| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 804, 4 March 2019
Welcome to this year's 9th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
There is always something new happening in the open source community, which is part of what makes the Linux ecosystem so interesting to explore. This week we begin with a look at the young Condres OS distribution, a recent addition to our database, and explore its MATE edition along with some advertised features. Read on to find out more about its special features and how this Arch-based distribution performs. Also on the subject of new happenings, the Devuan project is holding its first conference for developers, administrators and people interested in using the distribution. Plus we are pleased to celebrate CentOS's 15th birthday and report a newcomer to the mobile device market, the PinePhone, should be able to run UBports when it launches later this year. Then, in our Questions and Answers column, we talk about how to securely erase hard drives and, in our Opinion Poll, we ask our readers how they like to wipe old hard drives clean. Plus we are pleased to share the distribution releases of the past week and list the torrents we are seeding. We wish you all a fantastic week and happy reading!
- Review: Condres OS 19.02 "MATE"
- News: Devuan plans first conference, CentOS marks 15th birthday, UBports to run on new PinePhone
- Questions and answers: Securely erasing hard drives
- Released last week: Ubuntu 16.04.6, NuTyX 10.6, Fatdog64 800
- Torrent corner: 4MLinux, Alpine, Archman, Clonezilla, Condres OS, Container, Fatdog64, KaOS, LibreELEC, Live Raizo, Nitrux, NuTyX, SmartOS, SolydXK, SwagArch, Ubuntu
- Opinion poll: Removing data from old hard drives
- New distributions: MiyoLinux
- Reader comments
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (18MB) and MP3 (14MB) formats.
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Condres OS 19.02 "MATE"
Condres OS is a rolling release distribution based on Arch Linux and one of the more recent members of the DistroWatch database. The distribution is available in nine editions (most of them for various desktop environments) and ships with convenience features such as desktop icons enabled (on GNOME), the ICE site specific browser, and the TLP power management software.
There are several desktop editions to choose from, including Cinnamon, GNOME, KDE Plasma, MATE, and Xfce. A minimal, command line only edition of Condres is a 1GB download, most of the desktop editions are about 2.3GB in size, and the KDE edition is 3.3GB. I decided to focus on the MATE edition which is a 2.3GB download.
Booting from the live disc brings up the GNOME Shell desktop which made me wonder if I had grabbed the wrong ISO by mistake. However, I rechecked the ISO's name and confirmed it was the MATE disc. (My second thought was that maybe all Condres discs standardize on GNOME for the live session and then install the desktop corresponding with the edition's name. However, I tested the KDE edition and found it boots into the KDE Plasma desktop.) GNOME Shell is presented with a dock at the bottom of the screen for launching applications and there are icons on the desktop for accessing the distribution's resources and launching the installer. The desktop icons do not work. Clicking them does not launch an application, instead the icon file is opened in a text editor. Things were not off to a great start with the unexpected desktop choice and broken icons, but I pushed ahead and launched the installer from GNOME's Activities menu.
Condres uses the Calamares graphical installer, as many Arch-based projects do these days. Personally, I like Calamares. It works quickly and has a friendly, streamlined interface. The installer walks us through selecting our preferred language, picking our time zone from a map and confirming our keyboard layout. Calamares supports automatic and manual partitioning. The manual approach is nicely streamlined and shows a graphical representation of the disk we are working on. The automated approach will suggest setting up swap space and installing the operating system on an ext4 partition, or taking over an existing partition. We are then asked to make up a username and password for ourselves. The installer worked quickly and without any problems, offering to reboot the computer when it was finished.
Booting into Condres OS brought up a graphical login screen and I signed into my account which logged me into a GNOME Shell session. I signed out and discovered there are four login session options available on the MATE edition: GNOME, GNOME, GNOME on X.Org, and MATE. The launchers for the GNOME sessions all seem to be the same and run the same command. The MATE session, which I focused on during my trial, is set up with a two-panel layout. The top panel is home to the Applications, Places, and System menus along with the system tray. The bottom panel holds the task switcher. Condres currently uses MATE 1.21, though being a rolling release, new versions of the desktop will become available over time.
On the desktop we find icons which link to the project's on-line resources, including the forum, documentation, source code, and donation pages. These icons open their corresponding links in the Chrome web browser. Another icon opens the Caja file manager. There are a couple of icons on the desktop which do not work, such as an icon for the system installer and another for displaying a list of installed packages. These icons appear in the GNOME session too and clicking the icons causes their short-cut information to be opened in the LibreOffice word processor.
When software updates are available a red icon appears in the system tray. Clicking the icon opens the Octopi graphical package manager. Right-clicking the icon gives us the option of configuring checks for updates, syncing the package database or opening an update manager. The update manager is simple, it opens a window which lists available package upgrades with the option to proceed or cancel. We cannot select which packages we want to download or ignore.
Condres OS 19.02 -- The Octopi package manager
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Since Condres is a rolling release distribution, it gets a steady stream of updates. The first day I was using it there were 75 new packages available, totalling 511MB in size. The second day there were 27 packages,151MB in size. For someone like me who usually uses fixed releases, keeping up with Condres upgrades is like drinking from a fire hose.
The Octopi package manager has a simple layout, displaying available packages in the repositories to the left and categories of software on the right. A pane at the bottom of the window provides a short summary of highlighted packages. While Octopi's controls are simple and straight forward, package names are displayed with just their short, cryptic name and a version number. The categories (of which there are many) are likewise named in a way that will likely only make sense to experienced Linux users. Most people won't know at a glance what the "fprint" or "dlang" categories will provide, for example.
Octopi lets us search for programs based on their name. Searches for descriptions or other key words tended to not yield results. Octopi can perform installations, remove packages and perform mass upgrades, using the pacman command line package manager in the background.
One issue I ran into while using Octopi is that attempting to clean the package manager cache would result in an error "pacache could not be found on the system". This error was also displayed when trying to run the cache clean-up tool from the application menu.
Condres OS 19.02 -- Trying to clean the package cache and launch the firewall tool
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I explored running Condres OS in two environments, starting with VirtualBox. Condres automatically resized its desktop to match the VirtualBox window and could use my full screen resolution. As normal, the GNOME desktop was sluggish in the virtual environment. What surprised me though was the MATE desktop was also slow to respond at first. I discovered MATE was set up to use compositing by default, which was making windows and menus respond slowly. With compositing disabled the MATE desktop became more responsive with no noticeable side effects. Videos still lagged poorly in the virtual machine, both when streaming on-line or playing local video files.
When run on a physical workstation, Condres performed better. The desktop was responsive with its default settings, audio worked out of the box and my screen resolution was properly detected. Condres was able to detect wireless networks in the area, but not connect to them. The network manager would not even prompt for my wi-fi password.
Something Condres does that I appreciate is it sets the noatime mount flag on the operating system partition. This prevents the system from writing new access times on files we have opened, improving disk performance.
The MATE edition of Condres used an unusually large amount of disk space, about 7.8GB. This is probably a side-effect of installing two desktop environments. Memory consumption was pleasantly low and running a MATE session required just 255MB of RAM.
The distribution ships with a fairly standard collection of applications. Looking around I found the Firefox, Chrome and Chromium web browsers, the Filezilla file transfer client and LibreOffice. The Thunderbird e-mail client is included along with the Transmission bittorrent software. A document viewer, image viewer and the Caja file manager are installed too. We can edit images with the GNU Image Manipulation Program and Inkscape. Rhythmbox is present for playing audio and the VLC and Totem players are include for showing videos. Condres ships with media codes out of the box.
Condres OS 19.02 -- Running LibreOffice and Caja
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Along with a text editor and archive manager, Condres offers us the Steam gaming portal and the WINE software is available for running Windows applications. The distribution uses Network Manager to get online. In the background we find Condres uses systemd for its init software and runs version 4.20 of the Linux kernel.
A few programs and launchers caught my attention. Stacer, for example, is a program I had not used before. Stacer monitors the system, provides a dashboard with an overview of resource usage, and includes a system monitor, file clean-up tool and a process monitor. The monitoring and dashboard tabs of the Stacer application are certainly helpful for getting a quick glance at the system's status. Other screens were less helpful.
