| 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
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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)
|Linux Foundation Training
|Reader Comments • Jump to last comment
1 • GUI (by Rev_Don on 2016-11-21 01:14:42 GMT from United States) |
I want a GUI that is appropriate to the hardware. How difficult is that for developers to understand.
2 • Rolling Distributions (by Marc Magi on 2016-11-21 02:05:56 GMT from Belize)
"...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..."
What's the PURPOSE of a Rolling Distribution? If you want pure stability then stay with a tradition distro that gets a 6 -12 month release. Sabayon seems to want the TITLE of Rolling Distro but yet not be bleeding edge or close to it. Man up! Swing for the fences or stay as a distro on a release cycle.
3 • That's not the point (by bigsky on 2016-11-21 02:48:57 GMT from Canada)
..........HUH....... ? Its always an experiment . Sometimes incremental some times not.
4 • OpenIndiana (by Michael Kruger on 2016-11-21 03:05:13 GMT from United States)
"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."
The one to watch is OpenIndiana (formerly OpenSolaris) which is currently experience a renaissance. It also provides ZFS as the default operating system, complete with automated boot environment snapshots, which are created by the package manager whenever performing a 'pkg update'. Not only that, with the newly ported FreeBSD boot loader, you can now install the root pool to a mirror or raidz.
5 • Ubuntu (by bison on 2016-11-21 04:02:30 GMT from United States)
Currently a unified UI at 11% in the poll, while different UIs is at 75%. Ubuntu is of course free to do what they want; it's their time, money, etc. But I wonder where they'd be today if they hadn't run down that rabbit hole.
6 • @2 - rolling distros (by Hoos on 2016-11-21 04:39:07 GMT from Singapore)
Rolling is not always extreme bleeding edge.
It just means the whole distro, every single package, is moving along all the time so you never ever need to reinstall or take special steps - which may or may not cause problems - to upgrade it to the next fixed release every 6 to 12 months.
The SPEED at which a particular rolling distro moves is different. Arch is bleeding edge. Manjaro Stable is maybe 2-3 weeks behind Arch. PCLinuxOS is fairly sedate in pace, but at any point in time it is still likely to have newer packages than a fixed release distro except possibly when a fixed release distro is still shiny new (and even then, I suspect it will be much newer than a newly-released Debian Stable). Sabayon is somewhere in between Arch and PCLinuxOS. I have used all of them.
What is the PURPOSE of a rolling release? You don't have to reinstall, ever. And if the packages are always much fresher than a fixed release distro, some people may be perfectly ok with the fact that their rolling distro of choice is a few weeks behind the bleeding edge.
7 • Endless OS (by Tran Older on 2016-11-21 05:03:47 GMT from Vietnam)
Endless OS reminds me of Lindows OS 4.5 - both have Debian background, both are Microsoft Office compatible and both have online store for purchasing applications and codecs. It didn't work in the past, doubtfully it will work in the future.
8 • Interfaces (by mcellius on 2016-11-21 05:17:37 GMT from United States)
I'm an Ubuntu user and I love it. I use and like Unity - yes, I'm the one - but I really don't care a bit if my phone and desktop have the same interface. I have always been up to handling different interfaces.
On the other hand, I really don't mind if Ubuntu experiments with convergence and tries to develop a unified interface. Good things have come from the effort, and more probably will.
So I checked "other" in the poll. Frankly, I don't care. I've tried all the interfaces and like Unity best, and in the future I'm sure to try new developments, too, whether or not they can also be used on my phone.
9 • multiple alike Interfaces (by Thom on 2016-11-21 05:37:56 GMT from Sweden)
I feel one obvious option is missing from the survey.
The idea that you can shoehorn a desktop interface into a phone format is about as practical as ballooning a phone interface up to a desktop format. Neither works, as have been convincingly demonstrated. What would be the obvious solution is a set of agreed-upon standards, shepherded by a advisory group, that can bring together a common theme with familiar elements that ensures commonality but respects the different form factors and user needs.
I guess the short answer would be a both/and rather than a both, neither, or either.
10 • Inerfaces (by argent on 2016-11-21 06:48:01 GMT from United States)
Personally refuse to use Ubuntu anything simply because it does not merit my trust. Happy with Android as being the lesser of two evils.
Any type of unified interface would suggest a compromise of what I enjoy with my desktop, personnally see no contender interface that would suffice. Unity to me is not an option as it would not for many.
Maybe a new approach could be considered but not going to get my attention with what I'm seeing in the Linux world, don't use Android on my desktop but content on my iphone.
Too much attention toward Ubuntu, think they need to polish and make it a lot better with stability as a desktop first. Think Ubuntu is getting over it's head with mobile devices, like I said earlier it is a trust issue.
11 • opensuse (by Bob on 2016-11-21 07:41:10 GMT from Germany)
opensuse was and still is the most buggy linux distro that i have ever tested!
1-usb install not possible...it hangs or need some hacks to work!
2-login to normal user hangs after changing the root password!!
3-X doesn't start after update...
4-default firewall interface doesn't work. removing this and install firewalld is a mess with yast modules...
5-yast is not complete and some modules doesn't work
6-software update takes too long...zypper problem with dns!? curl problem!?
