| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 701, 27 February 2017
Welcome to this year's 9th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
Some people like to treat computers like an appliance, a device that has a few dedicated functions and works without any tweaking or configuration. Others prefer to tinker and to craft their operating systems, building a custom experience from the ground up. This week we focus more on the latter category, exploring distributions and projects which involve some hands-on effort on the part of the user. We begin with a look at OBRevenge, an Arch-based distribution that make installation easy, but then encourages the user to decide the shape of their operating system. We also talk this week about running media applications on Raspbian and attempts to stream video on a Raspberry Pi computer. Plus we talk about delays on the road to the launch of Mageia 6 and the NetBSD developers working on reproducible builds. Red Hat has published a short talk on whether swap space is still a good idea and, if so, how much swap space is enough and we provide a link to the full article. Plus we are happy to share the distribution releases of the past week and provide a list of the torrents we are seeding. Finally, in our Opinion Poll, we ask how many of our readers own hobbyist computers like the BeagleBone Black or the Raspberry Pi. We wish you all a terrific week and happy reading!
- Reviews: OBRevenge OS 2017.02
- News: Mageia 6's ongoing delays, NetBSD offers reproducible builds, Red Hat considers if we still need swap space
- Myths and misunderstandings: Can Netflix run on a Raspberry Pi?
- Released last week: pfSense 2.3.3, Rebellin Linux 3.5, Zenwalk 220217
- Torrent corner: AUSTRUMI, Elastix, KaOS, Rebellin, TrueOS, Void, Zenwalk, Zorin OS
- Opinion poll: Hobbyist and single board computers
- DistroWatch.com news: New menu bar
- New additions: Minimal Linux Live
- New distributions: Ultron OS, ULinux
- Reader comments
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (31MB) and MP3 (44MB) formats.
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
OBRevenge OS 2017.02
OBRevenge OS was added to the DistroWatch database at the start of February. The desktop distribution is relatively new and is based on Arch Linux. OBRevenge provides its users with a live DVD with a desktop environment, a friendly, graphical system installer and a number of convenient tools to help users get set up. The project provides 32-bit and 64-bit installation media and the ISO file we download is approximately 1GB in size.
I downloaded the 64-bit build of OBRevenge. Booting from the installation media brings up a menu asking if we would like to boot the distribution's live mode, run a memory test or run a hardware detection tool. Loading the live environment brings up a desktop powered by Openbox and (mostly) Xfce components. A panel runs across the top of the desktop, providing us with access to the application menu, task switcher and system tray. Shortly after the desktop loads, a welcome window appears and presents us with buttons to quickly access helpful resources. Specifically, the welcome window's buttons launch the Calamares system installer, open user documentation, launch a text-based web browser to the project's Google Plus page, launch a simplified software manager and assist us with managing VirtualBox and NVIDIA drivers. I like that OBRevenge supplies both on-line and off-line documentation options through its welcome screen as there is no assumption about there being an Internet connection present. In the background, behind the welcome window, we find a clock and readouts showing our system's CPU, memory and bandwidth usage which regularly update.
OBRevenge OS 2017.02 -- The welcome window
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OBRevenge uses the Calamares distribution-independent system installer. Calamares is a graphical application which elegantly walks us through selecting our time zone from a map of the world and gives us a chance to select our preferred language and locale settings. We are then asked to select our keyboard's layout and walked through partitioning our hard drive. The Calamares installer offers us both guided and manual partitioning options. I used the manual partitioning approach and found it to be both flexible and easy to navigate. The installer supports working with a wide range of file systems, including Btrfs, JFS, Reiser, ext2/3/4, LVM and XFS. Once our drive has been partitioned we are asked to create a user account for ourselves. Then the installer shows us a summary of the actions it will take to install OBRevenge and waits for our confirmation. When the installer has finished its work it offers to reboot the computer for us.
The freshly installed copy of OBRevenge boots to a graphical login screen. Signing into our account brings us back to the Openbox environment and displays the welcome screen. This time the welcome screen is displayed with an option to update packages where previously the button to launch the system installer was displayed. The other options on the welcome screen for managing software, displaying documentation and managing drivers remain the same.
On the desktop panel there is an icon which turns red when there are software updates available. OBRevenge is a rolling release distribution and supplies both feature updates and security fixes together. Clicking the notification icon gives us the option of launching the Pamac software manager or an update manager. The update manager is a simple graphical application which displays a list of available upgrades along with the new package's version number, source repository and size. We can check or uncheck boxes next to each package to indicate which ones we want to download. Updates came in frequently when I was running OBRevenge. At one point I experimented with a month-old copy of OBRevenge and a check for software updates revealed 209 updates had been made available during the month of January. These updates totalled 405MB in size.
OBRevenge OS 2017.02 -- The update manager
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People running OBRevenge can make use of the pacman command line package manager to handle installing, removing and upgrading software. However, the distribution provides two graphical front-ends to software management that we may find more convenient. The first software manager is called Pamac and it presents us with a fairly simple interface. Software packages are listed in alphabetical order down the right side of the screen and, on the left side, we can perform searches and select filters to narrow down the list of items we are shown. When we find a package we want to install or remove we can click a box next to the package's name. Pamac is fairly straight forward to use and works quickly, but it is easy to get bogged down in the massive amounts of available software. To make finding popular applications easier, there is a second software manager.
