| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 769, 25 June 2018
Welcome to this year's 26th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
There are a lot of approaches people take to get the most out of their computers. One method is to run systems with a minimal number of features and software packages, focusing on the bare essentials. There are lot of projects which help out with providing a focused environment and we explore some of those operating systems this week. We begin with a review of BunsenLabs Linux, a Debian-based project which runs the minimal Openbox window manager as its default graphical interface. We also talk about OpenBSD, a lightweight operating system which is turning off some CPU features to improve security. Plus we discuss a new, container-focused flavour of Fedora called Fedora CoreOS and announce the release of a handbook for Ubuntu Studio, a distribution designed specifically with multimedia production in mind. We are also happy to provide updates on UBports and its current upgrade to a new base. This past week Debian published new installation media for Debian 8 Jessie and FreeBSD turned 25 and we are pleased to celebrate its milestone. In honour of FreeBSD's anniversary, our Opinion Poll asks how many of our readers either use FreeBSD or enjoy products and services based on the venerable operating system. In our Question and Answers column we discuss the number of people running Ubuntu and why it is so difficult to count them. Finally, we are pleased to share the releases of the past week and list the torrents we are seeding. We wish you all a fantastic week and happy reading!
- Review: BunsenLabs Helium
- News: UBports upgrading to 16.04, OpenBSD disables CPU feature, Fedora announces Fedora CoreOS, Ubuntu Studio has a new handbook, Debian Jessie updated, FreeBSD turns 25
- Questions and answers: Counting Ubuntu installs
- Released last week: Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.10, Porteus Kiosk 4.7.0, Peppermint OS 9
- Torrent corner: 4MLinux, Clonezilla, DragonFlyBSD, Enso, OSMC, Peppermint, Porteus Kiosk
- Upcoming releases: Tails 3.8, FreeBSD 11.2
- Opinion poll: Using FreeBSD in its many forms
- Reader comments
|Feature Story (by Robert Rijkhoff)
BunsenLabs Linux is a Debian-based distribution that uses the Openbox window manager. The distro was created by the CrunchBang Linux community after its developer announced in 2015 that he was calling it a day. I was a happy CrunchBang user at the time and remember the forum post well. It was one of those "where were you when..." moments.
The latest BunsenLabs release has been named Helium and is based on Debian's Stable branch (Stretch). The release announcement acknowledges that it took a while to get this release out of the door - Debian Stretch was released in June 2017 - and there don't appear to be an awful lot of new features. Still, it is interesting to have a look at the current state of CrunchBang's main successor.
Installation and first impressions
BunsenLabs is available for 32- and 64-bit processors. The standard ISO is just over 1GB in size, while a smaller CD-sized ISO is available for 32-bits architectures. Booting the ISO gives you the option to either run BunsenLabs as a live environment or to launch the installer. There is no option to launch the installer from within the live environment - you will have to reboot your computer and select "Install" from the boot menu.
BunsenLabs Helium -- BunsenLabs' live environment
(full image size: 396kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
The installer is a slightly modified version of Debian's installer. It features a modest amount of BunsenLabs branding and obviously there is no option to select a desktop environment, but other than that it is all Debian. The installer feels old-school compared with, say, Ubiquity or Calamares, but it does the job.
The release notes for Helium mention that the first system boot will be slow, and it certainly was - it took over two minutes to get to Openbox (although that included decrypting the hard drive). Subsequent boots were fast but the boot process itself isn't very elegant. For instance, the GRUB menu is supposed to have a wallpaper similar to the wallpaper used for the login screen and desktop but on my laptop it was rendered in black and white, with greyish blobs where the gradients are supposed to be. As the text in the GRUB menu is white much of it was unreadable.
When you first log in you are greeted by an interactive post-installation shell script. The script starts with a warning: we are not supposed to add Ubuntu PPAs or untrusted repositories, nor are we to add repos for other Debian releases. On the remaining screens we can update the system and install various extras, such as additional wallpapers, Flash, Dropbox and even a LAMP stack.
BunsenLabs Helium -- BunsenLabs' post-installation script
(full image size: 436kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
If you have ever installed vanilla Openbox on Debian you will know that by default Openbox presents you with a completely black screen. You can open a menu by right-clicking anywhere on the desktop but that is as far as the default feature-set goes. Openbox is very customisable, though, and with the help of other applications it is possible to add things like a panel and wallpaper.
BunsenLabs gives you a fully functioning system out of the box. The desktop features a single panel with a "launcher" area (for application shortcuts), a system tray and two workspace switchers / task bars. The combined workspace switchers / task bars are very smart; they not only let you switch from one workspace to the other but also show you which applications are open in which workspace. If you want to move an application to a different workspace you can simply drag its icon to the workspace.
BunsenLabs Helium -- Four applications on two workspaces
(full image size: 436kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
BunsenLabs' menu provides access to everything you might need and the items are organised in a logical manner. The first item in the list is "Run Program", which opens a basic application launcher (gmrun). This is followed by a list with common applications, a section with common categories of applications (Accessories, Graphics, etc.) and a section for common directories and recently opened files. Towards the bottom of the menu we get various advanced options (Preferences and System Tools) and at the very bottom we find an Exit button.
One of the things I like about Openbox is that it is very keyboard-friendly. You can open the menu with either the Super key or the Super-Spacebar shortcut and quickly navigate the menu using your arrow keys. For instance, to exit the system you can simply open the menu; hit either the End or arrow up key to take you to the last item in the menu ("Exit") and hit Enter. An even quicker way to get to the exit menu is to use the Super-X shortcut - there are key bindings for everything in Openbox.
