| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 736, 30 October 2017
Welcome to this year's 44th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
Last week we covered the release of Ubuntu 17.10 along with the distribution's many official community editions. The new version of Ubuntu introduced some big changes to the operating system's desktop environment and we begin this week with a look at this latest release from Canonical. The biggest change in Ubuntu 17.10 was probably the shift from using the Unity desktop to using GNOME and we ask how our readers feel about this transition in our Opinion Poll. In our News section we discuss new kernel memory protections coming to the NetBSD operating system and talk about Nitrux adopting a new system installer. Plus we explore Linux Mint adding support for Flatpak and phasing out the project's KDE edition. Linux Mint has also provided a rough release schedule for the next version of Linux Mint Debian Edition, elementary OS reports on their success with pay-what-you-want apps and HAMMER fans will likely be pleased to hear about work going into making the file system work on Linux. In our Questions and Answers column we discuss four hypothetical security scenarios. Plus we share the releases of the past week and list the torrents we are seeding. Finally, we are pleased to welcome the Pop!_OS distribution to our database. We wish you all a fantastic week and happy reading!
- Review: Ubuntu 17.10 - on the GNOME again
- News: NetBSD adds kernel memory protection, Linux Mint to support Flatpak and drop KDE edition, Nitrux adopts Calamares installer, HAMMER userspace ported to Linux, elementary OS app store reaches a milestone
- Questions and answers: Several "what if" security questions
- Released last week: ArchLabs 2017.10, Proxmox 5.1, antiX 17
- Torrent corner: antiX, ArchLabs, LibreELEC, Manjaro, Nitrux, pfSense, Proxmox, Sabayon, Ultimate Edition
- Upcoming releases: Fedora 27, Black Lab Linux 9.2
- Opinion poll: Migrating from Unity to GNOME
- New additions: Pop!_OS
- New distributions: ArchMerge, RecalboxOS
- Reader comments
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Ubuntu 17.10 - on the GNOME again
Ubuntu is one of the world's most popular Linux distributions. The distribution is available in several flavours, the two most widely recognized being the Desktop and Server editions. The release of Ubuntu 17.10 introduces a number of important changes, the most visible ones mostly affecting the Desktop edition which I will focus on in this review. As 17.10 is an interim release rather than a long term support release, it will received security updates for just nine months.
One technical change in version 17.10 is the phasing out of 32-bit builds of the Desktop edition, though the Server edition is still available in 32-bit and 64-bit builds for the x86 architecture. Another significant change is the Ubuntu distribution has swapped out its in-house Unity desktop and replaced it with a customized version of the GNOME Shell desktop. Unity is still available in Ubuntu's software repositories if we wish to install it later.
I opted to download the Desktop edition of Ubuntu 17.10. The ISO for this edition is 1.4GB in size and booting from this media brings up a graphical window where we are asked if we would like to try Ubuntu's live desktop mode or launch the system installer. This screen also lets us select the system's language with the default being English.
Ubuntu 17.10 -- The live GNOME desktop
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At a glance, Ubuntu's GNOME desktop looks a great deal like the Unity 7 desktop environment. The colours and layout are much the same. A panel which acts as a quick-launch bar and task switcher is displayed down the left side of the display. A panel across the top of the screen displays the time and we find a system tray in the upper-right corner. On the desktop there are icons for opening the Nautilus file manager and launching the Ubiquity system installer. There are a few things which reveal the desktop to be GNOME instead of Unity, despite the default theme. One is the presence of the GNOME Activities button in the upper-left corner of the screen which shows us currently open applications and provides a search bar for running searches and queries. (I will talk about search queries later.) The Activities page essentially replaces Unity's dash. The second feature is another button positioned in the bottom-left corner of the screen. Clicking this button brings up a full-page grid of installed applications.
Ubuntu uses a graphical system installer called Ubiquity. The installer is pleasantly streamlined and quickly walks the user through a minimal number of configuration steps. We are asked if we want to install software updates and media support, we are asked to select our time zone from a map and confirm our keyboard's layout. We are asked if we would like to manually partition our hard drive or have the installer handle partitioning for us. I like Ubiquity's partition manager, it is fairly simple to use, works quickly and supports a wide range of file systems, including ext2/3/4, XFS, JFS, Btrfs and LVM volumes. The final screen gets us to set up a username and password for ourselves and gives us the option of encrypting our user's home directory. The installer worked quickly and successfully in my test environments and concluded by offering to reboot the computer so I could get started with my new operating system.
Ubuntu 17.10 boots to a graphical, mostly purple login screen. By default, two session options are provided. These are labelled "Ubuntu" and "Ubuntu on Xorg". The first one loads the GNOME desktop running on Wayland while the second runs GNOME using the classic Xorg display server. For most of my trial I experimented with the Wayland session, though I did try both to confirm each session would work.
The first time I signed into my account, a window appeared and let me know that since I had encrypted my home folder, I could set up a recovery password. This would allow me to rescue my files in case I was unable to sign into my account at a later date.
Ubuntu 17.10 -- Browsing Help documentation
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One feature I explored early on and appreciated was the large Help button on the launch bar. Clicking this button opens documentation detailing how to use the GNOME desktop. Some of the help pages include videos, demonstrating where to find key features. I think this level of documentation and attention to detail is most welcome and, unfortunately, lacking in many distributions.
Ubuntu 17.10 -- The GNOME application menu
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As with the previous versions of Ubuntu featuring the Unity desktop, GNOME allows us to pin open applications to the launch bar for quick access later. GNOME refers to this action as marking a program as a favourite rather than pinning a short-cut, but the result is functionally identical.
Another feature I explored and appreciated is the Activities search bar can do more than find installed applications. We can also search for applications we have not yet installed. Typing the name of an application we have not yet downloaded brings up an option to open the distribution's software manager. We can also enable or turn off other search bar functions in the desktop's settings panel. The search bar can look for documents, find appointments in our calendar and work out simple math problems.
I experimented with running Ubuntu 17.10 in a VirtualBox virtual machine and on a laptop computer. In both environments, the distribution worked well. Ubuntu automatically integrates with VirtualBox and could use my host computer's full screen resolution. When running on my laptop computer, Ubuntu detected and properly used all my hardware. In either environment, the distribution tended to use about 790MB to 830MB of RAM and a fresh install took up about 4.6GB of hard drive space.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only did the GNOME on Wayland desktop session work, but it tended to be more responsive than the Unity desktop was on the same hardware. In the past I have had poor experiences with Wayland sessions. Fedora's Wayland session typically fails when I try to login and the RebeccaBlackOS Wayland sessions work, but tend to be unpolished. Ubuntu's Wayland session not only worked, it was usually hard to tell whether I was using the Wayland session or the Xorg session. I only noticed two differences when switching between the Wayland session and the classic Xorg session. The Wayland session usually worked better, especially when run inside VirtualBox. Windows would respond quicker and animations were smoother. However, I could not get the Totem media player to display video when running in a Wayland session. Totem did work properly when run from the Xorg session.
Ubuntu 17.10 -- Trying to play a video in Totem and VLC
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Ubuntu ships with a fairly small selection of popular open source software. The Firefox web browser and LibreOffice are included along with the Thunderbird e-mail client. Shotwell is present for working with photos and the Transmission bittorrent application is included. Ubuntu ships with the Cheese web cam utility, the Totem video player and the Rhythmbox audio player. We are also given a calendar application, a text editor and the Nautilus file manager. Network Manager is present to help us get on-line. In the background we find the systemd init software and version 4.13 of the Linux kernel.
The default applications generally worked well for me and I didn't run into many surprises. One of the few exceptions was my aforementioned trouble with the Totem video player not being able to play videos when run in the Wayland session. I could get around this limitation by installing the VLC multimedia player or switching to the GNOME on Xorg session.
One application I feel is worth highlighting is the calendar. The calendar by itself is a nice, simple calendar tool, but what makes it stand out is the ability to sync the calendar with on-line accounts. The default calendar can be synchronized with, for example, a Google or Nextcloud account. I successfully synced my desktop calendar with my Ubuntu Phone calendar for convenience and quite liked the result. As the calendar also links to the Activities search bar, this allows me to find appointments I previously made on my phone through my laptop's search feature.
