| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 710, 1 May 2017
Welcome to this year's 18th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
The BSD family of operating systems has a well deserved reputation for developing new features in a conservative fashion, taking time to polish and test new ideas. However, the TrueOS project, which is based on FreeBSD's development branch, is bucking the conservative trend and exploring new features with a rolling release update model. We begin this week with a review of TrueOS and its Lumina desktop environment. In our News section we talk about a new port of Debian for RISC-V processors along with Debian's plans to retire FTP access and most CD-sized installation media. We also talk about a new community effort to build a common base for GNU/Linux mobile operating systems. In our Questions and Answers column we talk about running Android apps on GNU/Linux desktop systems, advanced root file systems, the upcoming version of Linux Mint Debian Edition and Debian's ports. Plus we share the releases of the past week and list the torrents we are seeding. This edition's Opinion Poll concerns installing and running Android applications on a Linux desktop distribution. Finally, we are pleased to welcome the Audiophile Linux distribution to our database. We wish you all a wonderful week and happy reading!
- Review: TrueOS 2017-02-22
- News: Debian being ported to RISC-V, plans to disable Debian's FTP services, Debian axing CD sets, Halium community to build common GNU/Linux base for Android phones
- Questions and answers: Anbox, ZFS on root, init software for Linux Mint Debian Edition 3, Debian's many kernels
- Released last week: Android-x86 6.0-r3, Kali Linux 2017.1, IPFire 2.19 Core 110
- Torrent corner: Androix-x86, IPFire, Kali Linux, KDE neon, NethServer, Q4OS, Sabayon, SystemRescueCd, TrueOS
- Opinion poll: Android apps on GNU/Linux
- DistroWatch.com donation: SlackBuilds
- New additions: Audiophile Linux
- New distributions: BeeFree OS, Paranoid Linux
- Reader comments
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (71MB) and MP3 (52MB) formats.
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
TrueOS, which was formerly named PC-BSD, is a FreeBSD-based operating system. TrueOS is a rolling release platform which is based on FreeBSD's "CURRENT" branch, providing TrueOS with the latest drivers and features from FreeBSD. Apart from the name change, TrueOS has deviated from the old PC-BSD project in a number of ways. The system installer is now more streamlined (and I will touch on that later) and TrueOS is a rolling release platform while PC-BSD defaulted to point releases. Another change is PC-BSD used to allow the user to customize which software was installed at boot time, including the desktop environment. The TrueOS project now selects a minimal amount of software for the user and defaults to using the Lumina desktop environment.
Not everything has changed. TrueOS still features many of the same utilities PC-BSD offered, including encrypted removable media, like USB thumb drives, as well as ZFS boot environments. The project, under the new name, still supplies two editions we can download: a Desktop edition and a Server edition. Both editions run on 64-bit x86 computers exclusively. I will be focusing on TrueOS's Desktop offering in this review. The Desktop edition is available through a 2.3GB download. Unlike most Linux distributions, TrueOS offers different downloads depending on whether we intend to copy the installation image to USB or DVD media.
Booting from the TrueOS media brings up a text menu where we are asked if we would like to launch the system installer in graphical mode, graphical mode using a specific driver or launch a text-based installer. Taking the graphical option runs the system installer. The installer presents us with simple prompts or questions in the middle of the screen. Along the bottom of the display are buttons for opening utilities. For example, there is a hardware compatibility checker which will look over our system and report which devices are detected and have working device drivers. This lets us check our hardware's compatibility with TrueOS before we begin the installation process. Another module opens an on-screen keyboard and another button opens a virtual terminal window. There are two more buttons, one launches a disk manager and the last one offers to configure network settings.
Most of the installer tools worked for me. I especially liked having easy access to hardware compatibility information. The network module would launch, but I could not get the system to connect to my network, whether I used dynamic or static networking options. This problem only posed an issue during the installation process, TrueOS automatically connected to my network once the operating system had been installed. Clicking the disk manager button did not do anything, the disk manager tool would not open.
TrueOS's installer gets us to select our preferred language from a list. We are then asked if we would like to install TrueOS as a server or desktop system. We also have the option of restoring a past copy of the operating system from a Life Preserver backup and I will talk about Life Preserver later. We are then asked if we would like to use the BSD or GRUB boot loader and we are given a chance to customize disk usage. TrueOS uses ZFS as its file system and will take over a given partition or hard drive, turning the device into a ZFS storage pool. We can customize the ZFS settings if we like, but I found the installer provided reasonable defaults. The installer then copies its files to the hard drive and offers to reboot the computer.
The first time TrueOS boots, the system runs a graphical wizard which asks us a few configuration questions. We are asked to select our preferred language from a list, choose our time zone and create a password for the root account. We are then asked to create a user account for ourselves. Next we are given a chance to test the audio output of our sound devices. The next screen gives us the chance to enable or disable certain features, including IPv6 support, a secure shell server and Realtek wireless driver support. With these steps completed, the configuration wizard disappears and we are presented with a graphical login screen. From here we can sign into our account and begin exploring the Lumina desktop environment. As the Lumina desktop runs on top of the Fluxbox window manager, we also have the option of signing into a bare bones Fluxbox graphical interface, but most people will probably prefer to use the full featured Lumina environment.
