgrade to FreeBSD 11.0 since PC-BSD is dead now and new TrueOS is following unstable branch. Boot environment besides ability to install the root on ZFS mirror was one of the killer features of TrueOS 10.xxx which served me well. I am really disturbed to read that vanilla FreeBSD is still unable to to that properly and even worse binary system upgrade is still not functional. I will make sure I test 11.0 before deciding to upgrade.
28 • MX Linux (by Ali on 2016-11-07 19:51:52 GMT from Russian Federation)
That's not MX advantage over Debian. Debian users are able to install latest packages from backport repository if they want.
29 • @28 - MX Linux (by Hoos on 2016-11-07 20:12:21 GMT from Singapore)
MX's packaging team has also packaged applications not found in Debian or Debian backports, for instance, applications that were originally for Ubuntu.
They may even go the extra mile to put together packages more up-to-date than the version in the Debian backport repo, assuming the dependencies can all be resolved.
If you can't find what you want in the backport repo, a package request can be made for the team's consideration.
30 • Launching Programs (by JJ on 2016-11-07 20:18:45 GMT from United States)
@23: Yeah, that's what I thought, too. I've added keyboard shortcuts before just so I didn't have to move my hand away from the keyboard, but why would want to go click on some box only to type in a search. You might as well use the command line to launch everything at that point.
I either pin to the task bar (Windows) or add to a quick launch bar (Linux). I want to point-and-click, though I did select "menu tree" as my preferred way if I'm going to go hunt for something.
31 • @29 mx Linux (by mandog on 2016-11-07 21:18:13 GMT from Peru)
Actually there is nothing to stop you from using Mx ports on Debian if you want to they are actually only using debian testing/ unstable
32 • @23 Search v. Menu (by linuxista on 2016-11-08 00:51:14 GMT from United States)
I use kbd shortcuts for most common apps, and search for the rest. B/c app search has auto-complete/auto-select (even the minimalist ones like dmenu), after just the first two or three letters your app icon is selected. So much faster than browsing a menu in my opinion. Don't have to do the thing where you have to remember if what you're looking for is in preferences or system settings, or accessories or utilities or whatever.
33 • Buggy operating systems (Windows, IOS, Linux, BSD): the truth please. (by Greg Zeng on 2016-11-08 02:52:44 GMT from Australia)
Distrowatch showed this url, this week:
> Ubuntu Stats
> Bug Stats
> Open (126930) +427 over the last 2 weeks
> Critical (376) -15 over the last 2 weeks
> Unconfirmed (62714) +243 over the last 2 weeks
Windows, Apple hide these truths: it's their religious duty. BSD seems so short-staffed that they cannot track them, as shown by the BSD comments here. Linux is usually well staffed, and OPEN!
Desktop Linux users usually have Ubuntu-based distributions (at least 68+ Brand-names). distrowatch.com/search.php?basedon=Ubuntu
This is because the hardware-fitting problems are the least of all operating systems. Deficiencies in the parent system are extremely easy to trouble-shoot and rectify. Interpreting the above statistics:
> Unsolved: 127,000; with 427 extra added in the last 2 weeks, or 0.3% increased.
> Critical: (376) -15 over the last 2 weeks; or 361 serious faults, 0.3% of total.
> Unsure (62714) +243 over the last 2 weeks; or 0.2% extra added.
If the insiders of Windows & Apple could leak these related stats to Wikileaks, or here in Dw, we would welcome the honest comparisons. Rationally, mathematically designed language systems like these are so fluid, powerful and complex. The above engineering error-rates are expected, and better than other aspects of human engineering. Windows & Apple are telling lies, when they pretend to be better than Linux, imho. That is why & how closed, secretive systems work.
34 • @Greg (by Andy Mender on 2016-11-08 08:49:03 GMT from Austria)
Neither Microsoft nor Apple will openly admit to the bugs their respective operating systems suffer from. It's merely politics. That would incite panic and destroy the falsely positive image of the operating systems being stable, secure and reliable. For instance, it would often take months for Apple to admit to certain hardware flaws like the infamous "Staingate" incident or faulty nVidia GT 8600M chips in the 2008 MacBook series.