BunsenLabs Helium -- The Openbox menu
(full image size: 515kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
Apart from being usable out of the box BunsenLabs also makes it relatively easy to customise the desktop. The menu includes dozens of links to documentation, configuration files and graphical utilities. For instance, under Preferences -> Openbox we get links to the main configuration files, links to basic graphical utilities that can be used to tweak the configuration instead, and a link to information about how to edit the Openbox menu. Helpfully, there is also an option to reconfigure the Openbox menu (which needs to be done before any changes you make take effect).
If you are not quite ready to dive into the configuration files you could start with BLOB, a basic configuration manager that lets you switch between various BunsenLabs themes. For each theme you can see which configuration files, icon theme and wallpapers are used and there is the option to save your own collection of configurations. It is a nice addition and it goes to show that BunsenLabs very much encourages you to tweak the system.
BunsenLabs Helium -- BLOB, BunsenLabs' configuration manager
(full image size: 310kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
Personally, I found there was very little I wanted to modify. If this was my day-to-day system I would at some point remove the Conky system monitor from the desktop, although I do like how Conky is partly used to list various common keyboard shortcuts. The only other thing I would remove are the application shortcuts in the panel. They feel redundant and look out of place. The four launchers open the default web browser, file manager, text editor and terminal emulator, respectively. However, the icons are quite different from the icons for the applications they launch (Firefox, Thunar, Geary and Terminator). The icon for the default web browser, for instance, looks remarkably similar to the logo of the Safari browser.
BunsenLabs Helium -- Removing launchers via the tint2 configuration file
(full image size: 558kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
Repositories and software
BunsenLabs mainly relies on Debian's repositories and gives you access to non-free packages out of the box. Apart from the Debian Stable repositories there is a BunsenLabs repo containing everything from configuration files to themes and the post-installation script. The repositories and software can be managed either via the command line or by using the Synaptic package manager.
BunsenLabs Helium -- Exploring the BunsenLabs repositories
(full image size: 359kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
I quite like the selection of pre-installed software. You get the Firefox browser, VLC media player, Thunar file manager, Geany text editor and a few accessories, including the Catfish file finder and GNOME's Archive Manager. The only choice of software that I couldn't quite understand was the office software: you get LibreOffice Writer but instead of LibreOffice Calc you get Gnumeric. I guess the developers tried to find a balance between lightweight programs and the best tool for the job. For those who prefer the full LibreOffice suite there is an option in the menu to install just that.
BunsenLabs Helium -- LibreOffice and Firefox
(full image size: 275kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
As BunsenLabs is based on Debian's Stable branch most of the software is a little dated. Firefox is at version 52 (you get the extended support release, which hasn't moved to Firefox Quantum yet), LibreOffice is at version 5.2 and the distro ships with Linux kernel 4.9.
This ain't no desktop environment
So far I have skipped over the fact that Openbox is a window manager rather than a desktop environment. With the help of the tint2 panel and applications such as Nitrogen (a graphical application to manage wallpapers) and LXAppearance (a graphical utility to customise the theme applications use) it comes close to being a desktop environment. However, there are things that Openbox doesn't do.
BunsenLabs Helium -- Obconf, Nitrogen and LXAppearance
(full image size: 240kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
A good example is the Openbox menu. Applications you install are not added to the menu. Similarly, if you would remove, say, Catfish, you would still have a hard-coded link to the program in the menu. To make changes to the menu you need edit the menu.xml file, either by hand or via a basic graphical utility called Obmenu.
It is possible to have a dynamic rather than a static menu. I would argue, though, that it is better to manually edit the menu. It simply offers much more flexibility and it reduces bloat. Menus in "proper" desktop environments tend to list applications which I need but which I never launch from the menu - image and document viewers spring to mind. At the same time it is not so easy to add custom menu items. I might want to add a menu item that opens an OpenSSH session. In Openbox that is easy enough once you understand the menu.xml file.
BunsenLabs makes managing the menu a little easier by launching whatever the default application is for a certain job. For instance, when you select Terminal from the menu Openbox runs the x-terminal-emulator command, which opens the default terminal emulator. By default this is Terminator but if you would install xterm and make that default terminal emulator then it would open xterm instead. The same goes for the web browser, file manager, text editor and media player. As an aside, it is for this reason that the application shortcuts in the panel have icons that look out of place. If you would make Chromium your default browser you probably wouldn't want the quick launcher to have the Firefox icon.
The point I want to make is this: the menu is simple and complicated at the same time. Early on in my trial I installed both Claws Mail and Thunderbird. I wanted to do this the proper way, so that I would have an item called "E-mail client" in my menu that would open the default e-mail program. After looking into the Debian Alternatives system I found that I instead needed to use a program called exo-preferred-applications to select the default e-mail program and that I could then launch the default e-mail client with exo-open --launch MailReader. I was able to achieve what I wanted but it did require a fair amount of research and the help of the BunsenLabs forums. In a full-fledged desktop environment setting the default e-mail client would be as easy as finding the relevant option in the settings menu. In BunsenLabs, there is no settings menu - you get lots of configuration files and tools instead.
BunsenLabs Helium -- Trying to configure the default e-mail client
(full image size: 417kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
There were a few other minor issues I encountered, mostly related to Conky. One thing I quickly noticed is that minimising all applications (by pressing Super-D) also minimises Conky. There is no obvious way to restore Conky again but after much digging in Conky's configuration file I found that changing the own_window_type variable from "normal" to "desktop" does the trick. I later found that running openbox --reconfigure to refresh Openbox's configuration files caused Conky to print its output on top of the existing output, which resulted in rather bold lettering. As I have never cared much for Conky I simply uninstalled it (and removed it from the autostart file). If you do like Conky, there is an active trade in Conky configuration files on the BunsenLabs forums.
