| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 771, 9 July 2018
Welcome to this year's 28th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
Many of the world's Linux distributions are based on Ubuntu. Following the release of Ubuntu long term support (LTS) releases there is always a cascade of new releases which use the stable base and large collection of software in Ubuntu's repositories to form custom distributions and new spins. This week we begin with a look at Linux Lite, a distribution which tries to balance user friendliness with low resource usage and a collection of convenient software. In our News section we discuss SUSE being acquired by EQT Partners and openSUSE's response to this change in its primary sponsor. We also talk about Ubuntu 17.10 reaching the end of its supported life along with one of Gentoo's source mirrors being attacked and the team's response to the incident. Plus we link to upgrade instructions for people who want to update older copies of Linux Mint. In our Questions and Answers column we share how to check your computer's CPU for known flaws and change which operating system gets launched at boot time on multi-boot systems. Our Opinion Poll this week asks how our readers are responding to the growing number of CPU-related bugs. We are happy to share the releases of the past week and provide a list of torrents we are seeding. Finally, we are pleased to welcome Secure-K OS, a live desktop distribution for secure and anonymous on-line communication, to our database. We wish you all a terrific week and happy reading!
- Review: Linux Lite 4.0
- News: SUSE being acquired by EQT, upgrade instructions for Mint, Gentoo responds to mirror breach, Ubuntu 17.10 reaching end of life
- Questions and answers: Checking for CPU bugs and configuring GRUB
- Released last week: SolydXK 201807, Pinguy OS 18.04, CentOS 6.10
- Torrent corner: Antergos, AryaLinux, CentOS, DuZeru, GuixSD, NST, Pardus, SolydXK
- Opinion poll: Reacting to CPU security flaws
- New additions: Secure-K OS
- New distributions: Septor Linux
- Reader comments
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Linux Lite 4.0
Linux Lite is a desktop distribution built from Ubuntu packages that features the Xfce desktop environment and some custom tools. The project's latest version is Linux Lite 4.0 which is based on Ubuntu 18.04, a long term support release offering five years of security updates.
There are a number of key changes in Lite 4.0, several of them inherited from its parent distribution. Home directory encryption has been replaced with full disk encryption and 32-bit x86 support has been dropped in this release. The LXTerminal virtual terminal has been replaced with Xfce Terminal and the Systemback backup software has been replaced by Timeshift. I will talk more about Timeshift later. The Lite help manual has been updated and users can now manage session sounds through a new utility called Lite Sounds. In addition, Lite branded utilities now show up in the distribution's control panel with a black background to separate them from Xfce settings modules.
Lite 4.0 is available for 64-bit x86 machines and its ISO file is 1.3GB in size. Booting from install media brings up a menu offering to start a live desktop session, start the desktop with safe settings or perform a media check on the DVD. Loading the desktop session brings up Xfce with its panel placed at the bottom of the screen. The panel holds the application menu, a few quick-launch icons and the system tray. Icons on the desktop launch the project's system installer, open a local copy of the help manual and launch a file manager.
Shortly after the desktop loads, a welcome screen appears. The welcome screen provides links to documentation, the support forum and some useful utilities. I will refer to some of the welcome screen's features later as they are more useful after we install the distribution. The live desktop seemed fairly standard, though one little thing which did stand out was that my mouse pointer was displayed backward, pointing from left-to-right instead of the typical right-to-left.
Linux Lite 4.0 -- The Whisker application menu
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Linux Lite uses the Ubiquity system installer, which it inherits from Ubuntu. Setting up the operating system is quite straight forward. We confirm our preferred language, get a chance to change our keyboard's layout and have the option of installing multimedia support. Lite's installer offers to automatically set up partitions for us, or we can use its very straight forward, built-in partition manager. Ubiquity supports setting up Btrfs, JFS, XFS and ext2/3/4 file systems and I decided to set up Lite on ext4. The last two screens of the installer ask us to select a time zone from a map and then create a username and password for ourselves. The whole process is quite fast and about as simple as installing an operating system gets.
A fresh copy of Lite boots to a graphical login screen. Signing in brings up the Xfce desktop again. The desktop is responsive and uses a mostly dark theme, with detailed, colourful icons. I say the theme is "mostly" dark because panels and window borders are dark, but the application menu, control panel background and application menu bars are bright. I also noticed that after installing Lite, the mouse pointer reversed its look and resumed its usual right-to-left orientation.
When we first sign in, the welcome window greets us. The welcome screen provides us with links to on-line resources and support, but the more interesting buttons in the welcome window launch tasks we should perform immediately after setting up the operating system. There are buttons for opening an update manager, managing hardware drivers, creating a restore point and installing support for additional languages. Clicking one of these buttons launches the corresponding tool.
Linux Lite 4.0 -- The welcome screen
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The update manager is a fairly simple program that lists available updates and downloads them for us. A simple progress bar is shown while new packages are downloaded and applied. The driver manager and language pack tools were similarly straight forward, though I did not give them a proper test as I already had all the language support and drivers I needed.
The restore point option intrigued me and I found clicking its button opens the Timeshift application. Timeshift begins by walking us through a configuration wizard that offers to create either rsync or Btrfs snapshots. I didn't set up Lite on a Btrfs volume so that option should probably have been disabled in the wizard. I went with the other option, making a snapshot with rsync. We can then schedule when snapshots will be taken and decide how often future snapshots will be created. Unfortunately, Timeshift appears to only be able to save snapshots on the local disk, not in a remote location. This means if something harms our root file system, the snapshot may be destroyed too.
Linux Lite 4.0 -- Creating restore point with Timeshift
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Timeshift jobs run periodically in the background and can automatically clear out old snapshots. This is great, though I occasionally wished it were possible to tell Timeshift to run with a reduced priority as having it run in the background can degrade the system's overall performance and the rsync snapshot jobs take around twenty minutes to complete on my machine.
I don't want to dive too deeply into the Timeshift topic, but since many users may see it as a way to rescue their systems in case something goes wrong, I want to share a few more thoughts on it. The first is that Timeshift's rsync snapshots do not make it possible to simply reboot the operating system and roll back to a previous snapshot, the way openSUSE's boot environments work. Timeshift can provide us with a good copy of our operating system, but restoring a snapshot after a serious system failure requires a bit of manual work. If the operating system is damaged enough that it cannot boot, we need to either get into recovery mode (more notes on that later) or use a live CD to boot the computer.
Assuming we can boot into a live CD then we can mount the root file system and locate our snapshot in the /timeshift directory, using it to copy programs and configuration files where they need to go. This is an awkward manual process, but does give us a shot at successful recovery. I tested this process, after wiping out about 10% of my /usr/bin directory, and managed to make a full recovery using the snapshot. While Btrfs snapshots are relatively light, the rsync snapshots at least double the space the operating system uses on disk and users should plan accordingly, making their root file system double or triple the usual size.
One last note on Timeshift: when running the Timeshift application, which has a nice, simple interface and a friendly configuration wizard, clicking the Delete button immediate removes the selected snapshot without confirmation. So be careful when navigating the Timeshift interface.
When running in a VirtualBox environment, Lite worked very well. The operating system automatically integrated with the host operating system and could use my full screen resolution. When I tried running Lite on a desktop computer, the system booted quickly, performed tasks smoothly and properly utilized all my hardware. The Xfce desktop was unusually responsive and I encountered no issues with performance or stability.
Linux Lite 4.0 -- A local copy of the help manual
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When logged into Xfce, Lite required about 300MB of RAM to run. A fresh install took about 5GB of disk space, but this amount doubled as soon as I created a Timeshift snapshot. In hindsight, I probably should have used Btrfs as my root file system as it makes snapshots that require very little space and are created almost instantly.
Lite ships with a fairly small collection of desktop applications. Users are given Firefox, the Thunderbird e-mail client and LibreOffice. There is a PDF viewer, the GNU Image Manipulation Program and the Shotwell image viewer. The Deja Dup backup utility is included for making backups of users' files. Network Manager is included to help people connect to the Internet. Lite ships with the VLC media player, which is capable of playing virtually any multimedia file. I did not find any dedicated audio player installed by default, but we can install all sorts of additional software from Ubuntu's massive software repositories (more on software management in a moment). In the background we find Lite runs the systemd init software and version 4.15 of the Linux kernel.
At one point, when I was testing the Timeshift recovery options, I rebooted the computer and, from GRUB's menu, selected the advanced boot options. I noticed that some of Lite's boot options included launching the system using the Upstart init software. The Upstart boot entries did not work and quickly caused the boot process to hang. Although Upstart has been replaced by systemd, some relics from the GRUB configuration files have lingered - ghosts of init software past.
Linux Lite 4.0 -- Creating backups and adjusting the window manager
(full image size: 124kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Also on the subject of advanced boot options, I tried loading Lite's recovery mode. This worked, to a point, but I was unable to access a recovery shell. The recovery prompt asks for the root password and, since we do not have a root password (Lite uses sudo for administrative tasks) I was unable to get root access to repair the system. This is where having a live CD on hand helps a lot.