For example, one tab of the application lists available background services and provides controls to start/stop or enable/disable services. These controls do not work and Stacer has no effect on the background services. I suspect this is because Stacer does not run with, or prompt for, administrator access.
Condres OS 19.02 -- Stacer's services management screen
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In a similar vein, Stacer's file clean-up area shows us how much disk space is consumed by temporary files, package archives or other items. Selecting one of these categories of files gives us the option of purging them from the disk. When I clicked the clean-up button, a message would appear saying something like "610MB cleaned". However, if I reloaded the tab it would once again show the same collection of files were still on the disk. This means Stacer was not only failing to remove files, it was giving a false message reporting success to the user.
An odd quirk of Condres is it ships with two welcome screens. One of these screens is shown when we are using the live disc, but neither welcome screen appears when we sign into the installed system. Both welcome screens appear to have been borrowed from other distributions with just the name and links to on-line resources changed. These welcome screens connect us to on-line documentation and the forum. Some of the links worked and some did not. One of the welcome windows would lock-up after a button was pressed to open an on-line resource and would only resume responding when the web browser it launched had been closed. Clicks are still registered though so if we open one link and then click four more buttons in the welcome window, nothing will happen until we close our browser. Then we will find four more browser processes queued up to launch.
I tried playing with Steam. Steam failed to launch, reporting it was missing dependencies, mostly 32-bit libraries. I was able to remove and re-install Steam to get it working.
Pressing the keyboard's Print Screen button would cause an error to be displayed saying the MATE-screenshot tool was not installed. This means the short-cut was set up at some point but the associated package not installed to handle the short-cut. No dedicated screenshot tool is present by default, but the GNU Image Manipulation Program can take screenshots, or we can install one using Octopi.
The MATE desktop ships with a collection of configuration tools which can be accessed through the System menu or by opening the distribution's control centre. The tools mostly deal with the appearance of the desktop, window behaviour, and desktop effects. There are some other modules for handling how notifications are displayed, configuring the firewall and setting up printers.
Condres OS 19.02 -- The settings panel
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I ran into a number of issues with the configuration tools. For instance, there are two notification modules, one for the MATE desktop and one for the KDE Plasma desktop (which was not installed). The firewall tool would not open, whether accessed from the System menu or the control centre. Trying to open the firewall tool from the command line failed if it was run as a regular user (who was then prompted for the sudo password), but the firewall utility would open if it was run with sudo directly. In other words, running "sudo gufw" works, but running "gufw" and entering our password when prompted for it causes the firewall tool to crash.
The printer utility also failed to function. It would open, but clicking the Unlock button to access printer settings had no effect and the utility remained locked. This prevents the user from setting up a printer.
Related to the topic of settings, there is no global volume control in the system tray. There is no sound mixer or audio volume control in the application menu either. The user needs to find and install a sound mixer from the distribution's repositories.
The Condres OS website mentioned seven key features the distribution provides and, since they're prominently displayed, I would like to quickly explore each one and my impressions of them.
ICE - ICE is a tool which creates (or removes) site-specific browser links from the application menu. Basically it asks us to provide a URL, a bookmark name and the menu category we want the short-cut to appear under. ICE then creates a launcher in the application menu and clicking it will open a web browser with a minimal user interface. This makes the target website look and act more like a typical application window. Personally this is not a feature I find useful, it seems more roundabout than using a regular browser short-cut. However, for administrators who want to set up quick access to web-mail or an on-line service, ICE does its job well.
Condres OS 19.02 -- Setting up site-specific browsing with ICE
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Battery usage (TLP) - Condres ships with the TLP software installed. TLP is designed to improve battery life on Linux. I did not run any benchmarks on it this week, but in the past I have tried TLP with modest success in improving battery life. Laptop users should benefit from having it available.
Desktop memory usage - The Condres website claims the distribution's desktop has been trimmed down to offer better performance: "Condres OS idles at just a few hundred megabytes of memory usage, as opposed to other popular operating systems that idle at up to several gigabytes. This also helps bring boot times down to just a few seconds."
I have a few thoughts about this claim. The first is that the MATE edition does indeed require relatively little memory, about 255MB. So that aspect of the claim is certainly accurate. The second is I have rarely, if ever, encountered any operating system (open or proprietary) that consumed multiple gigabytes of memory at idle. The heaviest Linux distribution I have used required about 1GB. Which makes the project's statement feel more like marketing hype than a technical perk.
These two points bring me to the conclusion that while Condres is relatively streamlined compared to, for example, some proprietary systems and may boot faster and run lighter than those, Condres is not noticeably lighter, faster or quicker to boot than other GNU/Linux distributions running the same desktop environment.
The next advertised feature is Pushbullet. The Condres website says Pushbullet can be used to sync small files and notifications between devices. However, Pushbullet is not installed on Condres. There is, to be fair, a desktop client for the Pushbullet service in the project's repositories. The user just needs to install it, as with any other distribution.
Another advertised feature is Syncthing. The Syncthing software allows users to share multiple files or directories between devices without using cloud storage. Imagine using bittorrent, but just for files you wanted to keep in sync between two or more computers. Syncthing is indeed installed on Condres and works. I find its interface confusing. The big drop-down menu doesn't have any actionable items and the menu where we can set up shares is a tiny button in the upper-right corner. Sometimes the same folders are listed as being synced multiple times which can further add confusion to the experience. Syncthing seems to work well enough, but I wouldn't recommend it for less experienced users as there are a bunch of manual steps to be done sharing device names and access codes between systems.
Powerline-Shell is the penultimate feature listed on the project's front page. Powerline-Shell is described as an adaptive and beautiful terminal prompt. This software is installed, but not enabled by default. I followed the setup instructions on the upstream project's website and it replaced my shell prompt with an error message. Like Pushbullet, Powerline-Shell is technically available, but not set up by default and requires manual work to get it functioning.
Finally, Condres points out the distribution is a rolling release, based on Arch Linux. "It is not - nor will it ever be - necessary to re-install a later release of Condres OS in order to enjoy the very latest and most up-to-date system possible." In this case the choice of words is unfortunate because, on the second day of my trial, I installed a new batch of updates and it rendered the operating system unable to boot to a login screen. While I could rescue the system enough to get a command prompt, all graphical tools no longer worked. I had to re-install Condres from scratch to get it working in a reasonable amount of time. Of course then I had to wait a few days for replacement packages to become available so I was stuck on older versions of software for a few days in order to avoid damaging the operating system again.
In short, this is one of those instances where I must acknowledge Condres always provides the latest versions of software, however I must also state that it is sometimes necessary to re-install the operating system.
I was thoroughly frustrated by my experience with Condres. Trying to use this distribution produced no shortage of error messages, false positive messages, settings modules that didn't work and the edition I tested did not even default to using the correct desktop environment. Two of the seven key features (Powerline-Shell and Pushbullet) are not enabled by default and, in Pushbullet's case, not even installed.
Condres OS 19.02 -- Various error messages from trying to launch programs
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Some of the desktop icons don't work under MATE and none of them work under the (default) GNOME session. There are two welcome screens, neither of which launch, and there is a KDE configuration module installed when KDE is not one of the available desktops on the media I tested.
The icing on the cake of this week's trial was the system being unable to boot to its login screen after the second round of updates, which is a poor showing for a distribution that advertises one of its key advantages as not needing to be re-installed.
To be fair, my experience was not all bad and I will give credit where it is due. Having Syncthing installed to share files between computers is nice. Syncthing may have a rough user interface, but it is a useful tool that side-steps the need to have a server or cloud service when synchronizing documents between machines. I will also say that most of the applications installed (the web browsers, LibreOffice, and so on) worked beautifully as usual. Plus I like that Condres installs TLP by default for better battery performance.
However, the list of issues rolls on, including being able to see, but not connect to wireless networks, not being able to launch the firewall utility without using the command line, not being able to connect to printers, and not having a sound mixer control on the system. Oversights like these make me wonder if anyone tested the ISO files before they were uploaded to the public as it is difficult to imagine how else key features like wireless Internet access and volume control could be overlooked. I think Condres OS has a long way to go before it will be ready for most people to use.
