| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 805, 11 March 2019
Welcome to this year's 10th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
Every once in a while a distribution comes along and introduces a new concept or a new approach to a solution and it makes things so much easier that it causes a shift in the way people deal with their computers. EasyOS may be making such a stride forward in its unusually streamlined and integrated use of containers. EasyOS integrates setting up containers with package management and makes it unusually simple to set up sandboxed applications. Our Feature Story talks more about this remarkable, experimental distribution and its features. In our Questions and Answers column we talk about managing background services and how to automatically start desktop applications. We follow this up by asking about automatically launched applications in our Opinion Poll. Plus, this week we talk about what to do with machine IDs, the Haiku developers introducing desktop polish and filesystem fixes to their operating system. We also report on Feren OS moving its package repository, and Ubuntu Studio's status as an official Ubuntu community flavour. Plus we are pleased to report on the releases of the past week and list the torrents we are seeding. We wish you all a terrific week and happy reading!
- Review: EasyOS 1.0
- News: Devuan team debates machine ID file, Haiku improves desktop features and file system support, Feren OS changes repository servers, Ubuntu Studio considers its relationship with Ubuntu
- Questions and answers: Managing services and start-up applications
- Released last week: Ubuntu 14.04.6, Pardus 17.5, SparkyLinux 5.7
- Torrent corner: Alpine, Antergos, antiX, Berry, Exe, ExTiX, Pardus, ReactOS, Sparky, Ubuntu, Ubuntu Kylin, Yunohost
- Upcoming releases: SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 SP1 RC2
- Opinion poll: Automatically starting applications
- New distributions: HexagonOS, Olean Linux
- Reader comments
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (19MB) and MP3 (15MB) formats.
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
I was in the mood to try something different this week and found myself reading a list of features that separate EasyOS from other Linux distributions. EasyOS is an experimental distribution and more likely to appeal to people who like to tinker or experiment with features than someone who wants a stable system for day-to-day use. This week an experimental approach was exactly what I wanted so I downloaded EasyOS 1.0 to give it a spin.
EasyOS was created by Barry Kauler and will probably look familiar to you if you have used a member of the Puppy Linux family of distributions. EasyOS has a similar desktop, many of the same tools and even makes the same barking sound when the desktop loads. As the project's website states:
Barry Kauler created Puppy Linux in 2003, turned it over to the 'Puppy community' in 2013. It is only natural that a lot of 'puppyisms' can be found in Easy, though, it must be stated that Easy is also very different, and should not be thought of as a fork of Puppy. Inherited features include the JWM-ROX desktop, menu-hierarchy, run-as-root, SFS layered filesystem, PET packages, and dozens of apps developed for Puppy.
The features which caught my attention were focused on containers, lightweight environments isolated from the main operating system. The project's website does a nice job of explaining this: "EasyOS is designed from scratch to support containers. Any app can run in a container, in fact an entire desktop can run in a container. Container management is by a simple GUI, no messing around on the command line. The container mechanism is named Easy Containers, and is designed from scratch (Docker, LXC, etc are not used). Easy Containers are extremely efficient, with almost no overhead -- the base size of each container is only several KB."
What this means, for the user, is we can run a web browser or e-mail client inside an isolated environment. If a malicious actor manages to take over our application, they can only affect things inside the container. All of my files and applications outside of the container remain unaffected. I can open a container, create new files, delete folders and, when the container is shutdown, all of my changes are wiped clean; it's like my actions inside the container never happened. Now that we have covered the theory, let's see how it works in practice.
EasyOS 1.0 -- Introduction to the operating system
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My trial with EasyOS got off to a rough start. I tried booting the operating system in a VirtualBox virtual machine and ran into a kernel panic right away. I could not get the system to finish its boot process.
EasyOS 1.0 -- The welcome window with settings
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I then switched over to running EasyOS on a laptop. The system booted, showed me its JWM-ROX desktop, which looks and acts almost exactly like earlier versions of Puppy Linux I have tried. Once the desktop loads, a welcome window appears giving us a chance to customize our time zone, language and screen resolution. We are also given the chance to enable a firewall. A new window then opened giving me a general overview of the project and showing me a diagram of the desktop with explanations of what the various components do.
As the diagram shows, many key applications and two package managers can be launched from desktop icons. More programs, in a variety of categories, can be opened through the application menu in the bottom-left corner of the screen, or via right-clicking on the desktop. The diagram shows us where the application menu is, the icon we need to click to install new application bundles and we are shown that the icons with locks in their upper-left corners are containerized programs.
EasyOS 1.0 -- An introduction to the desktop
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The main reason I was trying out EasyOS was to experiment with its custom container technology. I find containers are often useful, particularly when used to isolate desktop programs which need to process data from untrusted sources. Web browsers especially are popular targets and isolating them to prevent a hijacked browser from damaging or infecting the rest of the operating system is useful.
