| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 729, 11 September 2017
Welcome to this year's 37th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
The freedom to audit and modify software is one of the key ideas GNU/Linux distributions are based on. The ability to read and improve code is a large part of what draws developers to GNU, Linux and related projects. However, most Linux distributions do feature a few non-free components, such as firmware or media codecs, which are provided under more restrictive licensing terms. This week Robert Rijkhoff takes an entirely free operating system, Parabola GNU/Linux-libre, for a test run and reports on his findings. Read on to find out how Parabola's stance on software freedom affects the distribution. Then, in our News section, we talk about the new roadmap for Tails features and an exciting new ports system for DragonFly BSD, FreeBSD and Linux. We also discuss new features coming to the MINIX operating system. In our Tips and Tricks column we explore creating a media server using Linux and a Raspberry Pi computer. Running a home media server is also the subject of this week's Opinion Poll and we would like to hear about your home streaming solutions in the comments. As usual, we share the distribution releases of the past week and share the torrents we are seeding. Finally, we are pleased to welcome the ClonOS project to our database. We wish you all a fantastic week and happy reading!
- Review: Parabola GNU/Linux-libre
- News: Tails publishes updated roadmap, DragonFly BSD previews new ports system, new features coming to MINIX
- Tips and tricks: Running Plex Media Server on a Raspberry Pi
- Released last week: Tiny Core 8.1, Porteus Kiosk 4.5.0, Zorin OS 12.2
- Torrent corner: Antergos, Bluestar, Manajro, MiniNo, OviOS, Raspbian, SystemRescueCd, Untangle, Zorin OS
- Opinion poll: Personal media server
- New additions: ClonOS
- New distributions: Xebian, Clu-Linux-Live
- Reader comments
|Feature Story (by Robert Rijkhoff)
Review: Parabola GNU/Linux-libre
Parabola GNU/Linux-libre is one of a few Linux distributions that meet the Free Software Foundation's (FSF) guidelines for free operating systems. The distribution is based on Arch Linux and ships with the Linux-libre kernel, which doesn't include software for which no source code is available (or which is otherwise proprietary). On top of that Parabola removes any non-free packages from the system.
The distribution is available for the armv7, i686 and x86_64 architectures. The main ISO boots to a command line, where we can manually install the operating system, while a live ISO gives us the MATE desktop and access to a basic graphical installer. Interestingly, it is also possible to migrate from Arch Linux to Parabola.
My main concern before I started my trial was hardware support and I therefore first tried the live ISO for version 2017.05.28 . The 64-bit image is 2.2GB in size and boots to a rather pink-looking MATE desktop (the wallpaper and use of purple for elements like scroll bars reminded me of Pony OS). I was pleased to find that I could connect to wireless networks and that graphics and sound worked as expected.
While exploring the live environment I did note several bugs in applications. The most annoying issue was that menus often looked completely squashed. I have seen that issue before in MATE 1.16 (which is the MATE version the live ISO uses) and think it is related to applications missing GTK+ version 3 support. I also found that the Abiword word processor was completely unusable; it somehow had a black background and trying to type or click anything would make the window flicker for several seconds.
Parabola GNU/Linux-libre 2017.05.28 -- Running the live MATE desktop with Abiword
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The live CD's graphical installer didn't work for me either. It seems the installer is an experimental feature - there is hardly any documentation about it and while going through the installation steps I got error after error. The installation did finish but after rebooting my laptop I was presented with a completely black screen.
Parabola GNU/Linux-libre 2017.05.28 -- The command line installer
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The recommended way to install Parabola is by using the command line. This can be done via the MATE ISO (simply open a terminal window) but I decided to try the main ISO instead. Unfortunately, I found Parabola's installation guide rather unhelpful. The guide provides a very rough outline of what needs to be done and refers to the Arch Linux wiki for more information at every stage. I quickly found that, in effect, I needed to follow the Arch Linux install guide but keep an eye out for any Parabola-specific steps. The first such step was the verification of package signatures and at this point I ran into trouble: the output showed various error 404s and the command failed. I noted similar errors while installing the base system later on and I therefore decided to take the alternative route by first installing Arch with the MATE desktop and then migrating to Parabola.
Parabola's guide starts with a note about regenerating the Pacman keyring (Pacman is Arch's package manager). I wasn't sure whether or not the note was relevant as it referred to a news article from 2014. I decided to run the recommended commands, which was the wrong option - the output showed that the keyring I tried to install didn't exist. As I was unsure how to proceed I asked Parabola's IRC channel for help, and I was quickly told that it was obvious that the note in the guide was no longer relevant.
Parabola GNU/Linux-libre 2017.05.28 -- Migrating from Arch to Parabola
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Interestingly, while I was in the IRC channel another user discovered that the Parabola website and repositories were down. This may well explain the errors I had encountered. In any case, after those issues were resolved the migration from Arch to Parabola went smoothly.
As mentioned, Parabola ships with the Linux-libre kernel and removes any non-free packages. The latter is achieved via the your-freedom package. The only job of this package is to conflict with all known non-free packages. When I migrated from Arch to Parabola and installed your-freedom it removed three such packages: intel-ucode (something to with Intel CPUs), libxnvctrl (something to do with NVIDIA) and ttf-ubuntu-font-family (a font I had installed in Arch).
Parabola GNU/Linux-libre 2017.05.28 -- Installing the your-freedom package
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The blacklisted packages can be viewed either via the very useful packages section on the Parabola website or by running "pacman -Qi your-freedom" in a terminal. The list includes everything from web browsers (Firefox, Chromium, Opera, Vivaldi and QupZilla are all out) to VirtualBox, codecs (faac), firmware drivers (b43-firmware, broadcom-wl) and fonts, icon themes and wallpapers.
