| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 749, 5 February 2018
Welcome to this year's 6th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
Linux distributions come and go, but it is rare to see discontinued distributions return from the dead. This week we begin with a look at the resurrected projects of Freespire and Linspire. Robert Rijkhoff explores these two distributions and reports on both their history and present condition. In our News section we discuss Red Hat acquiring CoreOS and its Container Linux distribution. Plus we report on Korora slowing its release cycle and celebrate the Open Source Initiative turning 20 years old this week. Then, in our Myths and Misunderstandings column, we tackle the often confusing topics of X.Org, Wayland and Mir. We are also happy to share a list of new operating system versions released last week and we provide a list of the torrents we are seeding. In our Opinion Poll we ask how many of our readers are using commercial distributions such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Linspire. We wish you all a fantastic week and happy reading!
- Review: Freespire 3 and Linspire 7.0
- News: Red Hat acquiring CoreOS, Korora slows release schedule, the OSI turns 20
- Myths and misunderstandings: Wayland, X.Org and Mir
- Released last week: Linux Lite 3.8, Emmabuntus 9-1.01, OPNsense 18.1
- Torrent corner: 4MLinux, Archman, Emmabuntus, KDE neon, Lite, Manjaro, OPNsense, Pardus Topluluk, SwagArch
- Opinion poll: Commercial Linux distributions
- New distributions: Anarchy Linux
- Reader comments
|Feature Story (by Robert Rijkhoff)
Freespire 3 and Linspire 7.0
Towards the end of last year a company called PC/OpenSystems announced that it had bought the trademarks for Linspire and Freespire and that a new version of both distros had been released. The announcement got a fair bit of attention as Linspire and Freespire were discontinued distros with a turbulent history. Before we get into the review proper we need to talk about the distros' past.
Linspire started life in 2001 under the name Lindows. The original name was a playful reference to its ambition: developing a Linux operating system capable of running major Microsoft Windows applications. The name was changed to Linspire in 2004 after a lawsuit brought by Microsoft was settled out of court. Linspire's ambition remained the same and as part of the settlement the distro could include codecs for proprietary media formats such as MP3 and WMA.
Unsurprisingly, Linspire was often criticised by the free software community. Richard Stallman famously said of the distro that "No other GNU/Linux distribution has backslided so far away from freedom." Of course, the focus on features over freedom was exactly what made the distro appealing to many users.
Back in the day Lindows/Linspire was based on Debian. The distro had to be purchased; the Wayback Machine shows the license fee was $49.95 in 2006. As far as I can tell compatibility with major Microsoft Windows applications never really materialised but the distro did introduce a graphical user interface for installing software. The feature, called Click 'N' Run (or CNR), was essentially an early software centre.
Freespire entered the stage in 2005 as a free (as in beer) version of Linspire. Both Linspire and Freespire were acquired by Xandros in 2008 and discontinued not long after. Xandros Linux also didn't survive - its latest stable release is from 2007.
PC/OpenSystems, the new owner of the Linspire and Freespire trademarks, is not new to the world of Linux distros - it already develops Black Lab Linux. The company bought the trademarks to, in its own words, differentiate its product line. They are hoping Linspire will appeal to enterprise and home users alike.
Both Freespire and Linspire are derivatives of Xubuntu 16.04. The distros are only available for the 64-bit x86 architecture and Xfce is the only supported desktop environment. Freespire is still the community edition and freely downloadable while the ISO for Linspire costs $79.99. The license fee will give you a year's worth of phone and e-mail support and a system with various common proprietary codecs pre-installed. The inclusion of the codecs is no longer part of the above-mentioned settlement with Microsoft - PC/OpenSystems has to pay patent-holders to include them.
I first tried Freespire. The ISO is a 1.5GB download and boots to a live environment where you can try the system before deciding whether or not to take the plunge. Freespire's desktop has a traditional look: the panel is placed at the bottom; window decorations such as title bars and buttons have a bevel effect and the wallpaper is dark blue with diagonal gradients and the Freespire logo.
Freespire 3 - Freespire's Xfce desktop
(full image size: 654kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
The installer is a modified version of Ubiquity. Unfortunately, the modifications are not improvements. The first issue I encountered was that the link to the release notes on the first page of the installer took me to a dodgy on-line survey about the UK economy. I asked PC/OpenSystems how it is possible that the link to the release notes goes to a phishing site - they were able to reproduce the bug but could not explain how or why this happened. A second tweak in the installer is that the slides that are normally displayed when Ubiquity installs the system have been replaced with a tiny little window that shows information about what the installer is doing. The size of the window adjusts itself to the amount of information that needs to be displayed and therefore changes in size all the time. The installer did get the job done but it wasn't a very pleasant experience.
Freespire 3 - The release notes page
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The reason why the installer has been tweaked has to do with the ubuntu-restricted-extras package, which provides support for DVD playback, Microsoft fonts, Flash and codecs for common audio and video files. Normally, the package is only installed if you tick the relevant box in the installer. In Freespire the meta-package was installed even though I had opted not to tick the box. This surprised me because a blog post on the PC/OpenSystems website from December 2017 claimed that Freespire 3 would appease what the company refers to as "GNU purists". Apart from some binary blobs in the kernel the distro would be fully libre (and the binary blobs could be removed in a future release).
Freespire 3 - Installing third-party software
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I did check with PC/OpenSystems what Freespire's stance on software freedom is and the company has now released a new ISO (Freespire 3.0.6). In the new version the restricted extras package is never installed - even if you tick the box you will not get the extras package. The checkbox is due to be removed from the installer and the company is apparently working with the Free Software Foundation to make Freespire fully libre.
A final thing worth noting about the installer is that we can set up our partitions as we wish. The release announcement for Freespire and Linspire suggests that file systems such as XFS and Btrfs are only available in Linspire but that is not the case.
While exploring Freespire I quickly discovered that the main difference between stock Xubuntu and Freespire is the look and feel. After changing the theme to Greybird and switching the panel to Xubuntu Modern I was left with Xubuntu. Even the collection of pre-installed software is roughly what you find in Xubuntu (you can compare the packages yourself). The most noteworthy differences are that Freespire comes with three file managers (Thunar, GNOME Files and a program called Worker) and that Thunderbird and LibreOffice are not installed - instead we get the Geary e-mail client and Abiword and Gnumeric for word processing and spreadsheets. Interestingly, Linspire does come with Thunderbird and LibreOffice pre-installed. Silly as it might sound, I suspect the reason why Thunderbird and LibreOffice have been removed in Freespire is that it may encourage people to purchase Linspire.
Freespire 3 - Worker, Thunar and GNOME Files
(full image size: 246kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
There were a few applications I hadn't come across before. In the category Games we get DOSBox, which describes itself as a shell that runs DOS programs; under Accessories we get Midnight Commander and under Settings we find a Domain Blocker, which is a parental control application.
Freespire 3 - Running various desktop utilities
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Freespire does not have its own repositories. The distro does add a Skype repository, even though Skype itself is not installed. The old Click 'N' Run application has been replaced with GNOME Software, while the more advanced Synaptic package manager is also pre-installed.
This is, then, essentially Xubuntu. The only real modifications are in the installer: the link to the release notes has been, let's say, monetised, and if you download the latest ISO the "restricted extras" package will not be installed (even if you tick the relevant box in the installer). Other than that Freespire is Xubuntu 16.04 with a different default theme. If you are an eagle-eyed reader you might have noticed that the link to the installer in the live environment is called "Install Freespire 16.04" - this should of course have been "Install Freespire 3". Selecting "Help" from the application menu opens the documentation for Xubuntu 16.04, complete with Xubuntu branding. In Firefox we get various Ubuntu bookmarks. The name of the Freespire menu icon is xubuntu-logo.png. If you change the software settings so that you are notified of any new version of the distro you will be notified that Ubuntu 17.10 is available. Everywhere you look you see that this is Xubuntu with a few artificial modifications.
The Linspire ISO is quite a bit larger (2.3GB) and the installation didn't go smoothly. In the live environment I found that the Google Chrome browser failed to launch and the installer appeared to hang. The install window didn't display any information but I could see that the Ubiquity process was running, although it didn't appear to make any progress. After about 40 minutes I decided to reboot the laptop and try again.
Linspire 7.0 - Trying to install the distribution
(full image size: 625kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
The second time both the live environment and installer worked better. I could launch Chrome (although the browser didn't open the link to the release notes) and the installer was working, albeit slowly. The installation took over an hour and at various points the installer appeared to have frozen. At least I got some information about what the installer was trying to do and it did eventually finish.
Linspire 7.0 - The custom installer retrieving files
(full image size: 1.0MB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
Linspire always installs the ubuntu-restricted-package, regardless of whether or not you tick the box to install the codecs and other proprietary goodies. This is in fact one of the main selling points of the distro: PC/OpenSystems has license agreements with Microsoft, Apple, Oracle and (unspecified) other companies that allows the company to include various (unspecified) codecs and the Java stack in its distributions.