Ubuntu 17.10 -- Running Firefox and LibreOffice
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However, I also ran into a bug when using calendar. Once, right after I signed into my account, a notification appeared saying the calendar application had crashed. The crash report tool offered to automatically submit a bug, which I agreed to do. Then the Firefox web browser opened and asked me to sign into an Ubuntu One account. This was probably to help the crash reporter submit a bug, but this connection was not made clear and I think a new user would see Firefox asking for credentials on an unfamiliar website as being entirely a different (and scary) process from the crash reporter sending a bug. Ideally, I don't feel the user should need to sign into any account to file an automated bug report.
I found when applications had notifications they wanted to share a small dot would appear next to the clock on the panel at the top of the screen. At first this notification reminder was so subtle I failed to notice it. On the one hand it is nice GNOME does not distract the user, but something a little more noticeable than a small, white dot might be useful. Clicking the dot shows us recent notifications.
Earlier I mentioned we can use the Activities search box to find applications, even ones we have not installed yet. The Ubuntu terminal does something similar where if we type the name of a program into the shell we have not yet installed, the terminal will provide the command we need to enter to install the missing software.
Ubuntu uses the GNOME Software Centre to handle finding, installing, removing and updating software packages. The Software Centre begins by showing us a list of software categories and some featured items. Clicking on a category brings up a list of sub-categories we can explore on the left side of the window and specific applications on the right. Clicking a program's entry brings up a full screen display with information on the selected program.
When we are on the first screen, browsing categories, there is a search button in the window's title bar we can click to search for packages by name. The search option disappears while we are browsing categories, which I found inconvenient as it meant I had to return to the initial page to perform a search. Searches tended to be slow and I sometimes saw error messages reporting not all results could be shown as the search query had timed out.
Ubuntu 17.10 -- The Software Centre
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The Software Centre handles working with traditional Deb packages and Snap packages. Unfortunately it can be hard to tell the two apart at a glance. Some searches, such as one for the Chromium browser, would return two options, the Deb package and the Snap, but they are not clearly marked. I found I could usually identify the Snap because it would not have a rating next to its name, while Deb packages typically had a rating out of five stars. Clicking on a package to bring up its information screen will also list the package's origin and Snaps list their origin as being from the Snap Store.
For most purposes it might not matter where a package comes from, or if it is bundled as a Deb or Snap, but Snaps are a lot larger. Some Snap packages could be anywhere from 4 to 40 times larger than their equivalent Deb package.
When searching for desktop applications I found that not all desktop software would show up in searches from the Software Centre. I could switch to a command line and use the APT tools to locate and install these packages which did not show up in Software Centre.
Software Centre features three tabs, one for finding new software, one for displaying installed applications and one for managing software updates. I found that if I went into the Installed tab, there were some applications I could remove and others I could not. For example, I could not remove Totem from within Software Centre, but another default application, Cheese, could be removed.
I tried installing a few Snap applications and found they mostly worked like traditional Deb packages in the way they installed and ran. However, sometimes when installing a new Snap the software manager would report the installation failed. However, if I tried to re-install the Snap, another error would be displayed reporting the Snap was already on my system. I found that closing and restarting the Software Centre would not fix this, but logging out of my account and signing back in would take the Snap out of package limbo and allow me to complete the installation.
The GNOME settings panel has changed since the last time I used the desktop environment. Now, rather than having a panel with a grid of icons which open new screens of settings, the settings window is split into two panes. On the left are categories of settings such as Wi-fi, Notifications and Privacy while on the right we see the settings in that category. The new panel is perhaps less colourful and the layout of the specific settings (and their spacing) make me think touch screens may have been a motivation behind the new design.
Ubuntu 17.10 -- The settings panel
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I generally found the new settings panel worked well. It took me little time to get used to the new layout. Something I appreciated about the two-pane style was I did not need to go back "up" a level to get an overview of available options. Categories are simply listed down the side which I think makes quickly browsing for an option faster. One of the few things I did not like about the new panel was that some settings categories are hidden under others. For example, to manage user accounts or adjust the system's clock, we need to know to look under the Details category, which brings up a new screen of categories, including Users and Date & Time.
Version 17.10 is a big change for the Ubuntu distribution. Apart from the desktop switching to GNOME from Unity, more effort appears to have been made to integrate Snaps into software management. The introduction of Wayland is also new as, previously, the next iteration of Unity was going to use the Mir display software.
On the surface, just looking at the desktop and the way things are presented, I feel the developers did a very good job at making GNOME look like Unity. In that respect, existing Ubuntu users should feel more or less at home. I was especially impressed with Wayland. I have never had a truly positive experience with Wayland desktop sessions before, but Ubuntu not only got GNOME on Wayland working, the Wayland session generally worked better and faster than the Xorg session. The Totem application did not work well with Wayland, but VLC did making it an easy issue to work around. I think GNOME on Wayland is more responsive than Unity which is another nice point in this release's favour.
However, I did run into some frustrations with the transition to the GNOME desktop. GNOME does not have Unity's HUD, or the option to disable the global menu bar and searches in the Activities screen were slower than Unity's scope searches. These missing (or less polished) features might not be noticed by new users, but existing Ubuntu users are likely to feel let down. I also noticed that some applications use the global menu bar while others do not. The file manager uses the menu bar at the top of the screen, but the LibreOffice suite does not and it makes for an inconsistent experience.
I do like the new settings panel. It feels more open, more transparent in a way. And I was able to perform fewer clicks to find what I wanted, so I feel the new system settings panel is a step in the right direction.
My big complaint this time around was with the software manager. Software Centre was slow, it did not always find items I wanted and knew were in the repositories, and searches for Snaps often timed out. I sometimes ran into glitches where I could not install a package, or a package would install while claiming it had not. The Software Centre also would not allow me to remove some programs. These limitations led me to use the APT command line tools in place of the Software Centre. I realize the developers are trying to mix Deb packages and Snap packages together under one unified umbrella and I sympathize because that must be difficult. Unfortunately, the result right now is that many things mostly work, but nothing in the Software Centre really works perfectly.
On the whole the transition from Unity to GNOME (and Xorg to Wayland) went much better than I thought it would. Ubuntu 17.10 was quick and easy to navigate and worked smoothly for the most part. There are some minor rough patches here and there, but on the whole I was pleasantly surprised with the performance of this release. I was sceptical about Ubuntu dropping Unity for GNOME, but I think the transition is going well. I do hope some features, like the HUD and disabling the global menu bar, come back in time for Ubuntu 18.04. If not, the Unity 7 desktop is still available in the distribution's repositories.
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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
Ubuntu has a visitor supplied average rating of: 7.5/10 from 481 review(s).
Have you used Ubuntu? You can leave your own review of the project on our ratings page.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
NetBSD adds kernel memory protection, Linux Mint to support Flatpak and drop KDE edition, Nitrux adopts Calamares installer, HAMMER userspace ported to Linux, elementary OS app store reaches a milestone
The NetBSD team is experimenting with a new security feature called kernel address space layout randomization (KASLR). The new feature makes it more difficult for malicious users and programs to attack the kernel as the location of kernel components in memory will be different each time the computer boots. Maxime Villard writes, "Recently, I completed a Kernel ASLR implementation for NetBSD-amd64, making NetBSD the first BSD system to support such a feature. Simply said, KASLR is a feature that randomizes the location of the kernel in memory, making it harder to exploit several classes of vulnerabilities, both locally (privilege escalations) and remotely (remote code executions)." This new feature provides a different approach to kernel memory protection than OpenBSD's kernel address randomized link which we talked about back in June.
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The Linux Mint team published several important items in their October newsletter. One of the bigger changes mentioned is the KDE edition of Linux Mint will be discontinued after the release of Linux Mint 18.3. The KDE Plasma desktop has a different ecosystem and toolkit which make it quite a different environment when compared next to the other Mint desktop editions and the team has decided to focus on the Cinnamon, MATE and Xfce editions. The Plasma desktop will still be available in the distribution's software repositories for people who wish to install it.