Another notable blacklisted package is yaourt, which is used to install packages from the Arch User Repository (AUR). yaourt is banned because it enables users to install non-free packages (or packages with proprietary dependencies). When I tried installing yaourt the package manager pointed out that it conflicts with your-freedom and asked if it was okay to remove the latter package. This made me realize that Parabola's approach to keeping the system libre isn't that different from, for instance, Debian's approach. In Debian, we can get access to forbidden fruits by appending "contrib non-free" to the repositories listed in the /etc/apt/sources.list file, while in Parabola you only need to remove the your-freedom package. Parabola obviously doesn't advertise this option and removing the your-freedom package would defeat the purpose of running the distro but it is worth noting that installing non-free software in Parabola is as easy as it gets.
Software and package management
The absence of access to the AUR somewhat limits the amount of software available but almost all the software I normally use was in the standard repositories. The only thing I couldn't install was tkPacman, a graphical front-end for the Pacman package manager. That meant I had to learn various Pacman commands for managing software. Pacman's syntax is rather terse but after a week or so I found I no longer needed a Pacman cheat-sheet.
During my trial I installed about two dozen applications, including Claws Mail, LibreOffice, GIMP, Scribus, Inkscape and Gvim. Arch is a rolling-release distro that aims to provide the latest and greatest software and most of the packages I installed were at the newest version. I encountered no issues while installing packages and updating the system.
Wi-fi again worked out of the box (using the r8169 driver) and I was able to play and edit media files, including MP3s. Playing DRM-protected DVDs obviously didn't work, and I also wasn't able to use my printer. For me this isn't much of an issue - I very rarely watch DVDs and I haven't used my printer for years - but for others this may be problematic.
Parabola GNU/Linux-libre 2017.05.28 -- Trouble with printing pictures
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As with the live CD, I did encounter issues with various applications. The first browser I installed was Iceweasel (version 54) which is a fork of Firefox created by Debian. The browser clearly has been heavily customized by the Parabola team. The default start page features advertisements for GNU and the GNU project's DRM-free campaign and the default search engine is searx, which aggregates search results from search engines like Google without tracking users. The about:addons page has been replaced with a web page that talks about a different browser, IceCat, and provides links to a small selection of GNU-approved add-ons. I'm not sure what other customizations have been made but Iceweasel was very buggy. Among others, entering a URL and hitting the Return key would often do nothing - instead, I had to click on the Go icon in the address bar to open a URL.
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I had various annoying issues with other applications. After I had migrated from Arch, GTK+ version 2 applications such as Claws Mail, GIMP and HexChat didn't use the (default) MATE theme's window decorations and therefore featured the ugly, square scroll bars and buttons you might remember from Windows 95. Parabola's IRC channel was unable to help with that issue but I eventually managed to solve it by installing the gtk2+extra package. There were various other minor annoyances. To give just a few examples: in single window mode GIMP couldn't be maximized to full screen; zooming in or out in the Caja file manager didn't increase or decrease the size of files and folders without refreshing the page, and after installing Inkscape I found it had become the default document viewer.
Fully free distributions have been on my radar for many years. The reason I had never tried any of them is because I assumed many things wouldn't work. When I first started using Linux I often had to deal with wi-fi and sound troubles. I've never enjoyed dealing with such issues - copying commands that I don't quite understand from a guide which I hope is trustworthy just isn't for me. I anticipated I would need to, at the very least, invest in a wireless dongle but I was wrong; everything worked out of the box on my hardware.
What I hadn't expected is that I would encounter dozens of small bugs in applications that very rarely cause me issues in other Linux distros. I was able to resolve most of these issues and I realize that some of the "bugs" could be the result of my unfamiliarity with Arch (although, in my defense, the MATE desktop on the live ISO was buggy as well).
That said, I would recommend Parabola to people who feel very strongly about free software. Parabola stands on a solid foundation, provides cutting edge software and almost all of Arch's outstanding documentation applies to Parabola. The installation and migration guides can be improved, some bugs need to be ironed out and a proper installer would be welcome but that shouldn't stop freedom-lovers from giving Parabola a try.
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Hardware used for this review
My physical test equipment for this review was a Lenovo Z570 laptop with the following specifications:
- Processor: Intel Core i3-2350M, 2.3GHz
- Memory: 4GB of RAM
- Wireless network adaptor: Qualcomm Atheros AR9285
- Wired network adaptor: Realtek RTL8101/2/6E 05)
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Visitor supplied rating
Parabola GNU/Linux-libre has a visitor supplied average rating of: 7.8/10 from 13 review(s).
Have you used Parabola GNU/Linux-libre? You can leave your own review of the project on our ratings page.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
Tails publishes updated roadmap, DragonFly BSD previews new ports system, new features coming to MINIX
The Tails distribution is a Debian-based project which provides secure and anonymous ways for people to communicate on-line and browse the web. The Tails project has laid out a roadmap of goals the developers have in an effort to make the distribution more useful and more secure. Some suggested items include making all project mirrors use secure HTTPS connections rather than plain HTTP, having key parts of the project audited to squash security bugs and switching from X to the Wayland display software. Another suggested item is basing the distribution on Debian's Testing branch to bring new features into Tails sooner. A full list of goals can be found on the project's roadmap page.