Containers on EasyOS seem to be set up to be used in one of two ways: running a single application in a container sandbox, or running an entire desktop environment in a sandbox. Clicking an icon for a contained application opens it on the desktop and the application works as we would normally expect. However, the application is limited in that it cannot see processes running outside its container and cannot create files outside of its own container.
EasyOS 1.0 -- Running a web browser and terminal in containers
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While contained individual applications will probably be useful for virtually everyone, I found the contained desktop environment more intriguing. Clicking the Easy icon on the desktop opens a new, full-screen desktop environment that has been trimmed down to include a handful of desktop icons and the application menu, but without the option to logout or shutdown the system. This pristine desktop allows us to open programs, create files, delete directories, browse the web and transfer files between computers. We can do all of this without affecting files or processes in the rest of the operating system, it gives us an entire desktop environment in a sandbox that gets wiped clean when we are done with it.
Something I really like about the contained desktop is that we can switch out of it at any time, returning to the main desktop, by pressing Alt+F6. Then we can hop back into the contained desktop by clicking its icon on the task switcher. In other words, the contained desktop acts a lot like a full screen application we can switch to or away from as needed.
EasyOS 1.0 -- Running a complete desktop in a container
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This approach to running an isolated desktop that can have its own icons, wallpaper and files makes me think this type of container would be well suited to privacy-focused distributions such as Tails. Especially if different contained desktops could be made to look like other, mainstream operating systems.
The only problem I faced while using containers came when, at one point, I accidentally launched the contained desktop twice. (It was a slip of the mouse-button finger.) Unfortunately, it seems that having two contained desktops open at the same time meant I could not switch out of the isolated environment using the Alt+F6 short-cut. Since we cannot logout of the container and the container cannot (as far as I can tell) kill its own process, there was no way to get back to the regular desktop. The best I could do was switch to a command line terminal (using Ctrl+Alt+F2) and trying to shutdown the container from there. This makes me think the desktop container could use a "sign out/destroy container" icon.
EasyOS ships with two graphical package managers, PETget and SFSget for managing the distribution's PET and SFS archives, respectively. Now, to be honest I have not done a lot of digging into the technical details of what makes up a PET package and what makes up a SFS package. However, PET packages seem to work and be managed like traditional packages on Debian, Fedora and Arch Linux. The packages reside in a repository with their dependencies and installing an application, like Firefox, optionally pulls in its dependencies too as separate packages. SFS packages are bundled with their dependencies internally. And, instead of being unpacked and installed on the system, SFS archives appear to be mounted so their contents can be accessed and run. This makes SFS archives portable and self-supporting. (I may be off on the details, but these are my impressions from using both formats are reading the provided overview on EasyOS's website.)
EasyOS 1.0 -- The PETget and SFSget package managers
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The PETget package manager has a fairly simple layout. It shows us categories of software down the left side of the window and package names with descriptions on the right. We can highlight a package and click a button to install the software and, optionally, its dependencies. This is fairly straight forward and, apart from asking us if we want the dependencies, PETget works about the same as package managers on other distributions. What puts a twist into the experience is PETget has a couple of filters. One which determines which types of packages to show and another which filters PETs based on which repository they are in. There does not appear to be a way to show packages across all repositories.
These filter options at first made me think there were very few PET packages available, but then I realized I had to switch between repositories, like flipping TV channels, in order to see all of what was available in a given category. This makes PET packages a little cumbersome to work with, but I will admit PETget worked for me without any technical issues.
SFSget, while it offers fewer packages, provided the more interesting experience. With SFSget, we can browse through a simple list of packages, paired with their descriptions. Selecting a package and clicking the Download button grabs the SFS archive and then offers to install it either on the main operating system, in its own container, or in an existing container. To me this is the intriguing part because it means we can completely isolate a game or web browser in its own container, or dump it into another container to be used with another isolated program.
EasyOS 1.0 -- Installing Chromium in a container
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In effect, we can build multi-program containers to keep our tasks separate. For instance, I might want to run Chromium and a word processor in one container for work while I run Firefox and a terminal in another container for personal use. This allows us to keep aspects of our lives separate, a bit like Qubes OS does, but with very little overhead and no noticeable impact on performance.
I was a big fan of SFS packages inside containers. Partly because I like using sandboxing technology (such as Firejail) for Internet-facing programs, but EasyOS has taken it a step further. I do not need to manually set up launchers for container programs or do manual work to isolate specific programs. EasyOS allows me to just click a button to contain applications and it automatically adds the contained application's icon to the desktop and application menu. It is a very smooth experience.
