| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 847, 6 January 2020
Welcome to this year's 1st issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
We are thrilled to be back after being off last week and we are eager to dive into what is happening in the open source community. In the past few weeks there have been some interesting changes with projects making important adjustments to their policies and software. For instance, the Hyperbola project is making a big change and switching its base from GNU/Linux-libre to a fork of OpenBSD. We have more details on this in our News section, along with a summary of improvements coming to Linux Mint. Plus we report on Debian developers voting on an official stance as to how to deal with different init software implementations. Meanwhile, the Fedora team tries to improve situations where the operating system has run out of memory and needs to remove processes. First though, we explore Android-x86, a port of the Android operating system for desktop and laptop machines. We have details on this unusual, Linux-based system in our Feature Story. Plus we explore the question of why some useful technologies, such as Wayland and delta package updates, are not more widely adopted. Let us know whether you use delta packages in our Opinion Poll. Plus we are pleased to share the releases of the past two weeks and list the torrents we are seeding. Finally, we are pleased to report that we have updated our Package Management page and provided short-cuts for using the Solus package manager. We wish you all a wonderful year ahead and happy reading!
- Review: Android-x86 9.0
- News: Hyperbola switching to OpenBSD base, Mint polishes user interface, Debian votes on init diversity, Fedora to address performance on memory-starved systems
- Questions and answers: Adopting Wayland and delta-Deb packages
- Released in the past two weeks: Calculate 20, antiX 19.1, EasyOS 2.2
- Torrent corner: antiX, ArchLinux, BlackArch, Calculate, EasyOS, EndeavourOS, Feren OS, KaOS, KDE neon, Q4OS, Qubes OS, RancherOS, Robolinux, Septor, SmartOS
- Opinion poll: Delta package updates
- Website news: Package management guide updated
- New distributions: Frost Linux
- Reader comments
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (30MB) and MP3 (23MB) formats.
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Android-x86 is an unofficial port of the Android operating system to the x86 hardware architecture. The port allows people to run and install Android on desktop computers and laptops. While Android usually runs on mobile devices with touch screens, this port brings the operating system to other personal devices and enables users to run some Android applications on their laptop or workstation. Not all applications run, or are stable, but many are, providing a familiar interface and collection of applications for people who usually run Android-powered phones and tablets.
The ISO for Android-x86 is approximately 910MB in size. Booting from the disc brings up a menu offering to launch either a live desktop environment or install the operating system. If we take the install option a series of text-based menus are displayed which guide us through setting up the operating system on our hard drive. There are not many steps, we begin by being asked to partition the disk and there is a text-based partition manager available to guide us through modifying the disk. Then we are asked to select a partition to use for the Android operating system. We can choose to format the Android partition with the ext4, NTFS or FAT32 filesystems. I went with ext4. There aren't any tips on this screen so I'm not sure if the project has recommendations or use cases for one filesystem over another. At any rate, the Android files are then copied to the computer and the boot loader is installed. We can then choose to set up the system directory with read-only or read-write permissions and I took the latter. Then we can reboot the computer and start exploring Android-x86.
The live session
Taking the live session option from the Android-x86 install media walks us through a series of configuration screens. The same screens we would see after installing the operating system and running it for the first time. The first one gives us the chance to change font size and screen resolution and enable screen magnification. We can also pick our preferred language. We are then given the chance to connect to wireless networks and then check for software updates. We are given the chance to connect to an existing Google account to synchronize data and applications. Then we set the date and time and, optionally, enable location services and network scanning. Android also asks permission to send usage data to the developers (I presume it means Google's team, rather than the Android-x86 developers). We can then create a PIN or access code that will lock-protect our device. In the end we are asked if we want to use the Quickstep or Taskbar home screen.
Most of the setup steps seem straight forward, but the question of using Quickstep or Taskbar is a bit vague and there aren't any previews of what these desktop layouts will look like. I found that Quickstep is basically the classic Android desktop. There is a notification area at the top of the screen. A Google search field is below that. Some applications icons - such as those for accessing the Chrome browser, GMail, a music player and image viewer - are on the desktop area and the bottom of the screen holds the Back, Home, and Window buttons. Or as I have come to think of them: the vague Arrow, Circle, and Square icons. The Taskbar home screen is quite similar, except the desktop has a panel across the bottom of the display where we can find an application menu (in the bottom-left corner), task switcher (bottom-centre), and a system tray (in the bottom-right).
Of the two, the Taskbar screen is much easier to navigate when using a laptop or workstation. The Quickstep screen has, as far as I can tell, no application menu, no way to access power or screenshot options (apart from pushing the machine's physical power button), and no clear way to access most settings. The Taskbar desktop provides these options through the application menu, making it quicker and easier to navigate. Both versions of the desktop area use a soft pink wallpaper and, while there are tools available to change the wallpaper, there are no other sample images included.
Early on the desktop style kept switching from the Taskbar back to the Quickstep layout. I soon realized that every time I clicked the Home button the desktop would reset unless I made Taskbar the default desktop application, rather than just running it once.
On a similar note, something that frequently frustrated me was I was constantly clicking desktop elements by accident. Android-x86 uses both long-clicks to bring up menus and swipe gestures in a number of situations. As a result I would often end up triggering a new menu or hitting a control at the edge of the screen while moving windows or swiping notifications. This, combined with the search options and connection toggles that are scattered around the desktop, meant I was often besieged by new windows and pop-ups while using the laptop's mouse. Using the touch screen directly helped, but it is an awkward way to explore a laptop's interface.
