| 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: 4.7/10 from 67 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)
|Linux Foundation Training
|Reader Comments • Jump to last comment
1 • Distributions added to waiting list (by kernelKurtz on 2017-05-01 00:52:35 GMT from Netherlands) |
Ironically, I will always be clickbaited by anything that says Paranoid + Linux.
Unfortunately, it appears that there are multiple projects floating around under that same name.
2 • lumina-desktop WAS (pas tense) based on, depended on, fluxbox (by tim on 2017-05-01 00:57:03 GMT from United States)
Within the past month I had checked lumina-desktop.org and, today I revisited its github repo to double-check
Although the lumina desktop provides an option to expose a minimal, "fuxbox -ish" environment, within the lumina codebase nothing recognizable from the fluxbox codebase remains.
3 • Lumina (by Jesse on 2017-05-01 01:03:55 GMT from Canada)
>> "Although the lumina desktop provides an option to expose a minimal, "fuxbox -ish" environment, within the lumina codebase nothing recognizable from the fluxbox codebase remains."
Lumina was never based on Fluxbox, the desktop environment simply uses Fluxbox as the default window manager. Fluxbox code was never included in the Lumina code base. The latest Lumina code (1.3-prerelease) still uses Fluxbox as the default window manager. They have always been two separate projects.
4 • Android-x86 Release 6.0. Application package barriers. (by Greg Zeng on 2017-05-01 02:32:37 GMT from Australia)
DW this week accurately ignores the commercial, copyright form of Android-x86, costing $9 USD, for the current-only version. Http://andex.exton.net/?p=590
Although Android seems similar to Linux, it uses customized versions of the Linux kernels, designed to be incompatible with other Linux & Android distributions, afaik. Forks to the Android operating system are ok, since it seems to be in the same legal category as Chromium, Free BSD & Linux kernels which have been created by their respective "free" legal organizations. Commercial, copyright versions also exist of these freebies, such as "Google Chrome", Red Hat Linux kernels, etc afaik.
Android on x86, offers has tens of thousands of user applications never seen on any existing desktop computer, so can be attractive. Very few of these "apps" are ever transferred to the desktop computer operating systems: Windows, Mac or Linux. Canonical's "Snap", or Red Hat's Flatpak (both now have separate legally incorporated carers) might one day enable operating-system-free application fluidity. Doomed package containers now include DEB, PRM, AppImage, Java & Tar. Sourcecode is only for geeks with lots of computer resources, skills & time.
Much infrastructure mess exists however. Will the display be using X-ORG, WAYLAND, GTK or QT?? Seems now that both GTK & QT can run simultaneously?
5 • Android x86 (by Bobbie Sellers on 2017-05-01 03:22:17 GMT from United States)
I don't much care for Android and I have a tablet where that is the only OS
accepted as well as a cheapo cell for emergencies.
That said if you are a Linux user with tablet users in your household
it might be advantageous to look into the packaged version of Android x86
which it is claimed can be installed to ext4 partition and started from
the startup menu. This would give the tablet users a familiar
interface to use on a more powerful machine.
So before the next meeting of the LUG I belong to I will try the install
from an already downloaded RPM package to demonstrate to
bliss "running fast and light" on PCLinuxOS64-2016.03 GNU/
Linux 4.10.13-pclos1 #1 SMP Thu Apr 27
6 • Android apps on Linux (by vaithy on 2017-05-01 06:24:27 GMT from India)
I use android applications on my Asus Flip chrome book rather than use my phone (whatsapp,Tweetcaster,WPS office(Kingsoft Office). Tried installing chroot to ubuntu dual boot but not successful ( becuase it is arm based)
7 • new distros sort of (by $sudo rm bugs on 2017-05-01 06:40:07 GMT from Australia)
#1 What is it with paranoid linuxen? Are the developers too paranoid to even upload their ISOs? Or is it still April fools?
8 • Android apps on GNU/Linux (by paperman on 2017-05-01 07:00:40 GMT from Iran)
I only install open source apps on my Lineage and those apps have better alternatives for Linux so no need.
9 • android on linux (by david esktorp on 2017-05-01 07:47:45 GMT from United States)
I have been using Genymotion's Android emulator for a little while. Aside from an annoying GoogleApps error, it has worked well, but I only use it for Steam's authentication nonsense. If I hadn't been able to do this, I would have curtailed most or all use of Steam. I would much rather have a 'compatibility layer' method if such a project were to arise and mature. I have been exploring other options.
Somebody should do that compatibility layer idea and call it Andy so you could say to people, "I use xyz app on my computer," and then they'd say to you, "but I thought xyz app was only for android," to which you would reply, "I run it with Andy." Then they'd give you a puzzled look and say, "Wha- I don't get it.. who the heck is Andy?"
You offer a knowing smirk and walk away, virtually a god among men.
