| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 734, 16 October 2017
Welcome to this year's 42nd issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
Last week our Opinion Poll explored the place of 32-bit operating systems in the open source ecosystem and whether it was worth the effort for developers to maintain 32-bit builds. This week we begin with a look at Star, a Devuan-based operating system which offers a variety of lightweight desktop environments. One of Star's editions is presented as a 32-bit build and we take the 32-bit build of Star for a test drive in our Feature Story. This week we also talk about installing a version of the Linux kernel that has the non-free components removed. In our News section we cover Ubuntu MATE experimenting with snap packages, Revenge OS seeking volunteers and the Purism organization reaching its funding goals for a privacy-oriented phone which will run GNU/Linux. We also cover the Debian project releasing new installation media. Plus we share the releases of the past week and list the torrents we are seeding. This week our Opinion Poll asks if you keep utility discs on hand to deal with operating system problems and data recovery. Finally, we are pleased to welcome the Artix Linux distribution to our database. We wish you all a wonderful week and happy reading!
- Review: Star 1.0.1 - lightweight desktops on a Devuan base
- News: Ubuntu MATE experiments with snaps, Revenge OS project seeking volunteers, Purism reaches funding goal, Debian releases fresh install media
- Tips and tricks: Running the Linux-libre kernel
- Released last week: OpenBSD 6.2, Q4OS 2.4, ExTiX 17.8
- Torrent corner: Debian, DragonFly BSD, ExTiX, GParted Live, OpenBSD, pfSense, Q4OS
- Upcoming releases: Ubuntu 17.10
- Opinion poll: Utility discs
- New additions: Artix Linux
- New distributions: Condres OS GNU/Linux, SimbiOS
- Reader comments
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Star 1.0.1 - lightweight desktops on a Devuan base
Star is a Devuan-based distribution designed to be run with lightweight desktop environments. The latest release of Star is based on Devuan 1.0.0 "Jessie" and is available in Xfce, Fluxbox, JWM, OpenBox, i3 and network-install editions. The ISO files for these editions range in size from 234MB (for the network-install option) up to 648MB for the Xfce edition, meaning each edition is small enough to fit on a CD. Most of the available ISO files are built for 64-bit x86 computers, but one of Star's newest editions runs the JWM graphical environment on a 32-bit operating system. The 32-bit JWM edition is 526MB in size and it is the one I selected for my trial.
Booting from the Star disc brings up a boot menu offering to launch the distribution's live desktop environment, launch a text-based installer or a graphical installer. Taking the live edition quickly brings up the minimal JWM environment. The window manager presents us with a mostly empty, black interface. At the top of the screen is a panel that holds the application menu, some quick-launch buttons, the task switcher and system tray. Displayed across the bottom of the screen is a status bar which provides a rough overview of our computer's CPU, memory and network resource usage. We can right-click on empty parts of the desktop to bring up an application menu.
We can launch Star's system installer from the application menu or from the live media's boot menu. I decided to use the graphical installer, which Star inherits from Devuan and, by extension, Debian. The installer has more steps in it than most modern installers, but the information it asks us for is mostly the same. We are asked to provide our location and preferred language. The installer gets us to create a password for the administrator's account and to create a username and password for our own, separate account. The system installer then walks us through partitioning our hard drive and can support either manual or guided partitioning. I like the guided option because it will give us a good default layout and then we have the option of tweaking the suggested partitions. Star's installer supports working with ext2/3/4, JFS, XFS and Btrfs partitions and I went with the recommended ext4. We are then asked to select a nearby package mirror from a list and given the option of installing the GRUB boot loader. When the installer finishes, we are returned to the JWM interface where we can continue to explore the live environment.
Star boots to a mostly blank screen that contains a box where we can type in our account's username and password. Once our credentials have been supplied we are signed into the JWM interface. The first time we sign in, a virtual terminal window opens and runs a welcome script. This script is called star-welcome and presents us with a short list of options the script will help us automate. We can select which options we want to run from a text menu. Some of the welcome screen's options are fairly clear and provide a way for us to update our package manager's information and install security upgrades. There are some other menu items which are not immediately clear; three of the options were labeled "office-print", "media-graphics" and "other". Selecting an option brings us a screen with a brief description of the option. For example, "office-print" gives us the options of installing LibreOffice and printer support. The "media-graphics" menu optionally installs the PulseAudio sound software and the GNU Image Manipulation Program while the "other" menu option installs Java on the operating system. Each option tells us what it will do and prompts for confirmation before proceeding so it is safe to select a menu item even if its label does not clearly explain its function.
Star 1.0.1 -- Running the Firefox web browser
(full image size: 113kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
Once I had finished browsing the welcome script, the virtual terminal closed and left me to explore the JWM interface. The default theme is dark, matching the default black background. The desktop interface is very responsive and simple with little clutter or distractions, apart from the status panel at the bottom of the display.
Star does not feature any method for letting us know when software updates are available. We can manually check for new security updates by launching the Synaptic package manager or by using the distribution's APT command line tools. I mostly used Synaptic, which takes a package-oriented approach to handling software. Synaptic also has convenient functions for installing all available software upgrades and managing (enabling and disabling) additional software repositories. When I began using Star, there were 18 new software updates available, totaling just 37MB in size. These updates were quickly and cleanly installed by Synaptic.
Star 1.0.1 -- Managing packages in Synaptic
(full image size: 119kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
While I was using Synaptic, I noticed that the distribution recognized a few third-party software repositories, such as one for the VirtualBox virtual machine software and another for the Chrome web browser. Enabling these repositories caused an error because the signing keys used to secure the repositories were not recognized. These keys need to be located and enabled separately by the administrator before the repositories can be used. This seems like a bug as the distribution should probably already recognize the keys for any repository available in its default configuration. In addition to these two repositories, Star is also compatible with Debian 8 "Jessie". This may be important for many users because Star, by default, does not provide non-free software packages and non-free items can be found in Debian's optional repositories.
I tried running Star in two test environments, on a laptop and in a VirtualBox virtual machine. I was pleased to find everything worked on the laptop. The system booted quickly, the desktop was responsive and the sound volume was set to a medium level. My laptop's screen was automatically set to its full resolution. The only quirk I ran into while using the laptop was Star disabled my wireless card by default. At first I thought the wireless card was missing a driver, but found I simply needed to toggle on wireless networking using the networking system tray applet.
When running Star inside VirtualBox the distribution performed well. The only issue I ran into in the virtual environment was Star was unable to use my computer's full screen resolution. There were no VirtualBox guest modules in the distribution's default software repositories. To get around this, I installed build tools (using Star's welcome script) and then install VirtualBox's generic guest modules. This allowed me to use my host system's full screen resolution.
Star 1.0.1 -- Adjusting desktop settings
(full image size: 126kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
In both test environments, Star was quick and light on resources. The distribution required just 70MB of RAM when logged into the JWM interface. A default installation of the distribution used about 1.3GB of disk space, relatively light compared to most distributions I have run recently.
Star is a distribution which is design to provide us with a minimal desktop environment where we can build and shape our operating system. However, there are a handful of common utilities included with the distribution. Firefox 45 ESR is featured (without Flash support). The MPV media player is installed for us along with the Xfburn disc burning software. The application menu features a short-cut for opening the ALSA audio volume controls, along with a link to the Htop process monitor and the GParted disk partition manager. The Mirage image viewer is included along with a PDF viewer, an archive manager, calculator and text editor. The system's default file manager is PCManFM.
The application menu also features a handful of entries that, when clicked, open JWM's configuration text files in an editor. This provides us with a way to manage the JWM environment and programs which run automatically when we login. Editing text files is not a user friendly approach, but I found it worked when I could find the option I wanted to change.
Digging further into Star's default software I found the project ships with SysV init and version 3.16 of the Linux kernel. The usual GNU command line utilities are included too, but beyond that we need to install the software we want to use on the system. For example, unlike most other Linux distributions, Star does not include the OpenSSH client software (ssh, sftp and scp) - these programs can be installed from Star's default repositories. In a similar manner, LibreOffice is not included in Star by default, but it is available through the package manager and through the welcome script. When I installed LibreOffice, the suite was not added to my application menu and I found I had to launch LibreOffice from the command line or from JWM's program launcher.
Star 1.0.1 -- Adjusting volume levels
(full image size: 159kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
I ran into one curious bug involving manual pages. Most Linux distributions include manual pages (often called man pages), though some omit the documentation to save space. Star includes the man command and entries for every command's manual page are included, but all of the manual pages are empty. (The files for each manual page are zero bytes in size.) This causes the man command to recognize program names we give to it, but man only ever displays a blank page.