Settings and Lite tools
Lite includes many configuration tools to adjust the appearance of the desktop, tweak window manager settings, set up printers and create user accounts. There are also tools for cleaning up files to free disk space, upgrade to a new version of Lite and toggle desktop icons on/off. These tools can be accessed from the application menu or from the control centre. As mentioned previously, the icons for Lite's custom tools have black backgrounds and this helps separate the Xfce desktop settings from the lower level operating system controls. All in all, the settings modules worked well for me and I encountered no problems.
Linux Lite 4.0 -- The settings panel
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Lite ships with two graphical package managers. The first is Synaptic (listed in the application menu as Add/Remove Software). Synaptic is a powerful, flexible package manager which can perform installs, removals, upgrades and even configure repositories. It's a great, all-in-one package manager. If we want to deal exclusively with desktop software and not wade through the tens of thousands of packages Synaptic can access, then we can run a utility called Lite Software. Lite Software shows us a limited list of popular desktop software we might want to install or remove. It is a short list, with just a few items per category, but makes installing new desktop items very straight forward. We can highlight the item (or items) we want and click a button to install them. The process went smoothly for me each time I used Lite Software.
Linux Lite 4.0 -- Installing desktop applications
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I did not spot a more feature rich software manager such as GNOME Software or mintInstall, at least not in the default installation. Behind the scenes we can use the APT suite of command line package managers if we want to work from a terminal.
I think some people might, upon glancing at Linux Lite's description, pass it off as just another one of the many Ubuntu derivatives. After all, one may wonder what separates Linux Lite from another flavour of Ubuntu running the Xfce desktop, such as Xubuntu.
While Lite does share a lot in common with other members of the Ubuntu family, the project has a lot of little features and special tweaks which left me impressed this week. The distribution includes a very nice and detailed help manual that is easy to navigate and provides a lot of useful information. The manual not only explains how we can do things, but also offers some alternatives and trouble-shooting tips, which I think new users will appreciate. Lite is also very easy to install, it can be set up by basically clicking "Next" a bunch of times in the Ubiquity installer.
While I ran into a few limitations while using Timeshift, I think the idea behind including it is good. I would like to see Timeshift run at a lower priority and offer a way to save snapshots on a remote computer, but otherwise the technology is off to a good start. I'd love to see Lite take Timeshift a step further and integrate it with boot environments.
Mostly though what impressed me with Lite was a combination of the performance and the visual style. Lite is one of the faster, smoother, more responsive distributions I have used this year. I also liked that there was a minimal amount of visual effects, but a maximum amount of detailed, colourful icons, high contrast buttons and fonts I could read without a trip to the settings panel. I get frustrated with minimal, stick-figure icons and buttons that are indistinguishable from labels. Lite looks nice. Not in a flashy way, but in a clear, easy to read, pleasant to navigate way.
As an example of Lite's visual style, I have used Xfce a lot recently. I run it on one computer or another almost every day. And, on an intellectual level, I knew it was possible to adjust the size and dimensions of the Xfce Whisker application menu. But I'd never thought to do it because on every other distribution I have used the menu's resize button is so muted and low-contrast I'd never noticed it before. But on Lite, the resize button stands out and I clicked and dragged the menu to the size I wanted without even thinking about it. This is a very little feature, but one I had never noticed on other distributions, even though it was always there. In my opinion, all of Lite is like that: offering well defined controls that are clear about what they do.
Lite's value, in my opinion, is not in any one big feature or unique offering, but in the way Lite polishes many little things which make it so much more pleasant to use day-to-day than most other distributions. Lite is an operating system I can use consistently without thinking about it, without distractions, without hiccups and without searching for features I suspect are there, but are tucked away. I've used some powerful distributions this year, and some with really neat, unique features; but probably not any that have offered such a smooth experience as I've had this week. That's why the next friend who asks me to come over and fix their messed up laptop is going to get a fresh copy of Linux Lite.
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Hardware used in this review
My physical test equipment for this review was a desktop HP Pavilon p6 Series with the following specifications:
- Processor: Dual-core 2.8GHz AMD A4-3420 APU
- Storage: 500GB Hitachi hard drive
- Memory: 6GB of RAM
- Networking: Realtek RTL8111 wired network card
- Display: AMD Radeon HD 6410D video card
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Visitor supplied rating
Linux Lite has a visitor supplied average rating of: 8.6/10 from 172 review(s).
Have you used Linux Lite? You can leave your own review of the project on our ratings page.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
SUSE being acquired by EQT, upgrade instructions for Mint, Gentoo responds to mirror breach, Ubuntu 17.10 reaching end of life
Richard Brown, openSUSE's Chairman, sent out an e-mail on July 2 letting people know that openSUSE's main sponsor, SUSE, is being acquired by an organization called EQT Partners. While the impact this purchase will have on SUSE Linux Enterprise and openSUSE is unknown, Brown reports the openSUSE project plans to continue as before. "Nils Brauckmann (CEO of SUSE) personally called me this morning to assure me this news will have no negative impacts on openSUSE. This will be the third acquisition of SUSE since the creation of openSUSE, the second under the leadership of Nils and his team. Just as happened in that case, SUSE will be making no changes in its relationship between the company and the openSUSE Project. SUSE remains committed to supporting the openSUSE community, who play a key role in helping SUSEs success, which is expected to continue under their new partnership with EQT."
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The Linux Mint team recently released Linux Mint 19, a new long term support release based on Ubuntu 18.04. Existing Mint users can now upgrade to the new version without performing a fresh install. The Mint team published upgrade instructions which walk the user through backing up their existing system, testing the new release and upgrading to version 19 from the command line. The guide points out that Mint 17 will continue to receive support for another year and Mint 18 will be supported through to 2021, giving users plenty of time to prepare and test their upgrade path.
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A mirror of the Gentoo distribution's source code, which is hosted on GitHub, was compromised a little over a week ago. While the master copies of information were stored in a safe location on Gentoo servers, an attacker managed to access the GitHub account and alter information. The Gentoo team has published a wiki page which discusses the incident, how it was handled, and what was affected by the attack. "An unknown entity gained control of an admin account for the Gentoo GitHub Organization and removed all access to the organization (and its repositories) from Gentoo developers. They then proceeded to make various changes to content. Gentoo Developers & Infrastructure escalated to GitHub support and the Gentoo Organization was frozen by GitHub staff. Gentoo has regained control of the Gentoo GitHub Organization and has reverted the bad commits and defaced content." The page also includes an analysis of what the team feels was handled well and what could have been handled better in order to improve procedures for future incidents.
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Adam Conrad has sent out an e-mail reminding Ubuntu users that Ubuntu 17.10, and its community editions, will reach the end of their support cycle on July 19, 2018. After that date 17.10 will no longer receive security fixes. "Ubuntu announced its 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) release almost 9 months ago, on October 19, 2017. As a non-LTS release, 17.10 has a 9-month support cycle and, as such, the support period is now nearing its end and Ubuntu 17.10 will reach end of life on Thursday, July 19th. At that time, Ubuntu Security Notices will no longer include information or updated packages for Ubuntu 17.10."
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These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Checking for CPU bugs and configuring GRUB
Checking-for-bugs asks: With all the CPU bugs being discovered this year is there any way to tell which ones affect me?
DistroWatch answers: One way, which will work on most distribution and computer combinations is to run the following command:
grep "^bugs" /proc/cpuinfo
The above command will give a short-hand list of any known bugs found on your CPU(s). As far as I know, the command does not work on ARM-powered machines and older kernels, like the one shipped with CentOS 7.
Finding out whether your kernel has been patched to handle the flaws is another matter. Usually this information can be found via your distribution's security mailing list (if it has one) or its parent distro's mailing list. You can also check our Security Notices page to learn when major projects publish updates.
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Adjusting-GRUB asks: I have a triple boot setup with Xubuntu 16.04, Xubuntu 18.04, and Lubuntu 18.04. They were installed in the order listed, so Lubuntu is first in the list to boot automatically. I would like to change the default to one of the other installed choices.
A search of the web on this subject is quite frustrating since the most common results are based on Windows/Linux dual boot configurations. (I've read pro and con information about third-party tools, like GRUB Customizer, and would like to avoid installing something that may do more harm than good.) So, I'd like to know if it can be done without installing a third-party tool.
DistroWatch answers: The good news is you do not need to install a third-party tool. You will need to edit a line in GRUB's configuration file and run an update command. You should be able to use any text editor to change GRUB's configuration.
This is a fairly straight forward fix. Sign into whichever distro is responsible for managing GRUB (probably the most recent distro you installed) and edit its GRUB configuration file (/etc/default/grub should be its path in Lubuntu and Xubuntu) to change the default entry. You will be looking for a line near the top of the GRUB configuration file which reads
Change the zero to the menu entry index you want to boot. The first boot menu item is zero, the second is one, the third will be two, etc. Save the file with the new default and then run
The next time your system boots, the alternative boot option should be used by default. If you get stuck, check out the GRUB2 wiki page for Ubuntu-based distributions.