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John Marino has been talking about a new method of building software packages from source code on the DragonFly BSD mailing list and FreeBSD forum. The new approach is called Ravenports and is presented as an alternative to other port frameworks like dports and pkgsrc. Ravenports seems to have a number of benefits over other build frameworks, including the ability to install multiple versions of packages and the ability to work across different operating systems. Marino writes: "The Ravenports have major technical advantages over FreeBSD ports such as: variant ports (similar to OpenBSD flavours, replaces FreeBSD master/slave ports). Sub-packages (ports can create one or more sub-packages, e.g. you can load just a Fortran runtime library instead of pulling in the entire GCC). Multiversioning (you can use Python2 and 3 simultaneously, PHP 5.6 and 7.1 simultaneously, Perl 5.24 and 5.26 simultaneously etc, and build packages for all versions in the same build instead of picking just one default). 2-4 orders of magnitude faster with regards to scanning and processing. Due to compilation of ravensources into ravenports, syntax checking and linting are inbuilt, eliminating all sources of common contributor issues. Built-in support for alternative versions of stock ports, aimed at corporate users to truly tailor for their needs. The other major advantage of course is that Ravenports is not anchored to a single operating system as FreeBSD ports and pkgsrc are. It's a true 'write once, build many' mechanism that require a minimal amount of platform-specific directives. This allows high-quality packages for all supported platforms, but the 'virtual machine' approach means each supported OS/architecture combination has to be bootstrapped (probably by me) which is a long and complex procedure. This leads to the drawback of Ravenports only being currently available on FreeBSD/amd64 (11+), DragonFly, and Linux." There are currently 1,852 Ravenports available. Additional information on Ravenports can be found on the project's website.
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If you take the NetBSD operating system and replace its kernel with the MINIX microkernel, is the result NetBSD with a microkernel or a new evolution of MINIX? Whatever we choose to call it, MINIX founder Andrew Tanenbaum reports work on the project is coming along beautifully: "Based on the MINIX 3 microkernel, we have constructed a system that to the user looks a great deal like NetBSD. It uses pkgsrc, NetBSD headers and libraries, and passes over 80% of the KYUA tests). However, inside, the system is completely different. At the bottom is a small (about 13,000 lines of code) microkernel that handles interrupts, message passing, low-level scheduling, and hardware related details. Nearly all of the actual operating system, including memory management, the file system(s), paging, and all the device drivers run as user-mode processes protected by the MMU. As a consequence, failures or security issues in one component cannot spread to other ones. In some cases a failed component can be replaced automatically and on the fly, while the system is running, and without user processes noticing it." New work on the system will allow live upgrades between versions of the operating system without requiring a reboot. More information on Tanenbaum's work can be found in this write-up.
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These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Tips and Tricks (by Jesse Smith)
Running Plex Media Server on a Raspberry Pi
Over the weekend I was streaming music from one Internet radio station or another to my phone and thought I'd prefer to be playing music from my own collection. I have a selection of music files on my Raspberry Pi computer and I thought it would be convenient to be able to access and stream those files to mobile devices (and laptops) around the home.
At first I thought an easy and cross-platform way to go would be to run an Icecast streaming server, but that would cause the Pi to constantly read from its disk, even though the streaming service probably would only be used a few hours out of every day. Using an automated Icecast server would also mean music would play in a predetermined order rather than letting me select a specific song. I wanted a solution that would be idle most of the time, allow me to create playlists on the fly and be cross-platform. I eventually settled on installing Plex Media Server.
Plex, for those who have not used it before, is a combination of a media server and a client. The server software runs on a desktop, Pi or other always-on computer. The server side of Plex organizes media libraries, streams on-demand and can be controlled through a web-based interface. Client software is available in the form of native applications for Android, iOS, Windows, Ubuntu Touch, and desktop Linux distributions. Music and video can also be streamed to any modern web browser in case we are running an unsupported platform. Additional information on Plex and how it works can be found on the Plex website.
While Plex runs on a wide range of operating systems, I had trouble finding a pre-built binary for ARM devices like the Raspberry Pi. I eventually found a method for installing the Plex server software on the Raspbian operating system. The first thing we need to do is install a repository key so we can verify the Plex software. We can do this by downloading the key and installing it with these commands on the Raspbian operating system:
Next, on the Pi, we need to enable the Plex software repository:
sudo apt-key add dev2day-pms.gpg.key
sudo echo "deb http://dev2day.de/pms/ jessie main" > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/plex.list
Our third step is to update our package manager so it knows about the Plex repository and then install the Plex Media Server software:
sudo apt-get update
The above commands should download and install Plex. The server-side software should then be running on our Pi. If the Plex service is not running, we can start it by running
sudo apt-get install plexmediaserver-installer
sudo service plexmediaserver start
If we are running a firewall, we should make sure there is no firewall rule blocking our access to the server. The Plex service runs on network port 32400 and we can open the port by running
sudo ufw allow 32400
At this point we can connect to the Plex service from another computer via our web browser. In my case my Pi is connected to my local network using IP address 192.168.2.88. I can therefore point the web browser of my laptop to http://192.168.2.88:32400/web/. The Plex web-based interface will ask me a few questions about the location of my media and give me a chance to name my Plex service on the local network. We have the option of creating an on-line Plex account so we can access our Plex server from outside the local network, but I skipped this step.
Plex Media Server 3.9.1 -- The Status page
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Once the Plex service knew where my media was, I was able to play music through my web browser from any device in the home. I could also download native Plex apps for my various devices and, using the address 192.168.2.88, connect to my media server to stream music.
The Plex service worked quite well. The service ran smoothly on my Pi and could handle streaming to all my devices, both desktop computers and phones. The web interface is quite easy to navigate and responsive. I ran into just two concerns while using the Plex service.
The first was Plex used a lot of my Pi's CPU power and memory when I first installed the service. This resource usage dropped down a bit after Plex finished downloading meta data for music tracks. However, for the first few hours Plex maxed out my Pi's four CPU cores and memory, maintaining a load average of about 6.00. My second concern was the amount of disk space Plex uses or, more specifically, where it uses disk space. While my Pi stores my files on an external hard drive, Plex appears to be hard-wired to store its database and meta data under the /var/lib/plexmediaserver directory. On my system, /var is located on an 8GB SD card. Raspbian takes up about half the SD card and Plex used up most of the second half with its meta data. If you are going to use Plex on a Pi, make sure you have a larger SD card, or mount /var on a larger, external disk or USB thumb drive.
