| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 699, 13 February 2017
Welcome to this year's 7th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
Open source is virtually everywhere these days. Open source operating systems power many of the world's servers, run many of our media players and run on most of our smart phones. This week we explore several niche projects and distributions, starting with the OpenELEC and Clear Linux projects. OpenELEC is a distribution dedicated to running the Kodi media software on a variety of devices and Clear Linux is a fast, minimal server operating system. We also talk about Ubuntu's mobile operating system running on the modifiable Fairphone, GhostBSD's network configuration utility being ported to FreeBSD and the elementary OS team working on a pay-what-you-want app store. Plus we talk about the benefits and drawbacks to different types of file compression in our Tips and Tricks column and ask people about their preferred archive formats in our Opinion Poll. We are happy to provide a list of last week's releases and share the torrents we are seeding. Plus we have a new distribution, SLG OS, on our waiting list. We wish you all a terrific week and happy reading!
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (43MB) and MP3 (28MB) formats.
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
OpenELEC is a Linux-based distribution designed to act as a media hub and, in particular, to run the Kodi media software. (Kodi was previously named XBMC.) The Kodi software essentially turns the computer into a dedicated media centre which can either play media directly or through an attached television. The OpenELEC distribution provides a range of builds for x86-powered computers, Raspberry Pi and WeTek devices, along with a few other platforms.
The installation images we download from OpenELEC are compressed disk images which can be written to USB thumb drives or SD cards. There do not appear to be any ISO images which would be suitable for writing to a CD or DVD.
Since I had previously experimented with OpenELEC on my Raspberry Pi computer which features an ARM processor, I decided to shift focus and run OpenELEC 7.0.0 on a laptop computer, running on a 64-bit x86 processor. I downloaded the 221MB compressed disk image which, when unpacked, expanded to 548MB. I then copied this image file to a USB thumb drive and used it to boot my laptop.
Booting from the OpenELEC media brought up a series of text menus which asked if I would like to install a fresh copy of the distribution or upgrade an existing installation. Selecting the fresh install option brought up a menu asking me to select which hard drive would host my new copy of OpenELEC. I selected my hard drive and a warning appeared letting me know any data on the disk would be lost when OpenELEC was installed.
I opted to proceed and, a minute later, the installer announced it was finished. From there I removed my thumb drive and rebooted the computer. At this point I ran into a wall as OpenELEC failed to boot. I was a little disappointed as my past experimented with OpenELEC 5.0.8 had gone well.
OpenELEC's latest version looks enticing and I've had good luck with the distribution before, but this time around the system did not play well with my laptop so I moved on to a new project I had not tried before.
* * * * *
I next turned my attention to a distribution which has only recently been added to the DistroWatch database: Clear Linux. The Clear Linux distribution is unusual in a few ways. For one, the project is not designed to be a full featured or general purpose operating system; Clear Linux focuses on performance more than features. The distribution is fairly minimal and is designed with cloud computing in mind, though it may also be used in other areas, particularly on servers. The project's website states:
The Clear Linux Project for Intel Architecture is a distribution built for various cloud use cases. We want to showcase the best of Intel Architecture technology and performance, from low-level kernel features to complex applications that span across the entire OS stack. We're putting emphasis on power and performance optimizations throughout the operating system as a whole... Our aim was not to make yet another general-purpose Linux distribution; sometimes lean-and-fast is better than big-and-universal.
Another aspect of Clear Linux which sets it apart is the distribution does not handle software the same way most other Linux distributions do. Instead of upgrading thousands of individual packages, the Clear Linux operating system gets upgraded as a whole. We do not upgrade the desktop or our text editor individually, with Clear Linux we upgrade the entire operating system from one version to the next. This makes Clear Linux a sort of unified rolling release operating system. We can add or remove software, but these components (called "bundles" rather than "packages") encapsulate a piece of software and its dependencies. Again, the project's website explains:
We do not deploy software through packages as many distributions do. Instead, we provide "bundles" that each contain a set of functionality for the system administrator -- functionality that is enabled by composing all the required upstream open source projects into one logical unit: a bundle.... There is another notable difference between package-based distributions and the Clear Linux OS for Intel Architecture. On a package-based OS, a system administrator can update each individual package or piece of software to a newer (or older!) version. In the Clear Linux OS for Intel Architecture, an update translates to an entirely new OS version, containing one or many updates; it is not possible to update a piece of the system while remaining on the same version of Clear Linux.
Clear Linux is available in several builds for various virtual environments, including KVM, Azure and Hyper-V. However, the build I wanted to try on my laptop was the "Live" edition which can be run from a USB thumb drive. I feel it worth mentioning the Live edition collects and sends telemetry data back to the project's developers.
The Live edition of Clear Linux was a 211MB download which gave me a compressed image file. Unpacking the downloaded file resulted in a 5,185MB (approximately 5GB) image file which I could then transfer to a USB thumb drive. I plugged the drive into my laptop and attempted to boot Clear Linux. I found the distribution failed to boot when my laptop was run in legacy BIOS mode, but Clear Linux booted without issue when running in UEFI mode.
