| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 770, 2 July 2018
Welcome to this year's 27th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
This past week several projects focused on making minor improvements and polishing their distributions. The SUSE team continued its work toward providing reproducible builds while Solus made improvements to their software manager and the Budgie desktop. We cover these updates in our News section along with changes coming to the Fedora system installer. The popular Linux Mint distribution received an upgrade, based on Ubuntu 18.04, this week and we discuss hardware designed specifically for Mint users. This new hardware, called the MintBox Mini, is also the subject of our Opinion Poll - let us know what you think of the MintBox Mini below. Plus we cover the latest Linux Mint 19 release and its new changes in our Feature Story. Then we talk about Manjaro's rise in our page hit rankings and the future of PCLinuxOS in our Questions and Answers column. We are pleased to share the releases of the past week along with the torrents we are seeding. Also this week we welcome the Hyperbola GNU/Linux-libre distribution to our database. We wish you all a wonderful week and happy reading!
- Review: Linux Mint 19
- News: SUSE's reproducible packages, Solus polishes the desktop experience, new Fedora changes, the new MintBox Mini 2 computer
- Questions and answers: Rise of Manjaro and the future of PCLinuxOS
- Released last week: Linux Mint 19, KaOS 2018.06, Tails 3.8
- Torrent corner: Alpine, AV Linux, FreeBSD, KaOS, KDE neon, Mint, Nitrux, Pinguy, Raspbian, Redcore, Star, SwagArch, Tails
- Opinion poll: The MintBox Mini 2
- New additions: Hyperbola GNU/Linux-libre
- New distributions: alumaOS, Astronomy Linux
- Reader comments
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Linux Mint 19
Linux Mint is a popular desktop distribution which is available in two main editions. The main series of releases is based on Ubuntu and the project maintains a second series based on Debian, appropriately named Linux Mint Debian Edition. This week I am going to talk about the project's latest Ubuntu-based release, Linux Mint 19.
Mint 19 is available in 32-bit and 64-bit x86 builds and comes in three desktop flavours: Cinnamon, MATE and Xfce. Each of these flavours is set up to look and act approximately the same and ships with mostly the same software; the only significant different is the desktop environment.
Mint 19 is based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and will receive approximately five years of security updates. The new version also features a number of changes and improvements. For instance, Mint now includes a welcome window that runs when the user logs in and guides the user through steps that should be performed immediately after the operating system has been installed. The Mint update manager now installs all software updates by default. Previously the update manager could be used to filter out risky software upgrades, but that has been phased out in favour of operating system snapshots. Speaking of snapshots, Timeshift, a snapshot manager is included by default and I will talk about it more later. The project's documentation also points out that MATE now includes HiDPI monitor support.
One interesting feature worth mentioning is Mint supports home directory encryption. This may not seem like a big deal since previous versions of the operating system included it in the past. What makes it noteworthy is Ubuntu dropped home directory encryption in favour of whole disk encryption and, following its lead, most Ubuntu-based distributions no longer support encrypting just the home directory. Mint is a rare exception which has kept the feature and it can be enabled at install time.
Linux Mint 19 -- The application menu
(full image size: 636kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
I decided to try Mint's MATE edition for 64-bit systems. The ISO I downloaded was 1.8GB in size. Booting from the live disc quickly brought up the MATE desktop with a one-panel layout. The panel is placed at the bottom of the screen with the application menu, a few quick-launch icons and the system tray. There are a few icons on the desktop for opening a file manager and launching the system installer. While using the live desktop I encountered no surprises, no pop-ups and no welcome window.
Mint uses the Ubiquity system installer which it inherits from Ubuntu. The graphical installer begins by asking us to select our preferred language from a list. We are then asked to confirm our keyboard's layout. The following screen gives us the option to install third-party software such as non-free firmware, Flash and media codecs. We are then given the chance to have our hard drive partitioned automatically or we can divide up the disk manually using Ubiquity's built in partition manager. I took the manual approach and found the partition manager to be very straight forward with support offered for a range of filesystems, including ext2/3/4, XFS, JFS and Btrfs. I opted to set up my system with a Btrfs volume with the intention of making use of Timeshift snapshots later. The final two screens ask us to select our time zone from a map of the world and pick an account username and password for ourselves. The account creation screen provides the option to encrypt our user's home folder, an option Ubuntu has dropped in its latest release. The installer quickly completed its work and offered to reboot the computer. Mint, like its parent distribution, offers an easy install process that requires very little user interaction or knowledge.
Mint boots to a graphical login screen where we can sign into our account to start a fresh MATE desktop session. When we sign in a welcome window appears and displays a brief greeting. Tabs in the welcome screen give us access to suggested first-run actions (creating a snapshot of the operating system, downloading software updates, installing third-party drivers, adjusting system settings through the control panel, and launching the software centre). Other tabs in the welcome window provide us with links to the project's documentation, release notes, support forum and IRC channel. The welcome window has a nice, clean layout and I like the inclusion of suggested first-run instructions as it takes care of one of the first questions new users are likely to ask upon installing an operating system: "Now what?"