7-opensuse has still ugly fonts..
8-some devices wont work despite the firmware was installed...intel wireless 8260 is an example...
you can not solve this problems on forums despite they try to help and are polite!
12 • Graphical user interfaces... (by Vukota on 2016-11-21 08:33:45 GMT from Montenegro)
I voted other, because there are no two types of devices, but three. I have mobile devices, pure desktop devices, and hybrid "desktops" (two in ones) that I use sometimes as a desktop, sometimes as a tablet, sometimes as a hybrid (desktop with extensive touch and zoom in/out capabilities or with the pen). Unfortunately, where I really see support lacking in Linux is this hybrid use case and the one I do need most on those devices. These devices are usually more expensive than "pure" desktops (and very cool) but unfortunately only usable UI alternative on them is to use Windows. I don't really have much of the use case for pure "mobile" graphical user interface on Linux , but I can see where it can be applicable (Raspberry Pi hybrids and pure Linux tablets/phones that can run full desktop apps).
13 • OpenSuSE Leap 42.2 - great! (by Gerhard Goetzhaber on 2016-11-21 09:17:41 GMT from Austria)
This edition may really been marked a Hail Mary!
In the past I've installed 42.1 as well as Tumbleweed again and again for I always appreciated that wonderfully sophisticated instrument called YaST which in it's perfection as an exceedingly powerful all-purpose graphical management tool has kept singular and leading all through the evolution of Linux distros up to these days. However, within those numerous trials I'd always run into the same troubles with Plasma stability especially when operated over two or three monitors, and as the worst issue 42.1 made my main flatscreen's backlight fail severely and repeatedly. In fact, with the release of 42.2 that's all eradicated! Even the formerly vast cycles of startup and shutdown procedures are forgotten.
The only minor issue rested therein is that the software based USB2 connection to my Eaton UPS as set up by systemd-sysvinstall will not be reestablished after every startup, so from time to time I must call systemctl restart for it from a root terminal. Be as is, that's a snap.
For conclusion, I dare say I strongly recommend 42.2 to all guys who're looking for a mature and well engineered Linux OS. Give it a trie!
Well, it needs a pretty bit of experience to get the system balanced with Packman or VideoLAN repos for MM purposes, but as soon you have learned about all the tweaking possibilities of YaST you will certainly be overcome!
Be the Ancients with all of you, Geri
14 • @5 Poll (by kc1di on 2016-11-21 10:49:04 GMT from United States)
I Agree With # 5 how far would the desktop have come if Ubuntu had not run down the convergence path.
I favor separate flavors for each job. They are not the same beast and I'd rather have something separately that works well on each. I don't need my phone to be the same as my desktop just that they will sync files , photos etc.
As for the rolling releases they all break from time to time. PCLinuxOS would be my choice but that wasn't part of the trial. PCLinxOS does a good job of balancing cutting edge and stability. In any event good issue of DW weekly
15 • @5 Poll (by kc1di on 2016-11-21 10:50:22 GMT from United States)
I Agree With # 5 how far would the desktop have come if Ubuntu had not run down the convergence path.
I favor separate flavors for each job. They are not the same beast and I'd rather have something separately that works well on each. I don't need my phone to be the same as my desktop just that they will sync files , photos etc.
As for the rolling releases they all break from time to time. PCLinuxOS would be my choice but that wasn't part of the trial. PCLinxOS does a good job of balancing cutting edge and stability. In any event good issue of DW weekly
16 • Opensuse (by tonny on 2016-11-21 11:57:19 GMT from Indonesia)
@11: Same with me. Opensuse is not a smooth sailing to me. There's always something missing/ problematic. And the GUI is not that responsive compared to the other like debian and arch. Debian and Arch are the least troublesome for me.
17 • desktop interfaces: a responsive website (by meanpt on 2016-11-21 12:35:42 GMT from Portugal)
Which one approaches the responsive webite UI design? Seems to be the first option, the Xdevices, with a bit more chameleonich features. Otherwise how to be effective with the touchscreen of a new laptops?
18 • Opensuse (by Simon on 2016-11-21 14:07:25 GMT from South Africa)
I am still fairly new to Linux but played around with many distros in a short space of time. Unfortunately opnesuse does not work for me whatsover as it was soo buggy on my machine that I was forced to go back to something else. I do not have the experience to manually fix multiple issues just to have a working environment. 42.2 might be different but I see no need to try if there are other great distros with newer drivers.
19 • Unified UI (by dragonmouth on 2016-11-21 14:23:22 GMT from United States)
Any 'unified UI' is by definition a compromise. Compromises try to please everyone, while pleasing nobody. I want a distinct UI for each type of device.
20 • GUI across devices (by seacat on 2016-11-21 14:40:29 GMT from Argentina)
My election is "I want separate interfaces for each device" because the devices have different nature. Even more, the same user plays different roles in different devices. For instance, in my smartphone I'm massive internet user, but in my desktop I'm developer, so in my smartphone never I use the console, but frequently in my desktop.
21 • G.U.I. Other (by Roy on 2016-11-21 16:05:58 GMT from United States)
Yeah. Surprise me. That has been my fun in distro-hopping. And recently phone-hopping and stream player-hopping well. A lot of stuff running on Android. I used to think that networking was about computers and that networking was getting other computers hooked with other computers. With the advent of HDMI I am learning that the term 'networking' has taken on a much larger 'context'.