Other than the codecs there is, again, nothing that sets the distro apart from Xubuntu. The Linspire release announcement mentions the availability of ZFS as one of the major features but, as I suspected, ZFS was not listed among the usual file systems. It is of course possible to use ZFS on Linspire, simply because it is possible to use ZFS on Ubuntu. However, getting ZFS to work on Linspire is not as easy as selecting it at the partitioning stage. I might add that the release announcement for Freespire and Linspire is misleading in that it suggests that ZFS is not available in Freespire. The fact is that there is no difference between Ubuntu, Freespire and Linspire when it comes to support for ZFS.
Linspire 7.0 - Chrome, Xfce Terminal and Skype
(full image size: 454kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
As I have already mentioned, the software collection in Linspire and Freespire is slightly different. In Linspire, Firefox has been replaced with Google Chrome and instead of Geary you now get Thunderbird (although I couldn't detect the promised Exchange add-on). LibreOffice 5.4 is provided via a PPA and we also get VLC, ClamAV, Bleachbit and VirtualBox. You again get the Skype repository and this time Skype is actually installed as well. In addition, you also get a WINE repository out of the box. Like Freespire, Linspire does not have its own repositories.
Performance, bugs and Xfce
It almost goes without saying that both Freespire and Linspire worked perfectly fine. On both my laptop and in GNOME Boxes the distros were responsive and stable - nothing crashed and I didn't encounter a single bug. Of course, it is Xubuntu that should get the plaudits for that. Freespire and Linspire are stock Xubuntu with a different theme and a slightly different set of default applications.
On the topic of bugs and default applications, one reason why I didn't encounter any bugs might be that Apport is not pre-installed in Freespire and Linspire. Apport is Ubuntu's crash reporting tool. It intercepts program crashes, collects debugging information and allows you to send the information to the Ubuntu developers via a graphical interface. As a replacement, Freespire and Linspire have their own "bug reporting tool": users can submit bug reports by leaving a comment on their Blogger blog. To date, not a single bug has been reported.
Linspire 7.0 - Reporting bugs
(full image size: 514kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
As for the Xfce desktop environment, I like the desktop. It is unassuming and fairly customisable. One thing to be aware of in both Freespire and Linspire is that the default panel configuration hasn't been saved. Instead, the developers have simply modified the default theme, which means that you have no way of going back to the default configuration if you change the panel layout.
Freespire 3 - Theme settings
(full image size: 364kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
Other than that the only minor annoyance is that Google Chrome and most GNOME applications stick out like a sore thumb. In Xubuntu the window decorations of GNOME applications have a similar look and feel if you stick with the default Greybird theme, although windows are missing the maximise and close buttons (you only get a minimise button). In Freespire and Linspire GNOME applications use a completely different theme with flat macOS-style buttons. I guess there is no perfect solution to integrating GNOME applications in a non-GNOME desktop environment.
Before I started my trial I was under the impression that Freespire and Linspire were quite different from stock Xubuntu. The Linspire blog, for instance, talks about binary blobs in "our" kernel and proprietary packages provided by vendors to Linspire. As I quickly learned, Linspire doesn't have its own repositories (let alone a custom kernel) and the proprietary packages are provided via the ubuntu-restricted-extras package. Similarly, the lead developer recently wrote on his blog that people who claim that Linspire is just a Xubuntu respin should "mind their own business" because they have no idea how much work has gone into customising Linspire over the last 18 months. When I asked the company if they could give some examples of how Linspire is different from Xubuntu I was told that, actually, their aim is to stay as close to Xubuntu as possible.
It would be unfair, however, to dismiss Freespire and Linspire as Xubuntu clones. The distros have two interesting selling points. Firstly, PC/OpenSystems can legally ship certain patent-encumbered codecs. Of course, anyone can install the ubuntu-restricted-extras package but in some jurisdictions doing so may be illegal. It is probably fair to say that few people care about such legalities but if you prefer to play by the rules then Linspire is worth a look.
Secondly, Linspire's main feature is the support license. You don't pay $79.99 for Xubuntu with a Linspire sticker - you buy a year's worth of support. Linspire might be an attractive option for small businesses and organisations that want to run Linux with a support contract. Similarly, I reckon many home users will like the idea of being able to get professional support for their Linspire box(es).
That said, it is disappointing that the only real customisations (as in code changes) are regressions: the installer is far from a finished product. It is also unfortunate that Freespire lacks direction. The new Freespire was presented as an almost fully libre distro, yet the initial release clearly was the exact opposite. Only after pointing this out did PC/OpenSystems quietly release a new ISO.
The main issue I had with the distros was something else though: the marketing/PR/spin. I have already mentioned various examples of dubious claims. I would like to add one more example, just because it nicely illustrates my gripe: the Freespire page claims that, unlike Freespire, Linux Mint is difficult to install. PC/OpenSystems arrived at that conclusion based on its own research: a whopping three people were asked to install Freespire, Ubuntu and Linux Mint and the "sample group" apparently struggled to install Mint.
This type of marketing is needlessly negative. I would rather see the company work with, say, the Trisquel developers, who have already solved the issue with the checkbox in the Ubiquity installer and who may also be able to help Freespire become an FSF-approved distro. I would love to see a proper bug tracking tool so that I would have an easy way to report issues. And I think it would also be nice if PC/OpenSystems would start sharing the code it claims to produce.
In short, I think both Freespire and Linspire are on to something. I like the idea of a fully libre Xubuntu spin and I am sure there is demand for Linspire. I just hope history won't repeat itself.
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Hardware used for this review
My physical test equipment for this review was a Lenovo Thinkpad X220 with the following specifications:
- Processor: Intel Core i3-2520M, 2.5GHz
- Memory: 8GB of RAM
- Wireless network adapter: Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6205
- Wired network adapter: Intel 82579M
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Visitor supplied rating
Freespire has a visitor supplied average rating of: 6.1/10 from 11 review(s).
Have you used Freespire? You can leave your own review of the project on our ratings page.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
Red Hat acquiring CoreOS, Korora slows release schedule, the OSI turns 20
Red Hat has announced that the company is in the process of acquiring CoreOS, the organization which develops Container Linux. Container Linux is a very lightweight distribution optimized for running containers and it provides automated updates. Red Hat has published a blog page which covers the reasons behind the acquisition and what CoreOS's team will bring to the Red Hat ecosystem. "We believe Red Hat and CoreOS are a natural fit due to our respective open source business models and emphasis on enabling customers to build and deploy applications across the hybrid cloud. CoreOS can expand Red Hat's technology leadership in containers and Kubernetes and enhance core platform capabilities in OpenShift, Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Red Hat's integrated container portfolio. Bringing CoreOS's technologies to the Red Hat portfolio can help us further automate and extend operational management capabilities for OpenShift administrators and drive greater ease of use for end users building and managing applications on our platform."
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The Korora team develops a Fedora-based distribution which offers users a more complete desktop experience with multimedia support. The Korora distribution typically publishes new versions shortly after the Fedora project releases a new version. The Korora team is going to change their release schedule and only offer new versions of Korora after every other Fedora version. "All this is done in our spare time along side our job, family and personal responsibilities. For a very small team, currently three people plus the occasional input from others, this is a lot of work. It means that often Korora has to take a back seat when real life intrudes. Consequently we have decided that in future there will an annual Korora release in line with only the even number Fedora versions. That means there won't be a Korora 27 but we are planning to have Korora 28 available soon after the final release of Fedora 28."
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The Open Source Initiative (OSI) is "a non-profit corporation with global scope formed to educate about and advocate for the benefits of open source and to build bridges among different constituencies in the open source community." The organization promotes and provides resources for people wanting to learn more about open source software and licensing. The OSI is celebrating its 20th anniversary this week. "The Open Source Initiative is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2018. In the true open source spirit, we would like to invite you and the open source community to participate. This is a great opportunity to highlight yours and your organization's open source success story. Please join and help us make this celebration a true representation of the passion, diversity, and creativity of the open source software community!" The OSI has set up a website with more information and invitations for community members to participate in the celebration.
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These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Myths and Misunderstandings (by Jesse Smith)
Wayland, X.Org and Mir
At the beginning of the year we covered a discussion taking place on a FreeBSD mailing list where developers were debating whether to enable Wayland support in FreeBSD ports by default. After some discussion, Kevin Oberman made a good point, one which could probably be posted as a footnote to any conversation about Wayland: "There seems to be general confusion on what Wayland is and what it does."
There tends to be a general misunderstanding as to what Wayland is (or is not), how it gets used and how it co-exists with other display technologies such as X.Org or Mir. Today I would like to clear up some common misunderstandings about these technologies.
X.Org is the classic method of displaying graphical elements on a Linux (or BSD) system. The X.Org display server is one component of many making up a desktop environment and its applications. At the top level we have applications, the arrangement of the application windows is handled by a separate task called a window manager. The window manager sits on top of the X.Org display server, which is responsible for drawing everything on the screen. From a practical point of view, we might run the Firefox browser as an application. The position and behaviour of the Firefox window is handled by a window manager like Openbox. The drawing of the window and its contents is handled by X.Org.