Something I noticed early on was that when running Android-x86 with the Quickstep interface, application windows would always open in full screen mode. When I switched over to the Taskbar interface, some applications would still run in full screen mode. This made it harder to switch between programs using the taskbar. However, when in Taskbar mode, most windows would open as small windows on the desktop. These tiny windows are always much too small to be practical and often their font was too small to read comfortably, even when I had increased the size of system fonts.
I ran into a few issues early on when trying to explore Android-x86. I began by running the operating system in a VirtualBox environment. The system started to boot, reported it had found its media and then nothing happened, the system just locked up. I was able to run the system installer inside VirtualBox and this appeared to go well. However, once Android was installed I was unable to boot it from my hard drive. The operating system could be selected from the boot menu, but it would lock up before reaching the graphical splash screen. In short, I was unable to get Android to run inside VirtualBox, but the installer worked.
On my laptop, the operating system worked much better. Both the live system and installer worked. Android-x86 detected my touchpad and registered taps as clicks. I don't like that Android uses "natural scrolling", reversing the way scrolling works with the touchpad. Wireless networking functioned and the system was responsive. My laptop's touch screen capabilities worked too and often provided a smoother interface than using a mouse. Throughout my trial the system remained stable, though individual apps did not always work.
Android-x86 ships with a small handful of pre-installed applications. The Chrome web browser, a camera application, an image viewer, file manager, and terminal application are provided. There is a note taking application, though it seems less flexible than a typical text editor. We also have access to a calendar and calculator.
There is a settings panel which helps us deal with networks, make small adjustments to the interface, and connect to on-line accounts. The Android settings, particularly with regards to the interface, are not particularly flexible. There are ways to tweak the desktop, but it typically involves installing third-party applications rather than using the settings panel.
Installing and running additional software
Assuming we have a Google account, we are able to install and update applications through the Google Play Store. This software centre is fairly easy to browse for popular items or we can search for programs by name. The Play Store has a huge amount of software and there is a lot of overlapping function between its apps. This can make it difficult to find a specific program, or a useful program, as often many applications will have very similar names and features.
Acquiring applications that work on Android-x86 seems to be luck of the draw. Lots of little programs work and a few big ones, like Chrome, work. But I generally found software worked about as reliably on Android-x86 as a coin toss.
Even when software installed and ran properly, there were sometimes issues. For instance, I tried a couple of screenshot applications and while two of them would run, neither could save a screenshot. Between this and Android-x86's inability to run in VirtualBox, I was unable to get any screenshots during this trial.
To make matters worse, app interfaces sometimes did not work in a consistent way. Whether a program's Back button appeared in the upper-left corner of the screen or I'd need to use the system's Back button at the bottom of the screen seemed to be random, sometimes even within the same application. This meant I sometimes had to move the mouse up and down the height of the screen just to perform the same action twice.
I want to say that I'm impressed that the Android-x86 team has been able to port Android to the x86 family of processors. The operating system is stable, works with my physical hardware (though not in VirtualBox) and runs quickly. This is quite a feat and the fact than many applications run on this ported platform is also impressive.
However, Android-x86 is not at all practical as a desktop operating system. Its interface is unsuited to keyboard and mouse navigation, the desktop and apps have inconsistent interfaces, the desktop layout will keep changing if we don't lock it into one form or the other. Most programs do not look right in windowed mode.
While Android provides a huge amount of software in its Play Store, we are flooded with choices, many of which will not run well on the ported operating system. This makes trying to get the functionality we want very difficult and involves a good deal of trial and error.
Technologically, Android-x86 is very interesting and I could see it being useful for people who want to test their Android apps without having a mobile device. However, while this project is very interesting, I don't think it is nearly as polished or practical as most GNU/Linux distributions. Other than developers and very keen Android fans, I don't think there is much of an audience for this operating system.
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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
Android-x86 has a visitor supplied average rating of: 4.5/10 from 4 review(s).
Have you used Android-x86? You can leave your own review of the project on our ratings page.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
Hyperbola switching to OpenBSD base, Mint polishes user interface, Debian votes on init diversity, Fedora to address performance on memory-starved systems
The Hyperbola project is a community driven effort to provide a fully free (as in freedom) operating system, featuring a completely libre Linux kernel. However, the Hyperbola team is planning to change direction and shift bases from GNU/Linux to a fork of OpenBSD. "Due to the Linux kernel rapidly proceeding down an unstable path, we are planning on implementing a completely new OS derived from several BSD implementations. This was not an easy decision to make, but we wish to use our time and resources to create a viable alternative to the current operating system trends which are actively seeking to undermine user choice and freedom. This will not be a 'distro', but a hard fork of the OpenBSD kernel and userspace including new code written under GPLv3 and LGPLv3 to replace GPL-incompatible parts and non-free ones." Further details on the change can be found in the Hyperbola announcement.
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The Linux Mint team is currently working on some changes to polish their distribution's user interface and address minor issues with the latest version. "Before we move ahead and start working on Linux Mint 20 and LMDE 4, we'll make a few adjustments and fix some of the things you expressed in your feedback. First, I noticed some of you regretted the removal of keyboard shortcuts in Cinnamon's grouped window list. When we removed this feature, we assumed it wasn't discoverable and so very few people were likely to use it. It looks like we were wrong, so we'll bring this feature back. We finally managed to solve the 1px border bug which impacts full screen windows in Cinnamon, and we also have a fix for the screensaver lag. We'll be pushing these fixes as package updates. The new version of the System Reports tool was very well received but the root password notice confused a huge number of people. I talked to some of our IRC moderators and it's their number 1 complaint with the new release. We'll review this and find a solution for it." The project's monthly newsletter also talks about the newly released MintBox3 computer. The MintBox3 is a small, passive cooling computer that ships with Linux Mint installed. Details on the new generation of the MintBox can be found in the Compulab press release.