10 • TrueOS (by me on 2017-05-01 09:01:38 GMT from United Kingdom)
I tried this yesterday. I installed on a sony laptop. It reminded me at the time of pc-bsd; now I know why. I did the graphical install. There are not many options. Its not like you get what you get and nothing else;but its close to that. If you want to do custom partitioning, prepare the partition before hand. It does default to trying to use the whole drive; wiping everything in other words; so be careful with that. Anyway, the install was slow; the initial bootup is slow; subsequent boots are slow, and once into the desktop (fluxbox) that is slow. I almost instanly removed the distro. Freebsd is quicker; although I am having a problem with that at least on the laptop; the intel driver is gone; but thats a different discussion.
11 • Mint Debian (by Nimbus on 2017-05-01 12:30:12 GMT from United States)
As a long time Mint user, I was perplexed by some random networking and video problems with Mint 18. Previous versions had been very stable. As a test, I moved some machines to distros that did not include systemd (such as MX-16 and Mint Debian). I was happy to see all my problems go away. While there is no way I can be sure the problems were caused by systemd, it is certainly nice to have options. I hope that the Mint developers continue to offer the Debian edition without systemd.
12 • Linux Mint Devuan Edition (by Arch Watcher 402563 on 2017-05-01 13:09:50 GMT from United States)
Consider it...from Devuan's site, "By default Jessie runs with the same init system as Debian Wheezy, the venerable sysvinit. Several projects are under way to provide runit, and sinit support in Devuan, as well as openrc and s6."
13 • Android - sysD (by Pssst on 2017-05-01 18:24:37 GMT from Netherlands)
Do not care for it. No time.
Systemd can make coffee on the boot.
I experiance the same and am not using it. Boot time way much faster with out sys D.
Greetings to Distrowatch and to all of you posting here.
14 • Lumina and Fluxbox (by Andre on 2017-05-01 23:44:26 GMT from Canada)
I wonder how much Lumina's use of Fluxbox is benefiting Fluxbox? Maybe I'm just misinformed, but I don't recall hearing much about Fluxbox development over the past few years; though I imagine there's not much need for change if it's not broken. Maybe it's time I pay Fluxbox another visit.
15 • Systemd and Android (by edcoolio on 2017-05-02 01:20:20 GMT from United States)
Things work fine with it, and without it, so I really don't care. Old systems with strange video and audio hardware and on newer systems with modern hardware. MX-16 actually runs slower for me (by just a hair) on a 2.0GHz Pentium M laptop than Lubuntu. Take that for what it is. As a distro surfer, I have never had an issue with any major distro - systemd or no systemd.
I would love to load up any random .apk (or whatever package handler or converter ends up working best) by giving it a double-click or one line at the terminal inside of a few popular linux distros. Running android software on Linux in a smooth manner (video, networking, location services, etc) would do nothing but increase the reach and distribution of Linux worldwide.
Lets face it, the end user that linux would love to attract (iPhoneMacWinDroid users) don't care about systemd or non-systemd. However, they WOULD be excited to easily run any software package their heart desires, with nothing to get in the way. Double-click an .exe, .apk, .dmg, whatever, and make it work.
Is it pollyanna thinking? Sure it is, but it would represent the moment where linux would hopefully become the free monolith of the future while the rest begin to fade into the past.
16 • @14 Read the Lumina FAQ (by Arch Watcher 402563 on 2017-05-02 05:11:24 GMT from United States)
Lumina is writing a replacement window manager as discussed on the FAQ. I don't know if it's done yet, shipping yet, or how gradual or quick, piecemeal or wholesale, will be the Fluxbox phase-out. See also https://bsdmag.org/lumina_desktop from 2015.
17 • @12 (by kaczor on 2017-05-02 05:54:47 GMT from United States)
sudo apt install task-cinnamon-desktop
and you have cinnamon on Devuan. At least, I suppose it would. I'm not that keen to install cinnamon though, for it looks like win95.
18 • Systemd (by Simon on 2017-05-02 09:05:26 GMT from New Zealand)
Screw systemd...and screw all the ex-Windows and ex-Apple victims who want GNU/Linux to abuse its users the way they're used to being abused. Long live sysvinit (or any other init system with a sane design) :)
And by the way, @15: "...the end user that Linux would love to attract..."?! Linux is an operating system kernel, not a business: it doesn't want to attract anyone. Canonical and RedHat are businesses though, so they do want to attract customers...which is why they back systemd. It's not the *software* that wants to do everything for helpless dumbed-down users: that's what *businesses* want, because there's no money to be made from free software in the hands of people who know how to use it. Screw systemd and the dumbed down brainwashed consumer culture it represents. Long live the UNIX philosophy.
19 • systemd (by Bob on 2017-05-02 14:22:46 GMT from Austria)
systemd - it's here to stay. Sorry 'bout that ;-)
20 • TrueOS (by far2fish on 2017-05-02 17:15:19 GMT from Denmark)
I have recently bought a new laptop, so it was a good time to test TrueOS for the first time. Since the laptop has all Intel components except the SSD, which is a Samsung, I expected good compability. I ran the GUI installer, and it crashed constantly if I tried to customize storage. When I selected default partitioning it installed successfully.
Lumina desktop worked great most of the time. It froze a few times, and could only be made working again by doing a hardware shutdown.
The software manager was a pleasant surprise, and seemed to have most of the software I use on a daily basis.
Personally I can't see TrueOS replace Linux on my desktop yet. For that I am too fond of Linux.
