| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 731, 25 September 2017
Welcome to this year's 39th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
A lot of the best advancements in software come from collaboration and sharing ideas. Open source software allows for projects to test and cross-pollinate concepts, resulting in better software and experiences for the users. This week we share a collection of examples of projects borrowing and sharing ideas, starting with a look at BackSlash Linux. BackSlash mixes together an Ubuntu base, the KDE Plasma desktop software and the look of OS X. In our News section we talk about Linux Mint making it easier for users to share bug reports with developers and Canonical introducing Wayland support into their Mir display server. Plus we report on Debian trying out enabling the AppArmor security software in default installs. Our third column this week concerns web standards and the introduction of DRM into W3C's standards for the World Wide Web. Plus we share the distribution releases of the week and provide a list of the torrents we are seeding. In our Opinion Poll we ask which open source desktop environment you would most like to use on mobile devices. Finally, we are pleased to share a fun graphic: The Periodic Table Of Distros which visually groups the large families of Linux distributions. We wish you all a fantastic week and happy reading!
- Review: BackSlash Linux Olaf
- News: Mint makes reporting bugs easier, Canonical adds Wayland support to Mir, Debian experimenting with AppArmor
- Opinion: The W3C, encrypted media and software freedom
- Released last week: Kali Linux 2017.2, Endian Firewall 3.2.4, Korora 26
- Torrent corner: ArchBang, Clonezilla, Kali, Korora, Manjaro, NuTyX, Subgraph, Tiny Core
- Upcoming releases: Ubuntu 17.10 Beta 2
- Opinion poll: User interfaces for GNU/Linux mobile devices
- DistroWatch.com news: The Periodic Table Of Linux Distros
- New distributions: EGOS
- Reader comments
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (64MB) and MP3 (77MB) formats.
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
BackSlash Linux Olaf
BackSlash Linux is an Ubuntu-based distribution which features a customized desktop interface based on the KDE Plasma desktop environment. BackSlash is available in one edition as a free, 1.7GB download for 64-bit x86 computers. The project also sells USB and DVD media containing BackSlash for people who wish to support the project, or avoid the bandwidth required for a large download.
I was not able to find much information on BackSlash's mission or niche on the project's website, but it appears as though BackSlash is based on Ubuntu 16.04 and is specifically designed for desktop computing. The screen shots of BackSlash suggest the distribution is striving for a macOS style interface with a unified menu bar and a launch bar with large, bouncy icons.
Booting from the BackSlash media brings up a customized Plasma environment. At the top of the display we find a panel which houses the application menu and system tray. This panel also handles the unified menu bar when applications are open. At the bottom of the display is a launch bar for commonly used applications. On the desktop we find icons for the project's PDF documentation and a system installer. The PDF document is a single page which provides us with the operating system's default username and password, along with a very general overview of what BackSlash Linux is.
BlackSlash uses Ubuntu's Ubiquity system installer. The installer's branding identifies it as being part of the "neon 16.04" distribution. On the first page we are shown a link for accessing the project's release notes. Clicking this link opens the Chromium web browser and shows us BackSlash's home page, but no release information. The installer's second page asks if we would like to download software updates during the installation process. We are also given the option of installing third-party media support. I opted to skip the updates, but did request media support. Next, we are given the chance to have the installer handle disk partitioning or we can partition our hard drive manually. I went with the manual option and found the process pleasantly streamlined. Ubiquity works with ext2/3/4, Btrfs, JFS and XFS formats. We have the option of selecting where we would like to install a boot loader, but we cannot entirely skip installing the GRUB boot loader. We are then asked to select our time zone from a map of the world and confirm our keyboard's layout. On most distributions, Ubiquity will ask us to provide a username and create a password for our account. BackSlash skips this step and, instead, sets up an account with the username "administrator" which can be accessed with the password "root". This administrator account logs in automatically when we boot the computer, suggesting security is taking a backseat to convenience with this distribution.
Once we have finished the install and BackSlash has booted, logging directly into the desktop environment, we are left to explore the operating system. One thing I found interesting about BackSlash is that it uses a classic, tree-style application menu. However, there is a button on the launch panel which will open a full screen grid of launcher icons if we prefer the mobile-style way of opening programs. The entries in the menu provide an application's description, but not name. This will likely make the distribution easier for newcomers who are more interested in finding an e-mail client than knowing if they are launching KMail or Thunderbird. By contrast, the icons on the launch bar at the bottom of the screen have no accompanying text or tool tips to let us know what the icons will open. If we recognize a program's icon, this is a streamlined design, but I ended up doing some experimenting with the icons I did not know.