When some developers decided it was time to replace the aging X.Org software with a new, more streamlined design, we got two new main approaches in the open source community. The first was called Wayland and the second was called Mir. Let's focus on Wayland first.
"Wayland is a protocol for a compositor to talk to its clients as well as a C library implementation of that protocol." In order words, Wayland might be considered a method programs can use to draw applications on the screen. The Wayland website describes the idea as follows: "The Wayland architecture integrates the display server, window manager and compositor into one process. You can think of Wayland as a toolkit for creating clients and compositors. It is not a specific single compositor or window manager."
Put another way, Wayland takes the work of displaying items and managing windows (jobs previously handled by X.Org and a separate window manager) and melds those jobs into one. In theory, this should make things more simple. Before we were running Firefox on a window manager which talks to a separate display server. Now we simply run Firefox on a Wayland implementation which knows how to be both a window manager and a display server. The new approach is more streamlined.
Where people tend to get confused about Wayland is with the idea that there is no one Wayland implementation. Wayland defines a protocol for managing windows and displaying them, but there is no one central Wayland compositor & window manager. Each desktop environment is expected to create its own implementation of Wayland. For a desktop environment, such as GNOME or KDE Plasma, to support Wayland, the desktop developers must create their own version of Wayland.
In this way X.Org is different from Wayland. For most practical purposes there is one X.Org implementation that can be used by each desktop environment. With Wayland, each desktop environment needs to have a Wayland implementation written for it.
Backtracking a bit, Mir was the name of a technology similar to Wayland. But while Wayland was the name of a protocol anyone could implement, Mir is both the name of a protocol and a specific implementation of the Mir protocol. Put another way, the Mir software implements the Mir protocol. Mir started as a separate project from Wayland while attempting to do approximately the same thing: offer a simpler, lighter alternative to X.Org.
In the past year, the developers of the Mir software have decided to expand its scope. The Mir software now understands both the Mir protocol and the Wayland protocol. In short, the Mir software is now an implementation of Wayland.
One potential benefit to the Mir software now speaking the Wayland protocol is Mir can be used as a desktop-neutral display server for smaller desktop projects. GNOME and KDE are relatively large projects and were able to pioneer adopting the Wayland protocol with each desktop project creating its own Wayland implementation. (KDE created KWin/Wayland, GNOME wrote Wayland support into Mutter.) Smaller teams, such as those working on MATE and Xfce, may struggle to find the time to create their own versions of Wayland for their desktop environments. With this in mind, smaller desktop projects are looking at using Mir as a common component to reduce their work supporting Wayland.
One nice thing about the new Wayland approach is that it can co-exist alongside the old X.Org software. As FreeBSD developer Johannes Lundberg stated recently: "Libraries that are common for X and Wayland like mesa-libs, Qt5 and GTK30 will get a bit bigger in order to enable Wayland. This is completely transparent to X users and does not affect X-related stuff in anyway. Using Wayland compositors like Sway or Weston is still completely optional and they can co-exist with any X server and X11 window manager." In most cases we can not only have both Wayland and X.Org desktop sessions on the same operating system (the way Fedora and Ubuntu do), X.Org programs can typically be run on a Wayland session.
At this point, most implementations of Wayland (such as those used by KDE and GNOME) are ready for general, day to day use. However, possibly because there are still some corner cases to work out, or because X.Org sessions continue to work well, most distributions continue to use X.Org desktop sessions.
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Myths and misunderstandings can be found in our Myths and Misunderstandings archive.
|Released Last Week
OPNsense is a FreeBSD-based specialist operating system (and a fork of pfSense) designed for firewalls and routers. The latest release, OPNsense 18.1, is built on FreeBSD 11.1 and includes PHP version 7.1. The new release also features strict interface binding for OpenSSH connections and a new Realtek network driver, version 1.94. "We humbly present to you the sum of another major iteration of the OPNsense firewall. Over the second half of 2017 well over 500 changes have made it into this release, nicknamed 'Groovy Gecko'. Most notably, the firewall NAT rules have been reworked to be more flexible and usable via plugins, which is going to pave the way for subsequent API works on the core firewall functionality. For more details please find the attached list of changes below. The upgrade track from 17.7 will be available later today. Please be patient. Meltdown and Spectre patches are currently being worked on in FreeBSD, but there is no reliable timeline. We will keep you up to date through the usual channels as more news become available. Hang in there!" Further details can be found in the project's release announcement and press release.
Emmabuntüs is a desktop Linux distribution with editions based on based on Xubuntu and Debian's Stable branch. It strives to be beginner-friendly and reasonably light on resources so that it can be used on older computers. The project's latest release is based on Debian and includes several bug fixes along with support for a wider range of wireless network cards. "As a reminder, this version includes the UEFI support for the 32- and 64-bits architectures, and integrates the essential 'Debian Beginner's Handbook', updated for the Stretch version by our friends of the 3HG Team led by our mate arpinux, this handbook being available in both French and English versions. Also included are our latest presentation and installation tutorials already published on the Developpez.com site, as well as the one concerning the printer configuration under Debian, also available in both French and English languages. This Debian Edition 2-1.01 version includes the following fixes and enhancements: Based on Debian 9.3 Stretch. Workaround concerning the display freeze at startup bug in the Linux 4.9 kernel...." More details can be found in the project's release announcement.
Linux Lite 3.8
Jerry Bezencon has announced the release of Linux Lite 3.8, an Ubuntu-based distribution featuring the lightweight Xfce desktop. "Linux Lite 3.8 Final is now available for download. There have been a number of changes since the 3.6 release. This is the last release for Series 3.x. Linux Lite 4.0 Final will be released on June 1st, 2018. The changes for Linux Lite 3.8 include - more support for LibreOffice, regional support for DVDs, a Font Viewer/Installer and we now have our own Google-based Search page as the home page in Firefox. We've also added TLP for Laptops to Lite Tweaks. We've added a Thesaurus (Synonyms) to LibreOffice for the US language... If you have DVDs that are from another region other than your own, you can now easily change region so that it will play in VLC. Insert your DVD, open a terminal and type regionset and follow the on-screen instructions." Further information and screen shots can be found in the project's release announcement. Download (MD5): linux-lite-3.8-64bit.iso (1,027MB, torrent, pkglist).
Linux Lite 3.8 -- The welcome screen
(full image size: 1.2MB, resolution: 1920x1080 pixels)
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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: 729
- Total data uploaded: 17.7TB
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Commercial Linux distributions
This week we discussed a few commercial Linux companies, including Red Hat and PC/OpenSystems. We would like to find out how many of our readers currently run a commercial Linux distribution. If you do run a
commercial Linux system, do you enjoy the extra technical support, are you giving back financially to the open source community, do you feel commercial distributions offer a better experience? Please let us know your reasons for purchasing your operating system in the last week's edition. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
Commercial Linux distributions
|I run a commercial distribution: ||15 (1%)|
| I run both commercial and no-cost distributions: ||146 (6%)|
| I run no-cost distributions only: ||2020 (90%)|
| I do not run a Linux distribution: ||74 (3%)|
Distributions added to waiting list
- Anarchy Linux. Anarchy Linux is an Arch Linux-based distribution offering users an installation disc with a live desktop. Anarchy Linux's default desktop is Xfce.
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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, 12 February 2018. 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 • Freespire/Linspire (by Promet on 2018-02-05 01:51:02 GMT from Hong Kong) |
Frankly speaking, the new Freespire/Linspire share nothing of their past despite the name and logo.
The old *spires emphasize on a fully-fledged desktop based on KDE plasma, and a Apple app-store styled software center. Although some of its ideas contradicted with the idea of free software, those are also their selling points as well.
The new distro just bring this nostalgic name back to the community, with a simple XFCE desktop and just some artworks, not to say that even the Ubuntu software Center now is much better than the Linspire CNR software center at that time.
2 • Wayland, Xorg and Mir (by Cartouche on 2018-02-05 02:12:05 GMT from France)
Me, I love XFree86... 😆
3 • Wayland's Curse: Desktop Fragmentation (by cflow on 2018-02-05 02:17:07 GMT from United States)
When I first remembered Wayland, I thought it was a great technical innovation, meant to solve many problems with the O.Org-based Linux desktop, such as screen tearing, security issues, etc.
Now, however... I'm really casting doubt about if Wayland was the right idea in the first place. The reason is that it allowed for multiple implementations of the protocol, instead of a universal one that X did. And from that, it made the Linux desktop even more fragmented in a very disturbing way.
Because of Wayland GNOME and KDE are acting even more like alien architectures than they once were, each reinventing the wheel on really complex clients and inner workings that they each used to share. And many application and driver developers are being forced into splitting how they work in each desktop - if they can even work in both at all.
Worse is that it is taking _forever_ for them to make it work with true end-user stability.
