| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 833, 23 September 2019
Welcome to this year's 38th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
Getting the best outcome out of almost any situation involves a balancing act between available options. Do we want more convenience or security, performance or features, lots of options or a tidy interface? This week we discuss some difficult decisions which are being made in the free and open source software communities. For instance, Ubuntu is trying to reduce the amount of work required to maintain packages for multiple architectures while also maintaining a wide range of software and hardware support. We cover more on this balancing act in our News section. Meanwhile elementary developers are planning a major update while Debian faces ongoing conflicts between package maintainers as the distribution tries to offer multiple init implementations and we share more on this situation below. We also discuss Richard M Stallman, pioneer of the free software movement, stepping down from his position as President of the Free Software Foundation amid controversy. First though, we explore a Gentoo-based, desktop distribution called Redcore Linux. Redcore strives to be easy to set up and use while maintaining Gentoo's famous flexibility and we share more details in our Feature Story. Then, in our Questions and Answers column, we talk about beginner friendly distributions and why Linux distributions are usually free to download and use. Plus we share the torrents we are seeding and the releases of the past week. In our Opinion Poll we talk about DNS over HTTPS (DoH) and ask our readers what you think about it. We wish you all a fantastic week and happy reading!
- Review: Redcore Linux 1908 LXQt
- News: Ubuntu deciding which 32-bit packages should be kept, Debian's Project Leader addresses tensions over init software, elementary plans big update, Richard M Stallman steps down from FSF leadership role
- Questions and answers: Recommending a friendly distro for newcomers and why Linux distributions are free
- Released last week: CentOS 7-1908, PCLinuxOS 2019.09, Porteus Kiosk 4.9.0
- Torrent corner: CentOS, Clonezilla, ClonOS, EasyOS, Emmabuntus, EndeavourOS, GeeXboX, GhostBSD, KDE neon, Lakka, Parrot, PCLinuxOS, Porteus Kiosk, ReactOS
- Upcoming releases: CentOS 8, Ubuntu 19.10 Beta, FreeBSD 12.1-BETA2
- Opinion poll: DNS over HTTPS
- Reader comments
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (20MB) and MP3 (15MB) formats.
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Redcore Linux 1908 LXQt
Redcore is a Gentoo-based project which strives to make it easy to install the distribution and immediately have access to a pre-configured desktop environment. Redcore is available in two editions, KDE Plasma and LXQt, and offers builds for 64-bit (x86_64) machines exclusively. The latest version of Redcore Linux has shifted from using Gentoo's Stable branch as its upstream source to Gentoo Testing. Software now flows from Gentoo Testing, into Redcore's Testing repository, and then into Redcore Stable where most Redcore users will access it.
The Redcore ISO files are relatively large with both editions being 3.4GB downloads. Given the similarities in size, I decided to try the LXQt edition. Booting from the Redcore media brings up a graphical login screen with a mostly-white background. We can sign into the live desktop using the username and password "redcore". The default wallpaper is mostly white with abstract lines. The combination makes for a bright screen populated with harsh lines that I personally found unpleasant and I soon switch to another background.
There are two icons on the LXQt desktop. One opens the Calamares installer and the other is labelled "Ask for help". Clicking the latter icon causes LXQt to pop-up an error saying the selected icon is an invalid desktop entry file. Clicking the installer icon brings up a prompt asking if we would like to open or execute the installer's desktop file. Along the bottom of the screen we find a panel containing the application menu, task switcher and system tray.
Redcore Linux uses the Calamares graphical installer. The first time I launched the installer it complained that there was less than 20GB of free disk space available and refused to proceed. I had to exit the installer, free up some space and then start over. The first page of the installer presents us with buttons that purport to display release notes and known issues. Clicking on either of these buttons has no effect. The following pages of the installer get us to select our time zone from a map of the world and confirm our keyboard's layout. Calamares gives us the option of guided or manual partitioning. I like the manual options which are fairly well streamlined and easy to navigate. Taking the guided option will use available disk space to set up a single ext4 filesystem for the root partition and a small swap partition. We can also pick where to install the GRUB boot loader.