When I first started using BackSlash, a red icon in the system tray let me know software updates were available. Clicking on the icon listed the number of updates to be downloaded (188) and presented me with a big "Update" button. Clicking the Update button brought up an error message saying Discover had crashed. Discover is the distribution's software manager. I tried to restart Discover, resulting in another crash of the application. I then tried launching Discover from the application menu and the software manager crashed again on start-up.
BackSlash Linux Olaf -- Checking for package updates
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After a few minutes, the update icon turned from red to blue. Clicking the blue icon brought up a report saying 312 updates were now available and clicking the Update button opened the Discover utility. So it seems Discover will not open if the system is updating its package information. Discover lists all the available updates and we can check a box next to each one we want. Luckily, we have the option of simply selecting and downloading all the updates. I clicked the update button and, for a minute, nothing seemed to happen. Then progress bars next to package names appeared and indicated software was being downloaded. After a minute, Discover simply stopped. No error message was displayed, but I still had 280 updates waiting and I could not get the software manager to resume its work.
BackSlash Linux Olaf -- Browsing available updates
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When I started exploring package management from the command line, I found the dpkg low-level package manager had crashed earlier, leaving package management in limbo. I had to run the command "sudo dpkg --configure -a" to correct the issue and then used the apt-get command line tool to fetch the remaining upgrades.
Later, I went back to Discover. The software manager has an unusual layout. On the left side of the window we can select options to show available software, available desktop components, available repositories or installed software. The right side of the window then shows items in the selected category. When available software is displayed, a tree of sub-categories is shown in the left pane and specific programs on the right, along with an Install button. When repositories are selected, a list of available repositories are shown on the right and we can check boxes next to the ones we want to access. I found Discover was typically slow to respond and did not show progress while it was working, sometimes causing me to wonder if Discover was working at all. I also found it frustrating that I had to type my password every time I wanted to install or remove a package. This approach is okay if we only want to grab a few applications, but it is tedious if we wish to install a dozen different items.
BackSlash Linux Olaf -- The Discover software manager
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For people who want a lower level approach, the Synaptic package manager is included in BackSlash. Synaptic focuses on packages rather than applications. Synaptic can also install upgrades and manage repositories. I found that Synaptic, while its interface was less flashy, worked faster and did not require me to continually put in my password.
I explored running BackSlash in two test environments. I started by running the distribution in a VirtualBox virtual machine. BackSlash worked in the virtual environment and integrated with VirtualBox, allowing me to use my computer's full screen resolution. However, the desktop environment was very slow to respond in VirtualBox. I tried disabling visual effects, turned off some features and disabled file indexing, but the Plasma-based desktop was always too unresponsive to be practical in the virtual machine. When running BackSlash on a physical desktop computer, I had a slightly better experience. BackSlash properly worked with my hardware, audio and networking functioned out of the box and my screen was set to its full resolution. However, the desktop was still sluggish to respond. Applications opened faster and responded quicker when running on physical hardware, but I still experienced more than the usual amount of lag. In either environment, BackSlash used approximately 430MB of memory and 6.5GB of hard drive space.
BackSlash ships with a useful range of desktop software, some of it quite common, but there were a few surprises. Like many distributions, BackSlash ships with the Chromium web browser, the Thunderbird e-mail client and a remote desktop viewer. Network Manager is present to help us get on-line. Unlike most Linux distributions, BackSlash ships with the WPS productivity suite instead of the popular LibreOffice suite. The distribution also ships with GNOME Calendar to help us stay organized and the Okular PDF viewer. There is a tool for managing software sources, updates and third-party hardware drivers. For entertainment, BackSlash provides us with the VLC media player, the Musique audio player and Kodi Media Centre. We also have access to the Cheese webcam tool and the Minitube YouTube client. There is a simple image editor, KolourPaint, and an image viewer for browsing pictures. The default file manager is Dolphin.
BackSlash Linux Olaf -- Using Calendar and WPS Writer
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I found two text editors, Kate and the Vim editor, which would open in a virtual terminal. We are also given a system monitor, an archive manager and the Clam virus scanner. The distribution also ships with the Maps for GNOME application, giving us a Google Maps-like experience on our desktop. The GNU Compiler is installed for us if we wish to build software from source code. BackSlash uses systemd as its init implementation and runs on version 4.4.0 of the Linux kernel.
Earlier I mentioned that, during the initial install process, I opted to install third-party media support, including Flash. I found media codecs for playing music and videos were included in the distribution, but Flash support was not available by default when using the Chromium web browser.