One final problem I ran into concerned the MPV media player. When I tried to launch the player from either the application menu or command line, MPV would immediately crash. I was able to install other media players, such as Rhythmbox and VLC, to handle playing media files. In the VirtualBox environment I found VLC was unable to play video files and would crash if I tried to play a video. Audio files, however, would play successfully in VLC. This inability to play video files appears to be an issue specific to the VirtualBox environment. While desktop players consistently crashed when asked to play video files, I found I was able to play YouTube videos in the Firefox browser without any issues.
On the whole, I like the ideas presented in Star's design. The distribution is basically Devuan and pulls packages from Devuan's software repositories, but the live media and lightweight environments are great for testing the distribution and for breathing life into older computers. While this approach of starting light and adding only what we need is a solid concept, and proved to be very forgiving on resources, there are some rough edges in the implementation. The missing manual pages, for example, and the media player issues I ran into posed problems.
A few programs I used flashed warning messages letting me know PulseAudio was not available as Star uses the ALSA sound system by default. Strictly speaking, PulseAudio is not required most of the time and, if we do run into a situation where it is needed, we can install PulseAudio easily enough by rerunning Star's welcome script.
The default JWM environment is very plain and empty, which suited me. My only complaint was the constantly updating Conky status panel at the bottom of the screen. I was able to disable Conky, but it required digging into JWM's configuration files. Which brings me to another point: many users will probably prefer to try heavier editions of Star (like Xfce) to gain access to more user friendly configuration tools. The JWM edition is intentionally bare bones and probably best suited to more experienced users.
One last observation I had while using Star is that it is based on Devuan 1.0.0, which presents us with software that is about three years old (or more) at this point. This means some packages, like LibreOffice, are notably behind upstream versions. Since Star is best suited for older computers, this may not be an issue for most users, but it is worth keeping in mind that Star's software repository is a few years old at this point.
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Hardware used in this review
My physical test equipment for this review was a de-branded HP laptop with the following
- Processor: Intel i3 2.5GHz CPU
- Display: Intel integrated video
- Storage: Western Digital 700GB hard drive
- Memory: 6GB of RAM
- Wired network device: Realtek RTL8101E/RTL8102E PCI Express Fast
- Wireless network device: Realtek RTL8188EE Wireless network card
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Visitor supplied rating
Star has a visitor supplied average rating of: 9.7/10 from 13 review(s).
Have you used Star? You can leave your own review of the project on our ratings page.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
Ubuntu MATE experiments with snaps, Revenge OS project seeking volunteers, Purism reaches funding goal, Debian releases fresh install media
The Ubuntu MATE team is testing the concept of bundling snap packages in the default installation of the distribution. The developers have added a snap for the pulsemixer terminal-based volume control software and are asking users to test it. "The daily images of Ubuntu MATE 17.10 are now seeded with the pulsemixer snap. We encourage you to download the current daily image, install it and ensure pulsemixer works correctly. Pre-installing snaps by default in the desktop images was an outcome of the Ubuntu Rally that took place in New York a couple of weeks ago. Installing the pulsemixer snap by default in Ubuntu MATE 17.10 is being used as a pilot and what we learn will help the Ubuntu Desktop team with their efforts to ship snaps by default in Ubuntu 18.04. Adding pulsemixer to the default Ubuntu MATE 17.10 has not significantly affected the size of the ISO image. We chose pulsemixer because it is a small, useful application, that has never been available in the Debian or Ubuntu archives.
* * * * *
Revenge OS (previously called OBRevenge OS) is losing one of its core developers this week. Jody James announced he will be leaving the project, with developer Josiah staying on to maintain the distribution. "Due to personal/health issues, I am no longer going to be able to actively develop and maintain Revenge OS. I apologize for any issues that this causes anyone. I have not made this decision lightly, but I feel that I have no other choice. I am simply no longer able to devote the time and effort that the project, and the end users, deserve. My understanding is that Josiah is going to continue to maintain Revenge OS; however, I'm sure that he would appreciate any help that others in the community could offer." People who would like to get involved may wish to visit the Revenge OS GitHub page.
* * * * *
In August we reported on a fund raising campaign by Purism. The Purism organization was trying to raise 1.5 million dollars in order to fund a new mobile phone which would have several security and privacy features, along with the ability to run GNU/Linux distributions. The Purism campaign has completed with its funding goals surpassed. The company hopes to ship a GNU/Linux mobile device in early 2019. Both the GNOME and KDE organizations have stated they will be working with the Purism team to provide touch-friendly user interfaces for the new phones.
* * * * *
About a week after the Debian project released fresh installation media containing bug fixes since the launch of Debian 9, the project has provided a new set of install media. This rapid update fixes a minor bug where packages on the Debian ISO files were sorted in the wrong order. "After the 9.2.0 release was made and published, a bug was found with the sorting of packages in the full DVD, BD and DLBD sets. Due to a glitch on release day, popularity contest data was not available and this caused packages to be sorted incorrectly. This may seem like a comparatively minor issue, but it broke an important feature for some users. After the core set of packages needed for the installer, desktops, etc. are placed onto the first disc in a given set, we normally organise packages in order of decreasing popularity such that most users will typically never need to use more than the first 2 or 3 DVDs (for example). This bug broke that feature, meaning that even quite popular packages could have ended up on DVD#14 due to random sorting." People who have already successfully installed Debian do not need to download the new 9.2.1 disc images.
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These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Tips and Tricks (by Jesse Smith)
Running the Linux-libre kernel
Recently we posted a review of Parabola GNU/Linux-libre, a free software distribution which runs on the Linux-libre kernel. For those readers unfamiliar with what Linux-libre is and how it relates to the Linux kernel, the Free Software Foundation's website describes Linux-libre as follows:
Linux-libre is a free/libre version of the kernel Linux suitable for use with the GNU Operating System.
The Linux-libre kernel can be downloaded in various formats from the project's website. I want to quickly go over some of the options for installing the libre kernel. One way we can go is to download the Linux-libre source code and compile it from scratch. This should work on every GNU/Linux distribution that features a compiler and build tools, but it will be a lengthy process and may involve tweaking the kernel's configuration.
It removes non-free components from Linux, that are disguised as source code or distributed in separate files. It also disables run-time requests for non-free components, shipped separately or as part of Linux, and documentation pointing to them.
The GNU Linux-libre project takes a minimal-changes approach to cleaning up Linux, making no effort to substitute components that need to be removed with functionally equivalent free/libre ones.
Most people will probably be more comfortable using pre-built binary packages. The Linux-libre project offers pre-built kernels for distributions which use Deb and RPM package formats. I had a copy of the Fedora distribution (version 26) installed while I was writing this and decided to follow Linux-libre's instructions for installing their kernel on an RPM-based system.
Even when taking the easy route by installing a kernel that has been pre-built for us, there are still several steps and I will walk through them bit-by-bit.
The first step is to set up the Linux-libre repository. On Fedora we can do this by downloading the new software repository's signing key and then enabling the repository. Working from the command line, enabling the repository looks like this:
sudo rpm --import http://linux-libre.fsfla.org/pub/linux-libre/SIGNING-KEY.linux-libre
The next step is optional. We can try to install a package called freed-ora-freedom which will conflict with known non-free components on the operating system. This will let us know if our Fedora system has any non-free packages installed and, if so, what their names are. Any non-free components will show up as conflicts to the freed-ora-freedom package.
sudo rpm -i http://linux-libre.fsfla.org/pub/linux-libre/freed-ora/freed-ora-release.noarch.rpm
sudo dnf install freed-ora-freedom
In my case, my relatively new copy of Fedora had 23 non-free firmware packages installed, which I removed.
sudo dnf --allowerasing install freed-ora-freedom
Next, we can install the Linux-libre kernel and its modules.
sudo dnf install kernel-libre perf-libre
Once the new, libre kernel has been installed, I recommend rebooting and confirming we can boot into the new kernel. I found when I rebooted, the new, libre kernel had been made my default boot option. Once we know it works, we can remove the old, non-free kernel using the following command. This command is potentially dangerous as it removes the old kernel and therefore, if something goes wrong with the libre kernel, the system will not boot anymore. It might be best to skip this step.
sudo dnf remove kernel-core\* kernel-modules\*
At this point you are running a libre kernel and the non-free packages have been removed from the system.
