| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 705, 27 March 2017
Welcome to this year's 13th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
Most Linux distributions these days are large enough to fill a CD and many have installation media that will not fit on anything smaller than a DVD. However, there are some very small Linux distributions which can be downloaded using less than 50MB of bandwidth. One of these distributions is Minimal Linux Live, a tiny Linux distribution which is just 7MB in size. We talk about Minimal Linux Live and how you can get your own custom build of the distribution in our Feature Story. In our News section this week we discuss new improvements coming to KaOS, a 32-bit fork of PCLinuxOS and remind our readers that openSUSE 42.1 is approaching the end of its supported life. Then, in our Questions and Answers column we talk about how to share partial control of a Linux distribution with multiple people. Plus we cover the distribution releases of the past week and provide a list of the torrents we are seeding. In our Opinion Poll we explore tools that elevate user permissions in order to perform administrative tasks. Finally, we are pleased to announce the ToOpPy Linux distribution has been added to our database. We wish you all a fantastic week and happy reading!
- Review: Minimal Linux Live
- News: New KaOS features, Uplos32 forked from PCLinuxOS, openSUSE 42.1 approaches its end of life
- Questions and answers: Sharing control of the operating system
- Released last week: Emmabuntus 8-1.02, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.9, ExTiX 17.2
- Torrent corner: 4MLinux, Clonezilla, Emmabuntus, ExTiX, Plamo, Rockstor, Super Grub2 Disk
- Upcoming releases: Linux Lite 3.4
- Opinion poll: Gaining elevated access for administrator tasks
- New additions: ToOpPy Linux
- New distributions: Uplos32
- Reader comments
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (39MB) and MP3 (29MB) formats.
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Minimal Linux Live
Minimal Linux Live is, as the name suggests, a very minimal Linux distribution which can be run live from a CD, DVD or USB thumb drive. One of the things which set Minimal Linux Live (MLL) apart from other distributions is that, while the distribution is available through a 7MB ISO file download, the project is designed to be built from source code using a shell script. The idea is that we can download scripts that will build MLL on an existing Linux distribution. Assuming we have the proper compiler tools on our current distribution, simply running a single shell script and waiting a while will produce a bootable ISO featuring the MLL operating system.
I decided to try the MLL build process to see if it would work and how long it would take if everything went smoothly. I also wanted to find out just how much functionality such a small distribution could offer. The project's documentation mostly covers building MLL on Ubuntu and Linux Mint and so I decided to build MLL on a copy of Ubuntu 16.04 I had running in a virtual machine. The steps to build MLL are fairly straight forward. On Ubuntu, we first install six packages to make sure we have all the required dependencies. Then we download an archive containing MLL's build scripts. Then we unpack the archive and run the build script. We just need to type four commands in Ubuntu's virtual terminal to kick-start the build process. Those commands are:
sudo apt-get install wget make gawk gcc bc genisoimage
The MLL script downloads the source files we will need, unpacks everything and compiles the necessary software. Then the script builds an ISO file for us. The script completed without any errors on my first try, which is always nice to see. The project's documentation suggests MLL can be built in less than 30 minutes on a modern computer and I think that is accurate. I performed the build in a virtual machine with access to just one processor and 2GB of RAM and, in this limited environment, MLL took one hour and 14 minutes to build its ISO from scratch. The build required about 1.8GB of disk space to download all the source code, compile everything and build the ISO file.
tar xJf minimal_linux_live_20-Jan-2017_src.tar.xz
I tried running MLL in two test environments, a physical desktop computer and a VirtualBox virtual machine. The distribution worked in both environments, booting quickly to a text console where I was automatically signed in as the root user. There are no desktop environments or multimedia applications, making sound and video support somewhat unimportant. In both environments, MLL detected my network connection and set up networking using DHCP. Memory usage varied a fair amount from one session to the next. I found MLL generally used approximately 10MB to 40MB of RAM when no extra programs or services were running.
A curious person might be wondering just how much we can do with a Linux distribution that has an ISO file smaller than 7MB. MLL offers a very bare bones environment. The distribution boots to a text console where we can run a shell as the root user. We have access to the Busybox command line utilities (lightweight versions of the GNU and Unix command line programs) and the system has a copy of the GNU C library. The operating system activates a network connection and uses DHCP to try to obtain an IP address for us. That is about all we have. There is a manual page utility, but no manual pages are available by default. We can partition a local disk drive, use dd to copy partitions and use wget to download files - that is about the extent of our tools and access. In the background MLL runs version 4.4 of the Linux kernel.
I found that with the default build settings, MLL did not provide a secure shell client or FTP client for transferring files, nor any web browser. However, MLL does provide an option to enable extra features at build time. When we download the MLL build scripts there is a file called .config where we can set options. Commenting or un-commenting options in the .config file allows us to include additional services in MLL, such as the Links text-based web browser, Java and the Dropbear secure shell software.
I was intrigued by Minimal Linux Live, particularly by the idea of using just one shell script command to build the entire operating system. I was pleased to find the distribution does indeed build and run exactly as the documentation says it will. I was also interested in running such a minimal environment in a web browser and was pleased to find MLL does run (admittedly slowly) in a browser. There is not a lot we can do with a command line only distribution in a web browser, but I can see how it would be a useful educational tool.
In a way I feel as though MLL is Linux From Scratch for people who want to automate the build process, skipping the manual work. And, in this regard, MLL is effective. We can run the build script and come back an hour later to a working, tiny distribution.