The newsletter also reports the third version of Linux Mint Debian Edition will be released in the first quarter of 2018. The new version will be based on Debian 9 "Stretch" and be available in just one edition featuring the Cinnamon desktop. In addition, the Mint team is working on bringing Flatpak universal package support to the distribution: "Linux Mint 18.3 will ship with Flatpak installed and configured by default to point to two Flatpak repositories, called 'remotes': Flathub and GNOME-apps. A new section was added to the Software Manager for Flatpaks. Although Flathub and GNOME-apps are configured by default, you can modify the list of remotes. If you add new ones, they will appear in the Software Manager. Packages and Flatpaks are completely different things, but in the Software Manager, they're presented the same way: They're just applications you install."
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The Nitrux team has announced on Twitter that their distribution will be dropping the Systemback utility currently used for installing the operating system. In its place, Nitrux will use the Calamares system installer to set up the distribution in the future. Calamares offers a streamlined, graphical interface which works across multiple families of Linux distributions.
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The HAMMER and HAMMER2 advanced file systems were originally created for the DragonFly BSD operating system. Tomohiro Kusumi has announced that the userland components of HAMMER have been ported to Linux. At this early stage HAMMER file systems can be created on Linux, but not mounted. The HAMMER file systems made on Linux can be mounted by a DragonFly BSD system.
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The elementary OS team introduced a new application store with pay-what-you-want software packages earlier this year. The new software manager, called AppCenter, features over 50 new applications which can be enjoyed by elementary OS users. "This past May we released the major update to elementary OS that debuted the new pay-what-you-want app experience in AppCenter. In those past six months, we've seen over 50 apps released by developers. These quality apps were built by developers specifically for elementary OS; every single one is GTK+, HiDPI-ready, and a fully native experience. Each app has also gone through both automated and human testing and review. In many cases we've found small issues or improvements for the apps while reviewing them, and we file those along with any release-blocking issues." More information on the AppCenter software manager can be found in this coverage of the 50 apps milestone.
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These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Several "what if" security questions
Watching-for-malware asks: I'm trying to learn more about the world of software and GNU/Linux, but searching the web often yields confusing and even contradictory results. Could you please answer the following:
Suppose this scenario: A particular GNU/Linux distro contains well hidden surveillance code that collects data about user behavior (web pages visited, personal e-mails, documents accessed, devices connected, local network status etc.). And suppose that although the distro's developer team is sufficiently big and the distro is used on a large enough scale, even so, at some time some malevolent code still infiltrates.
Questions: what's the probability that the above scenario is likely to happen? How soon is the bad code likely to be discovered, assuming some serious organizations (like for ex. some country's educational system) use the distro daily?
DistroWatch answers: How likely is it that someone manages to sneak malicious, user monitoring code into a Linux distribution? Not likely. Not because it's difficult to write such code or because Linux distributions are invulnerable to such attacks, but because the attack is likely to be time consuming, yield poor results and the attacker is probably going to be caught eventually.
To get a malicious package into a major distribution (one likely to be used, for example, in a country's educational system) the attacker probably needs to either become a package maintainer for the distribution or a contributor to an upstream project. Either path will likely involve a mentorship, people checking the new person's code contributions and establishing a history of useful code to earn trust. Whichever route is taken by the attacker, they need to get to a point where they can contribute code or other changes without someone watching what they are doing and (probably) sneak the code in a bit at a time so any package maintainer doing a simple comparison won't notice the malicious behaviour.
To make matters more difficult for an attacker, almost all Linux development is done in the open, with change logs, publicly visible patches and people signing off on their work. It leaves a sort of paper trail.
What all this means is an attacker likely needs to get involved in a community for weeks or months, create useful patches, slowly try to sneak in malicious code without anyone noticing and do all of this on a package which has enough popularity to be installed by default on a major distribution. And, because of the audit trail most projects have, the malicious author is likely to be identified eventually. That is a lot of work and a lot of risk to go through to track desktop users. When we factor in that even the most popular distributions probably only hold about 2% of the world's desktop market, anybody trying to inject malicious code is looking at a lot of work and risk for little payout. Most malicious authors are probably better off taking other avenues to compromise workstations, like remotely targeting popular web browsers or trying to guess users' secure shell credentials.
As to how soon malicious code is likely to be discovered? When the Debian guessable key generation bug was committed, it took about a year and a half for it to be discovered and fixed. This was a fairly subtle bug, one which made cryptography keys easier to guess. There was no monitoring, no sending private data over the network, no extra hard drive activity. When such a subtle bug takes less than two years to be found and patched, we can be fairly certain blatantly malicious activity (especially spying which requires transmitting data over monitored networks) is going to be exposed much faster.
Watching-for-malware asks: 2. I've read on the web that anti-virus software (here I'm referring mainly to ClamAV which is free open source) is not only not needed in GNU/Linux, but even potentially harmful due to the fact that it has access to many types of files and thus it could potentially be exploited by some bad parties.
Questions: do you think the average end user is better with or without ClamAV? Does being "better safe than sorry" even apply here? Suppose I choose not to use anti-virus at all. By downloading any document from the web (be it PDF file, picture, movie etc.) and saving it to an external hard drive or USB stick, if I open that same hard drive or USB stick in a Windows environment, what is the chance of some self-executing malware activating at the same time one opens the downloaded document in Windows? What if before opening one scans the files with any anti-virus in Windows?
DistroWatch answers: In my experience anti-virus software is not only impractical on Linux, due to the nature of attacks against Linux machines, but likely to be more trouble than it is worth. Since most Linux users get their software from vetted repositories and downloaded files are not executable by default, anti-virus software does not play much of a role for Linux users. An anti-virus program is more likely, in my experience, to find a false positive and want to delete your data rather than actually guard against malware. And, as the question pointed out, any anti-virus service is a potential attack vector since it downloads virus definitions from the Internet.
As for saving a file to a USB stick and opening that file on a Windows computer, the odds of getting infected there are the same as if you downloaded the file directly to the Windows machine from the Internet. Which is why the Windows machine should have its own security in place.
Watching-for-malware asks: 3. I've read that the use of WINE/PlayOnLinux is a potential security problem as well. I fail to see how, since I think running a program in WINE environment is without root account and one could make a special user account for WINE use only. I may be wrong, though.
Do you have any advice here?
DistroWatch answers: When you run Windows software using the WINE compatibility software, you are running a program (usually) under your own user account. WINE, by default, gives the programs it runs access to your home directory. The result is any program run with WINE will have the same access to your files as any other program (Firefox, LibreOffice, VLC) you run under your account.
There is a slight elevated risk here over running native Linux software, not due to permissions, but because of the source of the software. Most people download their Windows files from websites without verifying checksums or package signatures. These security checks are automatically performed for you when you download native Linux software through your package manager.
Watching-for-malware asks: 4. Related to above. If a program is available for both platforms (so it contains both a GNU/Linux executable and a Windows executable), is it safer to run the Windows executable via WINE compared to the GNU/Linux executable?
DistroWatch answers: Whenever possible do not download your software from a third-party website. You will be much safer getting your software directly from your distribution's repository. However, if you must download executables and run them, it's not likely to make much difference whether you run a Windows binary through WINE or a Linux executable directly. My suggestion would be, if you must do this, run the program under a separate user account or in a virtual machine. At least that places a layer of protection between your files and the unvetted program.
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More answers can be found in our Questions and Answers archive.
|Released Last Week
Matt Dobson has announced the release of a new version of ArchLabs, a 64-bit distribution based on Arch Linux and featuring the Openbox window manager. The new release makes use of a long term support kernel and ArchLabs specific packages have been added to the project's own repository from the AUR community repository. "A major change is the move to the LTS Kernel, hopefully this will provide us with even further stability as there are less frequent updates and changes to the LTS as opposed to the latest kernel. Another major change is the repackaging of ArchLabs specific packages. These have been signed with our GPG signatures and keyring and added to our own ArchLabs repository. Pacman will still update these packages as normal. This aids in reinstall time as you will no longer have to rely on any AUR packages on a fresh install. Calamares has been updated to the latest version, this brings a new user creation section, fixes and improvements to language, locale and keyboard support." The project's release announcement has further details and screen shots.