BackSlash Linux Olaf -- The Maps application
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I ran into a few issues while using BackSlash's default programs. One was that Chromium would prompt me for my KDE Wallet password every time it launched. Since I do not use KDE Wallet, this was an unnecessary annoyance. The other problem I ran into was, in both test environments, the first time I opened the WPS word processor, the application immediately crashed. Future attempts to open WPS succeeded, but an error was always displayed stating "Some formula symbols might not be displayed correctly due to missing f..." I'm guessing the last word of that message should be "fonts". Despite this warning, WPS functioned well after the message was acknowledged.
One last quirk I ran into was sometimes the bottom desktop panel would be hidden behind windows and, other times, it would appear in front of windows. I noticed, for example, the launch panel always displayed over top of the VLC window, obscuring the controls.
BackSlash uses the KDE System Settings panel to manage the desktop environment and underlying system components. The configuration modules are generally presented in a clear manner and we can use a search box to help us pinpoint the specific controls we want to access from the many, many options Plasma offers. Most of these modules worked well and I find the Plasma configuration tools to be very powerful.
BackSlash Linux Olaf -- The settings panel
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Earlier I mentioned BackSlash sets us up with a default username and password. The documentation suggests we change the password, but does not mention how. Luckily, the System Settings panel can help us with that, using its Account Details module.
I ran into a few issues. For example, when turning off desktop effects and file indexing, the settings panel crashed on me. I was later able to relaunch the panel and make the changes I wanted without further problems. I ran into a snag when trying to set up my printer. The settings panel includes a printer module, but there was no option for automatically finding network printers. I had to manually provide the printer's address and protocol, which is something mainstream distributions tend to automate.
Though the project does not make any grand claims about their distribution's focus, I get the impression BackSlash is hoping to appeal to Linux newcomers. Specifically, I think the project is hoping to make macOS users feel at home, judging by the layout of the desktop and the unified menu in the top bar.
I felt having a default username and password is an unusual choice, but I can see how it simplifies things, both for the user and anyone performing technical support.
BackSlash Linux Olaf -- Browsing the web with Chromium
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While using BackSlash, I had two serious concerns. The first was with desktop performance. The Plasma-based desktop was not as responsive as I'm used to, in either test environment. Often times disabling effects or file indexing will improve the situation, but the desktop still lagged a bit for me. My other issue was the program crashes I experienced. The Discover software manager crashed on me several times, WPS crashed on start-up the first time on both machines, I lost the settings panel once along with my changes in progress. These problems make me think BackSlash's design may be appealing to newcomers, but I have concerns with the environment's stability.
Down the road, once the developers have a chance to iron out some issues and polish the interface, I think BackSlash might do well targeting former macOS users, much the same way Zorin OS tries to appeal to former Windows users. But first, I think the distribution needs to stabilize a bit and squash lingering stability bugs.
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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
BackSlash has a visitor supplied average rating of: 9.2/10 from 10 review(s).
Have you used BackSlash? You can leave your own review of the project on our ratings page.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
Mint makes reporting bugs easier, Canonical adds Wayland support to Mir, Debian experimenting with AppArmor
The Linux Mint team has announced they will be introducing a new bug reporting tool into future versions of the popular Linux Mint distribution. The utility, called mintReport, will help users by automatically collecting relevant data when an application crashes which will be useful when creating bug reports. "At the end of the last development cycle I mentioned the idea of a tool which would bring information to users and help them troubleshoot issues. This is an ambitious project and we're still not sure it will land in the next release, at least not fully. I say not fully because this tool received its codename (mintReport), because we started implementing it and because one of its features is now completely ready and will be shipped with Linux Mint 18.3. That feature is the gathering of crash reports. Using apport as a backend, a report is made whenever an application crashes. mintReport lists these reports and generates stack traces for them: Non-experienced users rarely know how to produce a stack trace and that information is crucial to developers when they're not able to reproduce a bug. This tool will make it much easier for anyone to produce these traces. It also suggests the installation of debugging symbols (-dbg packages) when these are missing and warns in case of mismatches." More details about mintReport and other changes coming to Linux Mint can be found in the project's September Monthly News report.