22 • GUI Poll Question, Rolling Experiment (by cykodrone on 2016-11-21 16:08:02 GMT from Canada)
I get it that the uber nerds were thinking 'future proof' when most (oily filthy fingerprint germ culture) PC and laptop screens will be swipe soon, but they jumped the gun. It was like overnight mice and keyboard users were cast aside to the obsolete column. Short version, forcing swipe GUIs on non-swipe device users is presumptive and arrogant.
If I may add one more gripe, every time Redmond churns out a 'flat' and ugly GUI/icon set (complete with eye-mare Fisher-Price colours), FOSS lemmings jump off the cliff with them, where's their originality? I don't want my FOSS OS to like a Redmond abomination, that's part of the reason I use FOSS. Butchering existing GUIs seems to be breaking backwards compatibility. I get that bright, vibrant colours are supposed to be stimulating, but they can also cause eye strain, balance is required.
Rolling release experiment questions:
Do you use the default repos, or have you added/changed any?
Do you install a boat-load of third party apps from the distros' default repos and periodically try them to see if any updates affect them?
Do you do any customizing of any kind, or do you keep the install(s) 100% 'stock'?
Do you leave the GUI(s) their default themes or do you change them at all?
Why I'm asking is because if you don't keep the 'test bed' 100% 'sterile', there's kind of no point, updates and apps from default repos shouldn't break anything, just saying.
23 • @14 FUD @22 answers (by linuxista on 2016-11-21 16:17:38 GMT from United States)
@14 said, "As for the rolling releases they all break from time to time." Sorry, simply FUD. I'm just a normal user, not an IT greybeard, and my primary OS on my old laptop was an Arch install that kept going for 6 years. If you want something with a greater chance of really breaking, use a release upgrade distro and do release upgrades instead of clean installs.
@22 RR questions (pertaining to Arch):
*Use AUR without significant problems. Generally easy and functional to install and update.
*Use anything and everything. No problems.
*Don't understand what you mean by "customize."
*I use third party themes and icons without any issues.
24 • @23 Customizing (by cykodrone on 2016-11-21 16:37:13 GMT from Canada)
Anything, anything at all, something as simple as changing a line in a config file for example. Since you are using Arch, that's a moot point, lol. :D
I was referring to Jesse's experiment, and keeping the testbed installs 'sterile'.
All three distros on my machine have been customized to some degree, but I'm not a noob, so I can get away with it. My questions were with noobs in mind, trying and using Linux as a replacement for overpriced and snoopy proprietary operating systems.
25 • Security_hole_in_KDE_neon_packages,_and_Maui_2 (by k on 2016-11-21 16:39:44 GMT from Romania)
Might the Maui 2 build released before discovery of security hole
in packages archive of KDE neon it is based on have been compromised?
I downloaded and verified -- md5 and sha256 -- Maui 2 ISO from
sourceforge, twice, then made 2 different bootable USBs, first
with unetbootin, and second with dd command, and the 1st had
an error in 1 file, the second in 2 files.
That has not happened before with many such trials of other
Does anyone know where the signature and signing key files for
Maui 2 are?
Thank you very much in advance for any help.
26 • Endless OS (by Brian on 2016-11-21 17:57:35 GMT from United States)
First off, Endless OS uses flatpak for its app management. If you want to install anything, you can add the dependencies (such as Gnome) and then install whatever flatpak you are looking for.
Second, Endless OS is primarily intended for countries were internet access is limited or unreliable. Therefore the Full version, which offers 100+ apps that are fully useful offline makes more sense. Since I have a stable connection, I did the basic and added the apps that I want.
Third, this is a education-centric distribution. It is here to help kids learn. One look in the App center tells the story. There are some very unique apps and some applications of common web interfaces for other apps that set this distribution apart.
I am in no way a fanboy of Endless OS, but my 9 year old absolutely loves if for her homework and she was using Edubuntu prior. She says Endless is better because she can't break it.
27 • <3 OpenSUSE 42.2 (by xChris on 2016-11-21 19:02:23 GMT from United Kingdom)
a bit more polished from 42.1, also KDE really rocks than the older version, I had to use Gnome because of some bugs of KDE (on 42.1) , I am now back to KDE, minor issues like gfx corruption on some tooltips (on Xrender now instead openGL, seems the built-in GPU (A6-7400K) is partially supported...) I like Tumbleweed (rolling) but having an SSD , rolling releases is overkill for it.
28 • @5 (by Jeff on 2016-11-21 19:04:12 GMT from United States)
Did they give up on bug #1?
To beat another OS don't you need to be more popular than it?
Wouldn't that usually mean paying attention to what the users that you are trying to attract want?
Software devs so often seem to act like artists, they make what they want and don't care that no one likes it.
But if success is measured by how many users you have then wouldn't an approach like a business where you supply what the 'customer' wants be more likely to work?
29 • Endless OS @ Jessie (by Lennie on 2016-11-21 19:16:44 GMT from Canada)
>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. <
Last week, I mentioned this. I tried to install it alongside other Linux distros, in my Linux only laptop. I'm not interested in installing it as my solo Linux distro, wiping out my laptop. That's not the way we use our Linux boxes. We use many Limux distros happily living alongside.