BunsenLabs Helium -- Conky becoming unreadable
(full image size: 351kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
Documentation and community
Speaking of the BunsenLabs forums, I should mention that it is a fantastic community. The forums are fairly active and its users are genuinely friendly and helpful. To give an example, after my struggle with the default email client had been resolved someone chimed in to explain a little bit more about exo-preferred-applications (it is an Xfce utility and is used because BunsenLabs also uses Xfce's file manager). I have seen a lot of that on the forums and I like it. People really try to help you find your way.
I think it is almost impossible to overestimate the importance of the community. Openbox, tint2 and programs like Conky and Compton are highly configurable and it can be difficult to find the information you are after (even though the documentation isn't all that bad). Making seemingly simple changes can quickly become frustrating, and being able to get help from other users is really nice.
A BunsenLabs experiment
I installed BunsenLabs on an old Lenovo G50-30 laptop. I am hoping to give the laptop to someone who isn't particularly tech savvy and has fairly basic computing needs. With that in mind I set out to create an Openbox desktop that is easy to use and free from bloat. I wanted to get rid off some advanced features such as the second workspace, install a different theme and have a menu that contains only items the person is going to need.
By and large customising Openbox was straight forward. There are various graphical tools but they aren't really needed if you are happy to dig into the various configuration files. Tweaking the desktop took a few hours and I was able to achieve most of what I wanted.
BunsenLabs Helium -- My attempt to make BunsenLabs cleaner and leaner
(full image size: 281kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
The only thing I haven't quite figured out is how to make it easier to update the system. I want the laptop's new owner to never ever see a terminal window. The most obvious alternative is Synaptic but, much as I like the package manger, it isn't exactly user friendly. I might look into unattended upgrades as that would fit nicely with the aim of keeping things simple. For the moment though, I have opted to add some help files using YAD. I discovered YAD while digging into BunsenLabs' Openbox menu. The utility can be used to display the contents of custom help files. In other words, you can create a simple text file and add a YAD command to the menu to display its contents in a native window.
BunsenLabs Helium -- Displaying a text file using YAD
(full image size: 461kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
I have got a bit of soft spot for Openbox. I like how minimalist it is and how it hardly uses any system resources - according to my Conky panel BunsenLabs was using just over 200MB of RAM when idle. BunsenLabs provides a system that is usable out of the box but which can be tweaked any way you want. For this review I made the system cleaner and leaner but I could have gone in the opposite direction and create a desktop with conkies, panels and docks all over the place. DistroWatch's slogan, "put the fun back into computing", very much applies to BunsenLabs.
In short, this is a distro I could easily use as my daily driver. My only concern would be the project's long term future. BunsenLabs Helium was released almost a year after Debian Stretch was released and then there is the worrying fact that Openbox doesn't work under Wayland, which is getting ever closer to replacing Xorg. BunsenLabs has got a sound community though, so I very much hope this distro will be around for many years to come.
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Hardware used for this review
My physical test equipment for this review was a Lenovo G50-30 laptop with the following specifications:
- Processor: Intel Celeron CPU N2820, 2.13ghZ
- Memory: 4GB of RAM
- Wireless network adaptor: Realtek Semiconductor RTL8723BE
- Wired network adaptor: Realtek Semiconductor RTL8111
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Visitor supplied rating
BunsenLabs Linux has a visitor supplied average rating of: 9.1/10 from 73 review(s).
Have you used BunsenLabs Linux? You can leave your own review of the project on our ratings page.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
UBports upgrading to 16.04, OpenBSD disables CPU feature, Fedora announces Fedora CoreOS, Ubuntu Studio has a new handbook, Debian Jessie updated, FreeBSD turns 25
The UBports team is in the process of testing a new release candidate for their fourth over the air update (OTA-4). The new development snapshot is a major one as it represents a jump from the old Ubuntu 15.04 code (which Canonical no longer supports) to the newer 16.04 LTS codebase which is still supported upstream. "The main reason why the arrival of OTA-4 seemed to take so long is because Ubuntu Touch switched its base to Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Xenial Xerus. This is a mammoth milestone for the project, because it allowed us to transition from the unsupported Ubuntu 15.04 Vivid Vervet to a Long Term Support (LTS) base. Being able to build on a supported Ubuntu version is very important, because we are now receiving core package updates directly from upstream - from the larger Ubuntu community. Plus, in the spirit of free and open source software, it is now a lot easier to make our software available to the Ubuntu community at large." More information on this significant milestone along with tips for testing and providing feedback can be found in the project's blog post.
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The OpenBSD team is taking a proactive step toward securing their operating system from potential, future CPU flaws. Mark Kettenis has published a patch which will disable hyper-threading, a move which the developer hopes will protect OpenBSD users against future Spectre-like CPU attacks. "SMT (Simultaneous Multi Threading) implementations typically share TLBs and L1 caches between threads. This can make cache timing attacks a lot easier and we strongly suspect that this will make several Spectre-class bugs exploitable. Especially on Intel's SMT implementation which is better known as hyper-threading. We really should not run different security domains on different processor threads of the same core. Unfortunately changing our scheduler to take this into account is far from trivial. Since many modern machines no longer provide the ability to disable hyper-threading in the BIOS setup, provide a way to disable the use of additional processor threads in our scheduler. And since we suspect there are serious risks, we disable them by default. This can be controlled through a new hw.smt sysctl."