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Mir is a display server which can act as a replacement for the aging X display software. In recent months there has been talk of multiple desktop environments (including MATE and Yunit) using Mir as a display server, if Mir could be made to be compatible with the Wayland display protocol. This would avoid duplication of effort as each desktop environment could use Mir instead of developing its own Wayland implementation. Mir is now a step closer to being a functioning, Wayland-compatible display server with initial support for the Wayland protocol included in the code. Alan Griffiths explains: "What we are doing is teaching the Mir server library to talk Wayland in addition to its original client-server protocol. That's analogous to me learning to speak another language (such as Dutch). This is not anything like XMir or XWayland. Those are both implementations of an X11 server as a client of a Mir or Wayland. (Xmir is a client of a Mir server and XWayland is a client of a Wayland server.) They both introduce a third process that acts as a 'translator' between the client and server. The Wayland support is directly in the Mir server and doesn't rely on a translator. Mir's understanding of Wayland is going to start pretty limited (like my Dutch). At present it understands enough 'conversational Wayland' for a client to render content and for the server to composite it as a window. We need to teach it more 'verbs' (e.g. to support for the majority of window management requests) but there is a limited range of things that do work."
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To date the Debian project has held off enabling kernel-level mandatory access controls such as AppArmor. AppArmor, and related technologies like SELinux, are used by several mainstream Linux distributions, including Fedora, Ubuntu and openSUSE. AppArmor prevents hijacked or misbehaving programs from damaging or compromising the operating system by placing restrictions on processes beyond just what file-level permissions are able to accomplish. Following a proposal to enable AppArmor by default, it looks as though Debian's Testing and Unstable branches will use AppArmor for at least a year to allow the developers to test the affect AppArmor has on the distribution. If the trial is successful, AppArmor is expected to be enabled in the next Stable version of Debian.
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These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Opinion (by Jesse Smith)
The W3C, encrypted media and software freedom
Though this topic is not, strictly speaking, related to Linux or other open source operating systems, the following discussion is entangled with software freedoms and how the Internet is used. As such, I believe it affects all of our readers and deserves exploration.
The World Wide Web Consortium (better known as W3C) announced last Monday they had published Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) as a web standard. That probably sounds wordy and technical, not to mention abstract, so let's break it down.
The W3C basically sets the standards for the World Wide Web. Standards on the web are important because, without them, each web browser would display content completely differently, possibly using different tags or code. Standards create a common denominator so that, in theory at least, each web browser recognizes the same instructions and displays web pages approximately the same way. This makes it easier for publishers as they only need to create one version of their website, and it is easier for users because we only need one web browser to view any given page on the web. The components of the web all speak a unified set of languages, thanks to a set of standards.
Some of the latest standards, such as HTML5, allow web browsers to display video files without the help of insecure add-ons like Flash. These days we can simply visit a website like YouTube and start watching a video without downloading any add-ons. The code which displays HTML5 video content is open and can be audited for security issues and backdoors.
For the past several years, the W3C has been trying to get Digital Rights Management (DRM) inserted into the latest set of HTML5 standards for web pages. DRM allows media providers, such as Netflix, BBC and Disney, to encrypt their audio and video files so that a special key is needed to view the content. This means that only authorized media players would be able to download and display the content. Right now, if you use most web browsers to visit Netflix or other DRM-protected content providers, you will be prompted to install a third-party extension which will allow you to view the content. This is because the DRM code is not standard and not a core part of the web browser, the web browser needs an add-on in order to unlock the encrypted video.
With the W3C voting to make EME (a form a DRM) part of the web standard, they are essentially saying that the add-ons required to play protected media should become part of every standards-compliant web browser. This is problematic as DRM extensions are non-free. Their internal workings must be hidden and unauditable in order to keep the methods of decryption secret from the computer's user.
If you are interested in the open web and software freedom, this change should be very concerning. What the W3C has done is basically dictate that any standards compliant web browser must feature non-free, secret code. Code which developers cannot check for security flaws, for backdoors or for mistakes which could crash the web browser. These non-free pieces were previously add-ons which people could download as they wished, but most of us could ignore as they were not included in most browsers by default. Now, it looks as though most browsers will need to adopt the standard, forcing their users to run non-free software on their computers in order to browse the web.
The reasoning behind the new DRM standard is it allows media providers to do away with creating their own, separate, often insecure media players. We will no longer need to download Flash for one website and another extension for another website. There will be one, unified player that should work across all video-providing websites. This approach, the W3C claims, is more secure and more convenient. Neither argument holds up to scrutiny.
On the convenience side of things, it has always been trivially easy to install non-free extensions to play video. Anyone who visited older versions of YouTube, or a modern content provider like Netflix, has probably observed a notification bar or message saying "Click here to install media player." The user clicks, the player installs, the content plays. It's a very straight forward process.
On the security side of things, the W3C says having one central standard is better than multiple sites having their own, separate players. While it is true that each website having its own media player often leads to shoddy coding and poor security, the W3C's new standard is not better, it merely moves the problem. Instead of some people having insecure add-ons, each one different, requiring a different exploit from attackers, now everyone will have insecurity built directly into their browsers. Simply removing an insecure add-on to improve security will not be an option; the non-free code will be baked right into the web browser.