One of EasyOS's declared features is "GUIs for everything", the idea that everything can be managed through graphical tools. The distribution does a good job of living up to this goal. Apart from the standard applications such as the Seamonkey web browser, LibreOffice, some media players (with codecs), the GNU Image Manipulation Program, text editors, and so on, the distribution also offers a lot of configuration tools.
EasyOS 1.0 -- Browsing a list of applications
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I found tools for working with the mouse and keyboard, setting up network connections, adjusting the clock, changing window manager settings, and monitoring system resources. With a few clicks we can mount drives, enable a firewall, download new packages, and set up shared network resources such as printers. Virtually everything can be handled through graphical applications. Some of the utilities are a little rough in appearance (people might say they have a classic look), and many of the tools are different from their mainstream Linux counterparts. However, all of the ones I used worked as expected.
EasyOS runs on version 4.14 of the Linux kernel and uses low-level userland tools provided by Busybox. The Busybox package is used for the distribution's init implementation.
EasyOS 1.0 -- Connecting to a network
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Hardware and performance
As I mentioned earlier, I ran into trouble getting EasyOS to run in a virtual machine. The distribution ran smoothly on my laptop though. The system booted quickly, the desktop was responsive and programs launched quickly. EasyOS played audio, connected to my wireless network and used my full screen resolution automatically. My trackpad was a little sluggish at first, but the distribution ships with configuration tools to customize virtually everything, including the mouse pointer. The distribution and its applications were stable during my trial and I ran into no hardware-related issues.
When I first began looking at EasyOS I was not sure what I was getting myself into this week. The project's documentation tends to be more focused on the technical wizardry of the distribution and less on the day-to-day practicalities. The documentation also warns EasyOS is in an development stage and users may have some problems as a result. I also thought I might be setting out to explore just a strange a remix of Puppy Linux since EasyOS also uses PET packages and many of the same technologies.
However, I came away from my experience with EasyOS feeling impressed. Partly because everything seemed to work well and blend together smoothly. The configuration tools all worked well, the application menu was arranged in a way that provided a lot of functionality without too much clutter, and the system was surprisingly responsive most of the time. But the crown jewel of EasyOS is the way it handles containers. On most distributions, containers are an add-on, an extra security feature we need to set up manually and often configure or run from the command line.
EasyOS provides an evolution in containers for desktop applications. Not only are some key components set up to run in containers by default, the package manager will offer to install applications into containers (either a fresh container or an existing one) with the click of a button. In the application menu, contained applications are marked with a little lock symbol. We do not need to use the command line or do any manual steps as we do with other sandboxes like Firejail. EasyOS containers are automatic and effective.
Inside a container we can create or delete anything and our actions are wiped clean, leaving no footprint on the host operating system. EasyOS will even let us run an entire guest desktop environment in isolation. This allows us (or a guest) to run as root inside a container, create files, download anything, and when we sign out, the whole contained desktop is wiped clean. It's a lot like guest accounts on Ubuntu, but the guest user gets to act as root in their own sandboxed environment.
Speaking of root, EasyOS takes the philosophy of running as root by default. We can change this, but we are signed in as root automatically by default for the sake of convenience. Some people see this as a security issue, only somewhat offset by the use of containers. Personally, while I am less worried about the security side of things (given the use of containers when browsing the web), I do get nervous when signed in as root as I am aware a wrong click or key combination could wipe out a partition or move a directory tree to the wrong location by accident. I prefer not to wield that level of power by default, at least not before noon.
EasyOS also shuns the idea that operating systems need to be installed locally. While it is possible to install EasyOS on its own partition, the more standard approach is to run a frugal install (allowing distributions to share a partition) or run the system live. The distribution is quite flexible in this regard, if somewhat unusual.
EasyOS may be experimental at this stage, but it is setting the bar higher for portable applications, at least from the point of view of being easy of use, and it is making containers easier than any other distribution I have used to date. I hope EasyOS's contained desktop applications migrate to other distributions as they have the potential to make users a lot safer with virtually no additional effort.
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Hardware used in this review
My physical test equipment for this review was a de-branded HP laptop with the following
- Processor: Intel i3 2.5GHz CPU
- Display: Intel integrated video
- Storage: Western Digital 700GB hard drive
- Memory: 6GB of RAM
- Wired network device: Realtek RTL8101E/RTL8102E PCI Express Fast
- Wireless network device: Realtek RTL8188EE Wireless network card
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Visitor supplied rating
EasyOS has a visitor supplied average rating of: 7.6/10 from 14 review(s).