OBRevenge OS 2017.02 -- The Pamac software manager
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The second software manager can be launched from the welcome screen and it displays three tabs. These tabs (Internet, Media and Office) show us a short list of popular applications in each of the three categories. For example, the Office tab has Abiword and LibreOffice, the Media tab features VLC and a few other multimedia programs and the Internet tab includes such items as Firefox and Chromium. We can check boxes next to which items we want to install. This trimmed down package manager does make it easier to find popular items. My one concern with the simplified package manager was that it only shows users the short package name of each application with no description or hint as to what the program does. This leaves the user to guess what packages named "gnumeric" or "totem" do.
OBRevenge OS 2017.02 -- The settings panel and the simplified software manager
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The OBRevenge distribution does not ship with a lot of desktop software. Looking through the application menu we find the Elinks text-based web browser, the Qt Designer application, an archive manager, file manager, calculator and text editor. There are plenty of configuration utilities for adjusting settings which I will come back to later, along with the Htop task manager and the GNU Compiler Collection. The distribution ships with systemd 232 and version 4.9.6 of the Linux kernel. As OBRevenge is a rolling release distribution, new package versions will be introduced as they become available.
While OBRevenge is light on desktop applications, the distribution features many utilities for managing settings. These utilities can be accessed through the application menu or through a settings panel. The settings panel is divided into four tabs to help us find the modules we want to access. The Customization tab handles adjusting the look of the desktop and its components. The System tab handles working with most of the underlying operating system. The third tab, Software, provides launchers for accessing the distribution's software managers and software updates. The final tab is labelled OBR-Tools and includes a miscellaneous collection of small programs for adjusting system settings.
OBRevenge OS 2017.02 -- The application menu
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The layout of the settings panel is pretty straight forward and there are lots of useful modules we can access. My one complaint with the settings panel was many of the configuration modules require root access and the panel does not remember our credentials. This means almost every time we open a new settings module, we are prompted for our password. I prefer to input my password once and have it remembered while I am exploring a settings panel.
I tried running OBRevenge in a VirtualBox virtual machine and then on a physical desktop computer. The distribution operated well in the virtual machine and automatically sets up VirtualBox modules, nicely integrating into the guest environment. I had similarly good results running OBRevenge on the desktop computer. In both instances, the distribution booted quickly, the desktop was responsive and all my hardware was properly detected. The system used just 255MB of RAM to login to the Openbox interface and was stable during my trial. I tried booting OBRevenge in both legacy BIOS and UEFI modes on my desktop computer and found the distribution ran well in both situations. One of the few issues I ran into with regards to hardware was trying to set up my network printer. OBRevenge was able to detect a printer was present, but could not find any suitable drivers for the device.
Apart from the difficulty I faced getting my printer working, I ran into a few other bumps along the road while I was using OBRevenge. The distribution features a configuration tool which allows us to switch out the Xfce desktop panel for alternative panels. This gives us the flexibility to make our desktop act more like LXDE or another, custom environment. I found that changing the panel also swaps out the application menu for a different menu with different software categories. This means if we switch panels we need to also get used to finding our software in new locations. Later in the week, I tried to switch back to the original desktop panel. Selecting the Xfce panel caused an error to be displayed which told me I could not change panels because the system was running in "kiosk mode". When I dismissed the error message I found the Xfce panel had been loaded, but the LXDE panel was still in place, resulting in two overlapping (and visually confusing) panels. I had to manually kill one panel's process in order to use the other.
OBRevenge OS 2017.02 -- Exploring alternative themes and wallpapers
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For the most part, I enjoyed OBRevenge's dark theme. I liked the visual contrast and I usually enjoy darker themes as I find them easier on my eyes. A minor issue I had with OBRevenge's default theme was window borders were not always distinct. Sometimes, when I had multiple smaller windows open, they all bled into each other, making it hard to tell which controls were in which window. I was able to adjust the look of the windows and their borders in the settings panel.
Perhaps the most curious issue I ran into concerned the system clock. When I first started using OBRevenge the clock had the wrong time and this confused Firefox and caused me to see an error message whenever I tried to visit secure websites. This inability to visit HTTPS-secured sites is a common issue when a computer's clock is set to an incorrect time or time zone. I opened the clock's settings from the desktop panel and found I could either manually set the time or enable automatic time synchronization using NTP. I opted to use NTP, as I usually do on other distributions, and an error message appeared telling me NTP was not installed. This seemed unusual and I went into the Pamac software manager to install it, only to find NTP was already installed. I then dropped to a command line to confirm NTP was enabled and running, and I restarted the service using systemd. I then returned to the clock's settings, which gave me the same error reporting NTP was not installed. In the end, I gave up on automatic time synchronization and manually set the clock's time.