Linux Mint 19 -- The welcome window
(full image size: 568kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Mint's desktop defaults to a silver/grey theme with dark wallpaper. It is a fairly clean look that avoids distractions. One of my few concerns with the desktop's appearance is the default (or selected) buttons in dialog windows do not stand out. This makes it hard to see which button in a confirmation dialog is selected. My only other complaint was that, like many other distributions, Mint's desktop session locks itself quickly, locking the user out after just five minutes without input. I find this delay too short and soon changed it in the distribution's settings panel. Otherwise I liked the way Mint sets up MATE. The session was responsive and the desktop uncluttered.
Mint's application menu is divided into three main panes: Favourites, software categories and launcher. There is a search box too for people who want to jump to a specific program. The menu combines classic tree-style navigation with some modern search and bookmark options and I think it's a useful combination.
Updates and Timeshift
In the past, Mint took an approach to software updates where the user could select which new updates to install based on a safety ranking system. Packages that had been tested and were deemed safe got a good ranking, packages that were known to cause problems were assigned a poor ranking with most software landing in the middle. Using this system, Mint's update manager gave the user control over whether they preferred stability (avoiding updates that might break the system) or security (protection from outside attacks). While this approach was very useful, particularly to new users who would not know how to fix a problem with a kernel or video driver update, the ability to hold back risky security updates drew criticism.
Perhaps in part because of the criticism, Mint has stopped ranking updates with the update manager's new default behaviour being to install all new software fixes. The update manager can even be set to automatically download and apply all new updates periodically. To guard against new packages breaking the system, the user is advised to use a tool called Timeshift to take regular snapshots of the operating system. These Timeshift snapshots are not taken by the update manager, but can be set up to be taken automatically once a day or week (or other interval of time) by the user.
Linux Mint 19 -- Adjusting update settings
(full image size: 488kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Timeshift can be found in the application menu or launched from the welcome window. The Timeshift application begins by walking us through a setup wizard. We can choose to make file archive backups using the rsync utility or we can create filesystem level snapshots if we have installed the system on a Btrfs volume (which I did). Timeshift lets us decide how often to take snapshots and how many snapshots of the operating system to keep. When using Btrfs we can decide whether to include the /home sub-volume in our snapshots, which makes for a handy recovery option if we delete a document. Timeshift snapshots are stored locally and will be lost if the computer's disk is damaged or corrupted.
I tested creating, using and recovering from Btrfs snapshots. They work, but with a few necessary disclaimers. First, the only easy way to restore a snapshot is by using the Timeshift application. This means that if Timeshift works (and the system boots), restoring files just takes two mouse clicks and is wonderfully easy. However, if the system fails to boot or Timeshift is damaged, we need to have another way to mount and work with the Btrfs volume, such as a live disc. Btrfs snapshots cannot be booted into from the boot menu, as with openSUSE, but older kernels are accessible from the boot menu which should allow us to recover from most update-related problems.
Finally, I think it is worth noting that while browsing for a file and restoring a file from a Btrfs snapshot is point-and-click easy in most situations through Timeshift's interface, we run into a problem if our home directory is encrypted. The links which normally cause an encrypted volume to be mounted do not work inside a Btrfs snapshot, meaning restoring specific files from a snapshot require quite a bit of manual work. Rolling back an entire snapshot is easy, but rescuing specific, encrypted files takes manual, command-line work.
Linux Mint 19 -- Scheduling Timeshift snapshots
(full image size: 569kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
All in all, I think Timeshift and the new approach to updates is probably a good thing. And I like how easy it is to create, clean-up and rollback entire snapshots. However, these snapshots are not a cure-all and should be used with another backup method in mind, one that will save user files on a remote (or removable) hard drive. Fortunately there is another backup utility for users, which I will touch on later.
The main utility for installing and removing software on Mint is called mintInstall. It's a software manager with a modern look that begins by showing the user a collection of popular applications or "editor's picks". Underneath the featured items are categories we can browse and, near the top of the window, there is a search box we can use to locate applications by name. Clicking on a program's listing brings up a full page description of the software with screen shots and user-supplied reviews. New software can be installed with the click of a button.
The mintInstall utility will locate and work with Flatpak packages too. Flatpak bundles get their own category and show up in searches. Something mintInstall does well that most other software managers do not is it clearly identifies when a software package is a Flatpak. It does this by putting the name of the Flatpak repository next to the application's name. For example, a search for the VLC media player returns "VLC" for the traditional Deb package and "VLC (Flathub)" for the Flatpak.
Linux Mint 19 -- Browsing available software in mintInstall
(full image size: 536kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
The software centre worked well for me and my only complaint was the questionable way size information is displayed or estimated for Flatpaks. For instance, the Minitube video player Flatpak claims it will require a 772MB download to get the package, but will only use 335kB of disk space. In reality, Minitube used nearly 2GB of disk space.
Mint does not ship with Snap package support enabled by default, however we can install Snap support by installing the snapd package from the distribution's repositories.
Mint ships with the Synaptic package manager for people who want to work with individual packages instead of applications. Synaptic worked for me and provides a pretty easy way to handle low level packages and manage repositories.
Mint 19 ships with a fairly standard set of popular open source applications. Digging through the application menu we turn up the Firefox web browser, Thunderbird, the HexChat IRC client and the Transmission bittorrent application. LibreOffice is provided alongside the GNU Image Manipulation Program and a couple of image viewers. Rhythmbox is available for playing audio files while Xplayer and VLC play videos. I opted to install third-party packages at install time and was able to play all media files out of the box.