TrueOS 2017-02-22 -- The Lumina desktop and application menu
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Lumina is arranged with the desktop panel placed at the bottom of the display. The panel hosts the application menu, task switcher and system tray. In the system tray we find a few icons, one controls the audio volume and another launches the operating system's settings panel. A widget in the lower-right corner of the screen displays news items collected from the TrueOS, Lumina and FreeBSD websites.
The application menu takes an unusual approach to displaying items, making use of a single column of launchers. At first we are shown a list of favourite applications and places. We can then click buttons on the menu to browse all available applications. This shows us a list of desktop programs, listed alphabetically without category separators. If we wish to split applications into separate categories there is a toggle box we can click to place applications in category sub-menus. I struggled adapting to this method of organizing application launchers. I have used past versions of Lumina and have found the menu always puts a lot of focus on getting the user to move commonly used items into the Favourites menu. This takes a little while to set up and seems to assume the user will not use many applications (more than around six or seven). If we use more programs than that, we end up digging through the Favourites menu as it becomes almost as unwieldy as the unorganized application launchers. Alternatively, we can place program launchers on the desktop and this may be an easier approach as newly installed desktop applications automatically put icons on the Lumina desktop.
Another feature of the Lumina desktop I noticed early on was the theme tends to place black or white text on a grey background. This worked fairly well in the application menu, but it made it impossible for me to read text in the title bars of application windows. The window theme can be adjusted in the Lumina settings panel which I will touch on later.
I explored using TrueOS in two test environments, a desktop computer and a VirtualBox virtual machine. When running in VirtualBox, TrueOS booted fairly quickly, probably about twice as quickly as PC-BSD 10 did in the same environment. I believe this change is due to TrueOS switching to using OpenRC for managing services. Once TrueOS booted and I got signed into Lumina, the graphical interface was sluggish. I noticed TrueOS generally used about 20% of my host computer's CPU even when TrueOS was sitting idle at the desktop. I eventually found the poor performance was due to the Compton compositor. Compton can be disabled in Lumina's settings panel under the Window Effects module. Once Compton was disabled, desktop performance improved and CPU usage was reduced by more than half. I had hoped to remove Compton from the system entirely, but the package appears to be a dependency of Lumina and removing the compositor would result in removing the Lumina desktop as well.
When running TrueOS on the desktop computer, I ran into a number of problems. The first was that TrueOS would only boot in UEFI mode, the operating system could not boot on my desktop computer when running in Legacy BIOS mode. When booting from the installation media, TrueOS failed to start unless I selected the safe mode settings option with the vesa video driver from the boot menu. Once I got TrueOS to boot, trying to launch the graphical system installer would cause the system to crash unless I forced the use of the vesa driver for running the installer. With these hurdles cleared, I was able to install and use TrueOS, but my desktop computer's display was stuck at a low resolution.
Other features of the operating system worked well. Audio functioned out of the box and networking was set up automatically. I ran into a problem trying to set up my printer. TrueOS ships with a CUPS web interface which could not detect my HP printer. Later in the week I installed the system-config-printer software which acts as a friendly front-end to the CUPS printing software. The system-config-printer program, once installed, failed to launch due to missing dependencies.
TrueOS generally used around 240MB of active memory and about 290MB of wired memory, for a total of 530MB when signed into Lumina.
To keep up with new features and security fixes we can access the Update Manager which is available from TrueOS's control centre. The update utility is a graphical application featuring four tabs. The first tab, Updates, shows currently available package updates. The second tab, Branches, appears to not do anything as I was unable to select it. The third tab, Settings, lets us enable boot environments to take snapshots of the operating system and schedule automatic reboots. We can also select which software repository to use with options including Stable, Unstable and Custom. The default repository is Stable. The final tab, Recent Updates, shows a list of packages we have installed recently.
During the time I was running TrueOS there were no updates available through the default, Stable, repository. This surprised me as the ISO I had downloaded for TrueOS was over a month old. I found there were many updates available in the Unstable repository and I will come back to my experiment with the Unstable repository toward the end of this review.
On TrueOS's parent, FreeBSD, there is a command line package manager called pkg. While this tool is available to TrueOS users, its use is not recommended. Running the pkg tool displays a message recommending we use TrueOS's own package management utilities like pc-updatemanager. We can also use a desktop software manager called AppCafe.
The AppCafe package manager can be accessed through the application menu or TrueOS's settings panel. The application features three tabs: Browse, Installed and Pending. The Browse tab shows us categories of available applications and clicking on a category shows us a list of packages. Each package is shown with its name, a single line description and a download button. We can click on a package's listing to see more details about the selected software. Clicking a package's install button causes the item to be downloaded in the background and we can monitor the installation process in the Pending tab. The middle tab, Installed, shows an alphabetical list of packages currently on the system. We can select items to remove and packages are quietly deleted in the background. While the Pending tab can show us actions taking place in the background, I could not find a way to pause or cancel actions already queued or in progress.
TrueOS 2017-02-22 -- The AppCafe software manager
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The operating system does not ship with many packages in the default installation, but we are given some popular items. Firefox is installed for us. Flash is not included by default, but Adobe Flash and the free software Gnash implementation of Flash are available in the software repository. Adobe's Flash did not work when I tried installing it, but Gnash did and proved capable. TrueOS also ships with the Thunderbird e-mail application and the X11VNC desktop sharing software. The VLC multimedia player is included in TrueOS along with codecs for playing most media formats. We can find a PDF viewer, the Phototonic image viewer and the Insight file manager in the application menu. There are also small utilities, including a calculator, disk manager and text editor. The CUPS printing software and web-admin panel for managing printers are featured too. In the background TrueOS runs on the FreeBSD 12.0 kernel which is, at the time of writing, in FreeBSD's CURRENT development branch.