I tested the above commands on Fedora 26 and they worked for me. These are a little different than the instructions on the Linux-libre website, for two reasons. First, I think the website tries to be more generic, geared toward working across multiple RPM-based distributions. Second, the instructions on the website are a bit older and use Fedora's legacy yum package manager instead of the more modern dnf. However, the results should be the same, using either this guide or the Linux-libre instructions.
I noticed almost no difference between using one kernel and the other. The only significant change was the removal of firmware needed for Intel wireless cards, which would have been a problem on my laptop, but not on the desktop machine I was using.
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More tips can be found in our Tips and Tricks archive.
|Released Last Week
OpenBSD is a lightweight operating system designed with code correctness and security in mind. The project has released OpenBSD 6.2 which features many new drivers, particularly for the ARM architecture, and network packet handling performance improvements. Some key features have been added to the system installer too, including checking for security updates on the system's first boot: "Installer improvements: The installer now uses the Allotment Routing Table (ART). A unique kernel is now created by the installer to boot from after install/upgrade. On release installs of architectures supported by syspatch, "syspatch -c" is now added to rc.firsttime. Backwards compatibility code to support the 'rtsol' keyword in hostname.if(5) has been removed. The install.site and upgrade.site scripts are now executed at the end of the install/upgrade process. More detailed information is shown to identify disks. The IPv6 default router selection has been fixed. On the amd64 platform, AES-NI is used if present." Further information on OpenBSD 6.2 can be found in the project's release notes.
Q4OS is a lightweight Linux distribution based on Debian and featuring the Trinity desktop environment. The distribution has released a new stable branch, Q4OS 2.4, based on Debian 9 Stretch. The release announcement states: "We are proud to announce the immediate availability of the brand new stable Q4OS 2.4 version codenamed 'Scorpion'. This is a long-term support LTS release, to be supported for at least five years with security patches and software updates. Q4OS Scorpion is based on Debian Stretch 9.2 and Trinity 14.0.5 desktop environment and it is available for 64-bit and 32-bit/i686 PAE computers, as well as i386 systems without PAE extension. We are working hard to release Q4OS Scorpion editions for 64-bit and 32-bit ARM architectures as soon as possible. Q4OS offers its own exclusive utilities and features, especially the 'Desktop profiler' for profiling your computer into different professional working tools, 'Setup utility' for the smooth installation of third-party applications, a 'Welcome Screen' with several integrated short-cuts to make system configuration easier for novice users, KDE5, Xfce, LXDE, Cinnamon and LXQt alternative environments installation option and many more." Q4OS is available in Live and Install editions.
ExTiX is an Ubuntu-basd distribution featuring up to date software and a modern, custom kernel. The project's latest release, ExTiX 17.8, features the LXQt desktop environment. "ExTiX 17.8 LXQt DVD 64-bit is based on Debian 9 Stretch and Ubuntu 17.10 Artful Aardvark, to be released 171019. The original system includes the desktop environment GNOME. After removing GNOME I have installed LXQt 0.11.1. LXQt is the Qt port and the upcoming version of LXDE, the Lightweight Desktop Environment. It is the product of the merge between the LXDE-Qt and the Razor-qt projects: A lightweight, modular, blazing-fast and user-friendly desktop environment. The system language is English. Used kernel: my special kernel 4.13.0-15-exton corresponding kernel.org's stable kernel 4.13.4." Information on the tools which ship in ExTiX 17.8 and some of this version's key featres can be found in the project's release announcement.
ExTiX 17.8 -- Running the LXQt desktop
(full image size: 1.3MB, resolution: 1920x1080 pixels)
pfSense is a free, open source customized distribution of FreeBSD specifically tailored for use as a firewall and router that is entirely managed via web interface. Jim Pingle has announced the release of pfSense 2.4.0 which uses FreeBSD 11.1 as the base operating system and supports running on ZFS. "We are excited to announce the release of pfSense software version 2.4, now available for new installations and upgrades! pfSense software version 2.4.0 was a herculean effort! It is the culmination of 18 months of hard work by Netgate and community contributors, with over 290 items resolved. According to git, 671 files were changed with a total 1,651,680 lines added, and 185,727 lines deleted. Most of those added lines are from translated strings for multiple language support!" The 32-bit build of pfSense is no longer available in the 2.4 series. The release announcement offers further information.
* * * * *
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: 602
- Total data uploaded: 16.1TB
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Many Linux distributions are designed to be used to perform a specific task such as data recovery, cloning disks or testing network connections. These distributions are not intended for day-to-day use, but rather to perform a system administrative function and then get put back on the shelf.
This week we would like to find out how many of our readers keep copies of utility discs for distributions like Clonezilla Live, Parted Magic and GParted. Do you have a utility disc or USB drive on your shelf, waiting to recover your data? Let us know which tools you have copies of in the comments.
You can see the results of our previous poll on maintaining 32-bit distributions in last week's edition. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
|I have a utility disc/USB: ||581 (30%)|
| I have multiple utility discs/USBs: ||957 (50%)|
| I do not have any utility discs/USBs: ||367 (19%)|
New projects added to database
Artix Linux is a fork (or continuation as an autonomous project) of the Arch-OpenRC and Manjaro-OpenRC projects. Artix Linux offers a lightweight, rolling-release operating system featuring the OpenRC init software. Three editions of Artix are available, a minimal Base system, an edition featuring the i3 window manager and an edition which runs the LXQt desktop.
Artix Linux 2017.08.08 -- Running the LXQt desktop
(full image size: 1.1MB, resolution: resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
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Distributions added to waiting list
- Condres OS GNU/Linux. Condres OS is a Linux-based operating system which features a stripped down GNOME desktop environment and the ICE site specific web browser.
- SimbiOS. SimbiOS is a Debian-based Linux distribution featuring the GNOME desktop.
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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, 23 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: 2, value: US$7.00)
|Linux Foundation Training
|Reader Comments • Jump to last comment
1 • Star 32-bit review (by Mike Cebula on 2017-10-16 00:55:38 GMT from United States) |
You tested on a machine with a i3 processor and 6G of memory? "Since Star is best suited for older computers,..."
What I would consider an 'older computer' is something like a P4 with 512M or 700M of memory. Then the test would give me a little better idea of its performance.
2 • utility disks (by Mike W on 2017-10-16 01:09:55 GMT from France)
I have Clonezilla and GParted and sometimes I'll get System Rescue CD. The tools seem to overlap and there isn't really anything new going on lately. When Windows users call for help I may download the latest Kaspersky or other ISO to scan for their viruses.
I also try various live distros on USB while hoping one will support the mediatek wireless AC in the TP-Link T2U.
3 • Star 32bit review (by edcoolio on 2017-10-16 01:19:19 GMT from United States)
Agree with @1, 100%
If Distrowatch is going to test distros that are obviously designed for old equipment resurrection, it would be helpful if it was tested on old, cheap, equipment. CPU and GPU usage on these old devices is also just as important (if not more so) as RAM use, which seems to be left out of reviews for these distros.
As an aside, in my experience, users of older computers tend to max them out or at least tweak them to keep them useful for as long as possible.
For example, and old Pentium M laptop can be upgraded to 2.0 GHz+. Add a MSATA to PATA 2.5" adapter, a used 16GB drive, and max out the RAM. Next thing you know, for under $35, someone can reuse an old box for modern web browsing while helping keep the landfills free of e-waste.
The reason this is important is simple: Money. I hear a lot of "helpful" individuals giving advice which essentially boils down to "have more disposable income". That is just not fair nor is it the point of FOSS.
Either way, the review of Star is much appreciated - I'm going to load it up tonight on an old test laptop and give it a shot!
4 • Star 32 (by Manuel Garcia on 2017-10-16 01:23:20 GMT from Spain)
I tested Star 32 on my old desktop HP Pavillion AMD (year 2001) with 228 Mb RAM with multiboot Windows XP - Debian 8 lxde and it runs OK with a similar performance as old debian 7 lxde.
This very old computer is connected ethernet for torrenting music, series and movies. Browsing with opera 12 and dillo.
(On my new brand laptop i5 - 8gb ram - I prefer Arch Linux plasma + Fedora 27 beta)
5 • Utility Discs (by Terry Rosinski on 2017-10-16 01:30:32 GMT from United States)
I use Clonezilla a lot for lots of backups and restores. Gparted for for deleting partitions or moving partitions. Agree with@2 on not much going on and a lot of overlap with utilities.
I have even been using Hirens CD 15.2 which has tons of utilizes for practically any use or need but could use some updates and there seems to be no further updates...seems to have stopped. Nevertheless still is quite useful and find myself using it weekly.