The final screen of the installer asks us to make up a username and password for ourselves. Then the installer copies its packages to the hard drive and offers to reboot the computer. The install process is a little longer than average, but not overly so. I found out later than Redcore places a lot of data on the root partition so the slightly longer process makes sense.
My new copy of Redcore booted to a graphical login screen where I could sign into an Openbox or LXQt session. The Openbox option brings up an entirely empty interface with a black background, which makes it look like the session has failed to load. We can right-click on the desktop to open an application menu. The menu, oddly enough, is full of launchers for programs which are not installed, meaning most of the menu entries do not work. I can see using the Openbox session for recovery in an emergency, but for the most part I suspect users will want to stick with the LXQt session.
Redcore Linux 1908 -- The LXQt desktop and application menu
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Redcore 1908 presents us with the LXQt 0.14.1 desktop. This time there is just one icon on the desktop for getting help. As with the live session, the help icon does not work. However, there is a "Get Live Help" icon in the application menu which does work. It opens the Firefox browser and connects us with the Redcore IRC channel.
On the subject of poor icon behaviour, about every third time I would login, an icon would appear on the desktop called user-home.desktop with a random extension. This was not the icon for the home folder which opens the file manager, but a separate entity. This icon could not be launched and trying to delete it would produce an error saying the file did not exist. The icon would remain on the desktop for the entire session, but would disappear if I logged out and logged back into my account.
Redcore Linux 1908 -- Trying to use the help icon
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I started playing with Redcore in a VirtualBox environment. Running the distribution in a virtual machine proved to be a mixed experience. For instance, Redcore could use my host computer's full screen resolution, but would not resize its desktop dynamically. I had to use the monitor configuration tool to manually set my screen dimensions. To make matters more complicated, this tool only worked once Redcore had been installed and did not work when running from the live disc. While things mostly worked in the virtual machine, performance was terrible. It took the distribution over five minutes to boot, the LXQt desktop tended to lag, and applications were slow to load. The process monitor showed very little CPU or disk activity during moments of slow performance, making the situation a bit of a puzzle.
Redcore worked better when run on my workstation. The distribution could boot in under a minute and all my hardware was detected. Applications loaded noticeably faster on physical hardware. LXQt's performance was a lot better when run on the workstation, but was still less responsive than I have come to expect from LXQt on other distributions.
Redcore is pleasantly light in memory, requiring 260MB of RAM to login to the desktop. However, the distribution is unusually large on the disk, with a fresh install taking up 11GB of space for the root partition. This large disk footprint is all the more surprising when we consider that not a lot of software is installed, compared to other distributions.
Redcore Linux 1908 -- LXQt with a dark theme
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Looking through the application menu we find a familiar collection of programs. The Firefox web browser and Thunderbird e-mail client are included. LibreOffice is installed for us too. The GNU Image Manipulation Program and Steam are available. Copies of the VLC media player, the mpv media player, and the K3b disc burning software are installed. There are some less common programs too, such as the qpdfview document viewer, qBittorrent for downloading torrents, and the PCManFM-Qt file manager.
Redcore Linux 1908 -- Running LibreOffice and Firefox
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There is also an assortment of smaller applications such as a text editor, an archive manager, and some links to on-line Redcore website resources. The LXQt settings panel is available and includes modules for adjusting the look of the desktop, some behaviour, and layout settings. There is a tool for managing the firewall too, with the default configuration blocking all incoming connections.
I found Network Manager is installed and available to connect us to the Internet. In the background we find the GNU Compiler Collection, the SysV init software with OpenRC managing services, and version 5.1 of the Linux kernel.
Redcore Linux 1908 -- Running VLC and adjusting the firewall
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Managing the software on Redcore is primarily handled by a graphical tool called Sisyphus. The Sisyphus window presents us with a simple list of available software. Each entry in the list includes the package's category, name, the version installed, and the latest available version. There is a very short description field displayed on the far right. Near the top of the window is a search box for narrowing down the list of software. At the bottom of the Sisyphus window we find buttons for installing and removing selected packages, along with a button to download all available package upgrades.