Lastly, before doing any work to edit GRUB's settings, make sure you have backups of your data. It's not likely things will go wrong, but there is always a chance. I also recommend having a copy of the Super Grub2 Disk on hand. This utility runs from a CD or USB drive and can boot operating systems from your hard drive if your GRUB configuration is broken.
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Additional answers can be found in our Questions and Answers archive.
|Released Last Week
SolydXK is a Debian-based desktop distribution which is available in KDE Plasma and Xfce editions. The project's latest release, SolydXK 201807, features a number of security enhancements, including the activation of AppArmor in the default configuration. The distribution's release announcement reads: "The new 201807 ISOs were released. These are some of the highlights: Firefox's default configuration has been further restricted and the provided plugins Privacy Badger, HTTPS Everywhere and uBlock Origin help to improve your privacy. These restrictions were also implemented for Thunderbird. AppArmor is now installed by default. This will improve security by binding access control attributes to programs rather than to users. All SolydXK applications now use pkexec to get elevated permissions. Many new features and bugs were solved in our SolydXK applications."
Network Security Toolkit 28-10234
Network Security Toolkit (NST) is a bootable live disc based on the Fedora distribution. The toolkit was designed to provide easy access to best-of-breed open source network security applications. The project has released NST 28-10234 which is based on Fedora 28. The new version includes Bluetooth improvements and proactive security testing and scanning tools. "Here are some of the highlights and new tools added for this release: Sguil - The Analyst Console for Network Security Monitoring has been integrated into NST for access and display of realtime IDS events and raw packet captures. A new NST WUI page for Snort IDS Management is shown below with Sguil access. The new web-based Sguil RealTime Console is also depicted below using Proofpoint ET (Emerging Threats) Pro Rulesets. A new Bluetooth Scan page was added to the NST WUI to help find nearby discoverable Bluetooth and BLE devices. You can use the Bluetooth Scan page under the Network|Wireless and Security|Active Scanners menus. The high-speed network authentication cracking tool Ncrack is used to help companies secure their networks by proactively testing all their hosts and networking devices for poor passwords is now part of the NST distribution." More information on this release can be found on the project's home page.
Pinguy OS 18.04
Pinguy OS is an Ubuntu-based distribution which offers a customized GNOME desktop environment intended to be easy to use for new Linux users. The project's latest release, Pinguy OS is based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, and includes GNOME 3.28. Support for 32-bit computer has been dropped from this release. The project's release announcement lists several new changes: "Tweaked Gnome 3.28.2. OpenGL version string: 3.1. Mesa 18.1.1. File Manager: Nemo 3.8.3. Kernel 4.15.0-20. Downgraded the DRI driver for Xorg to DRI2, this fixes RetroArch. Included Winepak's repo so it will be easy to install Window games. Enabled exFAT support. Removed Docky and replaced it with Simple Dock & Places Status Indicator. Audio levels can go past 100% by default. Fixed Shutter but will only works under Xorg. Some of the default Gnome apps have been replaced with MATE versions. I really did not like the new Gedit so replaced it with Pluma. If you use the Gedit command it will open Pluma. That is so all the guides on the forum and other sites that use Gedit in their guides will work fine." Pinguy OS is available in Full and Mini editions.
Pinguy OS 18.04 -- Running GNOME Shell
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CentOS is a Linux distribution based on the source code from Red Hat Enterprise Linux. The project's latest version, CentOS 6.10, offers an update to the project's 6.x series and includes mostly bug fixes along with a few minor upgrades. "There are various changes in this release, compared with the past CentOS Linux 6 releases, and we highly recommend everyone study the upstream Release Notes as well as the upstream Technical Notes about the changes and how they might impact your installation. All updates since the upstream 6.10 release are also on the CentOS mirrors as zero day updates. When installing CentOS-6.10 (or any other version) from any of our media, you should always run 'yum update' after the install to apply these." More information can be found in the project's release announcement and in the release notes.
Chandrakant Singh has announced the release of AryaLinux 1.0, a source-based distribution built using the Linux From Scratch book, but with a Python-based package management utility, graphical installation tool and a customised GNOME 3.28 desktop: "We are proud to present AryaLinux 1.0 'Aranya'. This is the first release of our built-from-scratch GNOME spin and also the first release using a new versioning system. This release features the GNOME 3.28 desktop environment, a new alps package installer scripts rewritten from scratch to be more flexible with dependencies, the latest stable kernel and a bunch of package upgrades. Also going forward, the default desktop environment that will be shipped with AryaLinux will be GNOME 3. We spent the last year and half in prefecting the build scripts that build a GNOME 3 desktop with ease and perfection. We have also made a lot of changes to the builder scripts so that more flexible options are presented before the build process starts and packages that are a part of the base system have also been updated." Visit the project's home page to read the brief release announcement and see also the release notes for further details.
Guix System Distribution 0.15.0
Guix System Distribution (GuixSD) is a Linux-based, stateless operating system that is built around the GNU Guix package manager. The project's latest release, version 0.15.0, includes improvements to the Guix package manager and expands support for ARM-powered devices, though ARM ports will need to be built by the user; installation images for ARM are not provided. "The unloved guix pull command, which allows users to upgrade Guix and its package collection, has been overhauled and we hope you will like it. We'll discuss these enhancements in another post soon but suffice to say that the new guix pull now supports rollbacks (just like guix package) and that the new --list-generations option allows you to visualize past upgrades. It's also faster, not as fast as we'd like though, so we plan to optimize it further in the near future. guix pack can now produce relocatable binaries. With -f squashfs it can now produce images stored as SquashFS file systems. These images can then be executed by Singularity, a “container engine” deployed on some high-performance computing clusters. GuixSD now runs on ARMv7 and AArch64 boxes! We do not provide an installation image though because the details depend on the board you're targeting, so you'll have to build the image yourself following the instructions." Further details can be found in the project's release announcement.
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
The table below provides a list of torrents DistroWatch is currently seeding. If you do not have a bittorrent client capable of handling the linked files, we suggest installing either the Transmission or KTorrent bittorrent clients.
Archives of our previously seeded torrents may be found in our Torrent Archive. We also maintain a Torrents RSS feed for people who wish to have open source torrents delivered to them. To share your own open source torrents of Linux and BSD projects, please visit our Upload Torrents page.
Torrent Corner statistics:
- Total torrents seeded: 927
- Total data uploaded: 20.5TB
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Reacting to CPU security flaws
This year we have heard about a number of security flaws in popular CPU chips. Earlier this year the Meltdown and Spectre CPU issues were widely publicized and, more recently, projects like OpenBSD have been patching against potential CPU flaws.
We would like to know how you are reacting to these CPU bugs and the security concerns they raise. Are you patching with new kernel updates & firmware as they become available, are you switching to using a different CPU brand or architecture, are you unconcerned by potential CPU attacks? Let us know your thoughts on CPU security in the comments.
You can see the results of our previous poll on the MintBox Mini 2 FreeBSD in last week's edition. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
Reacting to CPU security flaws
|I am switching to a different CPU model/architecture: ||57 (4%)|
| I am applying firmware/kernel updates: ||743 (49%)|
| I am disabling attack vectors (apps/services): ||15 (1%)|
| All of the above: ||80 (5%)|
| Some of the above: ||267 (18%)|
| I am unconcerned about CPU attacks: ||312 (21%)|
| Other: ||37 (2%)|
New projects added to database
Secure-K OS is a Debian-based distribution which runs from a live USB. The distribution is designed to provide secure communication and anonymous web browsing using applications such as the Tox messaging client and Tor Web Browser. Secure-K features the GNOME Shell desktop environment and is developed by the Mon-K organization.
Secure-K OS 18.5 -- Running the GNOME desktop
(full image size: 572kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
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Distributions added to waiting list
- Septor Linux. Septor Linux is a Debian-based distribution which features the KDE Plasma desktop and tools for browsing the web anonymously.
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DistroWatch database summary
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This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 16 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 • Septor GNU/Linux (by Elcaset on 2018-07-09 02:23:16 GMT from United States) |
I will be trying out Septor. I've been wanting something like Tails that uses KDE Plasma, & someone has made it! Thank you.
2 • Linux Lite (by Andy Prough on 2018-07-09 02:30:03 GMT from United States)
Other than the default settings for colors, fonts, icons, and window decorations, I'm still not sure I see any difference between Linux Lite and any other version of Ubuntu running XFCE.
Sounds nice though. Sounds like the maintainers made some useful desktop design choices.
3 • Suse too slow (by J. D. Behappy on 2018-07-09 02:54:27 GMT from Australia)
"the openSUSE project plans to continue as before"
Looks like just a financial investment arrangement, which is unfortunate. It would have been better to shake things up a bit, and bring some changes to OpenSuse for user benefit - like faster boot time, improvements to Suse Studio, etc.
4 • CPU security flaws poll (by DaveW on 2018-07-09 03:05:44 GMT from United States)
I checked "other" because, while Intel has a firmware update for my CPU, the motherboard manufacturer has not seen fit to pass it on to a 5-year old board. All I can do is update the kernel.