It installed alongside Windows from Windows, in an old Windows laptop, where I didn't care if it killed Windows, without a problem. It favours Windows for dual booting. It doesn't favour Linux.
30 • @26 Brian (by Lennie on 2016-11-21 19:55:33 GMT from Canada)
I understand that this Endless OS is good for kids, but that is not what I want know. Can you tell us, how you installed it alongside another Linux OS? Do you know, (or feel) why the devs won't release an iso? If they do, won't we simply fork it?
31 • @30 Lennie (by Brian on 2016-11-21 21:01:56 GMT from United States)
From what I have read on their development track, they are working on an ISO format now. I would expect it to come out very shortly.
In terms of installing it alongside Linux: If you install a distribution afterwards, you will lose the boot option for Endless. I am unsure what type of boot manager they have, but GRUB2 will not pick it up by default. I have tried repairing GRUB to no avail. I am considering setting aside an area of the hard drive from within linux using something like GParted and then running the installer for Endless pointed to that path.
I have been very pleased that they use OSTree for their system files and Flatpak for packages. It gives piece of mind to see someone adopting both at this stage in the development.
I hope that helps.
32 • GUI (by Modern Software on 2016-11-21 21:06:12 GMT from United States)
I personally believe that the upcoming MXLDE built into Modern X is the best for all, but I'm the only one who has seen it, so...
33 • ReactOS (by PMcCartney on 2016-11-21 21:08:59 GMT from United States)
Earlier last week, ReactOS announced its latest 'Alpha' release; 0.4.3.
I decided to give it a spin, so I managed to successfully install it in a VM. Surprisingly, it has a look and feel that is very similar to Windows XP. However, that's pretty much where the similarity ends.
ReactOS is NOT another Linux distribution trying to emulate Windows by running WINE. Instead, the developers of ReactOS have written everything from the ground up. The installation is quick and minimal. And, the amount of system resources it uses is also minimal.
Applications are installed through a GUI 'Applications Manager'. The Applications Manager offers a fairly complete list of useful, open source applications that are available to install. However, I ran into problems when I tried to install LibreOffice. It complained that it couldn't find the address to download the package. And you cannot simply go to the LibreOffice website and download the version for windows and expect it to install. It just doesn't work that way. In other words, you cannot download any Windows software application and expect it to install. The system will more than likely crash, if you try.
Overall, it appears to be a good effort in the right direction for getting a non-commercial version of a Windows-like environment. It just needs more time for refinement. Kudos to the developers, and their ongoing efforts.
34 • @11 and @16 (by matteo on 2016-11-21 21:32:40 GMT from Italy)
Taht was my experience too with the standard desktop install. Then, to test, I tried the netboot. I made a minimal install (sort of basic cmdline only) and than started poking with zipper to meet few goals in my exercise:
1- have a gui and a session starting in graphic mode (no cmd line) with xfce
2- have chrome and vlc on it
3- have all codecs and audio ok for multimedia - live in europe and don't give a f*** to free-vs-patent encumbered codecs: hey I want my mp3!
using this not-really-smooth-path from a minimalistic install lead me to a very stable and responsive system.
I'm now really impressed of how much messy is the default opensuse vs what you can achieve using it the harderst path!
35 • @31@ Brian (by Lennie on 2016-11-21 21:50:39 GMT from Canada)
Your explanation doesn't help at all. Your 1st comment (#26) said your 9 year old daughter is using it. Now, after reading your last comment, it looks like you've installed it in alongside Windows.
I know what boots it in the USB stick and also what boots it alongside Windows. I got it going in a Linux partition alongside other Linux up to a point. Then, I dropped it. I'm not going to waste time picking it to pieces to study it. I can see why the devs are not that interested on making it accessible for installation alongside other Linukses. At this moment, they have done everything possible for it to not to be installed in a Linux box. I wrote last week that I thoroughly studied it.
So, until such time, the devs would release a live iso or an installable iso, I don't consider this Endless iso as a Linux distro.
36 • Oh, c'mon! (by azuvix on 2016-11-21 21:54:36 GMT from United States)
Forgive me for getting a little blunt with this, but I'd like to find the person who first thought "hey, wouldn't it be cool if my tablet and desktop looked exactly alike!" and bludgeon them to death with said tablet.
Literally *nothing* that I use my computer for is better served by a tablet, and the last thing I need is whatever limited, glitzy GUI all the cool kids have on their mobile devices determining my workflow.
Now, if other people have different devices and needs, I'm not saying you're doing something horribly wrong. What I'm saying is that you should weigh your options and find your most efficient way of using your tech, and you'll likely be surprised at how often a more traditional GUI will get the job done. How big companies pushing for an unholy amalgam of desktop and mobile are currently succeeding, I may never know. Maybe they're catering to a new generation that knows Android and iOS far better than any other systems.
37 • @24 custom configuration (by linuxista on 2016-11-21 23:54:57 GMT from United States)
Moot point indeed. Yes, of course, there are some config files I tweak. I don't know that there's anything though that I wouldn't have to do on another distro to get things the way I want. Doesn't affect stability at all after upgrades, though.