Clear Linux's Live edition boots very quickly, taking just a few seconds to bring us to a text console with a login prompt. From here we can sign into the root account without a password. The system insists on getting us to create a password for the root account and we cannot complete logging in until a suitable password is provided. This caused me a little frustration as Clear Linux insisted on a long password that was not based on a dictionary word, it had to be complex and not based on any recognizable pattern. It took me more than a few tries to come up with something the distribution would accept.
Once we get signed in we find ourselves in a very minimal environment. Clear Linux basically just runs a few systemd background services and the login terminal. There are only about a dozen processes running in total, using about 51MB of memory. The distribution features the GNU command line utilities, the OpenSSH secure shell service and Python. I intentionally downloaded a version of Clear Linux which was a few versions out of date to test the upgrade functionality. Version 12100 of the operating system used systemd 231 and version 4.8.12 of the Linux kernel. There are no manual pages or compiler and there is no graphical environment. The distribution takes up about 914MB of disk space.
At first, the root account is the only user on the system. There are not even any other accounts for background services as is common on other distributions. We can add other users to the system using the useradd command line program.
When running on my laptop, I noticed Clear Linux did not recognize my wireless network card, but I was able to plug into a wired connection and use the Ethernet port. Clear Linux automatically sets up a wired network connection and uses Google's DNS servers to resolve hostnames.
Since Clear Linux starts us off with a minimal environment, we will likely want to install new software (bundles) from the distribution's software repository. Installing new bundles, removing unwanted bundles and upgrading the operating system are all tasks handled by a command line program called swupd. To check for new versions of the operating system we can run swupd check-update. This will display the version of the operating system we are using (12100 in my case) and display the version number of the latest release, such as 12400. We can then run swupd update to grab the next version. There is no prompt to confirm the action, swupd simply proceeds. I found upgrades happened fairly quickly, requiring just a few minutes.
To find new bundles we may want to install we can run swupd bundle-add --list. This shows us a simple list of available bundles. The names of these bundles can be short and a bit cryptic and there are no detailed descriptions of bundles so far as I could find. Some item names are fairly straight forward, like the php bundle installs the PHP development language. But I wasn't sure what bat was, or what the differences were between the iot, iot-base and iot-extras bundles.
I noticed there was a bundle for the Xfce desktop. This package does install the components of the Xfce desktop environment, but I was unsuccessful in getting the desktop environment to launch on my laptop.
The swupd software manager works quickly and with very little output. This can make it look like the software manager has locked up, but it always successfully completed its tasks while I was experimenting with it. I was able to install a few tools and experiment with them and found Clear Linux to be stable and fast, as advertised.
I was pleased to note changes to the operating system are persistent across reboots with the changes and upgrades I made being written to the USB thumb drive. All in all, I felt like Clear Linux was a cousin to RancherOS which I explored in my article on small Linux distributions. Like RancherOS, Clear Linux focuses on being a small platform on which we can add new bundles, containers or services. It's probably not an operating system a person would run at home, at least not on a desktop computer, but Clear Linux's performance and simplified software management does make it an appealing option for cloud and server deployments. If you are interested in squeezing more performance out of a server system, I recommend looking through the distribution's documentation as it has several helpful hints and tutorials for setting up services.
* * * * *
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)
GhostBSD's network utility ported to FreeBSD, Ubuntu coming to the Fairphone, elementary OS crowd funding an app store
For a while now people running the GhostBSD operating system have been able to use a graphical desktop utility to connect to nearby networks. The tool, called NetworkMgr, has a similar interface and purpose as the Network Manager program that is used by most Linux distributions. The easy point-n-click nature of the GhostBSD networking tool has made it an attractive option to many FreeBSD users and the NetworkMgr program has recently been added to FreeBSD's port collection. Detailed information on the NetworkMgr port can be found on the FreshPorts website.
* * * * *
Canonical, the company behind the popular Ubuntu operating system, will be showcasing an interesting device at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona at the end of February. The Canonical booth will be featuring the Fairphone 2 mobile device running Ubuntu Touch as its operating system. "The Ubuntu Community UBports has one mission: to have the open source software Ubuntu on every device, starting with smart phones. UBports' actions are based on collaborative development where developers are putting Ubuntu on different smart phones. During the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona end of February UBports will show a very special combination: Ubuntu on the Fairphone 2. With this successfully working device two worlds come together: sustainability and open source." The Fairphone is a development effort to create a modular phone where individual pieces of the phone can be repaired or upgraded. This allows the owner of the Fairphone to upgrade or modify their phone rather than regularly purchasing a new device. The Fairphone 2 can run both the Android and Ubuntu Touch operating systems, mostly due to porting work done by the UBports project. Further information on the phone and UBports can be found on this Ubuntu Insights page.