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The Debian project has been debating how to handle having multiple init implementations packaged for the distribution. Some Debian developers would like to actively support multiple init systems (such as OpenRC, SysV init, and runit) while others would prefer to streamline things and only support systemd, which is currently the default init software. There has been a good deal of discussion over whether to support multiple init choices and, if so, how to do that. The project eventually voted on a series of options with the winner being "systemd, but we support exploring alternatives". "The Debian project recognizes that systemd service units are the preferred configuration for describing how to start a daemon/service. However, Debian remains an environment where developers and users can explore and develop alternate init systems and alternatives to systemd features. Those interested in exploring such alternatives need to provide the necessary development and packaging resources to do that work." Essentially this makes systemd the one official init implementation for Debian while allowing package maintainers to work on supporting alternatives.
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Ben Cotton has written about a proposal for the upcoming release of Fedora 32 which would cause the operating system to kill off memory-heavy processes when the system is running out of RAM and swap space. "Fedora editions and spins, have the in-kernel OOM (out-of-memory) manager enabled. The manager's concern is keeping the kernel itself functioning. It has no concern about user space function or interactivity. This proposed change attempts to improve the user experience, in the short term, by triggering the in-kernel process killing mechanism, sooner. Instead of the system becoming completely unresponsive for tens of minutes, hours or days, the expectation is an offending process (determined by oom_score, same as now) will be killed off within seconds or a few minutes. This is an incremental improvement in user experience, but admittedly still suboptimal. There is additional work on-going to improve the user experience further." Details on the proposal can be found in the Fedora wiki.
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These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Adopting Wayland and delta-Deb packages
Recently I have received two questions about the adoption of technologies, specifically Wayland and delta-Deb packages. More specifically, the questions were asking why Wayland and delta-Deb have not been more widely adopted and used. Since there is a common theme here - apparently useful technologies not being adopted - I would like to talk about both of them in this week's column.
Let's talk about Wayland first. Wayland is a protocol and design for a new way applications and desktop environments can draw things on our screens. It is intended as a replacement for the aging X protocol and software. Using Wayland, the idea goes, desktop environments will be able to offer a faster, cleaner code base that doesn't suffer from the same bugs and legacy security concerns X.Org has.
What tends to confuse people is that, while X is both the common name of a protocol (X11) and the software (X.Org) which implements that protocol, Wayland is just a protocol and reference implementation. That is, Wayland tells us how software can communicate and implement a new approach to displaying things on our screens. But Wayland is more an idea, a blueprint, than a thing that runs on our computers. Each desktop and window manager needs to create its own implementation of the Wayland design.
This means GNOME has its own Wayland display server, KDE has another, Unity8 has another. If Xfce, LXQt and other desktops also want to use Wayland's design they need to create (or adopt) their own implementation of the Wayland design. This means each desktop environment may have different levels of completeness and implement different features through the Wayland protocol. In contrast, there is (for most practical purposes) one X.Org implementation and each desktop environment can use the same X.Org package and enjoy the same common set of features it offers.
All of this is to say that while Wayland offers some nice ideas with fewer moving parts, fewer security concerns in some instances, and promises smoother video output, there are some problems in practise. It takes a lot of work for desktops to implement a new window manager that talks the Wayland protocol. Each desktop needs to create its own implementation which can lead to an inconsistent experience across desktop environments. Also, some applications (particularly closed source programs) expect to talk to X.Org and therefore Wayland needs to provide a compatibility layer for those programs. This makes shifting from one approach (X.Org) to the other (Wayland) an uphill process.
To make matters more complicated, to the end user (even to most application developers) there is no practical difference between running X.Org or Wayland display servers. There are some theoretical benefits to Wayland, but the end user will almost never see them. On most machines, with the typical default settings, running most applications, it is virtually impossible to tell the difference between a Wayland session and an X.Org session. This means there is relatively little incentive for users or developers to put in the effort to migrate from one approach to the other.
Wayland is largely being adapted by the two biggest desktop projects, GNOME and KDE. However, the relative lack of practical benefits and the amount of developer hours required to make the switch mean most of the smaller desktop environment projects have not made the transition. Probably because they do not have a lot of developer resources to spend on creating a technology most people do not feel they need. It's not that Wayland isn't useful (it has some good ideas), but it is competing against an old, ingrained technology that has been deemed "good enough" by most people. This situation makes for a slow transition.
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Now, moving on to delta-Deb packages. Usually when we upgrade software packages on our system, a new complete copy of the new package is downloaded. The old version is removed and the new version is installed in its place. This is a relatively simple series of transactions. However, downloading the entirety of a new software package can be a waste of network bandwidth when we only need to change a few small files. If there is a bug in LibreOffice that only requires changing a single, small 1MB library then it is wasteful to download the whole 187MB all over again.
Delta packages contain just the changes between two versions of a package. This means we can download just the differences between one version and the next, potentially saving large amounts of bandwidth in the process. The Fedora project was one of the few to push the idea of using delta packages (delta-RPMs) by default and it could easily reduce the package manager's bandwidth usage by half.