There is not a lot we can do with MLL on its own, apart from testing hardware, rescuing files or running simple scripts. However, the platform is there to build upon. Much like other minimal distributions, such as Tiny Core Linux, the power of MLL is not in what it does, but in providing a core platform on which we can expand. In this regard, MLL does very well.
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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)
New KaOS features, Uplos32 forked from PCLinuxOS, openSUSE 42.1 approaches its end of life
The developers of KaOS, a rolling release distribution with a focus on KDE and Qt technologies, have introduced a number of new features and improvements. The project's March status update talks about the new ability to find reverse dependencies in the on-line package viewer, several updates to key software components and adding VirtualBox integration to the live media. The report also mentions future snapshots will feature a version of the Calamares installer which will be able to work with GPT disk layouts. "Quite a lot of changes to report here for the last five weeks. A new major systemd release (233) required changes in how the live environment needs to run, it took a half dozen internal test ISOs to have all that working correctly again. Mesa has moved to the 17 series (currently at 17.0.2), this looked for a little while that it would break the use of QtWebengine on Nouveau systems again, but luckily the three needed Nouveau patches could be adjusted to have no such issues. New poppler, libbluray and libarchive required the usual sizable rebuilds. A major CVE caused a quicker than normal update of the stable kernel, Linux 4.9.12 was moved to all users shortly after receiving the 4.9.10 update."
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PCLinuxOS is a rolling release distribution which, like many other projects, has been gradually transitioning to newer technologies. PCLinuxOS has migrated from the KDE 4 desktop to KDE's Plasma 5 desktop environment. The project has also shifted away from supporting 32-bit computers, focusing on building 64-bit packages and installation media. Some users of the distribution have decided to fork PCLinuxOS in order to continue support for 32-bit computers. The Uplos32 project was created with the intention of continuing support for users of PCLinuxOS who still run legacy 32-bit systems.
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Marcus Meissner of the openSUSE Maintenance Team has sent out a reminder that openSUSE 42.1 will reach the end of its supported life in May of 2017. "With the release of openSUSE Leap 42.2 the SUSE support of openSUSE Leap 42.1 will be ending in two months, around May 16th 2017. Please check https://en.opensuse.org/Lifetime for lifetime information. Note that the openSUSE Leap 42 class of distributions is designed to be easily upgradable within minor versions, so Leap 42.1 to Leap 42.2 update should be easy and seamless."
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These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Sharing control of the operating system
Sharing-the-power asks: Too many simple tasks on Linux require the admin password. Changing settings, installing games, setting up a printer all requires my root password. Is there any way I can share control over parts of the system with my family without giving my kids access to everything?
DistroWatch answers: The traditional Linux approach to permissions, granting one person (the root user) unlimited access and power while everyone else has very restricted access, is a bit limiting. It made sense back when an entire company or university might share one computer and there was just one system administrator. These days though, when families share desktop computers and companies might have dozens of system administrators, it makes sense to have a way of sharing responsibility. Luckily, there are tools to accomplish this, specifically sudo on Linux and either sudo or doas if you are running one of the BSDs.
Both sudo and doas work approximately the same way and I'll focus on sudo for the moment. The system administrator creates a few rules, basically telling sudo who gets to do what. For example, Alice might get to use the package manager while Bob gets to configure printers. Then, whenever Alice wants to install updates she can use the sudo command (or one of its graphical equivalents like gksudo or kdesudo) to launch the package manager. Alice will be prompted for her password to confirm it is really her and then sudo checks to make sure she is allowed to access the resource. Assuming Alice provides the right password and is running a command sudo has been told she is allowed to run, the command works as though she were the system administrator.
The sudo program can be configured to log commands people run or report to the administrator when an unauthorized user attempts to use sudo to elevate their access. In this way sudo can be used to log what users on the system are up to as well as police admin access.
One of the few drawbacks to using the sudo command is that its configuration file, where we specify rules stating who may do what, can get a bit complicated. The manual page explaining all the options for the sudo configuration file is over 2,000 lines long. (The sudo configuration file is called sudoers and can usually be found at the location /etc/sudoers.) Luckily, there are several good examples of how to set up rules (even relatively simple ones) at the bottom of the sudoers manual page.
The sudoers configuration file is usually edited and updated using a tool called visudo. This tool performs some safety checks on the sudoers file to help us avoid breaking users' access to the system.
As mentioned above, there are a lot of options when dealing with sudo and its configuration file, sudoers, but I will cover a couple of very simple examples. Each entry in the sudoers file generally contains four parts: the person who may run a command, the computer they are running on, who they can be running as and the command you have given to them. Usually the computer name doesn't matter and can simply be listed as "ALL". In the following example, we give Alice access to the DNF package manager. First, we open the sudoers file with
The visudo command opens the sudo configuration file for us. We can scroll down to the bottom of the file and add an entry for Alice:
alice ALL=(ALL) /usr/bin/dnf
In the above example, we grant a user (Alice), permission to run a command from any computer (ALL), as any user (the second ALL) and the command she can run is the package manager located at /usr/bin/dnf. Were we to grant Bob access to configure printers on the system we could use the visudo editor to add a new entry:
bob ALL=(ALL) /usr/bin/system-config-printer
We can go a step further and allow a user to shut-down the operating system without specifying a password by using the NOPASSWD keyword:
calvin ALL=(ALL) NOPASSWD: /sbin/shutdown
One reason some people, particularly BSD users, tend to use the doas command instead of sudo is the doas command has a simplified syntax. The doas command has shorter manual pages and does not recommend using a special editor to update the configuration file. When doas is installed, we can simply open the doas.conf configuration file (usually saved as /usr/local/etc/doas.conf) in a text editor and create entries using an almost English-like syntax.