I did fear back then that Mir would cause deep fragmentation between desktops, much like other people on the web. Now, ironically, Wayland not only is causing this fragmentation on its own, Mir could end up cutting back the fragmentation by being a universal window toolkit to port any desktop to, much like X originally did.
Wow have times changed...
4 • Fragmentation. (by jadecat on 2018-02-05 02:50:33 GMT from United Kingdom)
Fragmentation has been around for years. Long before Mir, Wayland etc., You've just got to choose your Particular fragment. That's the beauty of choice.
5 • linspire/freespire (by Scott Eno on 2018-02-05 03:52:55 GMT from United States)
I hope no one dumb enough to pay them for nothing more then a messed up version of Xubuntu.
6 • what??? (by tom joad on 2018-02-05 03:55:31 GMT from Ukraine)
When I read this weeks poll question I laughed. I did. I knew exactly how it was going to go. But I voted. I use only the no cost distributions. After I voted I look at the totals so far as I always do. And there was a shock in that.
As of this writing 10% of the respondents don't even use Linux! Really? I mean really???
Why are you guys here answering a poll on what type of Linux you use!
What a chuckle.
7 • fragmentation (by david esktorp on 2018-02-05 04:09:17 GMT from United States)
Oh good, the antique vase has fallen to the floor. Now instead of one child inheriting this lovely piece, each child, grandchild, great grandchild, etc can choose a particular fragment to enjoy and display for generations to come. Certainly, the quality of the artwork has sharply diminshed, but we have glorious bits of quantity in its stead. That's the beauty of choice!
8 • XFree86 (by Charles Carrey on 2018-02-05 04:19:08 GMT from Canada)
Me too, I love XFree86, Merci Beaucoup! ... 😆
9 • free or none free linux distributions (by Bobbie Sellers on 2018-02-05 05:07:47 GMT from United States)
I started with Mandriva and paid about $60/year for a two disk distribution
with a book. Mandriva went away so sorry but 2011 which I paid for
would not run nor did anyone at their help desk give useful suggestions.
Mandriva was available free as well but without the proprietary codecs
that permitted viewing videos, etc. I wanted those so paid for the
Mandriva Powerpack editions.
I switched to PCLinuxOS about 2012 or maybe a year later.
I had to go to Mageia when my formerly new computer packed in
its SATA interface and that was free. The Pavilion that I replaced
that with ran Windows 8.1 on UEFI and Mageia was moving faster
on the adaptation to the GPT.
Now I am running PCLinuxOS64 on two old Dell E series Latitudes
and paying via donation about $60/year. I would be happy to make
donations to Mageia because it can be very useful but they don't
take dollars the last time I checked.
Free? Non-free? Depends on what you are doing.
If I had a business I might pay for the Red Hat support.
Reading about Linspire and Freespire reminded me of
Lindows before it had to change its name. Several
commercial distros out thare that claim great things
but don't allow you to try it out to see if the claims
10 • @1 " The old *spires emphasize on a fully-fledged desktop based on KDE plasma" (by Tran Older on 2018-02-05 05:12:57 GMT from Vietnam)
Actually Lindows 4.0 was based on KDE 3.1.x and Linspire 5.0 was based on KDE 3.5.x. The KDE 3.5.x has been revived by the Trinity Project.
11 • Linspire/Freespire (by eco2geek on 2018-02-05 05:35:52 GMT from United States)
> You don't pay $79.99 for Xubuntu with a Linspire sticker - you buy a year's worth of support.
OK, but is said support is actually *worth* $79.99?
> I like the idea of a fully libre Xubuntu spin...
You can already install Xubuntu in "free software only" mode -- although what the FSF thinks is free and what X/Ubuntu thinks is free are probably two completely separate things.
My question would be, does Freespire do anything different than Xubuntu does to achieve a so-called "free/libre" installation?
Anyway, there are some of you who might remember when Fry's Electronics (a chain retailer) sold desktop computers for $99.99 under the "GQ" ("Great Quality") brand, that had Linspire 4.5 pre-installed. For that price, IIRC, you got a computer with an AMD Sempron CPU, an empty AGP port (onboard graphics), a mouse, keyboard, and speakers...and a Linspire CD. (The idea was that people would wipe Linspire off the 40 GB hard drive and install Windows XP.) I still have one of them on my shelf with an even older 5-1/4" floppy drive installed.
12 • Commercial Linux (by argent on 2018-02-05 06:01:17 GMT from United States)
For one haven't forgotten why I moved to Linux, a Windows XP holdout until it wasn't of much use. Luckily found CrunchBang in the beginning of my Linux experience and from that point on never looked back.
Linux is about freedom, contribute often enough to those who develop distributions and applications that I use. Currently Devuan and various apps that I am particular about.
Not to keen on a buy me Linux distribution which offers nothing more that isn't already free. Recommend if anyone is thinking about paying for a distribution they should download the free and contribute those funds to that distribution.
Don't muddle a good thing by feeding a beast that will consume you and let you down!
Don't forget WHY you left Windows!
13 • Linspire: a tainted brand (by Thom on 2018-02-05 06:16:27 GMT from Sweden)
Way back, when Steve Ballmer had his Linux-is-a-cancer period and Microsoft spared no expenses and no efforts, no matter how underhanded, in their attempt to poison the FOSS well, there were some people, who saw an opportunity in playing by the Redmond rules. Lindows/Linspire was one such company. Caldera/SCO was another. By trying to play by Microsoft's we-own-everything book, they lost respect in the community.
They tried to do what RedHat was doing but failed to understand that a big part of people's reason for using Linux, was to escape from the naked greed of Microsoft.
It seems the people behind Linspire went and acquired themselves a tainted brand name.
14 • Commercial Linux (by Jolly Jubilant on 2018-02-05 07:10:14 GMT from Canada)
@ # 12
"Linux is about freedom, contribute often enough to those who develop distributions and applications."
Good one, but some beast like Amazon, Google and Facebook bolstered for monopoly.
"Not to keen on a buy me Linux distribution which offers nothing more that isn't already free. Recommend if anyone is thinking about paying for a distribution they should download the free and contribute those funds to that distribution."
Always support the free flow of development by whatever means you can.
"Don't muddle a good thing by feeding a beast that will consume you and let you down!"
I wud rather say it little differently, Think twice before you spend your hard-earned cash on new tech toys. Think twice whom you are feeding. Otherwise,
"by feeding a beast that will consume you and let you down!"
Just in case, if you feed and support the BEAST, make sure you are also enough and well feeded. NOT JUST BEING SUCKED!
When I was thirsty and shouted for a glass of water, some angles on the earth drag me
to the aquatic bliss as if whatever I can ever need or I can ever consume.
I will take whatever I really need, rest will be passed-on "FREE" to those who ever need.
15 • FSF & Comunism (by freesbee on 2018-02-05 07:19:53 GMT from Switzerland)
Great idea indeed, just it will never work. Work as much as you can, take as much as you need ... experience shows that it will end up on: do as little as possible and take as much you can grab.
FSF problem is that one ends up with a laptop without WiFi, with OGG converter, which is unable to convert MP3 & MP4 to OGG, since it can not decode them without the proprietary codecs ...
We are turning in circles and to change that, we all have to do the same and at the exact same time. As soon as one and only thing out there is still proprietary, we will end up on "freeprietary".
Money makes the world go round .. if you like it or not.
16 • FSF & Comunism (by Greedy Gluttony on 2018-02-05 07:44:10 GMT from Canada)
"Great idea indeed, just it will never work."
In my full awareness, I was really expecting open and frank minded responses as well. The "ideas" never worked or will never work because of "The Guys" like you. And, rest are brain-washed with Greedy Oligarchies with a temptation of a golden-egg which is neither been given nor been hatched.
"Work as much as you can, take as much as you need ... "
There is a little partiality and biased trade in give-n-take or take-n-give trade here,
If I really work for someone, I will take as much as I can, NOT only what I need.
"experience shows that it will end up on: do as little as possible and take as much you can grab."
In "The Zen" of a layman, it better something not be revealed or shared where Oligarchy Crocs are mainly profiting from it by sucking on innocents.
"We are turning in circles and to change that, we all have to do the same and at the exact same time. As soon as one and only thing out there is still proprietary, we will end up on "freeprietary"."
The Great concept of the day. If anyone could understand and follow will be benefited.
Only We can over-throw these Oligarchy Mammoths.
"Money makes the world go round .. if you like it or not."
I will give what ever you need, just buy me a little piece of happiness.
