| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 759, 16 April 2018
Welcome to this year's 16th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
This past week we covered the release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, an enterprise-class distribution featuring long term support. The phrase "long term support" in Red Hat's case means the distribution receives security updates for around ten years, but other projects apply the label to many different spans of time. To some projects long term support (LTS) may mean two years, to others three, for some projects it is five years. In our Opinion Poll this week we would like to find out how long a release should be supported to be considered LTS. In our Feature Story this week we cover a Debian-based project called Neptune. The Neptune distribution features the Plasma desktop environment and up to date desktop applications. Then we talk about elementary OS's new generation of applications and Red Hat's tool for creating and managing container images. We also discuss MX Linux's new documentation and a flavour of antiX which is based on Debian's Unstable (Sid) development branch. Plus we share some tips for people who want to manage networks and fix filenames from the command line. As usual, we share the releases of the past week and provide a list of the torrents we are seeding. We wish you all a terrific week and happy reading!
- Review: Neptune 5.0
- News: elementary's new generation of apps, building containers on Red Hat, MX publishes new FAQ, antiX introduces Sid edition
- Tips and tricks: Fix filenames, manage networks from the command line and more command line tips
- Released last week: Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5, DragonFly BSD 5.2.0, Clonezilla Live 2.5.5-38
- Torrent corner: Clonezilla Live, DragonFly BSD, Endless OS, LibreELEC, Neptune, Raspberry Digital Signage, ReactOS, Sabayon
- Opinion poll: How long should long term support last?
- DistroWatch.com news: Dormant and discontinued projects
- New distributions: Easy OS
- Reader comments
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Neptune is a Debian-based Linux distribution which is built upon Debian's Stable branch. The Neptune team then provides a more up to date desktop environment and applications through their own software repositories. The latest release of Neptune, version 5.0, runs the KDE Plasma 5.12 LTS desktop and LibreOffice 6. The project's release announcement says that most of its desktop software will remain at fixed versions for the life span of the distribution since cutting edge desktop applications can typically be installed using Snap or Flatpak portable packages. Another change includes the way third-party drivers are handled:
With Neptune 5.0 we stopped officially supporting proprietary graphics card drivers. We removed the support for easy installing them from our zevenoshardwaremanager. You can however install them on your own if you need or like....
For Live System users we still provide our tools Persistent-Creator as well as Snapshot Manager. If you want to remaster our ISO or any other Debian Live or Ubuntu Casper based ISO you can do so with our tool remaster-kit. Newly included is grub-customizer a tool which allows you to set the design and options of your GRUB boot loader.
Neptune is available in just one edition for 64-bit computers and the live disc image we download is 2GB in size. Booting from the ISO displays a boot menu giving us the option of starting the system using English or German as a preferred language. The system then boots to a live KDE Plasma desktop featuring grey wallpaper with the project's branding. Large icons on the desktop launch the project's system installer, a file manager and the Discover software manager. A panel is displayed across the bottom of the screen and holds the application menu, task switcher and system tray. After playing with the desktop for a few minutes and not running into any problems, I launched the project's installer.
Neptune uses the Calamares system installer which provides users with a friendly, streamlined graphical interface. Calamares quickly walks us through selecting our preferred language, selecting a time zone and confirming the keyboard layout. In my case the system incorrectly guessed which keyboard I was using, but that was easily rectified. When it comes to disk partitioning we have two key options: automatic or manual. I went with the manual option and found the partitioning controls to be straight forward and easy to navigate. Neptune supports working with Btrfs, XFS and ext2/3/4 file systems. Then we set up a username and password for ourselves and the installer works its magic. A short time later, I could reboot the system and start playing with my brand new copy of Neptune.
Neptune boots to a graphical login screen. Here we find there are five different session options listed. These include two entries for the Plasma desktop and three variations of the Enlightenment (E16) desktop. The Enlightenment session does not look like it was meant to be used and may be included as a rescue option in case Plasma stops working. When we sign in we see a mostly empty panel at the bottom of the screen and an empty window that can be resized in the bottom-left corner. We can click on an empty part of the desktop to bring up an application & logout menu. As the session has few features, includes no wallpaper, the visible elements lack contrast and there are three separate E16 sessions listed it makes me wonder if these were planned to be included in the release or maybe got tossed in just so a second login option would be available in case Plasma went off-line.
Neptune 5.0 -- Running LibreOffice
(full image size: 182kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
I spent almost all my time with Neptune logged into the Plasma 5.12 desktop. The desktop uses a fairly dark theme with touches of blue, which I found easy to look at. I especially like the way the theme looks in the Dolphin file manager. I also found Neptune's virtual terminal's use of soft green and white text on a solid, black background pleasant. Distributions often try to dress up the terminal with transparency or a blinking cursor and I find those too busy and hard to read. Neptune's terminal may not be flashy, but it's very easy on my eyes.
One of the few visual effects Neptune uses is whichever window has focus has a thick shadow around it. This gives the active application the illusion of depth. It's a subtle enough effect that I liked it and, while it didn't add anything to my experience, it did not annoy or distract me the way most desktop effects do.