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Earlier this year we reported that Red Hat was acquiring Container Linux (formerly CoreOS). An interesting side-effect of Red Hat adding Container Linux to its list of open source technologies under the name Red Hat CoreOS is that Fedora will become a proving ground for new technologies going into future versions of the operating system. As Matthew Miller writes, this will result in a new flavour of Fedora called Fedora CoreOS. "What does this mean for Fedora Atomic Host and other deliverables? This isn't the place for technical details - see 'what next?' at the bottom of this message for more. I expect that over the next year or so, Fedora Atomic Host will be replaced by a new thing combining the best from Container Linux and Project Atomic. This new thing will be 'Fedora CoreOS' and serve as the upstream to Red Hat CoreOS." Further details can be found in Miller's post and on the new website for Fedora CoreOS.
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Lots of people would like to use Linux for their audio projects, but may not know where to start. Author Peter Reppert has decided to help by writing a handbook for Ubuntu Studio which explains how to get started creating audio tracks, mixing tracks, adding effects and mastering CDs. "With discussion, Peter decided to release the entire book and have it uploaded onto the Ubuntu Studio User Wiki as a living document, complete with updates provided by himself and the rest of the Ubuntu Studio documentation team. Our long-time developers saw this as something they wished they would have had when they started using Ubuntu Studio years ago." The handbook can be accessed for free on the Ubuntu Studio wiki.
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The Debian project has released fresh installation media for Debian 8 "Jessie". The new media does not represent a new version of Debian, but provides installation discs which include security updates and fixes for packages that have become available since Debian 8 was originally released. "The Debian project is pleased to announce the eleventh (and final) update of its oldstable distribution Debian 8 (codename Jessie). This point release mainly adds corrections for security issues, along with a few adjustments for serious problems. Security advisories have already been published separately and are referenced where available. After this point release, Debian's Security and Release Teams will no longer be producing updates for Debian 8. Users wishing to continue to receive security support should upgrade to Debian 9, or see the LTS wiki for details about the subset of architectures and packages covered by the Long Term Support project."
* * * * *
The FreeBSD Foundation has declared June 19th FreeBSD Day. Why this day and why now? "June 19, 1993 was the day the official name for FreeBSD was agreed upon. See part of the e-mail thread here." Which means the FreeBSD project is now officially 25 years old. The venerable operating system, which can trace its roots back to the early days of UNIX, is widely used around the world. FreeBSD is used to stream videos by Netflix, it is the underlying technology behind the WhatsApp messaging software and it serves as the basis for the PlayStation 4. Happy anniversary, FreeBSD!
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These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Counting Ubuntu installs
Getting-a-head-count asks: How many computers (approximately) in the world run Ubuntu or other flavours? Counting servers, desktop and laptops.
DistroWatch answers: One of the benefits of running Linux is that it is nearly impossible to get an accurate count of the users of any one distribution. If that doesn't sound like a benefit, consider how companies usually get usage statistics. To get a count of the number of users, or computers a piece of software is installed on, there needs to be some way to uniquely identify and get reports from each person or system running the software. The counting process might use on-line registration or sales figures or registered e-mail addresses or a unique identifier sent along with update requests. One way or another, companies that can provide accurate usage figures need to be tracking their users somehow.
With most Linux systems getting an accurate count is difficult. We can count the number of times an ISO is downloaded, but not how many times it is used to install the operating system. We can count unique IP addresses that request updates, but that will only give one address for institutions like small businesses and schools. We can count the number of times a core component is downloaded, but that ignores package caches, mirrors and so on. We can also run into situations where an operating system is tried and then quickly replaced with something else, which often happens in the Linux community, inflating the numbers.
All of this is to say it is really hard to estimate the number of Ubuntu users, let alone the number of installs of community flavours or other Linux distributions, because the users are not tracked. Getting an accurate count is like looking at a swarm of insects and trying to estimate the number of individuals based on the size of the cloud they form.
Over the years Canonical has tried to get some rough estimates, based on downloads and stats provided by other services. For example, last year they estimated 60 million Ubuntu containers had been launched by Docker users. They also guessed that around 20 million Ubuntu Cloud instances had been set up in 2015. As of about three years ago, Canonical suspected they had over 40 million desktop users, though how they got that number and whether it included community editions was unclear.
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Additional answers can be found in our Questions and Answers archive.
|Released Last Week
Porteus Kiosk 4.7.0
Tomasz Jokiel has announced the release of Porteus Kiosk 4.7.0, the latest stable build of the project's specialist Gentoo-based distribution designed for web kiosks (with Firefox and Chrome browsers): "I'm pleased to announce that Porteus Kiosk 4.7.0 is now available for download. Major software upgrades in this release include: Linux kernel 4.14.50, Mozilla Firefox 52.8.1 ESR and Google Chrome 66.0.3359.181. Packages from the userland are upgraded to portage snapshot tagged on 20180616. The latest kiosk release brings more work on mitigitng the Spectre vulnerabilities through updated CPU microcode and kernel patches. The newly discovered 'Spectre Next Generation' vulnerabilities require updated microcode from Intel which is not available yet. Please consider enabling automatic updates service for your kiosks to receive latest fixes and patches as soon as they become available. Short changelog for 4.7.0 release: it's now possible to explicitly set the shutdown options which should be present in the kiosk shutdown menu; added support for refreshing browser webpage with defined time interval...." See the release announcement and changelog for more information.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.10
Red Hat has announced the release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 6.10, the latest version of the distribution's legacy branch with security support until November 2020: "We are pleased to announce the availability of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.10, the latest update to the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 platform. For nearly eight years, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 has carried our customers’ critical infrastructure because of the stability, reliability, and platform security that it can offer to the modern enterprise. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.10 marks the transition from the Maintenance Support 1 lifecycle phase to the Maintenance Support 2 phase. In order to help provide customers with a stable environment for the remainder of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 lifecycle, only critical security fixes and business-impacting urgent issues have been addressed. Examples include the addition of retpoline-based mitigations for the Spectre/Meltdown vulnerabilities, an updated GNU Compiler Collection (GCC), and rebased gcc-libraries packages." See the release announcement and release notes for more details.