I considered my experiment with Plex to be a success. It was fairly quick to set up, streams on demand to every device in the house and has a simple interface guests can use without technical knowledge once they are given the server's URL.
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More tips can be found in our Tips and Tricks archive.
|Released Last Week
Tiny Core Linux 8.1
Tiny Core Linux is a very minimalist, independent distribution which can use extensions to increase its functionality. The latest version of the distribution, Tiny Core Linux 8.1, features mostly smaller updates and bug fixes. The short release announcement states: "Team Tiny Core is proud to announce the release of Core v8.1. Changelog for 8.1: patched busybox rpm2cpio lzma bug; tc-config: static ip - from andyj; added lzma functionality to busybox; busybox updated 1.25.1 -> 1.27.1; busybox CONFIG_FEATURE_SYSLOGD_READ_BUFFER_SIZE=512 re-established; duplicated busybox syminks removed. Note also that the firmware and tc-install content in the CorePlus ISO has been rationalised." Tiny Core Linux is available in 32-bit and 64-bit builds for the x86 architecture. There are three editions to choose from: Core for a command line only interface; TinyCore which features a minimal graphical environment; and CorePlus which offers an installation image, wireless drivers and multiple graphical interfaces.
Porteus Kiosk 4.5.0
Tomasz Jokiel has announced the availability of a new release of Porteus Kiosk, a Gentoo-based distribution used for exclusively running a web browser. The project's latest release, Porteus Kiosk 4.5.0, includes several package upgrades, including Linux 4.12, Firefox 52 ESR and Chrome 60. In addition, the distribution now supports configuring multiple touch screens connected to one computer. "Major software upgrades in this release include: Linux kernel 4.12.10, Mozilla Firefox 52.3.0 ESR and Google Chrome 60.0.3112.113. Packages from the userland are upgraded to portage snapshot tagged on 20170901. Short change log for 4.5.0 release: Added support for EAP over LAN (802.1x) authentication on wired connections. VNC and SSH daemons can be limited to listening on localhost interface. This is useful from security point of view as nobody can access the kiosk on public network interface. Mind that you'll have to use another service: Porteus Kiosk Server, Guacamole, NoVNC, etc in order to tunnel VNC or SSH traffic to kiosk's localhost interface. It is possible to calibrate multiple touchscreen devices which are connected to kiosk. Cloud and ThinClient systems no longer expose shutdown options by default. It is required to explicitly enable shutdown menu in kiosk configuration in order to allow restarting or powering off the PC by the users." Further information can be found in the project's release announcement.
Parted Magic 2017_09_05
Parted Magic is a live CD/USB commercial distribution which is designed to work with hard drives and disk partitions. The Parted Magic live disc can be used to manage partitions via GParted as well as rescue lost file with TestDisk. The project's latest release, Parted Magic 2017_09_95, ships with GParted 0.29.0, version 4.12.9 of the Linux kernel and packages to support both Btrfs and ZFS. The project's news page states: "This version of Parted Magic updates GParted, Clonezilla, Linux kernel and adds a few programs. GParted has been upgraded to version 0.29.0. Clonezilla has been updated to version 3.27.13, partclone to 0.2.91, and drbl to 2.25.6. The installation in Parted Magic has been tested by Steven Shiau. The Linux kernel has been updated to 4.12.9 and firmware as of 2017/08/28. Other updates: openvpn-2.3.17, nvme-cli-1.3, flashplayer-plugin-184.108.40.206, samba-4.4.15, mozilla-firefox-52.3.0esr, libtirpc-1.0.2, libgcrypt-1.7.8, gnupg-1.4.22, gd-2.2.4, e2fsprogs-1.43.5, curl-7.55.0, ca-certificates-20161130, btrfs-progs-v4.12, bind-9.10.5_P3, gsmartcontrol-1.0.2, zfs-on-linux-0.7.0, spl-solaris-0.7.0. Added programs: iproute2-4.4.0, iotop-0.6, ioping-0.9, fio-2.20, atop-2.2." The Parted Magic changelog has further details.
Untangle NG Firewall 13.1.0
Untangle NG Firewall is a Debian-based distribution for network gateways with pluggable modules for blocking spam, filtering websites, and providing firewall and VPN services. Untangle inc has unveiled a new version of the lightweight distribution, Untangle NG Firewall 13.1.0. "The v13.1 release features a new app, Tunnel VPN, plus improvements to Captive Portal, expanding Untangle NG Firewall's industry-leading connectivity and authentication capabilities to address the needs of distributed enterprises, branch offices, retailers, franchises and other organizations that rely on SD-WAN and secure Wi-Fi solutions... Tunnel VPN provides secure tunnels to remote servers and services and determines which traffic goes through these tunnels by leveraging Untangle's innovative tagging system, enabling administrators to set up dynamic, advanced routing that can automatically determine the best path to the WAN, ensuring network reliability and business continuity." The distribution's release announcement offers further details.
SUSE Linux Enterprise 12 SP3
SUSE has announced the release of a new service pack for SUSE Linux Enterprise. The new update, SUSE Linux Enterprise 12 Service Pack 3, runs on x86, ARM, PowerPC and z Systems architectures. The release announcement states the new update includes a number of improvements to virtualization and security: "SUSE Linux Enterprise has always been part of any 'zero downtime' solution. Now you can further enhance uptime with: Improved geo recovery management with a geo cluster bootstrap kit that simplifies cluster implementation. The ability to increase visibility and improve management of the high availability environment with an updated graphical user interface.Faster time to value with quick start guides for the High Availability and Geo Clustering extensions to help you get up and running quickly." Further information can be found in SUSE's Highlights (pdf) document. SUSE Linux Enterprise is a commercial product and is available with a 60 day free trial, available from the company's Download page.