Shortly after signing in for the first time, I checked the desktop's notification area, which (among other bits of information) told me the software on my system was up to date. This seemed unlikely given Neptune 5.0 was over a week old and so I launched the Discover software centre from its desktop icon. Discover also reported there were no updates available and, the first time I ran Discover, there was no button present to force the software manager to check again. I then turned to a second package manager, Muon, which looks like Debian's Synaptic, but with buttons and a layout which look more naturally a part of the Plasma desktop. Muon has a button to check for software updates and it quickly told me there were 30 new packages available, totalling 67MB in size. These were downloaded without incident. I'll come back to these two graphical software managers again later.
I played with Neptune in two test environments and, in both situations, the distribution performed well in most aspects. My desktop computer's hardware was detected and used properly. Neptune was able to integrate automatically with my VirtualBox environment and use my host system's full screen resolution. The distribution was relatively light on resources, using around 420MB of RAM when logged into Plasma. A fresh install used about 6.5GB of disk space.
My only hardware-related concern while using Neptune was that, while Plasma was responsive, the way it drew on the screen was choppy. This is an unusual experience for me. Usually I find desktops are either quick or slow, but typically consistent either way. Neptune's Plasma was different. If I clicked on a menu, for instance, the menu would react right away (lighting up or showing a button being depressed). But then the menu would draw slowly, sometimes leaving gaps in the middle for a second. Other times I might close a dialog window and the window would immediately begin to fade, but then the animation would pause and I'd be left with a half-faded window for a moment. Then, instead of continuing to fade, the window would simply vanish and be replaced by the application behind it.
I played with different display options to see if I could fix this, but the default settings seemed to offer the best experience, the alternatives tended to be, if anything, worse. The jerky drawing was not always noticeable, but when it did happen it gave the impression of a video buffering.
Neptune ships with a fairly standard set of open source applications, though there is a slight preference for KDE/Qt software on display. The distribution ships with such popular items as the Chromium web browser, the Thunderbird e-mail client and LibreOffice. The GNU Image Manipulation Program and Inkscape are included for working with images and Okular is present for reading PDFs. There are a few text editors, including KWrite and ReText. The Konversation messaging software is included along with the Konqueror web browser and the Kamoso webcam manager.
The distribution features some multimedia applications, including the Amarok audio player and the VLC media player. For people who want to edit their sound and video files, the Audacity and Kdenlive editors are available. Neptune includes a full range of media codecs, allowing us to edit and play most multimedia files.
Rounding out the offerings, we find the Latte application dock, the Back In Time backup utility and the zuluCrypt application which makes it easy to work with encrypted files and volumes. Network Manager is available to help us get on-line. Neptune uses systemd as the distribution's init software and runs on version 4.14 of the Linux kernel.
The software included in Neptune generally worked well for me. The included programs made it pretty easy for me to get my work done and operated smoothly. I was pleasantly surprised with how the Amarok music player has come along. In the KDE4 days, I tended to find Amarok slow and full of pop-ups and almost always replaced the application. This time around I found Amarok loaded and ran quickly and did not cause any headaches.
The Back In Time application may be overwhelming for new users. It is a highly flexible backup tool, with a lot of options. This gives the user a lot of choices when it comes to selecting files to archive and where to store backups. However, the Back In Time interface is cluttered and is probably intended for more advanced users. Less experienced users may wish to install another backup tool such as Deja Dup.
Neptune 5.0 -- Setting up a backup job
(full image size: 311kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
In a similar vein, zuluCrypt is a powerful encryption tool which can deal with files and secure volumes. While zuluCrypt is also very flexible and offers lots of options, most users will probably prefer the Plasma Vaults software, which is built into the desktop and offers a more streamlined experience.
Earlier I briefly mentioned Neptune's two graphical package managers, Discover and Muon. Muon provides easy access to low level packages and can be useful for people who want to hunt down one specific library or command line tool.
Discover, which is easily accessed from its desktop icon, is designed to make it easy to browse categories of software. We can locate items by name or by browsing through categories of desktop applications. Applications in a given search or category will be displayed with a brief description and an Install/Remove button. Clicking on an entry brings up a page with a more complete description of the software and screen shots.
Neptune 5.0 -- The Discover software manager
(full image size: 482kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
When I first started using Neptune, the Discover software manager would not show me available updates. But later in the week new packages would be listed and I could click a single button to install all waiting updates. My only other complaint was that once, while searching for new packages, Discover crashed and I had to relaunch the software manager.
In the distribution's release announcement Flatpak and Snap are mentioned as possible methods for users to stay up to date with the latest desktop software. Neptune does not include support for either of these portable package formats by default, but the Snap and Flatpak frameworks can be installed from Neptune's repositories.