The one thing with Arch and its derivatives is manually updating config files. That's going to be somewhat of an obstacle for noobs, but, depending on what you've got installed, it's not much of an issue. When I had an apache server local dev environment installed, there were changes to apache and php config files that had to be manually reconciled because of custom settings. With a normal home/office usage scenario, in practice it's not much of an issue. Mostly it's minor stuff like shadow, locale, mirrorlist files that don't make any difference, and which you can just auto overwrite your old config files. And sometimes I let them stack up for months without any adverse effect. I would be a noob could just ignore them completely and run without any issues for a number of years.
38 • @33: ReactOS (by Da on 2016-11-22 00:09:06 GMT from United States)
My opinion about ReactOS is that, however good it is or isn't, it is about 10 years too late. In '07 I would have been very interested in trying to make it work. Now, there are just too many other options.
39 • Opinion Poll (by denk_mal on 2016-11-22 07:46:13 GMT from Germany)
Who ever want's to see what happend in a "one fits All" environment could take a look at the website of Logitech (Mouse and Keyboard company).
Even on a 1920x1600 there is is the same (less) number of products as on a 480x320 smartphone.
40 • @33,38 ReactOS (by Thomas Mueller on 2016-11-22 08:38:54 GMT from United States)
I would like to try ReactOS, would like to try to cross-compile from source on FreeBSD but there are barriers within ReactOS, as I was told in communications on their emailing lists. A ReactOS build can not be installed directly but must be made into an ISO image and burned to installation CD. USB won't work because ReactOS will crash when trying to boot from USB, according to their website, so I can't use a USB stick either for installer or installation target, and I can't use SATA hard drive because I use GPT, which ReactOS does not support. I think @38 is right in that ReactOS is too late in the Windows version it tries to be compatible (XP) with, and that there are now much better options such as Linux, FreeBSD and Wine.
41 • "one fits All" environment (by Greg Zeng on 2016-11-22 08:44:15 GMT from Australia)
Started reading this on my Samsung Galaxy s6 phone, portrait then landscape. Now on the 12 inch tablet. Next year, a Lenovo Yoga 910, running either Linux, Windows or Android?
As a very high powered user, I demand flexibility. Highest information density possible, at times, to defaulted multiple choices of menu & icons. Android's Nova Launcher is the only desktop that has this power & flexibility. It can be simulated, partially in Windows & Linux. My smartphone has a fast cpu, GPU, memory, etc. Handling 300+ applications is easy and quick.
Linux's version is having intelli-hidden taskbar on upto four sides of the screen. This is easily done in KDE, XFCE, etc. Compiz, Docky, AWN taskbar addons also add this to all Linux distributions.
42 • user interface (by slick on 2016-11-22 11:09:31 GMT from United States)
Having interface the same on all devices would be boring and problematic, just not something I would do or want.
My Android device is not perfect, sometimes behaves like a buggy Windows install. But, it does the job.
Ubuntu simply trying to move to fast and would suggest improving on their desktop. Steering away from that altogether.
43 • One UI to bring them all and in the darkness bind them... (by Zork on 2016-11-22 12:13:46 GMT from Australia)
Finally a Poll Question that 75%+ agree on...
Trying for a unified interface across multiple devices, while a noble quest, is a task fraught with peril ( and/or bugs )...
People will use their smart-phones & tablets in a specific way to do specific tasks, People will use their laptops & desktops in a specific way to do different specific tasks...
Last thing I want on my desktop is something "Android"-like or the abomination that Win10 splatters on your screen... I am perfectly capable and happy with any of the usual Desktop Environments available in Linux...
Unless there is a quantum shift in the way we interact with the UI on our devices, I can see nothing but an "Almost there" solution coming from trying to have a common interface...
Or we could keep everything separate and optimized for how people actually use each of their devices... Just because a UI change is made to Android/iOS that works doesn't mean the same will work on a desktop/laptop and vice versa...
44 • UI/UX/Streamlining Interfaces, etc... (by observer on 2016-11-22 13:08:13 GMT from Canada)
I selected a new interface, though i don't really want nor need a new interface.
I've read comments about hardware being a deciding factor. And in some ways agree - When I need more power/options/real estate, I choose a desktop or lapttop and thus expect a 'larger' interface. Conversely, when I need something more portable/less powerful, I can opt for a tablet or smartphone with its smaller footprint. I am ok with both scenarios.
A detail I often think about and which popped up today is how even the hardware people can't agree on a standard. Case in point: QWERTY Numeric keypad vs. telephone keypad. They are reversed and using one or the other requires a different set of input motions. Sure, easily remembered/habituated, but entirely not necessary if there was one unified standard for entering this information.
A small ripple in the pond, yet a ripple, nonetheless...
45 • @38,40 ReactOS (by PMcCartney on 2016-11-22 13:30:07 GMT from United States)
Yes, I know ReactOS has been around for a number of years, however, due to my position at work, I'm testing alternate solutions to meet the needs of our company's users who are locked inside a 'Windows 7' world, where AutoCAD along with several other 3D modeling/analysis applications are key.
Unfortunately, WINE is NOT an option. Especially when the software versions are completely incompatible. It really would be great to have another (64-bit) choice besides Windows 10, after Microsoft decides to retire Win7.