Zorin OS 12.2
Zorin OS is a desktop Linux distribution which is designed to be user friendly and features a desktop environment familiar to people who are coming from the Microsoft Windows platform. Zorin OS features a Windows-like theme and the WINE compatibility software that allows users to run many Windows applications. The project has released an update to the distribution's 12.x series, Zorin OS 12.2. "We're pleased to announce the release of Zorin OS 12.2. This version brings new innovations from the open source community together with a familiar user interface, requiring nearly no learning curve for PC users. We have focused on refining the desktop environment and core technologies, readying the system for new classes of users seeking a faster, more powerful, and secure computing experience. The Zorin desktop environment has been upgraded with speed and stability optimizations to the software and more responsive user interaction. When using the default desktop layout, you can now hover over window previews in the panel to get a full-size peek, making it quicker to find what you're looking for. These improvements help make the Zorin OS desktop easier and more intuitive for newcomers." Additional details can be found in the project's release announcement.
Zorin OS 12.2 -- The default desktop and application menu
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Oracle Linux 7.4
Scott Lynn has announced the release of Oracle Linux 7 Update 4, an updated build of the company's enterprise-class Linux distribution built from the source code for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.4 but featuring its own "unbreakable" kernel. This version was announced last month, but it was only yesterday that the installation DVD images appeared on public mirrors. From the release announcement: "Oracle is pleased to announce the general availability of Oracle Linux 7 Update 4 for x86-64 servers. What's new? Enhancements to Oracle Linux 7 included in this update are included for several key areas, including security, support for Cloud and Container environments, and performance. Oracle Linux 7 Update 4 continues to enhance your security stance with several new capabilities. UEFI Secure Boot - a system in Secure Boot mode loads only those boot loaders and kernels that have been signed by Oracle. Oracle has updated the kernel and GRUB 2 packages to sign them with a valid Extended Validation (EV) certificate. The EV certificate has been compiled into the shim binary and has been signed by Microsoft. OpenSSH now uses SHA-2 - by default, the algorithm for public key signatures that is used in this release is SHA-2." See also the release notes for technical details.
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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. To share your own open source torrents of Linux and BSD projects, please visit our Upload Torrents page.
Torrent Corner statistics:
- Total torrents seeded: 562
- Total data uploaded: 15.5TB
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Personal media server
In this week's Tips and Tricks column we discussed the steps required to set up a Plex media server on a Raspberry Pi computer. We would like to find out what our readers use to stream or share their own media.
Do you run a NAS with network shares, a Plex server, a Nextcloud audio player or maybe an Icecast streaming server? Let us know how you remotely access your audio files in the comments.
You can see the results of our previous poll on the importance of using a specific package manager in last week's edition. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
Personal media server
|I run an on-demand media server (ex. Plex): ||177 (13%)|
| I run an always-on stream (ex. Icecast): ||16 (1%)|
| I serve media over network shares (ex. Samba/NFS): ||303 (22%)|
| I stream media from a sync server (ex. Nextcloud/ownCloud): ||22 (2%)|
| I use another method: ||105 (8%)|
| I do not stream my own media: ||770 (55%)|
New projects added to database
ClonOS is a free, open source FreeBSD-based platform for virtual environment creation and management. The project uses FreeBSD's development (-CURRENT) branch as its base. The operating system has a streamlined installer and features a web-based panel for managing virtual machines and FreeBSD jails.
ClonOS 12 -- Browsing jail templates
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Distributions added to waiting list
- Xebian. Xebian a Linux distribution based on Debian's Unstable (Sid) branch. Xebian features the Xfce desktop environment.
- Clu-Linux-Live. Clu-Linux-Live is an Ubuntu-based live distribution which ships with utilities for accessing local disk drives and rescuing data.
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DistroWatch database summary
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This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 18 September 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 • Plex (by Ty Miles on 2017-09-11 01:52:13 GMT from United States) |
I use the Plex for everything now.
I love streaming live TV now from my HD Homerun Prime boxes through Plex. I have 2 of them which take cable cards. Get all my channels anywhere on earth. It’s great.
2 • Ampache Docker on Nextcloud Snap (by BeGo on 2017-09-11 02:25:48 GMT from Indonesia)
I use Ampache Docker, which read media folder in Nextcloud Snap,
sudo snap install nextcloud
sudo docker run --name=ampache -d -v /var/snap/nextcloud/common/nextcloud/data/[USERNAME]/files/[MEDIAFOLDER]:/media:ro -p 80:80 ampache/ampache
3 • To: Robert Rijkhoff (by Tran Older on 2017-09-11 03:45:20 GMT from Vietnam)
You could please both your CEO and Dr Stallman by installing both Namib OS and Parabola OS on the same computer. Both are Arch-based, both have Mate desktop and both are rock solid.
4 • Parabola (by Snek on 2017-09-11 05:17:35 GMT from United States)
It's a shame you had such problems with Parabola. I have been using it for several months on multiple machines, after using Arch for years, and for the most part it is exactly the same for me, despite giving up a few tools that, somewhere down the line, have a dependency on something non-free. #1 pity was giving up VirtualBox, because the BIOS' source code is not under a free license, I believe. So I made the move to QEMU/KVM, which is much more capable now that I have had time to work with it. In the end, I say, if you look at what you use for your everyday tasks and see that you can move to a libre distro like Parabola and still use everything, go ahead and do it.
5 • Plex client (by mikef90000 on 2017-09-11 06:08:11 GMT from United States)
The Plex server installation on the RPi is intriguing. However, the review was unclear about client details. The only Linux desktop client I could find is 'the web', and the Plex website demanded an account registration. Is this really necessary for internal LAN access?
6 • Plex/Kodi (by Arnvidr on 2017-09-11 06:46:16 GMT from Norway)
I tried both of the big ones (and maybe some smaller, I don't recall) and I don't remember which of them messed up what, but in my mind they're now grouped as those front ends that make it really hard to correct meta data when it guesses wrong about a video file, and changed the genres on my music collection on me. That last one in particular was unforgivable.