* * * * *
The elementary OS team is trying to entice more developers to create software for Linux by creating a pay-what-you-want app store. The specifications for the elementary app store outline a portal where Linux users will be able to download third-party software that is DRM-free and pay what they want. This approach to providing software to Linux users on a pay-what-you-want basis has worked well for Humble Bundle sales. "If the Humble Indie Bundle has shown us anything, it's that people place varying amounts of value on indie content and you can still be wildly successful while letting people vote with their wallets. We believe that pay-what-you-want both allows indie developers to get paid for their time and ensures that apps are available to the widest audience possible. We've built our company on pay-what-you-want by making every release of elementary OS available with this model. We're excited to bring this unique model to our users and third party developers by making AppCenter 100% pay-what-you-want." The elementary OS team is running a crowd funding campaign in order to try to raise the money to develop their AppCenter.
* * * * *
These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Tips and Tricks (by Jesse Smith)
Package compression compared
These days people move a lot of data over the Internet. We load web pages, view videos, stream music and download software over our network connections. Ideally, we would like the things we download to use as little bandwidth as possible. Reducing bandwidth means finding a form of data compression which will keep our downloads small and, hopefully, not use up too much of our processor's time.
This past week I decided to try out five different compression technologies to see how they compare in terms of the time required to compress (or decompress) a package archive. I also measured how much each compression method was able to shrink the size of the archive and listed these statistics in the chart below.
I selected these five compression methods (bzip2, gzip, lzip, LZOP and xz/LZMA) because they are the options listed in the tar manual page and therefore most likely to be used when creating package archives. To test each compression method, I put together a package archive which included several text files, some images and some binary data (system libraries). I then compressed and unpacked the archive multiple times and recorded the average time it took to create and unpack the compressed archive.
The results of my test are listed below with the best results marked in bold. In each field, lower values are better.
||Average time to compress (s)
||Average time to unpack (s)
||Compressed size (%)
As you can see from the above chart, the xz/LZMA compression option (as offered through tar) provided strong compression, though relatively slow performance. The gzip method, which is probably the most commonly used way to compress tarballs, offers a great deal of speed and pretty good compression. The LZOP approach worked so quickly I was not sure at first it had done anything at all. LZOP did well when considering how quickly it worked, but the trade-off was the lowest compression ratio of the trial.
Looking at the above statistics, I think it becomes more clear why packagers tend to favour the compression methods (typically bzip2, gzip and xz) they use. The gzip approach is very quick, bzip2 offers a pretty good balance between performance and compression while xz trades off performance for better compression.
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For more questions and answers, visit our Questions and Answers archive.
|Released Last Week
Alessio Fattorini has announced the release of NethServer 7.3. The NethServer distribution is a CentOS-based project for servers and features a modular design along with web-based administrative controls. The new version can use Samba to replace Microsoft Active Directory domain controllers and features centralized account management. "NethServer is now able to act as a Samba Active Directory Controller. NethServer can replace a Microsoft Active Directory Domain Controller Native MS-Windows management tools, like RSAT tools and AD PowerShell are compatible with NethServer Group policies can be deployed through native MS-Windows tools Windows workstations can seamlessly join the AD Domain, no more registry tweaks are needed. NethServer 7 brings a centralized account management (so-called 'multi-site') supporting authentication and authorization against either a local or remote accounts provider." Additional details can be found in the NethServer release announcement.
Juergen Daubert has announced the release of CRUX 3.3, a new version of the project's lightweight (and systemd-free) Linux distribution designed for experienced Linux users (or users willing to follow a detailed handbook). This is the distribution's first stable release in nearly 15 months. "The CRUX team is happy to announce the release of CRUX 3.3. CRUX 3.3 comes with a multilib toolchain which includes glibc 2.24, GCC 6.3.0 and Binutils 2.27. Kernel - Linux 4.9.6. CRUX 3.3 ships with X.Org 7.7 and X.Org Server 1.19.1. The ISO image is processed with isohybrid and is suitable for burning on a CD and putting on a USB drive. UEFI support is available during installation with dosfstools, efibootmgr, and grub2-efi added to the image. Important libraries have been updated to new major versions which are not ABI compatible with the old versions. We strongly advise against manually updating to CRUX 3.3 via ports, since these changes will temporarily break the system." Here is the brief release announcement, with further details provided in the release notes.
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
The table below provides a list of torrents DistroWatch is currently seeding. If you do not 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 in our Torrent Archive. Thanks to Linux Tracker we are able to share the following torrent statistics.
Torrent Corner statistics:
- Total torrents seeded: 295
- Total data uploaded: 56.5TB
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
There are a lot of archive formats out there, each with a different set of strengths and weaknesses. Some formats are designed to be fast, others are portable and some strive to produce very small archives. This week we would like to find out if you have a preferred format to work with. You can leave us a comment with your reasons below.