One final problem which developed over the week was menu clutter. OBRevenge ships with very few desktop applications, but lots and lots of configuration tools. These tools are present in the application menu and in the settings panel. At first, they present minimum clutter, but as I added applications I wanted to use, the already full menu became more difficult to navigate and I found myself increasingly using the menu's search function and Favourites sub-category in order to keep my application launchers organized.
The OBRevenge distribution is unusual in a few ways and I sometimes struggled with aspects of the project's design. As an example, the distribution does not ship with a graphical web browser. There is a launcher for a text browser in the application menu and we can find a second text browser launcher by using the menu's search feature. It is unusual to find a desktop distribution with just a text browser, but what I found really strange was selecting the on-line documentation button on the welcome screen launches a Python script whose sole job is to open a minimal, graphical web browser to display the documentation. The minimal browser has no menu or address bar, but we can use it to view web pages and click through links. This seems to indicate the developers decided it would be better to create their own website viewer in Python and only use it for documentation while supplying desktop users with a text browser rather than use a graphical browser (such as Firefox or Chromium) for both tasks.
Little design choices like this show up in other places. For example, there is a settings module which downloads new wallpapers and then opens a file manager to show us the new images. But the file manager cannot change the desktop wallpaper so we need to return to the settings panel and launch a second module to actually access the new wallpapers while other distributions usually integrate the two steps into one utility, downloading and selecting wallpapers together.
Something which stood out while I was using OBRevenge was that my learning curve with the distribution was almost backward. Usually, when I start using a new distribution, I spend a day or two getting used to how things are set up and fixing minor issues. As the week progresses, things gradually get easier and I settle into a new routine. With OBRevenge, things started out well. The distribution ran well in both of my test environments, the welcome screen offered me documentation and a good first impression. The system was light and the Calamares installer made getting the distribution installed a breeze. For the first few hours, OBRevenge was looking very promising, friendly, fast and with cutting edge software.
Over time though, I started running into the problems I mentioned above. Firefox wouldn't display secure websites until I fixed the clock, my application menu soon became cluttered, adjusting settings took longer than expected because I was regularly prompted for my password. My usually Linux-friendly printer was not recognized and switching desktop panels did not go as smoothly as I had hoped.
During my time with OBRevenge I tried to figure out who the distribution was targeting. It is easy to install, but there is a lot of work to do afterward installing software, codecs and possibly drivers. These characteristics, along with the style of the software managers and many configuration tools led me to believe this distribution is targeting people who have run (or who would like to run) Arch Linux, but who want to skip the initial installation process. The distribution seems to be made for people who want to install the system with just a few clicks, but then wish to heavily customize it and manually select all of their own desktop software.
OBRevenge seems to be taking the stance that we, the users, know what we are doing and we want to customize our system from the ground up, we just want a minimalist foundation in place first. The distribution does a great job of making a first impression and helping us get the core operating system installed, but then largely steps out of the way and leaves us to install and manage the system as we like. I feel as though OBRevenge takes a similar approach to Tiny Core Linux or Arch Linux in that we are given some basic tools and left to craft our own system. I can see why this approach appeals to some people, it starts us off with a fast and light system. Personally, I found it meant I spent more time getting the pieces I wanted in place and adjusting things than I would usually like.
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Hardware used in this review
My physical test equipment for this review was a desktop HP Pavilon p6 Series with the following specifications:
- Processor: Dual-core 2.8GHz AMD A4-3420 APU
- Storage: 500GB Hitachi hard drive
- Memory: 6GB of RAM
- Networking: Realtek RTL8111 wired network card
- Display: AMD Radeon HD 6410D video card
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
Mageia 6's ongoing delays, NetBSD offers reproducible builds, Red Hat considers if we still need swap space
The long anticipated release of Mageia 6 has been delayed for several months, causing some people to wonder at the health of the project. The developers have posted a commentary on the current situation on the distribution's blog: "For months we've been saying 'the next ISO images will be published within a few weeks.' And that's still how we see it. And actually lots of ISO images have been made, each one improving over the previous one, and Mageia 6 Stabilization Snapshot 2 will be very different from Stabilization Snapshot 1, because during all this time development has been going on, bugs have been fixed, packages have been updated, artwork has been integrated, etc. The good news is: Mageia 6 is really going to be good. And actually it already is, for all those who already run the packages from Cauldron, the development branch. So why not release it now? Well, let's try to give you some insight..." The Mageia project has encountered a number of issues during the testing phase, some of which have the potential to cause serious problems at install time. The developers are being cautious and holding back the release of Mageia 6 until all the significant bugs have been squashed. You can read more on the current status of Mageia 6 in the project's blog post.