5 • CPU flaws... (by Bobbie Sellers on 2018-07-09 03:28:45 GMT from United States)
I am doing one thing that cost me nothing but if more people would adopt
it would speed up the correction of these flaws.
I am not buying any new computer running the flawed architecture.
Plenty of fine used machines around though the newer machines
lack a feature that used to be common, optical r/w drives for
all the record-able optical media.
Also new machines have had a short life around here with only about
4 years for my last new notebook an HP 15 Pavilion. Before that
I happened I got two Dell E6420 i7 laptops. One was ruined by Windows
10 but the other had Windows 7 so a working laptop for the LUG meetings
and a Parts machine. I have added my present notebook a Dell E6520
using both the optical drive from the parts machine and the Intel WiFi
to replace the Broadcom in the 6520. It sits in front of me at home
and often runs most of the night downloading iso files.
But boycott the new x86 processors until the problems are corrected.
6 • Linux Lite (by Stan on 2018-07-09 03:31:40 GMT from United States)
Having dropped 32-bit support for older machines and refusing to become UEFI compliant for present and future makes me wonder what's going on with this distro. If Ubuntu can boot UEFI (and Secure Boot enabled).... then why not Lite? https://www.linuxliteos.com/forums/introductions/uefi-and-linux-lite/
7 • #6 (by jadecat on 2018-07-09 04:10:58 GMT from United Kingdom)
Two interesting lines from your link to the Linux Lite uefi situation.
We follow the Unix Philosophy - "Write programs that do one thing and do it well."
I want people to self-educate. Don't blindly accept a technology simply because it exists or is widely used, or because 'others' are using it.
And what, dear Linux Lite developer(s), init are you using?
8 • *buntu (by lesuire suit larry on 2018-07-09 04:19:16 GMT from Australia)
Not sure why people double/triple boot ubuntu flavours like that. release versions make sense for testing but 18.04 xubuntu and 18.04 lubuntu? just apt install xubuntu-session on the other or vice verca, its exactly the same.
9 • Lite (by Bob on 2018-07-09 04:29:09 GMT from United States)
I have run Lite in the past. The system ran fine, no problem with the build.
Others here have pointed out, "not much different from other xfce releases", but I like the fact Lite is a single DE distro, which means the developers total focus is 100% xfce rather than juggling multiple DE releases.
10 • dual/triple (by Bob on 2018-07-09 04:49:48 GMT from United States)
@8 - I dual-booted two different 16.04's when they were released mostly just to see which one I liked the best, then deleted the one I didn't want. "Just apt install session...", I find it easier to delete a partition as apposed to all the extra unwanted packages that would have to be removed.
11 • multi-boot (by pengxiun on 2018-07-09 05:11:46 GMT from New Zealand)
yes, I multiboot, sometimes I have more than 20 systems installed, just to check hardware performance differences.
Issues can occur if the one system runs grub legacy and others grub-2, and others UEFI but then I guess I am a power user and this is really a non-issue for me.
Also GPT / MBR sometimes can be an issue, but very rarely.
I also have over 30 VMs, these are more to compare different distributions and where they fall in usability, applications included etc. (Linux, BSDs and GO-Windows).
Still on the fence with Timeshift, my view is it is a failsafe against poor / no QA, as with Desktop Linux, you are admin and you "should" know what you are doing if you tinker, but I guess for nooby's, hand holding is required.
12 • cpu flaws (by dave on 2018-07-09 05:13:25 GMT from United States)
They're always gonna coax us along with flaws and this next generation of computing might not be for me. I finally find myself considering ditching this entire lifestyle and trying to get as close to a traditional, computer-free life as possible. I wonder how fast and how much I would forget if I just like went straight amish mode, tomorrow. Anybody else think about this kind of stuff?
13 • Linux Lite (by Gary W on 2018-07-09 06:17:01 GMT from Australia)
I think it's ironic that a distro which ships with large, heavy apps like Firefox, Thunderbird, Libreoffice, and Gimp, should call itself "lite" :-)
14 • CPU bugs (by qweo on 2018-07-09 06:39:24 GMT from Russia)
I'm with bliss here - except I won't likely be buying x86 till some new player enters the game, for security reasons: Intel's and AMD's processors have the built-in menace of ME/PSP, and Chinese CPU designers are now required by law to introduce backdoors for government's benefit (The Register ran a story about it).
And, you know, I don't think I'm loosing much thereby - there's enough interesting different-arch CPUs ATM, with yet more to come (BTW, check out this year's Turing Award lecture - it is about hardware research renaissance).
15 • Timeshift, backup etc. (by OstroL on 2018-07-09 06:39:54 GMT from Poland)
"Unfortunately, Timeshift appears to only be able to save snapshots on the local disk, not in a remote location. This means if something harms our root file system, the snapshot may be destroyed too. "
Do we have in Linux world, any app (or service) like windows restore point?
16 • @15 - Timeshift (by eco2geek on 2018-07-09 07:37:12 GMT from United States)
I recently upgraded from Linux Mint 18.3 to Linux Mint 19, and ran Timeshift as part of the process, saving the backup (using rsync) to an ext4-formatted partition on a USB key. So I'm not sure why Jesse says it can't save to a "remote location."
17 • @5 CPU flaws... (by Jim on 2018-07-09 07:39:01 GMT from United States)
Hate to break it to you, but unless you're buying used equipment from the early 1990s it's still vulnerable to Spectre and Meltdown - affected x86 CPUs go back to 1995. You can deprive Intel of revenue on new CPUs but all you're going to get for your trouble is an old CPU with the same flaw.
18 • #12 cpuflaws (by excollier on 2018-07-09 08:03:07 GMT from Ireland)
Dave, I work in IT but think along those lines more every day - especially as I spend my time at work remotely accessing badly behaved Windows servers. Makes me unwilling to switch on a computer in my free time
19 • GRUB2 multiboot (by Alexandru on 2018-07-09 08:13:19 GMT from Romania)
The GRUB2 default OS to boot can be specified by its position in the OS list (starting with 0), as in:
Or it can be specified as a menu entry string as in:
GRUB_DEFAULT="Debian Linux 9"
The last option is very useful when the GRUB menu changes often, for example if you add a new OS and the default OS to boot is after it. I personally always arrange the OSes list in GRUB menu by their physical locations on the disk. And because some OSes require a primary partition (in MBR setup) while Linux can live on logical partition, my default Debian system is not at the top of the list.
20 • Timeshift etc (by OstroL on 2018-07-09 11:31:19 GMT from Poland)
Rsync can copy your system to anywhere you want, before you get problems with your root file system. The root file system is what you have, where you are just a user. You don't own any file other than what you have in your username folder. Even there, there are some files you can't open.
I am not sure if there is an app in Linux world that would restore what you had, or at least your operating system, once the root file system become corrupted.
21 • Linux Mint 19 Upgrade (by Rick on 2018-07-09 11:46:32 GMT from United States)
I continue to be amazed that the Mint team still hasn't come up with a failsafe method of upgrading from one release to another, something which Ubuntu has had available for many years. And with all the bugs present in Mint 19 (like no Wine support) why even upgrade at all?
22 • @4 get microcode updates from your distro (by greenpossum on 2018-07-09 11:50:20 GMT from Australia)
No need to rely on your mobo mfr. Major distros provide microcode updates for CPUs.
23 • Linux Lite (by Sauron on 2018-07-09 12:22:19 GMT from United Kingdom)
I've ran Linux Lite for the past few year and am currently on 3.8, but I don't think I'll be installing 4.
It seems to have joined the club that's in a race to the bottom to look like Windows 10 with the flat icons and fisher price themes. It's a real shame because it was the best distro for me until recently.
Also the forum has degraded to a place full of trolls and fools, there's always someone waiting in the background to jump in and try causing a argument.
If I wanted my OS to look like Windows 10, I'd just install Windows 10, not a look a like!
24 • Remote location (by Jesse on 2018-07-09 12:47:03 GMT from Canada)
@16: >> "I recently upgraded from Linux Mint 18.3 to Linux Mint 19, and ran Timeshift as part of the process, saving the backup (using rsync) to an ext4-formatted partition on a USB key. So I'm not sure why Jesse says it can't save to a "remote location."
What you are describing is not a remote location, it's a drive plugged directly into your computer. That's local storage. Backing up to a remote location means sending the data to another computer or NAS so if your local computer is compromised or your building burns down you still have a copy of the data.
25 • CPU Flaws (by bison on 2018-07-09 13:22:53 GMT from United States)
I've stopped buying high-end CPUs; I'm not spending hundreds of dollars on a processor that is fundamentally flawed. New builds are getting Pentiums until this is fixed.
26 • @23: You mean with disparaging remarks? (by OS2_user on 2018-07-09 13:32:49 GMT from United States)
@ "Also the forum has degraded to a place full of trolls and fools, there's always someone waiting in the background to jump in and try causing a argument."