You can see the results of our previous poll on portable packages, virtual machines and containers here. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
Favourite archive format
|BZIP2: ||98 (5%)|
| GZIP: ||280 (15%)|
| LZIP: ||67 (4%)|
| LZOP: ||10 (1%)|
| RAR: ||159 (8%)|
| XZ: ||263 (14%)|
| ZIP: ||394 (21%)|
| Other: ||178 (9%)|
| No strong preference: ||458 (24%)|
Testing searches for language support
This past week we introduced a new search feature: finding distributions based on multi-language support. It is now possible to filter search results based on which languages a distribution supports out of the box.
At the moment our information on which languages each project includes is somewhat limited and there are gaps in our data. We mostly have just a project's website or wiki to use for confirmation of multilingual support. For this reason, some of the projects in our database simply have "Yes/Other" listed in the multi-language field and other projects may have an incomplete listing of included language codes. If you spot a gap our information, please help us correct it by e-mailing us with a link to where the distribution has listed their supported languages. Together we can make the language search function more useful.
We have also added a page which lists the torrents we are seeding and have seeded in the past. The new Torrent Archive can display torrents listed alphabetically (if you want to look for a specific distribution) or by date (if you want to find a recent upload).
* * * * *
Distributions added to waiting list
- SLG OS. SLG OS stands for the Security Learning Group Operating System. The distribution is a Persian-language operating system based on Ubuntu and featuring the Budgie desktop environment.
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DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 20 February 2017. Past articles and reviews can be found through our Article Search page. 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 • favorite archive format (by Tux_Raider on 2017-02-13 01:28:24 GMT from United States) |
since Slackware is my favorite distro i find myself using Slackware's makepkg command to zip up everything i want to archive, even things like a directory full of text files, or photos, anything and just like installing a package, and to un-package my personal stuff just like installing a slackware software package and it goes right back in to ~/ where it was originally
2 • Open source compression is best: 7z (by Greg Zeng on 2017-02-13 01:31:50 GMT from Australia)
Most Linux and other computer operating systems have this 7z compression. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/7-Zip The official 7z has its forks, etc. The compression format also is part of many popular web browsers, with third-party shells. Surprisingly, it is not used by many coders as a default package container.
The official 7z also has a benchmark. It has 4 compression formats: (7z, tar, win, zip), 7 compression levels, 4 compression methods, 22 dictionary sizes, 12 word sizes, 19 block sizes, up to 16 CPU threads, SFX auto-extraction, encryption, etc. It is so effective that more than one independent competitor offers extra unusual, copyright compression structures (RAR, PEAZIP, etc).
The official 7z application can also open many other continers: ISO, RAR, GZ, TAR, etc.
My independent tests ever since the 7z format was created (18 July 1999; 17 years ago) show that it is almost the tightest compression container. Only very rarely do RAR or ZIP ever offer tighter compression sizes, imho.
3 • For archive formats, I choose 7z too (by LiuYan on 2017-02-13 02:14:17 GMT from United States)
.zip does not support i18n file name well: If zipping files in one character set encoding (say GBK, in Simplified Chinese Windows OS) will caused malformed characters after unzipping in another character set encoding (say UTF-8, in linux OS).
.tar.bz2 .tar.gz .tar.xz is not a good option cross platform.
So, .7z is my 1st choice, .rar would be 2nd choice.
4 • File Compression (by cykodrone on 2017-02-13 02:34:56 GMT from Canada)
7z all the way, I don't care about file size reduction ratios or the actual compression speed, I like it because you can password new archives and hide the file list. I voted other because 7z was not listed.
5 • LZMA Formats (by cpoakes on 2017-02-13 04:22:32 GMT from United States)
7z seems an obvious omission from the list. 7z, lzip (.lz,.lzma), and xz are archive formats employing LZMA/LZMA2 compression. Unlike other posts, I find 7z to be deficient - it only supports MS file metadata while xz supports both MS and Unix file metadata.
Furthermore, 7-zip (the most popular Windows 7z utility) has supported the xz format since 2010 and XZ Utils have been available in Windows since 2010. WinRAR also supports the xz format. Any assertion that xz is a poor cross-platform archive method is misinformed.
6 • Fairphone 2/Ubuntu Touch (by Paul M on 2017-02-13 06:28:03 GMT from Canada)
To say that I'm excited about the Fairphone 2/Ubuntu Touch collaboration would be an understatement! IMHO, THIS is what the Linux community should be focusing on: mobile phones running Linux, preferably FOSS, or as close as practically feasible to that. Except, I hope that this time, the Canonical people get it right - clean up the DE/UI, make sure it's all working properly - wi-fi, bluetooth, camera, sync, etc... And then.... actually BUILD & SELL the product - something that was not done with the Meizus or BQ Aquaris phones! Oh, and make sure the phones work on the U.S. 4GLTE, etc. networks and are compatible with U.S. carrier sim cards!!! Drooling with anticipation....
7 • Reply to cpoakes (by LiuYan on 2017-02-13 06:49:36 GMT from United States)
>> Any assertion that xz is a poor cross-platform archive method is misinformed
Sorry I didn't make my opinion clear. I didn't mean .bz2 .gz .xz are not supported on other platform, because when using 7zFM on Windows, 7zFM surely can open those files.
