| 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: 9.4/10 from 13 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)
|Linux Foundation Training
|Reader Comments • Jump to last comment
1 • Periodic Table of Distros (by David Hartigan on 2017-09-25 01:27:56 GMT from Australia) |
I love the Periodic Table of Distros, that'd make a very nice wallpaper!
2 • @1 Periodic Table (by Bill S on 2017-09-25 02:44:12 GMT from United States)
Yes, nice wallpaper. But for a moment I thought it was the start of that old Breakout game! lol
3 • Linux distros: clear download: colored, labelled, logical. (by Greg Zeng on 2017-09-25 02:58:16 GMT from Australia)
Google Images led to many versions of the above chart. This seems the most logical.
4 • Korora (by stalled man on 2017-09-25 03:02:51 GMT from Australia)
Korora codename "Bloat". I love their sense of humour!
5 • Table Omissions (by Winchester on 2017-09-25 03:17:41 GMT from United States)
Slackel , SliTAZ, ArchBox , PALDO , AV Linux ..... some of the best distributions out there which actually serve a purpose.
Not included in the table. Maybe due to being underrated / popularity level as opposed to quality level??
Contrast the above distributions against BackSlash Linux which just seems to be a poor man's NetRunner / Maui / KDE Neon type of distribution only made to appear more like a MacOS system in its theme.
6 • Correction (by Winchester on 2017-09-25 03:31:15 GMT from United States)
SliTAZ is actually on the table but,not the others mentioned above ..... and I didn't see Clear Linux on there either. Clear OS .... yes but Clear Linux .... didn't see it on the table.
7 • Periodic Table of Distros (by Terry on 2017-09-25 03:35:07 GMT from United States)
Very creative! To be 100 percent complete, it would be nice to see all the active linux distributions listed on the table. That would be something!!!!
8 • backslash (by Hoos on 2017-09-25 05:11:18 GMT from Singapore)
" ...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."
Sounds a little questionable that a distro using the Ubiquity installer would deliberately choose to change the installation process that way. Does the distro inform the user they should change the password as soon as practicable?
9 • W3C obviously bought by Hollywood (by Gerald Morris on 2017-09-25 06:05:44 GMT from United States)
This latest degeneration of the W3C demonstrates how Big Capital AGAIN has bought another body once dedicated to protecting computing freedom, at least in theory. MANDATING that browsers MUST roll DRM filth into their code violates the privacy and security of every web browser on the planet, in principle. So Big Media intends too.
To ultimately prevail against this cabal requires dedicated, disciplined resistance. Folk should reject all corrupted browsers; refusing to permit them on their hardware, period. Don't buy corrupted systems, or surf websites which comply with the W3C. Since Big Media often pays advertising money to websites based on how many hits, this can adversely effect their ill gotten profits.
10 • Omissions (by ptyerman on 2017-09-25 07:19:11 GMT from Germany)
No Linux Lite mentioned in the Ubuntu section either. With all the missing distro's in this table, it's FAR from complete!
11 • @9 (by Juan on 2017-09-25 08:53:24 GMT from Brazil)
DRM=closed web (not open) or web killer. :(
12 • DRM Extensions must be non-free? Nonsense! (by luvr on 2017-09-25 09:30:34 GMT from Belgium)
So, we are supposed to take it at face value that DRM extensions MUST be non-free because otherwise, the encryption that they require cannot be made "secure"?
That's just a gigantic load of bullcrap! Ignoring the fact that DRM is, by definition, "Digital Restrictions Malware" and doesn't work anyway, there's no reason why encryption couldn't be handled by freely verifiable code (not to say "Free Software") whatsoever. Otherwise, things like the Belgian eID Software modules (see "https://eid.belgium.be") could not be implemented as they are.
Paranoiacs like the the media industry mogols don't deserve our trust. I just hope that, even if browsers may be forced to include the Digital Restrictions Malware extensions in future, they will continue to allow users to disable them--in a SIMPLE and straightforward way.
13 • Wrong opinion poll (by OstroL on 2017-09-25 10:01:18 GMT from Poland)
Its a wrong opinion poll. There is no way to say, I prefer Unity, but don't prefer Yunit. Should I care for "Yunit?"