The Sisyphus style and layout are quite simple and not geared toward new users, who may not be familiar with the technical category names or know the specific name of a package they want to install.
Redcore Linux 1908 -- The Sisyphus software manager
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My experience with Sisyphus was not good. During the week I was running Redcore Sisyphus reported no new package upgrades were available, even though the distribution had come out over a week before I installed it. This seems odd given Redcore's quick, rolling release base.
When I tried to install new software, I had mixed results. For instance when I tried to install nmap, Falkon, and Kwrite Sisyphus indicated these items downloaded successfully, but they were not added to the application menu and were not available in my path. However, when I installed the SoX media software and xkill, these programs were added to my user's path and worked properly. I am not sure why some downloads worked and some did not and Sisyphus did not give me any clues.
Sisyphus uses the emerge command line utility in the background to perform its work. I switched over to using emerge directly and found it was able to install packages without any problems, including items such as Kwrite and nmap which Sisyphus had failed, even when given multiple tries, to successfully install. Unfortunately running emerge takes a long time as it needs to build some packages from source code (even when binary package are indicated as preferred). This means instead of taking a minute or two to install a browser, it can take an hour, which is not practical for most people.
I made a few other observations while using Redcore. One was that the software included with the distribution seemed to be up to date, as one would expect from a rolling release distribution. I did not notice any strong positive or negative side effect from having such cutting-edge applications. Firefox, LibreOffice, the kernel and so on performed as I'd expected.
Another thing I noticed was that window borders were unusually thin. This made it nearly impossible to resize application windows by dragging their edges. Thee are other methods for resizing a window, like right-clicking on the title bar, but none so straight forward can dragging a window's corner and this aspect of the default desktop settings bothered me.
Finally, Redcore does not use sudo by default. It is not installed on the operating system. To perform administrative functions we can either install and configure sudo or use su to switch to the root account.
Redcore Linux 1908 -- The LXQt settings panel
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My trial got off to a rough beginning with an unusually long boot time on the live disc and the Help icon on the desktop which did not work. Over the past year I have run a handful of distributions which did not have functioning links to their chat room, forum or trouble-shooting documentation and it always leaves a poor first impression. If a new user is lost, one of the worst things they can encounter is a support service which does not function.
The bright theme, white wallpaper, and thin window borders also did not endear the distribution to me. Admittedly the visual aspect of a desktop is easy to change and perhaps it is petty to complain about it, but Redcore makes some unusual design choices and this adds to the strained early impression I had of the distribution.
There were certainly aspects of Redcore Linux I appreciated. For instance, the distribution detected all my hardware, worked in both my test environments, offered both lightweight and full featured desktop options. I also like that Redcore offers a Gentoo-based, desktop solution for home users. There are other Gentoo-based projects out there, but they tend to be more focused on commercial or enterprise users and it is nice to see someone bringing Gentoo to the home desktop crowd. I also like most of the default software the distribution provides. It is a pleasant mixture of popular open source applications and lesser used programs, all which worked well.
The first of the two big issues I ran into were the poor performance (especially in the virtual machine). I am used to LXQt being one of the faster, more responsive desktops in the open source community and I was sorry to see it running slowly this week. Running into randomly appearing desktop icons that I couldn't delete also put a sour taste in my mouth. The second major issue was Sisyphus. The package manager seemed to work, or not work, at random and without giving any clue as to why it did not work successfully. Running emerge from the command line worked every time I used it, so the issue appears to be with the package management front-end rather than the underlying packaging tool.
Redcore is a distribution which brings some intriguing technology to the table. It is based on Gentoo, has a powerful ports system, uses hardened build options, and has multiple desktop flavours. The installer is also pleasantly easy to use. However, the performance problems, the graphical package manager, desktop glitches and slow (often source-based) package management gave me the impression this distribution will not be practical for most users. There are good aspects to this distribution, but also a lot of rough edges to be smoothed out.
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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
Redcore Linux has a visitor supplied average rating of: 6.6/10 from 58 review(s).