On the other hand, remember that:
1. Not all reported bugs are real bugs, but either misconfigurations or human errors in software usage.
2. Per above, notifying customers about every single bug sends a distressing message: "our system is error-prone and full of holes".
3. The more complex and user-friendly an operating system, the more prone it will be to bugs, insecurities, etc.
Have a look at the bugs you mentioned. How many of them are real bugs or have the appropriate "severity" set? How many of them are properly reported and how many are merely cries for help?
35 • Debian testing Xfce is the best rolling release (by debiantestingxfce on 2016-11-08 09:55:18 GMT from Finland)
* best netinstaller: https://www.debian.org/devel/debian-installer/
* 2 weeks testing period in unstable makes testing stable
* simple to maintain with Synaptic, well documented
* many fast servers around the world, so package download is fast
* many users, organizations and companies use Debian
* No bloatware that is in Debian derivatives.
* Xfce is fast,light, stable and freely configurable desktop
* Oibaf ppa and Padoka ppa compatible, you can use the latest mesa git drivers. Also xenial flashplugin-installer is useful
* it is easy to create custom kernel package, just install kernel dev tools, configure any kernel and run: export CONCURRENCY_LEVEL=4 fakeroot make-kpkg --initrd kernel_image
36 • mx-linux (by dolphin oracle on 2016-11-08 13:25:14 GMT from United States)
@31 actually still debian stable.
but the mx-repo is a great feature, without the strangeness of the default debian-backports default priority settings.
@19 while I'm flattered at the mention of my videos, the mx linux manual and the wiki are truly excellent. In fact, when I do a how-to video, I generally pull from the wiki.
37 • @ 33 • Buggy operating systems (Windows, IOS, Linux, BSD) (by Alex on 2016-11-08 19:36:14 GMT from United States)
Why do we talk so much about Windows here, if we are supposed to use either Linux or BSD? Why do we care about what problems Windows or iOS has? They have their own forums sponsored by owners of those OSs, don't they?
I use both Linux and Windows. I had used iOS for few years too. For some time, I was using only Linux, but now I've gone back to using Win10. Out of the 3 different types of Linux distros i'm using, I had met with some breakage in those distros, while strangely, I didn't get any problems with Win10.
I think, if we are going to discuss bugs, we should discuss bugs in Linux and BSD distros.
38 • #37 buggy distros (by debiantestingxfce on 2016-11-09 01:15:35 GMT from Finland)
for #37, use Debian testing Xfce. No problems, one of our gaming pc is now used 2 years without any breaks.One office pc is used 2.5 years with Debian testing Xfce without problems.
39 • @38 (by Alex on 2016-11-09 07:47:55 GMT from United States)
I suppose you didn't understand what I said. I answered Greg Zeng, who keeps on bringing Windows, iOS into the discussion here. This website is for users of Linux and BSD, not Windows and iOS. So, if we are going to discuss bugs, let's discuss our Linux and BSD distros.
Btw, I mentioned 3 types of Linux distros, in which one of them is Debian Testing, and I'm using Linux from more than 10 years.
40 • Double Click for the Win (by Arch Watcher 402563 on 2016-11-09 08:22:19 GMT from United States)
Like most folks I just double-click a file for the computer to open it. The computer knows the app for me. I have seen others organize by desktop icon clutter, though I don't.
I tried smart search gizmotrons for finding apps, but never liked them. I think the important thing with apps is just an icon for visual association in menus, panels, and shortcuts. The name of the actual binary is usually meaningless to anyone but its mother. It's strange how devs name things like they're still under DOS file name limits.
Once upon a time I surveyed "tagging" file managers, which by now may have improved wonderfully, I don't know. I actually use grep to search text files and wouldn't want an automagicjumbobutler doing such simple things for me.