Peppermint OS 9
Peppermint OS is a lightweight, Ubuntu-based distribution that features a desktop environment made up of Xfce and LXDE components. The project's latest release, version 9, is based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and features several small changes. "We have replaced lxrandr with xfce4-display-setttings for monitor settings as we continue to look for better options that add functionality without adding weight, and to continue the migration away from the few remaining LXDE components. By user request the Menulibre menu editor is now installed by default, and no longer breaks the menus as it did in previous Peppermint versions. Continuing the theme of improved menu and launcher management, there is now a right-click 'Create new launcher here' desktop context menu item. The Nemo file manager now has a right-click 'Send by email' context menu item. (requires an email client such as Thunderbird to be installed). The Panel Reset function in the Peppermint Settings Panel no longer needs to log you out of your session to reset the panel. The Xfce Panel Switch utility is now installed by default, so you can now backup/restore any custom panel configurations and switch between them. It includes a Peppermint-9 default profile and a few others to play with. The system Notification Settings (in the settings panel) now has a 'Do Not Disturb' function, or notifications can be enabled/disabled on a per application basis." A complete list of changes can be found in the release announcement.
Peppermint OS 9 -- The default desktop
(full image size: 2.5MB, 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: 906
- Total data uploaded: 20.3TB
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Using FreeBSD in its many forms
In our News section we reported that FreeBSD has officially turned 25 years old this past week. FreeBSD is commonly used as a server operating system and has also been used as the basis for various end-user systems. FreeBSD code and utilities have found their way into many modern operating systems, including macOS and the PlayStation 4.
This week we would like to know if you have used FreeBSD directly, used a service which is based on FreeBSD or used an operating system which uses a significant amount of FreeBSD code.
You can see the results of our previous poll on preferred init software in last week's edition. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
Using FreeBSD in its many forms
|I run FreeBSD at home or work: ||268 (17%)|
| I used a FreeBSD-based service (Netflix/WhatsApp): ||209 (13%)|
| I used an OS with FreeBSD parts (PlayStation/macOS): ||110 (7%)|
| All of the above: ||101 (6%)|
| Some of the above: ||286 (18%)|
| None of the above: ||633 (39%)|
DistroWatch database summary
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This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 2 July 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 • Computers running Ubuntu. And Linux? (by sofiasmith on 2018-06-25 00:36:01 GMT from Spain) |
Very interesting this week Questions and Answers, Jesse.
And my question is. If there are between 20 and 60 million computers running Ubuntu. How many computers run Linux and BSD (approximately and estimated) counting servers, desktops and laptops?
2 • Openbox (by Barnabyh on 2018-06-25 00:36:08 GMT from Germany)
Openbox is the better GNOME Shell. Distraction-free computing. I only run window managers if I can help it.
3 • BunsenLabs Helium install from the Live USB/DVD. (by Renato ZX on 2018-06-25 00:48:18 GMT from Brazil)
You can start the installer of the Live USB/DVD of BunsenLabs GNU/Linux by right click and select the install option. no need to reboot.
4 • My mistake, you can't start the install from the Live Media. (by Renato ZX on 2018-06-25 01:04:14 GMT from Brazil)
My mistake, you can't start the install from the Live Media. i confused with other Distro.
5 • Bunsenlabs (by greenpossum on 2018-06-25 02:17:44 GMT from Australia)
I've got a soft spot for CB, it powered my netbook for many years. Currently it's running AntiX which is also great. But the hardware is hinting that it wants to retire so the release of openSUSE for the old Samsung ARM based Chromebook is timely as that is losing Chrome OS updates soon. Linux is an old computer's best friend.
6 • Crunchbang / FreeBSD (by Ricky Thomson on 2018-06-25 03:24:38 GMT from Netherlands)
Man, do i miss Crunchbang. This was one of the first linux distros i had been running years back, after initially discovering Ubuntu. Nice to see it's still alive in some form and the community started Bunsenlabs in the aftermath. I had not known about that until reading this!
Also, happy Birthday FreeBSD. If it weren't for Slackware, i'd be using FreeBSD on my desktop for all things. Any chance of a review of the latest FreeBSD release on distrowatch in the near future?
7 • Openbox and Xorg (by bison on 2018-06-25 03:49:39 GMT from United States)
> there is the worrying fact that Openbox doesn't work under Wayland, which is getting ever closer to replacing Xorg.
That doesn't really happen until support runs out on all versions of RHEL that use Xorg, which is quite a few years away.
8 • Waybox (by vern on 2018-06-25 13:52:06 GMT from United States)
#7 Hopefully an answer to Wayland and the fate of Openbox is Waybox:
9 • FreeBSD (by rdaniels on 2018-06-25 15:51:08 GMT from United States)
I do not currently use FreeBSD in any form that I am aware of. I have in the past used FreeBSD, PC-BSD (now TrueOS), OpenBSD, and Dragonfly on my desktop, but I always run into some shortcoming or another in BSD land and come back to Linux. PC-BSD lasted longest for me, at about 6 months. None of the rest even came close.
10 • 'Using FreeBSD in its many forms' (by R. Cain on 2018-06-25 17:35:35 GMT from United States)
I have been a fan of FreeBSD ever since discovering Dru Lavigne's outstanding and highly-readable books on the subject, but have never tried it (I have seen some videos of Ms. Lavigne's presentations--this is one VERY knowledgeable person and a highly-capable 'presenter').