Have you used Redcore Linux? You can leave your own review of the project on our ratings page.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
Ubuntu deciding which 32-bit packages should be kept, Debian's Project Leader addresses tensions over init software, elementary plans big update, Richard M Stallman steps down from FSF leadership role
The Ubuntu developers are hoping to gradually phase out support for 32-bit packages in the coming years to reduce the amount of work required to maintain up to date repositories. However, the team is aware many users still use 32-bit software for third-party packages and for compatibility with older software. With that in mind, Steve Langasek has started a discussion on which 32-bit libraries are still required and which ones can be removed from future releases of Ubuntu. "Based on our commitment to continue to support i386 userspace in Ubuntu, we have assembled a list of packages for which we have been able to determine there is user demand based on the feedback up to this point. The packages listed below are the ones we are committing to carry forward to 20.04 on parity with amd64. (We will also, necessarily, carry forward the various other packages that those in this list depend on or build-depend on.) Are there other packages not on this list that you need for 32-bit compatibility? Please let us know!"
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In a mailing list post, Debian's Project Leader (DPL) Sam Hartman, described a tricky situation which has arisen between the developers of various packages. In particular, Hartman talks about friction which has occurred between maintainers of init systems and their various related components. "This is a DPL problem because we can't get the right people together to make progress. It's not an easy problem. Developers don't have to do any work: if the systemd maintainers are emotionally exhausted and don't want to deal with this, they don't have to. (Although if the project is committed to init diversity, they cannot stand in the way.) And yet the systemd maintainers and to a lesser extent release team face conduct that is frankly unacceptable. And in some cases that conduct is the frustrated reaction to years of interactions complex enough that we'll never untangle them. No matter how unfortunate the conduct is, the frustrations, anger and hurt are real." While Hartman indicates there is no definite path forward on this issue, he does consider some possibilities in his mailing list post.
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The elementary OS team is planning a large update with a number of new features and an improved first-run experience. "First, we've been working on significant reworking of the entire installation and first-run experience (which is where we've been hitting some snags). Because the entire installation and first-run experience is different - and greatly improved - compared to the 5.0 release, we'll be giving this release its own identity and name. Importantly, all users of elementary OS 5 Juno will be able to upgrade to 5.1 via their normal updates in AppCenter. Think of 5.1 as a mid-cycle major update that everyone gets; it's somewhere between a usual point-release an an entirely new version of the OS." The new point release will include a new kernel with hardware enablement (HWE) packages, allowing the distribution to work with more hardware. The project's blog post offers further details on what to expect from elementary OS 5.1.
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John Sulivan, the executive director of the Free software Foundation (FSF), has announced that Richard M. Stallman has resigned his position as president of the FSF. Stallman is best known for his work in creating the free software movement and starting the GNU project, which develops free software that is used by nearly all Linux distributions. Stallman's hard stance on software licensing, along with his controversial views on some social issues and brash communication style, have often made him a divisive figure in the free and open source software communities. This has occasionally led to people petitioning the FSF over the years, asking Stallman to step down.
The most recent controversy around Stallman gained more media attention than usual and resulted in several FSF members threatening to cancel their memberships. Members of the GNOME team announced their intention to cut ties with the FSF and GNU if Stallman did not leave his position. The Free Software Conservancy also placed a similar call for Stallman to step down, stating: "When considered with other reprehensible comments he has published over the years, these incidents form a pattern of behavior that is incompatible with the goals of the free software movement. We call for Stallman to step down from positions of leadership in our movement.". Stallman has also resigned his position at MIT, citing "a series of misunderstandings and mischaracterizations" as the reason for his departure.
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These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Recommending a friendly distro for newcomers and why Linux distributions are free
Just-starting-out asks: I'm a giant newbie when it comes to Linux. Which distro do you recommend people use and why?