Neptune ships with Plasma's new System Settings panel, which I discussed previously in my review of Plasma 5.12. The settings panel is fairly easy to navigate, but I think the new two-pane layout is not a great choice for the multiple layers of settings modules. A problem I faced this week is that I'm accustomed to how older versions of the settings panel would prompt before discarding changes. Typically when exiting a module a message would be displayed asking if we would like to apply or discard the adjustments we had made. The latest version of the panel does not prompt us to save changes and, after a few minutes, I realized all my desktop adjustments had been lost and must be redone.
One aspect of Neptune I did appreciate was the screen does not lock or launch the screensaver after five minutes. I've noticed that several desktop distributions, particularly those running GNOME, will lock the screen very quickly. It seems like every time I turn around I need to unlock the screen again, until I change the setting. Neptune doesn't do this. The screen will go into low power or sleep mode after 30 minutes, but will not lock unless we ask it to, or change the default settings.
Neptune 5.0 -- The System Settings panel
(full image size: 269kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Also on the topic of settings, I like that searches performed in the application menu will display settings modules as well as applications. This meant I did not need to open the application menu, search for settings, open the settings panel and then type "lock screen" to find the lock timer. Instead, I could just search for "lock screen" from the application menu and open the appropriate settings module with one click. It's a little feature, but a nice time saver.
Earlier I mentioned Neptune offers two Plasma login sessions. These appear to be identical, except one session is identified as being for Plasma 5.10 and the other for 5.12, but we can use them interchangeably and both launch Plasma 5.12. By default the distribution does not provide a Wayland session, but we can install the Wayland Plasma session option. I tried this, but found Wayland was effectively unusable. The screen resolution was lower, visual artifacts appeared all over the page and bringing up any menu caused the screen to go blank for a few seconds. Based on my limited trial, I recommend sticking with Neptune's default X session.
One frustration I ran into with Plasma came about when using one of my favourite new features. In my recent review of Plasma 5.12 I mentioned that I could use the Meta + number key combination to quickly access open windows rather than tabbing through them. Neptune offers this feature, with one catch: the quick-launch icons on the panel count as numbered items. This meant tapping Meta + 1 didn't switch to my first open window, it launched the Chromium browser. To access my first open application I had to type Meta + 3. I understand why this happens, the two launch icons are numbered objects and this gives us a fast way to open them. But it was frustrating when I accidentally hit the 2 instead of 3 and had to wait while Thunderbird opened. And remembering to press 5 instead of 3 when I wanted the third window was not exactly intuitive. This can be worked around by removing the quick-launch buttons.
For the most part, I was happy with Neptune. I like the style of the Plasma desktop which is generally presented without frills or distractions. I like the somewhat muted colours and the default settings, such as the lack of a trigger-happy screen lock. Mostly, I was happy to see how some applications I hadn't used in a while were coming along. Amarok and Discover both have made strong progress recently and I'm finding them to be capable tools when, in the past, I wasn't a fan of either.
The default programs generally worked well for me and Plasma's performance was generally good. I did notice some stuttering on the desktop, and I could probably fix that by tweaking the performance or compositing, or by switching to a third-party driver. But with the default settings, the stuttering was probably my biggest complaint.
Neptune 5.0 -- The Amarok music player
(full image size: 530kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
What I tended to find with Neptune was if I stuck with the default settings and used applications in the normal or most straight forward fashion, then things went smoothly. But when I stepped off the straight and narrow path, things tended to unravel. Trying Enlightenment or Wayland sessions, for example, did not work well, but things went smoothly while using Plasma's X session. Checking for updates as soon as I logged in resulted in no packages being found, but if I waited for things to settle in the background and gave the operating system a few minutes, I'd eventually be told updates were available and could install them with a few clicks.
There are a few rough edges here and there, but on the whole Neptune worked well. The stable Debian base combined with the latest version of Plasma, Chromium and LibreOffice were a good mixture. It gives us a solid base with lots of new features and I think that's a good combination, especially for me. There are some edge cases where I ran into minor problems and I didn't like that the settings panel didn't warn me before discarding changes, but otherwise I had a good week with Neptune. I think it's a good fit for relative newcomers to Linux and people looking for a balance between reliability and fresh desktop software.
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Hardware used in this review
My physical test equipment for this review was a desktop HP Pavilon p6 Series with the following specifications:
- Processor: Dual-core 2.8GHz AMD A4-3420 APU
- Storage: 500GB Hitachi hard drive
- Memory: 6GB of RAM
- Networking: Realtek RTL8111 wired network card
- Display: AMD Radeon HD 6410D video card
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Visitor supplied rating
Neptune has a visitor supplied average rating of: 9.1/10 from 28 review(s).
Have you used Neptune? You can leave your own review of the project on our ratings page.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
elementary's new generation of apps, building containers on Red Hat, MX publishes new FAQ, antiX introduces Sid edition
The elementary OS team has been working on making their own application ecosystem, providing software for users and a way for developers to monetize their projects. The team has published a recap of the progress their application platform has made over the years. They also talk about changes arriving soon which will help developers launch new apps in the elementary store. The post is mostly an overview for app developers and discusses program meta data, standardized directory structures and application branding. The details can be found in this blog post.