14 • Linux lite (by davidnotcoulthard on 2017-09-25 10:22:37 GMT from Indonesia)
@10 Linux Lite is in the 3rd period, part of the *Debian* section
15 • DRM (by Mike W. on 2017-09-25 12:06:39 GMT from )
We should always use Restrictions for the R in DRM to make it clear to everyone, not just those of us technically aware of what they want to do to us.
I am sure DRM will be eventually be used to keep us from seeing the source code we need to eliminate intrusive overlays and loud sounds used by some advertisers. Ad blocking and even blocking cookies that track us across the web may be threatened.
We have already seen the flash cookies that can't be deleted by clearing them in the browser. I am sure they will work on cross site cookies hidden from us by the Digital Restrictions Manager.
16 • Which browsers will remain DRM-free? (by curious on 2017-09-25 12:10:48 GMT from Germany)
Another victory for the MAFIAA.
So which browsers will remain uncorrupted?
For *real* security reasons, I wouldn't like to have to freeze my browser version and completely stop updating. (Although I got tired of the Firefox rat-race ages ago...)
17 • Pale Moon is EME-free (by a on 2017-09-25 12:19:32 GMT from France)
I switched to Pale Moon a few weeks ago because I was tired of Mozilla making Firefox worse and worse at almost every update, requiring a growing number of addons to fix it… Addons that would stop working in the near future!
I’m glad to read that Pale Moon’s authors are anti-DRM and do not plan to implement EME, at the end of this page: https://www.palemoon.org/survey2017/
"out of principle as well as our users' desire, we will keep the browser completely free of DRM"
18 • Wayland tweaked Mir (by cykodrone on 2017-09-25 13:21:39 GMT from Canada)
Instead of Canonical getting behind Wayland like everybody else is, they're trying to avoid egg on their face (wasting time and money developing a proprietary graphics server) by slapping baind-aids on Mir to play nice with Wayland. Then they wonder why people are leaving them in droves, one bad decision after another. Sometimes I wonder if Red Hat and Canonical are in a race to see who can be the MS of the Linux world. smh
19 • Periodic Table (by DaveW on 2017-09-25 13:22:19 GMT from United States)
I do like the table. However, it does have at least three duplicate symbols: An, Ge, Sa.
20 • Mir (by dragonmouth on 2017-09-25 13:39:34 GMT from United States)
Why "teach Mir to talk to Wayland" instead of adopting Wayland itself???
21 • DRM (by Jesse on 2017-09-25 13:43:27 GMT from Canada)
@12: >> "So, we are supposed to take it at face value that DRM extensions MUST be non-free because otherwise, the encryption that they require cannot be made "secure"? ... there's no reason why encryption couldn't be handled by freely verifiable code"
Yes, DRM must be non-free. The reason is the module doing the decryption of media must have some secrets in order to be able to perform its decryption without the user knowing how it works. This means that either the decryption process or the decryption key must be kept secret, typically both, because if you have one you can work out the other.
DRM is the answer to the question: How do we give someone an encrypted message and let them decode it without giving them the decryption key? To do that, you have to be able to hide the key. To hide the key, you need to hide how it is acquired/used. This requires the method be closed. If the DRM code was open, I could just edit one line and tell my player to print out its decryption key after its loaded into memory.
22 • Options and Mir (by Jesse on 2017-09-25 13:50:19 GMT from Canada)
>> "There is no way to say, I prefer Unity, but don't prefer Yunit."
Yunit is Unity, they are the same code. Yunit is the continuation of Unity.
>> Why "teach Mir to talk to Wayland" instead of adopting Wayland itself?
Wayland is not an implementation, it is a protocol. Mir is both the name of a piece of software AND a protocol. Teaching the Mir software to speak Wayland is easier and faster than writing a Wayland implementation from scratch. This way lots of projects can use Mir as a Wayland implementation rather than each desktop writing its own implementation of Wayland. It is a big resource saver.
>> they're trying to avoid egg on their face (wasting time and money developing a proprietary graphics server) by slapping baind-aids on Mir"
Mir is not proprietary.
23 • Periodic Table (by Foo2foo on 2017-09-25 14:56:27 GMT from United States)
The table has incorrect dates for many Distros and leaves out a lot of huge distros simply because it uses Distrowatch's ranking. While Distrowatch's ranking system is about as good as we can get, it is not perfect, and a accurate table like this deserves some more work than website hits. The table should be based on forking presidence from the partner distro, importance of the distro in the Linux eco system, the amount of users and activity.