DistroWatch answers: Welcome to Linux! The distribution I find myself recommending the most, at least to newcomers, is Linux Mint. Specifically I suggest the MATE edition of Mint. There are a few reasons for this. Mint uses a fairly classic style of desktop, making it familiar to former Windows users. The distribution offers five years of support for each release, meaning people will not need to re-install often or deal with lots of updates. Mint makes it fairly easy to set up filesystem snapshots (through Timeshift and Btrfs) meaning files can be restored if something goes wrong.
Mint also has the benefit of being binary compatible with Ubuntu, meaning just about any third-party applications, drivers or services which are made with popular Linux distributions in mind (or Ubuntu in particular) should run on Mint. The reason I suggest Mint's MATE edition specifically, instead of Mint's Cinnamon edition or Ubuntu itself, is both Cinnamon and Ubuntu's GNOME desktop require 3-D video driver support. This often means users will experience poor desktop performance unless they install a third-party driver. MATE does not require any special video card or driver and will be responsive on just about any computer made in the past 15 years.
There are situations where I recommend other distributions, depending on the role of the computer, how old the equipment is, or specific application needs. But I find most people get along well with Mint and stick with it. I have also had good luck with introducing people to Linux Lite for similar reasons. Lite tends to have a lower memory footprint while still being friendly in a way Linux novices seem to expect.
I would like to mention that a variation of this question I get a lot is: "Which distro would you suggest for someone who plans to use Linux for graphic design/web development/programming?" Personally, I don't think any one of the mainstream distributions has a strong benefit over the others in these categories. Most of them ship with the same tools and handle these tasks the same way.
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Wondering-why asks: Why is Linux free? Other operating systems cost money, why are Linux distros made for free?
While most Linux distributions are available free of charge, not all Linux distributions are free to use. Companies like Red Hat and SUSE make their money from selling Linux licenses. They make money from providing support for their operating systems.
I'd like to mention, before I get to the reasons Linux distributions are usually free, that we could turn the question around and ask why other software companies, like Microsoft and Apple, charge money for their operating systems. Apple makes almost all of its money from selling hardware and doesn't need to charge for their operating system. Likewise, Microsoft's big money makers tend to be their office suite, business tools, and cloud infrastructure. They could give Windows away for free and still be highly profitable. But these companies can sell their products, and so they do, because the market supports it and people expect it.
Getting back to the original question: why are most Linux distributions and the software that comes with them free of cost? There are a handful of reasons. For some it is a matter of philosophy. Many developers believe software code is human knowledge and should be freely shared, like mathematical formulas or most scientific discoveries. These people see problems they can solve using computer code and want to share their creations for the benefit of society.
Some people work on software projects for fun or in their spare time. It is a hobby or something they do to educate themselves. They freely give away what they make because it costs them very little to create and they enjoy it.
Others give away their software while still making money in various ways. Some developers collect donations, others join affiliate programs to make money off of things like search queries, some sell support contracts. The software itself may be free, but the developers can still make an income.
Some developers create software to solve problems they have and just give away their solutions because they don't have a reason not to. They don't see a benefit in trying to charge money for their program or it might be more hassle than it is worth to collect fees and answer support questions, so they just publish the code.
Other developers publish code to act as a portfolio. Often times interviewers will ask what projects a developer has worked on and it is handy to be able to point to an archive of projects as evidence of the coder's skill. This shows off what the developer can do and gives the interviewer an easy way to evaluate the candidate's abilities.
Bringing us almost full circle, some developers get paid to work on projects which are then given away for free because their company or sponsor makes money indirectly from the project. For instance, Intel and Microsoft contribute to the Linux kernel. The kernel is freely available to anyone, but Intel and Microsoft put resources toward making sure Linux works with their hardware and cloud services (respectively) so their customers have a better experience. The companies then sell services or hardware which work with Linux, making money from their (hopefully) happy customers.
Do you work on open source software? If you do and we missed the reason you give away your code for free, let us know in the comments.