Mint ships a number of other useful tools, including an on-screen keyboard, an archive manager, a dictionary and version 7.3 of the GNU Compiler Collection. The Redshift utility is installed for us which adjusts the display's colour temperature based on the time of day. Digging further we find Mint runs the systemd init software and version 4.15 of the Linux kernel.
Earlier I mentioned Mint provides a backup utility designed for archiving a user's files rather than snapshots of the entire operating system. The backup utility is called mintBackup and it is capable of making archives of files in a user's home directory as well as saving a list of installed applications on the system. The latter function makes it straight forward to migrate our installed programs to another computer. I tested mintBackup and found the archives it makes are simple tar files with the day's date included in the filename for easy indexing. I like mintBackup as it makes it possible to save a copy of our files with just a few mouse clicks and virtually no configuration steps.
Linux Mint 19 -- Creating backups and enabling the firewall
(full image size: 523kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
I started off by trying Mint in a VirtualBox environment. Mint performed well and was stable in the virtual environment, but was not able to make use of my host computer's full screen resolution. To get around this limitation, I went into Mint's driver manager which lists third-party hardware drivers we may find useful. VirtualBox modules were listed in the driver manager and installed successfully. There was a side-effect though: installing VirtualBox modules caused the welcome window package (mintwelcome) to be removed. The welcome window seems to be the only feature that gets removed when VirtualBox add-ons are installed.
When running on a physical computer Mint performed very well. The desktop was responsive, all my hardware was detected and the operating system was stable. The only hiccup I encountered running Mint on my desktop was that, when I booted from the live disc for the first time, the MATE desktop did not finish loading. The MATE panel appeared, but the application menu and desktop icons did not. My keyboard worked, but the mouse did not. Killing the desktop session by pressing Ctrl-Alt-Backspace restarted the MATE session and everything worked well from there on.
Once Mint was installed I found clicking and dragging windows around the desktop would cause windows to drift behind the mouse pointer, sliding a bit as though they were being pulled on a rope. Window movement could be made more snappy by adjusting visual effects settings in the control panel.
Linux Mint 19 -- The settings panel
(full image size: 502kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Mint used about 6.6GB of disk space for a fresh installation and logging into the MATE desktop required 360MB of memory.
I was very happy this week running Linux Mint 19. The distribution gave me better than average performance, a relatively low memory footprint and a friendly interface. All my hardware was supported, I liked the default collection of applications and the distribution was very easy to set up. The new welcome window is a good addition. I think it'll make things easier for first-time users looking for tips on getting up and running.
I also must tip my hat to Mint's software centre, it is perhaps the first software manager I have encountered that makes working with traditional Deb packages and portable Flatpak packages seamless while clearly flagging Flatpaks as being different.
At first I was sceptical about the update manager's new approach to applying all updates. The ranked updates approach Mint used in the past made it easy to set up the distribution to be more stable for family and friends. Having all available security updates is nice, but when providing tech support for new Linux users I am more concerned with a kernel update breaking the system than I am the possibility that a remote kernel exploit will get through their firewall. (The former happens semi-regularly with other distributions, the latter has never happened to my knowledge.) It is too soon to tell if the overall effect of this change will be good or bad for the people I support. However, I will say that I like the way Timeshift integrates with Btrfs. With most update problems I will be able to boot an old kernel and rollback to an earlier Timeshift snapshot and that may prove to be a suitable trade-off; balancing improved security with a fairly straight forward recovery process.
Speaking of Timeshift, while it does have a few limitations with regards to transferring snapshots to another computer and it is awkward working with encrypted home directories, otherwise Timeshift is a wonderfully friendly way to safeguard the operating system. I'm happy to see Mint support Timeshift and Btrfs snapshots, more distributions should make these technologies a priority in my opinion.
Mint's default selection of software is nice. I like that the team picks the more capable and user-friendly applications over programs that use a specific toolkit or design. The default look is fairly attractive without being distracting too. Personally, I would like a darker theme, but that is easy enough to change.
Early on there were a few minor things which annoyed me (trigger happy screen saver, window visual effects), but these were easily fixed and a matter of personal preference rather than bugs. I don't think I encountered any serious issues during my trial. There were no performance issues and no hurdles to getting work done. Using Mint was a pleasantly smooth and trouble-free experience for me.
* * * * *
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
* * * * *
Visitor supplied rating
Linux Mint has a visitor supplied average rating of: 8.7/10 from 855 review(s).
Have you used Linux Mint? You can leave your own review of the project on our ratings page.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
SUSE's reproducible packages, Solus polishes the desktop experience, new Fedora changes, the new MintBox Mini 2 computer
The SUSE Linux Enterprise team is working towards providing reproducible builds - packages which can be recreated exactly across multiple builds and different machines. At the moment, most of SUSE's packages will build in a reproducible fashion. A post covering the status of reproducible builds in openSUSE and SUSE Linux Enterprise (SLE) states: "Currently 263 of 10,650 Factory packages have major reproducibility issues. Another 305 have minor issues that are already ignored by build-compare. So those are good from the OBS point of view, but they do not give perfect bit-identical results yet. There are also 31 packages that I found to not build in 15 years from now. This timescale is relevant for maintaining an enterprise distribution. Because many users pick up new versions slowly and are reluctant to do major upgrades. However, packages built in Tumbleweed, are not fully reproducible, yet. This is because they contain the build time and build hostname in rpm headers. Probably because people feel that they want to know. Possibly in case there is some problem with a certain build host, it makes it easier to track the issue."