The bandwidth saving seems like an attractive idea so it is understandable most users would be interested in using delta packages when they are available. So why are more distributions not using these smaller packages? To be entirely up front, I haven't surveyed distribution developers about this, however, I think there are a handful of key issues involved that make delta packages less attractive to distribution maintainers than to the users.
One is that these delta packages take up space on the server and then need to be synchronized between servers. This means more storage space and more bandwidth is required by the project. The end-user may benefit, but the distribution itself needs to bear extra costs to share all of these little packages between its mirrors.
The next issue is someone needs to create and monitor the creation of all these delta packages. For each package. For each version of the distribution. This type of work can balloon very quickly. For a project with 50,000 packages and three supported versions, we are looking at a minimum of 150,000 packages. If each of those also needs a delta package, that is a lot of package building and testing to monitor.
I suspect the increase in network speeds to most areas of the world has been a factor too. When Fedora started deploying delta-RPMs it was still fairly common for many users to have connections too slow to stream video. These days many people, even in more rural areas, have the bandwidth to download most of a month's updates in under a minute. This makes reducing the user's bandwidth a lower priority.
Again, we see a cost/benefit issue, just as we did with Wayland. A delta package offers a little benefit to the user, but a relatively high cost to the distribution maintainers. This makes it a low priority and unlikely to be implemented unless someone steps forward with the time and resources to cover the cost of making delta packages a reality.
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1 - Earlier I wrote that there is one X.Org implementation. By which I meant most distributions ship and use the same X.Org software. There are other implementations of the X11 protocol which can be used in special cases. It is rare, but they do exist. However, virtually all Linux distributions ship the same implementation and so we can usually think of X.Org as being a common base for any applications which need to use the X11 protocol.
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Additional answers can be found in our Questions and Answers archive.
|Released Last Week
Yann Le Doare has announced the release of LinuxConsole 2019, a new version of the project's independently-developed, modular distribution featuring the MATE desktop. It can be customised using pre-built modules for various tasks, such as games, graphics, multimedia, music, office and video, and it also supports installing some Windows software and games with WINE. "LinuxConsole 2019 is available for download. It comes with Linux kernel version 5.4.5 which support Extfat natively. This Linux distribution is designed to be easy to use and powerful. You can try it in a live mode and then install it on a hard drive. It is also possible to use it on old computers, with the lightweight MATE desktop. What is new? Linux kernel 5.4.5; 865 libraries and programs are in the core module; build for 'YourDistroFromScratch 2.7', with docker hybrid ISO image; parental control tool, for controlling the access time of user accounts; modular concept; MATE desktop 1.22; Chromium becomes the default web browser; Wine 4.0.3." Visit the distribution's home page to read the full release announcement.
EndeavourOS is a rolling release Linux distribution based on Arch Linux. The project's latest release, version 2019.12.22, introduces the ability to perform installations in both on-line and off-line modes. "We are using the Calamares installer and when you are starting your install by clicking on the Start the Installer button of the Welcome app, it asks you which install you prefer: off-line or on-line. No matter which desktop environment you choose, EndeavourOS ships with some pre-installed packages and apps you already know from our current installer and some of those are: GRUB, the mainstream Linux kernel, Nano, broadcom-dkms, intel-ucode/amd-ucode, NVIDIA-installer, arc-x-icons-theme, eos-welcome, eos-update-notifier, reflector-auto, Yay and Firefox. Except for our in-house developed reflector-auto, eos-welcome and the eos-update-notifier, the rest of the packages are coming directly from the Arch repos or the AUR, so they are not customized or modified package versions in our own repo, we are still close to Arch." Further details can be found in the project's release announcement.
antiX, a lightweight, desktop Linux distribution featuring IceWM as the default window manager, has been upgraded to version 19.1. Although largely a bug-fix release, the new version also updates IceWM to version 1.6.3: "antiX-19.1 bug-fix/upgrade ISO images available. All new ISO images are bug-fix/upgrades of antiX 19 SysVInit series. Only for new users, no need to download if using antiX 19. antiX 19.1 is based on Debian 'Buster' and is systemd-free. As usual, we offer the following systemd-free flavours for both 32-bit and 64-bit architectures: antiX-full with four windows managers – IceWM (default), Fluxbox, JWM and herbstluftwm, plus full LibreOffice suite; antiX-base with 4 windows managers – IceWM (default), Fluxbox, JWM and herbstluftwm; antiX-core with no X window; antiX-net with no X window and just enough to get you connected (wired) and ready to build. The 32-bit edition uses a non-PAE kernel. Changes: 4.9.200 Linux kernel; Firefox 68.3.0esr; disk-manager included; Ceni network manager included, but ConnMan remains the default." Here is the full release announcement.
