| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 688, 21 November 2016
Welcome to this year's 47th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
In recent years we have seen several desktop environments and distributions try to make the graphical user interface more streamlined and less complicated. This has resulted in a lot of different desktop layouts and various new approaches to common tasks such as launching applications and installing software packages. This week we begin by exploring the Endless OS distribution, a Linux-based platform which tries to marry the features of GNU/Linux desktop distributions with the tap-and-run simplicity of mobile devices. In our News section we discuss Debian's plans to merge the root file system and /usr and cover KDE neon plugging a potential security hole. We also summarize FreeBSD's Quarterly Status Report and remind our readers openSUSE 13.2 will be reaching the end of its supported life cycle soon. Plus, we wrap up our second rolling release trial and provide a list of last week's releases. We are also happy to share the torrents we are seeding and, in our Opinion Poll, we discuss the best approach to achieving cross-platform user interfaces. We wish you all a fantastic week and happy reading!
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (51MB) and MP3 (40MB) formats.
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Endless OS 3.0.5
Endless OS is a Linux-based operating system which seeks to provide a streamlined, simplified user experience. A large part of the user experience is provided by a custom desktop environment (EOS Shell) which is a fork of GNOME 3.8. The distribution is available in two editions, a 1.5GB Basic edition and a larger (approximately 13GB) Full edition. The Basic edition offers a small number of applications and is suitable for most situations where the user has an Internet connection. The Full edition ships with a large collection of software and is therefore more suited to off-line installations.
The Endless OS website mentions that support for audio formats, such as OGG and MP3, are built into the operating system, but most video formats are not supported. Video codecs and Netflix support are available for purchase through the Endless on-line store.
There are a number of ways we can acquire and run Endless. One is to download the image file for either the Full or Basic edition and work with the distribution from there. We can also purchase a range of computers which ship with Endless pre-installed. I decided to download the Basic edition and copy the image file to a USB thumb drive. From here we have a few options as how to proceed. By default, we can run Endless as a live distribution from the USB thumb drive. The first time we launch the operating system, it will resize its file system and any changes we make to the operating system will persist across reboots. People running Windows can plug their USB drive into their Windows computer and install Endless alongside Windows. The documentation mentions a third option where we can wipe our computer's hard drive and install Endless. The documentation seems to imply this option should be available from the distribution's boot menu, but it was not visible to me.
The first time we boot Endless we are greeted by a graphical first-run wizard. The wizard asks us to select our time zone, create a user account and, optionally, connect to a local wi-fi network. With these steps completed, we are brought to the EOS Shell desktop. In the future, when we boot Endless, we are presented with a graphical login screen where we can sign into our regular user account or sign into a Shared account.
The Shared account does not require a password to access. Some other Linux distributions, like Ubuntu, feature a guest account which does not require a password and which gets wiped after each use. The Shared account on Endless does not get wiped after each use. Any settings the user changes and any files created will persist after we sign out and will be there for the next person who uses the Shared account. Normal users can use the sudo utility to perform administrator actions, but the Shared account cannot, at least not without having another user's password.
Endless OS 3.0.5 -- The settings panel
(full image size: 1.3MB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
Something I noticed when I started using Endless was the distribution was fairly up front about the fact it collects and reports usage data. This feature can be adjusted from the first-run wizard and through the operating system's settings panel, under the Privacy module.
Earlier I mentioned Endless uses a desktop which shares its history with GNOME Shell. The desktop certainly has a similar feel to it and similar features when compared next to its parent. The Endless desktop uses a different default layout from what GNOME Shell uses. On the desktop we find a grid of application icons we can use to launch programs. There is also a search box where we can search for applications and settings modules. The search box can also be used to initiate web searches. In the bottom-left of the screen is a user menu where we can sign out, open the settings panel or access the Help Centre. In the middle-bottom of the screen is a panel which is home to quick launch buttons and a task switcher. Over in the bottom-right of the screen is a system tray with notification icons, a battery status indicator, a button for quickly accessing Facebook and a button which brings up an overview of the open applications on the desktop.