* * * * *
The Solus team is polishing their software centre, driver manager and the Budgie desktop in preparation for the upcoming release of Solus 4. While each of the changes mentioned in the project's news roundup may seem small to the end-user, they combine to offer a smoother desktop experience. One example of polishing the user experience is the way the software centre will use a sidebar instead of confirmation pop-ups. "The upcoming redesign of the Software Center has seen some significant progress in the last few days. During installation and removal of software, we're now utilizing our new sidepane to provide a list of what will be installed or removed. Previously, we would prompt the user in a separate window with a list of packages and a button to accept the changes, now it’s all integrated into one place!" More details and screen shots can be found in the project's news post.
* * * * *
The Fedora installer, Anaconda, is gradually being changed and becoming more modular. This should allow for more flexibility and the ability to perform installations that are not tied to a user interface. "Fedora 28 was the start of the ultimate goal of modularizing Anaconda. The main idea is to split the code into several modules that will communicate over DBus. Ultimately, this will enable a UI-less installation process. The goal in Fedora 29 is to move all the storage-related code to the storage module. Additionally, plans are in place to extend some of the other modules and introduce installation tasks, so you can monitor the installation steps." More on the Fedora team's plans for Anaconda can be found in this Fedora Magazine post.
The Fedora distribution will also be changing executable paths for new users, starting with Fedora 29. The change will give priority to executable files in the user's own path to avoid conflicts with system binaries. "Changing user PATH ~/.local/bin and ~/bin to be moved to the top of the PATH list instead of the end. This will bring Fedora in sync with other distributions which already fixed this issues (Debian/Ubuntu) and will make it easier for users to install and use their own command line tools, also fixing multiple bugs where user installed tools cannot be accessed because the system installed ones took precedence." Details can be found in Fedora's wiki.
* * * * *
There are a number of Linux-based operating systems which are designed to work with certain hardware. System76 publishes Pop!_OS, for example, and Raspbian was developed with the Raspberry Pi series of computers in mind. It is less common to see hardware developed specifically to work with a distribution. However, that is what users can get with the MintBox Mini, a small, fanless computer which ships with Linux Mint installed. Mint's June newsletter states:"'MBM2', the MintBox Mini 2, is live. CompuLab is working hard to get it ready with the announce of Linux Mint 19. Worldwide shipping from Israel will be available in a few days and Amazon.com will provide shipping to the USA and Europe in a few weeks." Information on the MintBox Mini and its specifications can be found on its product page.
* * * * *
These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Rise of Manjaro and the future of PCLinuxOS
Topping-the-charts asks: What caused Manjaro's rapid rise in the PHR stats? Are they really that popular or are they gaming the system?
DistroWatch answers: Before getting into the apparent rise in interest where Manjaro Linux is concerned, I'd first like to remind everyone that the page hit ranking (PHR) table does not necessarily reflect the number of people running a distribution or its quality as an operating system. The PHR table displays the average number of visits a project's DistroWatch page gets per day. (We filter any duplicates from the same IP address.)
With that out of the way, what caused Manjaro's PHR counter to jump over 60% in the past twelve months while most other distributions in the top ten maintained fairly steady numbers? There are a handful of possibilities and the answer is probably a combination of factors. I suspect one of the big factors is Manjaro started publishing near-weekly updates, plus various pre-releases and community spins. This resulted in more announcements, more people talking about the latest snapshots, more news sites linking to the new media. The PHR tables tend to reflect the amount of "buzz" around a project rather than the number of people using it and the more frequently a project publishes fresh media, the more interest it generates, causing it to rise up the charts. Most projects get a little bump in our PHR when they publish a new version and Manjaro's installation media is on a rapid update cycle.
PHR rankings sometimes have a positive feedback cycle too. Once a project climbs a little (possibly because of a new release) more people see it near the top of the charts. Then more people talk about it, which gathers more attention and the project climbs more. The same thing appears to have happened in the past with Linux Mint and PCLinuxOS, and may be happening with elementaryOS at the moment.
I would also observe that Arch-based distributions are fairly popular right now (new ones are added to our waiting list virtually every month) and distributions which can take Arch Linux and make it easy to set up and use (as Manjaro's team has) is something a lot of people seem to desire right now.
As for the question as to whether someone is gaming the PHR system, I feel that answer has two parts. The question appears to imply that the Manjaro team themselves are somehow trying to boost their PHR rank and that idea strikes me as highly unlikely. The Manjaro developers have lots of better things to do with their time and don't directly benefit from having a higher PHR spot. The second half of my answer is that while some community members (of one distribution or another) sometimes try to encourage people to visit their favourite project's DistroWatch page, any bump in traffic tends to be short lived. It also tends to be small and cancelled out, effectively, by fans of other projects doing the same thing. To date, we have not discovered an evidence that increased interest in Manjaro is anything other than the combination of factors mentioned above, which when added together, caused a rapid rise in PHR numbers.