Have you used EasyOS? You can leave your own review of the project on our ratings page.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
Devuan team debates machine ID file, Haiku improves desktop features and file system support, Feren OS changes repository servers, Ubuntu Studio considers its relationship with Ubuntu
A discussion has been opened up on the Devuan mailing lists concerning the topic of machine IDs. The FreeDesktop documentation indicates there should be a file (/etc/machine-id) on every Linux system which uniquely identifies the computer. While the documentation says the file should be considered confidential, it appears some applications, such as the Chromium web browser, may report an error if this file is not present. This has led some developers to question whether the unique identifier should be removed, for security purposes, or if it holds any value for administrators. Some have suggested the value should be randomized to prevent the file from being used to track Devuan users.
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The Haiku team was hard at work in February and the project's monthly newsletter highlights several significant improvements. The Haiku developers have improved performance in spawning new processes, multiple filesystems received code and stability fixes and there were several user interface enhancements: "Rob Gill fixed the 'auto-raise' deskbar replicant, a little helper application that allows to raise windows to front automatically when using focus follows mouse. He also fixed the icon size for ProcessController replicant. Waddlesplash improved the interaction between scrollbars and layout system, allowing views to specify if they know how to handle scrolling themselves, in case the default behaviour of scrolling 1 pixel at a time over a fixed range is not appropriate. PulkoMandy fixed drawing of B_GRAY1 (monochrome) bitmaps, as part of his effort to implement a driver for old Apple StyleWriter printers which work with such bitmaps. Zach Dykstra fixed the file information dialog in Tracker, which had truncated text." The complete list of changes can be found in Haiku's newsletter.
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The Feren OS project is moving its package repositories from SourceForge to GitHub following a series of issues with the original host. "As current Feren OS users may have noticed, there has been some issues happening lately with the SourceForge repositories for Feren OS, which have been going on for about over a week now, where the Packages file and potentially other files that APT tries to retrieve on an 'apt update' appear to return 404 errors, and therefore 'fail' to download, even though they exist. Due to this issue being random at first before getting as bad as it has now, and not showing any signs of stopping, alongside other issues happening with the SourceForge repository that are less than desirable, I am now slowly transitioning the Feren OS PPAs to a new location, before entirely retiring the old ones on SourceForge." Instructions for migrating to the new repository are provided in the project's news post.
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The Ubuntu Studio project is a variant of Ubuntu for artists, musicians and video editors. The distribution is currently an official Community Edition of Ubuntu, but that may change as the project reportedly does not meet the criteria of a Community Edition because none of the Ubuntu Studio developers has upload access to the Ubuntu repositories. Erich Eickmeyer commented in an e-mail: "Basically, it comes down to this: nobody on the Ubuntu Studio team has upload privileges in any way. As such, these [Ubuntu Studio] tools are sitting waiting to be uploaded. So now, unless I'm wrong, each one of the packages now needs a Feature Freeze Exception to be uploaded into the repo. This is disappointing because, as of right now, Ubuntu Studio 19.04 is looking identical to Ubuntu Studio 18.10."
Steve Langasek has pointed out that Ubuntu Studio has not had any developers on their team with upload access for the past four releases. Since upload rights are a requirement for official flavours of Ubuntu, this suggests either new rights will be granted to key team members or Ubuntu Studio will no longer be an official community flavour of Ubuntu.
A post on the Ubuntu Studio website summarizes the situation, what has been done so far, and what the project plans to do in order to improve the situation.
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These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Managing services and start-up applications
Getting-things-running asks: Please explain how to manage start-up, shutdown, logon, and logoff scripts on Linux distros with systemd.
DistroWatch answers: What we are looking at here are generally categorized as three separate groups of scripts or actions. The first group includes start-up (and shutdown) services managed by init (systemd in this case). The second group consists of programs which get run when we sign into our account. The third, and least often used group, is made up of commands we want to run when we logout.
First, let's look at services which are started and managed by systemd. These are services which, when they are enabled, will start up when the computer boots. The systemd software will monitor these services and automatically shut them down when the computer is powering off or rebooting. We can find out information about these services and manage them manually using the systemctl command line program.
To see a list of services systemd manages we can run the following command:
To only see active services we can run the below command instead:
systemctl list-units --type=service
When I run the first command, "systemctl list-unit-files", it tells me that the Bluetooth service is enabled. Personally, I typically do not use Bluetooth and want to shut off this service. I can turn off the Bluetooth service temporarily by running:
systemctl stop bluetooth
This will turn off the Bluetooth service for now, and we can confirm this by running a status check against the service:
systemctl status bluetooth
This should show that the Bluetooth service is inactive (or dead). We can start it back up again by running:
systemctl start bluetooth
Checking its status again will show us that the Bluetooth service's status is active or "Running".