Proxmox 5.1 "Virtual Environment"
Daniela Häsler has announced the availability of a new version of Promox Virtual Environment, a Debian-based platform for running virtual appliances and virtual machines. The new version, Proxmox 5.1 "Virtual Environment", is based on Debian 9.2, includes Ceph 12.2 and version 4.13 of the Linux kernel. "Proxmox Server Solutions GmbH, developer of the open-source virtualization platform Proxmox Virtual Environment (VE), today announced the release of its version 5.1. Most important enhancement is the software-defined storage solution Ceph v12.2 Luminous which is now stable for production and included in the enterprise support agreement. Proxmox VE 5.1 is based on Debian 9.2 and comes with a 4.13 Linux kernel. Proxmox VE 5.1 comes with production-ready Ceph cluster packages. The virtualization platform integrates Ceph v12.2 Luminous, the long term stable release of the software-defined storage solution. Users can now implement Ceph clusters as distributed storage solution in production. Help and support is provided by the Proxmox team via the Proxmox VE subscription service. Ceph is a distributed object store and file system designed to provide excellent performance, reliability and scalability." Further information is provided in the release announcement.
The antiX distribution is a lightweight operating system based on Debian. The project's latest release, antiX 17, is based on Debian 9.2 and removes the systemd init software in favour of SysV init. "antiX comes in four flavours for both 32- and 64-bit processors. antiX-full: 4 windows managers - IceWM (default), Fluxbox, JWM and herbstluftwm plus full LibreOffice suite. antiX-base: 4 windows managers - IceWM (default), Fluxbox, JWM and herbstluftwm. antiX-core: no X, but should support most wireless. antiX-net: no X, Just enough to get you connected (wired) and ready to build. So what is included? Lots! Explore! Based on Debian Stretch, but without systemd and libsystemd0. eudev 3.2-4 replaces udev. Customised 4.10.5 kernel with fbcondecor splash. LibreOffice 5.2.7-1. Firefox-ESR 52.4.0esr. Claws-Mail 3.14.1-3+b1. systemd-free CUPS for printing. XMMS for audio. GNOME-MPlayer for playing video..." Additional information can be found in the project's release announcement.
antix 17 -- Running IceWM
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Nanni Bassetti has announced the release of CAINE (Computer Aided INvestigative Environment) 9.0, an Ubuntu-based Linux distribution offering a forensic environment. The project's news page lists the following tools which have been added or upgraded in the distribution along with a screen shot of the distribution's default desktop environment: "Added/Changed in CAINE 9.0: RegRipper, VolDiff, SafeCopy, PFF tools, pslistutil, mouseemu, NBTempoX, Osint: Infoga, The Harvester, Tinfoleak regfmount and libregf-utils installed. many and many scripts and programs. SSH server disabled by default (see manual page for enabling it). Autopsy 2.24 fixed - srch_strings changed with 'GNU strings' renamed in srch_strings. Many other fixes and software updates." SystemBack is used as the project's system installer.
The LibreELEC project develops a minimal operating system which is dedicated to running the Kodi media centre. The project's latest release, LibreELEC 8.2.0, introduces changes to Samba, dropping the SMB1 protocol and supporting SMB2 and SMB3. "The Kodi SMB client now defaults to SMB3 connections but can fail to negotiate SMB3 with old Samba (NAS) versions. A new option in Kodi Settings > Services > SMB client > allows SMB2 or SMB1 to be forced for compatibility with legacy SMB servers. The embedded Samba server defaults to and supports only SMB2/SMB3 connections. The LibreELEC Settings add-on allows the minimum protocol version to be changed, e.g. to enable SMB1 for compatibility with legacy SMB clients. It also supports GUI configuration of WORKGROUP name. Samba detects v3 /storage/.config/samba.conf configurations and ignores them to avoid the Samba service failing on startup. If this happens Samba starts with a default v4 configuration. Custom Samba configurations must be updated to use the new Samba 4.x base template (samba.conf.sample)." Further information is available in the project's release announcement.
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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: 621
- Total data uploaded: 16.2TB
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Migrating from Unity to GNOME
This week we began with a review of Ubuntu 17.10. One of the big changes in Ubuntu 17.10 was the removal of the Unity 7 desktop in favour of GNOME 3. In this Opinion Poll we would like to hear whether you think swapping out Unity for GNOME has made using Ubuntu better or worse.
You can see the results of our previous poll on using cross-platform ports systems in last week's edition. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
Migrating from Unity to GNOME
|I preferred the Unity desktop: ||265 (13%)|
| I prefer the GNOME desktop: ||574 (28%)|
| I have not tried the new version yet: ||233 (11%)|
| I am not an Ubuntu user: ||993 (48%)|
New projects added to database
Pop!_OS is an Ubuntu-based Linux distribution featuring a custom GNOME desktop. Pop!_OS is designed to have a minimal amount of clutter on the desktop without distractions in order to allow the user to focus on work. The distribution is developed by Linux computer retailer System76.
Pop!_OS 17.10 -- Running the GNOME desktop
(full image size: 469kB, resolution: resolution: 1360x768 pixels)
* * * * *
Distributions added to waiting list
- ArchMerge. ArchMerge is a fork of ArchLabs which features three graphical environments built into a single installation. ArchMerge includes Xfce, Openbox and i3, each with matching themes.
- RecalboxOS. RecalboxOS is a Linux distribution which turns a computer into a Kodi media centre and retro gaming console. The distribution runs on x86 personal computers, Raspberry Pi and Odroid computers.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 6 November 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 • Ubuntu Gnome (by DaveW on 2017-10-30 01:19:31 GMT from United States) |
I don't use any distro that utilizes a global menu bar. A global menu bar seems to work best on a fairly small screen where all apps are being run full screen. My system is a desktop with two large monitors. There are usually multiple different sized windows on each screen, so it just doesn't work for me.
2 • Wayland in VirtualBox? (by Brenton Horne on 2017-10-30 01:54:05 GMT from Australia)
Um last time I checked Wayland could not run in VirtualBox, as they haven't created functional graphics drivers for it. Are you sure you were running Wayland in VirtualBox? I hope that I'm wrong and some big development has happened here (after all it'd save me from having to install distros or run live sessions to try out their Wayland sessions) but I must admit I doubt I am.
3 • Gnome (by rooster12 on 2017-10-30 06:02:05 GMT from United States)
Have never liked or found myself wanting to install Gnome DE on anything. Just reminds me too much of a toddlers child's toy push button and make noise game. One that has a number of square blocks and toddler interacts with.
Behoove Ubuntu or any distro to move to a much more functional and attractive DE like Xfce or LXDE.
4 • I still prefer Unity 7 to Gnome-shell, if that was the question. (by lenn on 2017-10-30 07:04:50 GMT from Canada)
I still prefer Unity 7 to Gnome-shell, if that was the question. There is also an Ubuntu 17.10 based Unity7 iso and a Ubuntu 18.04 based Unity7-Testing iso found in the internet, if you search for it. Btw, the same person had uploaded an Ubuntu 18.04 based Guntu iso with more traditional looking Gnome experience.
Unity as Compiz plugin is much nicer and stable to use than Gnome-shell as a plugin to mutter. Gnome is becoming more and more featureless, looking more like the now defunct Windows 8. One can, of course, change it to more traditional looking Gnome, which the Guntu iso had proved.
5 • using Ubuntu w/o gnome or unity (by denk_mal on 2017-10-30 07:50:40 GMT from Germany)
I am using Ubuntu with xfce and have therefore chosen the option"I am not an Ubuntu user" to be as true as possible
6 • global menu (by Krisztian on 2017-10-30 08:04:21 GMT from Hungary)
"I also noticed that some applications use the global menu bar while others do not."
I have the same issue with Unity and 16.04. :)
7 • Ubuntu (by Patrick on 2017-10-30 09:31:34 GMT from United States)
Of all the flavors of Ubuntu and all of its derivatives I like Ubuntu MATE the best. Also, there's a great derivative of it called Li-f-e (Linux for education) I recently installed it on an old laptop flawlessly. It is based on 16.04LTS, works extremely well and has a boat load of apps for everything educational, games too! The only drawback is it only comes in 64 bit. Found @ sourceforge.
8 • Ubuntu Desktop (by jymm on 2017-10-30 10:29:15 GMT from United States)
I am also an Ubuntu Mate user. Seems the poll should have had at the least "other desktop".
9 • Congrats (by lupus on 2017-10-30 10:53:23 GMT from Germany)
Very nice perception of one major new Ubuntu flaw. And I thought I must be the idiot in the room for finding the new software Center slow and very uncomfortable.