I ran into a problem when running TrueOS's default terminal emulator, QTerminal. The QTerminal window always appeared to the left side of the desktop and could not be moved. It also covered any other windows trying to occupy the same space, effectively occupying the "top" desktop layer. I could not resize the QTerminal window. The xterm terminal emulator worked without any problems and soon became my default virtual terminal.
Most of the applications I installed in order to accomplish tasks worked as expected. One of the few exceptions was Chromium. When the Chromium web browser was launched its window was invisible, but was placed over top other windows. This meant that, until I killed the Chromium process, I could see the other windows on my desktop, but not access them as Chromium was placed on top of the other windows.
TrueOS ships with two configuration panels. The first one is called Control Panel and includes modules for managing the underlying operating system. From Control Panel we can launch the AppCafe and Update Manager. There is a tool for creating, renaming and deleting boot environments. Boot environments are snapshots of the operating system we can switch to when a configuration change or update breaks the system. There are also modules for configuring the firewall, enabling or disabling background services, managing user accounts and there is a process monitor. These tools generally worked well for me. I like that the firewall module allows us to open network ports based on the name of a service, selected from a drop-down list, as well as by a numeric port. I found the process monitor to be a bit limited as it seems we cannot sort the list of processes by different fields, but otherwise the monitor worked well.
TrueOS 2017-02-22 -- The Control Panel
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The second configuration panel, called Desktop Settings, handles the look and feel of the Lumina desktop. The Desktop Settings panel includes friendly modules for changing the interface's theme, enabling or disabling compositing, setting up keyboard short-cuts and auto-starting programs when we login. The settings panel also helps us change the wallpaper, adjust the desktop's resolution and configure the screen saver.
TrueOS 2017-02-22 -- Lumina's settings panel
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One other tool I would like to mention is Life Preserver. This is a utility for managing file system snapshots and backups. The application is split into four tabs. The Snapshots tab handles creating or deleting ZFS snapshots of our data. The Replication tab handles transferring existing snapshots to another computer. A third tab, called Schedule, sets up periodic backups. The fourth tab, Settings, enables telling us via an e-mail when the hard drive begins to get full. Life Preserver, despite its simple interface, is a very powerful tool. Through it we can create regular snapshots of our data and operating system and transfer these snapshots to a remote computer, greatly increasing the safety of our information.
Earlier I mentioned the Stable repository of TrueOS had no software updates and I became curious as to how well the system would work if I switched to the Unstable software repository. This also gave me an opportunity to properly test boot environments to see if they would roll back the operating system to a previous snapshot. I created a new boot environment, went into Update Manager and switched over to the Unstable branch. The update utility found hundreds of new package updates and offered to install them for me, which I accepted. Once the new packages had been downloaded, I was informed the update could not be completed until I had restarted TrueOS. When I rebooted the computer, the system asked if it was okay to install the new updates and I again accepted. The system then paused to install the updates, which took quite a long time, nearly half an hour. Then, once it was finished, the system rebooted and I was brought back to a graphical login screen.
TrueOS 2017-02-22 -- Managing boot environments
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For the most part the update process worked successfully, despite the long wait during the reboot. I found myself using newer versions of programs and the system continued to work. I did run into two problems following the update. One was the application menu's background went from a soft grey to solid white, making the application menu a little harder to look at. I also found my desktop's resolution had been reduced. I then tested rolling back to a previous boot environment. This just required me to select the snapshot I had made in the Control Panel and reboot. When TrueOS came back on-line I had my old software back, my screen was back to its full resolution and I was once again using the Stable software repository. In short, boot environments worked well and as intended, saving me from ill-advised configuration changes.
What I took away from my time with TrueOS is that the project is different in a lot of ways from PC-BSD. Much more than just the name has changed. The system is now more focused on cutting edge software and features in FreeBSD's development branch. The install process has been streamlined and the user begins with a set of default software rather than selecting desired packages during the initial setup. The configuration tools, particularly the Control Panel and AppCafe, have changed a lot in the past year. The designs have a more flat, minimal look. It used to be that PC-BSD did not have a default desktop exactly, but there tended to be a focus on KDE. With TrueOS the project's in-house desktop, Lumina, serves as the default environment and I think it holds up fairly well.
One new service I found interesting, but did not get a chance to play with this week was SysAdm, a remote administration tool for managing multiple systems. SysAdm is installed on TrueOS by default and should make running multiple TrueOS (or FreeBSD) systems easier for administrators.
The desktop experience TrueOS offers is a bit mixed. On the one hand I enjoyed the configuration tools, the relatively light memory footprint and the great ZFS features, like snapshots. I also think that SysAdm looks promising as a way to remotely manage computers through a point-n-click interface. On the other hand, I ran into a few problems with TrueOS. The lack of security updates in the Stable repository worried me a bit and I think the Unstable branch might move faster than most people would like. Hardware proved a bit of an issue with both my desktop computer and printer, providing serious hurdles to working with TrueOS. The operating system worked well in a virtual machine though, so my issues may have been hardware specific.
In all, I think TrueOS offers a convenient way to experiment with new FreeBSD technologies and ZFS. I also think people who want to run FreeBSD on a desktop computer may want to look at TrueOS as it sets up a graphical environment automatically. However, people who want a stable desktop platform with lots of applications available out of the box may not find what they want with this project.