Turning a service on or off in this way is fine for our current session, but we might want to disable Bluetooth in the future, permanently preventing the service from running. To do this we can run:
systemctl disable bluetooth
This will prevent the Bluetooth service from starting the next time we boot the computer, but it does not stop the service if it is already running. We can use the "stop" command we used above to turn off the service right now. If we change our minds, we can make sure Bluetooth support is turned on the next time we boot the computer by enabling the service:
systemctl enable bluetooth
These and more commands for managing systemd services can be found in the project's manual page. A simplified overview of systemctl commands is available in its TLDR page.
Many distributions have a Services configuration module in their desktop's settings panel which provides a graphical utility to perform the above actions through a point-n-click interface.
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When it comes to managing which programs get started when we login, that is usually governed by the desktop environment. Desktop environments have a configuration module in their settings panel (or settings menu) which controls which programs are started automatically. On Xfce the tool is called "Session and Startup" and the programs to be run when you login are listed under the "Application Autostart" tab. You can enable or disable a new program by clicking the Add or Remove buttons at the bottom of the window. The MATE desktop and Cinnamon desktops have a similar module called "Startup-Applications". With KDE Plasma I think the module is under the "Startup and Shutdown" section of the System Settings panel. Look for the section called "Autostart".
In the rare case where a desktop may not have a module for enabling programs to automatically start when you login, you can copy the program's .desktop file into your .config/autostart/ directory in your user's home folder. Application .desktop files can be found under the /usr/share/applications/ directory. For example, if I want Firefox to start when I login, I can copy its launcher into my autostart folder like this:
cp /usr/share/applications/firefox.desktop ~/.config/autostart/
More detailed instructions on how to work with auto-start applications manually and how to work with auto-start applications under the GNOME desktop can be found on the Ask Ubuntu forum.
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Finally, let's look at running programs when we logout. Desktop environments tend not to feature tools to set up programs to run when we logout. However, most command line shells do offer a method for running commands when we sign out. This is often done to clean-up temporary files. The specifics of how to set up logout programs varies from one shell to another. Under Bash, the most commonly used Linux shell, the shell will check for the file .bash_logout in our home directory. If it exists, Bash will run any commands it finds in the file. Other shells have their own logout files they check for and the name of the file can be found in your shell's manual page.
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Additional answers can be found in our Questions and Answers archive.
|Released Last Week
ReactOS is an open source operating system which strives to be binary compatible with software developed for Microsoft Windows. The project's latest release, ReactOS 0.4.11, introduces several improvements in filesystem storage, application loading and adds the ability to upgrade an existing ReactOS installation. "While the community wish-list for quality of life improvements in ReactOS is quite lengthy, one especially longstanding one has been the ability to upgrade an existing installation of ReactOS. Achieving this has required substantial effort in the USETUP module, effort that Hermès Bélusca-Maïto put considerable time into. The importance of this is twofold. The obvious enhancement is the ability to perform the upgrade, but the more substantive point is what this functionality entails for the future. For ReactOS to be usable as an actual system OS, it needs the ability to update in-place without losing user data and configuration. While requiring the user to go through the system installation process is still far from the user friendliness of other modern operating systems, it is still a substantial step forward and lays the foundation for ReactOS's maturation into an everyday driver of people's computers." Further information can be found in the project's release announcement. The operating system is available in installation and live editions.
Pardus is a Debian-based distribution jointly developed by the Scientific & Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) and National Academic Network and Information Centre (ULAKBİM). The project's latest release, Pardus 17.5, offers several package updates and continued support through to 2021. An English translation of the project's release announcement (in Turkish) reads: "Pardus 17.5 is the latest intermediate version. To keep track of the changes, you have to keep your Pardus 17 installed system up to date. With this latest version of Pardus 17, LTS (Long Term Support) is offered through to 01.05.2021 . Pardus 17 will continue to receive updates. Pardus reserves the right to republish the current version of the current version of the disk image without notice in the future."
Pardus 17.5 -- Running the Deepin desktop
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SparkyLinux is a Debian-based distribution which is available in several editions. The Sparky team has released a new snapshot of the project's Rolling branch which is based on Debian Testing. "There are new live/install ISO images of SparkyLinux 5.7 Nibiru available to download. This is the first of this year's ISO images releasing of the Rolling line, which is based on Debian Testing 'Buster'. Changes: system updated from Debian Testing repos as of March 4, 2019; Linux kernel 4.19.16 (5.0 and 4.20.14 available in Sparky's Unstable repos); the Calamares installer updated up to version 3.2.4; user's folders such as: Documents, Music, Download, etc. are automatically created now in your home directory in Openbox and other, small window managers; Yad reinstalled to the default Debian's version + removed old libs (html mode doesn't work now); Linux kernel has been reverted to Debian's version from testing repos (amd64 / i686 non-pae) as default." Further details can be found in the project's release announcement.