Parted Magic 2019_12_24
Parted Magic is a small live CD/USB/PXE with its elemental purpose being to partition hard drives, recover data and image partitions. The project's latest release is Parted Magic 2019_12_24. The new version includes Wine, DosBOX and the GNOME Disk utility. Several key packages have also been updated. "Parted Magic 2019_12_24. This version of Parted Magic adds WINE, Gnome Disk Utility, DOSBox and a new method of booting via PXE. We have also reverted back to the 2014 desktop wallpaper and GRUB screen as seen on the screen shots page. New PXE booting: 1. Extract the ISO image and copy the 'pmagic' folder to your server. 2. Use the new 'wget=' kernel cheat code and the path leading to the 'pmagic' folder. Updated Programs: testdisk 7.2-WIP, ncdu 1.14.1, kernel firmware 20191222git, ZFS on Linux 0.8.2, Linux kernel 5.4.6, xf86-video-sis 0.12.0, libdrm 2.4.100, OpenSSL 1.0.2u, nwipe 0.26, Mozilla Firefox 68.3.0esr, libtiff 4.1.0, Flashplayer Plugin 188.8.131.523, ca-certificates 20191130, BIND 9.11.14. Added Programs: Wine 4.0.2, libpwquality 1.4.1, gnome-disk-utility 3.6.1, cracklib 2.9.6, DOSBox 0.74.3, stressapptest 1.0.9, cabextract 1.9.1." Further details on the new version, along with instructions for setting up PXE booting for Parted Magic, can be found on the distribution's news page and additional information can be found in the project's changelog.
Feren OS 2019.12
Feren OS, a desktop Linux distribution based on Linux Mint, has been updated to version 2019.12. This is the project's first release featuring KDE Plasma desktop by default, although a separate "Classic" edition with Cinnamon is also available. From the release announcement: "Today I am proud to announce the release of Feren OS December 2019 Snapshot, code-named 'Yttrium'. This is one of the biggest snapshots in the history of Feren OS. The first and most important change in this snapshot is the move to KDE Plasma. This means that Feren OS now has a completely different desktop environment to what it had before. KDE Plasma is an extremely stable and lightweight desktop environment in Feren OS, and it has way more support from the community since it's one of the major desktop environments available in Linux. The default Feren OS theme has had a bunch of minor visual tweaks. The most noticeable tweak is that menus are now dark and transparent rather than white and opaque. This, alongside Plasma's blur effect, makes the desktop look way more sleek by default."
Feren OS 2019.12 -- Running the Plasma desktop
(full image size: 2.7MB, 1920x1080 pixels)
EasyOS is an experimental Linux distribution which uses many of the technologies and package formats pioneered by Puppy Linux. The distribution features custom container technology called Easy Containers which can run applications or the entire desktop environment in a container. The project's latest release is EasyOS 2.2, which is built using packages from Debian 10 packages. "Lots of bug fixes, improvements, package upgrades, new applications and utilities. Version 2.2 is built with Debian 10.2 DEBs, and the kernel is 5.4.6 with lockdown enabled - lockdown is used in the 'Copy session to RAM & disable drives' boot option, to ratchet the security even higher. New applications built-in to the download file: pSynclient and SolveSpace. The SeaMonkey suite is built-in and now version 2.49.5. As usual, there is a huge collection of applications built-in, including LibreOffice, Inkscape, Gimp, Planner, Grisbi, Osmo, Notecase, Audacious and MPV. The download file is 515MB. Among many setup enhancements, there is a special patched NetworkManager tray applet, and there are considerable improvements to BootManager, SFSget, EasyContainerManager and EasyVersionControl GUI utilities." Additional information can be found in the project's release announcement and in the release notes.
Calculate Linux 20
Alexander Tratsevskiy has announced the release of Calculate Linux 20, a major update of the project's Gentoo-based, rolling-release distribution set available in KDE Plasma, Cinnamon, LXQt, MATE and Xfce flavours. This version upgrades many packages, but it also drops the i686 architecture: "For this new release, Gentoo 17.1 was used as the base profile, all binary packages recompiled with GCC 9.2, and overlays managed with eselect. Calculate Linux will no longer come in 32-bit edition. Change list: a local overlay has been added; you can run 'emerge --config' to launch the new cl-config tool for service configuration; 'modesetting' video driver supported; CPU-X has been replaced by the graphical HardInfo utility for better hardware browsing; MPlayer has been replaced by mpv; cronie replaces vixie-cron for cron job scheduling; fixed single disk auto-detection for installation; fixed bug where several applications played ALSA audio at the same time; fixed default audio device configuration; Xfce desktop has been updated to 4.14...." Read the rest of the release announcement for further details.
BlackArch Linux 2020.01.01
Levon Kayan has announced the release of a new version of BlackArch Linux, an Arch-based distribution with a large collection of specialist tools designed for penetration testing, security research and forensic analysis: "Today we have released new BlackArch Linux ISO and OVA images. Many improvements and much QA went through all packages and tools BlackArch Linux offers. Here is the changelog: added 120 new tools; add terminus font support to LXDM; fixed the annoying 'cannot open tools via menu' bug; updated BlackArch installer to version 1.1.34; included Linux kernel 5.4.6; updated urxvt configuration to add support for changing size on the fly; Vim - replace pathogen with Vundle.vim, added new vim plugin, clang_complete; minor bug fixes and improvements; updated all BlackArch tools and packages, including configuration files; updated all system packages; updated all window manager menus (Awesome, Fluxbox, Openbox)." Visit the distribution's blog to read the full release announcement.
ExTiX is a desktop distribution normally based on Ubuntu. The project's latest release, ExTiX 20.1, is based instead on deepin and features the Deepin desktop environment. The project's release announcement states: "New functions:1.You can run ExTiX from RAM. Use boot alternative 3 (Load to RAM) or Advanced. A wonderful way to run Linux if you have enough RAM. Everything will be super fast. When ExTiX has booted up you can remove the DVD or USB stick. 2. You will have the opportunity to choose language before you enter the Deepin 15.11 Desktop. All main languages are supported. 3. I have replaced Deepin Installer with the Reborn version of Deepin Installer. Works better in every way. 4. I have replaced kernel 5.3.0-rc6-exton with kernel 5.5.0-rc3-exton. 5. Spotify and Skype are pre-installed. 6. You can watch Netflix while running Firefox. 7. You can install ExTiX Deepin also in VirtualBox/VMware using Deepin Installer. (In previous versions you had to chroot into the install partition and install GRUB). 8. While installing ExTiX Deepin to a USB stick using Rufus 3.8 you can create a persistent partition on the stick. Thus all your changes of the ExTiX Deepin system will be saved directly on the stick!"