21 • Why Simon? (by Garon on 2017-05-02 18:59:50 GMT from United States)
" Long live the UNIX philosophy."
You've given a lot of you own personal opinions but no reason you believe that UNIX has the so called best philosophy. Is it because it is the only thing that you know or what is it. Has someone stepped on your toes or hurt your feelings? Maybe its just because not everyone believes in what you say or believe in. Maybe instead of people being so called dumbed down you just can't keep up. Systemd is here to stay, compiler or not lol. Bite the bullet.
22 • re:Why Simon (by DaveT on 2017-05-02 19:39:16 GMT from United Kingdom)
UNIX has a very very good philosophy that has been working for 40+ years. Please, tell us of a better one.
systemd may well be here to stay. I don't care. It is not and will never be on any of my home computers or servers, and it will not be on any of the servers I am responsible for at work.
TrueOS is OK but tends to run slower than linux on the hardware I have tried it on. Lumina is coming along nicely, not perfect but not bad.
23 • Cinnamon @ that silly systemd stuff (by M.Z. on 2017-05-02 20:17:39 GMT from United States)
"I'm not that keen to install cinnamon though, for it looks like win95."
Sorry but it sounds to me like you don't really know much about Cinnamon. It is vastly less locked down thin Unity in the looks department & vastly less locked down than Gnome 3 in the general configuration department. What I'm getting at is that Cinnamon can look like whatever you want it to from win XP, 7, 10, etc. to various versions of Gnome old or modern & you can turn on various elements of eye candy if you want. Also you are not locked down into the bad default behavior I experienced the few times I played with Gnome 3, because like I said it's configurable by design rather than through a mixed bad of extensions that break every time Gnome 3 is updated. Which is of course the DE it was designed to replace.
Personally I still prefer KDE, but I still find Cinnamon to be an excellent DE overall & I think if I could get full screen streaming video to play as well in Cinnamon as KDE then they would be virtually interchangeable for me as attractive modern full sized desktops. Of course I still have a slight preference for Qt apps, but the Mint x-apps are nice too.
PS how do you think all of the themes look like win95? Have you even really looked at the revamped theme site for Cinnamon? See here:
Not that it ever actually looked how you depicted it.
"Screw systemd...and screw all the ex-Windows and ex-Apple victims who want GNU/Linux to abuse its users..."
Personally I've had a few minor annoyances with systemd that all went away on a simple restart. So what? If you don't like it use a project that avoids it & move on from the negativity, most Linux users have heard it all before & it does nothing but poison the tone of the discussion.
Others who agree with your general sentiment are already using the fact that it is completely open software to examine the code & modify or purge it in systems made just for people like you. We don't need to hear more venom directed towards some completely avoidable peace of software designed to boot you PC. It's far easier to avoid for anyone who would care than the Unity spyware lens ever was to average users being affected by that. If normal people have boot problems they can investigate a little & move to something with a different init system. Their copy of systemd never did any more than boot their PC in a more complex & convoluted way than necessary. That isn't the kind of privacy or users rights violation that warrants this level of attention. A similar tone was completely called for with past versions of the Unity DE, but what real damage will the funny boot process do? Find an acceptable list of distros & move on, because it really is completely avoidable & harmless to virtually anyone who made good backups and can install a different distro in the even of a serious error. Also if it was altogether terrible for reliability I'm fairly certain Red Hat wouldn't roll it out on production Enterprise Linux deployments because that could destroy their momentum & market share.
24 • @ 23 MZ (by kaczor on 2017-05-02 21:00:20 GMT from United States)
Cinnamon looks like Win95, whatever anyone says. If I want something to look like Win7 or Vista, then the best is KDE 5. Only thing is KDE5 is much better than Win7. Anyway, Win7 is gone for win ten.
About the UNIX matter, if anyone would buy me a MAC, I'd happily use it. I once used OS X some years ago, and know that it works. But that doesn't mean, I'd let go of Linux. I like Linux world because it gives me happy times tinkering. I've known Linux distros since Ubuntu 4.10, so its a long time distro hopping. I'm using a Linux installs with Openbox, one Debian, one Devuan, one Ubuntu. Thinking of ROX desktop. And, of course AppImages.
25 • yeah, systemd... (by edcoolio on 2017-05-02 21:03:46 GMT from United States)
@18, are you arguing that Linux does not want to attract end users? All the advertisements for products here on Distrowatch, the USB keys, the jobs of admins (like @22) that become more available and higher paying the more users there are? Are you saying that the elimination of the $$, closed source OS, and monopolistic power from Microsoft and Apple is of no value to the Linux community and a bad thing?
It sure sounds like you are.
I suppose everyone has the right to their own spin on the "UNIX philosophy".
@22, more power to you!
26 • Window managers (by RJA on 2017-05-03 02:42:03 GMT from United States)
"Cinnamon looks like Win95, whatever anyone says."
@24 Do you mean JWM?
27 • @24 | System failure (by No Body on 2017-05-03 05:05:22 GMT from Switzerland)
Urgently consult the psychiatrist and the ophthalmologist. Your systems are seriously malfunctioning.