24 • review hardware (by PaulW on 2017-09-25 14:58:16 GMT from United States)
Jess FGS man that hardware should be a print spool trying to run modern stuff on decade old stuff kinda what should be expected. of course it doesn't run well in Vbox doesn't have the hardware for it. does the floppy and 4x cd work?
25 • DRM and W3C (by DaveW on 2017-09-25 15:36:51 GMT from United States)
I don't do any media streaming from sites like Netflix. Just stuff like MLB, NHL, and generic YouTube. Is this going to affect me?
Even if it doesn't, I do think the DRM decision is wrong.
26 • DRM and EME (by David on 2017-09-25 15:53:13 GMT from United Kingdom)
When I first heard of this I too was concerned, like Jesse, that "any standards compliant web browser must feature non-free, secret code". I've checked at W3C and this turns out to be NOT the case. They state that "EME standardizes only the discovery hooks, which don't contain any of the DRM itself" and EME "can be implemented in open source … since EME doesn't mandate any particular CDM implementations." Unless I've misunderstood, this means the secret code will still be downloaded, but when you run the content rather than when you install a plug-in. They also state that EME in browsers will be optional and capable of being disabled by the user: the format is part of the standard for HTML, but not the presence.
Are the protesters confusing DRM with EME? Are they panicking unnecessarily?
27 • DRM and EME (by Jesse on 2017-09-25 16:09:11 GMT from Canada)
I recommend going back and re-reading the document you linked to as I believe there is some misunderstanding here. To clear up a few things:
1. Your posts says EME can be implemented as open source. However, the W3C's document reads: "The EME API allows interaction in the browser with simple clear key decryption as well as complex DRM systems for high-value video....It is not possible to implement a fully functional EME in free software, due to the closed nature of the encryption required by DRM."
2. The secret code will be baked into compliant browsers, with (it seems) the option of adding on more DRM implementations later. Only one approach is mandated by the standard, but more add-on DRM can be added. Thsoe are the parts that will be downloaded separately.
3. The EME can be disabled by the user (at least in theory) but the code is still in the browser and still closed. Which means we cannot audit it.
4. You're correct that EME is not an HTML standard, but it is still a web standard. (Both EME and HTML are web standards by the W3C.) All W3C compliant browsers will need to implement EME.
28 • Favorite desktop environment... (by Bobbie Sellers on 2017-09-25 16:24:53 GMT from United States)
I voted for KDE's Plasma but not for Plasma 5 which is not finished.
My favorite was KDE's Desktop Environment 3.5.9 or
KDE Plasma 4.14.18 both of which werecompletely usable.
and polished like jewels.
I only have a slight hope that KDE, the people, will stop using terminals
and start using their own distribution as they develop the next version.
I assume they are using terminals because they leave so much out
of Plasmas 4 and Plasma 5 at initial releases. If they were using
KDE they would realize that the parts they have not replaced yet
are valuable and deal with the un-copyable digital task bar clock and the
missing plugin and extensions to the K editors which let one
insert files. It is easy enough to make a nice looking interface in
KDE Plasma 5 but it requires extra steps to get things done.
bliss- 11 years of KDE's desktop environment productivity
29 • The W3C, encrypted media and software freedom (by Tim on 2017-09-25 16:33:43 GMT from United States)
Kudos for you excellent article on the new proposal. It gives me a better understanding of the issues.
I, for one (of many, I hope), wish to maintain software freedom. Dou you think it is probable that there will be new, fully free browsers that bypass this mess?
30 • DRM (by Victor Nikolaev on 2017-09-25 16:33:59 GMT from United States)
Thank you Jesse for the great "Opinion" part! Very important for everybody to understand what is going on with web standards. Even the father of WWW has betrayed his creation in this process. Looks like appeals were not considered at all, there is no intent to even release the information on who voted for and against the DRM in HTML5, no transparency ever happen in this process. Very, very sad!
31 • Free browsers (by Jesse on 2017-09-25 16:44:46 GMT from Canada)
>> " Do you think it is probable that there will be new, fully free browsers that bypass this mess?"
Probably. GNU already has a Firefox fork called, if memory serves, IceCat. And Debian maintained their own fork of Firefox called Iceweasel for years. I suspect most of the pro-free distributions will ship completely libre forks of Firefox if the browser implements EME.