* * * * *
One of the big news items this past week was the release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5, the most recent upgrade to the company's 7.x series. The new version includes a tool called Buildah. "With Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5, we now fully support using Buildah to create Docker and OCI-compliant container images. Buildah was introduced in 7.4.3 as a tech preview, and moves to fully supported in this release. With Buildah, you can now create container images without needing to run a container runtime daemon. You can create images from scratch (without a base image) or with a base image such as one of the many Red Hat Enterprise Linux container images provided via the Red Hat Container Catalog. Buildah also allows you to inspect images and mount their root filesystem, without running the image, to add or change content in the image." More information on Buildah can be found on the software's GitHub page.
* * * * *
The MX Linux project has published a new documentation page of frequently asked questions. This page offers some general overview of the distribution, its repositories, support cycle, installing alternative desktops and customizing the operating system. There is also a section dedicated to working with portable package formats such as Flatpak, AppImage and Snaps. The new FAQ page is available in French and English.
* * * * *
The antiX project creates a lightweight, systemd-free distribution based on Debian. When antiX 17 was first released it was based on Debian's Stable branch, but a second set of ISOs have been uploaded which provide antiX fans with a Debian Unstable (Sid) base. "I have made available Net and Core versions of antiX for 32- and 64-bit architectures built from Debian Sid repos. Kernel used is 4.15.14, systemd-free. Net needs a wired ethernet connection, Core should work ok for most boxes with a wired or wifi connection. These ISO files are meant for those who know their way around Debian Sid. Things may break." The new Debian Sid flavours of antiX can be downloaded from the antiX Download page.
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These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Tips and Tricks (by Jesse Smith)
Fix filenames, manage networks from the command line and more command line tips
Do you ever receive files from people who have placed spaces in the filename, making it difficult to type on the command line? Have you ever received files that are named with odd symbols or with multiple underscore characters? Unwanted or duplicate characters in a file's name can make it hard to type or cause problems if the file is handled by a script. We could rename each file one at a time, but luckily for us there is a program that is designed specifically to clean up filenames.
The detox command can work on a single file, a whole directory of files or even an entire directory tree. The detox command automatically removes spaces, duplicate underscores and mix-matched character encodings. In its simplest form the detox program takes one file as its sole parameter. In the following example the file named "a b c" is renamed to "a_b_c".
detox a\ b\ c
We can find and fix the naming of all the files in a directory tree by using the "-r" flag. The following command fixes the naming of all the files in the New-Files directory:
detox -r New-Files
Finally, if we want to see how detox would rename our files without actually performing the rename, we can use the "-n" parameter. This shows us a list of all the files that would be renamed and how detox would change their filenames.
detox -r -n New-Files
* * * * *
When working in a desktop environment it is usually easy to set up network connections on Linux by using one of the desktop network configuration tools such as Wicd or Network Manager. However, if we look up tutorials for configuring a network connection from the command line the documentation usually has us adjusting cryptic text files by hand. Luckily, there is a friendly network configuration tool for the command line. The Network Manager Text User Interface (nmtui) program can be used to set up and edit network connections and it works with wireless connections. The nmtui program can also change our computer's hostname.
The text-based Network Manager front-end can be launched by simply running nmtui from the command line. It then displays a series of menus to guide us through setting up our network connection(s).
* * * * *
Have you ever been reading a text file and wanted to quickly figure out the number of the line you were looking at? Perhaps you want to tell someone to fix a typo and want to know how to direct them to the proper line. The nl program can help with that. nl prints out a text file with the number of each line to the left of the text.
By default, running nl on its own and just passing it a single file will display line numbers at the beginning of lines with text. Empty lines are not counted. For example, if we run
We might get the result
1 This is a line.
If we want to count empty lines then we can use the "--body-numbering" parameter to include all lines. Here we display the contents of my-file.txt again, numbering all lines:
2 This is another line.
3 We are skipping empty lines.
nl --body-numbering=a my-file.txt
Which outputs the following to the terminal:
1 This is a line.
3 This is another line.
5 We are not skipping empty lines.
* * * * *
People who spend a lot of time on the command line will eventually see the terminal display get messed up in one way or another. Perhaps the terminal's colours get changed or a character encoding changes the display. When this happens we can either logout and/or switch to another terminal. Alternatively, we can reset the current terminal. Simply running the reset command will re-initialize the terminal's output (including colours) without affecting any background jobs or other work in progress.
* * * * *
These and other tips can be found in our Tips and Tricks archive. Simplified manual pages with examples for the above commands and more can be found in our Simplified Manual Pages.
|Released Last Week
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5
Red Hat has announced the release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 7.5, the latest update of the company's enterprise-class Linux distribution. The new version includes several performance improvements and easier access to system administration functions through the cockpit management system. "Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5 can help reduce the overall learning curve for new Linux systems administrators, troubleshooters, and developers by making complex tasks, like systems management, easier through enhancements to the cockpit administrator console. Provided as a simplified web interface, these enhancements are designed to eliminate many of the complexities involved with managing Linux-based systems, including network and storage set-ups. Additionally, new functionality and integration with Windows-based infrastructure is offered in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7, including improved management and communication with Windows Server implementations, more secure data transfers with Microsoft Azure, and performance improvements for complex Microsoft Active Directory architectures." See the company's press release and the technical release notes for further information.