A third issue with this new standard is it overlooks an obvious option. In theory, media companies could simply use the existing, open, secure standards for transmitting video. YouTube does this already, no add-ons or DRM required. But most large media companies do not wish to use open standards and free software formats; they are worried people will copy their content if it's not encrypted. They want to make sure DRM is applied to all their media to make it harder to copy or alter. Having DRM built into the web will not actually make the media companies' content more secure, of course, just as DRM on DVDs did not prevent video sharing, but the media corporations insist on using DRM anyway.
At this point, with the new DRM standard published and the appeal against it already voted down, what can people who value software freedom do? Unfortunately our remaining options are limited. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) published an open letter against the W3C's decision and has resigned from the standards body in protest. I quote a part of the letter here:
You have to search long and hard to find an independent technologist who believes that DRM is possible, let alone a good idea. Yet, somewhere along the way, the business values of those outside the web got important enough, and the values of technologists who built it got disposable enough, that even the wise elders who make our standards voted for something they know to be a fool's errand.
The EFF has stated it will continue to fight against DRM in court to try to make the laws surrounding encrypted content less destructive. However, this only lessens the blow and does not protect the software freedoms of people browsing the web.
We believe they will regret that choice. Today, the W3C bequeaths a legally unauditable attack-surface to browsers used by billions of people. They give media companies the power to sue or intimidate away those who might re-purpose video for people with disabilities. They side against the archivists who are scrambling to preserve the public record of our era.
At this point it looks like people who value software freedom and an open web have just three options remaining. The first is to file a complaint with the W3C and ask them to reverse their decision. The appeal against baking DRM into the web failed, but perhaps enough protesters can get a vote to repeal the new web standard.
A second option is to boycott web browsers which implement the new, non-free standard. If Safari, Chromium and other mainstream browsers implement non-free code, we should avoid them and promote free software browsers which do not include non-free blobs by default. We can also petition distributions to patch out the non-free parts of otherwise open web browsers. If Firefox includes a non-free decryption module Linux distributions should remove it as part of their build process.
Finally, we should support organizations, such as the EFF, who are actively fighting in favour of software freedom and an open Internet. We should also avoid using websites which provide DRM-protected media. DRM is not good for anyone - it causes more hassles for the user, does not successfully block content piracy and it now introduces security risks for all of us - it should be avoided as much as possible.
|Released Last Week
Endian Firewall 3.2.4
Endian has announced the release of Endian Firewall 3.2.4, an updated build in the 3.2 series of the project's CentOS-based Linux distribution for firewall and routers: "The Endian team is proud to announce an updated image for the 3.2 release. Check out the new release today by downloading the latest ISO image. If you already have an installed community with at least a 3.2.0beta1 version you could just register and run the updates. The registration procedure is much easier now - follow the initial wizard and just with an email address you can keep the system updated. Don't forget to give us a feedback or report the bugs to JIRA. Here's a short list of changes compared to the latest 3.2.2 released ISO image: updated Squid to 3.5.25; updated Dnsmasq to 2.76; updated OpenVPN to 2.4.3; security improvements to certificates management and OpenVPN; extended support for hardware raid; extended support for network interfaces; security fixes; added hourly graphs. No need to say, this new image includes a lot of improvements and bug fixes as well." Here is the brief release announcement.
Kali Linux 2017.2
Kali Linux is a Debian-based distribution with a collection of security and forensics tools. The project's latest version, Kali Linux 2017.2, introduces a number of new security and penetration tools, as well as package updates from Debian's Testing branch. "In addition to all of the standard security and package updates that come to us via Debian Testing, we have also added more than a dozen new tools to the repositories, a few of which are listed below. There are some really nice additions so we encourage you to 'apt install' the ones that pique your interest and check them out. hurl - a useful little hexadecimal and URL encoder/decoder; phishery - phishery lets you inject SSL-enabled basic auth phishing URLs into a .docx Word document; ssh-audit - an SSH server auditor that checks for encryption types, banners, compression, and more; apt2 - an Automated Penetration Testing Toolkit that runs its own scans or imports results from various scanners, and takes action on them..." A complete list of new utilities and their functions can be found in the project's release announcement.