41 • Gecko Linux (by Chris on 2016-11-09 10:47:32 GMT from New Zealand)
During the week I tried an install of Gecko Linux. First problem was the first boot menu was non responsive, and required finding text to write, similar to a terminal to log in. It then decided it would install to the same USB drive the iso was reading from. The partitioning menu looked dreadfully difficult and not capable of selection of a drive to write the iso too. I gave up.
42 • MX-16 public beta1 is very useful and solid (by Brian Masinick on 2016-11-09 16:30:46 GMT from United States)
I agree with: 19 • MX Linux (by albinard on 2016-11-07 16:04:12 GMT from United States)
MX-16 Public Beta1 is a really solid system, enough so that I was willing to replace a VERY STABLE and nicely working MX-15. Fortunately there is an option to retain the /home directory hierarchy, which is where all of my personal changes go.
The beta1 installed without a hitch and continues to work well, in spite of updates. Frankly, it's more stable than at least half of the available desktop and mobile distributions.
43 • Heirachy of launchers (by mikef90000 on 2016-11-09 20:24:08 GMT from United States)
Xfce with the whisker menu gives you a useful, easy to configure heirarchy:
- Panel (left side) for the most used apps
- Whisker menu favorites for the 'next most' used
- Default menu for seldom used or newly installed apps
A bonus is you can keep your desktop clear of icon clutter.
Search is for mobile device fanbois. Newbies won't remember most app names anyway.
44 • Its becoming pretty boring! (by adamek on 2016-11-09 22:32:49 GMT from United States)
Nothing spectacular is happening with Linux or BSD, and it had become quite boring. Gobo Linux is thinking bit out of the box, sort of...while the Lumina desktop is forked of Fluxbox. Neither the Unity nor Gnome DEs are putting out anything "stop press" and not much from Plasma. Its really getting terribly boring!
45 • Lumina (by Jesse on 2016-11-09 22:57:30 GMT from Canada)
>> "while the Lumina desktop is forked of Fluxbox"
Lumina is not a fork of Fluxbox. Lumina is a "from scratch" desktop written using Qt. It uses Fluxbox as the default window manager. The two projects do not share code.
46 • Lumina WM DIY (by Arch Watcher 402563 on 2016-11-09 23:21:55 GMT from United States)
Lumina plans to write its own WM to replace Fluxbox. The key Linux differentiator in Lumina is zero deps on systemd or consolekit/policykit.
47 • Browsing vs Searching with Menus and Synapse (by Simon Wainscott-Plaistowe on 2016-11-10 00:44:41 GMT from New Zealand)
Perhaps someone's already mentioned it but I didn't spot it in previous comments. I use Cinnamon & MATE desktops, both of these have a good Applications menu with search built in. For that I use the SUPER+ALT hotkey.
Also I use Synapse for more comprehensive searches and for quick access to oft-used apps & docs. For that I use the SUPER+SPACE hotkey.
48 • Re: Very useful review of FreeBSD (by oko on 2016-11-10 02:29:39 GMT from United States)
I was a bit too fast assessing this week DWW review as very useful. I just played with 11.0 and this paragraph is totally inaccurate
"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."
beadm on FreeBSD actually worked as advertised when I tested it. Moral of the story is that people who don't know how to use computer have no business evaluating an OS.
49 • Failure diagnosis (by Kragle von Schnitzelbank on 2016-11-10 04:22:28 GMT from United States)
Instead of denigrating a failure victim, ask why it worked on one system and failed on another. That's responsible diagnosis.
50 • OB Revenge OS (by Gekxxx on 2016-11-10 13:30:54 GMT from Belgium)
Using Antergos right now (very pleased with it), but looking forward to a review of OB Revenge OS.
51 • Poll - new isn't always good; old-fashioned is appreciated (by curious on 2016-11-10 15:43:27 GMT from Germany)
The poll results show that the phone-style flat grid of icons is the least popular alternative (only 4-5%) - not really surprising, but developers of DEs or user interfaces in general should take notice. Windows 8 is not the only one that went wrong here.