Below is the line we would put in the doas.conf configuration file to grant Alice permission to the DNF package manager. Each line granting access begins with the word "permit" followed by the user's name, who they may run the command as and the name of the command we are granting them permission to run.
permit alice as root cmd /usr/bin/dnf
And here is the line to grant Bob permission to manage printers using doas:
permit bob as root cmd /usr/bin/system-config-printer
Finally, here is the doas.conf line for granting Calvin permission to shut-down the computer without a password using the "nopass" keyword:
permit nopass calvin as root cmd /sbin/shutdown
Further information on how to use these two commands, sudo and doas to grant program access to specific users can be found in the sudoers and doas.conf manual pages respectively.
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We have more answers in our Questions and Answers archive.
|Released Last Week
The Emmabuntus project has announced the release of a stable version of the distribution's Debian Edition. The new release is based on Debian 8.7 and features the Xfce desktop environment. The new Debian Edition of Emmabuntus uses the Lilo search engine by default and includes support for running on computers with UEFI enabled. "This new version support our efforts even more efficiently, thanks to this three improvement axis: the solidarity, with the Lilo search engine, the reuse, by supporting the new UEFI standard during the installation, the closure of the digital divide, by giving to the beginners the opportunity to discover an accessible GNU/Linux operating system, in this case based on Debian, with the appropriate documentation. In fact, 'The beginner's handbook' published by our friends of the 3HG Team, are included in this distribution. Starting immediately and by default, Emmabuntüs uses Lilo, the alternative search engine on the web. This decision was taken for two good reasons: the actions taken by the engine to respect the privacy of the web users, and the possibility to redistribute to different associations the incomes generated by the advertising." Further information can be found in the project's release announcement.
ExTiX 17.2 "LXQt"
ExTiX is a desktop Linux distribution based on Ubuntu which features alternative desktop environments. The project's latest release, ExTiX 17.2 features the lightweight LXQt 0.10.0 desktop environment and provides version 4.10 of the Linux kernel. "News about ExTiX 17.2 build 170320 with the LXQt desktop environment: 1. ExTiX LXQt is based on Ubuntu 16.10 'Yakkety Yak'. LXQt 0.10.0 is used as the desktop environment. All packages have been updated to the latest version by 2017-03-20, Linux kernel 4.10 is used. (kernel.org's kernel 4.10.3). 2. Google Chrome is used as the web browser, which makes it possible to watch Netflix movies. It is not possible in Firefox (on Linux). 3. I have also installed BlueGriffon 2.3.1 web editor. BlueGriffon is a new WYSIWYG content editor for the world wide web. Powered by Gecko, the rendering engine of Firefox, it's a modern and robust solution to edit web pages in conformance to the latest web standards. 4. Other included important/useful packages are: LibreOffice, Thunderbird, GParted, Brasero, SMPlayer, GCC and other compilation tools so that you can install packages from source. Furthermore all multimedia codecs." Additional information on ExTiX 17.2 can be found in the project's release announcement.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.9
Red Hat has announced the release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 6.9, the latest version of the distribution's legacy branch which was originally launched in November 2010 and which will be supported with security updates until late 2020: "Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.9 delivers new hardware support developed in collaboration with Red Hat partners which helps to provide a smooth transition of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 production deployments to Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 environments. Additionally, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.9 adds updates to TLS 1.2 to further enhance secure communications and provide broader support for the latest PCI-DSS standards." The release announcement also contains a note about the upcoming change in the product's support status: "Note that Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 enters Production Phase 3 on May 10, 2017, meaning that subsequent updates to Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 will be limited to qualified critical security fixes and business-impacting urgent issues." See also the release notes for more information.
Rockstor 3.9.0 -- The status fashboard
(full image size: 583kB, resolution: 1920x939 pixels)
Plamo Linux 6.2
Plamo Linux, which was launched back in 1997 as a Japanese language extension for Slackware Linux, is one of the world's oldest surviving distributions of Linux. Its development continues two decades later with the release of version 6.2. Originally tagged at the Open Source Conference (OSC) Tokyo Spring last month, it was finally published yesterday in the form of installable ISO images for three architectures. The most important change in Plamo Linux 6.2 is the switch from mkisofs to GNU xorriso while building the DVD images; this means support for booting on UEFI-enabled systems as well as the ability to transfer the ISO file to USB devices with dd or cat. The distribution offers three desktop environments - KDE 4.14.3, MATE 1.12.1 and Xfce 4.12.0. Some of the most important software upgrades in this release include: ALSA 1.1.1, Firefox 51.0, LibreOffice 5.2.5, OpenSSH 7.4p1, PHP 7.1.1, Samba 4.4.2 and Thunderbird 45.7.0, among others. Here is the brief release announcement, with further information available in the changelog (both links in Japanese). The installation DVD images are available for arm, x86 and x86_64 architectures.
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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: 346
- Total data uploaded: 56.0TB
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Gaining elevated access for administrator tasks
In this week's Questions and Answers column we discussed ways to elevate a regular user's access so they can perform system administration tasks. In this poll we would like to find out what method you use to gain administrator-level access to your operating system. Do you log into your root account directly, use su to switch between user accounts, or use a tool like sudo or doas to grant temporary root access?