* * * * *
Planning-ahead asks: When Texstar is gone, what will happen to PCLinuxOS? Can the community fork it and carry on?
DistroWatch answers: I suspect this question is in response to a forum post by Texstar (aka Tex) which read: "Hey guys, I'm not doing well. Cancer is kicking my butt. I just wanted you to know that I most likely won't be around much longer. I also wanted to thank you all so much for your friendships and sharing the PCLinuxOS journey with me through the years. Please pray for me."
The report of cancer is sad news, both on a personal level (it is always unpleasant when someone is battling a serious disease) and for the Linux community. Texstar's PCLinuxOS is an interesting, user-friendly distribution. Its combination of rolling release updates, conservative design and user friendly tools have made it a popular operating system for many years.
I don't want to speculate much on what the next chapter in PCLinuxOS's story might look like. Partly because it feels rude to question what might happen in a post-Texstar world while he is still with us and still posting updates. Personally I am hopeful for a recovery, much like we saw from Slackware's Patrick Volkerding over a decade ago. Volkerding recovered and continues to run Slackware 13 years later, I'm hoping the same for Texstar.
Alternatively, if Texstar does leave the project, then there is a fairly large community around PCLinuxOS. I suspect its volunteers and contributors will make an effort to continue developing the distribution.
* * * * *
Additional answers can be found in our Questions and Answers archive.
|Released Last Week
AV Linux 2018.6.25
Glen MacArthur has announced the release of AV Linux 2018.6.25, an updated build of the project's Debian-based distribution featuring a "real-time kernel" (with the PREEMPT_RT patch) and a large collection of audio and video applications. This version brings un updated 4.16 Linux kernel and improved support for newer AMD video cards: "AV Linux 2018.6.25 has been released. The April AV Linux 2018.4.12 release had a lot of improvements and updates with regards to the audio and video applications, but some improvements needed to be made for systems with UEFI booting and systems with recent AMD video display adapters not covered by SGFXI. I personally have no UEFI (or AMD) computers to test with, so I could only use VirtualBox for UEFI testing. Thanks to bug reports from a few users and several fixes provided by a forum member, I think many of the issues for actual hardware UEFI machines have now been addressed. If you have already successfully installed and updated AV Linux 2018.4.12 then you will not really need to be concerned with the updated June ISO images." See the full release announcement for more information.
KaOS is a rolling release, desktop Linux distribution that features the latest version of the KDE desktop environment. The project's newest snapshot, KaOS 2018.06, features KDE Plasma 5.13 and Croeso, a first-run wizard that helps customize the operating system. "Just days after Plasma 5.13.1 was announced can you already see it on this new release. Highlights of Plasma 5.13 include optimising startup and minimising memory usage, yielding faster time-to-desktop, better runtime performance, and less memory consumption. System Settings with KDE's Kirigami framework gives the pages a slick new look. KWin gained much-improved effects for blur and desktop switching. Wayland work continued, with the return of window rules, the use of high priority EGL Contexts, and initial support for screencasts and desktop sharing. And a tech preview of GTK global menu integration. This ISO has a complete redesign of the Midna theme for 2018. Some 2,500 new icons in use, rewritten SDDM login theme and a KaOS community selected new wallpaper (created by Jomada). Also new is KaOS' creation Croeso (Welsh for welcome) for helping with configuring a new install. It will run on the newly installed system and offers to adjust some 15 commonly used settings and replaces the formerly used, PyQt based first run wizard Kaptan." Further information can be found in the project's release announcement.
Alpine Linux 3.8.0
Alpine Linux is a lightweight Linux distribution designed with performance and security in mind. The project's latest release, Alpine Linux 3.8.0, includes support for Raspberry Pi 3computers and the 64-bit ARM (aarch64) architecture. The distribution has also added support for the Crystal language. The release announcement reports: "We are pleased to announce the release of Alpine Linux 3.8.0, the first in the v3.8 stable series. New features and noteworthy new packages: Support netboot on all architectures; Add arm64 (aarch64) Raspberry Pi image; Add support for Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+; Support ISO image on s390x (KVM installation); End of support for hardened kernel (unofficial Grsecurity); Support for Crystal language. Significant updates: Linux 4.14, Go 1.10, Node.js 8.11 (LTS), Rust 1.26, Ruby 2.5, PHP 7.2, ghc 8.4, OCaml 4.06, R 3.5, JRuby 9.2."
The Amnesic Incognito Live System (Tails) is a Debian-based live DVD/USB with the goal of providing complete Internet anonymity for the user. The project's latest release, Tails 3.8, introduces a number of minor fixes, including making it possible to import security keys from e-mail attachments, correcting web browser translations and fixing the EFAIL e-mail client bug. The release announcement states: "Upgrades and changes: Upgrade Enigmail from 1.9.9 to 2.0.7 which fixes some of the EFAIL attacks on OpenPGP. When starting Thunderbird for the first time after upgrading to Tails 3.8, you have to go through the Enigmail Setup Wizard again. Your OpenPGP keys and your per-recipient rules are preserved. Fixed problems: Fix importing OpenPGP keys from email attachments. Fix the translations of the homepage of the Unsafe Browser. For more details, read our changelog." A list of known issues and limitations is also available.