32 • framing (by dogma on 2017-09-25 16:56:31 GMT from United States)
We have to be careful with words. Note that Jesse is accepting the framing of DRM "protection".
33 • @22 I stand corrected (by cykodrone on 2017-09-25 19:24:16 GMT from Canada)
You are right, Mir is NOT proprietary, just heavily supported and used by Canonical and Ubuntu. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mir_(software)
34 • @ 22 Unity (by adamek on 2017-09-25 20:01:19 GMT from United States)
"Yunit is Unity, they are the same code. Yunit is the continuation of Unity."
I don't think so. Unity is still available Ubuntu 14.04, 16.04, 17.04 and in 17.10 development repos. Its still Ubuntu, and Ubuntu had not thrown it away, so Yunit can't be a continuation of it. Not like Mageia being one of the continuations of Mandriva.
Unity code is open source, so can be copied. But, not a continuation.
Ubuntu is still discussed in at Ubuntu Forums here, https://ubuntuforums.org/forumdisplay.php?f=427 and there are at least 2 Ubuntu 17.10 Unity live installable isos created by Ubuntu users. You can find them in this thread; https://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2372237
35 • Yunit and Unity (by Jesse on 2017-09-25 20:10:29 GMT from Canada)
@34: "I don't think so. Unity is still available Ubuntu 14.04, 16.04, 17.04 and in 17.10 development repos."
You are talking about Unity 7, I am talking about Unity 8 and Yunit. Unity 7 runs on desktops only and does not run on mobile devices, which is why it is not mentioned in the poll. Yunit is the continuation of Unity 8 which Canonical stopped working on back in April. Unity 8 is the desktop interface used by Ubuntu Touch devices and Yunit is what the project is called now that it is no longer maintained by Canonical.
On a side note, packages are not dropped from old repositories when they are no longer supported. They are static and left in place.
36 • SubGraph (by Dave Postles on 2017-09-25 20:14:55 GMT from United Kingdom)
Does anyone have any comments on this iteration?
37 • Opinion on the DRM Future of Internet ! (by EqUiN0x_CoD3r on 2017-09-25 21:33:14 GMT from Greece)
As far as I know about close-source softwares and Browsers Independency of over the Web.
W3C must reconsider the fact that Online Business should control how his content is displayed in order to preserve their privacy and copyrights and made a standard an non-secure protocol is putting not just newbies in danger, is putting ALL in danger.
Today you approve the DRM standard, tomorrow my dear friend X021m find the decryption key with some debugging and Wireshark to able to compromise the encryption system but found a buffer overflow and is exploitable and is capable to run remote code on user browser at user-level. This could give a very powerful tool to not just security research, black hat hackers, it will give to entire internet, Advertiser companies, Government companies and the most dark places of the net access to our entire technology life.
I thing that W3C must learn that if business wants get encryption, must first learn to code, because make an web standard something that is entirely out of subject ( because a common media player is out of subject ) is just break the philosophy of the Internet developed by ARPANET on his start.
Remember something, if you make this an Standard only will make developers create new ways to fight against an censored internet and YOU KNOW THAT ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE WHEN YOU CODE !!!
38 • Periodic Table - How ordered? (by James on 2017-09-25 22:25:42 GMT from Australia)
How is the periodic table shown ordered? I thought it would be popularity amongst related distributions but no, it seems just a random ordered bunch within distro family.
39 • DRM (by denflen on 2017-09-26 01:50:18 GMT from United States)
Reading the article about DRM is about the most depressing thing to happen to the open software community since the onset of Microsoft's Secure Boot several years ago. I made it through that and hopefully will make it through this DRM crap, but Damn!! What's next?
40 • DRM (by qwerty1234 on 2017-09-26 10:48:04 GMT from United Kingdom)
The problems with the WWW aren't due to 'big capital', they're due to terrorists, paedophiles and other abusers. If this DRM helps remove them, I'm all for it.
41 • @40 It doesn't. (by curious on 2017-09-26 13:07:00 GMT from Germany)
This Digital Restriction Malware will do absolutely NOTHING to stop "terrorists, pedophiles and other abusers". It is not meant to.
DRM is ONLY there to prevent you from watching videos that you have (probably) already paid for *without* informing the provider that you are watching it. Its about the corporations in the MAFIAA controlling their users.