Lately I see a Linux program utility out there all All-In-One System Rescue tool kit. It has both Linux and Windows utilities built in it and is designed for PC Techs in particular
6 • Star Linux and supposedly old hardware. (by Rev_Don on 2017-10-16 01:57:44 GMT from United States)
I agree with @1 and @3 but take it one step further. i3 tells us very little about the hardware used. Even stating 2.5Ghz doesn't help. It's like saying it's a Corvetter which has been in production since 1953 with 7 generations. The first gen i3 was released in 2010 with newer models released about once per year. By not stating which i3 we don't know if it's an older 1st gen from 2010 or a 7th gen from this year. It's this type of shoddy reporting/reviewing that makes it next to impossible to gain any relevant information from many reviews. It's also something that Jesse has been guilty of and I (and others) have called out on for years. He got better for awhile, but it seems that he has decided to slip back to his old incomplete reviewing style.
7 • Star Linux (by argent on 2017-10-16 02:48:42 GMT from United States)
Why would Jessie Smith do a review on a Window manager he knows little about? JWM is much like Openbox, Fluxbox where either you edit the menu file or use the editor like in Openbox or Fluxbox.
Personally use the identical Star welcome-screen and really confused what is difficult to understand "Office-print" would have something to do with office applications and printer support. Yes, any new applications will NOT appear magically in the menu.
Star along with many dozens of minimalist distributions are not bloated "do it for me" distros like Ubuntu and packed with everything including the kitchen sink. Using a small, fast distribution is something many Linux users prefer, lacking the bloat and slow as a stuffed pig.
Been with Linux and Debian/Devuan over the last ten years, not once have I kept a single wallpaper that came with any distro, nuff said.
Poor review, he should done a review on Xfce, and had his socks blown off with Star as he wanted it.
8 • Utility disks... (by tom joad on 2017-10-16 02:55:10 GMT from Hungary)
Yes, I have several mostly on USB drives on my key chain. These disks or whatever you might want to call them were a nice find when I started with Linux way back when. Windows doesn't seem to have much that compares to them that is as 'cost effective.'
I use Parted Magic, System Rescue and Back Box mostly. True there is some overlap but there is also a good deal that is unique to each as well. Every one of them has gotten me out of a tight spot one time or another.
My main go to is Parted Magic though. I have that one CD and USB. I also back up old copies of all of them just in case.
9 • Utility discs (by Philip Charles on 2017-10-16 03:03:41 GMT from New Zealand)
System Rescue CD - saved my bacon on many occasions with gparted and copying from dying HDDs etc. Super Grub - untangled multi-boot systems which had got confused.
10 • Utility Disks (by Rev_Don on 2017-10-16 03:14:12 GMT from United States)
I keep several Utility USBs and a couple on CD. Parted Magic, Clonezilla, Knoppix, System Rescue CD, UBCD, and Ubuntu Mate on a multi boot USB drive are my main ones (I keep 3 or 4 of them handy).
11 • Utility USB (by v2 on 2017-10-16 03:55:36 GMT from United States)
I use multisystem with a 64GB USB drive. It lets me boot live Linux distros and Windows 7,8.1 and 10 installers, Android x86 plus the common utilities like (w)ubcd, partedmagic and g4l all from one stick. Lifesaver many times over plus a great demo/installer for various distributions.
Multisystem is available at...
Liveusb.info (in French)
12 • Why utility disks? (by M. Edward (Ed) Borasky on 2017-10-16 03:59:37 GMT from United States)
I'm not sure there's much need for utility disks any more. Pretty much every distro has install media with enough on them to rescue a system, and most of them have a full live desktop CD/DVD/USB.
13 • Utility Disks in Linux, to arrive one day? (by Greg Zeng on 2017-10-16 04:09:24 GMT from Australia)
My preferred "rescue application" is the live version of a good Linux distribution, with a selection of Linux booting kernels to trial at boot-time (via a Grub-customizer-type application). If you examine my expert requirements, there is no such Linux application, nor standard Linux distribution that meets expert needs.
Three particular rescue applications are mentioned: (1) Clonezilla Live, (2) Gparted Live & (3) Parted Magic. None of the three have GKREL, UNETBOOTIN, any form of "Grub-customizer", nor well known web browser. Only Gparted Live has a proper text processor, proper file manager. None have GDMAP, which gives a colored GUI map of large files on any partition.
http://distrowatch.com/dwres.php?resource=compare-packages&firstlist=clonezilla&secondlist=partedmagic... tells me that (3) is inscrutable: "Unable to find full package file for this release." When I examine the ISO without installation, its contents remain invisible.
14 • Utility Disks (by Simon Wainscott-Plaistowe on 2017-10-16 04:53:28 GMT from New Zealand)
I have the All-in-One System Rescue Toolkit (AiO-SRT) on two USB drives, one formatted MBR and one GPT (this because the MBR drive won't boot on some machines in UEFI mode). And I've been known to use Falcon Four's Ultimate Boot CD on occasion. Other than that, all I need is my Linux Mint live USB.
15 • Utility Disks (by ptyerman on 2017-10-16 06:21:13 GMT from Germany)
Agree with @1 and @3, I run several old boxes from a Pentium 120 to a AMD Athlon XP 3.2, and everything in-between. The old Pentium and Pentium II/III boxes are primarily used for DOS and Windows 98 gaming but I do like keeping a Linux dual boot on them for more constructive work.
I use several utility disks/USB, Clonezilla, Gparted, UBCD, Hiren's boot CD and a few more.
Hiren's boot CD got progressively more sparse with each release, the main reason I think is because the earlier versions contained some commercial software and they were probably told to stop distributing it. I use 10.6 mainly as it has the most useful software on it, I also use the 11.1 and 15.2 releases on occasion depending what I'm doing. The later ones do boot a little better on newer hardware.
The old releases are still available but not from Hiren's website, you will find them by doing a internet search with your favorite search engine.
16 • Utility Disks (by Chris Whelan on 2017-10-16 07:02:50 GMT from United Kingdom)
I've been a long-time user of Parted Magic, and have continued to use it after the developer introduced a small charge. I keep a copy on a tiny USB pen drive on my key ring for those occasions when visiting friends, and they say 'Oh, whilst you are here could you...'!
17 • Re: 13 • Utility Disks in Linux, to arrive one day? (by adrian15 on 2017-10-16 07:26:49 GMT from Spain)
> My preferred "rescue application" is the live version of a good Linux distribution, with a selection of Linux booting kernels to trial at boot-time (via a Grub-customizer-type application). If you examine my expert requirements, there is no such Linux application, nor standard Linux distribution that meets expert needs.
You happen to be describing what Super Grub2 Disk does.
It presents you a dynamic generated Grub menu with your different installed distros kernels.
Give it a try.
Later on if you want to reinstall one one of your distros specific grubs you can use grub-install /dev/sda or Rescatux live cd.
18 • Utility Disks - MX Workbench respin (by Hoos on 2017-10-16 07:39:15 GMT from Singapore)
MX Linux has a community respin called Workbench for various utilities. Comes in 32 or 64-bit versions, and has the great live-USB abilities of antiX/MX. The utilities/tools that show up in the auto-opened Launcher window all run automatically in root.
"This respin is meant to be a “Swiss Army” kind of tool for Sysadmins and also as a showcase for how easy is to customize and remaster MX Linux (here all the credit goes to BitJam and his wonderful Live tools). The idea is that a user would write this to a flashdrive and then customize it further by using Persistency and Remaster, and even create a new ISO for backup, distribution, or copy on another flashdrive.
GUI Tools (or tools available in the GUI Launcher):
-Disk Management: gparted, clonezilla, gsmartcontrol, baobab, disk-manager, qt4-fsarchiver, nwipe, testdisk
-GRUB Boot Functions: mx-bootrepair, grub-customizer
-File Management: mc, xfburn, freefilesync, grsync, file-roller, gftp, meld
-File Recovery: photorec
-Network: ceni, wireshark, zenmap, linssid, mx-findshares
-Live USB Tools, mx-snapshot, mx-remastercc, live-usb-maker-gui
-Misc.: blockout2, geany, terminal
(categories and tools are listed alphabetically in the Launcher)
CLI Tools: chkrootkit, chntpw, clamav, dcfldd, dtrx, dvtm, fping, iputils-arping, iputils-ping, iputils-tracepath, lynx, nmap, rkhunter, screen, telnet, vim, w3m "
More information and ideas on this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwLz2vLc_qg
19 • Star 32-bit review (by OstroL on 2017-10-16 09:18:06 GMT from Poland)
"You tested on a machine with a i3 processor and 6G of memory? "Since Star is best suited for older computers,..."