With the advent of all the damage being done to Linux by the adoption by most Linux distros of the 'systemd' initialization software, I am downloading, now, the 'almost latest-greatest' FreeBSD: version 10.4--the fifth version of the FreeBSD 10 series (I'll wait until version 11.1 gets a few more miles on it; I like software to be at least of the "point-two" variety).
I think it would be a good idea to have another (good) 'systemd-free' OS option, in addition to the excellent Linux MX-17.1 distribution.
Hopefully, before the week is out, I'll be able to check the box on your poll labeled "I run FreeBSD at home or work.
11 • Counting *buntus (by cykodrone on 2018-06-25 18:15:07 GMT from Canada)
I ran some *buntus for a while back in the day, but when they caught enabling spyware by default and embracing systemd (because Debian did), I had to switch. I have zero tolerance for nonsense now.
12 • Computers running Ubuntu, Linux and BSD? (by some random user on 2018-06-25 18:37:36 GMT from United States)
@1 Not including the paragraph that starts of with "Over the years Canonical has tried to get some rough estimates" and an OS with BSD parts (macOS - comes to mind), I guess the same answer above.
So: One of the benefits of running BSD is that it is nearly impossible to get an accurate count of the users of any one distribution.. (And the part as to why, nearly impossible).
13 • Opinion Poll (by some random user on 2018-06-25 18:38:24 GMT from United States)
I selected, "I used an OS with FreeBSD parts (PlayStation/macOS)"
14 • FreeBSD (by Jesssi on 2018-06-25 19:06:04 GMT from United States)
I would Use FreeBSD more if it were easy for a Noob who uses Linux Mint to compile Packages for Debian/BSD. Yes I am one of the view DebianBSD users. I loved having the FreeBSD Kernel and a Linux Base. IF only they made a "for dummies" guide for normal people. it is not like I am stupid as I work in the ITS field.
15 • FreeBSD (by Trihexagonal on 2018-06-25 23:28:08 GMT from United States)
I currently run FreeBSD on 5 laptops, one of which serves as my dedicated .mp3 player, and have a beginners tutorial on how to set up a FreeBSD desktop from scratch using ports for 3rd party programs on my site.
16 • How many computers run Linux? (by Guido on 2018-06-26 07:36:51 GMT from Philippines)
@1 @12 May you find an answer here: https://www.linuxcounter.net/
17 • @ Jesse - Make it easier to update (by Frisbee on 2018-06-26 10:09:34 GMT from Switzerland)
"The only thing I haven't quite figured out is how to make it easier to update the system."
There should be one utility visible in Synaptic, called:
I didn't check if it's still there but, that's what I used in Crunchbang / Wheezy times.
18 • FreeBSD (by CS on 2018-06-26 15:22:43 GMT from United States)
Stopped using FreeBSD when they struggled so long to make the jump to SMP back in the 5.X days, jumped ship to Linux and haven't touched FreeBSD since.
19 • NONE OF THE ABOVE (by Willie Buck Merle on 2018-06-26 18:43:09 GMT from United States)
Nowadays, if you can't slap BSD on a system and do something useful with it right-off-the-bat like Ubuntu its a FAIL so move on.
ps. Last issue I saw the anti-systemd fanatics totally/slowly skew the polling results without the DW editors even saying that was happening after those first 5 days when most peeps came out saying they were FOR systemd... that aint journalism JS.
20 • Privacy means not knowing. (by Sley ton on 2018-06-26 19:25:55 GMT from United States)
I have a problem with trying to figure out how many users use a certain OS. Its none of our business, and violates user's privacy. If a user chooses Ubuntu, what business is it of ours to know? Even if the data is anonymous, and it isn't, it is still wrong.
21 • BSD (by Bright Sunflowery Display on 2018-06-26 22:43:13 GMT from Australia)
BSDs have the best screen-display of all OSs - bright, clear, easy on the eye. It always feels good booting into a BSD desktop. But the ecosystem of apps and drivers doesn't get worked on as much as with Linux. So Linux is a more useful OS.
Frenzy was a good live utility BSD, but it only lasted a couple of years. Shame.
22 • Realistic Privacy (by M.Z. on 2018-06-26 22:44:49 GMT from United States)
How then do you justify the US constitution both establishing a right to privacy & a mandate to count the population via the census? I mean knowing somebody exists could violate the right to privacy by your logic, right? Why not talk about ensuring there are reasonable privacy expectations that make sure individuals have the right not to be tracked, rather than claiming that we should ignore all information about everyone. The world has never been that way since the dawn of recorded history & that isn't going to change. Many of us do on the other hand have expectations about privacy behind closed doors & should create reasonable privacy expectations for what happens online.
23 • How many installs. How much help. (by vern on 2018-06-27 00:12:53 GMT from United States)
I have no idea about how many Ubuntu installs there are or how many grains of rice there is in the world. What I do know, is at any given time there can be over 25,000 user online at the Ubuntu forums.
That has a telling reference point.
You have a problem with Mint, Ubuntu is there to help. They do shy away from Windows questions.
Counter that with one of my newest lovable distros: SparkyLinux, and its a ghost town!
24 • FreeBSD (by R. Cain on 2018-06-27 00:58:25 GMT from United States)
...still on track to install FreeBSD 10.4. 10.4 has been downloaded, and am in the process of RTFM (Reading The utterlyFantastic Manual), as I’m not not gifted enough to simply “...slap BSD [without a graphic installer] on a system and do something useful with it right-off-the-bat like Ubuntu...”; like, maybe, surfing Facebook with Ubuntu?
There is one slight problem with any UNIX, which tends to weed out the hacks from those who understand, or sincerely WANT to understand, operating systems: you have to actually THINK. Bummer, huh?