17 • Gleaming -spires? (by Sondar on 2018-02-05 09:04:36 GMT from United Kingdom)
Great review, again, Jesse; shame about the conclusions! Followed the whole grisly fiasco since inception, US DoJ included. These greedy, misguided wannabee developers need to be run out of town. Nobody loves those who are 'economical with the actuality'. Those needing paid Linux support probably haven't learnt how to use the fora thoughtfully and helpfully provided the distro developers and their (mostly!) friendly camp followers of whom I am one grateful recipient. Better to spend that cash burning a hole in their pockets with a course of evening classes? Or RH?! Maybe they don't have helpful friends to discuss problems with - easy by email, Ekiga, w.h.y., even if you live on Tristan da Cuna. Deplorable that many schools claiming to offer computer courses are only capable of teaching how to use Word rather writing assembler for the RPi, for example. World + dog needs to attend to education policies. And, yes, DW & DWW is here for folks with interest, and maybe determination, to advance the breed/build the new society/help their compatriots/ and all those higher aspirations. Thank you Ladislav, Jesse & team.
18 • @6 "10% of the respondents don't even use Linux! Really?" (by os2_user on 2018-02-05 09:19:50 GMT from United States)
Really. I'm a well-wisher, and not as in wishing Linux down a well (old joke here).
I'll repeat this again: in 2007, fed up with Windows, I found PCLinux, that installed in 20 minutes, found nearly all hardware and had drivers, and -- this was amazing given how complex installing Windows was then -- you could start the install from live CD then browse the net TOO!
Sadly, promise of a usable alternative has slowly been buried under "cool" and "advanced" GUI features, while simplicity and basic function is lost. I used PCLInux of 2014 for about a year (just for backup), and every time I had to set the screen resolution, it would not stay. KDE got yet worse with 2017.04 version, and then ext4 on a new 3T fell apart as I watched, so I had to give up.
So back to XP, then took up W7 too. They annoy but don't fall apart if get rid of IE and use Noscript with Firefox. -- Oh, and I never have to "log in" and get "permission" to use my own computer.
@ the Wayland "explanation": so one program that doesn't work is better than two that do? Justification appears to be programmer's mania for "elegance". -- While using Linux that faithfully implements, even enforces, arcane arbitrary design and commands of the 1970s. Hmm. -- And clearly plain Xorg works well enough. Now you have three major efforts and code bases with Xorg still the useful "compatibility" level.
DISAPPOINTED WITH LINUX is becoming a theme even here. -- In all seriousness: TURN BACK from "improvements", you fools! Keep it SIMPLE. You're losing not only function but FUN.
19 • @6 - "10% of the respondents don't even use Linux! Really?" (by Al CiD on 2018-02-05 09:57:50 GMT from Germany)
There are also people using BSD ... and BSD is not Linux, right?
20 • Anarchy (by Mozzi on 2018-02-05 10:49:55 GMT from France)
You say "Anarchy Linux. Anarchy Linux is an Arch Linux-based distribution" ..... NO, NO,NO.......
Anarchy is only an installer similar to zen-installer. There is no desktop by default, and Anarchy has no repository, only for a few tools and utilities.
21 • Xandros (by Wine Curmudgeon on 2018-02-05 13:03:39 GMT from United States)
The very first Linux system I used was Xandros, which was installed on my Asus EEE, one of the later 700s I think. It was a tiny, white, plastic candy box. I loved that computer, and used it until I broke the keyboard.
22 • Wayland: "still some corner cases to work out" (by curious on 2018-02-05 13:28:33 GMT from Germany)
I wouldn't call incompatibility with one of the leading manufacturer's graphics hardware mere "corner cases". This is a BIG problem, and until it is solved, Wayland should be avoided, and - more importantly - no developments should be made that cut users off (hello KDE devs!).
Note, we are not talking about some esoteric, niche hardware that doesn't work in Linux anyway, we are talking about common graphics hardware that has been generally supported in Linux for years.
The way Wayland is designed, forcing not merely each desktop environment, but more precisely each window manager to create its own implementation (or adapt to somebody else's, like Mir), is also a big problem: it would appear that Wayland also serves as a (perhaps welcome) means to marginalize smaller desktop environments - are the Wayland developers by any chance somehow connected to Gnome or systemD?
23 • @18: os2_user: (by dragonmouth on 2018-02-05 14:04:47 GMT from United States)
"and I never have to "log in" and get "permission" to use my own computer. "
But you do have to ask Mama for permission to install new hardware, otherwise your O/S will throw a hissy fit.
"Justification appears to be programmer's mania for "elegance"."
As a fellow programmer used to say "Elegance is for tailors".
24 • @6 not just Linux is free (by Simon on 2018-02-05 14:07:55 GMT from United Kingdom)
Yes, not everyone uses Linux, there are a few OS's out there that are free but not based on the Linux kernel. BSD, obviously, Solaris, less so.
25 • Post # 18 (by Winchester on 2018-02-05 14:47:10 GMT from United States)
Once again,GNU / Linux operating systems can be used without using an ext4 file system (if you do not trust ext4) , and can be used without KDE 4 or KDE 5 (if you do not like the KDE 4 or KDE 5 environments).
Also,at the risk of being redundant and stating what might be obvious,one does not "have to log-in and get permission" to use their own computer. There is something known as automatic log-in and there are GNU / Linux operating systems available which allow root log-in or regular user log-in.
26 .• commercial (by dogma on 2018-02-05 15:29:32 GMT from United States)
Equating paying the despicable monster Red Hat with “giving back financially to the open source community” is a grave error.
27 • cost vs no-cost distro (by Dxvid on 2018-02-05 15:47:33 GMT from Sweden)
I mostly use no-cost distros nowadays (many virtual machines and a few physical), but sometimes I use cost distros when trying out compatibility to be ready to offer a more stable environment in case a customer would require it. The main problem I see with cost distributions like SUSE and RedHat are that they charge way too much money for a license, plus they charge extra for some components or extra services, plus they charge extra for virtual machines running on a host already running the distro, etc... I only want high stability, good hardware support, tools for hardening a system and quick patches for serious security problems. I DO NOT NEED OR WANT TO PAY FOR SUPPORT OR THINGS THAT CAN BE FOUND FOR FREE WHICH IS THE MAIN COMPONENT OF DISTRO LICENSES, INSTEAD I WANT THINGS TO JUST WORK AND I WANT THERE TO BE ENOUGH DOCUMENTATIONS SO THAT NO SUPPORT IS EVER NEEDED! Ubuntu is cheaper but still the worst of the big paid distros in my opinion as they give away the distro for free without security enhancements or good security guides and have very poor official documentation, and then you can opt in to pay a very high license fee for support. I have ended up using OpenSUSE Leap the latest years as it offers a good stable enough environment for developing new software and for trying out new server packages with their well maintained open build system repositories, later I might switch into using paid licenses but the price is just too high to only get higher stability and higher security as I don't need support or other stuff. RedHat offers a license without support, but it is far too expensive at 350$ per VM per year. I would like there to be a middle ground between free and extremely over-priced licenses. Almost a hundred bucks to over a thousand $ or € per year per virtual machine is just not a reasonable price per VM. Nowadays it's seen as good practice to separate things into different VMs, so a small company providing services on the internet (for example apps) can end up needing 20-30 virtual machines. Maybe around 20-30$/€ per VM would be a more reasonable price in these days. Now the big corporate distros will mostly attract huge corporations, and lose most potential customers to no-cost distros or to free alternatives of the paid distros. I could think of many better things to do with license fees per year than to have SLIGHTLY increased security and stability, for example buy a new car every year, or rent 5-10 new 20 core servers per year running OpenSUSE, CentOS or Ubuntu without license fee. Just my thoughts, it amazes me that hardware, electricity and bandwidth together can be cheaper than licenses these days.
28 • $79 For "Mind Your Own Business" (by Tman on 2018-02-05 16:31:28 GMT from United States)
If this is the type customer service you get or responses from community facing employees for $79, I'll pass.
29 • Freespire review... (by tom joad on 2018-02-05 16:43:10 GMT from Netherlands)
I read the *inspire review. Good job by the reviewer by the way.
But the distro lost me on the sameness with Xubuntu and the disinformation. For instance "Mint is difficult to install..." etc., etc.
30 • Fastest KDE Distro Ever (by Kim on 2018-02-05 16:45:40 GMT from Austria)
After trying the new openSUSE Leap 15.0 Beta (Build 115.1) I'd have to say that I am pleasantly surprised: Fastest boot times of any KDE/Plasma variant so far. Most of the things are working despite the beta version. It has been a long time since I have touched KDE again due to its intrinsic instability. I can still reliably crash desktop configuration once in a while. But otherwise openSuse might be getting somewhere, at least when the final release is ready.
Final remark: While I am still highly critical against the KDE/Plasma DE, I just love Kate, Dolphin and other KDE applications. It is a pity that these applications do not integrate well in other DEs such as LXDE. So I might finally move back to somewhat scary KDE/Plasma.
32 • @ 24 BSD based live iso? (by aquila on 2018-02-05 17:10:05 GMT from France)
"Yes, not everyone uses Linux, there are a few OS's out there that are free but not based on the Linux kernel. BSD,"
Is there any BSd based live distros around?
33 • grateful for FSF (by Tim Dowd on 2018-02-05 17:12:04 GMT from United States)
What your argument misses is just how much we've all benefited from the insistence of some on free software only.