ExTiX 20.1 -- Running the Deepin desktop
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Qubes OS 4.0.2
Happy New Year! We start the year with the announcement about the release of Qubes OS 4.0.2, the latest update of the project's security-focused Linux distribution which allows users to "compartmentalise" computing tasks into isolated compartments called qubes. The new release updates the Linux kernel to version 4.19.89: "We are pleased to announce the release of Qubes 4.0.2. This is the second stable point release of Qubes 4.0. It includes many updates over the initial 4.0 release, in particular: all 4.0 dom0 updates to date; Fedora 30 TemplateVM; Debian 10 TemplateVM; Whonix 15 Gateway and Workstation TemplateVMs; Linux kernel 4.19 by default. If you installed Qubes 4.0 or 4.0.1 and have fully updated, then your system is already equivalent to a Qubes 4.0.2 installation. No further action is required. Note: at 4.5 GB, the Qubes 4.0.2 ISO image will not fit on a single-layer DVD (for the technical details underlying this, please see issue #5367). Instead, we recommend copying the ISO image onto a sufficiently large USB drive. However, if you would prefer to use optical media, we suggest selecting a dual-layer DVD or a Blu-ray disc." See the release announcement for further information.
Q4OS is a Debian-based desktop Linux distribution designed to offer classic-style user interface, provided by either KDE Plasma or the Trinity desktop. The project's latest release, Q4OS 3.10, is based on Debian 10.2 "Buster" and offers better screen scaling for Trinity users. "The new 3.10 series brings important changes for key Q4OS desktop environments, Plasma and Trinity. Both desktops are now much more independent one on each other, Q4OS Plasma doesn't require presence of the Trinity desktop anymore. As a positive side effect, we could significantly reduce size of the Plasma installation media. In addition to adoption the Debian Buster 10.2 release, we have included a dedicated hardware reporting tool into both Plasma and Trinity live media. Screen scaling tool for Trinity desktop has been even improved again. Plasma Debonaire theme has been polished, so it now looks a bit darker. Apart from the changes mentioned, Q4OS 3.10 brings numerous improvements and fixes as well as cumulative upgrade covering all changes since the previous Q4OS 3 Centaurus stable release, see the complete Changelog." Further details can be found in the project's blog post.
KaOS is a desktop Linux distribution that features the latest version of the KDE desktop environment, the Calligra office suite, and other popular software applications that use the Qt toolkit. The project's latest snapshot is KaOS 2020.01 which introduces signed kernel modules. "A nice way of starting 2020 is to present to you the January release of a new stable ISO image. For the many changes in this release, two stand out. First one is the addition of signed kernel modules for Linux 5.4. All internal modules are now automatically signed during the kernel build, out of tree modules like virtualbox-modules and NVIDIA packages have the signing added too. Building of those modules was adjusted to use the kernel specific signing files during each and every rebuild. You can harden your system by adding module.sig_enforce=1 to your kernel boot line. Second, to better accommodate hybrid systems and non-free NVIDIA, there is now a switch from libgl to vendor-neutral libglvnd." Further information on these and other changes, including efforts to remove obsolete Python 2 packages, can be found in the project's release announcement.
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
The table below provides a list of torrents DistroWatch is currently seeding. If you do not have a bittorrent client capable of handling the linked files, we suggest installing either the Transmission or KTorrent bittorrent clients.
Archives of our previously seeded torrents may be found in our Torrent Archive. We also maintain a Torrents RSS feed for people who wish to have open source torrents delivered to them. To share your own open source torrents of Linux and BSD projects, please visit our Upload Torrents page.
Torrent Corner statistics:
- Total torrents seeded: 1,758
- Total data uploaded: 29.5TB
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
|Opinion Poll (by Jesse Smith)
Delta package updates
In our Questions and Answers column we talked about delta package updates. A delta package contains just the changes between one version of a package and the next, saving the user from downloading the entire package over again. This can offer significant bandwidth savings when upgrading large packages, such as LibreOffice and Firefox. We would like to hear whether your distribution uses delta packages when upgrading. Let us know what you think of delta package updates in the comments.
You can see the results of our previous poll on disk encryption and file vaults in last week's edition. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
Delta package updates
|My distro uses delta package updates: ||114 (11%)|
| My distro does not use delta package updates: ||506 (51%)|
| I use some distros with and some without this feature: ||85 (9%)|
| Unsure: ||292 (29%)|
|Website News (by Jesse Smith)
Package management guide updated
One of the defining characteristics of the various families of GNU/Linux distributions is the package manager. There are a lot of different tools for managing software packages in the Linux community, and each package manager uses a different command line syntax.
To help our readers deal with the many different package managers we maintain our Package Management guide. Last week we updated the guide to include an overview of the Solus package manager. We have also expanded the introduction to the page to provide a more complete list of the package tools we cover in the guide.