What I would consider an 'older computer' is something like a P4 with 512M or 700M of memory. Then the test would give me a little better idea of its performance."
Wrong way of thinking. Such distros would work with much older computers, while they'd fly with newer computers. Just because the newer distros have too much bloat doesn't mean those distros without that bloat are bad for newer computers.
Its said that RAM is cheap these days, so its not a problem that such heavy stuff like Gnome (1.1GB at idling) can work. Some say memory not used is wasted memory, but memory used is used electricity too. So, why not a distro that starts at 200MB, rather than 1200MB? A faster, newer computer would benefit from such a fast distro, wouldn't it?
20 • Utility Disks - Rescatux (by adrian15 on 2017-10-16 09:18:42 GMT from Spain)
I'll take this opportunity to talk about one of my projects: Rescatux . It might sound to you as spam but actually it's not well known in the FLOSS community, probably because last stable version was from 2012.
As Distrowatch says: Rescatux is a Debian-based GNU/Linux live distribution that includes a graphical wizard for rescuing broken GNU/Linux installations. The available rescue options include restoring the GRUB bootloader after a Windows installation, Linux and Windows password resets, and Linux file system checks.
Here are some of this graphical wizard features that you might be missing by not knowing it:
* Boot options:
- Update UEFI order
- Create a new UEFI Boot entry
- UEFI Partition Status
- Fake Microsoft Windows UEFI
- Hide Microsoft Windows UEFI
- Reinstall Microsoft Windows EFI
- Check UEFI Boot
* GRUB options:
- Easy GNU/Linux Boot Fix
- Restore GRUB and GRUB2
- Update any GRUB2 menues
- Update Debian/Ubuntu grub menues
* Windows options:
- Restore Windows MBR
- Clear Windows passwords
- Promote a Windows user to Administrator role
- Reinstall Microsoft Windows EFI
- Unlock Windows user
* Password options:
- Change Gnu/Linux Password
- Regenerate sudoers file
- Clear Windows passwords
* Filesystem options:
- File System Check (Forced Fix)
* Support options:
- Show log
- Share log
- Share log on forum
- Boot Info Script
* Expert tools:
- boot-repair 3.199
- Gparted 0.12
- os-uninstaller 3.199
- clean-ubiquity 3.199
- testdisk 6.13
* CLI Programs:
- Gpart 0.1h-11+b1
- extundelete 0.2.0
I'm currently working on converting Rescapp on a proper Debian package. Once it's done I'll fix some of the Rescatux bugs and I'll release it as an stable version (Hopefully, I have been saying something similar for the last four years).
21 • Re: 18 • Utility Disks - MX Workbench respin (by adrian15 on 2017-10-16 09:24:50 GMT from Spain)
It's nice that there is new work on the rescue utilities area.
Although Parted Magic covers many professional IT related tasks I don't happen to like it too much because of the custom license they have on their programs which I'm not skilled enough to know if it's GPL2 compatible or not.
I think I once took a look at mx-bootrepair to see if there was something that I could reuse for Rescatux but I don't remember I found anything useful.
Anyway... as I said it's welcome!
22 • Utility disks (by fatmac on 2017-10-16 09:32:10 GMT from United Kingdom)
I don't keep a specific utility disk, but I always have my distro live install media around if anything goes adrift with my installations, so don't need anything else.
23 • linux for a really old computer (by janusz on 2017-10-16 09:47:45 GMT from Poland)
2 years ago I wanted to try out a few "lightweight" distros on my Toshiba laptop manufatured in 2000. I tried Puppy, Knoppix and a few of those calling themselves "lightweight". The laptop has some 400 MB RAM and a pentium processor (original operating system windows 98). Actually, only windows xp is able to give the user a full desktop experience there - ability to use an old firefox version, ms office and libre office, watch movies and listen to music, use thunderbird and have updated antivirus installed. In fact, xp needs a minimum of 50MB RAM!!! So speaking about PC relics, any linux distro today is too modern and resource hungry to provide a comparable to xp user experience on a really, really old computer. In fact, does anyone know a distro providing a full featured gui desktop and requiring only 50 MB RAM?
24 • Utility discs (by Kazlu on 2017-10-16 09:56:31 GMT from France)
Like #12, I have never had a need that wasn't covered by a standard live distro, so I don't bother with specialised utility disks. I tried Clonezilla once, not a fan. I just keep the CD/DVD/USB I used for installing my distro in the first place and that is sufficient. As long as there is Gparted, a terminal emulator and a file manager, 90% of my rescue needs are covered. The rest can still be installed from the distro repositories on the live distro (well, provided you can get online of course). So for me, MX and Antix are ag good a utility disk as there is. I also keep Puppy and Slitaz, quite handy.
25 • @23 linux for a really old computer (by Kazlu on 2017-10-16 10:20:32 GMT from France)
I have been keeping a Pentium III machine with 512MB RAM running for several years and from my experience, the operating system is rarely the limiting issue. Applications are. Forefox itself has become too hungry and unusable, as you must have experienced yourself since you want to use old Firefox versions. Here are my advices for an old computer:
- Stay away from Ubuntu and derivatives, even Lubuntu is too hungry, it's update manager lags a lot...
- Antix is a good candidate, full featured with an idle desktop requiring 70-90MB RAM.
- Use alternatives to huge applications. Instead of an old Firefox, I suggest Qupzilla, it really does wonders and is way more stable than Midori.
Finally: "does anyone know a distro providing a full featured gui desktop and requiring only 50 MB RAM?"
Try SliTaz. Even the Live version can be configured to run with very low RAM. I don't remember the RAM used by an idle desktop, but have a look at:
- http://doc.slitaz.org/en:handbook:installation ("SliTaz core LiveCD expands to 80 MB, so we suggest a minimum of 120 MB of free space")
- http://doc.slitaz.org/en:handbook:livecd (with the "config" kernel parameter, you can "mount an ISO image on /usr to save memory and boot the LiveCD on computers with only 32 Mb of RAM").
26 • Utility disks (by jymm on 2017-10-16 10:35:03 GMT from United States)
I keep a copy of Boot Repair disk and Parted Magic. More for helping friends and family than for myself.
27 • Utility disks (by TheTKS on 2017-10-16 10:46:02 GMT from Canada)
Otherwise the utilities on a Puppy, TinyCore or a live DVD, although I use Puppy regularly as general-use distro, too.
28 • browsers on old computers (by Mark E on 2017-10-16 11:02:47 GMT from United Kingdom)
Agree about browsers.
My old Acer 3810TZ is running Mint XFCE and I was using Firefox but it was getting painfully slow.
I find Midori is good but not all websites work on it.
Vivaldi works very well though, is fast and has essentially given the computer a new lease of life! I haven't checked how much RAM it uses though.
29 • @25 linux for a really old computer (by Janusz on 2017-10-16 11:13:35 GMT from Poland)
Thanks a lot for your suggestions. And I fully agree as to the applications. I'll try Antix and SliTaz out when I'll have some idle time (I had a very good experience with MEPIS and MX Linux on a regular new computer though).
30 • Live CD for utilities (by Sebastian on 2017-10-16 11:52:29 GMT from Germany)
I use Debian as my only OS and I use a Linux Mint live DVD for all administrative tasks that I couldn't perform when Debian is running.
31 • Utility Disc/USB-Drive (by LiuYan on 2017-10-16 12:02:14 GMT from China)
I created my own Multi Boot Live USB using syslinux.
For rescue purpose, I'll prefer SystemRescueCD, because
(1) it has GParted & CloneZilla, so you don't need two separated discs.
(2) the console automatically logged in as root, which I like this -- no need to do sudo cr*p.
I also use Live CD/USB of some distributions to rescue their own installation.
32 • "linux for a really old computer" ^23, janusz (by Dojnow on 2017-10-16 12:28:29 GMT from Bulgaria)
LXQt ~ 65 MB. Openbox only ~40 MB.