* * * * *
Last week we reported that the FreeBSD team was working on making builds of the FreeBSD operating system and its ports reproducible. Another project which is trying to make their builds consistent and reproducible is NetBSD. A blog post on the project's site covers many of the steps the NetBSD developers had to take to create reproducible builds. "I have been working on and off for almost a year trying to get reproducible builds on NetBSD. I did not think at the time it would take as long or be so difficult, so I did not keep a log of all the changes I needed to make. I was also not the only one working on this. Other NetBSD developers have been making improvements for the past six years. I would like to acknowledge the NetBSD build system (aka build.sh) which is a fully portable cross-build system. This build system has given us a head-start in the reproducible builds work. I would also like to acknowledge the work done by the Debian folks who have provided a platform to run, test and analyze reproducible builds. Special mention to the "diffoscope" tool that gives an excellent overview of what's different between binary files, by finding out what they are (and if they are containers what they contain) and then running the appropriate formatter and diff program to show what's different for each file." NetBSD builds are now reproducible on amd64 and sparc64 architectures with work on-going for other hardware platforms.
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Swap space is a method by which an operating system can move information out of memory and store it elsewhere until it is needed again. Swap space can generally be thought of an extension of the computer's memory which lives on the hard drive. In the past, having swap space was important as computers had relatively little memory and could quickly run out of available RAM. Unused data could be punted to swap while more urgent tasks were handled in memory. These days though computers tend to have a lot of memory and it raises the question of whether there is any point in having swap space anymore and, if so, how much? The Red Hat team has explored this topic in a post called Do we really need swap on modern systems? "In the past, some application vendors recommended swap of a size equal to the RAM, or even twice the RAM. Now let us imagine the above-mentioned system with 2GB of RAM and 2GB of swap. A database on the system was by mistake configured for a system with 5GB of RAM. Once the physical memory is used up, swap gets used. As the swap disk is much slower than RAM, the performance goes down, and thrashing occurs. At this point, even logins into the system might become impossible. As more and more memory gets written to, eventually both physical and swap memory are completely exhausted and the OOM killer kicks in, killing one or more processes. In our case, quite a lot of swap is available, so the time of poor performance is long. Now, let us imagine the above situation with no swap configured. As the system runs out of RAM, it has no swap to hand out. There is almost no time frame of reduced performance - the OOM kicks in immediately." The article goes on to talk about issues to consider when deciding whether to use swap space.
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These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Myths and Misunderstandings (by Jesse Smith)
Can Netflix run on a Raspberry Pi?
About two years ago I purchased a Raspberry Pi computer to play with and to use as a home server. At the time, after confirming the little Pi computer could run a desktop and perform tasks such as playing music and browsing the web, I relegated the device to acting as a headless backup server. More recently I have been thinking about setting up a media centre and, knowing the Pi was capable of playing music, I wondered if the tiny device had enough power to also play videos and watch Netflix.
Here I ran into an interesting puzzle. I looked around to try to find out if the Pi, running Raspbian, would be able to display Netflix streaming videos. Of about a dozen websites I consulted, most reported there was no way to get Netflix playing natively on a Raspberry Pi, but at least four sites claimed it was possible and provided tutorials for streaming Netflix videos. These contradicting views intrigued me. Usually when I consider writing Myth and Misunderstanding columns it is to talk about incorrect information that gets repeated so often it becomes common knowledge. The ideas that software licensed under the GPL cannot be sold and ZFS requires 8GB of RAM to work properly being prime examples. But here I had a topic where the Pi community appeared divided and I was curious to see if any of the tutorials worked or if the Pi really would be unable to play Netflix videos.
If you haven't tried this experiment before, you might be wondering why a Raspberry Pi computer, assuming it has enough processing power, couldn't stream videos from Netflix. The primary reason is Netflix uses DRM and we need to have either a dedicated application to play Netflix videos (the way Android does) or we need a web browser which can run the necessary plugin to interpret and play streams from Netflix. Since desktop Linux (Linux distributions built for the x86 architecture) does not have a native Netflix client, we can use the Chrome web browser or (in some rare cases) another web browser which can use Chrome's Widevine plugin.
The bad news is that the Chrome web browser does not run on Linux distributions that run on ARM processors. Further, the plugins we would normally use work on x86 processors, but not the Raspberry Pi's ARM processor. This leaves us in a bit of a corner when it comes to looking at solutions.
While I was looking around for options I found three types of tutorials for watching Netflix on Raspbian. The first group of tutorials actually use another computer or service to stream Netflix. That remote computer handles the DRM and then forwards the video to the Pi computer. These services generally cost money and/or require setting up a second computer, which somewhat defeats the purpose of having the Pi. I skipped these tutorials as I wanted to play videos natively without relying on another computer or service.
The second class of tutorials suggested using a Kodi extension which would decode and display the videos. I looked into this and, as far as I can tell, the extension only actually works on x86-powered computers, making it unsuited for the Raspberry Pi.
A third, and somewhat promising option, proposed a tricky solution that basically involved two key parts: Grab a copy of the Widevine Chrome libraries from Chrome OS, which runs on ARM processors, and transfer these to the Raspberry Pi. Then install the libraries on the Pi with a couple of extra packages and the Chromium web browser. The concept seemed solid, but finding a complete tutorial was difficult. There are (or were) videos of people performing the necessary actions, but the references to these tutorials I found all pointed to videos which have since been taken down. Other tutorials were presented in text, but these all included broken links or were missing steps. This left me to assemble bits of tutorials from a variety of sources and merge them into one, continuous process (see below).