The FreeBSD team has announced an update for the operating system's 11.x series. The new version, FreeBSD 11.2, introduces updates to OpenSSL and OpenSSH in the base system, includes version 6 of the Clang compiler and makes new versions of KDE4 and GNOME Shell available through the project's ports tree. "The FreeBSD Release Engineering Team is pleased to announce the availability of FreeBSD 11.2-RELEASE. This is the third release of the stable/11 branch. Some of the highlights: OpenSSH has been updated to version 7.5p1. OpenSSL has been updated to version 1.0.2o. The clang, llvm, lldb and compiler-rt utilities have been updated to version 6.0.0. The libarchive(3) library has been updated to version 3.3.2. The libxo(3) library has been updated to version 0.9.0. Device driver updates to cxgbe(4), ixl(4), and ng_pppoe(4), and the new mlx5io(4), ocs_fw(4), and smartpqi(4) drivers have been added. The dwatch(1), efibootmgr(8), and etdump(1) utilities have been added. Various miscellaneous kernel, userland application, and library updates. KDE has been updated to version 4.14.3. GNOME has been updated to version 3.18.0." Further information can be found in the project's release announcement and in the release notes.
Simon Long has announced the availability of a new build of Raspbian, a Debian-based distribution for the Raspberry Pi single-board computers. The 2018-06-27 version brings a brand-new setup wizard, a Recommended Software utility and a much improved PDF viewer called qpdfView: "It's time to release another update to the Raspberry Pi desktop with a few new bits and a bunch of bug fixes (hopefully more fixes than new bugs, anyway). So, what's changed this time around? One of the things about Raspbian that has always been a bit unhelpful is that when a new user first boots up a new Pi, they see a nice desktop picture, but they might not have much of an idea what they ought to do next. With the new update, whenever a new Raspbian image is booted for the first time, a simple setup wizard runs automatically to walk you through the basic setup operations." Read the full release announcement for further information and screenshots.
Linux Mint 19
The Linux Mint team has released a new version of the project's Ubuntu-based editions. The new version, Linux Mint 19, is based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and receives five years of security updates. New changes in version 19 include the Timeshift operating system snapshot tool, the update manager now installs all security updates by default, the software manager is able to seamlessly work with both Deb and Flatpak packages, and there is a new welcome window to help users get started setting up the operating system. "Thanks to Timeshift you can go back in time and restore your computer to the last functional system snapshot. If anything breaks, you can go back to the previous snapshot and it's as if the problem never happened. This greatly simplifies the maintenance of your computer, since you no longer need to worry about potential regressions. In the eventuality of a critical regression, you can restore a snapshot (thus canceling the effects of the regression) and you still have the ability to apply updates selectively (as you did in previous releases). Security and stability are of paramount importance. By applying all updates you keep your computer secure and with automated snapshots in place its stability is guaranteed. The Update Manager no longer promotes vigilance and selective updates. It relies on Timeshift to guarantee the stability of your system and suggests to apply all available updates. If it cannot find your Timeshift configuration, it shows a warning." Further information and screenshots can be found in the project's release notes for its three editions (Cinnamon, MATE, Xfce).
Linux Mint 19 -- Running the MATE desktop
(full image size: 568kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Recore Linux 1806
Redcore Linux is a Gentoo-based distribution designed to be easy to set up for desktop use. It ships with the LXQt desktop environment and provides a repository of pre-built binary packages. The project's latest snapshot, Redcore Linux 1806, includes many package upgrades from Gentoo along with improvements with the Sisyphus package manager. VirtualBox guest modules were dropped from this release and there is a new KDE Plasma meta package for people who want to run an alternative desktop environment. "Over 1,000 packages were updated during this cycle (that's about half of our whole repository), you'll find some of them bellow: graphics stack updated with mesa 18.1.2, LLVM 6.0.1, libdrm 2.4.92, nvidia-drivers v390.59 (nouveau is still the default choice) LibreOffice updated to v184.108.40.206, VLC updated to v3.0.3, GIMP updated to v2.10.2 all major web browsers received some love, you'll find Firefox v61.0, Google Chrome v67.0.3396.99, Vivaldi v1.15.1147.47, Opera v53.0.2907.99, Falkon v3.0.1 WINE also received some much needed attention, now it's at version 3.11 with different flavours available (staging, d3d9, vanilla, any...details) Qt5 toolkit updated to v5.9.5 LTS, KDE Frameworks updated to v5.47, KDE Apps updated to 18.04.2. Plasma v5.12.5 LTS is now packaged and ready to install, in addition to LXQt. No Plasma ISO yet though, most likely next release will have a Plasma spin as well. to install Plasma simply run "sisyphus install plasma-meta kdecore-meta". This will give you a rather minimal Plasma session to play with." More details 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: 919
- Total data uploaded: 20.3TB
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
The MintBox Mini 2
In our News section we talked about a new, small computer that ships with Linux Mint pre-installed. This device, called the MintBox Mini 2, is one of a growing number of device/distro combinations (such as Raspbian for the Raspberry Pi and System76 selling laptops with Pop!_OS). This week we would like to find out what you think of the MintBox Mini and whether you plan to purchase one.