If you prefer minimal distributions the Debian mini.iso from http://ftp.debian.org/debian/dists/stretch/main/installer-amd64/current/images/netboot/ or /installer-i386/ (cp mini.iso /dev/sdX;sync) is the match - choose "Advanced options" > "Expert install"; Go directly to "Detect network hardware"; You can choose stable, testing or sid (unstable). For modules in initrd choose "targeted". Skip "Select and install software" (tasksel) item; If you have BIOS, install the LILO with "compact" option enabled in /etc/lilo.conf; 'apt clean; systemctl disable rsyslog' and you will have a minimal clean easy upgradable system; apt install --no-install-recommends Only what you need.
sid, LXQt, 32b: xserver-xorg-core xserver-xorg-video-ati|intel|nouveau|... (firmware-amd-graphics libgl1-mesa-dri) xserver-xorg-input-kbd xserver-xorg-input-mouse (xserver-xorg-input-synaptics) xserver-xorg-input-evdev xinit dbus-x11 konqueror kpart-webkit konqueror-nsplugins kwrite phonon-backend-vlc openbox obconf-qt lxqt-core lxqt-config lxqt-policykit lxqt-qtplugin kmix kmplayer aspell-?? qlipper xterm pulseaudio (okular calligrawords ...)
Other browsers may require SSE2 (P4), even on 32b and are heavier than Konqueror which combines multiple functions (++).
33 • utiltiy (by Wallace C Olson Jr on 2017-10-16 12:49:26 GMT from United States)
Clonezilla: one of my primary backup (and occasional restore!) tools
SystemRescueCD: only used twice over many years, but a lifesaver when needed
34 • Star/VLC (by Dave Postles on 2017-10-16 13:04:31 GMT from United Kingdom)
With other distros, I've had to install ffmpeg, libdvdcss and libdvdread for VLC to play the videos. It may be a codec matter.
35 • Utility Disks (by Paul Donalds on 2017-10-16 14:14:27 GMT from United States)
I try out several variants of linux monthly which puts at least four working systems on my pc at a time. I find that GParted solves most of my problems BUT there is a catch...I run it from a live DVD of Mint17.3 which then allows full root access to all the versions of linux on my computer.
36 • @19 you are joking for sure (by mandog on 2017-10-16 14:19:59 GMT from Peru)
Where did you get that figure Gnome on Arch uses just over 450mb at startup Kde uses 450 mb and this is 64bt nvidia non free drivers, JWM on the same machine uses 175mb start-up.
Using a light WM like jwm releases the full potential off modern computers leaving every available resource to do what it does best and what the computer was designed to do work.
The biggest downfall with old low powered comps/laptops is the browser firefox Chrome are total ram hogs+ old gear shares ram with graphics.
The next thing I live in a so called 3rd world country according to the western myth, I can tell you the young do not use outdated laptops they save up and buy the most powerful, laptop, pad, they can get their hands on. The big difference is you are not forced to buy them with windows installed, same with Mobiles Moveistar, Claro, both US companies and Apple are very strong here with contract deals on the latest and greatest.
37 • Rescue discs (by Ankleface Wroughtlandmire on 2017-10-16 14:34:07 GMT from Ecuador)
I prefer to use a major distribution like openSUSE or Ubuntu running in live mode for rescue. When things go south, the last thing I want to do is try to figure my way around a new system with an arcane interface or a strange / non-existent package manager. Another advantage of using a big-name live system is that I have full access to its extensive package repos, and I can install anything I need into the live session as the recovery progresses. I can even use proprietary tools that offer a DEB or RPM package.
38 • Never need one (by Neer Jeopardi on 2017-10-16 14:49:34 GMT from Canada)
I voted "I do not have any utility discs/USBs" as I wud never need one.
39 • Rescue discs (by mandog on 2017-10-16 15:07:57 GMT from Peru)
For linux I use parted magic live on usb everything you would ever need.
Windows Hirons is dated and needs to be on a cd to work correctly. But I mainly use windows resources already available within windows its self as we have nothing much here before win7. mainly 8.1 and win10 when I repair for others
40 • Utility Disk is also my Install Disk (by Charles Marslett on 2017-10-16 16:34:26 GMT from United States)
Several people mention that they feel comfortable using their install disk as a utility disk. And I sort of agree, but since I expect a lot more of my utility disk that any install disk I have used in the past, I have gone the opposite direction. My Linux systems always have at least one Gentoo or LFS system in the Grub menu, so I can use SystemRescueCd as the install disk.
What that means, in reality, is that I use my utility disk as the install disk, ;-/
Though I have one Suse and a couple of Mint systems, so when I decide to reinstall or do a really major update on one of those I do wind up using their install disks.
41 • @ 36 mandog (by OstroL on 2017-10-16 17:09:47 GMT from Poland)
I am not joking at all. In modern (or so) i3, i5, i7 laptops Openbox distros just fly. Once you learn to configure such distros to your liking, you'd not use heavy stuff like Gnome.
Kubuntu 17.10 is okay as it idles at 335MB, if you like fully fledged desktop environments.
42 • Star Review (by RollMeAway on 2017-10-16 20:23:33 GMT from United States)
What would really make the review interesting, is to install the 64-bit version, alongside the 32-bit, and compare them.
Ram usage, disk space used, speed, etc.
43 • @20 Rescatux (by K Penner on 2017-10-16 23:01:32 GMT from United States)
Rescatux is my go to solution and it has saved me numerous times (both Windows and Linux).
Grub issues, resetting passwords i'd forgotten, boot repair, fixing my windows MBR.
Thanks for saving me all those times and thanks for your work on the project.
More people SHOULD know about this wonderful all in one rescue tool. Maybe Jessie could review it someday?
44 • Refreshing older computers (by mikef90000 on 2017-10-16 23:07:00 GMT from United States)
As mentioned above, older hardware is much more limiting than the operating system. I tried to update my mom's twelve y/o system:
- more DDR2 memory? Way too expensive.
- larger parallel ATA hard drive? New ones are no longer available.
- CPU upgrade? Hah !
And of course, we live in a high electricity cost state with no cheap, polluting coal power plants any more. Landfill diversion laws 'encourage' local governments to recycle electronic waste.
New computer hardware (excluding monitor, case and power supply) was under $400 US - a total no brainer.
45 • @44 New PATA (IDE) Hard Drives (by Rev_Don on 2017-10-17 02:25:11 GMT from United States)
I don't know where you are looking or how big you consider "larger" to be but I have absolutely no problem getting new PATA hard drives. Newegg lists over 300 of them.
46 • Star review (by rooster12 on 2017-10-17 06:56:20 GMT from United States)
Star for me is superior to many minimalist distributions, simply less is more when it comes to operating a basic environment. Run two different Devuan derivatives and the other an ob and prefer Star i3 window manager with zero issues.
Perhaps it is easier for some to look at what isn't instead of what it really is and that is a lightening fast, easy to configure window manager with both.
Perhaps Mr. Smith simply isn't at home with JWM, which is a great window manager. Would have been best not to do a review if he could not be fair in his findings.
Star simply works for me OOTB, some people may have issues because of faulty hardware or lack of basic skills. That is the great thing about Linux, it is not Windows. Although some try to be like it.
47 • I utility disks only when I need them (by Notals on 2017-10-17 12:07:02 GMT from United States)
I don't make utility disks, because I never use them. Recently, my OS crashed, so I made a utility disk to repair it, and it didn't work. All those options couldn't do a thing. There is something about W10 and SSDs that don't agree. I imagine Linux wouldn't have crashed. One SSD in the trash, and it was a big one. Yeah, I guess I could have reformatted it, and see if it worked. But, after what it did to W10, I was having none of it. Get Debian if you want a fast (loading) operating system (kinda off topic, I know).
48 • Trusty Old Boxen (by Arch Watcher 402563 on 2017-10-17 13:03:28 GMT from United States)
Utility disks: Finnix, grml, Arch monthly ISO. MX Workstation sounds nice.
@23 Maxing RAM is the obvious move for an old PC. Thinking about "small distros" is bassackwards. That said, Windows XP officially needs 64 MB. For small distros I second SliTaz, but here's a list.
I'd try the box as a thin client with the boot OS on another box (or VM on the other box). All a thin client needs is X11. If you really want Windows, ReactOS needs just 96MB RAM.
@44 You're all wet.
"- more DDR2 memory? Way too expensive."
Craigslist. Or, I once got 2 GB RAM for under $50 to max an old mobo. It isn't even SSE2 but plays 720p vids on an AGP video card, another cheap upgrade these days.
"- larger parallel ATA hard drive? New ones are no longer available."
Get a SATA drive. PATA-to-SATA adapters cost $10.
"- CPU upgrade? Hah !"
The CPU isn't the bottleneck. RAM and disk are. Cheap small SSDs with PATA-to-SATA adapters can make old PCs fly.