IMO, Windows 10 is FAR worse than 8.1. And neither will ever be a match for Windows 7, in my book.
And just to be clear, I am a die-hard Linux fan and user. I started out with Slackware in the mid-90's, and I've recently set up one file server at work that's running Debian "Jessie". Plus, I'm in the process of adding two more servers that will be running Ubuntu to replace two ancient Windows Server 2003 servers.
46 • GUI unification/convergence not a fan (by Mark D on 2016-11-22 14:47:26 GMT from United Kingdom)
I've been a happy Ubuntu/Unity user since it arrived (although I was quite happy with the Gnome 2 interface actually).
However, if Unity 8 asks me to "swipe" or gets me to performs 2 clicks to get something done when previously 1 click sufficed, I'm going to be sadly looking elsewhere for a desktop OS.
I don't understand this desire for convergence across devices.
47 • @ Marc Magi - Rolling Releases (by Lurks on 2016-11-22 15:28:50 GMT from United States)
The post is comparing rolling release distros from installing to using not to say whether one should use one. The main take I get is that Arch and derivatives once set up provide an excellent user experience overall. Sabayon seems to be the next, easier to set up, not quite as bleeding edge (presumably stabler), though with a slower package manager. The other two seem to be solid efforts.
The primary reason to use a rolling release is periodic reinstalls are not required not that they are necessarily bleeding edge. The apparent bleeding edge aspect comes from the continual updating any and all packages on the system after the maintainers have blessed them for release. The one downside of this is that there will be more updates with more bandwidth being used; for some a very important consideration.
48 • @45, ReactOS (by Jay on 2016-11-22 19:15:57 GMT from United States)
I also tried this release, which worked a lot better than the last time I tested it (of course, that was a long time ago when moving the mouse would cause it to crash). It has come a long way. It boots much faster than I thought, shutdown is also very quick, and the RAM footprint is where many lightweight desktops are.
The one negative I found was that writing to disk seemed to be very slow (and maybe reading too). The VM itself was in tmpfs, so I know that the sluggishness was the OS. I was trying to copy 10-20k files into the system, which would take minutes on Windows (the total size was a few hundred MB). On ReactOS, it took an hour or two (not sure how long; I left it and did something else). When I tried to open the application to use it, it was equally slow to non-responsive. I don't know what the problem is, but I hope it is something that they'll get to. I'd like to be able to use it for older software/games/etc.
49 • @47 Rolling Releases (by linuxista on 2016-11-23 07:30:59 GMT from United States)
@47 You said, "Arch and its derivatives once set up..." Setting up Arch from a base install (the Arch way) is indeed more involved than installing, say, Ubuntu or Mint, and presents more opportunity for making mistakes as Jesse might have suffered in his test.
However, installing and "setting up a derivative," be it Manjaro, Apricity, Antergos, ArchBang or whatever else is just as easy as installing, say, Mint. So it is possible to get the excellent user experience without the extra burden at the outset.
Except for missing out on the educational experience, there's not real downside to installing a derivative/respin. Cruftiness doesn't really plague Arch, so you can add or subract apps and whole desktop environments without causing any systemic problems.
50 • UI (by Doug on 2016-11-23 19:58:55 GMT from United States)
I prefer to have different UI for different devices.
My laptop does not have touch capability, why would I want to have software that uses touch?
51 • GUI (by Martin on 2016-11-23 20:38:46 GMT from United Kingdom)
The Unity desktop completely put me off using Ubuntu after it was introduced, IMO a totally unnecessary attempt by canonical to impose a new interface on its many users.
If I use a full desktop, I use Mint, otherwise Fluxbox/Openbox minimalism is my choice. It is interesting that the majority of people polled on here tend to think that way too.
52 • Opinion Poll (by Alessandro di Roma on 2016-11-23 21:44:48 GMT from Italy)
I have a dream: the same user interface on my car and on my rowboat and on my bicycle and on my skis... or maybe it's a nightmare?
53 • @ 50 (by rom on 2016-11-23 22:54:40 GMT from United States)
Touch capabilities are already here. Most of the laptops have it. Once, yo get used to using a touch screen, it'd be pretty hard for you to return to the old way.
54 • @53 Touchscreens (by linuxista on 2016-11-24 04:34:02 GMT from United States)
My new laptop has a touchscreen and I'm using Gnome3 which arguably has the best touch interface. And... I never use it. Never feel the urge to touch the screen. I use a trackball mouse primarily, keyboard shortcuts secondarily, touchpad when I don't have the trackball, and the touchscreen the first day or two after I got the laptop, and nevermore. If I had a convertible laptop where it acted like I tablet I guess I might use it, but I don't see the convenience at all with a regular laptop in reaching for the screen and making big gestures that I can do with a flick of the finger with my hands near the keyboard.
55 • @54 Touchscreens on laptops (by Hoos on 2016-11-24 08:13:42 GMT from Singapore)
Makers and developers should also consider there will always be people like me who have very sweaty hands and really would prefer not to smear their screens with wet streaks if they can help it.
If you're already using the keyboard of your PC/laptop for work and heavy drafting of documents, a touchscreen interface isn't necessary at all.