After trying a few of these tutorials, trying different user-agent switchers for the Chromium web browser, installing the Widevine libraries in a few different places and trying suggested tweaks, I came to the conclusion that none of the available tutorials worked. These guides may have worked in the past, but either due to missing steps or changes to Chromium or to Netflix's service, the guides are no longer functional. It would seem that the Pi, running GNU/Linux, is not suitable for playing Netflix videos.
That being said, I did find I was able to play videos and stream YouTube content from my Pi. The Chromium web browser is slow to load pages, but content plays in the browser smoothly once it has finished loading the page. This means if you are looking for a media centre that does not need to attach to Amazon's video streaming service or Netflix then the Pi is up to the task.
In case anyone else is interested in trying the steps I took and, hopefully, improving on the experience, I have posted the steps I tried to get sound working on my HDMI TV, extracting the Chrome OS Widevine libraries and enabling Netflix. These steps can be run directly on the Raspberry Pi running a fresh copy of Raspbian and do not require another computer.
* * * * *
Download and extract the Widevine libraries from a Chrome OS recovery image. This requires downloading the recovery image and using the kpartx tool to mount the image. We then access the mounted image and extract the specific libraries we want.
The next step is to download and install a special build of the Chromium web browser, codecs and supporting libraries. We will also need to remove the existing Chromium browser from Raspbian.
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install kpartx
sudo kpartx -av chromeos_7077.134.0_daisy-skate_recovery_stable-channel_skate-mp.bin
sudo mount -r /dev/mapper/loop0p3 disk
sudo cp disk/opt/google/chrome/libwide* /usr/lib/chromium-browser/
sudo umount disk
Finally, we run the Chromium browser and install a user-agent switcher extension. This allows us to change the way Chromium identifies itself, which will hopefully bypass any blocks Netflix has in place to prevent Chromium from accessing its service. The desired user-agent string is:
sudo apt-get remove chromium-browser
sudo dpkg -i libgcrypt11_1.5.0-5+deb7u5_armhf.deb
sudo dpkg -i chromium-codecs-ffmpeg-extra_45.0.2454.85-0ubuntu0.14.04.1.1097_armhf.deb
sudo dpkg -i chromium-browser_45.0.2454.85-0ubuntu0.14.04.1.1097_armhf.deb
Mozilla/5.0 (X11; CrOS armv7l 6946.63.0) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/45.0.2357.130 Safari/537.36
I have tried other strings, but so far without any success.
Last, but not least, I have found that some HDMI connected televisions will not play audio with Raspbian's default settings. If you run into a similar situation where videos (or audio files) are playing, but no sound is coming from the TV or monitor then you can add a line to your Pi's /boot/config.txt file and reboot the Pi.
sudo echo "hdmi_drive=2" >> /boot/config.txt
If anyone can improve on the above steps or has had better success, please let me know.
|Released Last Week
Jim Pingle has announced the release of pfSense 2.3.3, an updated build of the FreeBSD-based specialist operating system designed for firewalls and routers: "We are happy to announce the release of pfSense software version 2.3.3. This is a maintenance release in the 2.3.x series, bringing numerous stability and bug fixes, fixes for a handful of security issues in the GUI, and a handful of new features. The full list of changes is on the 2.3.3 New Features and Changes page, including a list of FreeBSD and internal security advisories addressed by this release. As always, you can upgrade from any prior version directly to 2.3.3. The Upgrade Guide covers everything you'll need to know for upgrading in general. While, nearly all of the common regressions between 2.2.6 and 2.3-RELEASE have been fixed in subsequent releases, the following still exist: IPsec IPComp does not work, this is disabled by default; IGMP Proxy does not work with VLAN interfaces and possibly other edge cases; those using IPsec and OpenBGPD may have non-functional IPsec unless OpenBGPD is removed." Continue to the release announcement for more information.
Rebellin Linux 3.5
Utkarsh Sevekar has announced the release of Rebellin Linux 3.5, a set of two distributions with a choice of GNOME or MATE desktop environments, both based on Debian's "unstable" branch: "Rebellin Linux 3.5 released. Built on the goodness of Debian and the previous Rebellin, it's the best Debian Sid-based distribution you can get. Know why? Cos it comes with email support! Download Rebellin now and end your search for the perfect Linux distro! The big news is our tiny WhatsApp client for Linux. Nothing fancy, it just works. List of updates: GNOME Shell upgraded to 3.22.2; MATE upgraded to 1.16.1; Linux kernel upgraded to 4.8-liquorix; brand-new Material Design theme now completes the look; plenty of package and driver updates; MTP support added; Rebellin now works perfectly with AMD APUs, tested on a tiny AMD A4-1200 (Temash, 1 GHz) processor and Rebellin just ploughs through...." Read the rest of the release announcement for more details.