When I confronted myself with Linux back in the days one of the things that made the transition so convenient for me was the Ubuntu Software Center which worked very well then. Whenever I tried to convert someone to use Linux I showed them how easy stuff was being found, installed and maintained (updated). This is no longer the case. Whenever I now fire up one Ubuntu the first thing to do is to get synaptic installed cause that still works, though for newbies it is not very convenient.
I hope this mess gets fixed very soon cause for the foreseeable future I'll recommend Manjaro to newbies, not very convenient either but then again it is a rolling release model which I nowadays prefer.
10 • Security on x86 hardware (by pepa65 on 2017-10-30 11:00:02 GMT from Thailand)
About security of any OS on x86 hardware: http://www.osnews.com/story/30062/Replacing_exploit-ridden_firmware_with_a_Linux_kernel
Basically, it is virtually hopeless.
11 • Ubuntu Unity and Gnome (by silent on 2017-10-30 11:04:03 GMT from France)
There is a missing option, I don't like any of the two DE's. I had Ubuntu Unity installed, but actually used Mate. Now after the upgrade I decided to uninstall completely both Unity and Gnome, just leave Mate, but without decorations like Compiz and HUD. That was unfortunately rather complicated as 'apt autoremove' has not worked well and it has left lots of packages to be removed manually. It is probably better to start with a fresh install. For me the genuine, clean, unscattered Ubuntu feeling is still Gnome2 (Mate).
12 • Unity vs gnome in Ubuntu 17.10 (by fox on 2017-10-30 11:15:24 GMT from Canada)
I actually like them both and was using both prior to the release of 17.10. I am now trying to use Gnome only, since that is what Ubuntu is now supporting. But one feature I care about that Unity has and Gnome doesn't have is one-click access to recently used files. You can get close to that by installing the "recent" extension on gnome, but it doesn't list files accessed with apps like Microsoft Word that run on Wine. Irrespective of which desktop, a problem I'm having with 17.10 is that firejail no longer works properly. You now need to add an extra command to get a keyboard working on it, at least when you use it to start up a browser. And on a clean install of 17.10 (gnome only), a browser started up with firejail has no internet access (at least with Firefox or Chromium).
13 • Ubuntu 17.10 (by Sanjay on 2017-10-30 11:19:37 GMT from India)
I agree ubuntu 17.10 running wayland is more responsive then previous one, but none of screencast application support ubuntu 17.10, Wayland support green recorder also hang my system always to I install kubuntu from ppa back ports and its running smoothly, waiting eagerly for ubuntu 18.04 .....
14 • Wayland on VBox (by sydneyj on 2017-10-30 11:19:51 GMT from United States)
@2 I am typing this from Ubuntu 17.10 on Wayland, installed in VBox. I will never use Gnome day-to-day, but was curious about the new Ubuntu. Try it in VBox yourself. Never a hitch, so far.
15 • Ubuntu 17.10 (by Rick on 2017-10-30 11:47:24 GMT from United States)
The best thing about 17.10 is that you can install gnome-session and have a real Gnome desktop. That way you never have to be reminded about Unity again!
16 • Wayland in VirtualBox (by Brenton Horne on 2017-10-30 12:52:28 GMT from Australia)
I had already run Ubuntu 17.10 in a VirtualBox and its Wayland session ran so perfectly with even Docky running fine (which fails to launch on Wayland for me on Arch Linux) that I thought it must have fallen back on Xorg, hence didn't realize I was actually running Wayland! Thanks for enlightening me. Just goes to show how great Ubuntu 17.10's Wayland support is now.
17 • Ubuntu 17.10 (by Sophia on 2017-10-30 14:11:51 GMT from Canada)
I prefer gnome-session with gnome-tweak-tool, although you can reconfigure Ubuntu DE using dconf-editor to look and behave like a standard Gnome DE. On Wayland firefox flickers at startup and synaptic won't launch, probaly because of my Raedeon graphics, on Xorg everything is fine.
18 • Waiting list distribution ArchMerge (by Tuxie on 2017-10-30 14:19:19 GMT from Switzerland)
ArchMerge is a project from Erik Dubois, former project leader in ArchLabs. It definitely deserves attention of Distrowatch.com 's visitors! Thank you for brisk mind and putting this project into waiting list! :) Cheers from Czech republic. T.
19 • News (by Geo. on 2017-10-30 14:48:02 GMT from Canada)
Congrats to all teams for moving their distros forward. Your hard work is very much appreciated, and it's why I always give what I can afford If I make an install.
Concerning Mint, that's a bit of a bombshell; I never thought they'd give up the KDE edittion, but I guess it's important to focus limited resources, and leave KDE to specialists like KDE neon.
20 • Gnome vs Unity (by bison on 2017-10-30 15:27:43 GMT from United States)
I did not vote because the poll does not have full coverage. I am a Ubuntu user, I have tried 17.10, but I dislike both Gnome and Unity. I supposed I could have voted for the desktop that I dislike the least, but it's a close call.
21 • moved on to Debian (by Peter on 2017-10-30 15:53:22 GMT from United States)
Used to use Ubuntu since inception, but 17.04 was a mess with guaranteed lock ups on resume that made me move upstream to Debian Testing with Gnome for much the same benefits, and without the distracting sidebar and inconsistent global menus. Ubuntu's benefits still retain the smaller live image, ease of choices for encryption of home directory for traveling laptops, and easier configuration of shared directories and printers that I miss.
22 • fix for firejail running firefox under ubuntu 17.10 (by Laubster on 2017-10-30 16:11:35 GMT from United States)
@12 Looks like a fix has been made, and a workaround is presently available: https://github.com/netblue30/firejail/issues/1611
23 • Alas Mint KDE (by Sam on 2017-10-30 16:14:12 GMT from United States)
Oh no! My long-time favorite flavor of Linux is going away?
::curls into a fetal position, daunted by the anxiety of what conflicts and glitches he could encounter trying to install KDE Plasma over a future Cinamon-friendly version of Mint::
24 • @9 lupus: (by dragonmouth on 2017-10-30 17:14:01 GMT from United States)
It's a matter of personal preference. After having used Synaptic and various versions of Software Center, I find all iterations of Software Center very inconvenient. Software Center may be pretty and easy for newbies to use but Synaptic is much more functional. I prefer function over looks.
25 • RIP Mint KDE (by karibou on 2017-10-30 17:31:08 GMT from Canada)
So sad to learn Mint KDE will be phased out. Since the announcement I have tested several debian/ubuntu-based distros sporting the KDE Plasma desktop. With some I could not use Synaptic, with others I did not like the Software Center, with others the support was lacking and/or it was a one-man show and/or the distro was unstable. My HP Skylake laptop being my dayly driver, I settled with debian-based Netrunner 17.06 and installed the openprinting brlaser driver (I have a DCP-7060D Brother printer), and opted to dual-boot with KaOS. So far, no regrets. On the other hand, I am also closely monitoring development of Solus KDE. And yes you guessed it KDE is my favourite desktop environment. So it is possible to find a suitable replacement if you put your mind and efforts to it. Best of luck!.
26 • @18 ArchMerge (by OstroL on 2017-10-30 17:38:20 GMT from Poland)
Beautiful distro! Just installed it. Distro is done very well. It is better that Erik Dubios left the metal head company.
27 • Unity and Mint KDE (by Christian on 2017-10-30 17:54:47 GMT from Brazil)
Call me crazy, but I did liked Unity. I've used it for years and with no desire to distro hop again. Big icons, a side panel, almost no distractions and everything (mostly) worked... But I really liked the HUD. That's something not to be abandoned...
Since the announcement that Ubuntu would drop Unity, I went back to distro hopping (it is kind of fun - but very unproductive). Lots of *buntus, went back to Fedora, Mandriva (Mageia), OpenSuse, Manjaro, etc.
I've found a new home for me in Mint KDE edition (yes I've spent quite a long time to make it look just the way I wanted it to). And now Mint is retiring it too...
Now I'll have to move again. I do have Peppermint OS (that's another distro that I like very much) and I'm looking into replacing Mint with Maui.