KDE is a buggiest, most useless piece of crap ever written for Linux and the only one that is 1:1 copycat of Windows 95.
28 • systemd (again) (by Gary W on 2017-05-03 06:22:32 GMT from Australia)
@23: "if it was altogether terrible for reliability I'm fairly certain Red Hat wouldn't roll it out on production Enterprise Linux deployments"
Last time I checked, the Red Hat knowledgebase has 26 pages of "errata" and "enhancements" for systemd. Other people might use the terms "buggy" and "incomplete".
Mind you, I look after a fleet of maybe 50 RHEL 7 systems, with no problems attributable to systemd. On the other hand, I look after a fleet of maybe 200 RHEL5 and 6 systems, with no problems attributable to sysvinit.
My own view is that systemd is an overcomplicated solution desperately searching for a problem. I don't want it on my own systems, and I'm very happy that I have such a choice.
29 • "... looks like Windows 95" @17,24,28 (by curious on 2017-05-03 08:43:19 GMT from Germany)
You can make almost any desktop with a "traditional" layout (not Gnome 3, Unity, Mac or Win8) look like Windows 95.
However, they all look different "out of the box", as anybody who is old enough to actually have used Windows 95 will know (if they are not already suffering loss of memory).
30 • @29 looks like windows95 (by kaczor on 2017-05-03 10:31:44 GMT from United States)
The "traditional" desktop was copied from Windows95. It appears that the majority of us wants the "traditional" look. Maybe that's why Gnome 2 is sort of not allowed to die--the creation of Mate.
@ 27 Cinnamon looks so windows95 and trying hard to stay that way. KDE is whole lot of things, not only the Plasma desktop. It won't work well with old machines, so buy a new one. KDE Neon had not been "buggy" for such a long time. (KDE Neon has the newest KDE apps.)
31 • KDE, Win95 (by Fan Yusu on 2017-05-03 12:56:37 GMT from Austria)
Nothing wrong with Win95 at that time, was definitely worthwhile to copy it. In terms of stability I remember some releases of KDE3 to be almost unbeatable, but then they decided to kill it.
Currently I am using LXDE for running KDE applications such as Dolphin, etc. Feels like stone age of computing but runs fast and fairly stable as compared to the latest Plasma crap. I would be a fan boy of KDE if it did not break reliably after a couple of re-configurations.
So, currently not much left for me:
- Win10: bearable, but no more than that
- (macOS: what the heck is that?)
- KDE: currently useless for serious work
- Gnome3: unacceptable
- XFCE: vintage DE
- LXQt: not there yet
- LXDE: will never be there, but it's at least working
- Mate: might die sooner or later
- Cinnamon: not entirely convincing last time I tried it
- Most of the rest: waste of time
I just hope KDE developers will grow up and stop inventing desktop effects until most of the issues are resolved. But I guess that won't happen anytime soon.
32 • X-Apps (Regarding Post # 23) / AP Linux (by Winchester on 2017-05-03 13:09:21 GMT from United States)
Just what the world needs ......Mint X-Apps ..... a forked version of the Pluma Text Editor which works just fine the way it is.
It's good to see AP Linux added to the database. A distribution that actually brings something useful to the table. "DSD support and a custom real-time Linux kernel for improved audio performance." As opposed to a useless clone of other operating systems such as BeeFree OS.
33 • @31 Mate (by Bellan on 2017-05-03 15:23:41 GMT from United States)
"Mate: might die sooner or later"
I'm sorry, what? What in the world would make you think that? Development for Mate has been pretty steady, with it now on GTK 3. It doesn't appear to be anywhere close to being dead. So why would you imply that? And you're using LXDE and calling Xfce vintage? Have you actually used a distro using Xfce with a good theme? Because Xfce is ahead of LXDE.
34 • other thoughts (by M.Z. on 2017-05-03 15:48:06 GMT from United States)
"Urgently consult the psychiatrist and the ophthalmologist."
Well, when somebody wants to treat comments like "...whatever anyone says." as belonging in a serious discussion, at least part of that is true.
That being said with regard to other parts of your comment I'd point out I've encountered very stable versions of KDE in both the Mint 17.x KDE series, as well as in Mageia 5. I did hit some issues early in the KDE 4 series, but KDE having problems is far from the general rule suggest it is.
"My own view is that systemd is an overcomplicated solution desperately searching for a problem. I don't want it on my own systems, and I'm very happy that I have such a choice"
That's cool, my main point is that some people feel the need to loudly proclaim their irrational fear of systemd & ruin decent conversations. I use PCLinuxOS on some partitions of my PCs, so I only use systemd part of the time. I can't say I notice a huge difference, though like I said in #23, there are some annoyances on a very rare basis.
"Just what the world needs ..."
The main point of Mint X-apps was to fork Gnome 3 apps into something more useful that didn't have the weird UI elements and obfuscated functionality designed for Gnome. Perhaps some apps were pulled from other sources, but the vision is a unified set of apps that look good & act like normal functional apps for all Gtk desktop users. I'm far from being a Mint dev, so I won't comment on the need for a full fork off all the X-apps; however, there were some fairly ugly & dysfunctional apps being produced by the Gnome project & reused elsewhere in other Gtk 3 based desktops.