From the non-Linux-fanatic, not wanting to "experiment" or "learn how OSs work", simply wanting a stable system to use for higher level tasks, then it seems Linux forums are full of unhelpful authoritarian cultists -- who reflexively and recursively disparage others as "trolls and fools" just because don't know every last arbitrary detail and quirk.
Do you guys EVER stop to think that other people might be experts in other areas and not have time to deal with merely getting basic operations from what by now should be an appliance?
For far too long Linux forums have been toxic to what I view as "normal" people. There's clearly intent to force everyone to accept the "Unix way", with arcane syntax from 1960's main-frames and getting permission to use your own personal desktop computer. Gurus even resent the success of Microsoft in doing away with permissions, think it's somehow dangerous, though at worst these days is only a half-hour to re-install.
Anyhoo, IF Linux ever becomes more popular, which I doubt because it's fracturing and attempting too much complex, then forums will necessarily have more complaints -- and if the forums are to survive, YOU are among those who must be made civil. Stop using terms like "trolls and fools" or you just simply cause more of what you don't want, SEE?
27 • @24 RE: Remote Location (by Sauron on 2018-07-09 13:33:29 GMT from United Kingdom)
One way around that I use is to auto backup to a hard drive installed in my PC which in turn gets synchronized with a drive in my home server every evening.
The same can be used to mirror your backups offsite.
Anything I want to backup or save is saved on that drive so nothing is lost if anything happens to my file system.
28 • Linux Lite (by dragonmouth on 2018-07-09 13:35:24 GMT from United States)
Another one bites the dust!
Linux prides itself on keeping "older" system running. However, one by one, various Linux distros are ending support for 32-bit systems, making Linux suitable only for "newer" systems. Unless what is meant by "older" is systems that are only two or three years old.
"I did not spot a more feature rich software manager such as GNOME Software or mintInstall"
If glitz and eye candy are your desired "features" then you are right. If you want functional features, then Synaptic is THE ONE AND ONLY package manager for any Debian-based distro.
29 • Checking for CPU bugs (by sam on 2018-07-09 13:37:00 GMT from United Kingdom)
You can also use:
grep "" /sys/devices/system/cpu/vulnerabilities/*
which will not only show you the bugs, but also which mitigations are in place.
30 • @26 (by Sauron on 2018-07-09 13:53:19 GMT from United Kingdom)
I rest my case! You from that forum by any chance? SEE?
31 • CPU bugs and grub (by cykodrone on 2018-07-09 15:57:21 GMT from Canada)
I have a CPU bug :( I don't like the looks of this:
[code]bugs: fxsave_leak sysret_ss_attrs null_seg spectre_v1 spectre_v2 spec_store_bypass[/code] Should I be worried about this or...
I know you can tweak grub (2) defaults to NOT include all the extra garbage (restore mode, backup previous kernels, etc) when it updates for whatever reason, but mine is uncooperative, so I just delete the whole garbage sections in grub.cfg. Noobz should be careful in that file, trashing it would not be good, learn exactly what to do first.
Dear DW, if you get any updates on Texstar, could you please let us know, thank you.
32 • Older systems? (by Garon on 2018-07-09 17:55:22 GMT from United States)
" Unless what is meant by "older" is systems that are only two or three years old."
Oh it can even be older than that. 64 bit desktop computer systems were around in 2005. I have a laptop that isn't very new and had Vista on it when I got it. It is 64 bit. Windows XP Professional had a 64 bit system. 64 bit is not a new thing. Distributions that want to be around for a while needs to concentrate on what is needed now and in the future. Some will always try to maintain a 32 bit distro to be sure, but if you are short on resources then you need to stick to something that will get more use and I believe that is 64 bit. For now anyway. And the debate goes on lol.
33 • Mint Upgrades (by M.Z. on 2018-07-09 18:09:44 GMT from United States)
Not only do upgrades for all versions of Mint exist, but all upgrades to Mint 17.x & 18.x I've done have been extremely smooth & reliable. The trouble comes in when you get a major version upgrade, such as the recent 18 to 19 bump. The process of upgrading in inherently more risky than the wipe & install fresh version process that Mint has generally recommended. I have seen in place version upgrade failures on Fedora, Mint, & pfSense/FreeBSD. After all that I can state that as an end user I completely understand & agree with the position of the Mint team & trust their judgment on this issue far more than I trust Canonical to get it 100% right every time.
Also you seem to have just posted in reaction to the fact that Mint did indeed release an upgrade path for running snapshots/backups & jumping from one major version to another, so how you can pretend that there is no reasonably safe process in place is beyond be. Having seen upgrade failures across many different Linux & BSD distros, the recommendations made by the Mint team seem far more sensible than blind trust in the Ubuntu upgrade process that you seem to want to pretend is fool proof.
On the 'new bugs in Mint 19' front, every Distro is likely to get a few of those on major version upgrades. That is why most smart users wait a bit before upgrading all their systems. Personally I'm booting Mint 19 with other distros on all my computers & the only real issue I had was with flatpacks; however, the bug was fixed & Mint 19 is looking pretty good to me so far.
34 • Fourms & Civility (by M.Z. on 2018-07-09 18:18:11 GMT from United States)
It seems to me that people with an extremely abrasive personality will get bad reactions wherever they go & most are far to self absorbed to realize that they are a big part of the problem they have with others.
Personally nearly all my interactions on Linux help forums have been fairly pleasant. In fact nearly all my issues were solved by looking at the process that someone else had gone though before me, and as a rule it seemed like the whole process was nice enough from what I was reading.
35 • Linux Lite 4.0 (by Az4x4 on 2018-07-09 19:49:06 GMT from United States)
Jesse was, in my view, exactly on point in his review of Linux Lite 4.0. It's one of the best of the distros I've loaded and run these past few months, and well worth the high praise it's winning. Easily my number one choice when it comes to recommending a starting place for new Linux desktop users in my area, as well as for long time users who simply want an OS that "just works" in all the right ways right from the get go..
36 • Timeshift and Mint 18 to 19 upgrade (by eco2geek on 2018-07-09 20:07:48 GMT from United States)
@24 > Backing up to a remote location means sending the data to another computer or NAS
so if your local computer is compromised or your building burns down you still have a copy of
Thanks for the clarification (that's sort of what I thought you meant) and thanks for your weekly reviews.
@34 - People need to understand that all three versions of Linux Mint 18 were based on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, and Linux Mint 19 is based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS. That's why upgrading from Mint 18.x to 19 is a bit on the risky side. And since Linux Mint is a conservative distro, they're going to let you know that.
37 • @5, @12, @17 (by Justin on 2018-07-09 21:07:32 GMT from United States)
@5: All the CPU flaws being discovered is making me hold off buying anything new. I'm not planning to make any new CPU purchases until we reach at least one or two generations of new architectures that do not have these flaws. So in that sense, I'm supporting the boycott idea by not buying DOA products. Buying older hardware is an interesting idea, but as @17 points out, the hardware may need to be pretty old, which becomes harder to find and service (not to mention anything older than Haswell isn't seen as worth trying to fix, meaning you won't get incremental benefits). Given that, if you need new stuff and these flaws aren't fixed, don't keep buying DOA products; re-use and recycle is your friend.
@12: I think about this from time-to-time, too. Life is better without so much screen time. I worry about the upcoming generation of screen-addicted people who cannot have in-person conversations and know more about people they haven't seen in 5 years than the name of the person that lives next door. At the very least, this type of "give up technology" thinking, while not practical in the extreme, should give us pause to reflect and remember that this stuff is a tool, not the purpose or driving force of our lives.
38 • Laptops (by Tim on 2018-07-10 02:01:58 GMT from United States)
I think the frustration about discontinuing 32 bit is often with laptops. Desktops have been 64 bit for nearly 15 years, but low end laptops were 32 bit well into this decade. It does stink having a beloved computer stop running one's districts of choice, but there still are a lot of good 32 bit options.
39 • 32-bit support (by Jason Hsu on 2018-07-10 02:05:03 GMT from United States)
If you want 32-bit support, use Debian, SparkyLinux (my favorite), MX Linux, antiX Linux, Puppy Linux, SliTaz, TinyCore, or other truly lightweight distros. A large percentage of people using these distros are using decade-old computers. I'll bet that all of these distros will maintain 32-bit support for at least another 10 years.
In my opinion, the Ubuntu base of Linux Lite disqualified it from being lightweight. If you want a light distro with Xfce, MX Linux (the premium edition of antiX Linux) is your best bet. SparkyLinux with LXDE won't feel that different.
Linux Lite dropped 32-bit support because its parent distro Ubuntu Linux did. I can't blame Ubuntu Linux for dropping 32-bit support. I'm sure that it required a substantial amount of work. Given that the newest 32-bit-only hardware is over 10 years old, I'm sure that 32-bit users are only a very tiny percentage of the Ubuntu user base. Installing the new release of Ubuntu on one of those old 32-bit-only machines is like installing a small 4-cylinder engine under the hood of a massive Lincoln Town Car. The Ubuntu team decided that supporting this tiny and ever-declining portion of the user base just wasn't worth the time and effort required.