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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
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Visitor supplied rating
TrueOS has a visitor supplied average rating of: 5.3/10 from 47 review(s).
Have you used TrueOS? You can leave your own review of the project on our ratings page.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
Debian being ported to RISC-V, plans to disable Debian's FTP services, Debian axing CD sets, Halium community to build common GNU/Linux base for Android phones
There is good news for fans of the RISC-V hardware architecture. Work is being done to create a port of Debian for the RISC-V instruction set. While the port has been in development since 2014, the effort is now being made public for people to examine and test. Manuel A. Fernandez Montecelo has posted a summary of the work that has gone into the port along with some notes on its current status. "In late 2015 and beginning of 2016, having some free time in my hands and expecting that all things would coalesce quickly, I started to build a repository of binary packages in a more systematic way, with most of the basic software that one can expect in a basic Debian system (including things common to all Linux systems, and also specific Debian software like dpkg or apt, and even aptitude!). After that I also built many others outside the basic system (more than 1000 source packages and 2000 or 3000 arch-dependent binary packages in total), specially popular libraries (e.g. boost, gtk+ version 2 and 3), interpreters (several versions of lua, perl and python, also version 2 and 3) and in general packages that are needed to build many other packages (like doxygen). Unfortunately, some of these most interesting packages do not compile cleanly (more because of obscure or silly errors than proper porting), so they are not included at the moment." At the moment, the port is still in its early stages and should only be tried in testing environments.
In other Debian-related news, the Debian project has announced FTP access to its publicly accessible services will be discontinued later this year. The same servers will remain available, but access will be restricted to using HTTP which is relatively simple to maintain and supports caching. "After many years of serving the needs of our users, and some more of declining usage in favour of better options, all public-facing debian.org FTP services will be shut down on November 1, 2017." Details on the change can be found in this announcement.
With the release of Debian 9 (aka Stretch) fast approaching, Steve McIntyre has posted some changes coming to Debian's installation media. Most of the old, CD-sized images are being retired in favour of larger DVD images. "We used to make large sets of CDs, containing as much of the Debian archive as would fit. These sets were huge, and evidence over the years suggested they were rarely (if ever) used. Just about all current computers will use DVDs just as well as CDs, and they are much more convenient. Accordingly, we have now stopped making CD sets. Full
disc sets are still produced in DVD-sized images (for all architectures), and in Blu-Ray (BD) and dual-layer Blu-Ray (DLBD) images for amd64 and i386." CD-sized installation media will still be available for net-installs and the Xfce edition of Debian.
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In early April we reported that Canonical was ceasing development of Ubuntu Touch and the Unity desktop environment. This was disappointing news for people who wish to run GNU/Linux on their mobile devices. Over the years there have been a number of attempts at creating GNU/Linux distributions for mobile devices, but the efforts have been made separately. Now, the Halium project seeks to unify different open source mobile operating systems with a common base. The project's website states: "Currently distributions like AsteroidOS, LuneOS, Mer, Plasma Mobile, SailfishOS, and Ubuntu Touch have one thing in common that they use the libhybris to interact with the Android binary blobs and they also run the various Android daemons using different methods. And there is lot of fragmentation on how this task is handled even though these parts don't need to be different as their essential goal is to make use of Android binary blobs. Project Halium is the effort by the community which aims to bring the common grounds for different distributions and have a common base which includes the Linux kernel, Android Hardware Abstraction Layer, and libhybris. Project Halium also aims to standardize the middlewares used to interact with the hardware of the device. By having these parts shared, we believe that it will reduce the fragmentation we have currently." Halium is in its early stages and the current status of the project can be found in this announcement.
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These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Anbox, ZFS on root, init software for Linux Mint Debian Edition 3, Debian's many kernels
This week, rather than focusing a lot on one subject, I would like to quickly address four topics concerning Linux and open source software. The first item I would like to explore is Anbox, a project we discussed previously which allows the user to run Android software on a GNU/Linux distribution. The Anbox website describes the project as follows:
Anbox puts the Android operating system into a container, abstracts hardware access and integrates core system services into a GNU/Linux system. Every Android application will behave integrated into your operating system like any other native application. To achieve our goal we use standard Linux technologies like containers (LXC) to separate the Android operating system from the host. The Android version doesn't matter for this approach and we try to keep up with the latest available version from the Android Open Source Project.
I tried installing Anbox on Ubuntu 17.04, both in a virtual machine and on a copy of the distribution running on physical hardware. In either situation I did not end up with a working copy of Anbox. The Anbox launcher was added to Ubuntu's Dash and a new Android system volume was mounted on my Ubuntu file system, but running the Anbox software did not do anything. Some attempts at running the command line version of Anbox produced errors saying a file called anbox.img was missing.
Anbox looks like it will be one of the better, more user friendly approaches to getting Android software to run on the Linux desktop. Anbox also has the potential to allow mobile GNU/Linux operating systems (like Ubuntu Touch) to run Android apps. However, at this point, it looks like Anbox has a ways to go before all the bugs are worked out.
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Another topic I would like to cover was one I encountered on a forum where there was a discussion on why Linux distributions do not offer users the option of using advanced file systems such as ZFS and Btrfs on the root partition. With ZFS I believe the issue is largely a result of the concerns over ZFS's license. ZFS has a free software license, but the license is incompatible with the Linux kernel's license. This means ZFS can be installed on a Linux system, but the ZFS code cannot be merged into the Linux kernel. This makes many developers wary of shipping ZFS support on the same installation media as the Linux kernel.