What I mean here is when opening '.tar.gz' '.tar.bz2' '.tar.xz' (.tar.WHATEVER) using 7zFM on Windows, it will show '.tar' inside the the achive, then you must extract the '.tar' file then open the '.tar' to get the files. If the '.tar' file is too large, this could be a time wasting job. On linux, file-roller (GNOME) & engrampa (MATE) will show the files inside .tar directly when opening .tar.WHATEVER.
8 • Compressors (by Martin on 2017-02-13 07:01:58 GMT from Czech Republic)
Bzip2 doesn't make much sense these days because of the slow decompression. I guess xz is the best choice for software packages since it offers a great compression ratio and good decompression speed. The time to compress packages doesn't seem too relevant to me since you spend most of the time compiling them anyway. For general purpose compression Facebook's Zstd seems very promissing when it gets its way to the distro repos.
9 • Archive format (by LightBit on 2017-02-13 07:31:46 GMT from Slovenia)
My favourite compression algorithm is LZ4, but I usually use ZIP or tar.gz.
10 • Archive format (by Didier Spaier on 2017-02-13 07:43:16 GMT from France)
I use xz to save space on disk, and also transfer speed. It matters to me more than compression or decompression speed as a distribution maintainer, to minimize the size of storage media and the time needed for upload and download or backup.
11 • excited but (by tim on 2017-02-13 08:14:47 GMT from United States)
gasped when I read the purchase price of the "fairphone"
12 • Archive format (by Alexandru on 2017-02-13 09:09:39 GMT from Romania)
1. For people that don't care of compression ratio. Why then to use archive at all? If the only purpose of archiving is transforming a directory into a file, then tar (with no further archiving) plays just nice - it simply stores all the directory structure and all the files into one file without compressing it. And of course, it is very fast at decompression.
2. For archive testing author. The test is very childish:
- Different compression algorithms are good for different use-cases (text files vs. documents vs. images vs. executables vs. media files), different average file dimensions. Many document formats (notably, images and media files) use compression as a part of format.
- Majority of compression programs provide different levels of compression speed and ratio (quick compression / decompression usually have poor compression ratio and vice versa).
- Different compression algorithms provide different facilities: store files metadata, unicode support, password protection, decomposition in archive files of predefined size, etc.
It can be rigorously proven that there is no preferred archive algorithm that performs best for all use-cases. As for me, xz and 7zip work good enough, but I find myself using gzip the most simply because it is the most usual (when I distribute my archives to somebody, it helps to nothing if the archive is best compressed, but the receiver can't figure what to do with it).
13 • Media Center (by Lawrence H. Bulk on 2017-02-13 12:00:21 GMT from United States)
I have a home theater setup which includes a ZaReason MediaBox 5330 purchased in 2012.
It has an Intel i5-3570K 3.4 GHz processor, 16 GB RAM, and a 500 GB 7200 RPM hard drive.
I have tried a number of GNU/Linux distributions on this media center computer over the years but the very best one I have found is PCLinuxOS.
It is the only OS I have tried which displays video with no tearing. I use both VLC and SMPlayer; both work equally well.
As for music, it is excellent alsom using Audacious. I have adjusted the PulseAudio settings to allow (up to) 32-bit 384000 Khz files to be played.
In my opinion PCLinuxOs is a very good OS in general and, for use on a media player computer, it is great.
And, again in my opinion, ZaReason's MediaBox is a really fine and low-cost media center.
14 • OpenELEC 7.0.0 (by Antoine H on 2017-02-13 12:36:48 GMT from France)
OpenELEC's development is slower since lost of developers moved to the LibreELEC project in March 2016.
Can you plan to test LibreELEC 8.0 which should be available in the next weeks ?
15 • Clear Linux and XFCE (by Domino on 2017-02-13 13:05:08 GMT from Italy)
I tried today Clear Linux.
Also found some info about running a desktop environment on Clear Linux here
Instead of installing the 'xfce4-desktop' bundle it says to install the 'os-utils-gui' bundle (that includes the xfce4-desktop) bundle).
It worked for me in VirtualBox when launching with 'startxfce4' or 'startx'.
And it's a really good looking themed xfce!
Didn't try yet a setup to invoke properly some DM with the systemd graphical.target
16 • zpaq compression (by Gerard Lally on 2017-02-13 14:05:15 GMT from Ireland)
Speed might be an issue, but nothing comes near zpaq in terms of compression ratio.
17 • DW Weekly (by Andy Mender on 2017-02-13 16:46:58 GMT from Austria)
Thanks for the awesome work, DW people :). Nice to see a new release of CRUX. I've been using it on and off as my go-to super minimalist Gentoo homolog. It's quite similar to FreeBSD in its approach to UNIX principles. In fact, one could call it the BSD of GNU/Linux!
18 • Thx Jessie & comment section! (by Bbig on 2017-02-13 18:16:54 GMT from Germany)
Thx Jessie for "Package compression compared".
And thx Greg Zeng (#2) for comparison to 7z.