40 • 32 bit (by Mark MiXX on 2018-07-10 04:17:07 GMT from Canada)
Arch has already dropped 32 bit support long.back.
Just install dual boot MX 17.1 (approx 1.2 gb ISO) JUNE XFCE and LinuxMint 10 Cinnamon 64bit (approx. 2 gb ISO) sipped with systemd-237 on new hardware. Both offered almost everything out of the box. For a while I will keep both for side-by-side comparison and may be later keep only one that I like. MX has a feature of group packages installation. Later on I may try Arch or Gentoo or something else on Fedora or OpenSuse family.
41 • @ 26 (by Kazan on 2018-07-10 06:17:01 GMT from United Kingdom)
"For far too long Linux forums have been toxic to what I view as "normal" people. There's clearly intent to force everyone to accept the "Unix way", with arcane syntax from 1960's main-frames and getting permission to use your own personal desktop computer. Gurus even resent the success of Microsoft in doing away with permissions, think it's somehow dangerous, though at worst these days is only a half-hour to re-install."
I have a strong feeling that you are right. Linux "forums" had become toxic places. Some self-declared gurus claim that others are fools and of course, trolls, if and when the others don't agree with these "gurus."
People need ready to work computers, not where they have to tinker all the time. There is no use attacking Windows, whenever a Linux distro has problems. Linux distros have problems, which they don't really want to get rid of. If they do, and these distro become ready to work, no tinkering ones, Linux would lose whatever popularity it has today with the desktop users.
I've been trying out Windows 10 for sometime, and find it is without any problems. I am using it for work exclusively, and "play" with Linux distros in the evenings, while watching sport on TV. Slowly, Linux distros are moving out of daily life, except Android on mobile. Open source apps, such as Gimp, Firefox work much better on Windows than on Linux, and they are the latest releases.
42 • Users choice (by Mark MiXX on 2018-07-10 07:33:28 GMT from Canada)
I do have Win10 pre-installed toys, and kept it that way bcoz family members prefers win10. For my web surfing needs linux,bsd, or win10 does not make much difference. I sometimes use android phone and sometimes use iphone as well. Likewise every user has multiple options.
Anything comes and goes, it does not make much difference.
43 • Toxic forums and tinkering. (by jadecat on 2018-07-10 09:12:04 GMT from United Kingdom)
You are obviously going to the wrong forums or not using them correctly - I suspect the latter. In all my years of using GNU/Linux (1997 onwards) I have never come across these so called "toxic forums".
Just as there are distro's for tinkerers, there are distro's for non-tinkerers so use which ever you prefer.
I have an OS that works for me which is how it should be. No matter what platform "just do it* as someone who was nearly famous once said.
44 • Toxic (Linux) forums... (by OstroL on 2018-07-10 11:43:52 GMT from Poland)
You simply can't ask a "foolish" question in most Linux forums. You are asked to read, or a moderator would close the topic, without giving a solution. For example, you go to Ubuntu Forums > Ubuntu Development Version and say something nice about Unity, the former Ubuntu default, you are kicked out. They try to upscale Gnome shell there, but no one is really talking about Cosmic development release there any more.
You go to community.ubuntu.com and ask a question about some Ubuntu app, they won't help you, but freeze your question. That, even though that forum is full of the developers, officially paid by Cannonical.Interestingly, the largest amount of posts are asking for help, which are frozen.
Now, you go to Windows community (the official one) and ask a question, you get replies. You may even criticize MS, but still your comment is there, and most important, no one closes your thread.
Most moderators in Linux forums were there for a long time, and seem to take lessons from prison wardens.
45 • @41 (by dragonmouth on 2018-07-10 13:27:30 GMT from United States)
"I am using it for work exclusively, and "play" with Linux distros in the evenings, while watching sport on TV. "
If the situation was reversed and you used Linux for work and "played" with Win 10 at home, you would find Linux "without any problems". You are shortchanging yourself in both areas - While "playing" with Linux, you miss out on some of the sports action and while watching sports you miss out on some of the Linux. Maybe if you quit "playing" at Linux while watching the telly, you would become more proficient in Linux.
46 • Shiny new version numbers (by curious on 2018-07-10 13:36:24 GMT from Germany)
What I would like to know - and what is ignored in most reviews - is what, if anything, the new versions (e.g. Mint 19, Lite 4) actually do *better* than the previous ones - and if significant bits work less well than before (e.g. Wine, codecs). Why should I upgrade - besides the standard argument that "new is always better"?
47 • Toxic Forums (by dragonmouth on 2018-07-10 13:46:51 GMT from United States)
Windows forums will also turn toxic very quickly if you start asking questions that can be answered reading the instructions or by Googling the subject. Try asking "How do I get to the Task Manager" and see how quickly you start getting nasty answers, "RTFM" being the nicest one. When you ask intelligent questions, all forums are user-friendly.
48 • the linux UX is a not-so-successful cult (by Willie Buck Merle on 2018-07-10 14:02:31 GMT from United States)
"Maybe if you quit "playing" at Linux while watching the telly, you would become more proficient in Linux."
Replace the word 'Linux' with 'Android' and the cultish idiocy concerning the linux-desktop that abounds here can be easily revealed... y'know Android being the worlds most used OS and all that.
ps. oh the stoopid boins bad!
49 • thanks (by Tim on 2018-07-10 14:21:21 GMT from United States)
I just want to say a thank you to all of the people who have helped me over the years in various Linux and BSD forums.
The idea that they're a nasty place is completely at odds with my experience. On the contrary, with a distro like Ubuntu or FreeBSD issues are so well documented and dealt with so professionally I rarely have to ask a question. I started as a noob in 2005 and the community was what taught me, and I'm grateful.
50 • @ 45 (by Kazan on 2018-07-10 15:11:13 GMT from United Kingdom)
" Maybe if you quit "playing" at Linux while watching the telly, you would become more proficient in Linux."
Don't worry about that, pal, I'm quite proficient in Linux. I read some forums, just to feel the mood in there. I don't join them any more. No reason to do so. The mood is not good. People are moving away, from forums and from Linux. Most Linux users think that they are some special people, and those, who use Windows or Android are not up to standard...and so on. Your comment just said that, anyway.
51 • Version Changes & Release Notes (by M.Z. on 2018-07-10 17:48:18 GMT from United States)
Whether you should upgrade or not is up to you, but it also depends on a number of things. As per the Mint 19 upgrade notes:
'Upgrade for a reason
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
Linux Mint 17, 17.1, 17.2 and 17.3 are supported until 2019 and Linux Mint 18, 18.1, 18.2 and 18.3 are supported until 2021.'
Everyone who is online should upgrade for support & security reasons eventually, but Mint in particular let's you know when it isn't strictly necessary. For Distros with fixed releases like Debian you will see major changes with nearly all the software available in the OS with every release. Some major upgrades that generally happen between fixed releases include upgrades to the desktop, Linux Kernel, & office suite. At least those are the things most visible to desktop users like me. For instance if you look at the DW page for Debian & compare version 8 & 9 you go from KDE plasma 4.11 to 5.8, LibreOffice 4.3 to 5.2, & Linux Kernel 3.16 to 4.9.
For some things like the desktop & LibreOffice don't matter much because they are still fairly similar to what they were before; however, if you have new hardware the Kernel matters a lot because every version supports new hardware better than the last. Of course it's also important to note that with most fixed releases all software is fairly static & you only get bug patches rather than new features in your software. That allows large organizations to stay with the devil they know and avoid regressions, or bits that 'work less well than before' as you put it. You can dig into IT departments more if you want to, but basically big organizations believe that consistency is key to good software.
Of course many individuals like hot & fresh new software, so options for that are created with rolling release distros like Arch which is both cutting edge & technical, or PCLinuxOS which tries to balance stability, ease of use, & fresh software.
For major point releases there are often release notes & 'whats new' info pages like those for Mint 19:
If you're smart & methodical you'll dig in a bit and make a decision based on the balance of evidence in the release notes; however, if you're like most Linux PC users you'll want fresh new versions, try the live version, say 'good enough for me!' & upgrade without too much reading. At least that's the impression I get when I hear about how most Ubuntu users are running a 9 month release version rather than an LTS, though I suppose I've been a bit guilty of that sort of thing too.
Anyway the process of upgrading can become a complex multi faceted thing if you really think about it, but so can anything else if you over think it. The least every good user should do is upgrade networked machines as soon as support ends for old distro versions.
52 • Other CPUs, older non-x86 hardware (by mmphosis on 2018-07-10 18:38:06 GMT from Canada)
@29 I appreciate you providing that command. This is what is great about forums like this one.
@23 I think these comments and discussion are what is great about forums like this one -- otherwise don't sweat the small stuff, and just ignore the trolls.
@5 I really really tried to buy a new laptop/desktop with an Intel CPU, but I can't do it -- no need to boycott because a new purchase just ain't happening for a number of reasons. The writing is on the wall: things like Intel ME, and AMD has found a way to fab their chips in Asia. Android/Apple phones and tablets now dominate which is sad.