[from Dru Lavigne, in bsdmag dot org: “...We are now starting to see a lot of long-time Linux users who are looking for an alternative to systemd, and who are curious about ZFS...”]
ps. last issue i saw the systemd fanatics totally stuffing the ballot box during the first two days of the polling results skewing the polling results without the DW editors even saying that was happening then the rest of the readers responded and showed what the majority of the readership really feels and so the anti-systemd fanatics skewed the results and totally gamed the system...that aint journalism JS
“Too often...we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought."--John F. Kennedy
25 • freebsd (by alotov on 2018-06-27 10:12:54 GMT from United Kingdom)
I am not impressed with freebsd. Has trouble with linux filesystems and sd-cards. The irony is that it works ok with windows filesystems. For the filesystem reason it makes freebsd seem like a proprietory OS; as just like a proprietory OS it has trouble with other non-native filesystems. I have it on my desktop and laptop, but for the reasons mentioned I rarely use it, and therefore its going to be removed.
26 • Realistic Privacy (by lancre on 2018-06-27 13:31:35 GMT from United States)
WHO runs a specific OS is a private issue. HOW MANY is not. It's useful for both HW and SW development.
27 • @22 M.Z. (by dragonmouth on 2018-06-27 16:41:22 GMT from United States)
"reasonable privacy expectations"
Unfortunately that phrase is open to a very wide range of interpretations. What the governments consider "reasonable privacy expectations" for their citizens, many people would consider oppressive Big Brother-type surveillance. With today's technology even the privacy of a private home can be easily invaded. For some reason, living in a Faraday Cage inside a concrete blockhouse does not exactly appeal to me.
28 • Realistic Privacy (by M.Z. on 2018-06-27 19:57:01 GMT from United States)
Yeah, so it would be good to get an OS count & not match general info to specific IP or MAC addresses. That would seem reasonable & realistic to me.
That's why people should define reasonable and if they can vote then do so accordingly. The world has definitely moved too far in the direction of surveillance, but pretending that there is no valid reason to know anything isn't realistic. I'm happy to let every website I visit know that I'm running Linux & that users of my OS exist; however, I strongly dislike the creation of massive databases that profile millions of users & track all their online activity regardless of whether it's done by governments or private companies.
29 • Expectations in Real World. (by Don Dbushy on 2018-06-28 03:00:49 GMT from Canada)
I need little help to understand traces of following linux processes.
Anyone with inner-sight is welcomed.
D-BUS provides one-to-one communication bridge between applications. Multiple programs that connect to the message bus called dbus-daemon can exchange messages with one another.
dbus-daemon --> anon_inode:[eventpolling]
dbus-daemon --> socket:[xxxxx]
dbus-daemon --> anon_inode:inotify
dbus-daemon --> socket:[xxxxx]
Does dbus-daemon really needs access to the sockets? Think twice before replying.
There so many to list... this is JUST one out of many.
This reminds me the analogy between Free World of Linux, FOSS, and free cup of tea served to me in Soth East Asian small town.
When I noticed a fly floating on tea, I notify it to concerned that there is a fly in my cup of tea.
The Reply was "What do you expect in FREE cup of tea, cream on the top?
Rest to be understood.
30 • BSD & Linux similarities (by John Goodman on 2018-06-28 05:38:01 GMT from Australia)
It's funny how the BSD ecosystem is in some ways becoming similar to Linux:
* FreeBSD is like Debian, in that it is the basis for a number of other BSD distros
* Now PCBSD, or TrueOS, (known as the 'graphical FreeBSD') wants to become "a cutting-edge ... fresh, innovative ... core-centric operating system that is modular, functional, and perfect for do-it-yourselfers and advanced users alike". Other BSDs - like Trident and Ghost - will build off of it. This sounds like TrueOS's role will be like a Ubuntu or a Fedora.
31 • BSD and LINUX Similarities (by Don Dbushy on 2018-06-28 06:01:38 GMT from Canada)
@ # BSD and Linux similarities
BSD and Linux has to be similar look-a-like twins because both were originated from same grand-pa like Adam in the The Bible.
"* FreeBSD is like Debian, in that it is the basis for a number of other BSD distros"
While counting the numbers, your just forget to mention GooD or BaD!!!
"* Now PCBSD, or TrueOS, (known as the 'graphical FreeBSD') wants to become "a cutting-edge ... "
It is more important that at least developers know which edge they are cutting in delivering cutting-edge technology or tools. Smart users will find their way out.
It seems like plan-B, just in case Linux fails to achieve desired goals.
In fact, nobody, neither developers nor users have any clues or any foresight.
Anyway it keeps rolling, rolling and rolling, as if,
in spite of knowing, I have been a long time user of BSD and Linux.
It does not matter much as long as it keeps rolling.
32 • I tried to use FreeBSD (by Vytautas on 2018-06-28 07:50:08 GMT from Lithuania)
I tried to use FreeBSD, but faced lots of trouble with my card reader so I continued with Linux. It was not simply nonfunctional, but stirred things up and others suggested to disconnect it completely. Maybe I should give another try for more recent version.
33 • What? (by Dave on 2018-06-28 10:48:33 GMT from United States)
"I am hoping to give the laptop to someone who isn't particularly tech savvy..."
So you are going to give them a laptop, preloaded with an OS that even you cannot figure out how to update? Makes perfect sense to me.
34 • Ubuntu Count (by Dave on 2018-06-28 11:05:23 GMT from United States)
Seriously, who cares?
Look at the trending distros... see who is #1? It's Manjaro, an Arch-based distribution. Why do you suppose that is? I know why I switched to Manjaro. I got tired of Ubuntu mucking things up, and the same old things that for years, have not worked on completion of install (hello bluetooth? I'm looking at you).