DragonFly BSD 5.2.0
The DragonFly BSD project, which is an independent fork of FreeBSD, has released a new version. The new stable release, DragonFly BSD 5.2.0, includes fixes for Meltdown and Spectre CPU attacks, improvements to the project's HAMMER2 file system and better graphics acceleration. "DragonFly version 5.2 brings Meltdown/Spectre mitigation, significant improvements to HAMMER2, ipfw, and graphics acceleration.... Big-ticket items: Meltdown and Spectre mitigation support; Meltdown isolation and Spectre mitigation support added. Meltdown mitigation is automatically enabled for all Intel CPUs. Spectre mitigation must be enabled manually via sysctl if desired, using sysctls machdep.spectre_mitigation and machdep.meltdown_mitigation. HAMMER2 - H2 has received a very large number of bug fixes and performance improvements. We can now recommend H2 as the default root file system in non-clustered mode. Clustered support is not yet available." More information can be found in the project's release announcement and in the release notes.
Clonezilla Live 2.5.5-38
Steven Shiau has announced the release of Clonezilla Live 2.5.5-38, the latest stable release of the project's specialist utility live CD, based on Debian's "unstable" branch, designed for disk cloning and backups: "This release of Clonezilla Live (2.5.5-38) includes major enhancements and bug fixes. Enhancements and changes: the underlying GNU/Linux operating system has been upgraded, this release is based on the Debian 'Sid' repository as of 2018-03-30; Linux kernel has been updated to 4.15.11; Partclone has been updated to 0.3.11 with some libraries also updated; new image format is used in this release, it is different from the one saved by Partclone 0.2.x; new massive deployment mechanism BitTorrent was added; Clonezilla has to convert the original image to the special format when BitTorrent mode is used and this will require more disk space in the image repository; switch keymap configuration method from console-data to keyboard-configuration." See the full release announcement for a complete list of changes and other technical notes.
ReactOS is an open source operating system which strives to provide binary compatibility with Microsoft windows applications and drivers. The ReactOS project has released a new version, ReactOS 0.4.8, which brings many improvements to the desktop interface. "Taskbar settings and dialogs have been rewritten by Giannis so now the auto-hide, toggle lock and always on top options work. These settings were visible before but as you might have noticed they've never been working at all. Meanwhile, David fixed several bugs and glitches of the notification area. Thanks to him, Giannis and Hermès, now balloon notifications are properly supported, queued and shown while a range of tooltip problems have been solved. Talking about the notification tray, due to Ged’s work, icons of killed and finished process are now automatically removed, even when apps crash. This is something that Windows doesn't even provide with Win10, and many Windows users may have noticed." Additional information can be found in the project's release announcement.
* * * * *
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: 808
- Total data uploaded: 19.0TB
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
How long should long term support last?
Several projects claim to offer long term support (LTS) for their software. However, the actual length of the "long term" support varies quite a bit from one project to the next. For some projects, long term may be defined as two or three years. For others it is five years. Some enterprise-class projects offer ten years of support in their LTS offerings.
This week we would like to find out where our readers think the barrier is between short and long term support.
You can see the results of our previous poll on time spent running the same Linux distro in last week's edition. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
How long should long term support last?
|At least 1 year: ||29 (1%)|
| At least 2 years: ||171 (7%)|
| At least 3 years: ||525 (22%)|
| At least 5 years: ||1088 (45%)|
| Between 5-10 years: ||384 (16%)|
| 10 years or more: ||230 (9%)|
Dormant and discontinued projects
In past years DistroWatch maintained a page dedicated to Linux distributions which were no longer maintained. This collection of discontinued or inactive projects bid a fond farewell to notable projects which were no longer being maintained. Over time, as more and more projects were quickly born and (often as quickly) died, this page fell out of date.
The Dormant and Discontinued page has been brought back to life and up to date. The left side of the page describes projects currently listed in our database as dormant while the right-hand sidebar lists the many discontinued projects we have tracked in the past.
We hope it will offer long-time readers with a trip down memory lane and provide a historical record for quickly finding projects no longer in active development.
* * * * *
Distributions added to waiting list
- Easy OS. Easy OS shares a lineage with Puppy Linux and Quirky while introducing container support. Easy OS also features software rollbacks, snapshots, and easy file sharing over the network.
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DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 23 April 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 • Neptune (by linuxista on 2018-04-16 00:25:29 GMT from United States) |
Originally I was somewhat intrigued, but the Neptune website says: We will no longer strive to bring in more recent versions of Plasma, Kernel or other software on our own. With Snaps, Flatpaks and AppImages being more and more popular and mature these days we strongly believe these are the ways to go if you want to try out bleeding edge software. We on the other hand strive to provide the most stable and best Desktop user experience out there.