35 • #31 desktop environment rundown (by far2fish on 2017-05-03 17:05:39 GMT from Denmark)
I had a good laugh when I read your opinion on some of the common desktop environment.
I would guess you have not spent enough time with each of them though.
Another light weight option I can recommend is using a window manager only, like openbox, fluxbox or similar and use a panel like tint2 or a dock like plank. You can get that to look very modern, be very functional, but still really low on resources.
36 • Where the UNIX philosophy lives. (by gARON on 2017-05-03 18:55:45 GMT from United States)
The UNIX philosophy has served well. There's only one problem. You will not find it anywhere except in UNIX. I don't see it anywhere else. Why is that I wonder? It's a good philosophy but its just not sustainable in my opinion. People will always try to improve on things. Whether they need to or not.
37 • @33, @35 (by Fan Yusu on 2017-05-03 22:26:53 GMT from Austria)
Mate: Just talked to some people sharing my opinion. If Mate ever overtakes Cinnamon, is still there in 3 years time AND is still actively supported - you win ;-)
XFCE: Latest release - Feb28, 2015 (vs. LXDE 0.99.2, Nov 2016), Thunar crashed on me without apologies while transferring a huge and hugely important file. That's it, thank you. I am not going to wait another 2 years to get bugs fixed. Apologies to all XFCE fans!
Openbox, etc.: That is what I am using now (LXDE w/ob). LXPanel is good enough for me, but thanks for your remarks anyway. I am starting up with ~250MB of RAM usage, not really worrisome on 16G systems.
38 • systemd (by Simon on 2017-05-03 22:39:41 GMT from New Zealand)
@22: "You've given a lot of you own personal opinions but no reason you believe that UNIX has the so called best philosophy. Is it because it is the only thing that you know or what is it"?
I rest my case. People who don't understand the UNIX philosophy, and therefore don't understand the criticisms of systemd, nevertheless can't resist wading in to claim that we're failing to "keep up" if we object to a regression in the quality of critical software components.
@23: "What real damage will the funny boot process do"?
That's not the point: the point is that this "collaborative", "community" operating system can now be hijacked by a handful of corporate employees with a narrow focus on the job they've been paid to do and no respect for good software design principles...because the community is now full of people who don't understand those principles themselves, so are happy to shrug "hey, no big deal" when they're violated.
The point is not that it's only a small part of the OS that they've made worse. The point is that they made it worse, and when old-school admins objected, we were shouted down by hordes of ex-Windows users sympathetic to the changes...which emboldened the likes of Canonical to inflict a software regression on millions of users...so that a regression in code quality has now become "the way it's done" in the Linux world, sucking future developers into the same hole.
Despite Garon's bizarre claim that the UNIX philosophy is "just not sustainable", it will be sustained. It just won't be sustained by the majority of GNU/Linux users....because they are now mostly ex-Windows users who want the OS to be less UNIX-like and more Windows-like...in other words, more and more automated and usable for people who don't want to think about what's going on in their computers, and less and less usable for people who do.
That's what I mean by "dumbed down": the community is now full of people who prefer buggy code that "just works" for them by automating stuff, over trustworthy code that's not buggy but requires them to read manuals and learn how to use it. As for the argument that it can't be that stupid or Red Hat wouldn't be using it, give me a break. You think it's impossible for stupidity to rise to the top, in a community where profits come before principles?
39 • @38 (by sglnx on 2017-05-04 04:26:37 GMT from Singapore)
This is exactly what I thought.
Some Linux distro has became more Windows-like than Unix-like.
40 • @38 (by kaczor on 2017-05-04 11:40:48 GMT from United States)
> That's what I mean by "dumbed down": the community is now full of people who prefer buggy code that "just works" for them by automating stuff, over trustworthy code that's not buggy but requires them to read manuals and learn how to use it.<
Would you explain how the buggy code would "just work"? And, what is the "trustworthy" code?
41 • Your opinion and not a fact. (by gARON on 2017-05-04 12:21:48 GMT from United States)
Simon may have the time to waste on making the perfect code or to claim so but times are different then they were 40 years ago. Also you say that buggy code just works. Now that's a bizarre claim if i ever heard one. It's really strange that OLD SCHOOL ADMINS refuse to progress with the rest of the world. The world of computer science has been evolving at a steady pace and the old ones don't want to lose their special place. I find it a very silly statement and somewhat nonsense that a person MUST know how their code is written and exactly how it works for a person to do work on a computer. It makes no sense. That thinking does not exist today in the computer work force because there are more progressions than regressions. When some of your modular bits of code won't work on some new servers it's not the servers that are to fault. It's the failure or lack of progressive thinking and not wanting to accept that the OLD SCHOOL way of doing things is not always the best. And for sglnx from Singapore, that statement is just BS in the form of a death rattle, it has no merit and no meaning. I'm 61 years old and even I know when it's time to evolve.
42 • OpenIndiana !?! Is this a joke? (by sys5er on 2017-05-04 13:02:28 GMT from United Kingdom)
I was quite excited to see that there was a new version of OpenIndiana after all this time.