Kali Linux 2017.2 -- Running the GNOME desktop
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Jim Dean has announced the release of Korora 26, a brand-new version of the project's desktop-oriented Linux distribution based on Fedora, but with many user-friendly enhancements: "The Korora project is pleased to announce the release of version 26 (code name 'Bloat') which is now available for download. Korora 26 continues the tradition of having code names based on characters from 'Finding Nemo'. Existing Korora users can upgrade to 26 'Bloat', see our upgrade guide. Features: Cinnamon 3.4 - this new release of Cinnamon includes lots of refinements to the popular desktop environment; GNOME 3.24 brings a number of new features to the GNOME desktop including the new Night Light setting which reduces eye strain; KDE Plasma 5.10 gains a new default desktop view and improvements to the Task Manager among a long list of improvements; MATE 1.18 - this release completes the migration to GTK+ 3 but also includes many new features; Xfce 4.12 - this release mainly focused on polishing the desktop and improving the user experience in various ways." Read the full release announcement for more details.
NuTyX is a French Linux distribution (with multi-language supporti) built from Linux From Scratch and Beyond Linux From Scratch, with a custom package manager called "cards". The NuTyX project has released a maintenance update, version 9.1, for the distribution's 9.x series. "The NuTyX team is please to annonce the 9.1 release of NuTyX. NuTyX 9.1 comes with kernel LTS 4.9.23, glibc 2.25, GCC 6.3.0, binutils 2.28, Python 3.6.0, xorg-server 1.19.2, Qt 5.8.0, Plasma 5.9.4, kf5 5.31.0, GNOME 3.22.2, MATE 1.18.0, Xfce4 4.12.3, Firefox 54.0.1, etc. New ISOs are available in 32-bits and 64-bits. Sizes are respectively 246MB and 247MB. This is a maintenance release of the 9.0 branche of NuTyX. It is possible to make an upgrade of your system without problems. There's no need to reinstall your NuTyX. If the automatic upgrade process is activate, it will be done at next shutdown." Additional information can be found on the project's News page.
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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: 579
- Total data uploaded: 15.7TB
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
User interfaces for GNU/Linux mobile devices
This year there has been a lot of talk about developing GNU/Linux operating systems for mobile phones. The UBports team is expanding on Canonical's port of Ubuntu for mobile devices and Purism is working on a phone that should run Linux distributions with possibly both the GNOME and KDE mobile interfaces available.
This week we would like to find out which desktop interface you would most like to use on your smart phone. Do you like the flexibility of KDE software, the touch-friendly layout of GNOME or the convergence style of Unity/Yunit?
You can see the results of our previous poll on configuring software using a control panel verses editing text files in last week's edition. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
User interfaces for GNU/Linux mobile devices
|I prefer GNOME: ||446 (31%)|
| I prefer KDE Plasma: ||455 (32%)|
| I prefer Unity/Yunit: ||152 (11%)|
| Other: ||388 (27%)|
The Periodic Table Of Linux Distros
The Linux family of distributions is large, varied and complex. There are hundreds of Linux distributions in the world, many of them with close ties to other projects and it can be difficult to keep track of the relationships between distributions.
One DistroWatch reader has organized the list of active Linux distributions into a table, similar to The Periodic Table Of Elements. This creation, called The Periodic Table Of Linux Distros, groups Linux distributions together based on their origins. Families of distributions are grouped together by colour and ranked based on DistroWatch's page hit ranking. The table is published here with permission:
The Periodic Table Of Linux Distros
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Distributions added to waiting list
- EGOS. EGOS is a Linux distribution based on Linux Mint featuring the Xfce desktop environment. The distribution is intended to be used by children and has an unusual installation process which requires the use of Systemback to install the project's 6GB download image.
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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, 2 October 2017. Past articles and reviews can be found through our Article Search page. To contact the authors please send e-mail to:
- Jesse Smith (feedback, questions and suggestions: distribution reviews/submissions, questions and answers, tips and tricks)
- Ladislav Bodnar (feedback, questions, donations, comments)
- Bruce Patterson (podcast)
If you've enjoyed this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly, please consider sending us a tip.