The developers and antiX, a systemd-free distribution based on Debian's current "Stable" branch, have published an updated build, version 17.4. This is primarily a security and bug-fix release, with an updated and patched Linux kernel to mitigates several vulnerabilities: "antiX-17.4 'Helen Keller' released. This is primarily a point-release upgrade of antiX 17.3 'Helen Keller' with a newer L1TF and Foreshadow, and Meltdown, Spectre and CVE-2019-8912 patched kernel, a few bug fixes, updated translations, and some upgraded and new packages. As usual we offer the following completely systemd-free flavours for both 32-bit and 64-bit architectures. antiX-full, antiX-base, antiX-core, antiX-net. The 32-bit edition uses a non-PAE kernel. So what has changed since antiX-17.3 release? New 4.9.160 kernel; all packages upgraded to Debian 9.8; Firefox ESR upgraded to 60.5.1 'Quantum'; further improvements to localization of applications; more consistent icons and theme; includes tomb file encryption app." Read the rest of the release announcement for further information.
UBports 16.04 OTA-8
UBports is a community-developed fork of Canonical's Ubuntu Touch operating system for mobile devices. The project's latest release is UBports 16.04 OTA-8 which introduces stability improvements, extends the dark theme to the web browser and opens the door for more text to be translated. "OTA-8 is appearing as a staged rollout for all supported Ubuntu Touch devices over the next five days, completing on Sunday, March 10th. You can skip to How to get OTA-8 to get it right away if you're impatient, or read on to learn more about this release. What's new? OTA-8 is primarily a stability improvement release as we continue to work on using upstream technologies in Ubuntu Touch, increasing our project output. Morph Browser: Chris has continued his work to make the Morph Browser better, bringing the following improvements. Ubuntu Touch has an experimental system-wide dark theme that is supported by most of the core apps and many of the apps in the OpenStore. Since it is experimental, it can only be enabled using the UT Tweak Tool (though some apps such as Weather, FluffyChat and TELEports have it as a built in option). This update completes support for the dark theme in the browser." Further details can be found in the project's release announcement. The project maintains a list of supported devices which can run the mobile operating system. Installation instructions and tools are also available.
The Ubuntu team have announced the release of new install media for Ubuntu 14.04, a long-term support release. The new media provides security fixes for a vulnerability in the APT package management software. "The Ubuntu team is happy to announce the release of Ubuntu 14.04.6 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, 14.04.6 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 14.04 LTS. Ubuntu Kylin 14.04.6 LTS is also now available. More details can be found in its individual release notes." Additional details can be found in the release announcement.
ExTiX is an Ubuntu-based desktop distribution which experiments with alternative desktop environments. The project's latest release, ExTiX 19.3, is based on a snapshot of Ubuntu 19.04's development branch and features a similarly early preview of the Xfce 4.13 desktop. "A new extra version of ExTiX is ready. This version is based on upcoming Ubuntu 19.04 Disco Dingo. ExTiX 19.3 uses the Xfce Desktop 4.13 and kernel 5.0.0-exton. Xfce is a lightweight desktop environment for UNIX-like operating systems. It aims to be fast and low on system resources, while still being visually appealing and user friendly. This version of ExTiX Xfce4 is for non-UEFI computers. Kodi 18.2 Leia is also pre-installed in this version of ExTiX. Just start Kodi like any other program while logged in to the Xfce4 Desktop as the ordinary user live. I have enabled a few addons in Kodi. Most important the Netflix addon. NVIDIA proprietary graphics driver 418.43 is pre-installed in ExTiX 19.3. It will automatically be used if your computer has support for it." Further information is available through the project's release announcement.
ExTiX 19.3 -- Running the Xfce desktop
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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: 1,294
- Total data uploaded: 24.2TB
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Automatically starting applications
This week's Questions and Answers column talked about managing background services and automatically starting applications when the user logs in. Sometimes it can be useful to start-up commonly used programs as soon as we log into our system. Is automatically starting some desktop applications a feature you use?
You can see the results of our previous poll on erasing data from old hard drives in last week's edition. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
Automatically starting applications
|Yes I automatically start some desktop applications: ||668 (44%)|
| No I do not automatically start any desktop applications: ||854 (56%)|
Distributions added to waiting list
- HexagonOS. HexagonOS is a Linux distribution that is based on Xubuntu. It features a custom configuration tool called HexagonCentre.
- Olean Linux. Olean Linux is a Linux distribution from scratch, based on LFS and BLFS concepts. It uses a rolling release update system.