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Condres OS 19.03 was published shortly after this review was finished and about two days before it was due to be published so I have not had a chance to fully test the new release. I did download the MATE edition of the new version. The MATE edition still uses the GNOME Shell desktop with desktop icons on the live media. Some icons work in the live environment, some do not. During the install process, the desktop keeps prompting the user for the administrator's password. Dismissing the four prompts without providing a password does not negatively affect the install process.
Once installed, the new version of Condres OS MATE appears to be virtually identical to the previous version, still featuring GNOME as the default desktop with MATE as an alternative. The one big change is every time the user logs in the interface is locked and we are prompted for the administrator's password in order to allow pacman to check for updates. Once the check is complete, two update icons appear in the system tray. When I first installed Condres OS 19.03, selecting one icon told me 8 new packages were available while the second said there were 20. The latter turned out to be correct.
There is a new update manager which lists available upgrades. None are selected by default and there is no "select all" button, leaving the user to select all new packages manually. The upgrade manager then then failed, indicating packages were in conflict with no method offered for resolving the situation. Beyond that, so far, I have found the new version to be much the same as the previous with some updated applications.
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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, Ralink RT5390R PCIe Wireless card
- Display: AMD Radeon HD 6410D video card
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Visitor supplied rating
Condres OS has a visitor supplied average rating of: 6.3/10 from 12 review(s).
Have you used Condres OS? You can leave your own review of the project on our ratings page.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
Devuan plans first conference, CentOS marks 15th birthday, UBports to run on new PinePhone
The Devuan team created a fork of the Debian distribution in 2015 with the intention of providing a stable operating system that does not include dependencies on systemd. The Devuan developers are organizing the first Devuan Conference which will take place in Amsterdam this April. "Once again, the Veteran Unix Admins salute you, and now invite you to celebrate community development and software freedom at the first Devuan Conference this coming spring!" Details on the conference and its topics can be found on the project's website.
* * * * *
The CentOS project, a freely available enterprise distribution based on the source code for Red Hat Enterprise Linux, celebrated its 15th birthday this week. "15 years ago, the CentOS project started up in order to fill a gap left by a change in the way that Red Hat decided to market their product. Many of the people that were involved in those early days are still involved today, although in different capacities than they were then. Over they years, their involvement has changed, due to their own changing job responsibilities, as well as the shifting technological landscape."
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Over the past year there has been a lot of talk about a privacy-focused phone called the Librem 5, which is expected to run a GNU/Linux distribution that will use a custom version of GNOME and (optionally) the KDE Mobile user interface. While it is an appealing platform, the niche nature of the device makes it relatively expensive - the device pre-orders for $649. People wanting to test out GNU/Linux-based phone solutions at a lower price point may want to examine the PinePhone. The PinePhone is expected to run UBports (possibly with other operating system options) and should retail for $149. Both devices are expected to be available sometime in 2019.
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These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Securely erasing hard drives
Cleaning-up asks: Does the shred program conform to proper security standards for wiping hard drives? Where can I find "best practices"?
DistroWatch answers: There is a saying I like which goes, "Standards are important, that is why everyone has one." The phrase seems applicable here because whether shred, or any other data erasing program, follows security standards will depend on whose standard we are comparing it against. The organization I visited that had a policy of "Throw the used hard drives in a closet until someone figures out where to dispose of them" would likely view shred as going above and beyond their standards. The Department of Defence would likely view running shred as a good view step, prior to physically destroying the hard drive.
Assuming your requirements are somewhere in the middle, that you want to make file recovery very difficult, but not go to the trouble of actually destroying the physical disk, then shred is often a good tool to use. Its syntax is simple, it overwrites data (optionally multiple times using multiple methods), and using shred is less work than manually running a tool such as the dd command multiple times to achieve the same result.
If you want to see shred in action you can create a simple text file and then cause it to be overwritten using shred, then look at the contents of the text file. This will prove the file's data is being overwritten with random bytes. Then you can run shred again with the "-u" flag to cause the file to be deleted. The same overwrite process is performed on hard drives and files so practicing on a text file will show you how shred will operate on your entire drive.
The shred command does have limitations when wiping files (as opposed to wiping drives), and its capability depends on which file system you are using. Logging file systems, copy-on-write file systems, and file systems that take snapshots may thwart shred when it is used on individual files. A complete list of situations where shred may not work is included in its manual page.
As for finding best practices, generally (apart from physically destroying a drive) best practices will almost always offer the same advice: write random data to the entire drive multiple times. The only question is which tool to use for the job. The Red Hat documentation suggests performing a data cleanse with a program called badblocks. The Arch Linux wiki suggests using dd, badblocks, or shred. The SUSE blog echos the recommendations for shred and dd, and mentions a third called scrub. Any of these programs should do the job and the above articles offer examples for how to use each of these tools.
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Additional answers can be found in our Questions and Answers archive.
|Released Last Week
NuTyX is a French Linux distribution (with multi-language support) built from Linux From Scratch and Beyond Linux From Scratch, with a custom package manager called "cards". The project's latest release is NuTyX 10.6. "I'm very please to announce the new NuTyX 10.6 release. This is a maintenance release until the version 11 of NuTyX is available. NuTyX 10.6 comes with kernel lts 4.14.103, glibc 2.28, gcc 8.2.0, binutils 2.30, python 3.7.1, xorg-server 1.20.3, qt 5.11.3, gtk 3.24.5, gimp 2.10.8, plasma 5.12.6 LTS, kf5 5.53.0, mate 1.20.3, xfce4 4.12.3, firefox 65.0.1, etc... A second kernel is proposed for people who want to use the very last version of the kernel 4.19.25. NuTyX 10.5 user's are invited to upgrade. Four new ISOs are available in 64-bits and 32-bits. Sizes are from 315MB up to 1.29GB. They are available on the download page. The 64 bits is available in Fixed and Rolling releases as a base and a MATE ISO." Further details are available on the project's news page.
Fatdog64 Linux 800
Fatdog64 Linux is a lightweight distribution which originally began as a fork of Puppy Linux, but has since grown into its own, distinct distribution. The project's latest release, Fatdog64 Linux 800, is newly based on Linux From Scratch (LFS) and offers many package upgrades as well as improved driver support. "Fatdog64-800 GNU/Linux is the first release of Fatdog64 with a new base platform, replacing the LFS 7.5/CLFS 3.0 platform, which was used in release 710 series. Release 800 is now based on LFS (Linux From Scratch) 8.2, combined with CLFS (Cross LFS) 2017.17, with packages updated to same version of BLFS or later. At the time of the release there are more than 1,700 packages and many more will be added as time passes. As usual Fatdog64 does not upgrade from any older version but especially so for this release, being based a totally different platform. Save file/folders from older versions aren't compatible, start a fresh save file/folder instead. A few older packages may still work, but in general they aren't supported and you should upgrade to the new package version if available. The same applies for SFS archives. Of special note: this release uses OpenSSL from 1.1.x branch, which is known to be incompatible with OpenSSL 1.0.x branch that was used in earlier Fatdog64 versions. All older applications that depend on OpenSSL will definitely not work." The release notes offer further details.
Fatdog 64 Linux 800 -- Exploring the Fatdog64 application menu
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The Ubuntu team has announced the release of a minor update for Ubuntu 16.04 and its Community Editions. The new version, 16.04.6, is a long-term support (LTS) release with support carried through to 2021. The release announcement states: "The Ubuntu team is happy to announce the release of Ubuntu 16.04.6 LTS (Long-Term Support) for its Desktop and Server products, as well as other flavours of Ubuntu with long-term support. Unlike previous point releases, 16.04.6 is a security-targeted release for the purpose of providing updated installation media which protects new installations from the recently discovered APT vulnerability (USN-3863-1). Many other security updates for additional high-impact bugs are also included, with a focus on maintaining stability and compatibility with Ubuntu 16.04 LTS." Additional information can be found in the release notes.