So now I don't get the purpose of this distro. You get plasma installed by default and maybe a few settings or themes? At first I thought this was a project meant to fill a big hole in Debian's offerings for desktop users, i.e. a snapshot more current than Stable that's maintained for the purpose of working for end users. Then it appears their distro specific backports repo only includes plasma, chrome and libreoffice (I think). And then this announcement that it's just Debian Stable and telling users to use snaps or flatpacks or whatnot. Really puzzled as to what possible niche this distro could be serving.
Debian really needs to fork Testing into a real distro.
2 • Neptune (by Sherlock on 2018-04-16 01:28:46 GMT from Canada)
I have been running Buster+Plasma 5.12.4 for almost 3 months. Surprisingly very solid, responsive and fast. Interested ... want to check it out ... click here to download
BusterKDE has become my daily driver. This distro works so well with my Brother multi-functional printer. DCP-7060D. Kudos to the Debian testing team.
3 • @2 Buster/Testing (by linuxista on 2018-04-16 02:20:16 GMT from United States)
No thanks. If I had to run one of Debian's unsupported dev repos, I'd just use Sid. At least I would get more timely upstream fixes and security updates. That's why Debian needs to turn Testing into a real distro.
4 • Debian testing team (by olaf on 2018-04-16 02:43:18 GMT from United States)
Isn't Testing generated automatically from Unstable? Meaning, there is no "Debian Testing Team".
5 • Dormant and discontinued projects (by Bob on 2018-04-16 02:54:50 GMT from United States)
Well done! That page looks great.
And, you were right. "We hope it will offer long-time readers with a trip down memory lane." I spent a few moments on the CrunchBang page. I really miss that distro.
6 • LTS Poll (by Andy Figueroa on 2018-04-16 03:20:52 GMT from United States)
In the LTS poll, there is an overlap between:
At least 5 years: and
Between 5-10 years:
To be interpreted meaningfully, those two items should be combined.
7 • @5 by Bob (by frisbee on 2018-04-16 04:59:43 GMT from Switzerland)
No need to miss CrunchBang Linux except for it's name. ;)
CrunchBang is still alive but -- it got renamed.
You can find it here:
8 • LTS Poll (by Alexandru on 2018-04-16 08:11:57 GMT from Romania)
The exact support term should depend on the OS purpose, on the hardware it is ought to be installed and also other factors.
For embedded systems, where the hardware is not changed for years, but whose operation is of high importance and which need to be always up-to-date, the support term is expected to be very high, maybe over 10 years.
For servers, which are upgraded from time to time, the support for exactly the same release is not as important, because most likely new version of OS is installed together with the hardware upgrade. So in this domain 5 years is usually sufficient.
For office systems, this term can be 3 years or so. Home users are usually happy without long term support at all, because they install new version of OS every 6 months.
Another option to consider is the cost of maintenance. It is obvious that the longer is offered support the harder is its implementation. So a good business model is to offer standard LTS support (say, 5 years) for one price and extended LTS support (e.g. 10 years) for higher price for the same version of OS.
9 • @5 Me too :( (by Drango on 2018-04-16 08:39:35 GMT from Sweden)
I miss Crunchbang so much, the completion of it all. Ah well - times change I guess
10 • @5 @9 (by Tuxie on 2018-04-16 09:31:32 GMT from Switzerland)
Guys, did you try Archlabs? I know, I know, there are many differencies but authors fell in love with Crunchbang + Bunsen Labs later on --> and their product is still familiar to me.
11 • LTS (by Dxvid on 2018-04-16 10:53:26 GMT from Sweden)
For a desktop 3+ years might be considered LTS, older than that you miss out on new features, but a few might want 5-10 years.
For a server 5 or 8 years might be considered LTS, but a few might want 10+ years. The purpose is often for things to run with the highest stability and security. But in all honesty things get old and there's often advantages in making a distro upgrade every 1-3 years to get performance improvements bug fixes and new features, especially if you're serving a public website running it on a 5+ years old distro isn't optimal. I rarely run things on distro versions older than 2,5 years even if there's LTS of 5 or 8-10 years. After a while you need so many community repos to be able to keep performance up and use new features that there's simply no advantage in running on an old distro version. If a site runs wordpress I often tend to do a distro upgrade once per year as wordpress often takes advantage of new features very quickly.
For a car 15 years might be suitable for LTS.
For an industrial robot maybe 10-20 years might be considered LTS.
For an airplane, a helicopter or a satellite 20 years might not be enough to call a distro LTS, maybe you need 40 years?
12 • Neptune (by John on 2018-04-16 12:43:11 GMT from Canada)
Happy to see your review of Neptune here. I only recently found this distro and thought I'd try it out. It's by far my favorite design (visually) for a KDE desktop. Very smooth. I've only been using it so far on an older laptop I use in my living room for a multi-media centre, but it works perfectly for playing my music, streaming, Spotify and other basic stuff. Am about to try it out on my main laptop and see how that goes.