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Additional answers can be found in our Questions and Answers archive.
|Released Last Week
Porteus Kiosk 4.9.0
Tomasz Jokiel has announced the release of Porteus Kiosk 4.9.0, the latest stable build of the project's Gentoo-based, specialist distribution designed for web kiosks: "I am pleased to announce that Porteus Kiosk 4.9.0 is now available for download. Major software upgrades in this release include: Linux kernel 4.19.68, Google Chrome 76.0.3809.100 and Mozilla Firefox 68.1.0 ESR. Packages from the userland are upgraded to portage snapshot tagged on 2019-09-08. We have finally migrated to Firefox 68 ESR release and that means the NPAPI plugins (except of Flash) and legacy add-ons do not work any more with this browser. Java module has been removed from additional components selection while Citrix Receiver works as an associated application. Silent printing is still not fixed so if you need this function in your kiosk then please use the Chrome browser instead of Firefox. Short changelog for 4.9.0 release: added support for setting default zoom level in the Firefox and Chrome browsers; session idle function can lock the session instead of restarting it...." See the release announcement and changelog for more information.
GhostBSD is a desktop-oriented, rolling release operating system based on TrueOS. The project's latest release, 19.09, shifts its base from TrueOS's cutting edge development branch to the slower moving, but still rolling, Stable branch. "GhostBSD 19.09 has some considerable changes happened, like moving the system to STABLE instead of CURRENT for ABI stability with the integration of the latest system update developed by TrueOS. This also means that current users will need to reinstall GhostBSD unless they were running on the development version of GhostBSD 19.09. GhostBSD 19.09 marks the last major changes the breaks updates for software and system upgrade. What has changed since 19.04: GhostBSD 19.09 is built from TrueOS/FreeBSD 12.0-STABLE. OpenRC is updated to 0.41.2. GhostBSD now use TrueOS packages base from ports. NetworkMgr CPU usage got improved. A lot of unnecessary software got removed. Exaile got replaced with Rhythmbox. GNOME MPV got replaced by VLC. XFburn got replaced by Brasero. Vim got replaced by Tiny Vim." Further details and screenshots can be found in the project's release announcement.
The Emmabuntüs team has announced the release of a new version of their Debian-based distribution, featuring the Xfce desktop. The new version, Debian Edition 3-1.00, uses Debian 10 "Buster" as a base and features version 4.12 of the Xfce desktop. "On September 16th 2019, the Emmabuntüs Collective is happy to announce the release of the new Emmabuntüs Debian Edition 3 1.00 (32- and 64-bits), based on the ebian 10.1.0 Buster distribution and featuring the Xfce desktop environment.... This new version of our distribution is based on the Emmabuntüs DE2 under Debian 10 Buster, with some noticeable improvements which were implemented during the development of the Alpha and RC versions: ISO file size significantly reduced, streamlining and consistency of the embedded software, better handling of the light/dark theme, localization support in live mode, etc. This final version additionally supports the installation in UEFI Secure boot mode, the simplified installation via Calamares in live mode, allows to run under VMware Workstation, and brings some improvements in terms of security and ergonomics." Further details and a screenshot can be found in the project's release announcement.
Emmabuntus DE3-1.00 -- Running the Xfce desktop
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Clonezilla Live 2.6.3-7
Steven Shiau has announced the release of Clonezilla Live 2.6.3-7, an updated stable build of the useful live CD based on Debian "Unstable" and shipping with the Clonezilla disk imaging and cloning application as the principal utility: "Stable Clonezilla Live 2.6.3-7 released. This release of Clonezilla live includes major enhancements and bug fixes. Enhancements and changes from 2.6.2-15: the underlying GNU/Linux operating system has been upgraded - this release is based on the Debian 'Sid' repository as of 2019-09-03; Linux kernel has been updated to 5.2.9-2; Partclone has been updated to 0.3.13+git; removed zfs-fuse since it's too old - the support for zfs mounting using openzfs can be found in Ubuntu-based Clonezilla Live 20190903 (and above) releases; partclone-utils package has been updated with new upstream on 2019-08-29: modified parameters about BT in drbl-ocs.conf - use gen-torrent-from-ptcl (ezio-ptcl) to create torrent file from torrent.info; remove '-t 3 -k 60' from ezio_seeder_opt, i.e., keep ezio seeder in the server all the time until it's killed by ocs-live-feed-img stop; aded a new sample program custom-ocs-3." Here is the complete release announcement.