I do like 7z, but most of the time i use *.zip, b/c it works on all platforms (e.g. Win / macos), too.
For myself, even tho' space is kinda cheap nowadays, i use 7z.
19 • Archive/compression (by far2fish on 2017-02-13 19:43:37 GMT from Denmark)
ZIP or tar and gzip are my preferred options.
For ad hoc backup purposes I use cpio though.
20 • Archive/Compression (by Mitchell on 2017-02-13 20:05:02 GMT from United States)
With the increased size and decreased price, backup drives are now a breeze. Over a decade ago, even five years or so, compression was a direct reflection of network speeds and storage costs. These bottlenecks have mostly disappeared for us. Pulls directly from backup drives require no real compression in my case. I am sure huge volumes still benefit from some form of compression, given the environment.
21 • Zip format (by Charles Burge on 2017-02-13 22:34:36 GMT from United States)
Linux is mostly a hobby for me, and I work in the Windows world. That's one reason I really like the 7z format - because it works natively in both. I've really embraced the command line version for Windows, since it works a lot like tar.
22 • Entropy (by \hbar on 2017-02-14 03:11:54 GMT from United States)
About the compression comparison: it may be interesting to know what the optimal compression ratio of the (uncompressed) tar archive is. In other words, what is its entropy?
Here is a tool that can be used to compute it: http://www.fourmilab.ch/random/
23 • bring Fairphone to US (by Elmo on 2017-02-14 05:03:08 GMT from United States)
@6 agree completely, I hope Fairphone with Ubuntu becomes available to US.
Lately US seems to be a worthless backwater to marketers of affordable innovative freedom-focused devices, last place on their list. Firefox phone, Ubuntu Touch, Jolla - were any of them even offered in US? Only things that seem to be on offer are multi-hundred dollar Samsungs, Motorolas and such Androids with proprietary layers, or iPhones that are completely proprietary.
Make US telecom market freedom-loving again.
24 • Compression programs have engineering contraints (by Greg Zeng on 2017-02-14 06:27:29 GMT from Australia)
Compression programs have engineering contraints of "efficiency". End-users need to balance speeds (compress, expand, adding, deleting, browsing, encryption, error-protections), space (memories, caches, storage) and safety (recovery, error-checks), etc.
Many partition systems also expect meta-package paremeters to also be stored in the compression: times, space-used, owners, users, permissions, accesses, etc.
Most partitions have limits of file-names and path-names. Using non-ASCII symbols, 255 character-limit, case-sensitive, etc. Windows has paths and file-names which are CASE-INSENSITIVE. Linux matters very much on the CASE of these names.
Often Linux creates names which appear in other operating systems as "?????.???"
The compression programs can avoid these file-name and path-name conflicts. Good compression applications can be used without CLI. These GUI applications avoid the close-study and errors of the CLI rubbish.
The better compression programs also allow one large file or folder to be "split" into many linked smaller files. These smaller files can then be more safety stored on other media, or more easily transmitted any tiny erroreous file, without having to re-transmit just one large file.
This is only a comment. Proper discussion requires a longer article.
25 • Fairphone 2 -- @ 23 & @11 (by Paul M on 2017-02-14 06:46:43 GMT from United States)
@23 I hear ya, Elmo... Like you say, Canonical, et al, have been guilty of neglecting the U.S. market with their lack of phone offerings. Porque? Well, that's a great question... I tend to think that this was a huge mistake on their part (i.e. Canonical - with the lack of availability of the Meizu's and BQ Aquaris phones here in the States). Let's hope that they don't repeat this again with the Fairphone 2. Also, like you point out - some of the major problems in the smartphone marketplace: locked bootloaders, proprietary software, high prices ($500+ for a phone!) - are all obstacles that need to be overcome. There IS a market for a REASONABLY priced smartphone (say, ~$150-250) that offers an open-source OS alternative (or, like I've previously stated - as close as possible to FOSS as can be realistically achieved).
Now, that being said, looking at the Fairphone 2 - yes, it's ~$557 U.S.D. - BUT, unlike buying say, a Galaxy Note or the latest iPhone - whose HARDWARE cannot be upgraded - the Fairphone 2 allows you to upgrade components, similar to how a desktop system can be upgraded, thus making the phone less prone to becoming obsolete within a couple of years. So, factoring that into the equation, is the $570 price tag justified??? I dunno... the jury is still out...
@11 Yes, Tim, I can see why you gasped at the price... After reading your comment, I went back & looked up the price of the phone: €525 = $557 U.S.D. ... Yikes!! It had BETTER be DAMN good for that price!! And regardless if it turns out to be a phenomenal phone... at that price, there will be a limited number of people who can afford it. And I take issue with Canonical regarding the high price of this phone... It seems to me that if you are trying to break into the U.S. (or European, etc.) markets, with a new phone OS... then you're competing with the big boys - Androids & iPhones... And to be successful at that, it's going to take more than just being a "better" OS... Ubuntu Touch devices will have to be competitively priced as well - or they will fail...