I chose "Other" because I am going with "older" hardware and NOT Intel-based hardware. I am using PowerMacs with PowerPC chips, and some people are even using newer Power architecture. I use ARM chips like on the raspberry pi. I've given up on "performance" and just want general purpose devices that I have control over. Linux has made this work.
53 • Specdown got you worried? There's always the OpenBSD approach. (by CS on 2018-07-10 18:40:36 GMT from United States)
"Half as fast is twice as secure!" After all, if your system is unusably slow, there's no risk of anyone deploying anything important to it. Take that, hackers!
54 • The OpenBSD approach (by DaveT on 2018-07-10 19:22:26 GMT from United Kingdom)
@53 Now that is funny!
But if you make sensible choices it works very well, and on old hardware too.
55 • @44 re: ubuntuforums (by hmm on 2018-07-10 20:15:50 GMT from United States)
" For example, you go to Ubuntu Forums > Ubuntu Development Version and say something nice about Unity, the former Ubuntu default, you are kicked out. They try to upscale Gnome shell there, but no one is really talking about Cosmic development release there any more. "
I'm an unbiased outsider. In response to your post, I visited and checked topic titles mentioning Unity Jan2018 to present. https://ubuntuforums.org/forumdisplay.php?f=427&page=12
No one was "kicked out". In two earlier topics, respondents replied helpfully. In the recently posted inquiry topic, which a moderator replied (helpfully) and locked... the moderation action seems entirely appropriate. https://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2396027
56 • Clarification of "no new computer." (by Bobbie Sellers on 2018-07-11 03:50:18 GMT from United States)
The point of my idea to use only older computers is not to escape
the flaws but to refuse to invest in new stuff with the same
This might if widely adopted by the consumers might bring enough
pressure on the chip foundries to get them to speed up the
I doubt that there are enough processors free of the problems
of Spectre and Meltdown to supply our demands. And when
I started on my x86 road it was about 2005 and my cpu
was a 2.4 GHz Pentium and I ran Mandriva 64-bit on it
originally. It had XP installed but I think it was 32-bit.
The brand was "Great Quality" but it died after a very
few years, sent to the shop it came back even worse
off. I bought an old Inspiron 4K at the Goodwill for
$225 with an Pentium coppermine running at 700 Megahertz
with a 30 GB hard drive with XP. I dual-booted it
with Mandriva 64 bit again. The Inspiron lasted a
lot longer than the Great Quality. The modular design
made me pay attention to Dell.
All this would never have happened if the Amiga computer
using the 680x0 Motorola processor had not stopped being
built when a bad owner decided to milk the Commodore
Business Machines dry and dump it. I bet those old
Complex Instruction Set 680x0 cpus are not vunerable
to Spectre and Meltdown.
57 • @ # 52 Deliberately Defective by Design. (by Don Delliburtton on 2018-07-11 07:05:24 GMT from Canada)
Deliberately Defective by Design.
Deliberately Defective by Design.
@ # 52
"I really really tried to buy a new laptop/desktop with an Intel CPU, but I can't do it -- no need to boycott because a new purchase just ain't happening for a number of reasons. The writing is on the wall: things like Intel ME, and AMD has found a way to fab their chips in Asia. Android/Apple phones and tablets now dominate which is sad.
I chose "Other" because I am going with "older" hardware and NOT Intel-based hardware. I am using PowerMacs with PowerPC chips, and some people are even using newer Power architecture. I use ARM chips like on the raspberry pi. I've given up on "performance" and just want general purpose devices that I have control over. Linux has made this work."
If you look at the history of technology and development of tech-toys, practice of "Deliberately Defective by Design" keeps increasing every year at fast pace on the ramp after 2010. Anyone who is pulling hard-earned money out of his/her wallet for new cutting-edge tech toys just for prejudice so called status, is nothing else but a stupid, or a fool who is making tech mammoth oligarchies filthy rich. Many linux and FOSS developers extended their support to mammoths as a free volunteer as if they just like the logo or brand name with torned and empty wallets.
58 • While I posted # 57 I did not knew (by Don Delliburtton on 2018-07-11 07:14:59 GMT from Canada)
Just came across todays tech news headlines after posting reply in # 57
Another data-leaking Spectre CPU flaw among Intel's dirty dozen of security bug alerts today
There are atleast more than 15 serious flaws in INTEL/AMD CPUs apart from Spectre/Meltdown. Some of them were made public deliberately.
59 • Arch and Gentoo Lovers. (by Don Delliburtton on 2018-07-11 08:17:54 GMT from Canada)
Arch Linux has pulled a user-provided AUR (Arch User Repository) package, because it contained malware.
Gentoo Github repo is compromised.
Long back I wrote to Developers of Main Line Linux distro that Firefox sourcecode itself contains serious malware.
Linux Developers and Lovers, both, has pre-defined "The Destiny" of Linux to "The Final Destination".
Let us see where it rolls, where it goes and where it ends!!!
I can NOT take it anymore, need a little break.
60 • @51 avoiding regressions (by curious on 2018-07-11 08:25:16 GMT from Germany)
Thank you for your detailed answer.
My main point is that regressions should be emphasized more in reviews.
Like you, I have noticed that "many individuals like hot & fresh new software". While that is (more or less) natural behaviour, I see a danger that people quickly get used to regressions. Bad developments are still accepted because they come with the new software, and a few cycles later it has been completely forgotten that things used to work better. The result is that bad developments are accepted, instead of being rejected, unless they are *extremely* disruptive.
Maybe that is one of the reasons why there has not been much improvement in Linux usability since approximately 2008 - Linux was as "desktop ready" then as it is now.
61 • Your Linux is Ready (by Don Delliburtton on 2018-07-11 09:07:27 GMT from Canada)
@ # 60
"Maybe that is one of the reasons why there has not been much improvement in Linux usability since approximately 2008 - Linux was as "desktop ready" then as it is now."
I can precisely recollect, but, it was somewhere in late 2006 I heard someone singing a song "Your Linux is Ready" in Provo City Library of Utah.
That was the time "Your Linux is Ready" kept me thinking "Ready? Ready for what?
After almost more than a decade, I guess, I have got the ANSWER.
I guess, "Your Linux is just more than ready to cut-the-edge(s) and tear it apart" as of today.
62 • Post # 41 Open Source Applications (by Winchester on 2018-07-11 12:32:06 GMT from United States)
Firefox absolutely does NOT "work better on Windows".
Seriously,are we talking about using Windows to browse the internet????
If there is one area Windows is not well suited for and CLEARLY not the optimal choice,then that would be it. (Unfortunately that "not well suited list" doesn't end there.)
I'll need some kind of an explanation as to how GIMP could possibly "work better" on Windows.
By the way,there are plenty of distributions out there which offer + allow for the latest version of FireFox. Solus OS is one example ; SliTAZ is another.
63 • GitHub and EQT (by Arghalhuas on 2018-07-11 14:58:19 GMT from Spain)
Two, most likely, unrelated questions:
- GitHub is acquired by Microsoft and, all of a sudden, Linux distros start to be compromised...
- Is EQT acquiring SUSE for itself or on someone else's behalf?
64 • @64 (by OstroL on 2018-07-11 17:52:39 GMT from Poland)
I can agree with #41 that Firefox and Gimp work better with Windows 10. Every update also comes much later to Windows than to Linux. Maybe ppas and aur might catch up sometimes.
>I'll need some kind of an explanation as to how GIMP could possibly "work better" on Windows.<
Use these apps in Windows for sometime (not few hours, but few weeks) and then come back to a Linux distro and use them. You'd find the answer yourself.
65 • Linux-Intel-AMD security (by edcoolio on 2018-07-12 03:29:17 GMT from United States)
I have to be honest here. I really do not care about the hysteria surrounding these hardware bugs nor worry about them in the least.
I have Linux, Windows, and Mac boxes. I have what I have and I'm not buying everything all over again for an incremental fix. As so many people here have said, I'll just wait until I'm convinced it's worth it.
So, I will continue to do what I have always done. If I need secure transactions, boot Tails from a CD, do my business, and get on with life. I figure if someone is good enough to to "get me" for the bit of time I am using a device in this fashion, then there is nothing I can do about it anyways.
As for the rest of the screen-time, again, there is really nothing anyone can do. Update your OS to the latest, all firmware to the latest, patch it up, and hope for the best. Maybe in my case they will get my personal browsing habits, but Google, Apple, alphabet agencies, and everyone else already seems to have that data in one form or another anyways. I do not want to live like a paranoid hermit, so I just admit to myself that it is a trade-off. Otherwise, I would have to yell at myself to quit whining and just simply turn off all the connected devices I use. Problem solved(ish), welcome to the real world.
I guess my point is that there is no use in dealing with any of it, beyond waiting for a more secure CPU/instruction set. Of course, like all technology, it is just a matter of time before someone finds a weakness. It's like a futuristic game of whack-a-mole where it is impossible to win.