(Tips this week: 0, value: US$0.00)
|Linux Foundation Training
|• Issue 746 (2018-01-15): deepin 15.5, openSUSE's YaST improvements, new Ubuntu 17.10 media, details on Spectre and Meltdown bugs|
|• Issue 745 (2018-01-08): GhostBSD 11.1, Linspire and Freespire return, wide-spread CPU bugs patched, adding AppImage launchers to the application menu|
|• Issue 744 (2018-01-01): MX Linux 17, Ubuntu pulls media over BIOS bug, PureOS gets endorsed by the FSF, openSUSE plays with kernel boot splash screens|
|• Issue 743 (2017-12-18): Daphile 17.09, tools for rescuing files, Fedora Modular Server delayed, Sparky adds ARM support, Slax to better support wireless networking|
|• Issue 742 (2017-12-11): heads 0.3.1, improvements coming to Tails, Void tutorials, Ubuntu phasing out Python 2, manipulating images from the command line|
|• Issue 741 (2017-12-04): Pop!_OS 17.10, openSUSE Tumbleweed snapshots, installing Q4OS on a Windows partition, using the at command|
|• Issue 740 (2017-11-27): Artix Linux, Unity spin of Ubuntu, Nitrux swaps Snaps for AppImage, getting better battery life on Linux|
|• Issue 739 (2017-11-20): Fedora 27, cross-distro software ports, Ubuntu on Samsung phones, Red Hat supports ARM, Parabola continues 32-bit support|
|• Issue 738 (2017-11-13): SparkyLinux 5.1, rumours about spyware, Slax considers init software, Arch drops 32-bit packages, overview of LineageOS|
|• Issue 737 (2017-11-06): BeeFree OS 18.1.2, quick tips to fix common problems, Slax returning, Solus plans MATE and software management improvements|
|• Issue 736 (2017-10-30): Ubuntu 17.10, "what if" security questions, Linux Mint to support Flatpak, NetBSD kernel memory protection|
|• Issue 735 (2017-10-23): ArchLabs Minimo, building software with Ravenports, WPA security patch, Parabola creates OpenRC spin|
|• Issue 734 (2017-10-16): Star 1.0.1, running the Linux-libre kernel, Ubuntu MATE experiments with snaps, Debian releases new install media, Purism reaches funding goal|
|• Issue 733 (2017-10-09): KaOS 2017.09, 32-bit prematurely obsoleted, Qubes security features, IPFire updates Apache|
|• Issue 732 (2017-10-02): ClonOS, reducing Snap package size, Ubuntu dropping 32-bit Desktop, partitioning disks for ZFS|
|• Issue 731 (2017-09-25): BackSlash Linux Olaf, W3C adding DRM to web standards, Wayland support arrives in Mir, Debian experimenting with AppArmor|
|• Issue 730 (2017-09-18): Mageia 6, running a completely free OS, HAMMER2 file system in DragonFly BSD's installer, Manjaro to ship pre-installed on laptops|
|• Issue 729 (2017-09-11): Parabola GNU/Linux-libre, running Plex Media Server on a Raspberry Pi, Tails feature roadmap, a cross-platform ports build system|
|• Issue 728 (2017-09-04): Nitrux 1.0.2, SUSE creates new community repository, remote desktop tools for GNOME on Wayland, using Void source packages|
|• Issue 727 (2017-08-28): Cucumber Linux 1.0, using Flatpak vs Snap, GNOME previews Settings panel, SUSE reaffirms commitment to Btrfs|
|• Issue 726 (2017-08-21): Redcore Linux 1706, Solus adds Snap support, KaOS getting hardened kernel, rolling releases and BSD|
|• Issue 725 (2017-08-14): openSUSE 42.3, Debian considers Flatpak for backports, changes coming to Ubuntu 17.10, the state of gaming on Linux|
|• Issue 724 (2017-08-07): SwagArch 2017.06, Myths about Unity, Mir and Ubuntu Touch, Manjaro OpenRC becomes its own distro, Debian debates future of live ISOs|
|• Issue 723 (2017-07-31): UBOS 11, transferring packages between systems, Ubuntu MATE's HUD, GNUstep releases first update in seven years|
|• Issue 722 (2017-07-24): Calculate Linux 17.6, logging sudo usage, Remix OS discontinued, interview with Chris Lamb, Debian 9.1 released|
|• Issue 721 (2017-07-17): Fedora 26, finding source based distributions, installing DragonFly BSD using Orca, Yunit packages ported to Ubuntu 16.04|
|• Issue 720 (2017-07-10): Peppermint OS 8, gathering system information with osquery, new features coming to openSUSE, Tails fixes networking bug|
|• Issue 719 (2017-07-03): Manjaro 17.0.2, tracking ISO files, Ubuntu MATE unveils new features, Qubes tests Admin API, Fedora's Atomic Host gets new life cycle|
|• Issue 718 (2017-06-26): Debian 9, support for older hardware, Debian updates live media, Ubuntu's new networking tool, openSUSE gains MP3 support|