Rebellin Linux 3.5 -- Running the MATE desktop
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Zenwalk Linux 220217
The Zenwalk Linux distribution is a desktop operating system built on the foundation of Slackware Linux. The project has announced a new rolling release snapshot of Zenwalk Linux which carries the version number 220217. The new snapshot reintroduces the Firefox web browser in the default installation and offers a number of updated packages. "The main change is the comeback of Firefox, built with GTK+ 3 and multi-threading enabled by default: This build of Firefox starts and reacts nearly as fast as Chromium, and with many tabs opened: scales much better in terms of responsiveness and memory footprint. You will also notice some improvements around FFmpeg, and MPV which is from now the main media player in Zenwalk. GStreamer has been dropped from ISO but is still available from Slackware repositories. Of course this ISO image contains many updated packages." Additional information can be found in the project's release announcement.
TrueOS is a rolling release operating system based on FreeBSD. The TrueOS team has released a new snapshot of the operating system's Desktop and Server editions. The new snapshot includes several bug fixes, a few new services and package updates. TrueOS 2017-02-22 also includes support for automounting devices and a new jail management utility: "Automounting - This new feature allows auto-detection and mounting of inserted USB devices. It also automatically unmounts USB devices when the user ceases accessing the device. See the blog post on automounting for more details about this useful new feature. New jail utilities jbootstrap (requires being run once to fetch base packages), jinit, and jdestroy are available. These support OpenRC development and add other functionality. See the blog post on these new jail utilities for more details." The release announcement has further information.
Linux From Scratch 8.0
Bruce Dubbs has announced the release of Linux From Scratch (LFS) and Beyond Linux From Scratch (BLFS) 8.0, a major update of the do-it-yourself books providing instructions on how to build a base Linux system from scratch, then compile and configure many popular software applications on top of it: "The Linux From Scratch community is pleased to announce the release of LFS 8.0, LFS 8.0 (systemd), BLFS 8.0 and BLFS 8.0 (systemd). This release is a major update to both LFS and BLFS. The LFS release includes updates to glibc 2.24, Binutils 2.27 and GCC 6.2.0. In total, 29 packages were updated, fixes made to bootscripts, and changes to text have been made throughout the book. The BLFS version includes approximately 800 packages beyond the base Linux From Scratch version 7.10 book. This release has over 775 updates from the previous version including numerous text and formatting changes." Here is the full release announcement.
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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: 308
- Total data uploaded: 57.5TB
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Hobbyist and single board computers
Small, low-power computers have become increasingly popular in recent years. These little computers, such as the Raspberry Pi, make for inexpensive learning tools, great low-traffic servers and can even be used as a minimal desktop computer in some cases.
This week we would like to find out how many of our readers own one of these little computers, like a BeagleBone Black, Banana Pi or Raspberry Pi. If you own one, please leave us a comment letting us know what tasks you have assigned to your device.
You can see the results of our previous poll on time spent using the command line here. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
Hobbyist and single board computers
|I own multiple single board computers: ||561 (29%)|
| I own a single board computer: ||462 (24%)|
| I do not own a single board computer: ||921 (47%)|
New menu bar
Over the years DistroWatch has added several resources. We not only cover distribution releases and reviews, we also seed torrents, have a glossary page, list news stories, provide a way for people to vote for projects on our waiting list and compare packages between distributions. Plus we list security advisories for some of the major projects and have data on page hits and trends. While these resources are available through our sitemap, we realize some digging was required to find the new resources. With this in mind we are trying out a new feature, a drop-down menu bar that is displayed in green near the top of each page.
It is our hope that the new menu bar will be useful in helping people explore our available resources and new features. We are going to run with the new menu bar for a week and then, next Monday, let people vote on whether they find it useful or if it is just unwanted clutter.
* * * * *
New distributions added to database
Minimal Linux Live
* * * * *
Distributions added to waiting list
- Ultron OS. Ultron OS is an Italian Linux distribution which is based on Ubuntu. It is a commercial distribution with a free edition that can be accessed with website registration.