26 • Fairphone (by lupus on 2017-02-14 07:29:30 GMT from Germany)
Hey Guys you have to read what the people from Fairphone try to do in order to see where the (high) price is coming from.
Also... can anyone put a price tag on freedom, I can't but I'll admit if it's not available anywhere near you then maybe your freedom is in danger, anyone thought of that?
Price does matter if you are not able to afford this nice piece of Equipment your freedom seems to be in danger too!
27 • RE: Fairphone (by Andy Mender on 2017-02-14 13:02:34 GMT from Austria)
I completely agree on the entering the market point. iPhones are extremely expensive, but there are Samsung smartphones in the $150-250 price range. They're usually 1-2 years old so not top-of-the-shelf, but affordable nevertheless. Canonical would need to cut down on the price, otherwise the competition is purely philosophical. Same goes for Fairphones. With such a high price, only "hipsters" will be able to afford one.
That's polemics only. Freedom and its price are both relative and up for debate. However, I would add to this that if the Fairphone initiative succeeds, it would be a great way to cut down on the electronic garbage that we constantly produce. It seems to me that big name companies make a living by inventing new means of psychological warfare - how to coax people into buying commodities that they don't really need. That's market economy turned upside-down, where demand is harshly driven not by supply, but by the greed of the supplier.
28 • RE: Package compression compared (by Stack on 2017-02-14 15:33:33 GMT from United States)
I voted "gzip" but only because it's the easiest for me to type/remember on the command line and generally the package format I come across. I'm not picky about which one I use, but for the sake of consistency I use gzip on GNU/Linux.
I do like 7z for the portability and password protection features, but even 7zip on Windows can open .tar.gz!
29 • Archive formats (by Дмитрий on 2017-02-14 15:43:15 GMT from Russian Federation)
7z with LZMA2
30 • Fairphone (by lupus on 2017-02-14 16:45:53 GMT from Germany)
It is a little bit polemic I´ll give you that.
But there is a price for our negelence and we are not willing to pay for it. Mostly it is paid for with child labour, bad working conditions, pollution etc. All these things the makers of Fairphone at least also try to address. I tried to order one for 540,- € which still seems cheap to me so I didn´t order. I try to investigate a little before I´ll jump on that train. For me having open source on my phone is the real kicker, but I´ m not the type ordering months in advance, who knows by the time it ships I could already be dead ;)!
31 • Archives (by scrumtime on 2017-02-14 19:37:16 GMT from Nicaragua)
Many years ago before we had the likes of dropbox and collaberation software hit the bigtime...I used to have to send a lot of sensitive type documents around the world almost daily and compression was needed to be able to send the lot in 1 hit when some e-mail comps had restrictions on file sizes. I preferred RAR over Zip and 7zip over all of them when it came in.. and even though i hardly use it now I still prefer 7zip.
Personally I wouldn't spend $500 on a phone.... ridiculous !!!!!!! I bought my long suffering GF a phone recently samsung android thing the salesguy waffled to me about all the BS it has like 4g ,what apps, etc etc...when asked if i could have it cheaper if they took a lot of unused unwanted things from it..he looked at me like i was an idiot......My GF phones her mother and sister or texts on whatapp or facebook to them contstantly, and has a bit of music sometimes .....most other things she has never used or will ever use, so why should i pay $100s for stuff i dont want.
but as it was her Birthday i got the cheapest i could get..
Ny phone is a Huawei which i got given when i took out the phone contract..it has little or no features outside phone and text..
32 • Naught Phair (by Kragle von Schnitzelbank on 2017-02-14 21:33:45 GMT from United States)
Is the FairPhone made from open hardware?
Even with open software, how Fair is a phone controlled by a service cartel? (Mesh module?)
Fair-Trade materials - a phrase reminiscent of Organic Food?
33 • archive (by Pat Menendez on 2017-02-15 01:14:31 GMT from Canada)
With storage so cheap now, I can't think of very many reasons to compress files. When you can buy an 8 terabyte drive for $350. and 64 gig flash drives for just over $20. and "Cloud storage" I don't get the point of compressing files anymore. Back in the almost forgotten days of small sub terabyte drives and you had a lot of files it may have been a "necessary evil". Compressing image and media files ... This is the era of BIG monitors, 4K HD TVs, and everything High Definition. Compressing files today, other than perhaps specific needs, seems to me like an exercise in futility. Who can compress a file to the smallest size sounds like little boys arguing in the back lot. It may be of geek interest but in this day of 64 bit processors and many of us are running 16 or 32 gig if RAM, compressing files today seems impractical at best and a waste of time and effort to me.
34 • Package compression compared (by Tuxie on 2017-02-15 06:19:08 GMT from Czech Republic)
Just reminding that xz is the only one (as far as I know) able to use more than 1 core --> fastest and best in a server environments(expecting to have more than 4 cores at disposal).