Personally, I prefer a simple hierarchical menu tree that MUST be browsable with the keyboard (unfortunately, the Xfce-Whisker menu fails here).
Sometimes I also use a search, but I prefer if the search box is not a prominent part of the menu.
52 • search app (by Ted in Minnesota on 2016-11-10 16:33:03 GMT from United States)
I search apps mainly by the drop-down menus, but sometimes I want to search by a Search App function if the linux distro I am using supports that. Unfortunately most linux apps I have run across search only for FILES, only a few search for APPS, and even fewer search for BOTH! I really want a linux OS that searches for BOTH!! (Big Hint to OS Developers out there...)
53 • #40 (by figosdev on 2016-11-10 20:19:52 GMT from United States)
@40 "It's strange how devs name things like they're still under DOS file name limits."
not too strange-- whether this is about typing, tab-completion, searching, reading icons, or listing files in a long view, there is a law of diminishing returns on the advantage of filename length.
the sense of limitation never was from dos; dos simply had a very notable limit; when it was removed, only some people felt "this sort of rambling filename that is mostly not more descriptive or helpful.word" is a better naming convention. opinions differ of course; i would rather use ls than listfiles (but an alias would be welcome.)
54 • Omg what a bad journalism (by Ljenux on 2016-11-10 23:35:33 GMT from Croatia)
did you read freebsd 11 release notes? they admit that amd graphic cards are not working properly. thats why you had problems, but not in virtual mode. But you have to read a little before you make conclusions. What a bad journalism
55 • FreeBSD (by Jesse on 2016-11-10 23:44:59 GMT from Canada)
>> "did you read freebsd 11 release notes?"
>> " they admit that amd graphic cards are not working properly. thats why you had problems"
I know. That's why I covered it in the review.
>> "But you have to read a little before you make conclusions."
You seem to be under the impression I was surprised or disappointed by FreeBSD not working with my video card. But I'm not sure why. The fact is I have an AMD video card and I test all the operating systems I review on my equipment to confirm it works (or doesn't work). To my mind, that is what reviewers are supposed to do, test, verify and report on their experiences. Would you have preferred I had read that FreeBSD doesn't work with some video cards and just not bothered to test it? That would seem pretty irresponsible to me.
56 • Gimme an Apps Folder Or Else (by Arch Watcher 402563 on 2016-11-11 02:20:10 GMT from United States)
@53 Hence I used the word "like," not the word "because." Programmers adopt all sorts of weird conventions for all sorts of weird reasons. Usually they're ridiculous when you look into them. Current "dev 133t-5p33k" names should be the aliased ones.
English names in /usr/bin (er, /user/binaries?) would be simpler than DW surveys on magick wizardz to give 133t-5p33k a human interface. Suppose I just open /usr/binaries and see pretty icons with full titles. You know, like MacOS "Apps" folder...
57 • @37; @38; @39; Linux in the computing world (by Greg Zeng on 2016-11-11 04:11:54 GMT from Australia)
Distrowatch afaik, has specialized on most open-source operating systems which are based on a Linux and BSD operating systems.
The computer world has tiny, medium and big computers. Linux is dominant in all of these, EXCEPT the Desktop computers (medium). The Desktop is dominated by anti-open-source systems: 1) Windows, & 2) Apple. Linux is less than two (2) per cent of Desktop computing. Distrowatch, its readers and advertisers would like this to be more than 2%.
There are several main ways to overcome Linux's supposed faults. In pure Engineering code, Linux-based systems are better than the two closed-source, secretive competitors, as shown by my comment here @33.
In mass-marketing terms, Linux fails, because Linux coders do not understand open-markets. As "conservatives" like Apple Microsoft & the 2017 President of the Free World, factoids work.
Promises & secrecy defeats everything sensible & rational. Including Linux.
Not all Linux-based operating systems are open-source, particularly some of the Android-based ones. Here in the comments, we need to declare Linux's limits openly, as good examples of why the two commercial competitors (& their supporters) are wrong.