Btrfs though is a different story and is built into the Linux kernel. A few projects do support installing their distribution on a Btrfs volume. The openSUSE project has supported working with Btrfs for a while and includes system administrator tools for working with Btrfs. A few other projects have introduced the ability to install their distribution on a Btrfs volume, but generally do not recommend it or offer any Btrfs-specific utilities.
I suspect there are two reasons Btrfs is not more widely supported. The first is Btrfs is sometimes still viewed as being unstable and under heavy development. People who want advanced file system features typically also rely on file system stability to protect their data. The Btrfs kernel wiki page still includes the following warning which may scare off potential users: "The Btrfs code base is under heavy development. Not only is every effort being made to ensure that it remains stable and fast but to make it more so with each and every commit. This rapid pace of development means that the file system improves noticeably with every new Linux release so it's highly recommended that users run the most modern kernel possible."
A second issue may be that not many Linux users seem to have a strong desire to use an advanced file system like ZFS or Btrfs. Traditional file systems such as ext4 usually work well enough for most people.
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Someone asked recently if the next version of Linux Mint Debian Edition would continue to use the SysV init software or ship with systemd. When Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE) version 2 was launched, it was based on Debian 8. While Debian 8 uses systemd by default, LMDE 2 uses the older SysV init software.
I am not completely sure a firm decision has been made by the Mint team, but I believe the plan among the Mint developers is to use systemd for LMDE 3, unless a serious issue or bug prevents the switch. Linux Mint 18 (which is based on Ubuntu) already uses systemd. It will probably be easier for the Mint team to stick with what their base is using and run the same init software across all editions of Mint, rather than try to maintain a separate init implementation.
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Finally, one reader wrote in to ask why Debian shows up in searches for non-Linux operating systems on DistroWatch. While Debian is most well known for being a GNU/Linux distribution, the project maintains multiple branches. These include a version of Debian which runs on Hurd and another which runs on the FreeBSD kernel.
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Additional answers can be found in our Questions and Answers archive.
|Released Last Week
The Android-x86 project is a port of the Android operating system for consumer desktop and laptop computers. The Android-x86 project has announced a third update to the project's x86 port of Android 6.0 "Marshmallow". The new release includes the ability to auto-mount optical media, includes a fix for running in VMware virtual machines and features an updated Linux kernel (version 4.4.62). "The Android-x86 project is happy to announce the 6.0-r3 release to public. This is the third stable release of Android-x86 6.0 (marshmallow-x86)... The updates since 6.0-r2 include: CD/DVD auto-mount. Fix VMware broken since 6.0-r2. A qemu-android script to launch Android-x86 in QEMU (only available in RPM installation). Update to latest Android Marshmallow-MR2 release (6.0.1_r79). Update kernel to 4.4.62 with more patches from AOSP. Update Mesa to 17.0.4. More updates from upstream projects (libdrm, ntfs-3g, exfat, bluez)." Further details and known issues can be found in the project's release notes. The Android-x86 operating system is available in 32-bit and 64-bit builds.
Kali Linux 2017.1
Kali Linux is a Debian-based distribution which features several security and forensics tools. The project has adopted a rolling release approach to new versions. The new release, Kali Linux 2017.1, features drivers for RTL8812AU wireless chipsets, improved GPU support and there are now Azure and AWS images of Kali Linux for cloud instances. "Finally, it's here! We're happy to announce the availability of the Kali Linux 2017.1 rolling release, which brings with it a bunch of exciting updates and features. As with all new releases, you have the common denominator of updated packages, an updated kernel that provides more and better hardware support, as well as a slew of updated tools - but this release has a few more surprises up its sleeve. A while back, we received a feature request asking for the inclusion of drivers for RTL8812AU wireless chipsets. These drivers are not part of the standard Linux kernel, and have been modified to allow for injection. Why is this a big deal? This chipset supports 802.11 AC, making this one of the first drivers to bring injection-related wireless attacks to this standard, and with companies such as ALFA making the AWUS036ACH wireless cards, we expect this card to be an arsenal favourite." A summary of available features in version 2017.1 can be found in the project's release announcement.
IPFire 2.19 Core 110
IPFire is an independently developed Linux distribution with security and firewall configuration in mind. The distribution can be managed through a web-based interface. The IPFire project's latest release, IPFire 2.19 Core Update 110, features on-demand IPsec VPNs and performance improvements for DNS queries. "This is the official release announcement for IPFire 2.19 - Core Update 110. This updates comes with some exciting new features as well as updates of many system packages and many bug and security fixes. IPFire used to keep IPsec VPNs up all the time. This wastes resources if a connection is not used very often for example for a daily backup only. Core Update 110 allows to configure IPsec VPNs in an On-Demand mode which will establish the connection as soon as it is needed and will close it after 15 minutes of inactivity to save resources. This is especially handy for people who have a large number of IPsec net-to-net connections on either weak hardware or connections that are not required all the time like maintenance or backup connections, etc." These and other changes are detailed in the project's release announcement.