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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, 18 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
|• Issue 840 (2019-11-11): Fedora 31, monitoring user activity, Fedora working to improve Python performance, FreeBSD gets faster networking|
|• Issue 839 (2019-11-04): MX 19, manipulating PDFs, Ubuntu plans features for 20.04, Fedora 29 nears EOL, Netrunner drops Manjaro-based edition|
|• Issue 838 (2019-10-28): Xubuntu 19.10, how init and service managers work together, DragonFly BSD provides emergency mode for HAMMER, Xfce team plans 4.16|
|• Issue 837 (2019-10-21): CentOS 8.0-1905, Trident finds a new base, Debian plans firewall changes, 15 years of Fedora, how to merge directories|
|• Issue 836 (2019-10-14): Archman 2019.09, Haiku improves ARM support, Project Trident shifting base OS, Unix turns 50|
|• Issue 835 (2019-10-07): Isotop, Mazon OS and, KduxOS, examples of using the find command, Mint's System Reports becomes proactive, Solus updates its desktops|
|• Issue 834 (2019-09-30): FreedomBox "Buster", CentOS gains a rolling release, Librem 5 phones shipping, Redcore updates its package manager|
|• Issue 833 (2019-09-23): Redcore Linux 1908, why Linux distros are free, Ubuntu making list of 32-bit software to keep, Richard M Stallman steps down from FSF leadership|
|• Issue 832 (2019-09-16): BlackWeb 1.2, checking for Wayland session and applications, Fedora to use nftables in firewalld, OpenBSD disables DoH in Firefox|
|• Issue 831 (2019-09-09): Adélie Linux 1.0 beta, using ffmpeg, awk and renice, Mint and elementary improvements, PureOS and Manjaro updates|
|• Issue 930 (2019-09-02): deepin 15.11, working with AppArmor profiles, elementary OS gets new greeter, exFAT support coming to Linux kernel|
|• Issue 829 (2019-08-26): EndeavourOS 2019.07.15, Drauger OS 7.4.1, finding the licenses of kernel modules, NetBSD gets Wayland application, GhostBSD changes base repo|
|• Issue 828 (2019-08-19): AcademiX 2.2, concerns with non-free firmware, UBports working on Unity8, Fedora unveils new EPEL channel, FreeBSD phasing out GCC|
|• Issue 827 (2019-08-12): Q4OS, finding files on the disk, Ubuntu works on ZFS, Haiku improves performance, OSDisc shutting down|
|• Issue 826 (2019-08-05): Quick looks at Resilient, PrimeOS, and BlueLight, flagship distros for desktops,Manjaro introduces new package manager|
|• Issue 825 (2019-07-29): Endless OS 3.6, UBports 16.04, gNewSense maintainer stepping down, Fedora developrs discuss optimizations, Project Trident launches stable branch|
|• Issue 824 (2019-07-22): Hexagon OS 1.0, Mageia publishes updated media, Fedora unveils Fedora CoreOS, managing disk usage with quotas|
|• Issue 823 (2019-07-15): Debian 10, finding 32-bit packages on a 64-bit system, Will Cooke discusses Ubuntu's desktop, IBM finalizes purchase of Red Hat|
|• Issue 822 (2019-07-08): Mageia 7, running development branches of distros, Mint team considers Snap, UBports to address Google account access|
|• Issue 821 (2019-07-01): OpenMandriva 4.0, Ubuntu's plan for 32-bit packages, Fedora Workstation improvements, DragonFly BSD's smaller kernel memory|
|• Issue 820 (2019-06-24): Clear Linux and Guix System 1.0.1, running Android applications using Anbox, Zorin partners with Star Labs, Red Hat explains networking bug, Ubuntu considers no longer updating 32-bit packages|
|• Issue 819 (2019-06-17): OS108 and Venom, renaming multiple files, checking live USB integrity, working with Fedora's Modularity, Ubuntu replacing Chromium package with snap|
|• Issue 818 (2019-06-10): openSUSE 15.1, improving boot times, FreeBSD's status report, DragonFly BSD reduces install media size|
|• Issue 817 (2019-06-03): Manjaro 18.0.4, Ubuntu Security Podcast, new Linux laptops from Dell and System76, Entroware Apollo|
|• Issue 816 (2019-05-27): Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.0, creating firewall rules, Antergos shuts down, Matthew Miller answers questions about Fedora|
|• Issue 815 (2019-05-20): Sabayon 19.03, Clear Linux's developer features, Red Hat explains MDS flaws, an overview of mobile distro options|
|• Issue 814 (2019-05-13): Fedora 30, distributions publish Firefox fixes, CentOS publishes roadmap to 8.0, Debian plans to use Wayland by default|
|• Issue 813 (2019-05-06): ROSA R11, MX seeks help with systemd-shim, FreeBSD tests unified package management, interview with Gael Duval|