66 • Post # 64 (by Winchester on 2018-07-12 04:54:02 GMT from United States)
" Every update also comes much later to Windows than to Linux. "
That IS NOT a good thing in the favour of Windows when it comes to web browsers,or in general for that matter.
And,if you meant it the other way around,Linux (believe it or not) can be used without PPA's or the AUR.
SliTAZ : get the latest FireFox = Help >>>> about FireFox >>> Update FireFox (or FireFox is up to date).
Solus OS : FireFox always seems to be current
Slackware Current : as the name would imply, always seems to be current.
And I will not try GIMP on Windows 10 because I will not purchase Windows 10. GIMP works flawlessly under my GNU / Linux installations. So,for me to be convinced,someone will have to explain what is different. Not just what is different between different versions of GIMP (because both older and new versions are available through the various Linux distributions) ..... but what is different about the program only while being used under Windows.
Less RAM available to the software under Windows because the Windows OS is using the RAM. Correct??
By the way,now that I think of it,I did use FireFox briefly on a hotel computer months ago and it was all jacked up .... corrupted as can be. It did not inspire any thought of switching to Windows 10,to say the least.
67 • powerpc (by Tim on 2018-07-13 11:36:43 GMT from United States)
if you're going to use powerpc, my advice is avoid the iMac G4. It has had serious graphics problems with the nouveau driver, which replaced the old nv in the Debian family between Squeeze and Wheezy.
Mine currently has Squeeze running because it's not plugged into the internet, but if you do want to use it and want current support I had good luck with NetBSD 6 and the XFCE desktop
68 • 2008? (by Tim on 2018-07-13 11:59:28 GMT from United States)
I'm not sure what to say to someone who thinks desktop Linux hasn't improved since 2008. It not only has, it's improved to the point where a default install of a distro like Ubuntu MATE 18.04 (to pick my favorite, but there's others of course) is far more usable than either Windows or MacOS.
If you install Ubuntu MATE, you can mostly pick the default options in the installer and are presented with a desktop that is entirely usable. Any file you click on will open a program appropriate for it. There's a good office suite, good image editing software, good photo organizing software, etc. If you don't feel comfortable with a command line you don't need to use it. All peripherals are plug and play at this point. There's a few bugs in wifi adapters but with good wifi dongles available for 12 bucks this isn't a huge deal. Plus it isn't Linux's fault- it's the Wifi chip people who don't like open source.
If you buy a computer with Windows 10 preinstalled, it will run slower than with Linux. If you click on a document, a dialogue box will present itself asking you to buy Office. If you click on other files, often a trial version of some program the OEM got paid to put on the disk will pop up and start asking you for money. If you install Windows fresh it just won't have many apps at all. If you plug in a peripheral it will start "searching for a driver" and if it's an old peripheral Windows might tell you there's no driver for it.
69 • @68 What you describe ... (by curious on 2018-07-13 14:26:02 GMT from Germany)
... was *already* true ten years ago.
The only significant improvement from a user's perspective is Wifi.
Desktop environments, browsers, init systems etc. have changed, but that does not necessarily impact usability or "desktop readiness".
One could even argue that some of the replacements are regressions themselves, i.e. certain newer DEs or init systems can be seen as less user-friendly than what they replace.
70 • applications (by Tim Dowd on 2018-07-13 16:28:12 GMT from United States)
I may have misunderstood that you were saying in 2008 things were already good.
I would argue that there have been improvements in recent years though. The most obvious is LibreOffice 5 and 6, which now are top notch. But there are other things too- plug and play is far more advanced than where it was even two years ago. For every desktop that's made things harder, there's others like XFCE and MATE who really do it right. I also think the number of bugs that affect the default install has gone way down. In 2008 you really couldn't use Linux without being comfortable editing configuration files and working in bash. In 2018 you really can.
I get frustrated by improvements for improvements sake as much as everyone... and I keep Debian Squeeze running in a VM for various pieces of software that I thought were perfect in 2010 and I'm not interested in updating. That said, I'm thrilled with the current state of the Linux desktop and I just want to fly that flag.
71 • Xubuntu 18.04 Bionic (by Xonty Xavier on 2018-07-14 04:41:36 GMT from Canada)
ATM writing this and surfing the web on XUbuntu 18.04 (bionic), not too bad either with systemd-237. Found slightly faster than latest Linuxmint. It's with GCC-73.0 but, could not find synaptic. Staying with Xubuntu for a while to feel elegant desktop. After this may be arch or gentoo with MATE.
72 • Code Strippers (by Allen Allowed on 2018-07-14 14:50:51 GMT from Canada)
They are allowed to write any codes, They took more than 7 decades to write billions lines of codes day-by-day everyday. I just took less than 9 minutes to strip it down to just few lines that can be count by fingers or an abacus.
73 • 65 • Linux-Intel-AMD security (by R. Cain on 2018-07-15 02:51:17 GMT from United States)
...there is no use in dealing with any of it, beyond waiting for a more secure CPU/instruction set...
Any CPU is a machine. It can be taken apart and analyzed.
Everybody's next great hope for security is the RISC-V processor. Except that UC-Berkeley is in the process of publishing ALL the highly-technical details of RISC-V, hardware AND its Instruction Set Architecture Manual, on the internet; simply type "risc-v" into your search engine. It's open-source, you know.
74 • I am not a troll, nor a Russian bot (by imnotrich on 2018-07-15 18:54:24 GMT from Mexico)
Regarding many distros abandoning 32 bit support, this will definitely reduce Linux's user base throughout the 3rd world, where not everybody can afford to buy a brand new machine every two years. Especially in communities where people are living in houses built from plywood, cardboard, and retired metal garage doors with no sewer connection (so when they flush, it goes out to the gutter and down the street).
UEFI/secureboot/TPM stuff? Designed by Microsoft in collaboration with hardware manufacturers to complicate COMPUTER OWNERS' attempts to run alternative OS's and dual or multiple boot machines. Firefox, Chrome and other Browsers are guilty too by dropping support for certain architectures and CPU's. To a certain extent Chrome OS and Apple do this too, but we expect that from Apple. Apple's the company that killed floppy drives, optical drives, and other technology in it's prime. Apple's the company that shafted my friend whose CPU design ran at 500Mhz in the late 1990's, and decided to strike a deal with Intel instead.
Anyway forget the Spectre/Meldown fiasco for a minute, purchasing/pimping out older machines and nursing them along until they die of old age has it's merit even if you're not deep into retro gaming. You, the computer owner should have control.
All over the USA people recycle perfectly good computers every day without realizing that 20 minutes south of the Border in Tijuana there are students and families who aren't yet connected to 21st century technology and related skills. Very sad, yet fixable. If only we had compatible OS's and browsers!
(Yeah, I have some old 32 bit iso's laying around including Puppy - which has aged quite well - but I'm a bit of a geek hoarder. Not everybody has that stuff laying around).
75 • @74 32bit CPU support, Computer reuse (by Elcaset on 2018-07-15 20:35:03 GMT from United States)
I agree with you. There are a few of us in the US (not many and not enough, though), who care about old computer reuse. For many years I've volunteered for a non-profit called Free Geek in Portland, Oregon. https://www.freegeek.org/ Most of us doing this kind of work are part of the growing poor class.
76 • 75 • @74 32bit CPU support, Computer Re -Use (by R. Cain on 2018-07-15 22:42:55 GMT from United States)
Check out these two--
1) MX-17.1. It's the new serious contender to Mint's previous #1 position, and WITHOUT 'systemd'.
2) KolibriOS--an unbelievably small and fast OS, written in (ssshhhhh!) assembly language! Jesse Smith (yup; from right here) wrote, in 2009, "...For mini versions of Linux one might want a few hundred megabytes of disk space and nearly that much RAM. But what if I told you that I was recently running a modern operating system that requires about 5 MB of disk space and about 10 MB of RAM?...". Just type "kolibrios" into your web browser's search-bar; should be great for that EeePC 701-4G, or that H-P 2133 you've kept. Amazing.
77 • @75 (by imnotrich on 2018-07-15 23:13:19 GMT from Mexico)
Thanks for the info about free geek!
I do something similar on a smaller scale.
I have friends and family in Tijuana, so I cross regularly.
Yes, I've rescued computers from trash cans in both the USA and Mexico, however my primary source is from geek clients with old hardware working (or not). I'll then securely delete their data and find a new home for the machine unless it can't be salvaged in which case I'll use it as an organ donor.
If I have to buy parts, I try to at least score some lunch money (maybe 200 Mexican Pesos=not quite $10USD). Smiling clients dancing in random parking lots is worth more than money I can assure you. And even if some of my clients are running a computer shop in Mexico I don't care. I've essentially helped them feed their family in addition to helping someone get connected.
While I can't write big checks Bill Gates style, I have some skills. I can help.
Totally not the proper site for this but for all who is listening I would ask....what are you doing to help the poor connect with technology? If we all pitched in, anything is possible.
Number of Comments: 77
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