I soon found pressing the meta key on the keyboard would hide all open windows and show me the application grid. The Alt-F1 key combination would show me the desktop overview and Alt-F2 would open a window where I could run commands.
Endless provides users with a virtual terminal and I did a little looking around the file system. Endless appears to be based on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS or, perhaps, Debian's Unstable branch, judging by files scattered around the system. Endless ships with package management tools such as dpkg and apt-get and there are even APT source files present, but these tools do not work. The necessary database files are missing. Instead of using APT and related tools to manage software on Endless, we use a modified version of the GNOME Software application which has been re-branded as App Centre.
App Centre provides us with three tabs. The first tab shows us software categories we can browse. The second shows us a list of installed applications. The initial applications we start with cannot be removed, but programs we install later can be deleted. The third tab shows a list of available software updates. During my trial there were no package updates made available.
Endless OS 3.0.5 -- The App Centre software manager
(full image size: 913kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
For the most part, App Centre worked well for me. I was able to browse the available software, install items and remove software. A few times I ran into problems. I found if my Internet connection dropped or I mistyped my sudo password, App Centre would stall and place downloaded packages in a sort of limbo where I could not cancel or resume the installation. Closing App Centre would not fix this, but killing the App Centre process from the command line or rebooting the computer would un-stick the download, making it possible to attempt the install a second time.
Endless ships with a number of useful applications. We are given the Chromium web browser (version 52) with Flash support. LibreOffice 4 is available to us along with the Rhythmbox music player. Endless ships with the Totem video player, though we do not have codecs for playing most video formats. The Brasero disc burning software is included, along with an archive manager, the Cheese webcam utility and a text editor. The GNOME Clocks application is included along with a calculator. The Eye of GNOME image viewer is included alongside a system monitor and a remote desktop viewer. The GNOME control panel is present to help us adjust the look and behaviour of the desktop and configure the system. There is a tool for scanning documents and configuration modules for setting up new user accounts and printers. I also found web apps for Gmail and the WhatsApp messaging client. In the background we find systemd 229 and version 4.4.0 of the Linux kernel. There are no compilers or Java available, though I did find Python was present for people who want to develop their own software.
Endless OS 3.0.5 -- Playing music in Rhythmbox
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I was running Endless from a USB thumb drive and, as a result, the operating system did not access files or launch programs as quickly as I would have liked. Once applications were up and running, they tended to be responsive, so long as I wasn't doing a lot of disk access or installing new software. When I did perform heavy disk activities, desktop applications tended to not react to input and I saw a lot of warning messages which said things like "This application is not responding. Would you like to force it to quit or wait?" Waiting a bit while the system caught up with disk access always took care of the issue. Endless, even running from the thumb drive, booted fairly quickly and, most of the time, did offer a snappy desktop experience. I just had to be patient when working with files on Endless's ext4 file system. The system was relatively light, using about 350MB of RAM when sitting in a new EOS Shell session. Judging from the project's download page, the distribution appears to run on 64-bit x86 computers exclusively.
I noticed early on that there does not appear to be any way to use common window manager tricks on Endless. For example, I could not find a way to keep one window above others or to shade windows. Something else that frustrated me was mouse wheel scrolling was inverted. This means we scroll down to go up a document and scroll up to move down a document. I was happy to find it was possible to disable this feature in the control panel.
I was pleased to note Endless automatically detected and configured my printer for me. I did not even need to launch the printer configuration module, the printer was simply set up for me when I logged into my account for the first time.
The Help Centre application looks to be a slightly modified version of the GNOME Help documentation. It has a lot of great tips for beginners and short videos showing users how to find things. The Help Centre is available through the application search bar and via the user menu in the bottom-left corner of the screen.
Endless OS 3.0.5 -- Help documentation
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One feature I found interesting was that LibreOffice is set up to save files in Microsoft Office format by default. On the one hand, using a proprietary format by default bothers me, but I do acknowledge that this is probably the most practical default for Endless's target audience.