KaOS is an independent, rolling release distribution featuring the pacman package manager and the KDE Plasma desktop environment. The project's latest snapshot, KaOS 2019.02, features KDE Plasma 5.15 and LibreOffice 6.2.0. "Major updates included a move to Python 3.7 (3.7.2), Readline 8.0.0, Glib2 2.58.3, Qt 5.12.1, PHP 7.2 besides the usual full Frameworks, Plasma & KDE Applications replacements, so most systems will see 70-80% of their install replaced by new packages so a new ISO is more than due. Plasma 5.15 is included in this ISO. Highlights of this version include changes to the configuration interfaces, including more options for complex network configurations, integration with third-party technologies like GTK, Wayland now supports virtual desktops, and Firefox 64 can now optionally use native KDE open/save dialogs. This is a bleeding-edge functionality that is included in KaOS, it can be enabled by installing the xdg-desktop-portal and xdg-desktop-portal-kde packages and setting GTK_USE_PORTAL=1 in Firefox's .desktop file." Further details can be found in the distribution's release announcement.
Condres OS 19.03
The developers of Condres OS have published a new snapshot of their rolling release, Arch-based desktop distribution. The new version updates the various desktop environments and polishes the Calamares system installer. "Today we are proud to release Condres OS 2019.03 with the flavours KDE, GNOME, Cinnamon, MATE, Xfce, and X.Org. They are enhanced with some useful packages and scripts, a brand new installer and a custom patched version of desktop and filesystem. KDE Plasma stands at version 5.15.2, while GNOME comes in at 3.30 and Xfce at 4.12.4, while Cinnamon comes in at 4.0 and MATE at 1.21.2. This release comes with the name 19.03. Calamares - our new installer This is the 2nd release with the new installer built from the Calamares Installer Framework and we are quite happy with it. It is under steady development and will in the near future improve quite a bit on LVM and LUKS2. The partitioning is done by the brand new kpmcore 3.3.0, which is also at the heart of the KDE Partition Manager (KPM). The corresponding package for that is called partitionmanager." Further information can be found in the release notes.
Condres OS 19.03 -- Running the KDE Plasma desktop
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A new version of 4MLinux, an independently-developed distribution for desktops (JWM, 32-bit) and servers (complete LAMP stack, 64-bit), has been released. Version 28.0 ships with Linux kernel 4.19.19, updated desktop and server packages (LibreOffice 6.2.1, GIMP 2.10.8, DropBox 66.4.84, Firefox 65, Chromium 72, MESA 18.2.0, Apache 2.4.38, MariaDB 10.3.12, PHP 5.6.40 and PHP 7.2.15), as well as improved installation script: "The status of the 4MLinux 28.0 series has been changed to 'stable'. As always, the new major release has some new features: improved installation script (new disk formatting options have been added); much more firmware available (for network devices, sound cards and scanners); added support for reading bar codes (via ZBar), better support for Debian and Fedora packages (via Midnight Commander and Engrampa), new web browser (NetSurf) as well as new download manager (Gwget). Additionally, Electrum is now available as a downloadable extension (both Bitcoin and Litecoin wallets are supported by 4MLinux)." Read the full release announcement as published on the project's Blogspot page.
Linux From Scratch 8.4
Bruce Dubbs has announced the availability of the latest stable release of Linux From Scratch (LFS) and Beyond Linux From Scratch (BLFS), version 8.4. LFS is a book that provides step-by-step instructions on how to build a base Linux system from scratch (using a standard Linux live system). BLFS expands on the LFS book by giving further lessons on how to compile X Window System, window managers and desktop environments, as well as a variety of popular desktop and server packages and their dependencies. The brief release announcement reads: "The Linux From Scratch community is pleased to announce the release of LFS Version 8.4, LFS Version 8.4 (systemd), BLFS Version 8.4, and BLFS Version 8.4 (systemd). This release is a major update to both LFS and BLFS. The LFS release includes updates to glibc 2.29, Binutils 2.32 and Bash 5.0. A total of 33 packages have been updated. Changes to text have been made throughout the book. The Linux kernel has also been updated to version 4.20.12. The BLFS version includes approximately 1,000 packages beyond the base Linux From Scratch 8.4 book. This release has over 730 updates from the previous version, in addition to numerous text and formatting changes."
Arjen Balfoort has announced the release of SolydXK 201902, the latest stable build from the project that develops a set of desktop-oriented Linux distribution (with Xfce and KDE Plasma), based on Debian's stable branch: "New 201902 ISO images have been released. These are some of the highlights: the live installer will update itself when starting, it should show its update progress but sometimes it takes a while before it shows, the live installer now supports F2FS and NILFS2 file systems for flash drives; partition encryption during installation has been improved; we have changed the SolydXK Firefox settings even further to improve user privacy and also to comply with Mozilla's distribution policies - this is done in the firefox-solydxk-adjustments package which can be purged if you don't need it; Waterfox is now packaged and distributed by the SolydXK repository; several new features have been added and many bugs have been solved in our SolydXK applications." Read the rest of the release announcement for more information.
* * * * *
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: 1,282
- Total data uploaded: 24.0TB
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Removing data from old hard drives
In our Questions and Answers column we talked about different methods for removing old files and erasing hard drives. Many people want to clean up their old disks before throwing them out, or giving them away, in order to prevent private or confidential information from leaking to the public.
We would like to know what tools our readers use to clean data off old disks. Do you use tools like shred and dd, or another method? Let us know how you erase disks in the comments.
You can see the results of our previous poll on methods used to prevent window focus stealing in last week's edition. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
Removing data from old hard drives
|I use badblocks: ||16 (1%)|
| I use dd: ||235 (18%)|
| I use shred: ||102 (8%)|
| I use a combination of the above: ||62 (5%)|
| I use another tool: ||270 (20%)|
| I physically destroy disks: ||403 (30%)|
| I do not wipe old drives: ||243 (18%)|
Distributions added to waiting list
- MiyoLinux. Miyo is an acronym for "make it your own". Primarily intended for users with older hardware, MiyoLinux is a very minimal and base system based on Devuan.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 11 March 2019. 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 • RE:"Securely erasing hard drives" (by Tux Raider on 2019-03-04 00:32:16 GMT from United States) |
i recently bought a new PC that had windows-10 on it, i tried it out for a day, updated the OS and defraged the disk which was a huge one terabite spinning platter type drive,. i will say after using Linux on a solid state drive then going back to windows on a spinning platter was just an awful experience, the thoughtput and response of win10 on a spinning platter was just too annoying to tolerate, so i powered the PC down and unplugged the drive and put in a new 250 gig ssd that reads & writes about 500 megabites a second, put a fresh copy of my favorite distro on it and it was sweet as homemade icecream :)
when i need the storage space for data or whatever i will take that big drive with win10 on it and wipe the whole thing with sgdisk --zap-all /dev/### then create a new partition table and file system and use it for data storage because spinning platter drives are just too slow to run an operating system on, but they are great for storage since they have so much storage space i dont think there will be any recoverable data on that drive after sgdisk and fdisk gets done with it, shred is just a time waster
2 • Removing data from | checking for bad sectors in old hard drives (by Dojnow on 2019-03-04 00:56:35 GMT from Bulgaria)
mkfs.ext4 -ccv /dev/sdX[n] which uses badblocks with writing patterns 55h, AAh, FFh, 00h or quicker dd
3 • Not A Shred Of Evidence (by Vern on 2019-03-04 01:08:58 GMT from United States)
I use the hammer method. I don't want my hard drive out in the wild. I tried in the past several shredding programs, then tried to find data afterwards, which their were many.
4 • Jordan (by Jordan on 2019-03-04 01:28:08 GMT from United States)
I have them all. Some of those huge, small capacity ones from the early 90s. I have them all?
My god I have them all. :oD
5 • Removing data from old hard drives (by Newby on 2019-03-04 02:16:24 GMT from Canada)
There is yet another method I recall reading in a technical paper eons ago by using the linux hdparm tool for dealing with hard drives.
Looking at the hdparm manpage, there is a flag: --security-erase-enhanced PWD.
The manpage does point out it is a "dangerous" command, so only experiment on a drive you consider "expendable" in the name of scientific curiousity.
At this point, no recollection where I read the original paper, but the general idea was, instead of overwriting multiple times with external software, the drive's own firmware was capable of writing an "eye-pattern" over each track, effectively wiping data faster and more effectively.