28 • Ubuntu, Unity and Gnome (by Dave on 2017-10-30 18:00:50 GMT from United States)
I don't use any of them. Gnome 2 was fine, but Gnome 3 brings out my inner John Cleese. Gnome 3 has driven me berserk every time I've tried to use it. Plus, if it weren't for Gnome 3, maybe we wouldn't have systemd forced on us in order to support it.
Give me a simple XFCE, then spend the saved effort on integrating it into the distro, and all the packages.
29 • About Mint decision on dropping KDE (and why Mint should also drop Mate too). (by mim yucel on 2017-10-30 20:13:32 GMT from Turkey)
I find very logical Mint's decision on "dropping KDE" since KDE brings nothing extra (no additional value/pleasure) to DE. Cinnamon is so ergonomic perfect designed that no any DE could be better. Then why to lose time with KDE. (And also "why to lose time with Mate" is being explaned in following lines.)
For "weak" machines (PC 's), xfce is a need. But I don't understand what extra brings the "Mate" DE. Comparing to Cinnamon, I see only an disadvantage with Mate that Mate uses (and so letting us losing from useable screen area) twice panel lines (one on the top and one on the bottom). Cinnamon uses only one panel line (at the bottom).
30 • Some words on ergonomics about "Gnome, Budgie, Unity" DE 's (by mim yucel on 2017-10-30 20:33:48 GMT from Turkey)
Gnome, Budgie, Unity Desktop-Environment especially suitable for "touch-screen" machines ( e.g. ; Tablets). When we hold tablet we can command some icons with the left-hand-fingers since some icons are there. But if we don't use a tauch-screen machine then these systems (Gnome, Budgie, Unity) bring no advantage but disadvantage (losing useable screen area).
If we use a "non-touch-screen PC" (a PC with only a klavier useable) then again Cinnamon DE is the best ergonomic solution.
31 • and some additions. (by mim yucel on 2017-10-30 21:01:02 GMT from Turkey)
If you look at KDE 's development for last 12 years, it began to look like Cinnamon, since (my guess) KDE 's developers wished to make KDE better (ergonomic more usefull). So it has gone closer to Cinnamon. Then why to keep two Cinnamon existing. Leave one of them in use which is better and drop other. (I mean ; Continuing with real Cinnamon and dropping KDE is a good solution. So the developers don't divide their efforts, they unite their concentration on the one DE.
If some "Linux and/or DE" flauvors bring no real advantage - value etc.. then to work for their extra-existence is only sensless losing time/efforts of developers (and lose for Linux community generally)).
32 • Gnome & Unity (by david esktorp on 2017-10-30 21:11:06 GMT from United States)
If Gnome and/or Unity (distributions) would've been easily installable on tablets and phones, they would've been widely accepted and well-received. The lack of anything resembling a common user-accessible standard for the glut of touchscreen devices has been the big show stopper. Somebody, somewhere in the corporate idea mill figured all of us would be using touchscreens by now. They were wrong.
Until that happens, I predict we will continue to see a quiet and slow retreat back toward the 'traditional' desktop, at least for desktop-intended distributions. It already happened. Look how many Gnome distros tweak it to be like Gnome 2. Yet like the political weasels they are, the Gnome people will never admit that they made a huge design mistake.
Maybe the whole experience was a social experiment to see how people would react to having their workflows up in the air for years.
Watch the Gnome people discontinue their shell and then Ubuntu will switch the Gtk3 Mate and everything will be like a slickered up 2010. Lucid Lynx 2.0 here we come..
33 • So...it is official then...Good. (by Tom Joad on 2017-10-31 01:11:26 GMT from Germany)
Unity is officially gone.
Well, no diff to me as I left Ubuntu long ago. Oh, I still toy with the Mate version. Actually, I need to do an update for that right after this. However, I never mess with the rest of that stunted, noisome brood. I stay away.
These days I am pretty much Mint of whatever flavor tickles me fancy and work of course. Yes, there is always work to be done. I have even walked away from MX15 to 16 too though that is quite a distro.
Cheers. Must toil away.
34 • Mint KDE; the poll; GNOME's UI (by eco2geek on 2017-10-31 02:29:03 GMT from United States)
Mint's KDE edition has always been a class act, from the artwork (an excellent collection of wallpapers) to the applications that the Mint team wrote and included. I will miss it when it's gone.
Your poll doesn't really allow an answer to the question "has swapping out Unity for GNOME ... made using Ubuntu better or worse"? It just asks whether you prefer GNOME shell or Unity.
I don't particularly like either one of them, but it's always good to have another choice of desktop UI available. So I think Canonical's dropping Unity makes us Linux users poorer in general.
(I have Ubuntu 17.10 Desktop installed even though I don't like GNOME, because I do like playing around with Linux in general and Ubuntu-based distros in particular. Besides, I've also got several distros installed that are running KDE/Plasma. And it's interesting to keep up with the changes.)
By the way, that button in the top right hand corner of the GNOME shell UI isn't a system tray, it's a "status menu", although you can increase or decrease the volume by running your mouse wheel up or down over it. Click on the button, and -- among several other things -- it shows a menu containing the volume control, a menu allowing you to log out or change user settings, and buttons to bring up the system settings dialog box or shut down.
GNOME recently did away with the system tray, actually , although Ubuntu included a shell extension that allows you to use so-called indicator applets  with version 17.10.
35 • RE: Several "what if" security questions......... (by 2damncommon on 2017-10-31 03:44:16 GMT from United States)
Ummm, wow. I've got to give a......I don't know, something...to Distrowatch for putting out these questions. The answers, while good are not anywhere as interesting. Personally, I'd be doing a whois on the IP I got those questions from, being shocked it revealed nothing.
36 • desktop environments (by imnotrich on 2017-10-31 05:09:54 GMT from Mexico)
Sorry, but Unity, Windows 8, Gnome 3, Mate (aka Gnome 3 jr, it's nothing like classic Gnome anymore) are garbage on the laptop or desktop. Counter-intuitive, clumsy, incomplete, incompatible with many programs/buggy and in some cases difficult or impossible to customize.
I don't have recent experience with KDE, having abandoned it years ago for many of the same reasons cited above.
Right now there are only two serious, functional desktop environments worthy of consideration. Cinnamon, and for less powerful computers Xfce.
Myself I haven't written any code in almost 50 years and the languages I knew are pretty much extinct.
So no disrespect intended to hardworking developers but I do hope they come to the realization eventually that different devices (phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, servers) are used for different tasks therefore no DE designed for a phone or tablet with a touchscreen is going to translate well for use on a laptop/desktop.
37 • mint kde (by peer on 2017-10-31 06:15:46 GMT from Netherlands)
sorry to see mint kde go.
I switched over a year ago from Mint kde to Neon. No regrets at all. Neon is perfect for me.
38 • Cinnamon Desktop (by jymm on 2017-10-31 10:22:36 GMT from United States)
I will admit it has been a while since i tried the Cinnamon desktop, and maybe it has improved, but I switched to Mate because of Cinnamon's continual crashing. If I remember correctly they even had a way to restore the crashes they were so common. .
39 • Post # 29 (by Winchester on 2017-10-31 11:20:15 GMT from United States)
MATE can easily be set-up with only one panel. Just remove one of them. Maybe move anything that you need from the second panel to the panel which you will keep.
MATE is more resource friendly than Cinnamon. In the same ballpark as XFCE. Also,the Cinnamon panel can be placed at the top or at the bottom.
40 • poll (by sam on 2017-10-31 11:35:09 GMT from United Kingdom)
I have never found a DE that I like as much as GNOME2. I'm grateful that the MATE team do such a great job to keep it going.
41 • Ubuntu/GNOME-Debian/KDE memory usage comparison (by Dojnow on 2017-10-31 13:46:48 GMT from Bulgaria)
"the distribution tended to use about 790MB to 830MB of RAM and a fresh install took up about 4.6GB of hard drive space. " while KDE (Plasma desktop) on Debian Unstable 64b: 282 to 297 MB and ~1.76 GB :P
42 • Mint MATE (by davidnotcoulthard on 2017-10-31 13:58:22 GMT from Indonesia)
@29 Err...MATE is the fork of the software which featured in early mint releases...which were also single-panelled.
In fact, isn't Mint's current setup with MATE exactly as it was in GNOME 2 days. The only 2-panelled Mint I recall was the one with MGSE.