I'm sure it was my own fault somehow, but I went back to pure NFS shares, the ease of use was just so much higher than with a media server that didn't like/understand/acknowledge my way of organizing my files.
7 • samba shares + foobar2000 on wine (audio only) (by papavlos on 2017-09-11 07:32:49 GMT from Poland)
- UPnP/DLNA Renderer and Media Server add-on to foobar2000
- I didn't find (so far) native linux media server and audio player with full support of flac files with cue and graphics embedded
- fantastic foobarcon controller for Android
- I am freshly migrated from Win - power of habits :)
8 • Media server setup (by Mark B on 2017-09-11 07:58:22 GMT from United Kingdom)
My server is Xubuntu 16.04 64-bit. I am a great believer in flexibility so I have Samba shares set up but I use Subsonic as my media server. I have the matching client software on my mobile phone and tablet. I have a Seagate GoFlex TV media player connected to my TV which can stream over the network.
Part of my 'Plan B' is having all my music saved on an old Buffalo Linkstation NAS and a Dell laptop with a broken screen runnng Daphile. The laptop connects to a USB mixer which I use as a DAC to connect to my hi-fi using RCA/phono plugs.
Sometimes I use Mixxx (DJ-ing) software which is also superb.
9 • Squished menus (by Charles on 2017-09-11 08:32:02 GMT from United Kingdom)
The squished menus look like the result of a GTK theme that doesn't work with GTK+ 3.20/3.22. The Arch Wiki lists some of the themes that should work with GTK+ 3.20 and higher: https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/GTK%2B#Themes
As an aside, I still mourn the loss of Clearlooks which was probably the cleanest and most well designed theme we ever got - and the only one I ever really liked. (I know about TraditionalOk. It's a decent imitation but it doesn't quite have the polish that the GTK+ 2 version had imo).
10 • media server (by me2 on 2017-09-11 08:38:56 GMT from United Kingdom)
I do not as a rule stream media. I had need recently though to install a NFS server on the RPI, so that freebsd could actually access files on a external usb hard drive that was ext2 filesystem. I dont need it anymore, as I deleted freebsd altogether. Just plug the drive into a computer via the usb slot, and its good to go.
11 • On Parabola OS (by pola on 2017-09-11 09:20:15 GMT from Netherlands)
Parabola should change its name to Paranoia. It's like Amish community in the modern world. Try to persuade anybody using Windows to go in for it!
12 • media server (by sam on 2017-09-11 11:15:53 GMT from United Kingdom)
I use a RaspberrryPi running MPD, with music stored on my home sever and shared via NFS. MPD lets any computer or phone in the house control the playback.
13 • @11 (by OstroL on 2017-09-11 11:19:07 GMT from Poland)
I believe you are right. We use normal hardware, which has non-free software. We need our hardware to work. Do the people, who make distros like Parabola use mobiles with free software too? Cars with free software? TVs with free software...?
14 • Plex client (by Jesse on 2017-09-11 11:38:18 GMT from Canada)
@5: "The Plex server installation on the RPi is intriguing. However, the review was unclear about client details. The only Linux desktop client I could find is 'the web',"
You can set up the Plex server without an on-line account. As I mentioned in the review, the account is optional. Without an account you just point your web browser to the IP address where your Plex server is running. The music/video streams to your web browser. You don't need to install any client software.
15 • Parabola (by davidnotcoulthard on 2017-09-11 12:02:02 GMT from Indonesia)
@11 I don't see anything Arch-based targeting Windows users.
that and I think the reviewer got a bit lucky with hardware. A lot of hardware still won't work with it - Jesse Smith's AMD PC for example wouldn't get 3D Graphics I think. Then again, this is MATE
though that said a good thing nowadays if one does want to go with a fully-free distro is that it's not actually difficult to intentionally get hardware that does work with a fully-free distro and is fairly recent (albeit with non-free software outside the OS itself, long story), basically amounting to making sure one gets Atheros n wi-fi plus Intel iGPU (not sure sky/coffee lake works, I'll admit).
16 • DietPi (by Todd Dixon on 2017-09-11 15:05:12 GMT from United States)
I've tried DietPi several times and found it to be useful for setting up a number of different applications for the Raspberry Pi. The base install is the lightweight version of Raspbian. The software performs an update automatically and then allows you to choose from a number of options whether the be LAMP servers, FTP, RetroPi gaming installs, media servers (of which, there are a number to choose from, including Plex), and a host of other applications. It may be useful to readers who need a quick and easy way to get some services running on their Raspberry Pi.
17 • @11 (by tricky on 2017-09-11 15:15:42 GMT from Netherlands)
Amish community? Living in the old ages.
18 • Media server - Why Plex when there are lean mpd and mpc combination (by Damodaran M V on 2017-09-11 15:52:48 GMT from India)
I am using mpd to stream with raspbian lite installed in aheadless pi2 when combined with lirc i can use the cheap IR remote to play songs directly from the server itself or can play using any mpdclient in other devices. great combination
19 • freedom matters (by Tim Dowd on 2017-09-11 15:57:50 GMT from United States)
@ 11, 13, 17
I think y'all need to take a longer perspective before you laugh at the free-software purists. Without their advocacy over the last 4 decades, there is no GNU/Linux. Their inexorable drive towards replacing non-free components made the GNU userland that we all rely on
(a similar comment to yours from the 1980s might be "what's with these weird people that want to make their own compiler") and it fundamentally changed the behavior of many hardware manufacturers to take freedom seriously. Without the FSF and its pointed quest for freedom, even those of us who aren't as pure on that issue wouldn't have options other than completely proprietary software. They deserve our respect for that reason, and its why their work still has value. I long for a future where Linux wifi isn't a pain in the rear, for example, and their fight could help lead to that.