Lakka is a lightweight Linux distribution that transforms a small computer (such as a desktop PC or Raspberry Pi) into a full blown game console. The project has release Lakka 2.0, which contains many updated packages. This new version of Lakka is based on LibreELEC while past versions were based on OpenELEC. "After 6 months of community testing, we are proud to announce Lakka 2.0! This new version of Lakka is based on LibreELEC instead of OpenELEC. Almost every package has been updated! We are now using RetroArch 1.5.0, which includes so many changes that listing everything in a single blog post is rather difficult. There are also tons of new cores to play new types of games! Lakka 2.0 introduces support for a range of new devices, including the Raspberry Pi Zero, Odroid, WeTek Play 2, WeTek Core and WeTek Hub. A complete list of changes, along with screen shots and a summary of supported devices, can be found in the project's release announcement.
Lakka 2.0 -- The main menu
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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. We also maintain a Torrents RSS feed for people who wish to have open source torrents delivered to them. Thanks to Linux Tracker we are able to share the following torrent statistics.
Torrent Corner statistics:
- Total torrents seeded: 388
- Total data uploaded: 63.5TB
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Android apps on GNU/Linux
In our Questions and Answers section we talked briefly about Anbox, technology which provides a way for people to run Android apps on a GNU/Linux platform. There have been a number of attempts at running Android applications on desktop Linux and vice versa. This week we would like to know if you currently use any of the available methods for running Android software on a GNU/Linux desktop system.
You can see the results of our previous poll on portable package formats in last week's edition. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
April 2017 DistroWatch.com donation: SlackBuilds
We are pleased to announce the recipient of the April 2017 DistroWatch.com donation is SlackBuilds. The project receives US$400.00 in cash.
The SlackBuilds project provides build scripts for the Slackware distribution which automate building software from upstream source code. Using SlackBuilds allows a user to quickly and easily install new applications without relying on pre-built binaries in third-party software repositories. SlackBuilds is currently trying to raise funding for new server equipment.
Launched in 2004, this monthly donations programme is a DistroWatch initiative to support free and open-source software projects and operating systems with cash contributions. Readers are welcome to nominate their favourite project for future donations. Those readers who wish to contribute towards these donations, please use our advertising page to make a payment (PayPal, credit cards, Yandex Money and crypto currencies are accepted). Here is the list of the projects that have received a DistroWatch donation since the launch of the programme (figures in US dollars):
Since the launch of the Donations Program in March 2004, DistroWatch has made 148 donations for a total of US$47,089 to various open-source software projects.
- 2004: GnuCash ($250), Quanta Plus ($200), PCLinuxOS ($300), The GIMP ($300), Vidalinux ($200), Fluxbox ($200), K3b ($350), Arch Linux ($300), Kile KDE LaTeX Editor ($100) and UNICEF - Tsunami Relief Operation ($340)
- 2005: Vim ($250), AbiWord ($220), BitTorrent ($300), NDISwrapper ($250), Audacity ($250), Debian GNU/Linux ($420), GNOME ($425), Enlightenment ($250), MPlayer ($400), Amarok ($300), KANOTIX ($250) and Cacti ($375)
- 2006: Gambas ($250), Krusader ($250), FreeBSD Foundation ($450), GParted ($360), Doxygen ($260), LilyPond ($250), Lua ($250), Gentoo Linux ($500), Blender ($500), Puppy Linux ($350), Inkscape ($350), Cape Linux Users Group ($130), Mandriva Linux ($405, a Powerpack competition), Digikam ($408) and Sabayon Linux ($450)
- 2007: GQview ($250), Kaffeine ($250), sidux ($350), CentOS ($400), LyX ($350), VectorLinux ($350), KTorrent ($400), FreeNAS ($350), lighttpd ($400), Damn Small Linux ($350), NimbleX ($450), MEPIS Linux ($300), Zenwalk Linux ($300)
- 2008: VLC ($350), Frugalware Linux ($340), cURL ($300), GSPCA ($400), FileZilla ($400), MythDora ($500), Linux Mint ($400), Parsix GNU/Linux ($300), Miro ($300), GoblinX ($250), Dillo ($150), LXDE ($250)
- 2009: Openbox ($250), Wolvix GNU/Linux ($200), smxi ($200), Python ($300), SliTaz GNU/Linux ($200), LiVES ($300), Osmo ($300), LMMS ($250), KompoZer ($360), OpenSSH ($350), Parted Magic ($350) and Krita ($285)
- 2010: Qimo 4 Kids ($250), Squid ($250), Libre Graphics Meeting ($300), Bacula ($250), FileZilla ($300), GCompris ($352), Xiph.org ($250), Clonezilla ($250), Debian Multimedia ($280), Geany ($300), Mageia ($470), gtkpod ($300)
- 2011: CGSecurity ($300), OpenShot ($300), Imagination ($250), Calibre ($300), RIPLinuX ($300), Midori ($310), vsftpd ($300), OpenShot ($350), Trinity Desktop Environment ($300), LibreCAD ($300), LiVES ($300), Transmission ($250)
- 2012: GnuPG ($350), ImageMagick ($350), GNU ddrescue ($350), Slackware Linux ($500), MATE ($250), LibreCAD ($250), BleachBit ($350), cherrytree ($260), Zim ($335), nginx ($250), LFTP ($250), Remastersys ($300)
- 2013: MariaDB ($300), Linux From Scratch ($350), GhostBSD ($340), DHCP ($300), DOSBox ($250), awesome ($300), DVDStyler ($280), Tor ($350), Tiny Tiny RSS ($350), FreeType ($300), GNU Octave ($300), Linux Voice ($510)
- 2014: QupZilla ($250), Pitivi ($370), MediaGoblin ($350), TrueCrypt ($300), Krita ($340), SME Server ($350), OpenStreetMap ($350), iTALC ($350), KDE ($400), The Document Foundation ($400), Tails ($350)
- 2015: AWStats ($300), Haiku ($300), Xiph.Org ($300), GIMP ($350), Kodi ($300), Devuan ($300), hdparm ($350), HardenedBSD ($400), TestDisk ($450)
- 2016: KeePass ($400), Slackware Live Edition ($406), Devil-Linux ($400), FFmpeg ($300), UBports ($300)
- 2017: Armbian ($308),
* * * * *
New projects added to database
Audiophile Linux is based on Arch Linux and provides a minimal graphical environment from which to play multimedia files. The distribution ships with the Fluxbox window manager, DSD support and a custom real-time Linux kernel for improved audio performance.