Earlier I mentioned the APT package management tools did not work for me and I had to install new desktop software through the App Centre. This was a regular frustration for me. Partly because I would have liked to have installed multimedia codecs from a compatible software repository rather than purchase codecs and Netflix from Endless. It also bothered me that there seemed to be no easy way to acquire low-level software packages like command line tools and compilers. The App Centre has a very limited supply of desktop software (there is no VLC, no Firefox and no Chrome browser). This leaves us with a fairly minimal collection of tools we can install.
Sometimes when booting Endless the system claimed it was unable to find a kernel and failed to finish booting. Restarting the computer would fix this issue. Likewise, a few times when I signed into my account the mouse pointer did not work. Launching a command box (Alt-F2) and running "shutdown -r now" restarted the computer and fixed my mouse pointer issue. These two issues did not happen often, but they came up a few times throughout the week and presented an air of unreliability.
Endless OS 3.0.5 -- Running Totem and a calculator
(full image size: 817kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
In recent years there have been a number of attempts to bring together desktop/laptop computing with smart phone interfaces. Ubuntu has attempted to do this through convergence. Other projects, such as Android-x86 and Remix OS, are working to port the Android experience to desktop computers. Endless is taking a third approach: starting with a GNU/Linux desktop operating system and cutting away (or altering) the pieces until it has become streamlined and dumbed down like a smart phone.
This means that while Endless OS is technically a GNU/Linux operating system, it does not really feel like one. Many of the applications are the same, but the look and feel is more like a powerful smart phone operating system than a traditional desktop platform. In some ways this can be a good thing. The experience is quite simple, my printer was automatically set up (which is very rare), applications were right on the desktop and easy to find. There are not many choices to make, we sign in and can immediately start browsing the web, checking e-mail and working on documents. For people who only want to browse Facebook, look at e-mail, listen to music and write letters, Endless OS probably makes a lot of sense.
However, the things which are likely to make Endless appealing to people who like Android and Chromebook computers are the same things which make the distribution unappealing to people like me who want a general purpose operating system. There are standard GNU command line tools available, but no low-level package manager. The distribution appears to have a Debian heritage, but no working APT package repositories. We cannot simply install video codecs, they must be purchased. This blocks us from having Firefox, VLC, Chrome or other popular applications. In fact, I tried to install the Chrome browser from the web. Attempting to open the downloaded .deb file displayed an error saying applications could only be installed through App Centre. We are stuck using the applications the Endless team have placed in their App Centre and that rubs me the wrong way.
The Endless website says their operating system is "simple as a smart phone." And there is some truth to their claim. Once we have Endless on a USB drive we can plug it into any compatible computer, boot from the drive, use the operating system and our work is persistent on the USB drive. The distribution is streamlined and simple to use, for the most part. It's not an experience I personally enjoy, I want more flexibility, but for many people I can see the appeal of a simplified computing experience without the usual distractions.
My one big concern with Endless is the experience is a bit buggy. The same people who want to only browse the web and use Microsoft Office as the default document format are probably not going to know what to do when their mouse stops working, or their computer reports it cannot find its kernel during the boot process. They are probably not going to be comfortable with the regular pop-ups reporting an application is not responding to input. The distribution runs passably well most of the time from a thumb drive, but I cannot find a supported way (despite the available documentation) to get the operating system running on my laptop's main drive. This makes Endless OS an interesting experiment and, for people who like the Chromebook style of computing, a promising one. But, in my opinion, the distribution is not yet polished enough to be a viable solution.