If anyone can shed any more light on this, it does tie-in with this week's question.
Also recall some amazing videos of the lengths people will go to, to destroy their drives. From drilling holes, to running them over with a steam-roller. Personally, I remove the platter, expose it to a bulk demagnitizer, then sand/grind down the magnetic coating. Suppose it might be fun to use hdparm to low-level format the drive, then populate it with some incredible fake data supporting your favourite conspiracy theory, then send the drive out into the "wild" and see what transpires......
(I do hope people have sense of humour and don't see fit to delete this post. No bits were harmed, and it really doesn't deserve ending up in /dev/null)
6 • Removing data from old hard drives (by Eraser on 2019-03-04 02:58:56 GMT from United States)
I've used the secure erase programs on Parted Magic with success.
7 • destroy or wipe? (by Titus_Groan on 2019-03-04 03:46:03 GMT from New Zealand)
physically destroy when toetagged!
or keep forever, for reuse if removed due to upgrade, ie, as bulk remove-able storage, image backups... etc.
or if I really need WindowsX, I will reinstall the drive without internet for the duration of use.
8 • Condre OS (by Andy Prough on 2019-03-04 04:04:47 GMT from United States)
The review is pretty funny, just in terms of all the things that don't work.
But my bigger question is - how is this considered a separate distro? It's Arch with Arch's package manager and Arch's repository with a few uncommon apps thrown into the mix. There's nothing about Arch that would prevent a user from coming up with this exact mix of software. It's some kind of a respin, but it doesn't really seem like a distro in itself.
I like how GeckoLinux is described on Distrowatch: "GeckoLinux is a Linux spin based on the openSUSE distribution"
Things like Condre, which have no real differences other than default software choice from their parent distribution, should be referred to as spins or respins in my opinion.
9 • To remove data or destroy media? (by Mikey on 2019-03-04 04:10:46 GMT from United States)
'Hammer Time' sounds like a lot of fun, as long as you don't smash your thumb. Writing over a large capacity drive just takes to darn long, and wastes electricity. The preferred method up here on the North Road includes a little target practice. Long live open source. My thanks to the developers and community.
10 • #5 - Removing data from old hard drives (by Andy Prough on 2019-03-04 04:17:06 GMT from United States)
There's a wicki that was written in 2013 that gives a step-by-step procedure for using hdparm --security-erase. Search "ATA Secure Erase" with your favorite search engine and you should find it pretty quickly.
The feature is not without it's problems though. There are several things that can cause your secure erase to fail, or that can prevent your drive from attempting it. Also, from what I'm reading it's not really that much faster in a lot of cases.
11 • Hard Drive Destruction (by Ben Myers on 2019-03-04 04:57:21 GMT from Canada)
Take an electric drill, put in a 1/4" drill bit made to drill in metal. Drill numerous holes completely through the hard drive you want to destroy. This will discourage all but the craziest people from trying to read the remains of the drive. Far faster than using software and uses less electricity.
Many years ago, this method was used by Raytheon to render hard disks useless, and it probably met government security requirements back then. The Raytheon people went a bit further, not just a drill bit, either. They were lazy, so they drilled through the entire computer chassis making sure they they drilled thru the hard drive.
If drilling through a drive is not good enough for you, take the drive to a recycling operation with a drive shredder and watch your drive get shredded. This is only for the truly paranoid, many governments, and people trying to destroy evidence of criminality.
12 • Destroying hard driver (by denflen on 2019-03-04 05:30:33 GMT from United States)
@11...I got nothing to add. You said it all! Why take chances?
13 • I would rather use it as a paper weight than throw a hard drive away. (by Roy on 2019-03-04 06:34:29 GMT from United States)
I mean they stack real easy and don't take up much space.
14 • Destroying HDD (by zephyr on 2019-03-04 06:57:23 GMT from United States)
When it comes time to dispose of a hard drive use my BBQ grill, heat at approx 400F for 30 minutes does the job, no way of salvaging data. Have only done this a couple of times for a daily driver, others just toss.
15 • the shredder (by tonight i dine on turtle soup on 2019-03-04 07:21:59 GMT from Sweden)
@11 Everything you didn't drill a hole through is recoverable. Much easier, and far less effort, to run shred/dd over it once or twice.
The Arch Wiki has a good section on hdd wiping:
Worth noting that SSD/flash drives are a different kettle of fish to traditional spinning disk hdds. Manufacturer "secure erase" functions have been shown to be buggy, btw.
Personally, I dd random data, then dd zeros, then open up the physical drive (grab some TORX screwdrivers on ebay for a pittance) and dispose of the individual platters week by week in my municipal garbage pickup.
Paranoid? lol yes. But it's fun to play super spy (if it was boring you wouldn't be reading this! Caught you!) and flex my technical know-how/pull machines apart.
Before anyone mentions a full guttman 35, Guttman himself has said it's overkill on modern deivces:
16 • the shredder (by tonight i dine on turtle soup on 2019-03-04 07:25:01 GMT from Sweden)
sorry, than lust like for Guymann should have been
17 • Removing data from old hard drives (by Someguy on 2019-03-04 07:50:15 GMT from United Kingdom)
I use an assembler listing under debug. Just a dozen simple lines to type, couple of minutes, works every time. I run it under DOS from a floppy disc on an old chassis. Hands up all those who subscribe to the misguided view that the floppy drive is/was dead! If you're suspicious about infiltration of your data, why not suspicious of a trade determined to sell you stuff you don't need? Why aren't schools teaching assembler instead of how to type a Word document? Someone's got to programme at bit level !
18 • Arch Linux installers (by M. Edward (Ed) Borasky on 2019-03-04 08:17:45 GMT from United States)
I've tried most of the "Arch made easy" distros and I've pretty much settled on ArcoLinuxD plus my own bash scripts. ArcoLinux is a fascinating project. It started out as a fork of ArchLabs, but now they're a combination Arch wrapper and online course in the Arch way.
Before ArcoLinux I was mostly running Antergos. Every so often one of their monthly releases was broken and I'd end up going to an older one. But they have their own installer, and ArcoLinux uses Calamares.
19 • Condres (by Dennis on 2019-03-04 08:28:31 GMT from New Zealand)
I had a bit better experience than the review test. Installed the Cinnamon version on a small laptop and it does get updates, but sonn little things break. Octopi's icon in the bottom panel vanished at some point. It works. Its an Arch (Like Ubuntu or Mint are a Debian). But soon either Manjaro or Mint are going to go back onto that little laptop - a spare that goes places if I have a quick presentation or something.
Disks - someplace in several crates around the garage, must lurk some drives. One problem I do have is some encrypted backup CDs I made back under Win98(?) - and I can't even offhand recall the name of the software. Problem is to crack them open to retrieve the data. Any tips? Tools in Kali or Parrot?
20 • HDD erace (by cholo on 2019-03-04 08:31:29 GMT from Canada)
If It's still useable I just run D-Ban and then format.
21 • Hard drive end-of-life (by John Gray on 2019-03-04 09:16:25 GMT from United Kingdom)
@#1 Tux Raider
I am not sure of the logic of comparing the relative speed of [Windows 10 with a conventional spinning-disk hard drive] and [a Linux distribution on an SSD]. In my experience WIndows 10 on an SSD starts up within seconds. ANYTHING using an SSD starts within seconds!
Re-imaging WIndows 10 to an SSD can usually be done within an hour.
In the EU and thus the UK (still) we have a protocol called WEEE. "The European Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE) applies to a wide range of electronic and electrical products. WEEE encourages the collection, treatment, recycling and recovery of waste electrical and electronic equipment."
It can take many hours to securely erase the contents of a hard drive by writing data to it, perhaps performing several passes. Our local WEEE recycler quite justifiably considers it an utter waste of computer time to erase any hard drive, so sends them (securely) to a certified metals recovery firm which puts the disk drives into an industrial shredder (yes!) which turns the drive into, well, shreds! Precious metals and base metals are then recovered from what is produced.
22 • Removing data from old hard drives (by Jim on 2019-03-04 09:49:37 GMT from United States)
If the computer was done for, I destroy the hard drive. If the computer still had usefulness, I wiped it with DBAN (Darik's Boot And Nuke) usually at least twice. It does take some time.