You can see the results of our previous poll on changing the look of the website's header in last week's edition. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
New projects added to database
ToOpPy Linux is a French distribution based on Puppy Linux. The project provides a lightweight distribution which includes many small utilities and can be run either from a live disc or installed on the hard drive.
ToOpPy Linux 2.2 -- Running the JWM environment
(full image size: 448kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
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Distributions added to waiting list
- Uplos32. Uplos32 is a fork of the PCLinuxOS distribution for 32-bit x86 computers.
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DistroWatch database summary
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This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 3 April 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 • Small Linux (by John on 2017-03-27 00:48:09 GMT from United States) |
VERY nice to see a really small linux. And from sources :).
I wonder if I can use it in place of Damn Small Linux which I still run on an old laptop from a live CD to text login to many other Linux boxes?
Damn small linux just runs. Amazing in this day of over bloat almost everywhere. And most of DSL I don't use! It could be much smaller!!
I can even have 4 terminal windows open with DSL to different machines :).
2 • Elevated Access (by cykodrone on 2017-03-27 01:24:52 GMT from Canada)
I use 'su', I used sudo for a while when it came on the scene, then I figured out it was a gimmick to make Ubuntu more n00b friendly (and a security risk), I do not leave root terminals open after I'm done with them. I do not allow gksu prompts to save passwords for sessions. I actually didn't find out about 'su' until I started dabbling with other distros that were NOT Debian based (that's kind of sad, actually). I create root terminal and root file manager launchers on the desktop for quicker access shortcuts. I do, however, have root accounts in both distros (and I do insist installers create them) but barely ever log in to them, no real reason to. One of the reasons I completely abandoned that proprietary OS was because it was security Swiss cheese, not making that mistake again. Nobody would ever guess my passwords anyway, they're just some bizarre alien language I made up. Here's a good one, "drowssap", lol. I take my computing privacy and security very seriously.
3 • sudo/su (by wally on 2017-03-27 02:28:43 GMT from United States)
Debian derivatives do tend to go the sudo route, but Debian does not. 'root' and 'su' are the defaults, 'sudo' is an option.
4 • Multiple (by Chris on 2017-03-27 03:40:45 GMT from United States)
Minimal Linux Live ("MLL"):
Recently, I was quite suprised to see little-ol' MLL added to DW. Today, I am absolutely shocked to see it as the featured review! I appreciate the attention such a limited project, which has come to be a major learning and experimenting tool for me, has received. Thank you DWW and Jesse Smith!
For years, I have intended to experiment with customizing the Linux kernel, and give Linux From Scratch ("LFS") a go, but I just have not had the necessary time for either project. Plus, I am a sucker for small, lean distros that work on old or underpowered hardware (long-live 32-bit distros).
About six months ago, I found MLL collecting electronic dust on the DW Waiting List and decided to play-around with it in my limited spare time (I think I even made a comment or two about it in this forum). From my first compile, it worked and ran great, with my results similar to Jesse's, but on a 32-bit Atom processor with 1GB RAM in around two hours. With my success, reviewing the scripts, reviewing the minimal contents of the ISO, and a little bit of quick online research, many previously vague to me aspects of Linux became crystal clear. Something about the hands-on and absolute minimalism helped me.
Immediately after my Eurika moment, various ideas/projects sprung into my head:
1. Can I make MLL with even newer sources, and will they be compatible? Yes, a quick check of three websites and a few changes to the provided scripts provided more success on both points in a new, functional build.
2. Can I make this smaller and still keep it relitively functional? Yes! To date, I have gotten my ISO down to near 6MB by removing the build scripts being included in the ISO, and going manual-config and eliminating (IMO unnecessary) kernel and Busybox components (Who needs Telnet, etc.?). And there is a lot more 'bloat' available for removal (e.g., more kernel components can be eliminated [as I learn], an alternate, smaller c-lib [i.e., musl] could be used, etc.)!
3. Can I built up from what is included (note: prior to the new MLL scripts' options, and seperate from my minimization project)? Yes! I will save the details, but I successfully added screen to my build. Maybe pointless for so few available utilities, but a great learning experience.
MLL has given me the most fun I have had with Linux in many years, helped me advance in my Linux understanding and usage, and, as my limited time permits, I plan to keep experimenting with it.
I chose, "I use sudo." It works very well for me and my purposes, YMMV.
5 • Elevated Access (by Simon Wainscott-Plaistowe on 2017-03-27 04:48:28 GMT from New Zealand)
Most of the time, when I just need to run one or twp commands, I use sudo. If I want to run a bunch of commands or dig around a bit, I use su. And on the odd occasion when I really need to get into the guts of the system, I log in as root.
6 • Elevated Access (by edcoolio on 2017-03-27 05:16:56 GMT from United States)
Although I use sudo and su 99% of the time (probably like everyone else), but I feel as if it is sometimes a hassle depending on the device.
For example, I have laptops that are used for the most basic of web browsing. Nothing else. I would (personally) love for distros to have a simple option within the installer to have the root account set as a default, a bit like Puppy Linux I suppose. I'm willing to take the risk browsing to news from cnn and fox.
Security aside, I want the responsibility as an option during a quick install for certain devices.
While I'm on the thought, maybe Lubuntu can re-enable "open as root" on PCManFM, like the old days. In the end, I like security as much as the next person, but I also like ease of use with responsibility.