* * * * *
Distributions added to waiting list
- Frost Linux. Frost Linux is an Arch Linux-based distribution featuring the KDE Plasma desktop.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 13 January 2020. Past articles and reviews can be found through our Article Search page. To contact the authors please send e-mail to:
- Jesse Smith (feedback, questions and suggestions: distribution reviews/submissions, questions and answers, tips and tricks)
- Ladislav Bodnar (feedback, questions, donations, comments)
- Bruce Patterson (podcast)
|Linux Foundation Training
|Reader Comments • Jump to last comment
1 • Delta package updates (by mmphosis on 2020-01-06 03:00:23 GMT from Canada) |
I hadn't even heard of Delta package updates until now. apt, deb, pacman, rpm, nix, snaps, ..., there are so many package managers and different ways of installing and updating that when yet another way other installing / updating appears, I have to shrug. Thanks for mentioning Delta package updates but just like Wayland which I think is really cool, I will be sticking with X for now because AutoKey doesn't work with Wayland, and I prefer XFCE. I think it all depends on your requirements. Yesterday, I just wanted to get printing working reliably, and after removing, reinstalling, fixing, I eventually just downloaded the old crappy Linux printer driver from the printer corporation and installed it manually. Yuck. But, printing works now.
I am looking for choice, but sometimes there are too many. And, sometimes I am stuck with the one, and only one, overbearing init system or desktop environment that someone else has decided is going to be installed in the distro. When someone else is making the decisions, it is difficult to switch to another distro which may have more choices, but may have other problems like something as simple as printing not working. I would like to move away from systemd and glibc, and use Void which has runit and musl. Like hyperbola moving from Linux to BSD, this may be an excellent decision, but it is challenging to make these changes.
2 • Unsure (by Roy on 2020-01-06 05:54:56 GMT from United States)
I have not heard of Delta packages either. I was also unsure when updating my Feren Os to the 5.48 Linux kernel with the Plasma desktop after just recently getting better at understanding Cinnamon. Wow, were the letters smaller but thankfully after I added a panel it had all the same stuff on top. So I removed the panel on bottom. I was glad I was given the option to backup my configuration before make the change to to Plasma. Then going to the Synaptic package manager I was able to load the new version of Cinnamon and pin all the programs I use the most back to where I had them before. Only now I got all the cool KDE stuff with the new Linux kernel with the bigger font size. And I am given the option to login in with Plasma or Cinnamon.
3 • openSUSE supports delta package updates (by greenpossum on 2020-01-06 06:41:11 GMT from Australia)
It's transparent so doesn't affect normal update procedure. But you can see that it's downloading DRPMs where possible from the zypper CLI interface.
4 • Hyperbola (by LightBit on 2020-01-06 06:41:13 GMT from Slovenia)
Good luck to developers (or should I say politicians) of Hyperbola with maintaining their new "useless" OS.
Their reasoning is crazy.
5 • Sure using uname -r (by Roy on 2020-01-06 06:47:20 GMT from United States)
Linux 184.108.40.206 instead of 5.48
6 • Delta RPMS (by bluepossum on 2020-01-06 07:16:58 GMT from United States)
The last time I tried delta rpms it would download the delta rpm, extract it, compare it to the original then swap out the old files for the new files. By the time it did all of this processing I could have just downloaded and installed a completely updated rpm of the package. delta rpms are too slow for the bro.
7 • delta packages. (by Cliff on 2020-01-06 08:24:13 GMT from Philippines)
I have been using Intel's Clear Linux for about a month or so. Everthing is updated automatically and this is working well. The OS is still being worked on and some aspects take a bit of hunting around the sytem to find. I am mainly interested in the speed that is better than most other distros. Also looking forward to more choices in desktops.
I dual boot between Clear an Mint Cinnamon.
8 • Android-x86, Wayland and Delta packages (by Alexandru on 2020-01-06 08:24:34 GMT from Romania)
I use this distribution and observed it only boots to graphical desktop when mainstream Android has the support for PC's graphics card. That is, Intel will probably work out of the box, AMD is said to also work, although I didn't test it and NVIDIA and VirtualBox almost certainly will not work. I found only one specially prepared Android-x86 version (4.4) that works with my NVIDIA graphics card with Vesa driver.
As of Android Market applications, their support for ARM and x86 native libraries is up to package developer. That is, if some application is implemented in pure Java it will run on smartphone, tablet and PC. If it uses native libraries for both ARM and x86 it will run on all platforms, if it includes only ARM libraries, it will only run on mobile platforms.
One more complication for adopting Wayland is each closed-source graphics card producer has to release a driver for all implementations of Wayland protocol, which is quite difficult.
Each delta is created between 2 versions, usually consecutive. But there is no guarantee the user updates the packages often. And when he/she has installed the package of some earlier version, the delta package will most probably just break it. In order to properly install the delta package, the package manager needs either to download all deltas between all consecutive package versions and apply them one after another, while hoping they all are still available, downloaded correctly and the consecutive patching also succeed. Or the repository needs to offer deltas between each 2 different versions of some package. In the former case the full download size may be well greater than to just download one full package without any risk. In the later case the package repository will grow infinitely and package manager complexity will do so too.
9 • Response to LightBit (by shevy on 2020-01-06 08:27:53 GMT from Austria)
This is to LightBit:
- While Iagree partially that some of the claims are rubbish (linux kernel becoming useless), they
do have a point. Why is DRM included into the kernel? That most definitely is companies
pulling the strings here. Systemd? That is also by a company, Red Hat. So the reasoning by
hyperbola is somewhat strange, but not totally off. Linux has been massively commercialised
and we see the outfalls of that right now - the users became second class citizens to linux and
10 • Hyperbola (by Simon on 2020-01-06 09:49:48 GMT from Switzerland)
@4 - "Due to the Linux kernel rapidly proceeding down an unstable path"... - Can someone explain what Hyperbola developers mean with these statement? The Linux kernel I use are perfectly stable.