* * * * *
Hardware used in this review
My physical test equipment for this review was a de-branded HP laptop with the following
- Processor: Intel i3 2.5GHz CPU
- Display: Intel integrated video
- Storage: Western Digital 700GB hard drive
- Memory: 6GB of RAM
- Wired network device: Realtek RTL8101E/RTL8102E PCI Express Fast
- Wireless network device: Realtek RTL8188EE Wireless network card
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
Debian considers merging /usr, KDE neon fixes security hole, FreeBSD's Quarterly Status Report, openSUSE 13.2 nearing end-of-life
The bootstrap utility for the upcoming release of Debian 9 "Stretch" will feature the ability to merge utilities from the root file system into the /usr file system. This essentially means directories like /bin and /sbin will simply be symbolic links to content stored in /usr/bin and /usr/sbin. Ansgar Burchardt has suggested this file system layout might be made the default behaviour for future versions of Debian: "It has been previously suggested to make this the default for (at least) new installations. I think Russ' earlier mail explains quite well why the split between / and /usr doesn't really work out for Debian these days and that trying to maintain it for some configurations (which are not documented) is mostly busy-work. There is also a nice article on LWN summarizing earlier discussions. I found these arguments convincing enough and would like to see the default switched to merged-/usr for Stretch and later. Possibly also switching systems on upgrade to the new scheme (not necessarily already in the Stretch release cycle)." Further details and discussion can be found on the Debian Devel mailing list.
* * * * *
The KDE neon team has discovered that the package archive server for KDE neon had a security hole which could have let attackers upload their own packages to the KDE software repository. While there is no evidence of malicious activity, the project is suggesting users either upgrade the packages on their system or, for extra protection, re-install the KDE neon operating system. "Anyone discovering the insecure archive server could have uploaded packages to it which would be installed and run on computers running KDE neon. We do not believe this has happened but would welcome reports of any problems. This does not impact KDE software distributed by any other means, i.e. other distributions or the source tarballs." The project's security advisory has more information.
* * * * *
The FreeBSD project has released its latest Quarterly Status Report. The report covers developments and progress made in the FreeBSD community during the past three months. Some of the key items in the report mention upgraded ZFS features, progress made toward linking FreeBSD using lld (the LLVM linker) and making FreeBSD run on 64-bit ARM processors. "lld is the linker in the LLVM family of projects. It is a high-performance linker that supports the ELF, COFF, and Mach-O object formats. Where possible, lld maintains command-line and functional compatibility with the existing GNU BFD ld and gold linkers. However, the authors of lld are not constrained by strict compatibility where it would hamper performance or desired functionality." Additional information can be found in the report.
* * * * *
Following the release of openSUSE 42.2, Marcus Meissner sent out an e-mail reminder to let people know openSUSE 13.2 will be reaching its scheduled end-of-life in approximately two months. "With the release of openSUSE Leap 42.2 the SUSE support of openSUSE 13.2 will be ending in two months, around January 16th." After January 16th, openSUSE 13.2 will no longer receive security updates. A support schedule for the various versions of openSUSE can be found on the project's Lifetime page.
* * * * *
These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Rolling release trial #2 (by Jesse Smith)
Rolling release trial #2: Week four
This past weekend, I sat down and performed upgrades on the four operating systems in my rolling release trial for the fourth and final week. There were not many noteworthy events this week from my installations of Arch Linux, openSUSE, Sabayon and TrueOS. While upgrading openSUSE Tumbleweed, the zypper package manager did run into a problem and reported it was unable to install a new version of the Linux kernel. I was given the option of aborting the upgrade or retrying. I opted to retry and zypper installed the kernel package successfully on the second attempt.
TrueOS provided no new package updates for the third week in a row, meaning the only time I had any upgrades from TrueOS was during the initial installation and upgrade session. This seemed odd and I checked the contents of the TrueOS package repositories in my web browser to confirm there were no new updates available. It looks as through the repository was last refreshed on October 28th. While no new packages were present, the pkg package manager indicated four installed items (including Firefox and LibreOffice) suffered from security vulnerabilities when I ran "pkg audit". Concerned users can update these packages using the FreeBSD ports collection.