You can see the results of our previous poll on using FreeBSD in last week's edition. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
The MintBox Mini 2
|I like the look of the MBM2 and plan to get one: ||121 (11%)|
| I like the look of the MBM2 but do not plan to get one: ||520 (47%)|
| I do not like the MBM2 / Will not get one: ||128 (12%)|
| No strong take on the MBM2: ||336 (30%)|
New projects added to database
The Hyperbola project is a community driven effort to provide a fully free (as in freedom) operating system that is stable, secure, simple, lightweight that tries to Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) under a Long Term Support (LTS) way. Derived from Arch snapshots, plus stability and security from Debian, Hyperbola provides packages that meet the GNU Free System Distribution Guidelines (GNU FSDG) and offers replacements for the packages that do not meet this requirement. Packages are provided for the i686 and x86_64 architectures.
* * * * *
Distributions added to waiting list
- alumaOS. alumaOS is an Ubuntu-based distribution featuring the custom Affinity desktop environment.
- Astronomy Linux. Astronomy Linux is an Ubuntu-based distribution which ships many applications for astronomy amateurs.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 9 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
|• Issue 815 (2019-05-20): Sabayon 19.03, Clear Linux's developer features, Red Hat explains MDS flaws, an overview of mobile distro options|
|• Issue 814 (2019-05-13): Fedora 30, distributions publish Firefox fixes, CentOS publishes roadmap to 8.0, Debian plans to use Wayland by default|
|• Issue 813 (2019-05-06): ROSA R11, MX seeks help with systemd-shim, FreeBSD tests unified package management, interview with Gael Duval|
|• Issue 812 (2019-04-29): Ubuntu MATE 19.04, setting up a SOCKS web proxy, Scientific Linux discontinued, Red Hat takes over Java LTS support|
|• Issue 811 (2019-04-22): Alpine 3.9.2, rsync examples, Ubuntu working on ZFS support, Debian elects new Project Leader, Obarun releases S6 tools|
|• Issue 810 (2019-04-15): SolydXK 201902, Bedrock Linux 0.7.2, Fedora phasing out Python 2, NetBSD gets virtual machine monitor|
|• Issue 809 (2019-04-08): PCLinuxOS 2019.02, installing Falkon and problems with portable packages, Mint offers daily build previews, Ubuntu speeds up Snap packages|
|• Issue 808 (2019-04-01): Solus 4.0, security benefits and drawbacks to using a live distro, Gentoo gets GNOME ports working without systemd, Redox OS update|
|• Issue 807 (2019-03-25): Pardus 17.5, finding out which user changed a file, new Budgie features, a tool for browsing FreeBSD's sysctl values|
|• Issue 806 (2019-03-18): Kubuntu vs KDE neon, Nitrux's znx, notes on Debian's election, SUSE becomes an independent entity|
|• Issue 805 (2019-03-11): EasyOS 1.0, managing background services, Devuan team debates machine ID file, Ubuntu Studio works to remain an Ubuntu Community Edition|
|• Issue 804 (2019-03-04): Condres OS 19.02, securely erasing hard drives, new UBports devices coming in 2019, Devuan to host first conference|
|• Issue 803 (2019-02-25): Septor 2019, preventing windows from stealing focus, NetBSD and Nitrux experiment with virtual machines, pfSense upgrading to FreeBSD 12 base|
|• Issue 802 (2019-02-18): Slontoo 18.07.1, NetBSD tests newer compiler, Fedora packaging Deepin desktop, changes in Ubuntu Studio|
|• Issue 801 (2019-02-11): Project Trident 18.12, the meaning of status symbols in top, FreeBSD Foundation lists ongoing projects, Plasma Mobile team answers questions|
|• Issue 800 (2019-02-04): FreeNAS 11.2, using Ubuntu Studio software as an add-on, Nitrux developing znx, matching operating systems to file systems|
|• Issue 799 (2019-01-28): KaOS 2018.12, Linux Basics For Hackers, Debian 10 enters freeze, Ubuntu publishes new version for IoT devices|
|• Issue 798 (2019-01-21): Sculpt OS 18.09, picking a location for swap space, Solus team plans ahead, Fedora trying to get a better user count|
|• Issue 797 (2019-01-14): Reborn OS 2018.11.28, TinyPaw-Linux 1.3, dealing with processes which make the desktop unresponsive, Debian testing Secure Boot support|
|• Issue 796 (2019-01-07): FreeBSD 12.0, Peppermint releases ISO update, picking the best distro of 2018, roundtable interview with Debian, Fedora and elementary developers|
|• Issue 795 (2018-12-24): Running a Pinebook, interview with Bedrock founder, Alpine being ported to RISC-V, Librem 5 dev-kits shipped|
|• Issue 794 (2018-12-17): Void 20181111, avoiding software bloat, improvements to HAMMER2, getting application overview in GNOME Shell|
|• Issue 793 (2018-12-10): openSUSE Tumbleweed, finding non-free packages, Debian migrates to usrmerge, Hyperbola gets FSF approval|