As it is, I have to clean my tablet/phone screens all the time and it is highly inconvenient.
In the poll I therefore chose to have different interfaces for different devices. The interface should be appropriate for the usual tasks that a device is used for.
I believe people nowadays are quite adaptable and can switch easily between what's "normal" interface for handheld devices and what's normal for a work machine.
56 • @ 54, 55 (by Gert on 2016-11-24 11:09:05 GMT from Netherlands)
How about buying a simple capacitive pen, if your hands are sweaty? You can make a capacitive pen with a simple conductive material. There are lot of youtube videos on that.
I use fingers and a capacitive pen I made myself when working on documents, and even designing. Once you get used to using your fingers on the screen, your usage of the mouse is less. Working long hours with the mouse brings in wrist and palm problems.
57 • @56 (by Vukota on 2016-11-24 14:17:02 GMT from Montenegro)
Quite opposite, using finger and pen on the screen "brings in wrist and palm problems". If you experience the same with mouse, you should look for another mouse. I guaranty that using proper mouse on the desk is the lowest pressure and effort on your muscles .
From the practicality stand point, I 100% agree that artistic skill and teaching/presentation skills are easier with a capacitive pen, and that is why I do need a hybrid UI experience on the desktop that supports capacitive touch (one that will not work the same as the one with mouse). When the touch is involved, you do need few different behaviors (for pen/fingers) and surrounding that has more icons, less menus, and bigger area for clicks/selections. And that is why I voted other, because I do wish to have separate desktop UI/behavior choices for
(2) mobile and
(3) HYBRID (I don't need dumbed down environment in this option to the level of the cell phone or even tablet)
Right now, under Linux situation is very sad for the option #3. The reason is probably the same as why Apple doesn't support touchscreens on OS X devices (as it would require new type of the UI experience).
58 • @57 (by Niemen on 2016-11-24 16:48:39 GMT from United States)
Touch screen is not that supported by Linux distros. None has pinching, zooming abilities. Maybe they have simple open, close, moving, but that's not enough. Right now, other than Android, only Windows appears to have full touch screen abilities in all platforms.
59 • @53, 54, 58 (by Doug on 2016-11-24 17:09:09 GMT from United States)
@53 I have a Dell Latitude D830, no touch capability, why should I buy a new laptop when this one works? I also have a Lenovo Flex, that has touch capability that I almost never use.
Got no use for touch capability. I have an android tablet that I touch all the time with the stylus and only touch with my fingers in order to resize text that is to small to read.
@54, well said.
@58 I have Linux Mint 18 on my Flex and touch works to resize text. So, yes you can zoom if you want.
60 • @59 (by min on 2016-11-24 18:43:54 GMT from Canada)
No, the touch screen actions doesn't work with Mint 18. It won't work with Firefox, which is Mint's default. Some Chromium based browsers allow some touch actions, but not other usual apps. Right now, there isn't a Linux distro that is cleared for touch actions.
61 • Touch (by Doug on 2016-11-24 19:18:03 GMT from United States)
Linux Mint 18 with Chromium, touch works fine.
With FF, the same motion to resize text, just highlights the text.
This is a FF issue. There is probably a way to configure this behavior in FF.
62 • @61 (by Doug on 2016-11-24 19:38:11 GMT from United States)
Now you can use Touch, FF and Linux.
63 • @58 pinch zoom (by linuxista on 2016-11-24 23:02:26 GMT from United States)
GNOME3 definitely does support pinch zooming, swiping as well as other multi-tocuch gestures. I'm afraid that's not the reason a touchscreen on a laptop just isn't a desired feature for me even though I have one.
64 • Tails 3.0 Alpha 1_stretching_the_limits (by k on 2016-11-25 07:34:54 GMT from Romania)
There will probably be some disappointed by 64-bit only version out
at this time, but this latest Tails seems to prove that project is a
really productive return on investment.
Happy to have learned of it from DistroWatch and still wondering
how the Tails project developers do their "magic", I went a bit far
downloading and testing other live distros alongside this Tails 3.0
Alpha 1, but kept and keep on using this Tails. So fast, so functional.
We all have our "little needs".
Actually, rather neglected the live Tails with persistent I have been
using and upgrading for some years.
Much thanks and kudos to the Tails project team and donators.
65 • ALT Linux (by Somewhat Reticent on 2016-11-25 08:26:21 GMT from United States)
Weren't they working with Secure_Boot years ago? How many distros have ISOs that work with this enabled?
If I Remember Correctly, they offer live ISOs with about a dozen different DE/WMs for test/demo/install usage, as well as more ISOs for yet more DE/WM/init flavors, and their corporate workstation editions are 'free for personal use'.
Haven't seen them on LinuxTracker since 2015 May.
66 • rolling release (by voncloft on 2016-11-25 09:23:20 GMT from United States)
I can not stand stable locked releases (mint, ubuntu, etc...) - when you upgrade to the next release there is always a possibility something will go wrong and you were just better off to have installed from scratch to begin with - after that pleasent experience of the first 4 years of my "linux learning/experiences" i moved to Arch as my first rolling distro - but it was just to bleeding edge...so i decided to go with Gentoo - I get more control, it is built for my system in real time (no binaries of generic packages), and it is best of all stable.