@36 Brazil ain't 3rd world, just communist and narco. Internet cafes still "seem to be popular in favelas and other very low income areas where people often don't have the money to own their own computers."
Acquiescence to cell phone culture helps how? Even poor folks must upgrade every 3 years like San Fran hipsters. The telcos and govs plan it so. Brazil...Brazil...I think there's a movie by that name... Meanwhile WiFi/4G/5G RF waves are health hazards, especially to children. FOSS should give alternatives. Cubans still run 1950s muscle cars and boy, I wish I could have one.
49 • Old kit maintenance; Star (by FOSSilizing Dinosaur on 2017-10-17 13:33:14 GMT from United States)
One CPU upgrade is waiting for the original chip to die/obsolete, after a little watching eBay for used pick (re-use beats recycle). Maxing RAM (4GB) was the first bump back when. Also have a replacement spin-rust disk waiting for old one to wobble/die, picked up when SATA3 prices bottomed on arrival of SATA6. Old re-purposed server motherboards refuse to die (good caps?).
Star (formerly Linnix?) seems (to me) more a "live-build" demo than a distro; I haven't found a detailed tutorial/diary. Recently transitioned from DebIan-based (Livinia) to Devuan (Morbius), right?
On an earlier ISO live test, re-install fixed empty-doc-files, necessary for getting vintage parameters. Automount wouldn't, and gPartEd wouldn't - even for su/sudo. One of the only two spins I found responsive for internet connection (using connman-ui). Perhaps it's time to try out a newer ISO?
50 • web browsers v. web (by Tim Dowd on 2017-10-17 20:14:23 GMT from United States)
Jesse Smith has put together one of the best places on the web to discuss open source software. There has been a bizarre level of personal attacks on him for his review this week. His reviews are consistently interesting and follow a similar structure, so if you read them from week to week you know what to expect and can really see what makes a distro uniquely interesting.
The strangest criticism has been the like of @7 and @46. Jesse reviews a diversity of software because the community has asked him to. Are you implying that no one who doesn't already use a piece of software should dare try it out and write about the experience? Isn't that the point of a review? If someone of Jesse's background and knowledge has issues with a piece of software, then the software has issues.
I don't disagree that the web browser is the biggest killer of old computers- it took my last 32 bit system and moved it from daily driver to backup, but is it Firefox that's gotten bloated, or the internet in general? It didn't strike me as being a software issue, but rather how much junk is being put on modern websites that it's dragging older computers to a halt
51 • Utility discs (by PnxVnx on 2017-10-18 06:46:22 GMT from Italy)
I always have with me a multiboot USB containing at least the following distros:
Usually that is sufficient for rescue and recovery needs.
52 • Rescue/Recovery options (by Mel Bull on 2017-10-18 09:11:40 GMT from United Kingdom)
Spend a lot of our (retired) time rescuing/re-purposing antique PCs for friends and family and have many of the popular options, not always up to date though.. . . .
Knoppix DVD on a USB stick is the go-to favourite for most purposes
System Rescue CD
Rescatux (had forgotten that, ours is years out of date, thanks for the reminder)
Hirens CD (assorted)
Yes, a lot of overlap, but they are all in the toolbox because sometimes we've needed something specific, or some ancient hardware has failed to live boot the first option tried.
Just downloaded the latest rescatux-0.41b1.iso, and taking a look at All-in-One Lite.
53 • @43 Rescatux (by adrian15 on 2017-10-18 13:48:19 GMT from Spain)
> More people SHOULD know about this wonderful all in one rescue tool. Maybe Jessie could review it someday?
I prefer people sending me feedback (it's not easy to get feedback now that forum is disabled and people need to send either issues or an email to mailing list) in order to improve it rather than Jessie reviewing it.
Don't get me wrong any Jessie review is welcome but I'd rather him to take a look at it when I finally release it as an stable version.
I just need to improve current Makefile ( https://github.com/rescatux/rescapp/blob/59d1b1431e44aa2d3b3d9bd8897712e82f4a16a1/Makefile ) so that it's able to install shared data and binaries and I'll be able to focus my development on actual feature code.
54 • WPA2 Security Flaw Patch (by Winchester on 2017-10-18 14:09:29 GMT from United States)
So far,in the Linux and BSD worlds,only Gentoo , Debian and OpenBSD have patched the big WPA2 security flaw. Unless I am missing some.
Others to follow,I am sure but this should be some indication of how proactive these projects are security-wise.
55 • WPA patches (by Jesse on 2017-10-18 14:12:41 GMT from Canada)
@54: All of the major Linux distributions (and BSDs) have released WPA patches at this time. You can see the advisories for FreeBSD, Ubuntu, Red Hat, openSUSE and Debian on our security advisories page: https://distrowatch.com/dwres.php?resource=security
56 • @50 web browsers v. web (by Kazlu on 2017-10-18 15:55:18 GMT from France)
A little digression: We must keep in mind though that alternative web browsers like Qupzilla are not updated as often as Firefox or Chromium, especially on non-rolling distros with long periods of time between releases (like Debian). That may be a security issue. In the case of Qupzilla, there is no separate repository that I know of that tracks recent versions of Qupzilla, the Appimage is only for 64 bit and it's not in the Nix package base. Midori is in Nix but the latest version is several years old. A rolling release distro might be a good option here but I do not use that computer very often so having to install 400MB of updates every time I power on the machine is a bit of a turn off...
57 • wpa_supplicant update (by sydneyj on 2017-10-18 16:17:34 GMT from United States)
@54 I just checked my logs, and Arch released the patch early (7 am here) on Monday. All of this is not an indication of "how proactive these projects are security-wise". You simply don't know anything about that, and you shouldn't be posting bogus information.
58 • SystemRescueCd (by Bubbly Bluewhale on 2017-10-18 19:15:20 GMT from Philippines)
Just wondering why you didn't mention this as one of your examples of a utility disk, since this is or was the most famous specialist "rescue" GNU/Linux disk (the more famous rescue disks are Windows-based like Hiren's BootCD or Bart PE). I know some users who use Knoppix as a rescue disk but its huge size puts it in the different LIveCD category. Besides this purpoose-built system rescue disks, when desperate I also use any GNU/LInux OS install image I have lying around. Most of them will have the ability to boot in live mode, which would allow me to do a "hardhack" rescue that at most involves creating a chroot of the damaged system. This allows me to to an apt-get update of the hosed system from the foreign host system! Most of the time of course, the rescue would involve editing some pesky /etc config file, so any LIveCd would do the job just as well. But I still do keep my copy of SystemRescueCD at least two versions behind current
59 • utility disks (by StephenC on 2017-10-19 02:21:29 GMT from United States)
I always have a copy of SystemRescueCD (used a number of times to save data from dying Windows computers) and Clonezilla (to clone the hard drive before re-imaging new computers). That combination has helped me migrate several of my relatives to Linux and dropped the "help me!" requests to almost zero.
60 • Re: Star Linux (by eco2geek on 2017-10-19 03:47:53 GMT from United States)
Agree with @49 FOSSilizing Dinosaur that Star appears to be more of a demo of a live build system than a "daily driver". The README on Star's SourceForge files page has a lot to say about what the project's goals are; it starts out:
"I've created a live-build development environment for those interested in how to make there own distro using Debian/Devian Live-Build."
I tried the Xfce live CD, and, oddly, its boot entries disabled kernel mode setting for both the nouveau and the radeon drivers. So even though nouveau was loaded (as I have an nvidia card), the best resolution I could get out of the box was 1024x768. Deleting those entries at boot time got me my monitor's native resolution.
The other thing it was missing was the Xfce Settings Manager. Instead, you had to go and pick each individual settings module from the Settings menu. Although I'm sure you could just go and install it yourself.
On the other hand, I didn't have any problems playing video files in the live environment.
61 • Post # 57 (by Winchester on 2017-10-19 04:57:56 GMT from United States)
I am sorry that I am 52 hours behind the times but,you simply don't know anything about what I know and don't know.
The information is exactly as I read it from a technology news web-site which I consider to be credible in some regards. Just because Arch Linux released a patch early Monday doesn't mean the news was incorrect. At the point in time when the article was published,the information may very well have been true.
And I would say that if a distribution is prompt and among the first to release a patch to a security flaw,then yes,it may well be some indication of how proactive these projects are security-wise.
Just as not releasing a patch or being among the last to release a patch would be an indication of the opposite.