Audiophile Linux 4.0 -- Running the Fluxbox window manager
(full image size: 614kB, resolution: 1360x768 pixels)
* * * * *
Distributions added to waiting list
- BeeFree OS. BeeFree OS is a 64-bit fork of Linux Mint which features the Cinnamon desktop environment.
- Paranoid Linux. Paranoid Linux is an independent distribution which uses Fluxbox for the user interface and SELinux for improved security.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 8 May 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)
If you've enjoyed this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly, please consider sending us a tip.
(Tips this week: 2, value: US$10.74)
|Linux Foundation Training
|• Issue 751 (2018-02-19): DietPi 6.1, testing KDE's Plasma Mobile, Nitrux packages AppImage in default install, Solus experiments with Wayland|
|• Issue 750 (2018-02-12): Solus 3, getting Deb packages upstream to Debian, NetBSD security update, elementary OS explores AppCentre changes|
|• Issue 749 (2018-02-05): Freespire 3 and Linspire 7.0, misunderstandings about Wayland, Xorg and Mir, Korora slows release schedule, Red Hat purchases CoreOS|
|• Issue 748 (2018-01-29): siduction 2018.1.0, SolydXK 32-bit editions, building an Ubuntu robot, desktop-friendly Debian options|
|• Issue 747 (2018-01-22): Ubuntu MATE 17.10, recovering open files, creating a new distribution, KDE focusing on Wayland features|
|• Issue 746 (2018-01-15): deepin 15.5, openSUSE's YaST improvements, new Ubuntu 17.10 media, details on Spectre and Meltdown bugs|
|• Issue 745 (2018-01-08): GhostBSD 11.1, Linspire and Freespire return, wide-spread CPU bugs patched, adding AppImage launchers to the application menu|
|• Issue 744 (2018-01-01): MX Linux 17, Ubuntu pulls media over BIOS bug, PureOS gets endorsed by the FSF, openSUSE plays with kernel boot splash screens|
|• Issue 743 (2017-12-18): Daphile 17.09, tools for rescuing files, Fedora Modular Server delayed, Sparky adds ARM support, Slax to better support wireless networking|
|• Issue 742 (2017-12-11): heads 0.3.1, improvements coming to Tails, Void tutorials, Ubuntu phasing out Python 2, manipulating images from the command line|
|• Issue 741 (2017-12-04): Pop!_OS 17.10, openSUSE Tumbleweed snapshots, installing Q4OS on a Windows partition, using the at command|
|• Issue 740 (2017-11-27): Artix Linux, Unity spin of Ubuntu, Nitrux swaps Snaps for AppImage, getting better battery life on Linux|
|• Issue 739 (2017-11-20): Fedora 27, cross-distro software ports, Ubuntu on Samsung phones, Red Hat supports ARM, Parabola continues 32-bit support|
|• Issue 738 (2017-11-13): SparkyLinux 5.1, rumours about spyware, Slax considers init software, Arch drops 32-bit packages, overview of LineageOS|
|• Issue 737 (2017-11-06): BeeFree OS 18.1.2, quick tips to fix common problems, Slax returning, Solus plans MATE and software management improvements|
|• Issue 736 (2017-10-30): Ubuntu 17.10, "what if" security questions, Linux Mint to support Flatpak, NetBSD kernel memory protection|
|• Issue 735 (2017-10-23): ArchLabs Minimo, building software with Ravenports, WPA security patch, Parabola creates OpenRC spin|
|• Issue 734 (2017-10-16): Star 1.0.1, running the Linux-libre kernel, Ubuntu MATE experiments with snaps, Debian releases new install media, Purism reaches funding goal|
|• Issue 733 (2017-10-09): KaOS 2017.09, 32-bit prematurely obsoleted, Qubes security features, IPFire updates Apache|
|• Issue 732 (2017-10-02): ClonOS, reducing Snap package size, Ubuntu dropping 32-bit Desktop, partitioning disks for ZFS|
|• Issue 731 (2017-09-25): BackSlash Linux Olaf, W3C adding DRM to web standards, Wayland support arrives in Mir, Debian experimenting with AppArmor|
|• Issue 730 (2017-09-18): Mageia 6, running a completely free OS, HAMMER2 file system in DragonFly BSD's installer, Manjaro to ship pre-installed on laptops|
|• Issue 729 (2017-09-11): Parabola GNU/Linux-libre, running Plex Media Server on a Raspberry Pi, Tails feature roadmap, a cross-platform ports build system|
|• Issue 728 (2017-09-04): Nitrux 1.0.2, SUSE creates new community repository, remote desktop tools for GNOME on Wayland, using Void source packages|
|• Issue 727 (2017-08-28): Cucumber Linux 1.0, using Flatpak vs Snap, GNOME previews Settings panel, SUSE reaffirms commitment to Btrfs|
|• Issue 726 (2017-08-21): Redcore Linux 1706, Solus adds Snap support, KaOS getting hardened kernel, rolling releases and BSD|