Without those purists, there's not the GNU userland, there's not a desire to create gtk, there's not a moral drive to release things open-source.
I don't think they'd like me very much because I like you use non free software where I have to. But I do make choices when I'm buying hardware and I try and choose hardware that I don't need non-free stuff to run as much as possible. I think everyone should run a distro like Debian at some point and have to go through the process of installing completely free and then adding back exactly what they need so that they know what of their hardware and software is the holdout
34 • Freespire (by janusz on 2018-02-05 17:24:03 GMT from Poland)
I am a home user (no gaming) on Xubuntu for the last 5 years or so. Tried dozens of other distros and always came back. Xubuntu is very stable and predictable. In case of a problem, you can always reinstall in 30 minutes or so. Just lately I had to do something about screen tearing - it almost went away with Compton, but it is still not perfect. Tried Kubuntu 17.10.1 - nice, surprisingly stable. And just out of curiosity, I wanted to see if Freespire better handles the graphics stuff. Results were not conclusive. And then of course the question - why should I use a distro which is a respin without any clear advantage over the original? As always, I adopted the "cut out the middleman" approach. Am I ready to try new things to see if some people came up with a better and nicer Linux OS? Sure, that's why I tried Linspire, and I thank these guys for their effort. But I also say - Thank you, maybe some other time!
35 • Commercial distributions have a wrong agenda (by mark on 2018-02-05 17:44:10 GMT from Austria)
I don't run commercial distributions because they tend to support companies who mostly work for their own gains rather than for the general good of people.
36 • @6 Not running Linux (by Rev_Don on 2018-02-05 17:45:31 GMT from United States)
"As of this writing 10% of the respondents don't even use Linux! Really? I mean really???
Why are you guys here answering a poll on what type of Linux you use!"
That's easy. The wording of the Poll implies (or is it infers) that they are referring to full time use of Linux. Some of them most likely use BSD, Unix, etc. Or they may have software requirements that prevent them from using Linux as their daily driver. These people may need to support people who do use Linux so want to keep up to date with with various Linux news. Some of them use a live Linux USB, CD, or DVD as a rescue OS. Even though they do use Linux on a limited basis they feel that voting that they don't use Linux is the most appropriate answer due to the fact that DistroWatch doesn't provide adequate responses to cover all situations as usual.
I fit into the latter two of those scenarios. I would imagine that there are others as well.
Finally, I don't think that it's up to you to decide who is and isn't allowed to answering Polls here on DistroWatch.
37 • BSD live media (by Jesse on 2018-02-05 17:57:03 GMT from Canada)
@32: GhostBSD and (I think) Debian GNU/kFreeBSD feature live media.
38 • Freespire testing (by RJA on 2018-02-05 18:30:40 GMT from United States)
Disappointed with the review results of Freespire. The worst of all: The malvertising! SMH...
39 • Color me skeptical (by Daniel on 2018-02-05 18:58:02 GMT from United States)
"PC/OpenSystems has license agreements with Microsoft, Apple, Oracle and (unspecified) other companies that allows the company to include various (unspecified) codecs and the Java stack in its distributions."
This could be true, but I take it with a boulder of salt rather than a grain. I don't think you are legally safer (regardless of what nation you operate in) using one of PC/OpenSystems' distributions than you are using any number of other distros.
I previously touched on the lead developer's/CEO's branding moves in the comments section of DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 745.
This is the same guy who said his company would contribute code to projects targeting AmigaOS 4, as well as provide a PPC port of his Linux distro (amigaworld.net/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?topic_id=37853&forum=17#710877). That commitment lasted about as long as an ice cube in a desert. AmigaOS and (home user-targeted) PPC hardware didn't suddenly become a less viable market than it already had been when he made that statement, I just don't think he had the ability to deliver.
I remember him stating years ago that he contributed code to Xfce (it was enough of a boastful red flag at the time that I looked for Xfce code contributions and didn't find any at that time), although my google-fu (or duckduckgo-fu as it were) is not strong enough to find the comment now, so feel free to disregard my account. I did find this, "enhanced kernel code or package code back to those projects ie kernel code goes back to kernel.org, XFCE code is contributed back to the XFCE project" (www.blacklablinux.org/2014/06/black-lab-linux-vs-pcos-desktoplx.html), which makes it sound like he/his company is an engaged downstream, but I would not be the least bit surprised if the truth is that he doesn't do much if any in the way of code contributions to independent upstream projects.
This is also the same guy that went on the offensive against DistroWatch (see comment #55 in Issue 535 of DistroWatch Weekly), although that seems to have been smoothed over.
It might come across differently, but I'm honestly not intending to fervently crusade here. It's just that over the years I came across enough dubious statements and questionable actions by the guy that I started taking notice when he made announcements, whether with regard to Linux, Amiga, remastersys, etc. If he doesn't set off your BS detector and you want to use Black Lab Linux, netOS, Linspire, or Freespire, go right ahead, but for me, this guy is the Stephen Glass of Linux.
40 • I hope the 90+ percent that use "free" Linux distros.... (by Mike W on 2018-02-05 19:02:01 GMT from United States)
...see fit to periodically contribute financially to support their continued development. Nothing worthwhile is truly "free", and certainly the sweat-equity that developers devote to their distros that the rest of us use is worth our support.
41 • Linspire/Freespire (by Anon From Cali on 2018-02-05 19:39:41 GMT from United States)
First off, I want to say it was amazing to see the names make a comeback. I was an early adopter of Lindows back in the day. Lindows was good. But, as the review stated, it never quite made it where it wanted to go. In fact, at the time of the lawsuit, two of the main devs left Lindows and joined the Xandros team. It was the beginning of the end for Lindows.
Anyway, enough of that. As someone else said, the Linspire of today, is nothing like Lindows of the past. Except name. Linspire Now, is just a rebranded and broken Xubuntu. The review touched on CNR. But, didn't do it justice. CNR may have been a predecessor of the Ubuntu Package Management or even the Apple store, but, for the time, it was much better. It was easy to use and just worked.
Anyway, I have moved on from Debian/buntu based distros since those days and am currently an Arch user. But, my points had to be told. Lindows/Linspire Old vs. Linspire New? Hands down Lindows is the winner.
42 • @ 37 BSD Live Media @ Jessie (by aquila on 2018-02-05 22:11:37 GMT from France)
"GhostBSD and (I think) Debian GNU/kFreeBSD feature live media."
Thanks, going to have a look at both. Hope you could write about BSD systems in the next issues. Maybe, those who use BSD write some comments on it.
43 • @33 BSd based live distros around (by MIHY? on 2018-02-05 22:34:24 GMT from Spain)
"Is there any BSd based live distros around?"
Yes, there are several "BSd" based live distros around.
You can find them in a webpage called "Distrowatch"
44 • BSD reviews (by Jesse on 2018-02-06 02:49:21 GMT from Canada)
@42: "h. Hope you could write about BSD systems in the next issues. "
I wrote about GhostBSD about three weeks ago:
And about TrueOS middle of last year: https://distrowatch.com/weekly.php?issue=20170501#trueos
Reviews for other flavours of BSD can be found on their respective information pages on this site.
45 • @40 - contributions (by Hoos on 2018-02-06 04:08:52 GMT from Singapore)
I completely agree with this.
If you don't want your favourite distro to die out, try to contribute financially or offer to help out in other ways if possible, for example giving help on forums, contributing your writing or art skills to the project, becoming part of the development team if you have technical expertise, etc.
46 • Free as in unenslaved (by jim on 2018-02-06 11:13:17 GMT from Canada)
No-cost all the way ... but if a distro takes me to my happy place I always throw money.
47 • Poll query (by Jordan on 2018-02-06 12:53:24 GMT from United States)
The question about commercial distro use is interesting: not much commercial distro use, it appears.
I've also wondered something else, namely, how long do linux users keep a "main distro" on their computer before trying another. Perhaps I've missed it if it's been asked in a poll before.
Choices could be
- One distro for several years
- Two or more on the same machine, but one never changes
- Two or more on the same machine, but one main distro seldom changes
- More than one machine, one with a main distro, other(s) for experimenting
- Always changing because Windows is my main OS
...etc, or some such.
48 • Yes, support your local Linux version... (by tom joad on 2018-02-06 16:42:11 GMT from United States)
I just wanted to echo several other respondants here...."If you like the Linux version you are using...SEND THEM SOME $$$!!!" You will be glad you did.