Downloading the 1.5GB DVD ISO took almost an hour but that was fine.
The install in virtualbox was also dog slow but still ok as I was busy with other work anyway.
It finally came to an end and the virtual machine fired up just fine.
First thing I noticed was that there was no support for guest additions in the original distribution so the screen size was limited to 800x600ish (not exactly sure about the pixel count).
First terminal window I open and try to run a root command I got a message that my freshly created password was "expired", so it forced me to recreate a new one and the folklore started!
- You can't use your old password unless it is shifted by 3 spaces...
- You can't have a new password if it contains part of your user id...
- The first character of the user password needs to be this or that...
Give me a break man! Are you stupid or something?!
On a half baked ancient OS fork the developers apparently had lots of fun creating puzzles instead of advancing the technology! - Good for them, but I wiped out the vm and brought an end to their joke.
I think OpenIndiana people need to become a bit more serious. What a waste, what a disappointment.
R.I.P Unix System V of my youth, R.I.P Solaris of my professional career - You're lucky that you don't get to see your descendant - actually very lucky because it certainly is not worth to be your shadow!
43 • X-Apps (Regarding Post # 34) (by Winchester on 2017-05-04 13:53:47 GMT from United States)
I don't know ........ I use the Pluma text editor under LXQt Gecko Linux Rolling Tumbleweed without any "weird UI elements and (or) obfuscated functionality" at all.
I also use the Atril document viewer under Enlightenment without any such problems.
In fact,in experimenting with upwards of 30 different distributions with various desktop environments and window managers,I can't recall ever experiencing weird UI elements or obfuscated functionality with these applications.
44 • Disagree (by M.Z. on 2017-05-04 19:30:32 GMT from United States)
"...now be hijacked by a handful of corporate employees..."
This is the core problem with many of the systemd arguments. The alternatives like PCLinuxOS, & to a lesser extent Devuan already exist & there are entire lists compiled of distros that don't use systemd. In addition there are tools on this very site designed to help you avoid systemd while using Linux if you chose to do so. If you want to avoid systemd I can respect that, I'd just like to know how is it that you can claim to not have the exact thing you want at you fingertips?
For my part I stopped attacking Canonical after they committed to removing spyware from Unity, regardless of the fact that they created a deep mistrust in me & many other users. I feel I won after raising my voice with many others & speaking out about the issue, & it looks to me that those who don't like systemd have been provided all the tools & distro options they need to declare victory as well. Now why is it that you can't accept victory graciously & load up one of the many non-systemd distros? No one can 'hijack' the distros that rejected systemd, and this fact combined with your complaints make it look like you are just injecting excess negativity into the conversation for the sake of it.
Why do you keep bringing up Gtk 2 based MATE apps? How are they relevant in a discussion about the problems with Gnome 3/Gtk 3 apps?
Sorry but those are not related to the problem x-apps were designed to fix. If you want to know why x-apps exist look at the lack of a menu in what they were designed to replace:
& compare to the replacement:
45 • Android Apps (by Klas Ion on 2017-05-04 22:12:18 GMT from United States)
I would love to be able to run MXPlayer on Linux. Wish it was open source, but will settle for the Android App if it will play well on Linux. I prefer Kodi as a full media center, but for individual instant plays, nothing compares to MXPlayer (VLC is the standby, but it still has some programming quirks that show up now and then and it won't do multi-subs.
46 • @44 (by Simon on 2017-05-04 23:43:17 GMT from New Zealand)
Well...apply your own arguments to the issue that you understood and cared about, and see how they work. You've written "if you want to avoid systemd I can respect that, I'd just like to know how it is that you can claim to not have the exact thing you want at your fingertips?". "Those who don't like systemd have been provided all the tools & distro options they need to declare victory...now why is it that you can't accept victory graciously & load up one of the many non-systemd distros?".
Canonical did not care about your privacy on principle: if it had done so, it wouldn't have violated it in the first place. It does, however, care about its popularity because it is motivated by business interests: therefore, when you raised the privacy issue and enough users understood about it and cared about it that it was clear to Canonical that it would be a bad *business* decision to violate your privacy, they made the change.
Similarly, Canonical do not care about good FOSS design on principle, so are happy to violate those principles if it looks like a good *business* decision. With systemd, unlike with the privacy issue, users simply didn't understand what was at stake...so Canonical opted for the init system that would serve itself best (since so much kernel development etc. is driven by Red Hat, and going with the flow in that respect is much easier than taking responsibility for continually untangling other code from systemd). Now imagine privacy issues were similarly unimportant to the majority of Ubuntu users, so Canonical ignored you when you spoke up about them:
"If you want to avoid spyware I can respect that, I'd just like to know how it is that you can claim to not have the exact thing you want at your fingertips?". "Those who don't like spyware have been provided all the tools & distro options they need to declare victory...now why is it that you can't accept victory graciously & load up one of the many non-spyware distros?".