58 • Linux malware prevention (e.g. "Dirty Cow") (by Greg Zeng on 2016-11-11 04:13:06 GMT from Australia)
Linux kernel is always being patched every day, by several upstream authorities. Most people have very simple ideas about Linux. Wikipedia provides only downstream, low-hanging "gossip" about Linux. It rejects true expertise & writers like myself, unless heavily url-referenced.
The Linux kernel is maintained by several authorities. Best known maybe the Linux Foundation. It is heavily funded, because of their commercial worth to the profit sectors: NEC, ORACLE, Qualcomm, Samsung, CITRIX, EBAY, Fujitsu, HP, IBM, Intel, Qualcomm ($500k+ yearly), etc. [Wikipedia].
Upstream to the work of the code work of the Linux Foundation are the kernel innovators: Redhat, IBM, Ubuntu, Microsoft, etc. These companies innovate new Linux kernels privately [canary testing, 34'07"] before injection into the non-profit kernel [Linux Action Show, #440]. Ubuntu [$150 p.a., 4 nodes; 39'50"], Red Hat/Oracle [$1300+$2300/node, 40'25"], openSUSE [$1500/node/yr, 41'06"].
Playing catch-up is the open-source version of the Linux Kernel, version 4.9. It will finally allow open access to live-patching, to change kernel running code, long after the commercial users of Linux.
59 • @58 (by Lennie on 2016-11-11 18:13:47 GMT from Canada)
What you are actually saying is that the Linux kernel is done (maintained) for the needs of private companies rather than for us. In other words, Linux kernel is a pretty good product to make living from. If not for these very rich private companies, Linux kernel would not have survived.
Not much of a difference from proprietary kernels, right?
60 • Together we all profit more ... (by Kragle on 2016-11-11 23:51:30 GMT from United States)
Is (business involvement in) Linux, an Operating System 'kernel', a rare example of businesses understanding the benefit of cooperation and overcoming their customary paranoia?
This concept is unpopular in "western" cultures, but common in "eastern" communities, right? Perhaps due to a different perspective on short-term gains?
Of course, it's really not limited to benefiting only private business interests, is it?
61 • BSD & Linux (by M.Z. on 2016-11-12 01:16:28 GMT from United States)
I tend to agree with the reviewer's comment, verification of hardware support is fundamental to and good Distro review. I also tend to find that BSDs do poorly on the desktop due to hardware support, which is supported by the review. It's a great firewall for me & it streams more data than you can shake a stick at from Netflix, but BSDs are every bit as weak in hardware support as the review indicates & it deserves to be mentioned how this was verified on the review's hardware.
Regardless of how the Linux kernel is developed you the user have full rights over any copy of it you receive. That's part of why big commercial Distros like Red Hat Enterprise Linux tend to have a free version for the community like CentOS. If a free copy doesn't exist someone will come along & make one, so Red Hat may as well give some support to CentOS. This is a sign of the big & fundamental differences that you don't seem to grasp. It's okay of Red Hat makes big money of paid support, because you still have equal access & Red Hat R&D benefits the free community & hobbyists in addition to benefiting Red Hat because of the way the GPL license works.
62 • @61 (by Lennie on 2016-11-12 09:09:51 GMT from Canada)
When' someone pays, he tells you how to spend the money. Even if you work in the R&D dept, you still have to do as the Board had planned. Companies are there to make profits, not to throw money away. Even consortium of different companies have Board, which decides how much & for what.
63 • GPL goodness (by M.Z. on 2016-11-12 15:35:38 GMT from United States)
Yes, ...and? I don't really see the complaint. Red Hat gets the code they need to sell more RHEL to business, & you can use a copy of the code in Fedora or CentOS. Now if you want code that does exactly what you want perhaps you should donate to a project working on that specific type of thing, be it a community project to improve Linux on the desktop or LibreOffice. Of course if the community project wants to do something similar to Red Hat they are free to use & modify any GPL code that Red Hat creates & the reverse is also true so long as everyone respects the GPL & keeps the code open. The point of Open Source licenses like the GPL isn't to make Red Hat waste their time & money on the wants of every random Linux user, its meant to keep the code open so anyone can use, modify, & redistribute the code as they see fit. That way Mint, Mageia, PCLinuxOS etc. can benefit every bit as much from the work of Red Hat as Fedora users, who can also get Mint's Cinnamon Desktop.