49 • Freespire review (by Jeffrey Ferrell on 2018-02-06 17:37:36 GMT from United States)
After reading the review I went and downloaded Freespire 3.0.6 according to the cat /etc/os-release. Im a little perplexed because most everything in this review is wrong. I clicked on Release Notes in the installer and it took me to their website. I went through the installer it hung a bit when downloading packages so I disconnected from the internet and install finished without a problem. I clicked on help in the application menu and it comes up with their support website which I must say is quite bare aside from an Install guide. I then looked for the Xubuntu help docs and couldn't find them at all on the system. I looked in the package manager and I found a lot of the Xubuntu branded packages in there led to empty directories or the files such as Plymouth had files overwritten with Linspire branded materials. I then looked at some of the packages and the kernel packages are 46 mb more than the stock Ubuntu kernel. $29.99 for a download of a Linux OS isnt bad pricing wise. Review aside, your inaccuracies with the installer alone is enough for me to not even consider this a serious review. Would this make me switch from Elementary? No. Would I recommend this for someone new to Linux and a non-technical relative or friend? Absolutely. My experience so far has been good. I think you have to look at the market pc/opensystems is aiming for. Linspire as a commercial distro it is affordable they have wine installed and a pretty good application install base. For a small business this would be a good package. Businesses dont like free and despite the Google marketing machine its a Microsoft and Apple world and I suspect Linspire will settle into a nice niche market. My recommendation to the Linspire/freespire guys is improve your support database and improve your help documentation and for Freespire in particular tone down the marketing. With Linspire and other commercial products we expect flamboyant marketing but interacting with the community its unnecessary.
50 • Freespire review (by Jesse on 2018-02-06 17:54:45 GMT from Canada)
@49: I'd like to point out that the perceived inaccuracies in the review are, in fact, addressed in the review. The author points out the installer changes with each point release and that the bugs they reported were replied to and being addressed. In short, the installer and packages keep changing each week so what you are experiencing is different from what the author experiences because it's a different version.
I'd also like to point you your comment says $29.99 is a decent price for a Linux OS, but the price on the Linspire website is $79, not $29.
Finally, I think it is worth noting that your name, Jeffery Ferrell, is the same name as a board member of the Black Lab Linux team. Black Lab is made by the same company that publishes the new Linspire/Freespire versions. Unless that is a very big cooincidence, I think it is fair to say people should take your commentary on PC/OpenSystems products with a grain of salt.
51 • Purposeful purchasing (by Daniel on 2018-02-06 19:57:49 GMT from United States)
I have no problem with commercial distros (see "Selling Free Software" @ gnu.org). It's seems most commercial distributions fall into one of three categories that are of little daily value to me:
1) Distributions that target business contracts with organizations, not individuals (and RHEL and SLE do have gratis developer editions which, I believe, only require renewing an annual non-paid subscription, plus there are alternatives like CentOS and openSUSE Leap). Collabora Office would be an example of this on the application side of things.
2) Specialty distros like Parted Magic.
3) Respins that don't articulate what added value they actually bring beyond what their upstream base already provides (i.e. change of wallpaper, icons, maybe the default application set, but no actual additional development or technical expertise). I don't use Linux Mint or elementaryOS (I do give them a test drive occasionally out of curiosity), but these are a couple of examples of distributions that I feel actually do add value on top of their upstream base.
I don't mind donating (whether that is a pure donation or purchasing extraneous merchandise from a project's swag shop) or paying if it actually supports development (e.g. buying from Fluendo back when it employed many of the GStreamer developers).
52 • @ Jeffrey Ferrell (by Robert Rijkhoff on 2018-02-06 23:05:27 GMT from Netherlands)
@49 Jesse's points (@50) are spot on. I'm pleased some of the issues I mentioned in the review are being addressed (as you know, new ISOs for both Freespire and Linspire appeared on the mirrors yesterday).
Just for the record, I installed both Freespire and Linspire four times (I tested two point releases for both distros in a virtual machine and on my laptop). With the exception of the initial trouble with the Linspire installer all the issues I mentioned are reproducible. And yes, I got the Freespire 3.0.1 and 3.0.6 ISOs to proof it.
Also for the record, my review wasn't wholly negative: I concluded Freespire and Linspire might be on to something. I did raise concerns about the marketing/PR/spin, of which I've given various examples. Assuming that you are indeed working for PC/OpenSystems, you have proven my point.
To elaborate on the "marketing issue", I personally like it if projects are open about their work. That includes releasing code (there's still no code on the 'Open Source Labs' page) and sharing information about how a distro is being developed (there's no bug tracker and the regular point releases are invariably unannounced). I reckon a particularly good example of how a project can be transparent and inclusive is the Plasma team. Here, for instance, is their response to a critical review about Plasma:
53 • @ 23: "But you do have to ask Mama for permission..." (by OS2_user on 2018-02-07 05:38:25 GMT from United States)
"... install new hardware, otherwise your O/S will throw a hissy fit."
No idea what mean, except that you're not familiar with XP / W7, the only versions mentioned, or "Plug'n'Play", and fact that most gadgets support ONLY Windows. SO since that's your only objection and it's false in my experience, you can relax, I'm doing entirely fine now gone back to Windows.
@25: "Once again, GNU / Linux operating systems can be used without using an ext4 file system (if you do not trust ext4)" -- Well, I trusted ext4 until after not much more than long enough to FTP over 2T, saw it fall apart, first losing contents of sub-dirs, then both superblocks. Astonishing and traumatic. It's my understanding that ext4 is considered solid and reliable, so I'm not at all enthused about "trying" some other.
@25: "There is something known as automatic log-in and there are GNU / Linux operating systems available" -- PCLinux allowed that in 2014 then took it away in 2017. (I had to get permission to even use the ext4 that fell apart!) You seriously advise trying dozens to find which allow it? Because it's not an advertised feature: Linux types abhor auto log-in. -- In my sampling of a couple dozen over ten years, PERMISSION is universal except for PCLinux, and usually enforced at least when installing new programs.
I'm not breaking into my own computer, see? The default should be that those who want it can switch it on -- after experiment or installing more. But of course few would. But the religion is enforced other ways too, such as XSane nagging if used in root.
In my opinion, the "permissions" are a major obstacle to non-maniacs: it's why the billions of Windows installations don't have it. Try to imagine typing in a password every time use a toaster, because that's comparable waste of time for a gadget over which have physical security.
54 • Non linux users (by Jordan on 2018-02-07 13:59:28 GMT from United States)
@6... the site op(s) here get a clear picture of what OSs are hitting the site, and posting here etc. The poll choice of not using linux would partially at least wash out those linux users who have to use a Windows or other OS at work or where ever then go home to their beloved linux machine.
55 • Post # 53 (by Winchester on 2018-02-07 15:01:05 GMT from United States)
PERMISSION is not "universal" or needed if you log-in as the root user. I don't think that I can be any more clear. You don't need to break into your own computer. You do not need to type in a password "every time". Just one time during installation of the system. " Linux types abhor auto log-in" , yes ...... but,it is an option. Both options are available but,yet,you are still complaining about it.
The root user account is configured during installation. I prefer (and almost always) run as a normal user however,I am quite sure that Arch Linux and many of its derivatives allow a root user to be configured during installation. I know for a fact that both Alpine Linux and 4M Linux allow root log-in. I am sure that there are many others as well .... even Debian (but not Ubuntu) if I am not mistaken.
This is like complaining about ALL toasters because most toasters have the controls set-up in an area or in a way that you do not like .... when there are toasters available which are designed in a way that meet your personal preferences.
As far as file systems go, I just can't follow the logic because "that ext4 is considered solid and reliable" but,you DO NOT consider ext4 to be solid and reliable that this means that it is not a good idea to try other file systems such as BTRFS or EXT3 or ReiserFS.
If you don't want to try various distributions, installation procedures, set-ups, and file system types, then that is obviously your choice but, your points are not universally valid across all GNU / Linux operating systems as you insinuate they are.
56 • @53: (by dragonmouth on 2018-02-07 16:18:06 GMT from United States)
I wish you happiness with Windows since Linux is obviously not for you. It seems that your problems with Linux are self-inflicted. IF ext4 were as crappy as you claim, there would be a lot of complaining from a lot of users and a lot of critical articles by the pundits. It just ain't so.
I am a long time PCLinuxOS user. It has had and still has the auto login option. You can set up auto login during the install process or by clicking on System Settings -> System Administration-> Login Screen. When you click on Apply, you will get a warning in red, telling you that AutoLogin is not safe and thus not recommended. If you hit OK, your userID will never have to supply a password again.
PCLinuxOS has always allowed an explicit root login, unlike the *buntus which try to safe users from themselves.
So, since you're objections are false in my experience, you are either trolling or Linux is too complicated for you to use.
57 • Toaster (by freesbee on 2018-02-07 17:06:36 GMT from Switzerland)
Please DO NOT RESPOND to any comments by OS2_user!
He's trolling arround here for years allready and almost each and every one of his/her/it's posts proves that he can can be happy if he actually gets the toast out of the toaster. Who doesn't believe it, can seek through the old issues of Distrowatch Weekly.
Linux, Mac and Windows are not guilty for people who can't read. Almost every Linux I ever installed, gave the "auto-login" option on install. If one is not able to put the checkmark on the box, then one should rather buy the preeinstalled system or let the installation process to somebody who can do it.