Terrorists don't want to rent out video files to you, so they will not be affected.
42 • Why no Xfce in the poll? (by Charles Burge on 2017-09-26 17:23:30 GMT from United States)
I thought the poll options were really incomplete, and I think that is reflected in the fact that 29% or respondents chose "other". It leaves me wondering how many of those "other" votes are from users, like me, who prefer Xfce.
43 • Periotiic Table for Distros (by Jordan on 2017-09-26 19:55:45 GMT from United States)
Wonderful idea. It's being picked apart a bit as to exacting, but it's a great start. It will improve with time I am sure!
44 • @42: (by dragonmouth on 2017-09-26 21:26:50 GMT from United States)
Is there XFCE version for mobile devices? If there isn't, that's why it was not included.
45 • Mobile UI poll & Periodic Table (by M.Z. on 2017-09-26 22:13:09 GMT from United States)
"Why no Xfce in the poll?"
The poll is specifically about mobile based versions of Linux DEs. To my knowledge the XFCE project has stuck totally with the traditional mouse based desktop environment & is staying away from touch based mobile interfaces. Has that changed? I checked the XFCE site & didn't notice anything.
You can see announcements for projects for KDE & Gnome on smart phones here:
It's also worth noting that KDE has an actual website dedicated to their mobile version & seems to have some solid experimental versions of their plasma mobile version working in videos there:
To me it seems like Gnome lost it's way on the desktop while trying to integrate mobile features that few users wanted into a hybrid of a mobile UI & a traditional desktop. They could theoretically be ahead in the mobile style User Interface; however, KDE has been showing me videos for what feels like a long time of actual mobile specific versions of their software. On top of that KDE seem to be going on what I find a more sensible route & re-using parts of their software while creating a new phone focused UI. Going that way means neither UI is deeply compromised for the sake of the other & both function well at their very different tasks. I think the KDE route is better than the Unity/Yunit route, & what little sense I get of a similar route from Gnome.
Anyway, that's my take on the mobile UI competition between KDE, Yunit, & Gnome, but I'm not sure what all the people selecting other are wanting in a Linux based mobile UI.
On the periodic table thing, did anyone else notice that Manjaro & Mageia are both using the Ma symbol? I think that needs some rethinking.
46 • DRM and EME (by Ian on 2017-09-26 22:19:57 GMT from United States)
From what I understood from the document linked in @26, the only requirement to meet the W3C standard is for a browser to implement EME with Clear Key, without mandating its support for any other DRM system, and Clear Key does not require any non-free code (see the section entitled 'EME in Open Source'). This would mean that one would still need binary blobs to decrypt certain types of DRM (such as that used by netflix), but that those blobs would not need to be shipped with the browser. Am I wrong?
47 • desktop interface on your smart phone (by mini-animal on 2017-09-27 07:17:35 GMT from Norway)
I would use Openbox, dmenu and dunst, with only tekstfile configs.
48 • About the phone interfaces… (by a on 2017-09-27 12:12:00 GMT from France)
Gnome: the developers are more concerned about breaking things regularly than making something useful and stable, so I don’t want that.
KDE: from my limited experience with it, I know that it is unstable (bugged) and unintuitive, so no.
Unity: the last time I tried it, I wasn’t even able to open a terminal or open the list of installed applications, so… no?
So I guess a smartphone GUI should be something else, but I don’t know what.
49 • Smart Phone Interface (by Winchester on 2017-09-27 12:45:15 GMT from United States)
Enlightenment seems as though it would be best suited for cellular phones and the like. E17 / E21.
50 • User interfaces for GNU/Linux mobile devices (by Geo. on 2017-09-27 13:19:23 GMT from Canada)
Glad mobile OS work is continuing. I think it's the key to GNU/Linux long term survival.
51 • Xfce is for mobile devices too (by debianxfce on 2017-09-28 01:03:04 GMT from Finland)
To @45, Xfce with the Whisker many is much more practical in a mobile device than different popup menus and swiping menus in current android phones. You can change the size of the whisker menu items so you can use that with a finger too. I have use Debian Xfce in a Tatung 10" tabletpc. No need for separate mobile version. Xfce uses less hardware resources than kde and gnome, Xfce is freely configurable and Xfce is stable. Xfce is the best.