|• Issue 812 (2019-04-29): Ubuntu MATE 19.04, setting up a SOCKS web proxy, Scientific Linux discontinued, Red Hat takes over Java LTS support|
|• Issue 811 (2019-04-22): Alpine 3.9.2, rsync examples, Ubuntu working on ZFS support, Debian elects new Project Leader, Obarun releases S6 tools|
|• Issue 810 (2019-04-15): SolydXK 201902, Bedrock Linux 0.7.2, Fedora phasing out Python 2, NetBSD gets virtual machine monitor|
|• Issue 809 (2019-04-08): PCLinuxOS 2019.02, installing Falkon and problems with portable packages, Mint offers daily build previews, Ubuntu speeds up Snap packages|
|• Issue 808 (2019-04-01): Solus 4.0, security benefits and drawbacks to using a live distro, Gentoo gets GNOME ports working without systemd, Redox OS update|
|• Issue 807 (2019-03-25): Pardus 17.5, finding out which user changed a file, new Budgie features, a tool for browsing FreeBSD's sysctl values|
|• Issue 806 (2019-03-18): Kubuntu vs KDE neon, Nitrux's znx, notes on Debian's election, SUSE becomes an independent entity|
|• Issue 805 (2019-03-11): EasyOS 1.0, managing background services, Devuan team debates machine ID file, Ubuntu Studio works to remain an Ubuntu Community Edition|
|• Issue 804 (2019-03-04): Condres OS 19.02, securely erasing hard drives, new UBports devices coming in 2019, Devuan to host first conference|
|• Issue 803 (2019-02-25): Septor 2019, preventing windows from stealing focus, NetBSD and Nitrux experiment with virtual machines, pfSense upgrading to FreeBSD 12 base|
|• Issue 802 (2019-02-18): Slontoo 18.07.1, NetBSD tests newer compiler, Fedora packaging Deepin desktop, changes in Ubuntu Studio|
|• Issue 801 (2019-02-11): Project Trident 18.12, the meaning of status symbols in top, FreeBSD Foundation lists ongoing projects, Plasma Mobile team answers questions|
|• Issue 800 (2019-02-04): FreeNAS 11.2, using Ubuntu Studio software as an add-on, Nitrux developing znx, matching operating systems to file systems|
|• Issue 799 (2019-01-28): KaOS 2018.12, Linux Basics For Hackers, Debian 10 enters freeze, Ubuntu publishes new version for IoT devices|
|• Issue 798 (2019-01-21): Sculpt OS 18.09, picking a location for swap space, Solus team plans ahead, Fedora trying to get a better user count|
|• Issue 797 (2019-01-14): Reborn OS 2018.11.28, TinyPaw-Linux 1.3, dealing with processes which make the desktop unresponsive, Debian testing Secure Boot support|
|• Issue 796 (2019-01-07): FreeBSD 12.0, Peppermint releases ISO update, picking the best distro of 2018, roundtable interview with Debian, Fedora and elementary developers|
|• Issue 795 (2018-12-24): Running a Pinebook, interview with Bedrock founder, Alpine being ported to RISC-V, Librem 5 dev-kits shipped|
|• Issue 794 (2018-12-17): Void 20181111, avoiding software bloat, improvements to HAMMER2, getting application overview in GNOME Shell|
|• Issue 793 (2018-12-10): openSUSE Tumbleweed, finding non-free packages, Debian migrates to usrmerge, Hyperbola gets FSF approval|
|• Issue 792 (2018-1203): GhostBSD 18.10, when to use swap space, DragonFly BSD's wireless support, Fedora planning to pause development schedule|
|• Issue 791 (2018-11-26): Haiku R1 Beta1, default passwords on live media, Slax and Kodachi update their media, dual booting DragonFly BSD on EFI|
|• Issue 790 (2018-11-19): NetBSD 8.0, Bash tips and short-cuts, Fedora's networking benchmarked with FreeBSD, Ubuntu 18.04 to get ten years of support|
|• Issue 789 (2018-11-12): Fedora 29 Workstation and Silverblue, Haiku recovering from server outage, Fedora turns 15, Debian publishes updated media|
|• Issue 788 (2018-11-05): Clu Linux Live 6.0, examining RAM consumpion, finding support for older CPUs, more Steam support for running Windows games on Linux, update from Solus team|
|• Full list of all issues|
Star Labs - Laptops built for Linux.
View our range including the Star Lite, Star LabTop and more. Available with a choice of Ubuntu, Linux Mint or Zorin OS pre-installed with many more distributions supported. Visit Star Labs for information, to buy and get support.
|Random Distribution |
Linvo GNU/Linux was a Slackware-based distribution and live CD/DVD. Some of its more interesting features include a careful selection of applications for every-day use, installable to hard disk from the live medium, use of software modules for extensive customisation of the live CD, availability of the GNOME desktop, applications installed and managed on a per-user basis, and out-of-the-box support for most multimedia formats.