It's not "victory" when an influential distro ignores your concerns and steers huge numbers of GNU/Linux users in the wrong direction. It would not have been a "victory" for you to work away on a handful of non-spyware distros with a handful of privacy enthusiasts while spyware became so firmly embedded into all the major distros that books on Linux had chapters on how best to use it, training future generations of users to take it for granted as part of the OS. So, it's not a victory for a handful of non-systemd distros with a handful of UNIX enthusiasts to try keeping Linux UNIX-like while the major distros steer it in the direction of Windows for business reasons.
OK, if I'm "injecting excess negativity into the conversation for the sake of it" by continuing to point out that systemd sucks, I'm sorry about that. Still, I wonder if you'd have stayed positive towards Canonical if they'd ignored your privacy concerns...or if you'd have continued to point out, from time to time, that its spyware sucks?
47 • @46 • @44 • Systemd (by pengxiun on 2017-05-05 01:08:43 GMT from New Zealand)
For a few years I have sat on the sidelines, not on the fence (I have made my own decision) of this "debate".
I understand that Redhat did not lean on Debian or Canonical or any others and say: "This is the way it is going to be."
Systemd is a Redhat "development" and the question should rather be asked of the distributions using it, "why did you go with systemd?"
I mean, Redhat is an .rpm distro, and going by the Distrowatch HPD, Redhat and other .rpm based distros make up a low percentage.
So it is unlikely that systemd take-up was due to popularity of the package system.
The .rpm package does not care about systemd, and I'm pretty sure that .deb packages don't care either.
The kernel is systemd neutral, so that is not a driving force either.
So perhaps the real question is:
What is stopping you creating the perfect init. system for yourself, promoting it as the best thing since the best thing since sliced bread, and showing up systemd for its shortcomings that your init. show up so well.
The distros will be beating a path to your door.
48 • Reply to Post # 44 Gedit / Post # 37 XFCE File Manager Options (by Winchester on 2017-05-05 11:49:00 GMT from United States)
Regarding Post # 44 :
1) The answer is because I was responding to (part of) post # 23.
2) Any and all documentation that I have read indicates that X-Apps "Xed" is forked
from Pluma and not from Gedit. Also the X-App document viewer is forked from Atril.
The video player .... forked from Totem. That is unless the information is incorrect but
judging by the image you posted,it seems to be the case.
Regarding Post # 37 :
Can you not just install SpaceFM and / or PCmanFM and use them with the XFCE environment ?? Maybe even Nemo and Nautilus to copy large,important files ??
49 • @48 and 37 - Thunar (by Hoos on 2017-05-05 12:25:30 GMT from Singapore)
Also, isn't XFCE very modular? Even if there has been no release of the latest version of the complete XFCE desktop suite, I believe individual components like Thunar have been updated and released in the meantime.
Whether these new releases are available to you may of course depend on what distro you are on and their repos.
In Manjaro for instance, I think one gets the latest XFCE components when they are released. There's no concept of having to wait for the next full XFCE suite version (beyond ver 4.12) to get parts of it that have been updated.
50 • @31 Fan Yusu : KDE and LXDE (by Kazlu on 2017-05-05 15:52:03 GMT from France)
"I remember some releases of KDE3 to be almost unbeatable"
"Currently I am using LXDE for running KDE applications such as Dolphin, etc."
Have you tried Trinity? https://www.trinitydesktop.org/
I didn't try it, I don't know if it would be your cup of tea, but who knows, if it can help.
51 • Thunar and Gedit (by lenn on 2017-05-05 15:58:06 GMT from Canada)
For those who complain about Thunar, just try to open a .dektop file in /usr/share/applications in Gedit (or Pluma).
Or after copying such a file to your home directory, and then try edit it in whatever way and save it in Gedit. See what you get as an extension.
With Thunar, its breeze.
@Simon, you have not yet explained how the buggy code would "just work"?
52 • Diagnosis, Devuan (by Somewhat Reticent on 2017-05-05 19:12:36 GMT from United States)
Regarding a problem after a file-copy operation - what exactly was the issue? What evidence laid blame specifically on the file-manager app?
systemd's just init?
If changes involving systemd were confined to startup (boot), how many people would have been concerned? Most complaints I've seen involve inter-dependencies, and resulting 'breakage' of increasing numbers of packages, apparently abandoning venerable system design disciplines.
Only a few complaints involved the failure to keep process-control configuration files human-readable (binary-in-XML?), something that could have been addressed during implementation, as an option at the least.
To their credit, developers of the Devuan base-distro fork are restoring freedom of choice in this regard. Community derivatives are showing up before the first RC (Release-Candidate) for the base.
53 • Automotive analogy (by M.Z. on 2017-05-05 21:07:55 GMT from United States)
"Well...apply your own arguments..."
At a certain point that becomes a very false equivalency. The Canonical situation was similar to an in car GPS navigation system sending location data to third parties by default being installed in the most popular car in the world. It seems to me that systemd is very much like a mild-hybrid/start-stop system by comparison. You may not like it, & may indeed prefer vehicles that follow the 'KISS' principle. If you have principles you want to follow that's great. The fact is the mild-hybrid did nothing similar to our hypothetical GPS in terms of violating the rights of anyone. You still have full & free access to as many other cars as you want, & indeed to the very blueprints of our open source Linux car. The cars that act different than how you want can't hijack that right and do nothing to harm their users. They are just doing a lot more starting & stopping of their engines while offering the same open design principles as the car you like. It doesn't really matter if all the most popular vehicles in the wold use the system, because again it's use violates neither your rights nor the rights of those who use such systems directly.