|• Issue 717 (2017-06-19): SharkLinux, combining commands in the shell, Debian 9 flavours released, OpenBSD improving kernel security, UBports releases first OTA update|
|• Issue 716 (2017-06-12): Slackel 7.0, Ubuntu working with GNOME on HiDPI, openSUSE 42.3 using rolling development model, exploring kernel blobs|
|• Issue 715 (2017-06-05): Devuan 1.0.0, answering questions on systemd, Linux Mint plans 18.2 beta, Yunit/Unity 8 ported to Debian|
|• Issue 714 (2017-05-29): Void, enabling Wake-on-LAN, Solus packages KDE, Debian 9 release date, Ubuntu automated bug reports|
|• Issue 713 (2017-05-22): ROSA Fresh R9, Fedora's new networking features, FreeBSD's Quarterly Report, UBports opens app store, Parsix to shut down, SELinux overview|
|• Issue 712 (2017-05-15): NixOS 17.03, Alpha Litebook running elementary OS, Canonical considers going public, Solus improves Bluetooth support|
|• Issue 711 (2017-05-08): 4MLinux 21.0, checking file system fragmentation, new Mint and Haiku features, pfSense roadmap, OpenBSD offers first syspatch updates|
|• Issue 710 (2017-05-01): TrueOS 2017-02-22, Debian ported to RISC-V, Halium to unify mobile GNU/Linux, Anbox runs Android apps on GNU/Linux, using ZFS on the root file system|
|• Issue 709 (2017-04-24): Ubuntu 17.04, Korora testing new software manager, Ubuntu migrates to Wayland, running Nix package manager on alternative distributions|
|• Issue 708 (2017-04-17): Maui Linux 17.03, Snaps run on Fedora, Void adopts Flatpak, running Android apps on GNU/Linux, Debian elects Project Leader|
|• Issue 707 (2017-04-10): PCLinuxOS 2017.03, Canonical stops Unity development, OpenBSD on a Raspberry Pi, setting up a VPN for privacy|
|• Issue 706 (2017-04-03): Super Grub2 Disk, Snap packages of deepin applications, Subgraph OS routes network traffic for one application, announcements from Linux Mint|
|• Issue 705 (2017-03-27): Minimal Linux Live, sharing control of the operating system, new KaOS features, Uplos32 provides 32-bit fork of PCLinuxOS|
|• Issue 704 (2017-03-20): ToarusOS 1.0.4, Linux Mint's security record, Debian starts Project Leader election, Ubuntu 12.04 reaches end-of-life|
|• Issue 703 (2017-03-13): SolydXK 201701, CloudReady, Solus announces new features, KDE Connect sends text messages from desktop, openSUSE's YaST module for Let's Encrypt|
|• Issue 702 (2017-03-06): Fatdog64 Linux, elementary OS bundled with new netbook, Haiku announces new features, security and the size of a distro's development team|
|• Issue 701 (2017-02-27): OBRevenge 2017.02, Mageia 6 delays, NetBSD reproducible builds, questions about swap space, trying to steam video on a Raspberry Pi|
|• Issue 700 (2017-02-20): RaspBSD, Debian replaces Icedove with Thunderbird, Fedora's licensing guidlines, tips for switching shells, finding battery charge, getting IP address and killing processes|
|• Issue 699 (2017-02-13): Clear Linux, GhostBSD network utility ported to FreeBSD, Ubuntu coming to Fairphone, elementary OS crowd funding an app store|
|• Issue 698 (2017-02-06): Solus 2017.01.01, comparing containers with portable applicatins, Tails dropping 32-bit support, Debian Stretch enters freeze|
|• Issue 697 (2017-01-30): Subgraph OS 2016.12.30, running Ubuntu on an Android phone, Arch Linux phasing out 32-bit support, Linux Mint testing updated LMDE media|
|• Issue 696 (2017-01-23): GoboLinux 016, remotely running desktop applications, Solus adopting Flatpak, KDE neon using Calamares, TrueOS tests OpenRC|
|• Issue 695 (2017-01-16): Zorin OS 12, Peppermint team fixes installer bug, Debian refreshes Jessie media, Ubuntu improves low graphics mode, Exciting things coming in 2017|
|• Full list of all issues|
|Random Distribution |
BlackRhino GNU/Linux was a free Debian-based GNU/Linux software distribution for the Sony PlayStation 2. It contains over 1,200 software packages to aid in using and creating programs for the Sony PlayStation 2 Linux kit. The programs range in functionality from simple games, to text editors, compilers, web servers, windowing systems, database systems, graphics packages, mail servers and a variety of other tools and utilities. The software distribution was created by xRhino for a commercial Sony PlayStation 2 title. It was released in the hopes that the distribution will help hobbyists create their own games and applications that utilize the advanced programmable hardware of the PS2.