67 • MX 16 RC1 (by tom joad on 2016-11-25 16:19:50 GMT from Czech Republic)
I want to get a giant shout out to the MX Linux folks for the latest release even though it is still a RC.
I like it, I like it ALOT!
I have used MX-15 for a long time. Then I tried Mint again. And it was Mint. But the MX folks got it going on. It is fast, adjustable and I love the right click on the screen so you can just get on with your business.
However, I would very much like to see Keepassx added to MX-16. That would make it better for a lot of folks, myself included. And if you do it, do the 2.x version. Tails just upgraded to 2.x in their 3.0 alpha release. Good move. I have been straddling both versions. Otherwise I will have to add it as I do.
Jesse, maybe we could have a review of MX-16 in the by and by...
68 • @63 touch screen actions (by Niemen on 2016-11-25 17:59:50 GMT from United States)
I can tell you that Gnome 3 doesn't have pinching zooming abilities. I'm writing from Gnome3 and a touch screen laptop, so I know. If you install Chrome or Chromium, you may get those abilities, but only on that web browser. Nautilus won't work, or any other default apps.
69 • @67 0 tom joad (by Chris Whelan on 2016-11-25 18:22:01 GMT from United Kingdom)
MX-16 includes Seahorse for password and key management.
70 • @68 gnome3 pinching (by linuxista on 2016-11-25 19:06:45 GMT from United States)
I can tell you that Gnome 3 does have pinch zooming abilities. I'm writing from Gnome3 and a touch screen laptop. So I know. Pinch zooming works in Chrome, Brave, and Epiphany browsers. Looks like it works in Firefox as well, with add-ons or not, but this is a more of a question of Firefox than Gnome. Pinch zooming also works with image and pdf viewers in Gnome. If your point is that pinch zooming is not universal across all apps, including GTK2 based GUIs, that is certainly true, but your statement was categorical in saying that Gnome3 does not support pinch zooming. And that is false.
71 • GUI design going down... (by Andy Mender on 2016-11-25 19:12:10 GMT from Austria)
And I wish GUI designers would stop behaving like artists and trying to fit one size to both mobile and desktop devices. It.makes.no.sense. It was proven NOT to work so many times that any further attempt I am fair to attribute to sheer ignorance.
There is a reason why HAND-held devices have a touch screen and desktop devices typically do not. Why even think of building a touch-centric GUI and shoving it onto a desktop OS? There is enough over-engineering as it is...
Also, someone mentioned developers as the culprit. No, it's not the fault of the developers solely. It's the fault of the so-called "end-users", who have unrealistic expectations and throw a fit whenever those expectations are not met. There actually do exist developers who understand what a GUI can be used for. "Shiny" should not be on such a list.
72 • GUIs across devices (by Simon Wainscott-Plaistowe on 2016-11-25 19:57:40 GMT from New Zealand)
It will be interesting to take Endless OS for a test drive, however I suspect I'll still be using Cinnamon & MATE as my desktops of choice. Why? ...simply because they both have reasonably modest resource requirements and they both provide a comprehensive desktop computing experience. Meanwhile I continue to use Android phones because they're inexpensive and do everything a phone should do. Both Canonical and Microsoft have tried the "one OS size fits all" approach and IMHO it hasn't worked particularly well for either of them, although I do believe Ubuntu's Unity has much potential. Perhaps the future will bring the Killer-OS-for-All-Devices, but for now I'll stick to using interfaces which are specifically designed to provide the best user experience for the relevant hardware.
73 • Endless OS (by RJA on 2016-11-26 01:06:52 GMT from United States)
Endless OS=More like The Beginning Of The End OS
The developers apparently think they can take control away from the comsumer and change the license to suit a screwed up agenda.
74 • MX-16 (by Stormbringer on 2016-11-26 08:25:13 GMT from United States)
Kudos to anticaptalista for providing a much unique and original Linux distribution. Both Mepis and antiX run on my dust box and couldn't be any happier.
Simply a distro with excellence under the hood!
75 • @74 MX-16 (by Niemen on 2016-11-26 08:48:12 GMT from United States)
"The 32 bit version ships with 2 stable 3.16 Debian kernels (pae and non-pae), while the 64 bit comes with the more recent Debian backports 4.7 kernel to cater for newer hardware."
The above is from MX Linux. Linux kernel's development is to support newer hardware, rather than support for new software. We users have that comfort of all old apps working in 'old' kernels. Between 4.7 and 3.16, there is a massive difference, isn't there?
76 • MX-16 (by Stormbringer on 2016-11-26 20:09:45 GMT from United States)
Yes, spot on! have been using antix-mephis for a few years and now it certainly has a lot more look and feel with MX-16. Very pleased with this release.
Sometimes a little impatient waiting on update-upgrade so run either testing or sid with all installs. A world of difference between stable and testing. Please to know anticapitalista is helping lead the way with systemd-less distributions. Very responsive, very fluid and no drag!
77 • @76 MX-16 is Stable only (by Jerry on 2016-11-27 22:58:39 GMT from United States)
There is no option to run Testing or Sid with MX, though antiX offers those options. MX is based on Stable, adding many backports and non-Debian packages as well as the native MX Tools.
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