7 • MLL (by zork on 2017-03-27 07:17:39 GMT from Germany)
It is great to see tiny linux distros around like MLL. But frankly, I don't see the benefit of MLL over Tiny Core Linux e.g., which Core release is only 3 MB bigger than MLL (in its early time, you already had TCL with a kind of Core release at ~6 MB), and give you more usability. It's kind of reinventing the wheel for me, or I am missing some real advantages over TCL that I do not see at the moment -- in this respect, I find the review little helpful. On a more general note, it would be interesting to embed in DW-reviews some comparative perspective between similar project more systematically, it would help the community to better find its way through similar projects. I know it is not always possible, but it would certainly help. Thanks to the DW-team.
8 • Minimal Linux Live, also gaining root accss (by Thomas Mueller on 2017-03-27 07:52:13 GMT from United States)
One downside of Minimal Linux Live is not having the tools to rebuild itself from source code, but those tools would not fit such a small distro. Comp set of NetBSD or FreeBSD is far larger than the whole Minimal Linux Live.
Most of the time, to get root access, I login as root, but less frequently I use su or sudo, haven't yet tried doas. This complicated voting in the poll, but I voted login as root.
9 • "log into the root account:" = "su" to me (by LiuYan@China on 2017-03-27 08:19:11 GMT from United States)
Since most distributions nowadays forced me to create another user account besides of 'root' account, I will open two terminal emulator, one for the normal user account, one for 'su' command , and I keep the 'su' sesson alive untill next reboot.
My computers are not for multi-user login jobs, so I would like to have only one 'root' account, security is not my primary concern.
'sudo' is too boring, it's like you type 'www.' in URL each time (that's why I like distrowatch.com, you don't have to type 'www.' :D). to me it's just wasting of time to type keyboard.
10 • Elevated Access (by Hoos on 2017-03-27 08:55:06 GMT from Singapore)
I just use whichever mode is default for a particular distro. If it's su (e.g. MX Linux, PCLinuxOS) then that's what I use. Same for sudo (Manjaro, Ubuntu-derivatives).
Like @9 though, if I open a root terminal, I'll keep it alive until I reboot or log out.
11 • "privilege escalation" (by zykoda on 2017-03-27 09:22:57 GMT from United Kingdom)
1) sudo: for an isolated command.
2) su: in a shell I (if sudoers is set up for the account and command)
3) root: with root password (e.g in debian) for wider config.
4) sudo su: sometimes useful.
5) exploit vulnerability or use patch to gain root access.
6) doas: not used. No unix here because disk partitioning can be a PITA.
12 • @7 and @8 (by Chris on 2017-03-27 10:50:41 GMT from United States)
@7: In general, I do not think MLL is intended to directly compete with TCL or be any type of daily driver (unless someone wanted to take the time to manually build-up to such); instead, I think MLL is more meant to be a:
1. Can it be done and what can be done with it type project base.
2. Educational tool, an extremely small LFS competitor using a simple script build system.
@8: Most distros do not have default setups for self-reproducibility and require one to install 'build-essentials' or such to be able to accomplish it. But the code exists and there is no reason MLL could not be built with such as default through customized build scripts. You may have just given me another educational project with MLL. Thank you.
13 • Elevated Access (by luvr on 2017-03-27 11:05:04 GMT from Belgium)
While the answers given are all correct, they focus on command-line use. It is my impression, however, that the question was more oriented to graphical environments.
To avoid having to type your (or, depending on the system configuration, the root user's) password for a specific privileged action on the desktop, you can make use of policykit rules. For instance, under Debian, the administrative password will be requested when you attempt to mount an internal disk partition from the desktop, while under Ubuntu, such authentication will not be required. (USB file systems, on the other hand, will mount without asking for a password on either of these distributions.) To allow Debian to mount internal disk partitions without asking for a password, I set up an appropriate policykit rule for it.
Similarly, you could set up a rule to, for example, run the Debian Synaptic package manager without prompting for a password. In fact, any other privileged action that pops up a password prompt dialog, can be configured thusly.
14 • administrator tasks (by Kevin on 2017-03-27 12:47:38 GMT from United States)
I couldn't vote on the opinion pole. There was no way to select the first three options. I use all of the first three. What I use varies depending on the box I'm on and the task I'm performing.
15 • #9 (by Phillip Chandler on 2017-03-27 13:11:01 GMT from United Kingdom)
You dont have to type www all the time, so bad example. Just type google.co.uk and it works out the www bit for you.
16 • Can’t answer poll (by a on 2017-03-27 13:11:15 GMT from France)
I usually use sudo but sometimes su and occasionally log in as root, so couldn’t answer this poll.
17 • Re; the poll question... (by tom joad on 2017-03-27 13:56:37 GMT from Hungary)
I voted for 'su' but I use several ways to access admin rights depending. Of late I have gotten in the habit of setting a password for 'root' too. That can be at times helpful.
I think an all inclusive choice in the poll would be good. Some thing like 'all of the above or none of the above or some of the above' would be nice. There are times when the choice of responses just don't 'fit' as a preferred response. This weeks question is one of those times.
Just a thought for maybe some consideration.
18 • Elevated Privaleges (by Bill S on 2017-03-27 14:49:19 GMT from United States)
I too create root terminal and root file manager launchers on the desktop for quicker access shortcuts with this command in Cairo dock: echo "mypassword" | sudo -S /usr/bin/x-terminal-emulatof.
But I am the only one who can access my desktop computer. And once I turn it off, no one can get inside because of my bios password.