23 • TLP (by jan on 2019-03-04 10:01:47 GMT from Poland)
Between 2010 - 2015 I had TLP running OK in Xubuntu on my Think Pad. Since 2015 I use Lenovo Z70-80 running Xubuntu and since kernel 4.15 I stopped using TLP, as it seems that the Linux kernel itself can now take good care of the energy management tasks. I found that since 4.17 power management (processor (i7) and battery life) have improved, and my laptop works practically noiselessly. So could anybody tell me if is there is still any meritin using TLP with the most recent kernels today?
24 • RE:"Hard drive end-of-life" @#21 (by Tux Raider on 2019-03-04 10:04:52 GMT from United States)
i wont throw the drive away, it still useful for data storage, i will use it to store source code and compiled packages, movies and music, videos of various types, and i have a large collection of old radio shows from the 1920's through the 1950s, before television was common people would sit and listen to radio programs
and as far as windows-10 goes, i dont want it, its too big bloated and it spys on its users, windows 10 is basically a spammy marketing tool disguised as an operating system, microsoft does not respect people's privacy they are basically as immoral as facebook
25 • Condres (by Tim on 2019-03-04 10:19:40 GMT from United States)
Thanks for doing a review of Condres, I’ve been curious for a while. I’m completely happy with Ubuntu MATE but I’d love to have a similar experience with multiple base distros just for curiosity or if something ever changes drastically and makes me want to hop again. Hopefully they can sort out these early bugs!
26 • Wiping data (by RTL on 2019-03-04 11:18:53 GMT from Hungary)
I don't get why using any of these methods are better than simply deleting them (only the file allocation table is deleted?), or overwriting the whole thing with /dev/null. Does it actually overwrite the whole thing multiple times, so not even a single memory of past data remain?
27 • RE:#26 Wiping Data (by Tux Raider on 2019-03-04 11:42:14 GMT from United States)
i agree, those disk wiping tools are just overkill just delete and create the partition table and make a new partition & filesystem which takes less than a minute and nobody is going to find anything from the previous partition,
28 • if you are really paranoid about your data (by Tux Raider on 2019-03-04 11:50:00 GMT from United States)
you can always get a plasma cutter or an acetylene cutting torch and turn those drives in to slag, or bury them in the ground and planet a tree over it
or do this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7sATeFlLk-Y
29 • Condres OS (by Calogero on 2019-03-04 11:55:37 GMT from Italy)
@25 @Jesse Smith Thanks to the reporting of Jesse Smith we have solved the problem concerning octopi. Thanks also to those who tested Condres and noticed the error of the encrypted partitions that did not start at boot. Finally we have solved the annoying bugs concerning the condres-control-center that required the root password to access, of course, just press cancel until we have released the new iso images. Here the announcement https://condresos.codelinsoft.it/index.php/blog/stable-update-2019-02-23-kernels-browsers-cryptsetup
30 • destroying data (by MikeOh Shark on 2019-03-04 12:12:33 GMT from Ukraine)
At my former employer, we had a PC with an open side just for deleting data on hard drives. I'd boot from a floppy with the hard drive installed as the only hard drive. I'd let it run all week while it wrote all zeros, all ones, alternate 0 and 1 then 1 and 0, etc.
The employer instituted a destroy hard drive ISO policy. They required crushing hard drives in a vise, then opening the case, grinding the platters, etc.
When they closed our location, leaving 100+ computers to dispose of, they ignored their own policies and just reformatted each PC with a reinstall of Windows (whichever version came with the PC).
My take, destruction of data takes secondary concern to the desire to get a few bucks for used hardware when executives make the decision instead of IT people. :(
31 • What criminal organizations do you guys work for anyway? (by CS on 2019-03-04 12:58:20 GMT from United States)
Only governments have the resources to recover data that has been securely deleted using any of the wiki pages cited. Even the stupid "Just Reinstall Windows" method mentioned is going to make it unlikely anyone would bother rolling the dice to see if they get something good. Nobody cares about your porn stash. There are easier ways for Russians to get credit card numbers. If you do have a hard drive with state secrets, hand it over to your dedicated security department for secure disposal.
If you're running Silk Road -- maybe secure deletion is for you. But the feds will take great pains to capture your system while it's powered on. The story of how they snagged that guy's laptop in the library is a good read.
32 • erasing hard drive with dd (by Mark on 2019-03-04 13:27:05 GMT from United Kingdom)
Surely, if you write all zeros to a hard drive (using dd if=/dev/zero) then isn't that enough? If anyone looks on the drive all they'll find is zeros. (Perhaps not so with SSDs, but with spinning disks.) Or am I missing something? Has anyone ever recovered files from a zeroed-out disk?
33 • Data on hard drives, sticky notes, refrigerator magnets, calendars, napkins.. (by Jordan on 2019-03-04 13:54:33 GMT from United States)
..wet concrete, etc.
So what do I never want other people to see? My passwords have always been long, random nonsense mixes of everything on the keyboard. I don't care who knows my address and phone number as I used a white list for incoming calls and my number and address are in the phone book anyway.
Ummm... drilling holes through old hard drives? What are you guys putting on your hard drives.
34 • erasing hard drives (by Rick on 2019-03-04 14:03:37 GMT from United States)
DBAN when at clients since I can boot, execute and leave within 5 minutes. What they do after not my concern. Alternative, disassemble in 15 minutes, they get the platter, I get the magnets. The rest, not my concern.
As for how good is just writing zero's? I kind of agree with @31. It takes expensive resources to overcome rewriting, drilling holes, BBQ. It can be done, but who is going to bother.
35 • secure delete (by Friar Tux on 2019-03-04 14:05:44 GMT from Canada)
I've only done this twice so far but I love using Mjolnir and a steel plate. (I have a sledge hammer with a short 'regular' hammer handle I call Mjolnir (the name of Thor's hammer) After two or three good whacks 'ain't nobody gonna read dat ting'.
36 • Drive Disposal (by Linux G on 2019-03-04 14:27:22 GMT from United States)
We went to the local tool store and purchased about $400 worth of tools and built our own pneumatic drive pulverizer. The federal specs for my industry requires drive pulverization and the requirements are pretty unbelievable, but our new machine is very consistent and works well. It might not be instant, but its definitely faster then waiting 2 days for a drive eraser to do its job. Also, it might not be free, but considering what the recyclers wanted to do the job, well we saved $ on the very first use.
37 • RE: 33. i agree (by Tux Raider on 2019-03-04 14:32:58 GMT from United States)
passwords, or credit card numbers, you would be surprised what browser profile data will hold, identity theft is possible with the data left in browser profiles, i dont let go of hard drives, i will use them either for redundant data storage or if they quit working i will open them up and take out the magnets.
38 • phone (by dogma on 2019-03-04 15:29:06 GMT from United States)
I sure hope the pinephone effort turns out well.
I’ve been following the librem 5 somewhat as well, but it’s a lot of money, and so much of purism’s communication has been so shallow, self-loving, and marketing-led that it has left me with a bad taste.
39 • ddrescue (by David on 2019-03-04 16:11:32 GMT from United States)
For in-house re-use of non-super-sensitive data: #ddrescue /dev/zero /dev/sdX ddrescue.log
ddrescue's big advantage: Even on drives with bad sectors this will zero out the good sectors. Many other tools just quit on the first error.
If the drive is old or failing, ddrescue as above then disassemble the drive then recycle the parts. Sure, any professional cleanroom could probably recover data from sectors ddrescue didn't touch and the FBI might be able to recover even more, but that's okay.
For drives with super-sensitive data: Sorry, I'm not cleared to discuss that matter here.
I also use ddrescue for its intended purpose of making a reasonably fast "best effort" sector-copy of drives with bad sectors.
40 • Removing data from old hard drives (by Laura on 2019-03-04 16:37:53 GMT from United States)
I generally use shred and then perhaps dd. After that I find that drilling through the drive a couple of times then beating it with a 5# hammer is satisfying on many levels. Makes me feel well vented!