I agree that for most of us we need to use one of the major distros to get our commodity hardware to work and get things done. I also don't think Debian has been treated fairly by the FSF, since they are only free by default and merely give their users the freedom to choose not to be free. But that doesn't change our indebtedness to Richard Stallman and the world he helped create, and I think some gratitude is in order rather than derision.
20 • Bad Analogy (by M.Z. on 2017-09-11 22:11:02 GMT from United States)
@11 & such
"...It's like Amish community in the modern world..."
That's a fairly bad analogy. If you want to compare the "Libre Only" Distro makers to one group with a strong philosophy on how everyone should live, then the best group would seem to be political anarchists. Both groups strongly wave the banner of "freedom for all" & have large problems connecting with potential converts at a very practical level.
For political anarchists the problems is essentially this: "but if there are no governments & no corporations, who will pave the roads?" & thus you get a total non-starter with what seems like few if any real world solutions.
In a similar fashion the problem with libre software hardliners is basically something like "Well you must be crazy if you think I'm giving up Netflix" & thus you get a total non-starter for many potential PC converts who believe that their computing experience will be hobbled & again you get people who put forward a face that looks very impractical when compared to what most people want in the real world.
That being said I do agree with some of the sentiments #19 expresses, even if I'm not a libre software type.
21 • Minix (by unixoid on 2017-09-11 23:44:41 GMT from Thailand)
really interesting news about Minux-3 via Netbsd As soon as they get a web browser working may check it out
22 • Storing Media on an External Drive (by Bruce Fowler on 2017-09-12 02:50:44 GMT from United States)
"Plex appears to be hard-wired to store its database and meta data under the /var/lib/plexmediaserver directory. On my system, /var is located on an 8GB SD card."
Just mount your external disk's file system on /var/lib/plexmediaserver. No need to move the whole of /var to another physical storage device.
23 • Non-free hysteria (by A on 2017-09-12 02:51:10 GMT from Australia)
Non-free wallpapers? come on. The FSF come across as a bunch of lunatics. Whats next? can't eat non-free pizza?
24 • Bad Analogies (by Kragle von Schnitzelbank on 2017-09-12 03:11:23 GMT from United States)
@20 • There are cults far more narrow-minded than the Amish.
The "non-starter" that "their computing experience will be hobbled" is on point - extremists are all about freed software … not freedom of choice for mere individuals/users. But then, making it "too easy" to do business with others just enables continued foolish dependencies…
25 • Media Server (by More Gee on 2017-09-12 05:44:43 GMT from United States)
I've been using SMServer for years and love it on an old PC. It runs an intranet and a media server and runs a printer server for FSF distros. This brings up why I gave up on them, someone changes their mind on the new version or the company is sold it will just disappear one day, it should just stay on the old version. Also if I install the hardware driver from A CD it should be OK to use on that machine, not take it away.
Especially when Iceweasel and IceCat are going back to the parent in Debian (Firefox) and one day they will just disappear leaving you without a browser.
I am interested trying Dietpi. Samba client has been working less and less lately and may try Plex again. Thanks #22, but for some reason it would not find the path even after mounting I will try again.
26 • @ 19, 20 24 Bad analogy (by tricky on 2017-09-12 13:12:57 GMT from Netherlands)
Well, maybe guys are unhappy as Amish lives in the US, so maybe analogy to ISIS? Living in terms of 1400 or 2000 years back. maybe, no one should use mobile phone, cars etc, just mules and dum dums...?
27 • Parabola and IceCat/IceWeasel (by Andy Prough on 2017-09-12 14:18:14 GMT from Asia/Pacific Region)
Glad you got to try Parabola, Robert. I've found it's typically easier for me to install from the minimal network installer, since that will give you the most up to date packages. Most ISOs are likely to be a barely working snapshot from some point in the past. My experience with Tumbleweed is the same - because it is a rolling release, it's probably best to install it with the net installer.
I never had much luck with the free browser versions of Firefox that come with Parabola and Trisquel, like IceCat, IceWeasel, aBrowser, etc. They are all just terrible, half broken, out of date browsers. I read enough to find that they weren't even necessary except for bizarre fights by the Debian and FSF community with the Mozilla community over insignificant things like the licensing of artwork. So I've always just used Firefox for a much more sane user experience.
28 • Amish etc.. (by shevy on 2017-09-12 14:33:13 GMT from Austria)
> Well, maybe guys are unhappy as Amish lives in the US, so maybe analogy to ISIS?
That is a bad comparison.
ISIS "preach" conservative values but use modern weapons and technology (smartphones) to be deployed as mercenaries.
I assume that the Amish also partially are ... more modern now than they were 100 years ago, but
it is all very unrelated to the *nix stack as a whole.
There is a reason why the supercomputers are powered by Linux almost exclusively - and the reason is simple:
And if you want to change this ... come up with an OS that is superior. It's that simple. :)
29 • Media streaming (by pepa65 on 2017-09-12 15:45:19 GMT from Thailand)
For many years we've only used media streaming over ssh, just connecting with an account to our server over ssh and play whatever from there.
But inspired by this week's Distrowatch article on Plex, I decided to try a media server, and found and installed minidlna. Can easily connect to it on our Android phones, doesn't take much resources on our tiny server, so it will stay..!
30 • Accepted and waiting distro list (by cykodrone on 2017-09-12 16:59:26 GMT from Canada)
I had a look at the waiting to be accepted/accepted distro list, some have been accepted but have not released an ISO? Shouldn't they have to at least release a beta? You should have a time limit for a new accepted distro's first release and a time limit for distros that go dorment, if a distro hasn't had a release in 3-5 years, the patient is on life support. Is Distrowatch a historical archive? It would clean up you distro list a little and make your system a little fairer, right now it's a confusing dumpster fire. Maybe have a separate gone but not forgotten section?
31 • Waiting list (by Jesse on 2017-09-12 17:44:30 GMT from Canada)
>> "I had a look at the waiting to be accepted/accepted distro list, some have been accepted but have not released an ISO?"