43 • de (by Tim Dowd on 2017-10-31 16:28:03 GMT from United States)
I'm another one who chose "I don't use Ubuntu" when in fact I use Ubuntu-MATE. The last two releases of Ubuntu MATE (17.04 and 17.10) have been simply excellent, on a variety of computers.
44 • Linux Mint (by OldGoat on 2017-10-31 17:40:18 GMT from United States)
IMO the Linux Mint team spread themselves too thin trying to support all those DE. Had they concentrated solely on Cinnamon ( along with MATE for all the distro hoppers & XFCE for the minimum hardware spec crowd) they would have been so much further ahead.
They should have also cut Ubuntu out of the picture and based their distro straight off of debian (ala LMDE) to further differentiate themselves. A distro (Mint) based on a distro (Ubuntu) that itself is based on another distro (debian)? Some clarity of vision seems necessary.
45 • Synaptic on Ubuntu and Wayland (by Tim Parkin on 2017-10-31 20:55:40 GMT from United Kingdom)
Hi. I think there is a problem running Synaptic with Wayland. Wayland does not want to run a GUI as root. it is a design feature apparently
There are work arounds or you can use xserver I think
46 • Great point... (by tom joad on 2017-11-01 02:56:02 GMT from France)
What a great point. Mint should sharpen and focus their development resources by reducing the number of DE's to support and link directly with Debian.
I like it. That could make for a better, stronger and even more dependable distro.
Astute observation that should be considered.
47 • DEs (by Gary W on 2017-11-01 05:29:45 GMT from Australia)
@28 @36 it is reassuring how closely your experiences parallel mine. Modern DEs, with their feature and code size bloat, don't do anything for me. I'm very happy with MX Linux, a collaborative project between the Mepis people and the Antix people, based on XFCE, which is probably the most stable and mature of the big-name DEs.
By the way XFCE is not just for low powered computers, it's really good on modern hardware. Low powered brains like mine, perhaps.
48 • Unity was better (by Phil on 2017-11-01 08:17:59 GMT from United Kingdom)
I'm amongst the minority who preferred Unity. There was a lot about it that I really didn't like, but the one thing that kept me using it was the ability to put menus in the window title bar. I hated not being able to put application items up at the top of the screen tough.
I tried Gnome but couldn't get it to reliably work the way I wanted to. Then I tried KDE Neon and you can reduce the menu bar to a button on the title bar. Given I rarely use menus this is perfect for me. I also much prefer the simple look and feel.
So now my windows can use the full screen that I have (1920x1080, i.e. not a netbook). I rarely see the need to have applications anything other than full screen, but I'm a keyboard user over a mouse user.
I am tempted to go with Arch for my main laptop though (with KDE). I've migrated my Arm boxes to Arch, having used Slackware for many, many years, including on my desktop (with XFCE).
49 • @Jesse: regarding Q&A (by BigM on 2017-11-01 14:12:58 GMT from Germany)
You could also mention mechanisms like firejail and the like for protecting homedir against malevolent software,
instead of propagating the use of virtual machines for downloaded executables.
50 • Firejail (by Jesse on 2017-11-01 14:56:43 GMT from Canada)
@49: I love Firejail and use it, but I don't think it's a good fit for the scenario described in the Q&A column, for two reasons. 1. Firejail doesn't do enough to lock down unknown programs. To really get the most out of Firejail you need to be able to write a profile for each binary and that's not an ideal situation for someone who is downloading random third-party software. Firejail is good, but does not offer suitable protection for this specific situation. It's best used in scenarios where the user understands how a program is supposed to work and can tailor profiles to match.
2. One needs to remember to use Firejail each time the program is run, it doesn't activate automatically (like SELinux or AppAmor). So the user needs to either edit launchers or manually run the application using Firetail or Firetools. This isn't ideal for most people. With a virtual machine, anything installed and run inside the VM is always isolated automatically from the rest of the OS, no need to edit launchers or run other launch panels or remember to prefix commands with "firejail".
Firejail is great and I love it, but it's not great for the scenario the person was asking about.
51 • Obarun, Archbang, Artix (by Justin on 2017-11-01 15:04:07 GMT from United States)
Continuing the Obarun comments from last week, this project looks interesting to me. I hope they can collaborate with similar distros like Artix to keep their packages up-to-date. The point of Arch for me is constant updates (security being the most important). I grow to like Arch more all the time, so having a non-systemd version is what I'm looking for.
Also, a shoutout to Archbang for being so awesome. I've had all sorts of problems with Artix. The migration went bad for me. FYI, Open RC 0.25 stops using /etc/inittab, so if you were autologging in, that no longer works (I don't use/need a display manager; losing consolekit also messes with my networking; can't figure out how to make elogind launch dbus-session or anything, despite having the software and services started). Installing from the latest LXQT ISO and selecting to install a graphical desktop does not produce a working graphical desktop. I know Arch is DIY, but what's the point of having the installer ask you those types of questions and then not actually set it up (anyone can run pacman -S xorg*). The LiveCD still has the weird resolution issues in Virtualbox if you don't run full screen.
On the other hand, Archbang comes up with a nice looking desktop and does not have the quirks I see elsewhere (Arch OpenRC was also good for that, though no GUI by default). I haven't tried to do an install yet, but in the past, that has been pretty straightforward to get the same Archbang setup as the live CD. My only beef is not clearly knowing what parts are Archbang so that I can replicate the setup myself from a clean Arch OpenRC install, but since that project is dead, I guess it doesn't matter.
The Artix guys are doing a great job with maintaining Open RC packages, and I like the idea of Obarun and similar distros. I hope in time most of these little things work themselves out.
52 • Linux Mint and KDE (by Cor on 2017-11-01 15:31:09 GMT from United States)
I love KDE Plasma 4, it does everything, plus customization is a snap. I do not like gnome, at all. I began using gnome on Linux 16 years ago but dropped it quickly upon discovering KDE. That being said...I am not happy with Plasma 5. It takes away most of my desktop widgets, while offering themes, but only Breeze is offered. Breeze is a huge step backward for KDE. Customization becomes difficult. So I will continue to use Plasma 4 until something better comes along. Perhaps someone will fork Plasma 4 to keep it going. It has matured very nicely.
I must admit I have been awaiting Clem's decision to drop KDE, Cinnamon has been his main focus since its inception. Such a shame.
53 • Ubuntu 17.10 & Mint Cinnamon (by fox on 2017-11-01 16:47:55 GMT from Canada)
I have been a happy Ubuntu Unity user for several years, and have installed it onto every computer until recently. My most recent purchase was a Late 2015 27" iMac, which has a beautiful 5k display, but between it and the video card it came with (Radeon R9 M395), installing any Linux has been a major pita. No Linux distro will give me its full resolution (5120x2880), and no live distro I tried (and I tried many) would boot up in less than 5 minutes without modifying the boot parameters. Even with that option, none but one would boot up in a reasonable period of time and give me screen resolution options. The only exception: Mint 18.2 with the default kernel, cinnamon edition (I didn't try mate). I was never keen on Cinnamon before, but with no good alternative, I got to know it better and found that I could set it up with a panel on the left and operate it more or less like Gnome 3 or Unity. (I know that that doesn't appeal to many of you posting in DistroWatch, but it does to me.) Mint saved my bacon on this computer, and I learned from the experience that Cinnamon is a nice desktop. The only boot parameter I had to add to make this one work is "nointremap". And its operation is so specific that even updating the kernel from 4.8 to 4.10 made it stop booting. Go figure.
54 • Ubuntu & DEs (by M.Z. on 2017-11-01 19:55:46 GMT from United States)
As some others have said, the switch by Ubuntu to Gnome doesn't really seem to be any significant step forward for the average new to Linux user that seems to be a main target for Ubuntu. The trade seems like going from a slightly off beat Mac like experience, to something that would be very odd indeed if it weren't for the tweaks that Ubuntu devs added in. Didn't we already go through something like this with Mint Gnome Shell Extensions? If they are giving up on the kind of break with Gnome that Mint made, then this really just seems like a slow trip towards an odd ball UI design that isn't very appealing to most users. After all, XFCE & KDE both seem to have overtaken Gnome in users if the Linux desktop polls are to be believed.