Why don't you see that you are gaining a lot in this Open Source development process. Project take code & modify as they see fit. PCLinuxOS uses the RPM package format from Red Hat but not Systemd, while all Linux based projects rely heavily on the kernel work done by Red Hat. Debian based projects use the kernel, but keep their own software management systems via .deb & APT, but despite those differences RPM based Mageis & Debian based Mint use the same basic USB writing software.
All these loosely related projects can share common code at will & you are free to benefit from their work & use modified versions of their code to do whatever you want with Open GPL software. The point is that they all -can- benefit from using, reusing & modifying common open code, not that they all -must- give some benefit to others by doing work unrelated to their goals. They way it exists now not only benefits everyone using GPL software, but it makes rational sense as well. Again feel free to donate to some Open project that aligns with you goals more closely & if part of that project uses code from Red Hat or ends up in something I'm using then we'll all benefit from other people's freely given GPL code. Not only is that totally different from how closed software works, but its a big win for everyone involved.
64 • @63 (by Lennie on 2016-11-12 17:45:37 GMT from Canada)
>>Yes, ...and? I don't really see the complaint<<
What complaint? It was a statement. Company pays, company tells you what to do. ..or else...
65 • no work no pay is axiomatic (by M.Z. on 2016-11-12 18:48:26 GMT from United States)
I have full rights over every copy of Linux I use, that's what the difference was always supposed to be. Personally I rely on others to turn those rights into final products, but if I could code & had a job at Red Hat I would have enough common sense to realize jobs come with obligations that must be meet to earn pay. That's just axiomatic, not insightful or interesting. Also some companies like Google have things like 20% time in which you can spend a day a week creating new software that you care about, so things are quite different depending on where you work. The important part is that jobs in Open Source contribute to a community of open projects & can be used by anyone to try to create some new & innovative derivative work. Your myopic sentiments miss the big picture of all the good possibilities being opened up with the GPL.
66 • @65 (by Lennie on 2016-11-12 19:23:09 GMT from Canada)
Go read #58 and then comment.
Funding is another word for payment. If you don't keep to guidelines, the funding stops. You and I are just a miniscule amount of users in the world, who get some Linux kernel based distro, but the companies that put money into 'development' of it earns millions of $s. If there is no profit, no tax paying company would put money in any project.
67 • the difference (by M.Z. on 2016-11-12 21:37:47 GMT from United States)
I don't really care about comment #58 or what it's trying to get at. I'm commenting on this:
#59 "... Not much of a difference from proprietary kernels, right?"
We know that there are big for profit companies doing a lot of the heavy lifting, but I'm pointing out there is another side to Linux that does indeed make it very different. The thing about open source is what other can do with the products after they are released & the nature of users & communities that form around open projects. There is also still a fair amount of work being done on the Linux kernel from people who are apparently unaffiliated with any company. In fact last time I checked I thought that unaffiliated group was bigger than any one company working on Linux, but regardless there is a fundamentally different dynamic at work in Linux. There are lots of companies with lots of different reasons to contribute to Linux, and they are all willing to work cooperatively with the wider community in creating something that is often given away freely. What you are talking about certainly exists in Linux, but the fact that there is more to it than simple profit of one company is core to what Linux is & what GPL software was intended to be from the time the license was written.
68 • @67 (by Lennie on 2016-11-12 21:51:07 GMT from Canada)
Linux Foundation cannot exist without money, right? And, we the "home users" don't fund it to exist, right? But, a group of profit-earning companies fund it, right? Have you seen a company that won't work for profit?
Linux kernel is mostly developed for the use of those companies that make profit out of it. If no such profit-earning companies won't be there to fund the development, the Linux kernel would die just like many Linux distros. Without money, no development would last long. That way, Linux kernel development has the same attributes of a proprietary kernel. No money - no development.