Johnny Hughes has announced the release of CentOS 7-1908, the latest update to the project's 7.x series. The new version provides Python 3 packages as well as updates to chrony and the bind software. The release announcement states: "Release for CentOS Linux 7 (1908) on the x86_64 architecture. We are pleased to announce the general availability of CentOS Linux 7 (1908) for the x86_64 architecture. Effectively immediately, this is the current release for CentOS Linux 7 and is tagged as 1908, derived from Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.7 source code. As always, read through the release notes - these notes contain important information about the release and details about some of the content inside the release from the CentOS QA team. These notes are updated constantly to include issues and incorporate feedback from the users." Additional information can be found in the upstream distribution's release notes.
The PCLinuxOS project has published new install media. The rolling release distribution's latest snapshot carries version number 2019.09 and is available in editions featuring the KDE Plasma, MATE, and Xfce desktop environments. "The KDE versions both full and the minimalistic Darkstar contain kernel 5.2.15 plus a fully updated KDE Plasma desktop. Plasma desktop 5.16.5, Plasma Applications 19.08.1 and Plasma Frameworks 5.62. The MATE Desktop was refreshed with kernel 5.2.15 and the applications and libraries were updated to their most recent stable versions from the previous release. The Xfce desktop was tweaked and now uses the Whisker menu by default. A login sound was added and the applications were updated along with some minor bug fixes. In addition all ISOs now include the NVIDIA 430.50 driver and will be used instead of the nouveau driver if your video card supports it. Hardware detection scripts were updated to provide better support for video cards that can use the NVIDIA 430.50 driver. PulseAudio has been updated to the stable 13.0 release." Further details can be found in the distribution's release announcement.
EndeavourOS is an Arch Linux-based distribution featuring a pre-configured Xfce desktop and the Calamares graphical installer. The project's latest snapshot, 2019.09.15, features many package updates, a more complete Arch-x icon set and the NVIDIA driver installer is included by default. "The September release has arrived. As of today you can download our latest ISO with an updated offline installer. The ISO contains: Linux kernel 5.2.14; mesa 19.1.6; systemd 243.0; Firefox 69 (Quantum); Arc-x-icons, a more complete and updated version than the Arc icon set used previously. The new EndeavourOS welcome launcher on both the live environment as on the installed system. It's a one-click menu to the wiki for the basic system commands and setting up your hardware. Our NVIDIA-installer is now installed by default which now also installs the dkms drivers. Gtop system monitor, a nice terminal-based system load monitor that launches from the panel." Additional details can be found in the project's release announcement.
EndeavourOS 2019.09.15 -- Running the Xfce desktop
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Lorenzo Faletra has announced the release of Parrot 4.7, the new stable version of the project's Debian-based distribution set designed for penetration testing, digital forensics and privacy protection: "We are proud to announce the release of Parrot 4.7, which represents an important step forward for our project. The pen-testing menu structure was re-factored and re-designed to make tools easier to access in a more logical hierarchical structure. New tools were also added to the project and we plan to add even more in the future. Not all of them are going to be pre-installed, but a good set of tools in our repository enables pen-testers to build up the perfect pen-test system for their specific needs, regardless the default package selection picked by our team. In Parrot 4.7 the sandbox is disabled by default and users can decide wether to start an application sandboxed or not. You can easily start the sandboxed variant of an installed program from the /sandbox/ folder or from a dedicated menu that we plan to improve in the future." Read the full release notes for a detailed list of changes and improvements.
Lakka is a lightweight Linux distribution that transforms a small computer into a full blown game console. The distribution is based on LibreELEC and runs the RetroArch console emulator. The project has published a new version, Lakka 2.3, which supports running on the Raspberry Pi 4 computer as well as the ROCKPro64 board. Perhaps the most impressive new feature is real-time translation of text: "One of the flagship features of RetroArch 1.7.8 is the AI Project. This unique and never-seen before feature allows you to translate your games on the fly, in real-time as you play. Once setup on your Lakka box, you will be able to press the AI hotkey to have the system scan the screen for any foreign language text. Once recognized, the text is translated and restitued back to you depending on the current mode: Speech mode: the translated text is read back to you using text to speech. As the game isn't interrupted in this mode, that allows you to have the game dialogues read to you in your language as if someone was sitting next to you, translating the game in real time. Image mode (on the picture): the original text is replaced by the translated text onscreen, while the game is paused to give you time to read." Further details on the new version can be found in the release announcement.