You seem to be moving the goal posts a lot to rationalize overblown fears. First you say @38 "...operating system can now be hijacked....", then when it's demonstrably proven that such a hijacking doesn't exist, the goal post suddenly moves @44 to "...steers huge numbers of GNU/Linux users in the wrong direction." So what? Huge numbers of people do things all the time that I don't like with their OSs, & I still have the right to get my copy of Linux my way regardless just like other people can get their own preferred version of Linux. If your way is just as good or actually better than systemd your preferred init option will survive in perpetuity & perhaps even displace the fancy new init system. Also you seemed to have moved form false hijack talk about someone taking your right to do what you want, to talking like you'er mad that most people are going to be doing what they want instead of doing things your way. You see the irony there right?
I'd also point out the @40 had a solid point about one of the many other problems with your arguments & @47 makes some solid points as well.
54 • @50 Trinity (by Fan Yusu on 2017-05-06 14:19:00 GMT from Austria)
Thank you for your comment. But Trinity is a long-term project which never took off for some reason. I'll stick with LXDE for the moment. KDE will get another chance once googling reveals some hints of improved KDE stability.
55 • Trinity (by Winchester on 2017-05-06 16:16:54 GMT from United States)
PClinuxOS Trinity (Big Daddy ISO) is one of the best,if not the best,systems I have used.
It does need a little bit of fine tuning to the appearance .... icons,wallpaper,cursor etc. to adjust the dated aspects of the overall look. I would also recommend installing an alternate file manager but,otherwise,very solid. I have not encountered any real stability issues with it.
56 • Devuan derivative (by kent on 2017-05-06 22:17:16 GMT from United States)
Why not try Nelum-Dev1-Xfce-Testing? You get a very nice systemd free practically rolling distro.
57 • bit more info (by kent on 2017-05-06 22:21:45 GMT from United States)
It was released in May last year, but all you have to do is sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade and you'd get a fully updated distro. Try it out and see.
58 • systemd (by Simon on 2017-05-06 22:31:15 GMT from New Zealand)
@40/51: Complex automation aims to have things "just work" for users who don't want to learn about the system in order to configure things themselves. The automation means shifting decisions that could be made by the user into code, so by definition the code is more complex and more likely to be buggy. The more automated a system is, the more complex, time-consuming and difficult it is to keep it bug-free and trustworthy...but the more comfortable and easy it is for new users. It "just works" for them.
Before systemd, the influence of ex-Windows users with no UNIX training upon GNU/Linux development seemed mostly to involve tons of harmless GUI fluff for making stuff that already worked perfectly well "just work" for them too: fine for keeping them happy (often convenient and helpful for all of us, in fact), and with little impact on anything that really mattered on servers etc. Poettering’s pulseaudio was typical of that...but with his systemd, an ugly Windows-inspired approach introducing complex integration and automation has established itself right at the heart of the OS, in a critical, always-running process.
@46: An easily disabled, anonymous data-collection tool in an optional GUI layer is not as important as a foundational component of the OS: not even if, as in your car analogy, systemd were merely a system starter/stopper. Re the "solid point" made by #40: I see a straightforward question...which I've answered above, as #51 didn't get the "just works" reference either. The point that #47 makes is more substantial...it is often more constructive to support alternatives than to criticise how things are being done, and I’m going to take that on board and drop this topic...but the claim that distros would be "beating a path" to a better init system if I developed one ignores the fact that better init systems already exist and they're beating a path in the opposite direction!
You haven’t persuaded me to dislike systemd any less...nor the practice of declaring UNIX principles outdated and irrelevant without even knowing what they are. However, I do accept, as you pointed out, that we’re fortunate to have alternatives (the new RC for Devuan 1.0 that Distrowatch has just announced, for example) and that getting "mad" about all the resources being poured into making Linux more Windows-like is pretty futile now that most Linux users were raised on Windows. Beyond that I don’t think we’re going to arrive at any common ground on this one, so let’s agree to disagree re systemd.
59 • Fine by me (by M.Z. on 2017-05-07 05:24:30 GMT from United States)
"An easily disabled, anonymous data-collection tool..."
I heard some points being made that this was all the spyware lens was at the time. The primary point that made the offending feature spyware was that is was on by default, not entirely obvious to those who may not have been doing their homework, & that if you didn't know it was there you were transmitting data about yourself without consent. I consider that a major privacy violation & many said it officially amounted to spyware, including influential people like RM Stallman. I don't see how a design decision in the init system, regardless of how badly designed it is, amounts to that level of a problem. That is especially true when the init can be modified by anyone with the know how.
All that being said I'm also glad that init alternatives exist for anyone who wants that sort of thing. I'm also glad that the GPL assures users full right over their software & keeps the community in control. Letting different groups modify things like the init system to suit their tastes is a genuine strength of Linux & no one can take that strength away.
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