|• Issue 725 (2017-08-14): openSUSE 42.3, Debian considers Flatpak for backports, changes coming to Ubuntu 17.10, the state of gaming on Linux|
|• Issue 724 (2017-08-07): SwagArch 2017.06, Myths about Unity, Mir and Ubuntu Touch, Manjaro OpenRC becomes its own distro, Debian debates future of live ISOs|
|• Issue 723 (2017-07-31): UBOS 11, transferring packages between systems, Ubuntu MATE's HUD, GNUstep releases first update in seven years|
|• Issue 722 (2017-07-24): Calculate Linux 17.6, logging sudo usage, Remix OS discontinued, interview with Chris Lamb, Debian 9.1 released|
|• Issue 721 (2017-07-17): Fedora 26, finding source based distributions, installing DragonFly BSD using Orca, Yunit packages ported to Ubuntu 16.04|
|• Issue 720 (2017-07-10): Peppermint OS 8, gathering system information with osquery, new features coming to openSUSE, Tails fixes networking bug|
|• Issue 719 (2017-07-03): Manjaro 17.0.2, tracking ISO files, Ubuntu MATE unveils new features, Qubes tests Admin API, Fedora's Atomic Host gets new life cycle|
|• Issue 718 (2017-06-26): Debian 9, support for older hardware, Debian updates live media, Ubuntu's new networking tool, openSUSE gains MP3 support|
|• Issue 717 (2017-06-19): SharkLinux, combining commands in the shell, Debian 9 flavours released, OpenBSD improving kernel security, UBports releases first OTA update|
|• Issue 716 (2017-06-12): Slackel 7.0, Ubuntu working with GNOME on HiDPI, openSUSE 42.3 using rolling development model, exploring kernel blobs|
|• Issue 715 (2017-06-05): Devuan 1.0.0, answering questions on systemd, Linux Mint plans 18.2 beta, Yunit/Unity 8 ported to Debian|
|• Issue 714 (2017-05-29): Void, enabling Wake-on-LAN, Solus packages KDE, Debian 9 release date, Ubuntu automated bug reports|
|• Issue 713 (2017-05-22): ROSA Fresh R9, Fedora's new networking features, FreeBSD's Quarterly Report, UBports opens app store, Parsix to shut down, SELinux overview|
|• Issue 712 (2017-05-15): NixOS 17.03, Alpha Litebook running elementary OS, Canonical considers going public, Solus improves Bluetooth support|
|• Issue 711 (2017-05-08): 4MLinux 21.0, checking file system fragmentation, new Mint and Haiku features, pfSense roadmap, OpenBSD offers first syspatch updates|
|• Issue 710 (2017-05-01): TrueOS 2017-02-22, Debian ported to RISC-V, Halium to unify mobile GNU/Linux, Anbox runs Android apps on GNU/Linux, using ZFS on the root file system|
|• Issue 709 (2017-04-24): Ubuntu 17.04, Korora testing new software manager, Ubuntu migrates to Wayland, running Nix package manager on alternative distributions|
|• Issue 708 (2017-04-17): Maui Linux 17.03, Snaps run on Fedora, Void adopts Flatpak, running Android apps on GNU/Linux, Debian elects Project Leader|
|• Issue 707 (2017-04-10): PCLinuxOS 2017.03, Canonical stops Unity development, OpenBSD on a Raspberry Pi, setting up a VPN for privacy|
|• Issue 706 (2017-04-03): Super Grub2 Disk, Snap packages of deepin applications, Subgraph OS routes network traffic for one application, announcements from Linux Mint|
|• Issue 705 (2017-03-27): Minimal Linux Live, sharing control of the operating system, new KaOS features, Uplos32 provides 32-bit fork of PCLinuxOS|
|• Issue 704 (2017-03-20): ToarusOS 1.0.4, Linux Mint's security record, Debian starts Project Leader election, Ubuntu 12.04 reaches end-of-life|
|• Issue 703 (2017-03-13): SolydXK 201701, CloudReady, Solus announces new features, KDE Connect sends text messages from desktop, openSUSE's YaST module for Let's Encrypt|
|• Issue 702 (2017-03-06): Fatdog64 Linux, elementary OS bundled with new netbook, Haiku announces new features, security and the size of a distro's development team|
|• Issue 701 (2017-02-27): OBRevenge 2017.02, Mageia 6 delays, NetBSD reproducible builds, questions about swap space, trying to steam video on a Raspberry Pi|
|• Issue 700 (2017-02-20): RaspBSD, Debian replaces Icedove with Thunderbird, Fedora's licensing guidlines, tips for switching shells, finding battery charge, getting IP address and killing processes|
|• Full list of all issues|
|Random Distribution |
Artix Linux is a fork (or continuation as an autonomous project) of the Arch-OpenRC and Manjaro-OpenRC projects. Artix Linux offers a lightweight, rolling-release operating system featuring the OpenRC init software. Three editions of Artix are available, a minimal Base system, an edition featuring the i3 window manager and an edition which runs the LXQt desktop.