52 • Keep Your Blobs to Yourself (by Arch Watcher 402563 on 2017-09-28 07:21:23 GMT from United States)
Actor-victims say pedos run Hollywood, famously the world capitol of smut. Browsers, bend over for ethical DRM profit extraction...
Browsers don't yet have baked-in pubkey crypto for webmail. But yay, here comes DRM. Browser devs have priorities. PLEASE CORPORATE CREEPS.
Movie addicts, have closed blobs or devices for moar. Why pollute web standards? You use Skype, a blob. You should make vid calls on qTox or RetroShare, but it's your choice. Why do you insist on turning FOSS browsers into blob drops? Once DRM is everywhere, you'll be sorry. Look where it's going:
DRM + FOSS = nerd doublethink. Closed code propaganda fails. Picking one FOSS lib at random, just encrypt with a side-channel salt good for 6-12 hours.
"opmsg does not rely on a web-of-trust which in fact never really worked. Rather, due to ubiquious messenging, its much simpler today to verify the hashsum of the persona via additional communication paths. E.g. if you send the pubkey via plain mail, use SMS and twitter to distribute the hash, or send a picture/selfie with the hash and something that uniquely identifies you. Using two additional communication paths, which are unrelated to the path that you sent the key along, you have a high degree of trust."
53 • The Periodic Table Of Linux Distros (by Ilmar on 2017-09-28 07:35:13 GMT from Latvia)
Very gooooooooooooooooood idea! Respect to author!
54 • Linux for Mobile devices (by ShawnJ on 2017-09-28 17:12:19 GMT from United States)
I truly appreciate the fact that developers are developing a true Linux Distro for cellphones and tablets. What puts me off with the the listed UI choices, is that all of these environments have traditionally been very heavy, resource hogging DE's that, aside from Unity were developed primarily for desktop/ notebook users. Because tablets and cellphones have much tighter rescource requirements than desktop computers, I believe that something else should be developed.
The QT development toolkit can definately be used, as it was used previously on an OS that was developed by Nokia, and has also been used quite well with LXQT, but none of the suggested choices make sense to me.
55 • More on Mobile Linux UIs (by M.Z. on 2017-09-28 19:53:33 GMT from United States)
It seems to me like you are complaining mostly about the still experimental nature of the mobile versions of the projects you are talking about. I think we can all acknowledge that none of the projects are there yet on mobile & assume that the poll is more a question of what you'd be most interesting in seeing as a new open UI on a mobile platform, especially if it were given proper time to mature & stabilize. That being said Gnome does seem to break a lot between desktop releases, so I can see the hesitation there.
"...I have use Debian Xfce in a Tatung 10" tabletpc. No need for separate mobile version..."
I like the XFCE Whisker Menu too & quite a lot given how configurable, fast & easy it is. That being said & acknowledging that finding XFCE useful on a tablet is interesting, it still looks to me that you are advocating sticking a square peg into a round hole. Even if our hypothetical XFCE peg is so small (aka light on resources) that it can go into the hole, it will fall right through & land on it's face because it is meant to fit the desktop perfectly & has no previsions, or certainly none that I know of or anyone has pointed out, for taking over all the functions of a mobile UI. From what I have seen it looks like going from a desktop UI down to tablet, or going from a mobile UI up to a tablet, is easy & often creates a fairly useful & functional end result. It's trying to go from desktop down multiple levels to a phone, or doing the reverse for that matter, that tends to end quite badly.
"...What puts me off with the the listed UI choices, is that all of these environments have traditionally been very heavy..."
As per my link above, the KDE mobile project seems to be reusing as much of their software as possible while adapting it specifically for a mobile interface. That seems to be the right approach to me. I doubt I'll have any good devices to try KDE mobile on, but it looks like a good project that is very much tailored to the phone & not at all trying to put everything & the kitchen sink from KDE into a phone. Perhaps that's just my impression, but they certainly haven't tried to jam a whole desktop UI into a phone, so it seems likely that they are tailoring their components to meet the normal RAM & CPU requirements for a mobile device. Given how much they have already customized things to fit the phone in the intro vids I can't really see the argument that they wouldn't be sensitive to the resource constraints on a phone. That being said I could see KDE trying to target med to high end phones, because they certainly haven't gone after low end desktops since KDE 4 came out.