62 • More ISO's on an USB Tools Stick or Disk? I use Easy2Boot! (by MPvDdB on 2017-10-19 09:23:06 GMT from Netherlands)
Found some interesting alternatives and strategies in this discussion. So I started downloading some of them and putting them on my large USB-disk which I keep handy just in case the problems are really serious or am getting bored and want to try out something else just for the fun of it and diversification. Closer to the chest (eh wallet) just in case I need it for on-the-fly on the road occasional small/simple activities to help out someone I keep some lightweight but huge capacity USB-sticks. Slower and smaller ISO-collections to choose from but light and small to carry around.
Then I realised that over the years have been using some USB "Menu's" for those distro collections to boot them from the same stick or drive. MultiBootSystem from LiveUSB.info (mentioned above) being one of them. But also Yumi and others. Or SuperGrub. It may be off-topic but I use Easy2Boot for such a menu-system only nowadays.
Becayse Easy2Boot makes updating or adding to the collection of ISO's a breeze. Simply copy the ISO over to the category directory in the ./ISO subdirectory and make sure that it is written without fragments (or defragment) and reboot from the USB-stick/disk. The menu-selections update automatically at every boot of an Easy2Boot USB-stick/disk. Also very handy if you carry around many different (versions of) distro live or install "disks".
63 • wpa_supplicant (by sydneyj on 2017-10-19 11:32:51 GMT from United States)
@61 "52 hours behind the times"? Man, that is the crux of the whole matter! Your original post @54 was clearly a criticism, and can't be read any other way. See Jesse's post @55. You were making an incorrect criticism of Linux security in an international forum based on some anonymous, unattributed web article, and that is (1) not helpful to the community, and (2) dead wrong. By Wednesday, almost everyone in the community (based on the forums) knew that all the mainline distros had been patched, and, if you didn't know it, you could have. Please spare me any further equivocation.
64 • security on older web browsers (by Tim Dowd on 2017-10-19 12:15:17 GMT from United States)
You make a good point too about security on less common browsers. I wonder if the solution is what @48 suggests- using the PIII as a thin client. I did that with an iMac G4 for years (and one of these days probably will get around to doing it again.
65 • WPA2 / Post # 63 (by Winchester on 2017-10-19 13:44:13 GMT from United States)
Here you go :
" List: openbsd-announce
Subject: OpenBSD Errata: August 30th, 2017 (net80211)
From: Stefan Sperling
Date: 2017-08-30 15:13:22
Message-ID: 20170830151322.GO86582 () jim ! stsp ! name
[Download message RAW]
Errata patches for the wireless stack have been released for OpenBSD 6.1
State transition errors could cause reinstallation of old WPA keys.
Binary updates for the amd64 and i386 platforms are available via the
syspatch utility. Source code patches can be found on the respective
As this affects the kernel, a reboot will be needed after patching."
My post # 54 was intended more to give credit to projects who were first to make a patch available. It may have been "incorrect" due to being outdated information at the time I posted it but,I have not seen any information to indicate that all major Linux distributions and BSD's were patched at the same time. Which is what you seem to be insinuating.
66 • My list of liveCD/DVD (by Dxvid on 2017-10-19 13:50:38 GMT from Sweden)
I often use:
I rarely use live CD/DVD of these:
Avira Rescue System (antivirus for Windows machines running on Linux)
67 • gpated parted magic 32bit systems (by dan on 2017-10-20 01:40:35 GMT from United States)
i keep 32 bit os's around for my friends who need to be using an old p4 type system because it s all they can afford and they do not care to update/upgrade.
when it dies they move on to the next cheap system I can find for them.
gparted parted magic and the like are invaluable for rescuing their data when they screw things up.
68 • Unity 7 17.10 (by lenn on 2017-10-20 10:03:55 GMT from United States)
I just found that there is an "unofficial" Ubuntu with only Unity 7 release on the same day as the official Ubuntu release. You can find it in sourceforge dot net os distribution, live cd
69 • Lubuntu 17.10 (by edcoolio on 2017-10-20 19:33:05 GMT from United States)
As a heads up.
Upgraded to 17.10 from 17.04 and it did not go smoothly.
Instead of writing out everything that went wrong, it is easier to repeat the obvious: Have a backup.
I ended up erasing the drive and a fresh 17.10, which went flawlessly, other than the typical repo issues from some packages. These were easily fixed by changing the distribution package back to Xenial.
Great job on 17.10 so far!
70 • Utility disks (by VernDog on 2017-10-20 23:25:58 GMT from United States)
SystemRescue & CloneZilla have the only tools I need. Both are on grub-loopback and usb flash.
71 • Lubuntu 17.10 (by Martin220 on 2017-10-21 05:42:43 GMT from United States)
Same problem too, not sure if I want to reformat and do a clean install. Lubuntu has been my favorite distro for years but think maybe should try out something new and a bit more stable.
Maybe Manjaro, seems to be quite stable and promising. Tired of going this same old path with each release.
72 • BSD variants (by aram v nathan on 2017-10-21 16:26:45 GMT from India)
BSDs although not Linux distros get a nice coverage in Distrowatch. Of these variants, FreeBSD & Pc-BSD are top-level distros in the distros rankings and possibly used a lot by Linux aficionados also. Earlier FreeBSD was in the top coming within 25 most used distros while PC-BSD coming a few notches down. of late, I find TrueOS, a replacement for PC_BSD skyrocketing to the top level surpassing not only FreeBSD, its parent distro but several robust linux distros also in the process. While BSD has its reputation as a robust server OS, possibly with better credentials than even enterprise Linux distros for that matter, the sudden rise of TrueOS a desktop variant which doesnt have a good review (atleast not to my knowledge), is highly puzzling. Am I missing something in my understanding of Linux distros?
Really what could explain the meteoric rise of TrueOS in the distro-rankings?
73 • old computers (by Swissknife on 2017-10-21 21:38:45 GMT from Switzerland)
The only Distro I can do something with on Pentium 3 - 800MHz-1000MHz/
256-384MB RAM, is Antix and perhaps Slitaz, but Slitaz, is I do not know what about...Antix has the same RAM usuage as Slitaz and can do lots more. Slitaz out of the Box is using pendling between 40 to 60MB RAm.
And what you want to do with it?
Antix on the other hand is saving my work. Am beabe to install known software.
I like using Old Pc, because the new stuff is just junk, costing Money and lots of it. F....it.
Besides this. I wish Distrowatch would run solid encryption on its Website.
I feel very sorry, for feeling that all this great Info we are writing here other
Special Agencies A.ssss...oles can read at the same time and use it against us.
Thank you Dstro Watch. You can erase my posting if this is busting your nutts. No problem. I come back again. Because I like Linux and spit on Agents, reading all we are posting here. Good thing there is some good agents.
74 • Utitlity Disks (by Don Alfredo on 2017-10-22 08:32:06 GMT from Belgium)
I always keep a Puppy Linux , and CloneZilla on a stick handy,
Rolled my own utility disk based on Debian Live project (www.debian.org/devel/debian-live/), containing MondoRescue, lightweight XFC, remmina remote desktop client, midnight commander, smbc, arp-scan, Gparted,....
It is 'fairly' simple to roll your own, spitting them out in hybrid (both iso and usb image).
Mondorescue is sometimes a better (although slower) option to CloneZilla for older hardware raid controllers which CloneZilla does not support. Using it for P2V, and switching to new hardware of (mickeysoft) servers.
I also use this as a blazing fast installation disk, as a base for complete installations..
75 • SliTAZ / Post # 73 (by Winchester on 2017-10-22 14:30:07 GMT from United States)
There's a lot that you can do with SliTAZ. You just may need to install different programs than what you might be used to. The first ones might be "get-palemoon" and PeaZip. (PeaZip also required the editing of its desktop file in order for it to launch.)
The main problem with SliTAZ in my experience has been installing updates. Sometimes they do not work and sometimes the same updates do work. Maybe something to do with the updates server?? And an old but patched linux kernel ..... 3.2.70 .
As far as utility disks go, System Rescue CD and Clonezilla are the ones that seem most useful. Maybe the Super GRUB disks. GParted Live is great but many live disks / iso's have GParted available.
76 • TrueOS "meteoric rise" (by tim on 2017-10-22 16:58:49 GMT from United States)
Its appearance on the dw list a while ago caught me by surprise also. When you click through to look at the listing page, you'll notice that's the new project name for PC-BSD
IDEA: when such name changes occur, it would enlightening if the labeltext of the dw list would display both the old and new names, like
TrueOS (formerly PC-BSD)
Number of Comments: 76
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