|• Issue 792 (2018-1203): GhostBSD 18.10, when to use swap space, DragonFly BSD's wireless support, Fedora planning to pause development schedule|
|• Issue 791 (2018-11-26): Haiku R1 Beta1, default passwords on live media, Slax and Kodachi update their media, dual booting DragonFly BSD on EFI|
|• Issue 790 (2018-11-19): NetBSD 8.0, Bash tips and short-cuts, Fedora's networking benchmarked with FreeBSD, Ubuntu 18.04 to get ten years of support|
|• Issue 789 (2018-11-12): Fedora 29 Workstation and Silverblue, Haiku recovering from server outage, Fedora turns 15, Debian publishes updated media|
|• Issue 788 (2018-11-05): Clu Linux Live 6.0, examining RAM consumpion, finding support for older CPUs, more Steam support for running Windows games on Linux, update from Solus team|
|• Issue 787 (2018-10-29): Lubuntu 18.10, limiting application access to specific users, Haiku hardware compatibility list, IBM purchasing Red Hat|
|• Issue 786 (2018-10-22): elementary OS 5.0, why init keeps running, DragonFly BSD enables virtual machine memory resizing, KDE neon plans to drop older base|
|• Issue 785 (2018-10-15): Reborn OS 2018.09, Nitrux 1.0.15, swapping hard drives between computers, feren OS tries KDE spin, power savings coming to Linux|
|• Issue 784 (2018-10-08): Hamara 2.1, improving manual pages, UBports gets VoIP app, Fedora testing power saving feature|
|• Issue 783 (2018-10-01): Quirky 8.6, setting up dual booting with Ubuntu and FreeBSD, Lubuntu switching to LXQt, Mint works on performance improvements|
|• Issue 782 (2018-09-24): Bodhi Linux 5.0.0, Elive 3.0.0, Solus publishes ISO refresh, UBports invites feedback, Linux Torvalds plans temporary vacation|
|• Issue 781 (2018-09-17): Linux Mint 3 "Debian Edition", file systems for SSDs, MX makes installing Flatpaks easier, Arch team answers questions, Mageia reaches EOL|
|• Issue 780 (2018-09-10): Netrunner 2018.08 Rolling, Fedora improves language support, how to customize Kali Linux, finding the right video drivers|
|• Issue 779 (2018-09-03): Redcore 1806, keeping ISO downloads safe from tampering, Lubuntu makes Calamares more flexible, Ubuntu improves GNOME performance|
|• Issue 778 (2018-08-27): GuixSD 0.15.0, ReactOS 0.4.9, Steam supports Windows games on Linux, Haiku plans for beta, merging disk partitions|
|• Issue 777 (2018-08-20): YunoHost 220.127.116.11, limiting process resource usage, converting file systems on Fedora, Debian turns 25, Lubuntu migrating to Wayland|
|• Issue 776 (2018-08-13): NomadBSD 1.1, Maximum storage limits on Linux, openSUSE extends life for 42.3, updates to the Librem 5 phone interface|
|• Issue 775 (2018-08-06): Secure-K OS 18.5, Linux is about choice, Korora tests community spin, elementary OS hires developer, ReactOS boots on Btrfs|
|• Issue 774 (2018-07-30): Ubuntu MATE & Ubuntu Budgie 18.04, upgrading software from source, Lubuntu shifts focus, NetBSD changes support policy|
|• Issue 773 (2018-07-23): Peppermint OS 9, types of security used by different projects, Mint reacts to bugs in core packages, Slackware turns 25|
|• Issue 772 (2018-07-16): Hyperbola GNU/Linux-libre 0.2.4, UBports running desktop applications, OpenBSD auto-joins wi-fi networks, boot environments and zedenv|
|• Issue 771 (2018-07-09): Linux Lite 4.0, checking CPUs for bugs, configuring GRUB, Mint upgrade instructions, SUSE acquired by EQT|
|• Issue 770 (2018-07-02): Linux Mint 19, Solus polishes desktop experience, MintBox Mini 2, changes to Fedora's installer|
|• Issue 769 (2018-06-25): BunsenLabs Helium, counting Ubuntu users, UBports upgrading to 16.04, Fedora CoreOS, FreeBSD turns 25|
|• Issue 768 (2018-06-18): Devuan 2.0.0, using pkgsrc to manage software, the NOVA filesystem, OpenBSD handles successful cron output|
|• Issue 767 (2018-06-11): Android-x86 7.1-r1, transferring files over OpenSSH with pipes, LFS with Debian package management, Haiku ports LibreOffice|
|• Issue 766 (2018-06-04): openSUSE 15, overview of file system links, Manjaro updates Pamac, ReactOS builds itself, Bodhi closes forums|
|• Issue 765 (2018-05-28): Pop!_OS 18.04, gathering system information, Haiku unifying ARM builds, Solus resumes control of Budgie|
|• Issue 764 (2018-05-21): DragonFly BSD 5.2.0, Tails works on persistent packages, Ubuntu plans new features, finding services affected by an update|
|• Full list of all issues|
Star Labs - Laptops built for Linux.
View our range including the Star Lite, Star LabTop and more. Available with a choice of Ubuntu or Linux Mint pre-installed with many more distributions supported. Visit Star Labs for information, to buy and get support.
|Random Distribution |
AgiliaLinux was a Russian community distribution with roots in Slackware Linux. It features a custom text-mode system installer with installation classes, an advanced package manager called mpkg, and support for several popular desktop environments.