13 • Dormant and discontinued distros (by jotatb on 2018-04-16 12:55:00 GMT from Brazil)
I miss Kalango Linux a lot! Loved that Brazilian distro!!!!
14 • Dormant and just gone... (by Jordan on 2018-04-16 12:57:59 GMT from United States)
Oh my goodness.. Yoper.. BLAG (their site: blagblagblag.org)..
Great to have that list (and the links).
15 • LTS (by Jessica on 2018-04-16 14:18:21 GMT from United States)
I think that it depends on if we talk about home or servers. For home users they don't update there computers any more so I think at least 7 years of support. Why seven and not five? It is because five is two short as we see with Ubuntu. Ubuntu has many bugs that never get fixed like the sleep wifi bug. You know the one that kills the interface and makes you reset after your laptop goes to sleep and you cant get wifi working. This no longer happens on broadcom chips like in the 14.04 branch, how ever it still happens on intel chips on the 16.04 branch. Even with 5 years of support they don't fix bugs. With seven it means that the Ubuntu devs have to make updates.
Also I mean full support and not the crap Ubuntu does now. For those who don't know you don't get 5 years of support and updates. You only get two years of updates, 3 years of patches, and 5 years of commmunity updates. That means out of every LTS you only get 3 years of real updates. If you have 7 it means you get the full 5 years of updates and patches.
Now for servers it should be at least be 10 years. Companies just don't update there servers much if at all. Even if they get new servers they still want to be able to run there old distro. You do this by making point updates. There is a market for this. You can see that with Solaris sales still going. Orical would have shut down Solaris, but legaly can not do so do to goverment contracts. The US government and others around the world don't like upgrading hardware. They want an OS that will run for 30 years and all they have to do is add more ZFS drives to the SAN pool. They don't want to waste money on hardware when they could use it on bribes.
16 • Corel LinuxOS (by Carney3 on 2018-04-16 14:20:36 GMT from United States)
I miss this project. Sold at retail, it added a lot of credibility to Linux with its high-end packaging. Bundling with Netscape and WordPerfect Office (back when they were relevant) was also excellent.
17 • Crunchbang (by OstroL on 2018-04-16 14:22:31 GMT from Poland)
"CrunchBang is still alive but -- it got renamed."
If at all, it is Crunchbang++ or even Monara, but the Bunsenlabs is not the same, even though it might think it is.
18 • LTS (by Matt on 2018-04-16 15:56:37 GMT from United States)
I won't complain while I am not paying anything for support. The support is a gift that I am happy to receive for as long as someone is willing to give it.
19 • @15 (by Ravi on 2018-04-16 18:34:44 GMT from India)
"They don't want to waste money on hardware when they could use it on bribes."
This one is Universal
Have seen governments giving el-cheapo laptops for students with MS windows on it rather than giving a good quality laptop with linux on it.
20 • LTS (by Justin on 2018-04-17 21:20:44 GMT from United States)
@15: I've found bugs in Mint that were fixed in the next release of Debian, but since it wasn't the "latest" Mint (still supposedly supported), those bugs never came in. It's quite annoying. I've resorted to downloading the updated Debian package and manually installing, but this is limited and not recommended as general practice.
I also agree with 7+ years. I know people that don't upgrade; they just buy a new machine when the old one wears out. I did that with XP, which I ran for 11+ years. I didn't need newer features, but I do need security fixes, so when that support stopped, I finally moved on to Linux.
21 • Neptune 5 (by tuxuser on 2018-04-18 01:10:41 GMT from Canada)
I used Neptune in the past. There were some problem here and there but the project was still young but promising.
When Neptune release 5 was released, I tested and installed it because I liked the project. Good choice of software, based on KDE Plasma, the multimedia is excellent.
After a few weeks of use, I stopped using it. Not because of Neptune, only because KDE. Plasma's too slow! Launching an application is frustratingly slow. I'm no longer able to use such slow desktop environments.
But for those who love KDE Plasma, Neptune is an excellent choice based on Debian. Neptune is a serious project, built by competent people.
Congrat Neptune Team
22 • LTS 5/10 years (by Hilbert on 2018-04-18 04:03:25 GMT from Belgium)
LTS for enterprises or professional use should be 10 years for the obvious reasons, which are stability and a clear snapshot of all versions (libs, frameworks, kernels)
For home users 5 years will be fine in it's current form. Longer would stagnate development, which might hinder a lot of things. I mostly think about newer hardware and game support.
Perhaps a good alternative would be Servicepacks ( like MS did in the past) that would have more dramatic upgrades to a certain LTS version.
23 • LTS (by Jim on 2018-04-18 10:25:02 GMT from United States)
I think 6 years of support with 3 years of overlap would be great. That would mean a new LTS version every 3 years. You could go 10 years of support with a 5 year overlap also. That would give you a chance to upgrade sooner if you wanted too, but go the distance if you loved a release.
24 • LTS opinion (by Garon on 2018-04-18 19:04:38 GMT from United States)
With me I always run Ubuntu LTS releases. They have proven to be stable with few problems. That will always be the case when you do proper updates. Server systems, 7 years. A stable system without missing out on improvements.