Loose collection of free developers won't last long. You need money buy bread.
69 • Opinion Poll brouse vs search (by slick on 2016-11-13 01:38:15 GMT from United States)
When it comes to apps would be most logical to keep the number to the minimum and just those you actually use, narrowing the need for a search. So, yes the menu is often used.
However use tiling wm's along with openbox, and keyboard shortcuts are essential.
Notice a little bit of discussing regarding opensource versus Windows or funded development of OS's and or distributions. Same also with programs and apps. Would say that contributions or donations to opensource maybe a lot more than people think, not only individual users but corporate and government funds as well. Fact is an alternate must always be there for competition, without that then there would be a monopoly and stagnation.
Use Linux for one reason, the desire not to be exploited. Windows 10 is nothing more from start to finish a large Trojan to spy and exploit every aspect of the user for profit and control.
Knowing this, when any distribution starts collaborating with Microsoft, I bail out from it and look and learn something else. Right now it is freeBSD.
70 • Just Curious (by sasdthoh on 2016-11-13 14:44:51 GMT from United States)
I was just wondering what has happened to Warren Woodford, the creator of Mepis Linux. I made a few Internet inquiries to find out general information but did not find much in the way of current information.
There were a few references to past interviews and work related listings but nothing more. Does anyone have any general info; how is he doing; what are his current interests, etc.?
71 • open development models (by M.Z. on 2016-11-13 15:27:00 GMT from United States)
"...when any distribution starts collaborating with Microsoft, I bail out from it and look and learn something else. Right now it is freeBSD."
It's certainly true that some companies (like SCO Group) have tried to assert some big rights over Linux & tried to gain some form of control over the project or at least big rights to profits, none have ever been effective in taking control. This is in part because the GPL license was designed to protect users rights over the software & it makes anyone who distributes Linux or other GPL software abide by the license & allow users equal rights to the software or else lose the right to distribute the software. This is why I could generally care less who in the Linux world works with MS, because if they start trying to take control & assert special rights they automatically lose all the control they sought.
Under that sort of rule any company that is dependent on distributing GPL software would shoot themselves in the foot if they tried to take control away from users because someone would sue them for violating the GPL & they couldn't sell their product. It's another part of the dynamic of the Linux community that sets it apart from just being typical software created by & for big business, although some don't seem to be able to acknowledge this fact. It's true that companies like IBM & Red Hat are vital to the health of Linux, but the relationship that they have with the software they create & the users they give the software to is fundamentally different. These companies have to give us the users & the rest of the community rights over the software if they want to keep distributing it.
I do like BSD & there is a lot about it that great, even if support for a desktop on my hardware is not. That being said the different dynamic between software companies & the community under the GPL is something that makes Linux seem like the better model to me. I know that someone can't take my favorite Linux distro & turn it into the next closed source Mac computer, which is what Apple did with FreeBSD. Of course the original BSD licensed code is still around & still free, but Apple has no obligation to give anything back to the community after doing whatever they want with BSD. Obviously BSD creators & supporters don't care, but something about that rubs me the wrong way & makes me prefer Linux & the GPL. I feel like anything I do to support Linux will stay within the open source community to a degree that it it wouldn't if I gave that support to BSD. I still like both projects & use both all the time with my pfSense/BSD firewall & various desktop Linux distros & Android, but I prefer Linux.
72 • DW Tips (by Dave Postles on 2016-11-13 16:59:47 GMT from United Kingdom)
I've sent $10; hope you receive more. DW always an informative read, even for the less technically-proficient like me.
73 • MEPIS (by M.Z. on 2016-11-13 20:41:14 GMT from United States)
I don't know about that one, but I have wondered why MEPIS went dormant. There obviously hasn't been any activity on their website in a couple of years, but the question is why. I poked around a little not that long ago but couldn't find much on what happened besides this mention that MEPIS is on indefinite hold & there is now an alternative with XFCE as the DE:
Number of Comments: 73
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