- ULinux. ULinux is a free openSUSE-based operating system that aims to be as minimal as possible, yet easier to set up than something like Arch Linux. The most notable differences in ULinux compared to openSUSE is that ULinux has extra repositories for installing Budgie/Cinnamon and uses Nano as it's default text editor instead of Vim.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 6 March 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
|• Issue 848 (2020-01-13): elementary OS 5.1, accessing USB ports directly, NetBSD expanding Wayland support, Fedora phasing out old Python packages|
|• Issue 847 (2020-01-06): Android-x86 9.0, Hypberbola switching to BSD base, Debian votes on init diversity, slow adoption of Wayland and delta packages|
|• Issue 846 (2019-12-23): NomadBSD 1.3, Tails publishes boot fix, Arch update requires intervention, Purism launches server lineup, password protecting files|
|• Issue 845 (2019-12-16): OpenIndiana 2019.10, BunsenLabs' "Lithium" preview, MX-Fluxbox, 10 years of Tails, installing local packages|
|• Issue 844 (2019-12-09): Project Trident Void alpha, alpha installer for "Bullseye", SparkyLinux portable edition, dealing with large log files|
|• Issue 843 (2019-12-02): Obarun 2019.11.02, Bluestar 5.3.6, using special characters on command line, Fedora plans to disable empty passwords, FreeBSD's quarterly status report|
|• Issue 842 (2019-11-25): SolydXK 10, System Adminstration Ethics book review, Debian continues init diversity debate, Google upstreaming Android kernel patches|
|• Issue 841 (2019-11-18): Emmabuntus DE3-1.00, changing keys in keyboard layout, Debian phasing out Python 2 and voting on init diversity, Slackware gets unofficial updated live media|
|• Issue 840 (2019-11-11): Fedora 31, monitoring user activity, Fedora working to improve Python performance, FreeBSD gets faster networking|
|• Issue 839 (2019-11-04): MX 19, manipulating PDFs, Ubuntu plans features for 20.04, Fedora 29 nears EOL, Netrunner drops Manjaro-based edition|
|• Issue 838 (2019-10-28): Xubuntu 19.10, how init and service managers work together, DragonFly BSD provides emergency mode for HAMMER, Xfce team plans 4.16|
|• Issue 837 (2019-10-21): CentOS 8.0-1905, Trident finds new base, Debian plans firewall changes, 15 years of Fedora, how to merge directories|
|• Issue 836 (2019-10-14): Archman 2019.09, Haiku improves ARM support, Project Trident shifting base OS, Unix turns 50|
|• Issue 835 (2019-10-07): Isotop, Mazon OS and, KduxOS, examples of using find command, Mint's System Reports becomes proactive, Solus updates its desktops|
|• Issue 834 (2019-09-30): FreedomBox "Buster", CentOS gains a rolling release, Librem 5 phones shipping, Redcore updates its package manager|
|• Issue 833 (2019-09-23): Redcore Linux 1908, why Linux distros are free, Ubuntu making list of 32-bit software to keep, Richard M Stallman steps down from FSF leadership|
|• Issue 832 (2019-09-16): BlackWeb 1.2, checking for Wayland session and applications, Fedora to use nftables in firewalld, OpenBSD disables DoH in Firefox|
|• Issue 831 (2019-09-09): Adélie Linux 1.0 beta, using ffmpeg, awk and renice, Mint and elementary improvements, PureOS and Manjaro updates|
|• Issue 930 (2019-09-02): deepin 15.11, working with AppArmor profiles, elementary OS gets new greeter, exFAT support coming to Linux kernel|
|• Issue 829 (2019-08-26): EndeavourOS 2019.07.15, Drauger OS 7.4.1, finding licenses of kernel modules, NetBSD gets Wayland application, GhostBSD changes base repo|
|• Issue 828 (2019-08-19): AcademiX 2.2, concerns with non-free firmware, UBports working on Unity8, Fedora unveils new EPEL channel, FreeBSD phasing out GCC|
|• Issue 827 (2019-08-12): Q4OS, finding files on disk, Ubuntu works on ZFS, Haiku improves performance, OSDisc shutting down|
|• Issue 826 (2019-08-05): Quick looks at Resilient, PrimeOS, and BlueLight, flagship distros for desktops,Manjaro introduces new package manager|
|• Issue 825 (2019-07-29): Endless OS 3.6, UBports 16.04, gNewSense maintainer stepping down, Fedora developrs discuss optimizations, Project Trident launches stable branch|
|• Issue 824 (2019-07-22): Hexagon OS 1.0, Mageia publishes updated media, Fedora unveils Fedora CoreOS, managing disk usage with quotas|
|• Issue 823 (2019-07-15): Debian 10, finding 32-bit packages on a 64-bit system, Will Cooke discusses Ubuntu's desktop, IBM finalizes purchase of Red Hat|
|• Issue 822 (2019-07-08): Mageia 7, running development branches of distros, Mint team considers Snap, UBports to address Google account access|
|• Issue 821 (2019-07-01): OpenMandriva 4.0, Ubuntu's plan for 32-bit packages, Fedora Workstation improvements, DragonFly BSD's smaller kernel memory|
|• Issue 820 (2019-06-24): Clear Linux and Guix System 1.0.1, running Android applications using Anbox, Zorin partners with Star Labs, Red Hat explains networking bug, Ubuntu considers no longer updating 32-bit packages|
|• Issue 819 (2019-06-17): OS108 and Venom, renaming multiple files, checking live USB integrity, working with Fedora's Modularity, Ubuntu replacing Chromium package with snap|