All of the projects in our database have released an ISO/IMG. Otherwise we wouldn't be able to get package lists, screen shots, etc.
>> "You should have a time limit for a new accepted distro's first release and a time limit for distros that go dorment, if a distro hasn't had a release in 3-5 years, the patient is on life support."
That is exactly how our status indicator works.
>> " Is Distrowatch a historical archive?"
Sort of. We maintain information on distributions after they have been discontinued, if that is what you are asking.
>> "Maybe have a separate gone but not forgotten section?"
That is what you get when you search for discontinued or dormant projects. By default our search results and distro selector just show active projects to avoid clutter.
32 • Samba NAS setup (by Voncloft on 2017-09-12 18:00:33 GMT from United States)
I have a "router" built with Gentoo as its Base Linux System with an external hard drive that doubles as a NAS - clients connect via samba and watch in VLC.
Running strong for 3 years
33 • old memories awakened (by time on 2017-09-12 19:34:02 GMT from United States)
@7 Thanks for mentioning foobar2000. I enjoyed using it under windows, but had forgotten that foobar2000 a cross-platform application!
34 • Analogies Still Terrible (by M.Z. on 2017-09-12 23:38:13 GMT from United States)
"...so maybe analogy to ISIS? Living in terms of 1400 or 2000 years back. maybe, no one should use mobile phone, cars etc, ..."
That's an even worse analogy. In addition to what #28 said, there is also the whole 'do it our way or die' super authoritarian nonsense that ISIS are into. That's got absolutely nothing to do with people who are too hardcore about 'free as in speech' software. These folks genuinely mean well & truly do believe in personal freedoms, they just want very much for you to exercise that freedom in a way that supports software that is far less convenient to use.
Another point where the both the previous Amish talk & the # 26 point break down is that the FSF hardliners very much do want you to use very modern & often quite cutting edge software as an Arch based distro would be. After all, the Linux kernel is far newer in Parabola than in my copy of LMDE 2. It's simply that this entirely modern software stack is compiled into a Distro that is built around a philosophy of software, rather than around making things work easily for typical users.
Perhaps my analogy has a bit of an obscure poly-sci side to it; however, I maintain that political anarchism & it's radical & impractical vision of freedom is far more in line with 'free as in speech software' hardliners than any other analogy I've heard. Maybe you have to have taken some college political sciences courses or be well read on alternative political philosophies to really get it, but anarchists & 'Libre Software'hardliners really are surprisingly similar. In fact, given the bad pun I once heard RMS make about having a 'pro-state gland' I'm guessing he has been approached by more than a couple of anarchists who saw lots of similarities in political philosophy that they wanted to discuss.
35 • @31 31 • Waiting list (by Jesse) (by tricky on 2017-09-13 05:43:08 GMT from Netherlands)
>> " Is Distrowatch a historical archive?"
Sort of. We maintain information on distributions after they have been discontinued, if that is what you are asking.
Not completely true.
What do you get, when you click open Alinex, for example? You get a Featured Distribution: 3CX Phone System. And, when you click on Firefly? The same "featured" one. Or Fermi? Or Funtoo, which is a active distro? The same "featured" distro.
You have to do some overhauling.
36 • RE: 35 Waiting list (by ladislav on 2017-09-13 05:56:41 GMT from Taiwan)
The "Featured Distribution: 3CX Phone System" is an advertisement that gets displayed at the bottom of the list of distro releases. If you choose Alinex, Firefly, Fermi or Funtoo and all you get is the 3CX ad, that's because we have never ever announced any release by Alinex, Firefly, Fermi or Funtoo. In other words, you'll get an empty list followed by the 3CX ad.
If you select a distribution with one or more release that have been announced on DistroWatch, you'll get a list of this distribution's past releases, plus the usual suspect - the 3CX ad.
37 • Archive of Linux, BSD, DOS, Solaris and others (by OstroL on 2017-09-13 06:01:20 GMT from Poland)
Have a look at https://archiveos.org/linux/, if you are interested in former distros.
38 • @37 Thanks for the link (by cykodrone on 2017-09-13 14:01:52 GMT from Canada)
Brought back a lot of memories. Ahhh, the good ol' days, back when things were simple and less bloated. :/
39 • Plex Media Server metadata storage (by Scott Dowdle on 2017-09-13 20:57:27 GMT from United States)
I think you can put your Plex metadata wherever you want if you make a symlink for where it is looking to where it actually is.
40 • Minix-NetBSD-OS (by frenly on 2017-09-14 05:37:50 GMT from Australia)
Interesting video on Minix-NetBSD OS. All these microkernel OS's started life claiming they were the next big thing in computing. But they have since changed to saying that they are best suited to embedded devices - like the Raspberry Pi and Beagleboard for example. It looks like microkernels won't be the savior of computing for some time yet.
41 • The Next Big Thing (by Kragle on 2017-09-15 04:05:55 GMT from United States)
@40 • "… the next big thing in computing …But … embedded devices …"
Aren't vendors pushing embedded devices (especially SoC's) as TNBT? (Perhaps since Different Rules Apply?)
How many critical Real-Time Operating Systems already use micro-kernels?
42 • Minix-NetBSD + SBC (by frenly on 2017-09-16 03:12:22 GMT from Australia)
@41 Maybe embedded devices + microkernel OS's together will be the next big thing - heading up the Internet of Things.
At least Tanenbaum has been clever to us NetBSD userland so that the OS already has access to many apps - allowing the devs to concentrate on getting the microkernel up to speed. So Minix-NetBSD should be the next production-ready OS ahead of others that require native app development.
43 • Media-Server (by Anadi on 2017-09-16 13:08:35 GMT from United Kingdom)
I use Gnome's Rygel to stream to PS4 (Debian) it does what I want.
Number of Comments: 43
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