Having run these four dissimilar operating systems for a month, I have started to notice a few things. One was that while Arch took the longest to install and get set up properly (due to some trouble-shooting steps), Arch gave me the least trouble once it was up and running. Arch tended to have small updates, the pacman package manager was blazingly fast and I encountered no bugs after the initial configuration. Arch required about double the initial set up time on the first day compared to the other distributions, but once it was up and running, the distribution offered a responsive desktop and painless update cycle.
openSUSE probably gave me the most interesting experience over the past month, for better or worse. The distribution was very easy to set up and offered a polished desktop and powerful administration tools. However, openSUSE's Tumbleweed performed slowly and its Plasma desktop was sluggish. (openSUSE Leap with the same configuration performs fairly quickly in the same environment.) The openSUSE distribution was the only one of the four projects to break in a meaningful way, failing to boot into a graphical environment after the first wave of updates. However, openSUSE is the only Linux distribution in the trial to automatically set up Btrfs snapshots. These snapshots are taken each time we perform an update and allow us to roll back the clock on updates. This allowed me to revert the issues I had with openSUSE and wait for a new set up updates which would fix the problems I experienced.
openSUSE provided, consistently, the largest number of updates each week and they were not always stable, but openSUSE's automated Btrfs snapshots make the operating system virtually bullet-proof.
While Arch caused me headaches during the initial installation and openSUSE flooded my computer with updates during the past month, Sabayon was pleasantly dull. Sabayon was fairly easy to get up and running, offered a medium amount of updates and offered no surprises. Sabayon did not present any amazing features, it consistently lagged a bit behind the other Linux distributions in terms of package versions and it did not cause me any problems. The equo package manager was by far the slowest package manager of the four I used during this trial, but it worked without causing any issues. Sabayon may not be as cutting-edge as Arch or openSUSE, but it offered a smooth experience.
TrueOS was, in a few ways, the odd-one-out in this trial. TrueOS is based on FreeBSD rather than Linux and practises a certain amount of separation between the core operating system and the software which runs on it. TrueOS is the only project of the four to use ZFS as the default file system. ZFS, like openSUSE's Btrfs, allows us to create snapshots of our operating system which we can revert to if there is a problem. However, during most my trial, TrueOS's package repositories remained static. This meant I did not need to worry about packages breaking, but I was a bit concerned I was not receiving security updates either. I could have pulled in new updates through the ports system, but for people using a pure binary package set up, updates would appear to come in scheduled batches rather than via a steady trickle the way Linux distributions push out updates.
What probably stood out the most while running these rolling release projects was that each of the Linux distributions, even with a relatively small number of applications installed, required many more updates and more bandwidth than fixed point releases. My Debian Stable workstation has many more applications installed, but offered about 20-25 updates per week, averaging around 50MB in size per week. This meant my full featured installation of Debian with multiple desktop environments required less bandwidth than a minimal installation of Arch Linux with just a few desktop programs and LXQt. The trade-off is that Arch (like other rolling releases) provides much newer versions of most applications, with the exception of a few key components like Firefox.
* * * * *
||FreeBSD 12.0-CURRENT (20161028)
||Bandwidth required (MB)
|Released Last Week
Salix 14.2 "Live Xfce"
George Vlahavas has announced the release of Salix 14.2 "Live Xfce" edition, a live distribution based on Slackware Linux 14.2 and featuring the Xfce desktop environment: "After a long round of testing, Salix Live Xfce 14.2 is released. This is the first Live release for the 14.2 series and is available for both 32-bit and 64-bit architectures. The live environment uses our own Salix Live Scripts, which has been forked and improved from the original Slackware Live Scripts. In terms of included software, this live release mirrors the standard Salix Xfce 14.2 release. All software that is included there, like the Xfce 4.12 desktop, Mozilla Firefox, the LibreOffice suite, the collection of Salix System Tools etc, are also included in this release. Some additional software, specific to the Live edition is also included. That includes the Salix Live Installer, which has been updated for this release and allows the user to install Salix Live to the system's hard drive." Read the rest of the release announcement for more information.