25 • LTS - what is actually supported (by George on 2018-04-18 19:38:00 GMT from United States)
Hats off to Ubuntu and Mint for their efforts to provide user-friendly secure operating systems that inexpert users can use for years without having to reinstall. However, they face difficult problems.
While many of us assume that the phrase "long term support" means that we have software that is actively supported, the actual level of support and security of software included in an LTS release varies considerably. Some software is not supported for long periods - common software such as GIMP, Synaptic, and VLC. (I personally have no expertise/knowledge of the support of these softwares but am relying upon posts to the Mint forum where assertions were never contradicted).
PPAs may or may not meet a concerned user's expectations with regard to security.
The process of upgrading from one release to another may or may not be user-friendly.
The Distrowatch community is ambivalent about support periods. For example, the review of MX doesn't tell us about support period. The MX people don't indicate the End of Life on their page here. The review does say that MX is based upon Debian Stable, Stretch, but no End of Life is listed for Stretch on the Debian page here. The DW poll indicates that the readers here are generally in favor of long support periods but judging by the few posts here, the feelings are not strong.
IMO, developers in the open source community who actively push for long support periods deserve some kind of special recognition. They're running up hill.
26 • Long Term Support (by Bobbie Sellers on 2018-04-18 19:54:05 GMT from United States)
I use a rolling release PCLinuxOS64.
Now this is truly long term support
until some third party decides to change
a major component as KDE did when
it forced us to move from Plasma 4.14.18 to
Now I voted for 5-10 year support but
I think if the user(s) which may be significant
wants to pay for support as with Red Hat
Enterprise Linux, RoboLinux and some
others that they must be supported as
long as they are paying for the coders
to provide them with compatible updates.
As for Linux Kernels the distribution coders
from my PCLinux effort keeps us pretty much
up-to-date[Linux bliss.localbox 4.15.16-pclos1
#1 SMP]. I also see long term support
kernels in the Synaptic search box but i am
interested in the changes so I take the
latest of the greatest kernel to be published
freely. When I had to work on Ubuntu boxes
I was surprised by the difference in kernel
numbers and the same with Debian from
which Canonical takes it source codes.
I find Ubuntu almost incomprehensible
in the way it does things but if it suits the
users who am I to take umbrage.
Anyhow I joined a Usenet news group
alt.os.linux.ubuntu to learn more about the
system and users, I am sorry I did. Maybe
I can find Ubuntu for Dummies or Idiots.
to learn the things I need to know to tell
people who barely understand what a
virtual terminal is....
27 • @25 - MX and LTS (by Hoos on 2018-04-19 09:09:17 GMT from Singapore)
In the case of MX Linux, I think your assumptions that people don't have strong feelings about LTS may be off.
The MX forum is essentially the former Mepis-lovers' forum, and they have been around for a long time, supporting Mepis/SimplyMEPIS and now, MX Linux. That's a long track record, which users might be aware of. I'm guessing some users are attracted to MX for that reason.
They are still supporting Mepis 12 Beta, the last version of Mepis released by Warren Woodford. And it's not even a final OS release.
MX14 and Mepis 12 are both based on Wheezy, which is 2 Debian releases back from the current Stretch. So security updates from Debian LTS volunteers will cease in May. But I suspect if you had issues with these 2 after the EOL date, you would still be able to get some help, albeit limited, in the forum.
28 • distro LTS and some apps (by Jordan on 2018-04-19 12:57:10 GMT from United States)
No matter the distro I'm messing with, I always look for a few things such as GIMP, VLC, Neverball(putt), etc.
Sometimes they're there and sometimes not, but LTS distro or not I always find those and many other apps in the repos or online somewhere and they all end up in my distro, whether it's Arch based, independent, or Debian based.
So, unless I crave different apps and packages than many others in the linux community, I do not see the angst about long term support, with the notable exception of security.
29 • Regarding KDE's System Settings, mentioned in Jesse's review (by eco2geek on 2018-04-20 01:32:46 GMT from United States)
If you don't like the new "Sidebar View" (I don't either), you can change it. As with most things in KDE, System Settings is configurable.
Most people who've used KDE are probably most familiar with Icon View, which has been around for a while. And there's a third setting, Tree View.
You can also turn on or off tooltips which show you what's "under" each main setting.
>> "This time around I found Amarok loaded and ran quickly and did not
>> cause any headaches."
You obviously need to turn your volume up, then! :-P
30 • Neptune - no longer useful (by curious on 2018-04-20 14:51:06 GMT from Germany)
"... we stopped officially supporting proprietary graphics card drivers. We removed the support for easy installing them ..."
Then I don't see why I should bother with this operating system.
Thanks to the Neptune devs for removing their distro from my list.
31 • Opinion Poll (by Corentin on 2018-04-22 22:40:15 GMT from France)
20+ years for me
Number of Comments: 31
Display mode: DWW Only • Comments Only • Both DWW and Comments
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