It doesn't matter if it's checked or not and what default settings are set, somebody will allways complain that it's not the other way out. There are enough examples out there which confim it.
So, enjoy your Computer, whatever it runs on.
58 • Free as in beer (by Anon From Cali on 2018-02-07 18:31:27 GMT from United States)
90% of people in the community are always saying: "No Tux, No Bux." Or "Linux is meant to be free!". Really? I say: "Free as in Beer." The best is not ALWAYS free. I regularly BUY beer. So, if I'm going to buy beer, I will also buy/donate to a distro that I love. I will even buy a game or software that will only work on Windows IF I like the company. My Steam library is filled with games that I have never played. Why? Because I believe in the company producing them. In hopes that maybe ONE day, they will get ported to Linux or will work in Lutris or Nilla Wine.
Anyway, My point is that so many people whine about cost. They don't give back in any form. DONATE to your favorite distro. Let the devs/contributors know that you appreciate the time they put into it. Without donations, your favorite Distro/Software/Game could disappear. Just my 2¢.
59 • @58: Free as in beer (by RTL on 2018-02-08 11:14:11 GMT from Hungary)
Free as in beer is actually an idiom, meaning if you have free beer, you don't pay for it, as opposed to free as liberty.
When they say "Linux is meant to be free!" they (mostly...) actually mean it should be opensource, like "liberty", not no money, like "gratis".
Aside from this, yeah.
60 • Facts are not trolling. (by OS2_user on 2018-02-08 13:19:48 GMT from United States)
"Please DO NOT RESPOND to any comments by OS2_user!"
First, I always use distinct informative name exactly so that anyone can see and skip if want: my opinions won't change.
2nd, what I state are facts that happened during my attempts to use Linux. Facts are not trolling except among those who don't wish to know facts.
3rd, I'm not pushing Windows, but OLDER versions for use, sure. Handy for the modern conveniences that OS/2 doesn't have.
I've several times stated that PCLinux of 2007 was great (even let me auto login); I used that for about 4 years. Meantime, like others, the GUI was progressively screwed up until (for me), became unusable. The ext4 incident was last anvil, not straw, but all I did to cause it was use the system, then watched it literally lose subdirs, and both superblocks. How is that MY errror? -- Anyway, I'm not the only one here who complains about recent GUIs, and the dropping of "Unity" by Ubuntu admits that some such changes are huge mistakes.
Permissions are in my view big reason why YOUR goals for Linux will never be achieved. That's just plain annoying, and I tell you again that Windows users can't stand it, and aren't afraid of crashes. -- As to whether auto log-in can be done: again, I'm not choosing a distro by that alone, and it's infuriating to dig through and "learn", likely varied in each of the several. I have USES for working computer, am not just playing with IT. (Oh, and one factor that may not affect you much is that power off frequently.)
I WISH that Linux was an alternative to Windows, but it's now too much for me, you're right there. And yet I go on with the stated well-wishing...
Labeling me a "troll" for stating plainly what happens and what I don't like about Linux is the willful blindness which Ubuntu had with Unity, prime example out of hundreds. It doesn't serve your cause, either.
So, respond or not as you choose -- I only go back and forth to try and clear up the persistent misunderstandings you have due to totally different perspective. You could try appreciating informed comment instead of taking it as an attack by an idiot.
Anyhoo, until blocked here I'll comment as see fit and relevant. I don't annoy you with the delights of OS/2, except this once that think it would delight you too, that it's the useful hobby system you want, if got over the Microsoft lies about it, and "learned" its simple ways. -- I've often thought of writing up arcana for noobs, but some would insist on installing a "bash" equivalent shell to imitate Linux, instead of learning REXX which is the integrated system programming language, and other unique facets of OS/2, the only OS I know of that's actually modern and sane.
61 • Linux types are paranoid about security. (by OS2_user on 2018-02-08 13:35:32 GMT from United States)
You believe your systems are constantly under attack -- and certainly likely true if server. It's why you insist ordinary users go through the permisssion rituals. But that's NOT the "desktop" market. CONVENIENCE is key feature of the desktop. -- Oh, and also it's part of why anyone stating facts about problems with Linux or its now unnecessary 1960s "ways" is regarded as a troll.
62 • Personal experiences (by Garon on 2018-02-08 15:53:41 GMT from United States)
Not trying to bash you or anything but your experiences with Linux may not be the norm for most people using it. I do know a little bit about this stuff. I even installed OS2 when it first came out on floppies. I use LInux systems, I use Window systems, and I even have a system running OS9-Level2, which was the first time I was able to multitask. I've seen the good and bad in all of it. A person can get labeled a troll when all they do is go on a site like Distrowatch and all the time just bash the systems promoted on the site. Personal experiences are facts only to the person who experience them. This is the reason for the disclaimer on most television commercials, "Individual results may vary". Everyone has their own opinions, factual or not.
63 • auto login or not (by Jordan on 2018-02-08 16:47:45 GMT from United States)
What am I missing in the back-and-forth up there about linux auto login or not? Every distro I've tried offers during intallation the auto login or password login. So does Windows.
I'm re-reading posts to try to see how that is an issue at all wrt linux vs Windows (or OS/2, etc).
64 • Does the wireless work out of the box? (by CS on 2018-02-08 20:07:41 GMT from United States)
Does Linspire include broadcom drivers so you don't have to download them off of some sketchy dropbox to get your wireless card working?
Not sure that's worth $79.99 but maybe $9.99
65 • @ 60 OS2_user (by OstroL on 2018-02-08 21:21:31 GMT from Poland)
Linux is NOT trying to be an alternative to Windows. Period! Linux is NOT an alternative to Windows and vice versa. Linux is Linux, Windows is Windows. Both do their work, their way. That's the way it is.
There are other operating systems, and each one does its job its way. Remember that.
I use mainly Linux, so I can discuss it among friends here. If I am critical about some feature of Linux, I can still argue/discuss about that here and in other Linux forums. But, I don't argue or discuss Windows (or MacOS) here. I use Windows too, and if I have problem, I discuss it there in Windows forums. If I want to complain about some feature in Windows, I do it there, not here.
I have used iOS too. If Apple would allow its OS to be used in PCs, I'd use that too. Every OS has its values and uses. And, they work its own way. Just like cars.
66 • Which OS/2? (by FOSSilizing Dinosaur on 2018-02-09 09:28:37 GMT from United States)
The SIqDOS-upstage CLI eComStation for genuflecting to mainframes, designed by committee, built by MS (paid by kLineOfCode), on IBM (MCA) P$/2 (or Oracle's VirtualBox)?
Or Borg, Ferengi, Warp, or Warp'd?
Or the new Noae Arca version with Samba, SMP, Qt, and even hardware drivers for all your undead critical corporate dinosaur apps?
67 • @41 about Freespire (While Linspire OTOH looks a lot better) (by RJA on 2018-02-09 14:32:52 GMT from United States)
QFT. Freespire is a tampered Xubuntu, in my book! :(
68 • Linux works well for many (by M.Z. on 2018-02-09 16:44:14 GMT from United States)
"I WISH that Linux was an alternative to Windows, but it's now too much for me..."
That's fine, but after saying the same basic things a few times, which are often matters of opinion, it becomes a bit FUDish & seems more designed to annoy regular DW readers than make any meaningful point. For instance complaining about you opinion on permissions becomes more of a troll the more familiar & repetitive it gets. Myself & others have tried to have conversations on the topic multiple times & point out that there are options, but you keep insisting that it is some grave sin that all distros suffer from. At some point you are just trying to annoy people & some obviously think we are past that point.
For me there are several versions of Linux that work well enough & can be quite suitable as a daily driver. I stopped using Windows years ago & don't have any serious issues. Honestly I don't miss MS one bit & could do without it entirely if there weren't a few tiny corner cases of things that insist on Windows & even those I can do without.
69 • OS/2 (by Garon on 2018-02-09 17:31:06 GMT from United States)
IBM OS/2 WARP
70 • @68 (by Mac on 2018-02-11 13:27:18 GMT from United States)
I don't know if we have the same gripe or not. Been using linux for 14 years and with all the crap now days I would not have stayed. I realy miss mepis and doing things my way. Used to say I was KDE fanboy not any more, having to fix dolphin as root sucks bigtime!! Most distros have to fix root login!!
And before you ask why none of your business why. Like I said my way. Beginner frendly does not exist any more. Easy to install yes but then it goes to crap if you want to change anything. Distro of choice today linux mint 18,3 at least don't have fix dolphin as root, thank to the mint team!!!
Have fun Mack
71 • @70 Changes, Fix, and None of your Business (by Rev_Don on 2018-02-11 16:38:41 GMT from United States)
You state that some things need to be changed/fixed, but give no clarification about what needs to be changed/fixed saying "And before you ask why none of your business why", How the heck are they supposed to change/fix something if you won't tell them what specifically needs to be changed/fixed about whatever issue you are running into?
Sorry, but your post appears to be counter productive overall unless I am missing something.
Number of Comments: 71
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