Plus, I like that Manjaro aren't fan-boys like Ubuntu users are. Granted, there are a lot of helpful Ubuntu users out there, but many new Ubuntu users who once get the hang of things suddenly become worse fan boys than the Apple users that they rail against, and start using those words like "Winblows and so on." Many of you know what I mean, you've seen it too, and you stay silent, you don't call out this misconduct, you're as complicit by your silence.
I left the dark side, I switched to a Mac, love it, but don't fan boy obsess over it, and on my HP I dumped Ubuntu in favor of Manjaro, not because of the fan boys, but because I got tired of a crappy OS (Ubuntu) in favor of an OS that was better put together and actually worked without an excessive amount of tweaking in order to make it work.
Sure, installing from git and tarballs is a time consuming process, but it gives me a feeling of satisfaction that "I did it," and that I am not downloading and insalling some pre-packaged deb with extras that I don't need for my install.
Ubuntu. Great server, poor desktop.
35 • BSD Poll (by Andy Figueroa on 2018-06-28 16:50:22 GMT from United States)
I can't imagine the BSD poll provides meaningful results, given the very low numbers.
36 • FreeBSD (by R. Cain on 2018-06-29 02:34:56 GMT from United States)
*Which* very low numbers are you talking about?
I'm no statistician. A very quick mental addition says that there are about 1500 respondents to date 28 June). A similar quick summation says 1900 total respondents for last week's poll. Seems to me to be an informative instrument.
37 • you have chosen, poorly. (by gabe on 2018-06-29 08:37:50 GMT from Norway)
@34 • Ubuntu Count
"Look at the trending distros... see who is #1? It's Manjaro"
This doesn't mean users, it means clicks. Clicks can be anything from a Mac user curious about distros, the distro's users and/or devs and joe random. A good try, though. ^_^
38 • A Better Approach IMHO (by gplcoder on 2018-06-29 13:07:02 GMT from United States)
@37 - I agree. For a while now, I have taken an alternate approach which I believe reflects a more realistic result. I stared using 'Average Rating' but then realized that this was not balanced as it included distros with very low number of reviews (like the current #1, SalentOS). I then modified this to 'Most Ratings' which no longer puts the list in 'average rating' order but one just has to look down the list for the combination of lots of reviews and high rating. Using this strategy, MX Linux has the highest rating (followed by Arch and then deepin) along with the largest number of reviews.
39 • quite a ways past "poor" choice (by Willie Buck Merle on 2018-06-29 14:45:50 GMT from United States)
One can surmise, by now, that an unbiased machine could approximate the number of which OS and its particular species that are used for workstation-server-IoT around the globe. Within a credible bound that can withstand scrutiny by several other unbiased machines.
Unfortunately, if not for human tampering and/or dogma we couldn't trust its findings by the time it was presented to us in some web magazine biased towards glossing some in that group for its own prerogatives. So goes the oxymoron FOSS journalism nowadays.
ps. Many of the polls and statistics are suspect here, merely google "distrowatch bias" to look into that. Better yet, just study them yourselves for construction and criteria each time they come out and follow the commenting.
40 • gumby smells funny (by Stands With A Floppy on 2018-06-29 22:11:23 GMT from Romania)
"ps. Many of the polls and statistics are suspect here"
It's not simply one site, it's most/all of them. Anytime you have polls you should remember that they are A) For Fun, and B) susceptible to error. How about those talent shows which have you call in to vote for who you feel is the better performer of some skill/talent? Of course many of them say you can vote X amount of times instead of 1 per individual, but yet people are grabbing as many phones as they can and calling in, even exploiting online number spoofing to call in for dozens, if not hundreds or thousands of votes by the same individual.
I mean, a lot of people still think user agent tracking is actually a good way to count Operating System users when in fact many people spoof them as Windows (like Tor Browser Bundle does), GoogleBot, or whatever.
I enjoy Distrowatch for many reasons. I especially appreciate the people who work behind the scenes to continue to provide such a wonderful resource to us - for free!
41 • polls (by lancre on 2018-06-29 23:29:32 GMT from United States)
Any self selected poll sample is inherently unreliable. Both fanbois and haters are more motivated than the average person.
42 • @ # 40 • gumby smells funny (by Spoofy McSpoofferman on 2018-06-30 19:12:57 GMT from Canada)
@ # 40 • gumby smells funny
"I mean, a lot of people still think user agent tracking is actually a good way to count Operating System users when in fact many people spoof them as Windows (like Tor Browser Bundle does), GoogleBot, or whatever."
With spoofed browsers, spoofed IPs, hacked routers, hacked Wifi, hacked VPN, hacked tor where tor does not identify itself as "Tor" but as "Thor". Furthermore Operating Systems which seems to be operative is NOT operating at all, vice versa. But, still we are collecting tons of garbages, keep the problems on going, keep the money flowing. but we maintain uniformity every time to turn fake scenario feel like reality.
Once I took my sweet-heart for the shopping at Gioielleria Eredi Jovon in Venice, After shopping when I was asked "What are you doing?". I simply told the truth that honey, I am searching you in Toronto Canada. The Reply was "You are so stupid! you know that". I smirked and replied very politely "may be!"
43 • Counting (by Jesse on 2018-06-30 21:26:34 GMT from Canada)
>> "And my question is. If there are between 20 and 60 million computers running Ubuntu. How many computers run Linux and BSD (approximately and estimated) counting servers, desktops and laptops?"
The 20-60 million is probably Ubuntu Desktop systems, not including servers. If you include desktops, servers, etc for all Linux and BSD flavours you're probably looking at hundreds of millions, or more, systems. Data centres can get pretty big and Linux is often running one layer or another.
Number of Comments: 43
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