The Amnesic Incognito Live System (Tails) is a Debian-based, live distribution with the goal of providing Internet anonymity for its users. The distribution accomplishes this by directing Internet traffic through the Tor network and by providing built-in tools for protecting files and scrubbing away meta data. The project's latest release mostly focuses on fixing bugs and improving security: "Fixed problems: Synaptic installs packages with the correct architecture. Set default spelling to en_US in Icedove. Known issues: Users setting their Tor Browser security slider to High will have to click on a link to see the result of the search they done with the search box." Additional information on Tails 2.7 can be found in the project's release notes. A list of issues fixed in the 2.7 release can be found in the list of former security issues.
The openSUSE team has announced the availability of a new version of the distribution's Leap edition. openSUSE Leap provides a stable base, similar to SUSE Linux Enterprise, with the addition of community-provided software packages. The latest version, openSUSE 42.2, features KDE's Plasma 5.8 desktop, version 4.4 of the Linux kernel and over 1,400 new packages in the distribution's software repositories. "Members of the openSUSE Project are pleased to announce the release of the next minor version of Leap; openSUSE Leap 42.2! Leap is made to give stability-minded users and conservative technology adopters peace of mind. openSUSE Leap 42.2 is powered by the Linux 4.4 Long-Term-Support (LTS) kernel and is a secure, stable and reliable server operating system for deploying IT services in physical, virtual or cloud environments. A selective process of including well-established packages in openSUSE Leap 42.2 gives new meaning to the term Linux Optimization; openSUSE Leap is simply the safe choice that offers Linux professionals a user-friendly desktop and a feature-rich server environment." Further information can be found in the project's release announcement.
openSUSE 42.2 -- Running the Plasma desktop
(full image size: 238kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
ReactOS is an open source operating system which strives to provide an environment which is binary compatible with the Microsoft Windows operating system. The ReactOS project has published their fourth release of 2016 with ReactOS 0.4.3. The new version includes improvements to the winsock networking library and offers better support for DOS-era software, including games. "The ReactOS Project is pleased to announce the release of another incremental update, version 0.4.3. This would be fourth such release the project has made this year, an indication we hope of the steady progress that we have made. Approximately 342 issues were resolved since the release of 0.4.2, with the oldest dating all the way back to 2006 involving text alignment." Additional information on ReactOS 0.4.3 can be found in the project's release announcement. ReactOS is available as a live disc and via installation media.
Zorin OS 12
Zorin OS is a Linux distribution which strives to provide a familiar desktop experience for former Windows users and which uses Ubuntu as a package base. The project has announced the launch of Zorin OS 12 which features many changes to the desktop interface and utilities. "We have entirely re-imagined the Zorin Desktop environment in Zorin OS 12. This new version of Zorin Desktop is powered by Gnome Shell and packs an enormous variety of new features. Activities Overview: With a tap of the logo/super key on your keyboard, you can instantly see everything that’s happening on your computer from the Activities Overview. Every window and every workspace comes into view so you can browse, rearrange and organize your apps as they’re running. New workspaces are added dynamically, so you’ll never run out of room on your desktop. Universal Search: As soon as you start typing in the Activities Overview, you can search for anything on your computer and beyond. Not only can you find your installed apps, Universal Search also suggests new apps to download from the Software store as you type." Further details can be found in the project's release announcement. Zorin OS is available in two editions: a free Core edition and commercial Ultimate edition.