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
The table below provides a list of torrents DistroWatch is currently seeding. If you do not have a bittorrent client capable of handling the linked files, we suggest installing either the Transmission or KTorrent bittorrent clients.
Archives of our previously seeded torrents may be found in our Torrent Archive. We also maintain a Torrents RSS feed for people who wish to have open source torrents delivered to them. To share your own open source torrents of Linux and BSD projects, please visit our Upload Torrents page.
Torrent Corner statistics:
- Total torrents seeded: 1,624
- Total data uploaded: 28.1TB
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
|Opinion Poll (by Jesse Smith)
DNS over HTTPS
Recently Mozilla and Google have been testing a new method of resolving hostnames into IP addresses. The new approach sends DNS queries over encrypted HTTPS connections rather than through the typically plain-text DNS protocol. While this hides hostname lookups from casual observers on the network, it also overrides operating system DNS rules and relies on a single, third-party provider to handle the DNS over HTTPS (DoH) queries. This has some people worried about privacy and side-effects from ignoring the operating system's DNS configuration. OpenBSD is disabling DoH in the Firefox web browser and many people are waiting to see how Linux distributions will handle the new DoH feature.
What are your thoughts on traditional DNS lookups versus DoH encrypted lookups? Do you have a preference as to which approach your web browser uses?
You can see the results of our previous poll on detecting Wayland sessions and applications in last week's edition. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
DNS over HTTPS
|I prefer traditional DNS queries: ||354 (30%)|
| I prefer DNS over HTTPS queries: ||185 (16%)|
| Either is fine as long as I can change it: ||435 (37%)|
| I have no preference: ||215 (18%)|
|Website News (by Jesse Smith)
DistroWatch database summary
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This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 30 September 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 848 (2020-01-13): elementary OS 5.1, accessing USB ports directly, NetBSD expanding Wayland support, Fedora phasing out old Python packages|
|• Issue 847 (2020-01-06): Android-x86 9.0, Hypberbola switching to BSD base, Debian votes on init diversity, slow adoption of Wayland and delta packages|
|• Issue 846 (2019-12-23): NomadBSD 1.3, Tails publishes boot fix, Arch update requires intervention, Purism launches server lineup, password protecting files|
|• Issue 845 (2019-12-16): OpenIndiana 2019.10, BunsenLabs' "Lithium" preview, MX-Fluxbox, 10 years of Tails, installing local packages|
|• Issue 844 (2019-12-09): Project Trident Void alpha, alpha installer for "Bullseye", SparkyLinux portable edition, dealing with large log files|
|• Issue 843 (2019-12-02): Obarun 2019.11.02, Bluestar 5.3.6, using special characters on command line, Fedora plans to disable empty passwords, FreeBSD's quarterly status report|
|• Issue 842 (2019-11-25): SolydXK 10, System Adminstration Ethics book review, Debian continues init diversity debate, Google upstreaming Android kernel patches|
|• Issue 841 (2019-11-18): Emmabuntus DE3-1.00, changing keys in keyboard layout, Debian phasing out Python 2 and voting on init diversity, Slackware gets unofficial updated live media|
|• 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 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 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 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 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, 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 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|
|• 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 |
HomeBase was not a Linux distribution in the traditional sense but, rather, a custom environment tailored for a user's needs. It combines the best of both worlds: an easy-to-use, intuitive operating environment for those who want to keep it simple; a quick, one-click access to a more sophisticated environment for experienced Linux users. While HomeBase DESKTOP comes with a full package of applications, it's simple to pull apps that you're already working with into the HomeBase environment.