41 • encrypted disks (by r on 2019-03-04 17:13:23 GMT from Netherlands)
Most harddrives i have are encrypted just in case i get burgled. But when i do want to re-purpose a harddrive, i simply `dd` it with /dev/zero, then reformat it. As the drives are already encrypted with LUKS, they don't really need to be wiped as such.
42 • badblocks Has Been Deprecated (by donnie on 2019-03-04 17:28:25 GMT from United States)
Hey, Jesse. Just so you'll know, the "badblocks" page that you referenced is for Red Hat Enterprise 4, which is ancient. Nowadays, badblocks has been deprecated, due to its inability to work with modern large-capacity hard drives. Here's the reference:
43 • Drive wiping (by dragonmouth on 2019-03-04 17:31:04 GMT from United States)
I refurbish PCs for fun and profit. Of the 100 or so PCs I've played with ONLY ONE had its Hard drive destroyed with percussive maintenance. All the other HDs were not destroyed, or wiped, or encrypted. I found all kinds of data - personal, financial, medical, music, all kinds of porno, legal and illegal. Had I wished, I could have made a lot of money from blackmail or identity theft. What I read in these posts and what I see out in the wild just does not jibe.
44 • Removing data from old hard drives... (by Vukota on 2019-03-04 18:00:10 GMT from Serbia)
@11 and @40 describes my process very well. If I have working computer where I can plug drive, I use process as @40, if not I use just @11.
On top of that, I use hard drive encryption on some drives and then I am not so paranoid.
What I have secret on drives? At minimum passwords/logins, CC#s, SN#s, bank accounts, other confidential numbers. On top of that I may have customer's data that is not supposed to get leaked. So yes, I take good care of these and sleep well at night. Anyone who thinks I am paranoid is naive and doesn't know how easy is to get your confidential data.
45 • Old Drives (by M.Z. on 2019-03-04 18:07:05 GMT from United States)
I generally agree with @31, and have most of my old drives sitting in a tucked away location. By the time I'm done with them they are generally too small to be of any value, though I may use them to make a backup of stuff. And of course there is no secret information on them. If I had gigabytes of .LAS files that could be processed into info about emergency management centers, the space center, or military bases it would be one thing, but I left all the important LiDAR data I've worked on with their source. Who is really dying for old term papers so much they'll break in & swipe a few old drives?
The reality is a bit more like the old XKCD on security:
It's especially relevant if you mouse over the image & check the tooltip. :)
46 • week review - ICE (by Christian on 2019-03-04 18:58:15 GMT from Brazil)
"Personally this is not a feature I find useful"
ICE comes from the best overall distro available (IMO) - Peppermint OS. I find it is very useful, actually, I consider it to be a killer feature. I can't believe there are so many distros out there and so few take advantage of that incredible tool.
I use it, for example, with WhatsApp and Trello. They work just as like native applications, much easier to alt-tab then going through open tabs. Even better, if you're using ICE with firefox, each "app" work within a firefox container, adding a bonus privacy "feature".
ICE is way better to use then those electron apps.
47 • Old Hard Drives (by Andy Figueroa on 2019-03-04 21:18:33 GMT from United States)
They make cute clocks with the cover off.
48 • Hard Drive Destruction (by Ron on 2019-03-04 21:28:01 GMT from United States)
I remove the Drive's disk platters and install onto my angle grinder instead of sandpaper. Much better than 0000 sandpaper!
49 • HDD (by John on 2019-03-04 22:12:46 GMT from Australia)
dd + Drill + Fire
50 • miyo (by lean&mean on 2019-03-05 00:49:09 GMT from United States)
so glad my daily driver, light weight MIYO has been added to wait list...highly customizable, with deb pkg mgmt and sysV, it is WAY more stable than some distros on the active list. mine with openbox idles around 160mb ram. try it...
51 • Miyo & Mx18 (by bobtron on 2019-03-05 01:37:59 GMT from United States)
Greetings & G'day @50 I agree...I have been running MIYO and it works well running installed on USB memory stick also i like MX18.1 full install (I liked Antix and MX since 14)...working well..daily driver dittos (me too)..TNX
52 • Destroy data (by Dhoni on 2019-03-05 04:15:25 GMT from Indonesia)
Using DD is fast end easy.. and a big plus is i can sell old drive of some money..
53 • Removing data from old hard drives (by Newby on 2019-03-05 05:14:14 GMT from Canada)
@10 Andy Prough - Thanks. Using that search term provided the answers I was looking for, although no reference to the original research paper and eye-pattern overwriting.
@48 Ron - That's the spirit! As per my comment 05, if you remove the platters (just takes a few minutes) and grind away the magnetic coating, there's nothing left on the platter to read (by ANY method). The resulting magnetic dust will just be a powder with a random magnetic distribution better than any encryption method, with the added benefit there is no hope of EVER reassembling the particles in a readable form short of inventing a working time reverser.
Re the software solutions given, the theoretical weakness is, if you don't overwrite each track multiple times, there is a "guard tolerance" on both sides of each track, and yes, with some determination, you MIGHT be able to recover SOME data, even if the track has been overwritten. The supposed advantage of hdparm's secure delete, is the eye-pattern delete sweeps the head across the width of the track (from guard band to guard band) controlled by the firmware. This way you don't need to do a gazillion overwrites.
If you are dealing with enterprise or government level data (containing legal, medical, financial data, etc), you have to be paranoid and respect the users data and privacy (ignoring for this example cases of corporate/Facebook-style abuse). Of course, some of the OTHER methods mentioned seem to be way more fun. Just wondering if we couldn't modify the catapult we use to fire clay pigeons for skeet and trap shooting, to fling hard drives instead. Those platters would also make good reflectors for mirror telescopes (except you need the hole in the middle to be on the front element, not the rear reflector). If you can't use them for scopes, they do make handy emergency signalling mirrors to include in your "bug-out" survival kit. A little creative use of a grinder can also turn them into oriental style weapons. Stick a platter over each ear and replace a "tin hat". Stick one over each eye, and look like that creature from the TV show The Outer Limits (Actually, the prop department probably resorted to sticking a poached egg over each of the actor's eyes for that effect). As usual, trying to have fun with a "serious" subject is just going to get me in more trouble....(first sign of the dreaded, uncurable "computeritis")
54 • Removing That Data (by Pierre on 2019-03-05 05:30:32 GMT from Australia)
with the HDDs getting even more capacity,
& it's now taking too long to securely erase anything,
unless you are an big company / Gov't Dept. ..
the drill some hole(s) is the quickest method,
as anything too physical is too much effort,, like smashing things.
- an vice is easier to do, if you have no drill available.
55 • Removing Data From HDD (by Paul on 2019-03-05 10:37:32 GMT from Iceland)
I use one of the best solutions available for mechanical drives to remove any and all data.
Several passes over the platters with an industrial magnet takes cares of the problems permanently. And you do not need to disassemble the drives. It works for all storage devices including tape.
As a side note of interest, I found an old DOS based PC in my attic that has a Colorado Tape Backup Unit installed. I also found one of my old tapes stored in my closet, inserted it, and discovered that the entire backup was intact. No data has been lost.
AMAZING! Especially considering since it has been almost thirty years since the backup was made!
56 • What I see out in the wild (by Jim on 2019-03-05 11:15:08 GMT from United States)
@ Dragonmouth While I totally believe what you are finding, I am guessing the people who post on Distrowatch are not your average computer users and worry a lot more about privacy and security than your average Windows user. That might explain the difference you are seeing?
57 • Archival Qualities of Tape (by EarlyBird on 2019-03-05 12:34:20 GMT from Canada)
@55 Paul Your experience with tape backup is rather remarkable.
The entertainment industry is having trouble with archival media footage (both audio and video) suffering the effects of time. Even in light-tight, temperature/humidity controlled storage, film fades and cracks, and the binder on magnetic tape holding the magnetic particles to the polymer base crumbles away. There has been some urgency about backing up some of these priceless artifacts before they disappear from history forever. At least in the case of analog recordings, even with some deterioration, they may be playable, and some restoration may be possible.
What is even MORE remarkable in your case, is you are dealing with data tapes (digital media) and still have readable media after all that time. When you are dealing with only bits ( 1's and 0's), any loss can have dramatic deleterious results. Tape stretching is a common problem for digital tape backup.