Zorin OS 12 -- Showing the defautl desktop and application menu
(full image size: 900kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Slackel 6.0.8 "Openbox"
Dimitris Tzemos has announced the release of Slackel 6.0.8 "Openbox" edition, the latest version of the project's lightweight distribution based on Slackware Linux and Salix: "Slackel 6.0.8 Openbox has been released. Includes the Linux kernel 4.4.29 and latest updates from Slackware's 'Current' tree. There are four ISO images - two installation ISO images and two live ISO images (64-bit and 32-bit). The 64-bit ISO images support booting on UEFI systems. The 32-bit ISO images support both i686 PAE SMP and i486, non-PAE capable systems. ISO images are 'isohybrid'. Full multimedia support without having to install multimedia codecs while on live environment. Of course, it is suggested to install multimedia codecs to your system after installation. Slackel 6.0.8 Openbox includes the Midori 0.5.11 web browser, Claws-Mail 3.13.2, SMPlayer 16.11.0, Transmission 2.92, PCManFM 1.2.4, Pidgin 2.11.0, gFTP 2.0.19, wicd, OpenJRE 8u91." Continue to the release announcement for full details.
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
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: 257
- Total data uploaded: 46.9TB
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Graphical user interfaces across devices
In October we talked about Ubuntu's Unity 8 desktop environment which is designed to offer a consistent experience across devices, from smart phones to workstations. In another article we covered Android-x86 which strives to take a mobile operating system and make it run on a desktop computer. In their own ways, both of these systems try to simplify the desktop and merge the concepts of traditional desktop environments with mobile interfaces.
This week we explored Endless OS, a distribution which takes yet another approach. Endless OS presents us with a desktop environment that has been streamlined to look and feel more like a mobile graphical interface.
We would like to find out which of the above approaches to unifying desktops and mobile devices you like best. Do you like the idea of one new interface designed to work across both platforms (Ubuntu), mobile interfaces being ported to desktop computers (Android-x86) or a traditional desktop being streamlined to offer a more mobile-like experience (Endless OS)? Or do you prefer to run different interfaces with different styles on your various devices?
You can see the results of our previous poll on verifying ISO files here. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
Graphical user interfaces across devices
|I want a new interface that works across devices: ||228 (12%)|
| I want a mobile interface ported to the desktop: ||25 (1%)|
| I want a desktop interface streamlined: ||148 (8%)|
| I want separate interfaces for each device: ||1448 (76%)|
| Other: ||60 (3%)|
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 28 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$14.81)
|Linux Foundation Training
|• Issue 760 (2018-04-23): Chakra 2017.10, using systemd to hide files, Netrunner's ARM edition, Debian 10 roadmap, Microsoft develops Linux-based OS|
|• Issue 759 (2018-04-16): Neptune 5.0, building containers with Red Hat, antiX introduces Sid edition, fixing filenames on the command line|
|• Issue 758 (2018-04-09): Sortix 1.0, openSUSE's Transactional Updates, Fedora phasing out Python 2, locating portable packages|
|• Issue 757 (2018-04-02): Gatter Linux 0.8, the UNIX and Linux System Administration Handbook, Red Hat turns 25, super long term support kernels|
|• Issue 756 (2018-03-26): NuTyX 10.0, Neptune supplies Debian users with Plasma 5.12, SolydXK on a Raspberry Pi, SysV init development|
|• Issue 755 (2018-03-19): Learning with ArchMerge and Linux Academy, Librem 5 runs Plasma Mobile, Cinnamon gets performance boost|
|• Issue 754 (2018-03-12): Reviewing Sabayon and Antergos, the growing Linux kernel, BSDs getting CPU bug fixes, Manjaro builds for ARM devices|
|• Issue 753 (2018-03-05): Enso OS 0.2, KDE Plasma 5.12 features, MX Linux prepares new features, interview with MidnightBSD's founder|
|• Issue 752 (2018-02-26): OviOS 2.31, performing off-line upgrades, elementary OS's new installer, UBports gets test devices, Redcore team improves security|
|• 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|
|• Full list of all issues|
|Random Distribution |
Founded in March 2000, Progeny Linux Systems develops Linux-based software and services for networking computing environments. Progeny Componentized Linux was a new kind of Linux "distribution", built bottom-up as a set of interchangeable parts that closely track their counterpart "upstream" open-source projects, rather than top-down as a monolithic, difficult-to-change whole. By being constructed in this fashion, the componentized Linux was easier to customise and modify than traditional Linux distributions.