|• Issue 818 (2019-06-10): openSUSE 15.1, improving boot times, FreeBSD's status report, DragonFly BSD reduces install media size|
|• Issue 817 (2019-06-03): Manjaro 18.0.4, Ubuntu Security Podcast, new Linux laptops from Dell and System76, Entroware Apollo|
|• Issue 816 (2019-05-27): Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.0, creating firewall rules, Antergos shuts down, Matthew Miller answers questions about Fedora|
|• Issue 815 (2019-05-20): Sabayon 19.03, Clear Linux's developer features, Red Hat explains MDS flaws, an overview of mobile distro options|
|• Issue 814 (2019-05-13): Fedora 30, distributions publish Firefox fixes, CentOS publishes roadmap to 8.0, Debian plans to use Wayland by default|
|• Issue 813 (2019-05-06): ROSA R11, MX seeks help with systemd-shim, FreeBSD tests unified package management, interview with Gael Duval|
|• Issue 812 (2019-04-29): Ubuntu MATE 19.04, setting up a SOCKS web proxy, Scientific Linux discontinued, Red Hat takes over Java LTS support|
|• Issue 811 (2019-04-22): Alpine 3.9.2, rsync examples, Ubuntu working on ZFS support, Debian elects new Project Leader, Obarun releases S6 tools|
|• Issue 810 (2019-04-15): SolydXK 201902, Bedrock Linux 0.7.2, Fedora phasing out Python 2, NetBSD gets virtual machine monitor|
|• Issue 809 (2019-04-08): PCLinuxOS 2019.02, installing Falkon and problems with portable packages, Mint offers daily build previews, Ubuntu speeds up Snap packages|
|• Issue 808 (2019-04-01): Solus 4.0, security benefits and drawbacks to using a live distro, Gentoo gets GNOME ports working without systemd, Redox OS update|
|• Issue 807 (2019-03-25): Pardus 17.5, finding out which user changed a file, new Budgie features, a tool for browsing FreeBSD's sysctl values|
|• Issue 806 (2019-03-18): Kubuntu vs KDE neon, Nitrux's znx, notes on Debian's election, SUSE becomes an independent entity|
|• Issue 805 (2019-03-11): EasyOS 1.0, managing background services, Devuan team debates machine ID file, Ubuntu Studio works to remain an Ubuntu Community Edition|
|• Issue 804 (2019-03-04): Condres OS 19.02, securely erasing hard drives, new UBports devices coming in 2019, Devuan to host first conference|
|• Issue 803 (2019-02-25): Septor 2019, preventing windows from stealing focus, NetBSD and Nitrux experiment with virtual machines, pfSense upgrading to FreeBSD 12 base|
|• Issue 802 (2019-02-18): Slontoo 18.07.1, NetBSD tests newer compiler, Fedora packaging Deepin desktop, changes in Ubuntu Studio|
|• Issue 801 (2019-02-11): Project Trident 18.12, meaning of status symbols in top, FreeBSD Foundation lists ongoing projects, Plasma Mobile team answers questions|
|• Issue 800 (2019-02-04): FreeNAS 11.2, using Ubuntu Studio software as an add-on, Nitrux developing znx, matching operating systems to file systems|
|• Issue 799 (2019-01-28): KaOS 2018.12, Linux Basics For Hackers, Debian 10 enters freeze, Ubuntu publishes new version for IoT devices|
|• Issue 798 (2019-01-21): Sculpt OS 18.09, picking a location for swap space, Solus team plans ahead, Fedora trying to get a better user count|
|• Issue 797 (2019-01-14): Reborn OS 2018.11.28, TinyPaw-Linux 1.3, dealing with processes which make desktop unresponsive, Debian testing Secure Boot support|
|• Issue 796 (2019-01-07): FreeBSD 12.0, Peppermint releases ISO update, picking the best distro of 2018, roundtable interview with Debian, Fedora and elementary developers|
|• Issue 795 (2018-12-24): Running a Pinebook, interview with Bedrock founder, Alpine being ported to RISC-V, Librem 5 dev-kits shipped|
|• Issue 794 (2018-12-17): Void 20181111, avoiding software bloat, improvements to HAMMER2, getting application overview in GNOME Shell|
|• Full list of all issues|
Star Labs - Laptops built for Linux.
View our range including the Star Lite, Star LabTop and more. Available with a choice of Ubuntu, Linux Mint or Zorin OS pre-installed with many more distributions supported. Visit Star Labs for information, to buy and get support.
|Random Distribution |
redWall Firewall was a bootable CD-ROM firewall based on Gentoo Linux. Its goal was to provide a feature-rich firewall solution together with a web-based interface for all the generated log files. redWall Firewall comes with Snort, SnortSam, DansGuardian and support for fwbuilder, SpamAssassin, reporting, VPN and mail alerts. Configuration files are stored on a floppy disk or a USB pen drive.
|Tips, Tricks, Myths and Q&As |
|Myths and misunderstandings: Unity, Mir and Ubuntu Touch|
|Questions and answers: Distributions for audio recording, multi-distro disk layout|
|Questions and answers: Blocking, filtering and logging web content|
|Questions and answers: Locating portable packages|
|Questions and answers: Types of security provided by different projects|
|Questions and answers: Personal firewall applications|
|Tips and tricks: Command line weather, ionice, rename files, video preview snapshot, calednar, ls colour settings|
|Myths and misunderstandings: Can Netflix run on a Raspberry Pi?|
|Tips and tricks: Gathering system information with osquery|
|Questions and answers: 32-bit versus 64-bit computing|
|More Tips & Tricks and Questions & Answers|