19 • @3 Jumping To Conclusions (by cykodrone on 2017-03-27 15:22:15 GMT from Canada)
In case you were referring to my comment, which coincidentally preceded yours, I said "Debain BASED", as in Mint, Kubuntu, etc. I'm quite familiar with what is default in systemDebian and what is not, I was a Wheezy user, and now Devuan.
20 • su vs sudo (by Vukota on 2017-03-27 17:49:12 GMT from Serbia)
I don't see why there is no poll choice "Both sudo and su". I use both. On some computers I use one of them, on others both. I don't like to use sudo, on computers where I share access on the same account with other family members.
In any case, I like to have properly configured root user, in case of "disaster". Either if I have to do some system maintenance, get regular user messed up, etc.
21 • su vs sudo (by Jordan on 2017-03-27 18:26:44 GMT from United States)
I see sudo as a (mild) vulnerability. And as pointed out in @2 no reason to leave the terminal open after doing the su things that need to be done. And sudo is a silly not needed little gimmick.
I'm a non-geek linux user, so I keep a list of su commands for Korora/Fedora bookmarked.
Also, I learned my lesson about logging in as root long since. ;)
22 • Permissions for user to do administrative tasks... (by Bobbie Sellers on 2017-03-27 18:55:00 GMT from United States)
Hi fellow users/administrators.
I started out with Mandriva which has or had a suite of tools
called MCC for Configuration of the Computer,
In a System/User Management it is possible to add your user
to a variety of tasks often requiring root permission.
Mandriva is gone but we find the MCC in several Mandriva forks.
I use PCLinux OS64 KDE Plasma 4 2016.03 (fully updated)
currently but the facility is available in Mageia and was in
Open Mandriva which I have not found yet in a verifiable
download, so I cannot speak to its present state.
It is in PCLinux OS64 KDE's Plasma 5 2017.03 but I don't
much care for KDE's Plasma 5 as it lacks useful tools
that are supplied with the Kate text editor and even with
the stripped-down KWrite. I use that tool frequently and
Plasma 5 lacks other useful facilities for this user.
If I have to I will run it in an emulator to keep using these
[Whoever can get the joke in my tagline is my contemporary
in computer investigation.]
bliss "running fast and light" on PCLinuxOS64-2016.03
GNU/Linux 4.10.6-pclos1 #1 SMP Sun Mar 26
23 • su - or fu - does not matter. (by Don Dobbermaan on 2017-03-27 20:09:10 GMT from Canada)
I am an absolute nOOb.
I learned the lesson very hard way from nerds and geeks that su - or fu - does not matter much except psychological self-assurance of smelling sense of security. Privilege escalation, permission elevations and leaky linux kernels will not help you much here. When you connect keep the doors wide open.
24 • Please do protect root! (by RO on 2017-03-28 02:09:53 GMT from United States)
I understand the occasional need to use root for recovery tasks, such as running fsck while in single-user mode for disk repair, or grub for corrupted boot loader situations (after a Windows installation being a common cause).
However, even if you are not worried about what an intruder over the I-net might do TO your machine, please do consider what he might do WITH your machine. This is how bot armies are created, and unprotected, or poorly protected Linux-based PC's, as well as IoT devices such as web cams, are a favorite target for such cracks.
25 • Elevated privilege. No more politeness !! (by Greg Zeng on 2017-03-28 02:56:32 GMT from Australia)
Linux distributions need to PROTECT the users better.
When the demand for User-elevation to ROOT is asked, Linux must dramatically FLASH the screen into TOTAL-BOLD-MONO-COLOR.. Similar to the current Windows-10 Insider Preview. Older operating systems (including current Linux systems) still do not understand how dangerous ROOT access can be.
No more of this nearly invisible, tiny box. It would alert everyone that the ultimate sin is about to be done, imho.
26 • LOL Indeed, cykodrone (by Arch Watcher 402563 on 2017-03-28 05:49:08 GMT from United States)
@2 Actually you do not take security seriously. You only think so. That "good one" is hackable in a split second per passwordstrengthcalculator.org, or ~2 sec. per https://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2015/03/02/why-you-cant-trust-password-strength-meters/ (Watch the vid to see.) Try diceware.com with real dice, not your PC or any web stuff, and change passwords regularly.
27 • has anybody ported doas to the other BSDs or linux yet? (by DaveT on 2017-03-28 10:15:29 GMT from United Kingdom)
I use sudo, I can setup up some nicely complex rules but it is a bit of a pain doing it and testing it.
I have used doas on OpenBSD and I like it and would use it elsewhere but I haven't seen it ported to any other OS yet. Did I miss it?
28 • ported doas (by voidude on 2017-03-28 11:28:44 GMT from Norway)
@27 yes https://github.com/Duncaen/OpenDoas
some functionality is missing tho, read the issues.
Been using it with void since september without issues.
29 • @26 (by cykodrone on 2017-03-28 15:34:38 GMT from Canada)
It was a joke, that's not my actual password. My password does not exist in any language on this planet, it's a totally random phrase generated by my brain, not written down anywhere. My root and user passwords are also completely different. Anything man-made is not perfect, and never will be. A.I. is not our 'friend', it's a tool of the rich to put more humans out of work.
30 • Gaining elevated access for administrator tasks (by SilverBear on 2017-03-28 19:03:32 GMT from United States)
Currently I've been using Mint KDE version, and it's true to Ubuntu in its sudo voodoo. ;) So I use that mostly, although on occasion find it simpler to su into the root account when I'm doing a number of chores.