56 • A different but better simple. (by Theopoli on 2017-09-29 13:06:49 GMT from United States)
Have tried tested, installed, and run many Linux operating systems on Continuum mainframe computer, Relativity desktop computers, custom portable (bigger than laptop) computers, Laptop computers, Notebook computers, Tablets, and Mobile phones.
Discovered with over 30,000 distributions of LinuxOS (most are still classified by
the very industry that created them), but the mainstream still have over 4,000 distributions selections for their personal usage.
Epicyclan Processor Computers:
Quantum Adaptive Linux runs best on that Epic mainframe computer.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux runs best on that series of mainframe computers.
(Note many other distributions can also run on this architecture.)
The Intel Core i7-Ultra, Core i7-Extreme processors:
QubeOS, Korora, Chapeau, Fedora, Gentoo, Debian GNU/Linux, Sabayon, Bluestar, TAILS, Heads, Knoppix, and many other Linux distributions can run on these mainstream desktop computers.
The Intel Core i7, Core i5, Core i3 families along with the AMD multi core processors:
Can run most Linux distributions easily. An easy Linux distribution is Bella Linux which requires no updates (leaves the User alone,) and very easy to experiment, and become comfortable for daily use (former Microsoft Windows, MacOS-X, UNIX user.)
Laptops and Notebook computers:
There is presently attempts by the processor manufacturers to simplify their product lines to compete with the very efficient ARM processors. Doing this has made the processor less able to run the more feature heavy Linux, UNIX, and Windows v10 operating systems.
Computer manufacturers has gone out of their way to maximized profit without thinking about how a User will be able to run an operating system adequately.
Apple iphones and Android phones:
Believe the difference is that many if not all Tablets and cellular phones have a version of ARM processor or an revised one. Thus trying to run a full feature operating system designed for computer (CISC) processors instead of ARM (RISC) processors surely makes a mess.
Since most mainstream laptop and notebook computer processors have become energy efficient, probably now wise to design a new cellular phone with that four core (4x32bit) Intel Core i5 or Core i3 processor family to support all the mainstream desktop computer operating systems.
Since phone Users have the gift of "gab", may as well design a energy conversion method so that the human voice can be used to charge the lithium battery. Not that difficult.
Someone has already power their cellular phone on vegetables (a messy affair.)
Who said the User can not wear their vegetables to work.
Phone manufacturers went to simpler ARM (CISC) processors because they consume less energy. Having a phone with an ARM eight core (8x32bit CISC cores) is not the same as a desktop computer with an Intel or AMD (8x32bit RISC cores).
Some folks say they can make a Raspberry PI type of mini computer do anything.
There are no substitute for torque, horsepower, and quiescent threshold point value.
Keep it simple... that Raspberry Pi will go only so far. Users will necessarily "redesign"
their little "hobby test-board."
After using Linux for many years, I find Linux distributions with the Xfce desktop environment to be the best behaved and the most compatible with most mainstream computer hardware. Now maybe this is where the software community should focus their efforts to create a feature compatible LinuxOS for these ARM (CISC) cellular phones.
With that as experience in a year, then move on to having a truly great LinuxOS cellular phone that have "Holographic Projection", "Tunneling LASER", "Digital Capture Multi-Phasic Oscillascope", "Thermolathe", "Relativity Atmosphereic Forecasting", and "Human Biometric Measuring System for all five senses." This is why we use LinuxOS because all the hardware are supported (almost.) There must Linux running that 6 million dollar Fluke Meter. Maybe than the remainder of humanity can have fun when our life saving assignments are completed.
Tied of all the industry bickering among the principals.
No real hardware progress, just incremental creep.
While its true that first comes hardware, net comes firmware, and last come software.
Lets us not blame the software yet. Make certain that the hardware all is all functional,
not like the recent ARM, Intel, AMD "hardware bugs" problems.
Remember the Hewlett-Packard HP-40 calculator "Lookup Table" irk that gave false answers from the 1990s.
While "touch screens" invented by Hewlett-Packard are useful for most folks.
Then there are folks like me that have dry skin, no matter how many times the cellular phone screen is "swiped" the device responses very slow or not at all.
Therefore electrician's choice recording device is a laptop computer (with keyboard and mouse,) not a touch screen cellular phone.
LinuxOS has made it possible for the everyday user to "have it all", from GPS, drones, quantum computers, Schmidt-Cassigrain Cadiodioptric Telescopes, Lathes, CNC machines, HAM radio, Satellites, EMR devices, QMS devices, AWR devices, and many other industry specific hardware all working well together because of Linux.