35 • Fairphone 2 (by Paul M on 2017-02-15 09:04:00 GMT from United States)
You nailed it, Andy... That market segment - like you point out - a 1 or 2 year old Samsung (or Motorola, I would add - like the Moto G, Gen. 3 - currently about $150, carrrier-unlocked)... That market segment is WHERE Canonical (and other Linux/open-source cell phone OS's) should be aiming at. Economies of scale will, of course, dictate the final price point... BUT, you & I know that a competitive open-source phone can be accomplished at WELL UNDER $500!!
The thing that intrigues me the most about the Fairphone 2 is its modularity. But... even given the fact that this type of phone will be more akin to a desktop computer - in the sense that you can swap components in and out/upgrade as need be - Fairphone/Canonical NEEDS to bring the initial price down. At almost 6 C-Notes, only die-hard & well-heeled Linux fans will be reaching for their wallets.... and, uh... some hipsters - fuck the hipsters... All of which translates to selling a few hundred (or few thousand) phones = a marketing failure = roomful of Canonical people, sitting around in a boardroom, scratching their heads, wondering why the world has not embraced Ubuntu Touch...
Also, you make a great point about the creation of "electronic garbage". The major carriers here in the U.S. - AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint, etc. - are all guilty of creating & perpetuating this "throw-away" culture - with their cell-phone plans - whereby a customer gets a brand new phone when they sign up for a 2-3 year contract... And the phones that these customers get will be replaced with new phones every 2-3 years, as long as people re-up with a new contract. And, as a result of this, phones that are only a couple of years old are being frivolously tossed into the garbage - plastic, lead, toxic-metal batteries, etc. - and winding up in landfills & thus harming the environment. And the cell phone manufacturers are happy to help! Hell, with these companies offering people "a new phone" whenever they re-new a 2 or 3 year cell-phone contract - all these cell-phone manufacturers make money... And unfortunately, it's a model that works for the major carriers & the cell phone makers....
To break that cycle - which NEEDS to be done - I think that it's going to take a concept like the Fairphone 2 - modularity/interchangeability of components... on an affordable platform....
36 • LibreElec (by zibi on 2017-02-15 17:04:36 GMT from Canada)
Tested LibreElec 7.0.3 installed on pi2, tv installer not working, Kore remote have some problem ( entering text) , sometimes hangs for 10-20 seconds. Maybe 8 will be better but current version is not faster at all compared to current version of openelec
37 • @ 35 • Fairphone 2 (by mandog on 2017-02-16 23:17:20 GMT from Peru)
Here in Peru its 18 months and then new contract new phone beats me in a poor country that people fall for it shows how these companies manipulate their customers
38 • Archives... (by Vukota on 2017-02-16 23:55:03 GMT from Montenegro)
There are few things that are important about archive formats:
- Compression ration
- Format itself (and its support/features)
- Standard (how many people can use it right away)
From my experience, compression ration by itself doesn't matter as long as it is +/-5% from the close competitor. Rest of the factors matters much more. As these days most of the systems can deal out of the box with ZIP archives and TAR+GZ, I prefer these two, depending on the purpose. ZIP for exchange with common people and TAR+GZ for my personal needs and Linux community. If gzip is fine for use in browsers and HTTP communication, it is certainly fine for my needs as well.
39 • Phones (by Dave Postles on 2017-02-17 00:46:10 GMT from United Kingdom)
Come back Mozilla Firefox phones. My Alcatel cost just over £60. It will take any service's SIM card (I use Pay as You Go). It has HERE maps; radio; music (mp3) player; nice downloadable free or very cheap apps; front and rear camera; video; photo gallery etc etc. I'd never consider paying 540 euros for a phone.
40 • OpenELEC (by Somewhat Reticent on 2017-02-17 09:16:37 GMT from United States)
Version 7.0.1 dated 2017-Jan-12 first listed fix is for installer on x86 ...
Bug reported, fixed?
41 • Archives and Fairphone (by Simon Wainscott-Plaistowe on 2017-02-17 10:35:26 GMT from New Zealand)
I seem to encounter ZIP and GZIP archives most often. If I need to create an archive, I usually use GZIP because it generally maintains a good balance between speed and compression.
The Fairphone looks promising, hopefully it will succeed. I like the ethics and the concept of an upgradeable phone. Personally I'd love to see Ubuntu phones gain some market share.
42 • @39 Come back Mozilla, we miss you (by gee7 on 2017-02-17 20:48:25 GMT from United Kingdom)
You have my agreement there, Dave.
I am using as my second phone a ZTE Open phone which I bought in 2013 for £60 - it runs the Firefox OS which suits basic needs of phone, texting, radio, music player and internet access, all on PAYG. There is definitively a market for such a phone, for the low end of the market, yes, but also for the security conscious, especially if one was strengthened, changing the default Google search for Oscobo or DuckDuckGo or better still using the new Cliqz browser alongside strong encryption. Mozilla could have carved themselves a large niche market if only they had kept faith (and made the touch screen more sensitive for a start!).
My first phone is a small neat Motorola clamshell from 2004, so comfortable to hold and never breaks when it's dropped.
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