Re using an industrial degausser to wipe drives, you might remember that movie "The Philadelphia Experiment" where degaussing a naval vessel led to the makings of an interesting sci-fi move. One can only imagine where your bits might end up (both digital, and anatomical!).
At least with one poster's suggestion of using an angle grinder, you might lose some digits (whichever definition you apply), but they won't end up all over the universe (or perhaps an alternate one at that).
58 • MIYO (by raon on 2019-03-05 12:45:55 GMT from United States)
Like @50 & 51, gotta say that I like the idea of getting MIYO here, because after stumbling on it about 6 months ago, my distro hopping has seriously taken a hit - as pretty much the only other flavors I've even looked at are variations of MIYO. Prevoiusly I was a Mepis/MX guy, who just liked to look around. (Ok, I looked at MX18, and still think it IS the top dog distro out there.)
The only thing that gives me pause, is that MIYO is a one man show, with support limited to a Devuan forum, and the rest of the internet. That said, since it worked pretty much OTB, there wasn't the need for much hand holding on my end. Your usage may vary. I use the openbox version, and having worked with Helium and Trisquel (2 other really nice spins) before arriving, I found MIYO to be very stable, well behaved, and best of all - populated with just the very basic of software (not even a web browser) and the apt/synaptic duo so I could add the software I use, without the hassle of removing all the software I don't want.
I give it a 9.5/10 - the .5 hit from the one-man show pause mentioned earlier.
59 • #57 Tape Degredation (by Paul on 2019-03-05 12:50:26 GMT from Iceland)
I agree with you, especially with archival movie footage. Accept that in the case of classic Hollywood movies and other worldwide historical recordings, the materials used in tape production back in the day had a type of silver oxide or related coatings that were not known to the creators to erode over time, especially since many of those were stored in damp leaky movie lot vaults.
There is an entire group of professionals and scientists working with the major museums and universities trying to save as many of those recordings.
The Criterion Collection is available on the Internet for anyone interested in historical preservation. The Library of Congress, The Smithsonian Institution are others working on historical preservation.
My backup tapes were sealed in a nice container and secure from moisture, uv light, temp fluctuations, etc. My Father was an Audio Professional in his day and has reel to reel tape recordings that still play beautifully since they were recorded in the 1970's. Tape is flaky at best but stored properly, can last far beyond what one might believe.
60 • Law enforcement (by Tim on 2019-03-05 17:44:42 GMT from United States)
If you came across illegal pornography as part of your work as a computer recycler, I'd hope your first reaction would be to preserve all the data to give to law enforcement, to help any victims. This would be the right thing to do and the law in many jurisdictions.
61 • @60: (by dragonmouth on 2019-03-05 21:53:52 GMT from United States)
I'm not a lawyer, LEO or a priest so I do not know the difference between legal and illegal porn. I just refurbish PCs. Since all the drives i come across contain some version of Windows, I assume they are full of malware so I reformat all of them.
62 • Condres OS (by silent on 2019-03-05 22:01:24 GMT from Hungary)
Arch Linux is a cutting edge distro. So any distro based on it is still a cutting edge as long as it is using the official Arch repos. It cannot really be beginner friendly as the system may break sometimes bacause of using the latest version of almost everything.
63 • Tape Degredation (by EarlyBird on 2019-03-06 03:19:21 GMT from Canada)
@59 Paul - If I recall correctly, early tapes used ferric oxide particles held to a film base by a binder. The industry changed over to a polymer base which was far more stable, and there were gradual improvements in the binder (glue?) that held the ferric oxide to the base.
These were the glory days of audio recording with reel-to-reel tape decks being king. You probably remember names like Studor-Revox, Tandburg, Denon, etc.
When audio cassettes, with their narrower tape and slower speed came along, efforts were made to improve noise performance and dynamic range. This included the development of Dolby noise reduction, and improved tape formulations. So the standard ferric oxide tape was designated Type I, the improved Chromium-Oxide (CrO2) tapes Type II, Type 3 was a non-factor in the market, and finally "Metal" tape Type IV.
Silver is not magnetic, so never a factor in the market. The deterioration was related to the base, the binder, moisture absorption, particle separation, stretching, etc.
When the first PC's arrived (Clive-Sinclair, BBC-micro, Apple, Atari, Commodore, and even before then, the hobbyist ones featured on magazine covers like Radio-Electronics), along came the joys of tape-backup and a lifetime waiting for a program to load.
Anyway, sounds like you have some great childhood memories of your father's work.
Trivia question: Before actual tape, we had "wire" recorders dating back to WWII. But we had Hollywood movies WITH sound predating WWII. We know those movies were recorded on film (originally nitrocellulose which was rather unstable.....), but how did they record the sound on those movies? Between the period of silent movies and WWII, tape recorders did not exist.
Disclaimer: My own memory cells are starting to "degrade" with time. Can't be absolutely certain everything above is 100% correct. Going by memory, not Wikipedia (sorta like that ad "Is it Memorex or is it Ella?")
Sorry if this is off-topic, but life did exist before computers and operating systems.
64 • Destroy BEFORE creation (no, really) (by Bill Davidsen on 2019-03-06 04:36:44 GMT from United States)
Because it is really impossible to clean AFTER a bad block, start with a random over the full drive, and install with encryption to either all (including swap) or at least anything other than public partitions. Now if something bets bad that the bad guys with hardware readers will still see no open bytes.
65 • Data in recycled hard drives (by Alburgheiro on 2019-03-06 05:11:42 GMT from Russian Federation)
@60 and @61
The question is, if a company or individual are given a PC to be refurbished, are they legally entitled to search through the data?
And, if it is legal, is it also ethical? What would their clients think if they learned that the company they entrusted with the recycling of their equipment is peeping through their data?
66 • destroy hard disk data (by zykoda on 2019-03-06 16:21:20 GMT from United Kingdom)
Normal software designed to read/write/overwrite/purge "data" to/from hard drives and run under "normal" operating conditions is no guarantee that all traces of "data" are irrecoverable. There will always be some level of historic magnetisation left on the platters, recoverable by other techniques. Just look at the historic magnetism of the sea floor rocks throughout the last 200 millions years which provides a virtual calender of events. Platters would need to be run through hysteresis cycles of varying magnitude to render the "data" unusable or they must be destroyed by high temperatures or physically.
67 • Destroy Hard Drive Data (by Bob on 2019-03-06 18:08:37 GMT from United States)
I can't believe that no mentioned HDparm.
That and BadBlocks...
68 • Data Destruction (by Simon Plaistowe on 2019-03-06 21:07:40 GMT from Australia)
To securely erase an entire hard-drive, I use shred. Usually those are old drives recovered from dead machines obtained from other people for use as parts.
For periodically wiping free space on my working machines, I use BleachBit. Considering I'm not harbouring any world-changing secrets, it's enough I think.
69 • Gparted (by Roger on 2019-03-07 22:17:11 GMT from Belgium)
I just empty the HD's with Gparted and put a NTFS partition or Linux Mint on them.
All of my friends have no idea how to find data back and they always ask me to do it, so no problem for me.
70 • Encrypted drive for sensitive files (by Dxvid on 2019-03-08 08:55:52 GMT from Sweden)
I prefer having some kind of full disk encryption if I intend to have sensitive files on a computer. Various erasure methods will only help if you yourself choose to throw away your hard drives, while full disk encryption will also help against thieves and/or spies or curious people.
If you want extra security when getting rid of encrypted drives you can also remove keys or overwrite the whole disk multiple times with various tools. Encryption only protects content for a limited time, sometime in the future it will be possible to brute force any encryption. Using AES256, RSA 4k and other popular encryption algorithms only protects content for a few years or decades depending on the power of future computers, or days to years on specialised decryption ASICs depending on key strengths and algorithms. But full disk encryption will help against common thiefs and curious people for many years, possibly decades, so it's definitely worth using it.
71 • Dismounting is easy and much safer. (by Marden S. Santana on 2019-03-08 14:21:15 GMT from Brazil)
I like the of magnet of HD's, dismount to extract and destroy the disk.
Number of Comments: 71
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