But over the last dozen years or so that I've been using a Linux distro, mostly: Mepis, Debian-unflavoured, Arch, and a couple Slack-derivatives, I've found su-ing the root to be the way to shoot. (Yes, you can shoot yourself in the foot, but I try not to do it.)
31 • Root access (by lenn on 2017-03-28 21:15:57 GMT from Canada)
Have you guys noted that any Linux live iso is on root? If your home folder is encrypted, it might not be seen by the live iso. If you are dual booting with windows, and that windows is not in hibernation, you can see the inside of that OS too. Your computer is not safe from someone with a Linux live iso.
Btw, you can use su or sudo, depending on the Linux live iso.
@ Jessie about MLL; have you read the build_minimal_linux_live.sh to see how it creates the live iso from a a Debian or Ubuntu install?
32 • Administrative access (by slick on 2017-03-28 22:49:01 GMT from United States)
If it is just a quick update, then sudo would suffice, but if spending anytime at all in root then su is preferable.
33 • Live ISO and 'security' (by Kragle von Schnitzelbank on 2017-03-28 23:49:18 GMT from United States)
Reminds me of a TV's 'parental controls' bypassed by a kid in seconds.
Much 'security' is theater. Done correctly, that can be effective, but should not be the only defense.
34 • @31, I am notJesse, but... (by Chris on 2017-03-29 00:08:55 GMT from United States)
You can obtain the SRCs (and pre-compiled ISOs which contain the SRCs) for current and past MLL releases at: http://minimal.linux-bg.org/download/. You can also obtain the current development scripts at: https://github.com/ivandavidov/minimal.
The build scripts consist of a simple main script which calls nearly as simple sub-scripts for each stage of the build. You can edit the scripts if desired and run the main script, or you can run each sub-script individually.
For my experiments with MLL, I have been using my customized versions of the April 2016 scripts, sometimes using all scripts and sometimes just some of them with manual interventions. For any advanced novice or intermediate Linux user, the scripts are fairly easy to understand, or research via man pages or ddg-fu if not; for already advanced users, they probably seem like a cute toy.
35 • @27,28 doas (by Thomas Mueller on 2017-03-29 01:52:47 GMT from United States)
I found security/doas in FreeBSD ports tree, but no doas in (NetBSD) pkgsrc.
36 • It Sure Was a Joke (by Arch Watcher 402563 on 2017-03-29 04:59:01 GMT from United States)
@29 cykodrone Any 8-char password is a joke. Estimate entropy before satisfying yourself you have a good one. Diceware makes memorable passwords without a computer. Ten words gives 128 bits. I'm not clear what your weird off-the-wall AI comments mean. Whatever your brain concocts is not likely random enough. You don't need a computer to fix the problem, just dice.
37 • PClinuxOS Derivatives (by Winchester on 2017-03-29 12:58:11 GMT from United States)
Just some thoughts :
It's good to see a PClinuxOS derivative once again. There haven't been many since Granular Linux.
There should be enough OS based on Debian / Ubuntu by now , to the point where there is unnecessary redundancy.
I would like to see a systemd-free Slax / Porteus type of operating system which can be run from RAM based on PClinuxOS packages.
As far as PClinuxOS itself goes,the only real problems I have run into are (1) slow updates to some packages such as the PaleMoon Browser ; (2) some .Xauthority issue with the Synaptic package manager where it is necessary to log-in as the root user in order to use the program ; and (3) some difficulty getting Steam going.
Aside from that,absolutely no issues.
38 • liveboot and encrypted home (by tim on 2017-03-29 20:39:13 GMT from United States)
@31 FWIW, although I don't use the LUKS feature, I've noticed that customized LiveUSB pendrives created using the "refracta snapshot" tool (provided by refracta linux, exegnulinux, and a few other distros) do support LUKS during liveboot.
39 • sudo... (by Spaniard on 2017-03-29 21:01:37 GMT from Spain)
For just one command: sudo command. Anything else: sudo bash. This may get difficult for graphical apps on remote logins, but for commandline tasks it works flawless. And I close those ASAP.
40 • @ 34 about MLL script (by lenn on 2017-03-30 15:14:22 GMT from Canada)
I asked this (from Jessie) whether he checked the MLL script is that, if one does so, one might be able to understand how the live iso is created from installed Ubuntu or Debian. It would be nice toy as you mentioned.
41 • @40 (by Chris on 2017-03-30 19:07:32 GMT from United States)
Reading those scripts sure does help to learn the ISO generation process. Plus, the scripts are very well #commented.
MLL uses genisoimage. In the links I provided @34, check the sub-script named ##_generate_iso.sh for final ISO build details.
For learning purposes, I recommend one start with the April 2016 scripts. The most recent release and the github development version include a minimal persistance overlay, which are cool to learn too but complicate the general ISO creation learning process. One can always move forward after learning the basics.
42 • Ubuntu + Editiions???? (by Bob on 2017-04-01 03:48:32 GMT from United States)
I just lost a whole lot of respect for DW. "Ubuntu + Editions" on the Page Hit Ranking list.
That's a cheap move to get Ubuntu back to the top of the list. Nuff said.
43 • April 1st (by M.Z. on 2017-04-01 05:55:01 GMT from United States)
I might find it a little odd, but something tells me that it will pass.