On the up side I really liked to hear about how wayland is working far better now. Progress there is needed, so it's great to hear Ubuntu is contributing to improvements.
"That being said...I am not happy with Plasma 5. It takes away most of my desktop widgets, while offering themes, but only Breeze is offered."
One of the things I really liked about Mint KDE over the other KDE 5 distros I've tried like Mageia is that if I do enough playing around I can actually get the old Oxygen theme working fairly well almost everywhere. That plus Mint tools & the giant deb family repos makes it the KDE 5 distro I've tried. I will admit though that I had to play with various Qt 4 & 5 related tools in the repos before things really got to looking better than the flat & ugly themes that are all the rage at the moment.
I'll keep Mint KDE around for now, but I'm going to miss it when it's gone.
"I was never keen on Cinnamon before, but with no good alternative, I got to know it better and found that I could set it up with a panel on the left and operate it more or less like Gnome 3 or Unity. (I know that that doesn't appeal to many of you posting in DistroWatch, but it does to me.)"
Perhaps I'd be unlikely to move the panel there, but I have to say no to the rest of the generalization for one very specific reason. I personally feel that a great desktop should be flexible & allow the user to do what they want, the way they want. I think that's a true strength of several DEs in Linux, especially KDE, XFCE, & Cinnamon. If Gnome & Unity had the level of customization you describe built in rather than tacked on after the fact with things like 'Tweak' tools, then I'd feel a lot more likely to want to give them another try rather than give up on them.
Anyway, the point is that I'm glad that flexibility served you well. It seems far better to be defaults aren't locked in to the degree that they require special tools beyond normal desktop settings to get things working the way users want.
55 • ArchMerge (by argent on 2017-11-02 07:04:22 GMT from United States)
Awesome distro, very impressed and very much removed of ArchLabs. Running live ATM and found it unique and enjoyable to configure.
Has to be the fastest yet to load to a live desktop, easily connected to my wifi on my laptop. Absolutely zero lag that you may find with many distros in live mode. Behaves very much as if installed.
Kudos to the devoloper who put so much effort into ArchMerge, it shows!
56 • Gnomunity (by Paperlesstiger on 2017-11-02 12:01:26 GMT from United States)
To me, Gnome Shell suffers the same drawbacks as Unity, that is, eccentric defaults and no options. I can't say I really like the default setup of any DE, so I always customize it to my needs. With Gnome, this involves third party extensions that tend to break on a different schedule than the main DE. They need to just make a fully functional panel with applets and let things like docks, huds, and dashes be optional components.
57 • ArchMerge (by Patrick on 2017-11-02 15:13:12 GMT from United States)
I am now downloading ArchMerge because of comment 55. Thanks for the input. I previously overlooked it because of past Arch failures. I was even glad to give the requested dollar to it as I am always excited to try a new distro. There's so many of them out there to hop to and hopping them provides a fix to the hopper and helps the developer too. :)
58 • ArchMerge (by argent on 2017-11-02 18:04:12 GMT from United States)
@57 Patrick: Running an older Dell 5500N too! Manually connecting to wifi seems to be the norm for live-mode for any distribution but my router was identified and easily connected.
Arch is changing a lot, glad to see it has become a bit more user-friendly over the past year, especially for the noob.
Systemd-free distibutions with Arch has also gained my interest!
59 • Ubuntu Gnome (by Bunty Buntu on 2017-11-02 21:00:34 GMT from Canada)
I am using ubuntu since day one no matter what it is bundled with like spywares, snoopwares, sniffwares etc. Ubuntu has many DE flavors Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Xubuntu and unofficials.
But still I have a quick-Q as Ubuntu 17.10 was the removal of the Unity 7 desktop in favour of GNOME 3.
Will Ubuntu 17.10 with GNOME-3 be less bundled with spywares, snoopwares, or sniffwares?
60 • Distros based on Arch (by OstroL on 2017-11-02 21:25:40 GMT from United States)
ArchMerge is pretty good It would've been nice, if Erik would 3 distros, rather than one 3-in-1 distro, Xfce4, Openbox and i3. These 3 actually trouble each other than compliment.
There is also an excellent distro named Archman-OS from Turkey on Xfce4.
There is also an Arch installer named Feliz, which is done by a getting older woman, Elizabeth Mills. She is getting over 73, and she's ready to give the system to someone, who could carry it on. Her words,
"And, finally, a fond farewell to you all from the creator of Feliz. I am retiring. I hope that someone will clone Feliz and keep the dream alive. Goodbye, and thanks for all the good times."
You can find it here, https://github.com/angeltoast/feliz2
61 • Ubuntu (by Tom on 2017-11-03 10:23:43 GMT from Germany)
Not using Ubuntu proper any more. Being a long-time Ubuntu user, starting with 7.04, I've experienced all those changes: from usable (though somewhat boring) GNOME 2 to smartphonish Unity (to avoid even more smartphonish GNOME Shell), from usable Nautilus to more and more crippled Files (GNOME Shell's 'merit', I know), from feature-lacking but somewhat usable F-Spot to even more feature-lacking Shotwell etc. Quickly replacing Shotwell with Digikam, I eventually began to warm for KDE Plasma 5 (had tried but never really liked KDE 3 nor KDE 4) and now I'm a happy KDE Neon user - using Ubuntu LTS as stable base.
62 • Solve Wayland Incompatibility With Synaptic, Screen Casting, etc. Very Simple (by sasdthoh on 2017-11-03 12:28:31 GMT from Netherlands)
A popular Youtube channel content provider, A. J. Reissig, has posted a video showing a very simple and effective solution to using Wayland with Synaptic and other root applications that only work with X. I tested the simple fix and its works without issues.
Give A.J. some support for his timely and productive fix. Once you have solved the problem, report back here on Distrowatch so all will know it solved your problems.
63 • Former spyware issues (by M.Z. on 2017-11-03 17:53:35 GMT from United States)
"Will Ubuntu 17.10 with GNOME-3 be less bundled with spywares, snoopwares, or sniffwares?"
No one liked the spyware in Unity less than me; however, it was always limited to the main edition of Ubuntu with the Unity Desktop. Those who were aware & wanted to avoid it could always do so, the problem was just the fact that those who were unaware of what was going on in the main edition were getting screwed. The problem was even fixed in the Unity version proper, although some of the old LTS versions with Unity are likely so still contain the offending feature (at very least I'd double check before installing).
Anyway the issues with spyware turned a lot of folks off of Ubuntu, but those issues are all gone from the newer versions of Ubuntu & have been for awhile. The image problems & issues with good will of many members of the community do remain, but those issues are highly dependent on the attitudes of users & their perception of the efforts of the Ubuntu team.
64 • @ 62 about wayland and synaptic (by OstroL on 2017-11-03 18:22:36 GMT from Poland)
Oh, you don't have to watch youtube videos for that, just go here, ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2375077&page=2#13 for the workaround.
65 • Dropping of Mint 's KDE (by mim yucel on 2017-11-03 21:18:48 GMT from Turkey)
"Complaining (and also wiping)" about dropped "not anough efficient distros (distro flouvers)" is a kind of conservatism. (non-logical arguments, only psychologic effects).
Let us consentrate our time and power on best-productive distros (distro flouvers).
(For my mind; The best distro is "Mint Cinnamon").
66 • Re: Pop!_OS (by eco2geek on 2017-11-05 00:25:20 GMT from United States)
As I have repeated many times, and will probably repeat many more, to anyone who will listen, I really dislike GNOME shell because of the design of its user interface.
On the other hand, I've been running Pop!_OS from a USB key for the last two days, and it's got a really snappy feel to it. I don't know if System 76 did anything special to it to make it that way (it's based on Ubuntu 17.10), or if it's because the distro doesn't have many applications pre-installed out of the box, but it feels fast, even after running off a USB key for 2 days.
Also, one thing System 76 did do was design their own shell theme and set of icons, and it looks good. (The only thing I don't like about it is that black-on-white text, for example text in dialog boxes, isn't really black, it's sort of a shade of gray, which makes it harder to read.)
Fortunately, one can overcome many of GNOME shell's deficiencies in the UI department by installing shell extensions. So I'm seriously thinking of installing this on a spare partition. Recommended.
And if all you want to try is the shell theme, it's available in their PPA:
Number of Comments: 66
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