Thank you Mr. Torvolds.
Thanks again to the Linux Development and Testing Community.
Ye hath madeth our lives easy.
57 • drm (by Walt on 2017-09-29 16:50:52 GMT from United States)
Have always considered drm to be digitally ruined media.
58 • Wrong direction, chaps! (by Basil Fernie on 2017-09-30 02:47:22 GMT from )
Why try to squeeze a desktop/laptop experience onto a mobile handset? Look, cellphones have ample resources (does your laptop have an octocore CPU?) apart from tiny touchscreen real estate. Why not get the guys who have decades of experience in designing UIs and user experiences for mobiles to tackle the job?
I refer of course to Jolla (ex-REAL Nokia) and their Sailfish OS. True Linux base, very slick UI, compatibility with most Android apps, intended to slide right onto quite a wide range of currently-using-Android phones/tablets (Sony Xperia X anyone?). Ready for ARM and x86-x64. Run a test in a VBox and report back. Take one of your less-used smart-phones and replace that Droid with a natural Sailfish. Let us know how it pans out.
Maybe, before you hit the Download button, you could take a look at
Bear in mind that Russia, understandably suspicious of software coming from the USA, have already signed with Jolla to make Sailfish their official OS for government devices. China looks likely to follow suit. That's the two biggest countries in the BRICS bloc blazing a Google-free, DRM-free trail.
59 • Sailfish OS (by a on 2017-09-30 13:28:54 GMT from France)
I went to sailfishos.org and couldn’t get any real information out of it. That web site is a disaster. Is it open-source or not? On what phones does it work? How can I get it? Information is very much hidden in a ton of marketing garbage.
60 • A Jolly Mess (by Kragle von Schnitzelbank on 2017-09-30 16:38:08 GMT from United States)
@59 Sailfish_OS, like its ancestor MeeGo, and Meego's ancestors Maemo and Moblin, may have Freed Open_Source at its core, but the rest is a patchwork of permissive FOSS, strict_socialist FOSS, and proprietary (UI, drivers, SDK, etc) software. Naturally, with extremism on all sides, it's a steep challenge for Jolla.
It's (mostly) Open_Source; that does not mean it's Freed - some open_source software is licensed proprietary. Think NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement).
Jolla does say they aspire to some sort of Freed Open_Source Software licensing … someday … at least acknowledging an unattained (and perhaps unattainable) ideal.
61 • Couldn't find the direction to save it's life (by M.Z. on 2017-09-30 19:38:07 GMT from United States)
"...Look, cellphones have ample resources (does your laptop have an octocore CPU?)..."
You're making some very bad assumptions based purely on the raw number of cores available. Do you have any performance benchmarks to indicate if one ARM processor core has speed closer to an old graphing calculator, or a modern 3.5GHz desktop CPU? It may be closer to the second as a rule, but there is nothing to say that 2 desktop cores couldn't way out gun 8 ARM cores on most every performance benchmark, though the ARM cores would likely do far better at doing lots of small tasks in parallel.
"...Why not get the guys who have decades of experience in designing UIs..."
I'm not sure how long their senior members have been around, but based on project longevity that part could easily describe the teams from either Gnome or KDE. Regardless I still think Gnome 3 is crap & MS made mistakes that I found similar with their Windows 8 UI that fell flat in the market. If MS can dominate the desktop market for decades & fall flat on it's face & Gnome can slide from years of being the top Linux desktop, (to what 3rd or fourth after KDE & XFCE?), then why assume experience means all that much?
It's also well worth noting that even the link you posted indicates the concerns about source code from #59 & 60 are very valid. Why advocate something with a closed UI? Is there any indication that the licensing is actually any better for the user than an Android phone? The fact is Droid runs on top of Linux as well & also contains a mixed bag of open & closed components, so if you want me to go to something else advocating anything less than a fully open alternative looks like a half measure that is beyond pointless to even try. I'm not digging into the licensing, so if it's not fully open Droid is the next best thing & has both market share & momentum already on it's side.
That being said it wouldn't take much to convince me that KDE or some other fully open mobile project was better licensed & had better privacy. I am interested, but I doubt anything that I really want is there yet & ready to go, so for now I would like to try one of the mobile focused projects in the future.
Number of Comments: 61
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