44 • Ubuntu & Editions (by Fuji943 on 2017-04-01 08:06:16 GMT from Czech Republic)
I was just wondering - which of the "editions" are now included in the Ubuntu + editions HPD? Are these just the "official" ones recognized by Canonical? Thanks!
45 • Super Grub2 Disk on #20 after ranking update (by adrian15 on 2017-04-01 08:49:34 GMT from Spain)
Given that after the new ranking update based on the new WHPD (Weitghted Hits per day) algorithm Super Grub2 Disk is on the #20 position I invite you to test Super Grub2 Disk today.
As Distrowatch description says:
It is a live CD that helps the user to boot into almost any operating system even if the system cannot boot into it by normal means. This allows a user to boot into an installed operating system if their GRUB installation has been overwritten, erased or otherwise corrupted. Super Grub2 Disk can detect installed operating systems and provide a boot menu which allows the user to boot into their desired operating system.
It's always a good thing to learn how to use tools that can be handy when you cannot boot into your GNU/Linux systems.
Have a nice day!
46 • Ubuntu+ (by Amar on 2017-04-01 09:53:36 GMT from India)
I think it is fair to club the *buntu distros. Great change to the PHR...
47 • Ubuntu + Editions (by sydneyj on 2017-04-01 11:37:37 GMT from United States)
If you're concerned about this....it's April 1. Jeez.
48 • *ubuntu + ubuntu studio (by Marcos Nascimento on 2017-04-01 17:37:59 GMT from Brazil)
You have read my thoughts! I was thinking it would be fair to merge the *ubuntu distributions and ubuntu studio.
49 • april fools?? (by edcoolio on 2017-04-01 18:00:31 GMT from United States)
So, I really really like the Ubuntu base. No doubt.
They have decided to mash all of the editions together here on Distrowatch in order to get the #1 ranking from Mint... and I'm cool with that.
However, now the only link that exists to my favorite distro for older to mid-range computers, Lubuntu, is impossible to find. The Ubuntu home page does not have obvious, quick direct links to this and other flavors.
This radically reduces the usefulness of Distrowatch. Instead of hitting distrowatch, then the Ubuntu flavor of my choice, and finally the direct homepage link of the distro - I'm left with avoiding Distrowatch and going directly to my flavor of choice.
This is great for the main Ubuntu distro, but a disaster for Lubuntu and others under the Ubuntu umbrella unless this oversight is fixed.
50 • @49 - Finding Lubuntu (by Uncle Slacky on 2017-04-01 19:46:47 GMT from France)
Just use the "Search Distribution" dropdown list in the site header!
51 • New & Improved Distrowatch.. (by Bill on 2017-04-01 21:45:41 GMT from United States)
I've been coming to DistroWatch for 6 years now and I don't like what's going on. You guys are going to tweak this site to the point where it looks good, but is useless to anyone looking for distros. Not sure that's what you want. If it ain't broke don't fix it.
52 • confused (by tim on 2017-04-02 00:30:42 GMT from United States)
FWIW, I'm seeing same as ever... all the MINT versions are lumped together (and, perhaps as a result of that) Mint at #1 clicks spot on DW main page. Kubuntu and the other editions are present #59 and whatnot in the list when I view the page. Maybe when you viewed the page, its content had been temporarily altered as a prank?
53 • April Fool's Page Hit (p)Ranking reverted now? (by RO on 2017-04-02 01:48:36 GMT from United States)
Noting that it is now April 2 GMT, and the Page Hit Ranking appears as ever with all the different Ubuntu variants, maybe that "rollup" of all into one was indeed just a temporary prank?
54 • April fools (by M.Z. on 2017-04-02 05:57:50 GMT from United States)
It obviously was an April fools thing, & it was not the first time such things have happened on DW.
55 • April Fool prank (by Jordan on 2017-04-02 16:11:00 GMT from United States)
Dang I missed it. Everything looked normal each time I checked DW's PHR on 1 April.
56 • Official flavors (by Marcos on 2017-04-02 18:18:19 GMT from Brazil)
All distributions are evaluated with their official flavors. Why ubuntu not?
57 • Flavors (by M.Z. on 2017-04-02 21:33:46 GMT from United States)
The differences are all in how each project treats it's various 'flavors' or spins as Fedorta calls them. With Fedora, Mint, Mageia, etc., there are multiple desktops available from either the projects homepage or in the case of Fedora a page dedicated to 'spins' that is directly linked to the man page. In addition all official desktop versions of these projects are either released simultaneously, or in the case of Mint they are announced on the project homepage 'when ready' & are give more or less equal treatment as official parts of the distro.
In the case of Ubuntu all desktops besides Unity are treated very different & each project has it's own independent homepage. In effect everything but the Unity edition seems to be a small semi independent side project created by the Ubuntu community. See here & here:
vs here for Mageia:
Note that in Mageia there is a single 'classic' installer that can cover virtually any desktop you want to use provided you don't want to do live testing. In addition there are two live CDs for KDE & Gnome which are give equal treatment (& XFCE will be available after version 6 comes out). There is no ambiguity that each desktop is fully supported & is given equal treatment with the classic installer & there are multiple live CDs. In Ubuntu all live CDs beside the main edition have to be supported as community projects. If Ubuntu wanted to structure things more like Mageia or Mint they easily could, but they don't, so are treated different. If Ubuntu announced all flavors on their man page & had a download section like Mint or so many other projects they certainly would be #1 on the DW rankings. With Mint there is a main section to download all versions with all desktops & all versions are announced via the blog:
Number of Comments: 57
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