11 • Response to shevy (by LightBit on 2020-01-06 09:53:48 GMT from Slovenia)
"DRM" (HDCP support) is included into kernel because people expect "things" to work.
It is sad reality. As we are "forced" to use closed hardware.
Linux is massively commercialized for quite some time (this is also reason why it has good support).
I actually like OpenBSD, but it is not very viable option in reality.
12 • @6, @8 delta packages (by greenpossum on 2020-01-06 10:41:46 GMT from Australia)
Meh, it just works, sometimes the package manager downloads the DRPM, sometimes the RPM. Obviously it is smarter than you imagine, and requires no hands-on. Deltas also just work in CentOS 7 yum.
13 • Linux on newer laptops (by OstroL on 2020-01-06 11:00:33 GMT from Poland)
On my first shopping day in 2020, I had in my hands this lovely laptop Acer Swift 5 Touch, 15" and just 985.5 grams! I was actually expecting to see ASUS VivoBook S14 with the ScreenPad or ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo with dual screens and so on. Well, not yet available to touch in my little city, but I know it s there in the large cities.
The thing that troubles me is, whether a Linux distro get all the goodness such laptops offer. None of the Linux DEs have any touch screen abilities, except Unity.
Now that Asus had come up with such innovation, others would follow, and with more innovations.
14 • Android x86 not my cup of tea but it works with a touchscreen (by Tim Parkin on 2020-01-06 12:13:20 GMT from United Kingdom)
I've used Android x86 and it was about the same on my old windows tablet as proper Android.
Both of them work as you'd expect a tablet to work. I've tried Cloudready based on Chromiumos too and it works like a Chromebook and touchscreen is nice.
All linux distros and desktops I've tried lose all zip when you try and use a touchscreen and are not really viable.
if Chomiumos and Android x86 can be zippy on touchscreens can whatever makes them zippy be added to linux distros?
Probably not going to get an answer here but has anyone an idea where to ask?
15 • good luck to hyperbola (by ionuts on 2020-01-06 13:42:33 GMT from Moldova, Republic of)
they do have a point,
the linux world is moving away from unix do one thing and do it well,
relying on tools which are linux-only from start,
so the fact that there will be a gnu/bsd fork is a good thing.
Maybe they will succeed where debian & gentoo couldn't.
16 • Hyperbola (by Tom on 2020-01-06 13:46:57 GMT from Germany)
Oh my...I somewhat doubt they have enough people and spare time available for such an endeavour. Sadly, sounds more like work in progress forever and a project prone to fail.
17 • touch screens + linux (by xChris on 2020-01-06 14:11:32 GMT from United Kingdom)
reading the comments above , my 2p:
NOT all of the distros support the touch screen of your laptop/notebook: blame the kernel.
older kernels 4.xx you probably will be out of luck - depends the age of your device.
What bothers me more is the absence of the support for convertible laptops (like my yoga 11e)
turning the laptop to "tent" ( /\ shape) or "tablet" mode (keyboard all the way to the back) the keyboard is still working (linux does not recognise the mode sensor) , I read this gonna be supported on KDE 5.20+ IIRC
18 • @13,@14,@17 Touch screens (by John on 2020-01-06 14:40:13 GMT from United States)
Why would anyone ever want to touch a screen? :-)
19 • Touch screens and Linux (by Lin on 2020-01-06 16:32:07 GMT from United States)
It appears that most Unix desktop operating systems (BSD, Mac OS, Linux) can't make them work on touch screens. It is strange, as Android from Linux and iPadOS from BSD can do that very well.
Gnome made the shell sort of for mobile devices, but Gnome shell has only one single touch gesture. Ubuntu's former default DE, Unity is fully touch friendly. Like #13 says there are many innovative laptops coming all the time. People can draw on the screen, design on the screen with a dedicated pen or finger or with even a brush. You can take notes etc.
20 • Hyperbola (by BingoBongo on 2020-01-06 16:43:16 GMT from United Kingdom)
When Project Trident shifted from FreeBSD/TrueOS to Linux Void the respinse was "Hurrah, BSD is useless...long live the Linuxes" YET when someone goes the other way...."Their reasoning is crazy." ""useless" OS."
I think that says it all and a possible additional reason to shift.....
21 • Hyperbole (see what I did there? Get it???) (by CS on 2020-01-06 17:53:37 GMT from United States)
TrueOS went from "fill a defined niche of a less user-hostile FreeBSD" to "just another Linux distro hardly anyone will use" So yeah useless.
Hyperbola -- their rationale is 1000% pure insanity. They don't like HDCP and don't like that someone is proposing allowing device drivers in Rust (it wasn't clear to me if that proposal even had any traction). It's not like they're setting out to make a less user-hostile OpenBSD, which has a sliver of value, they're saying "Linux is not pure enough for us anymore we're going to make something entirely different". This with a team of about 5 people. Lunacy. Lunacy.
22 • touch screens (by MikeOh Shark on 2020-01-06 18:11:50 GMT from United States)
@13 I use MX Linux with kernel 4.19.0-6-amd64 and touch is supported on my HP Envy x360 w/AMD Ryzen and Radeon graphics.
@17 When I turned my convertible into a tent shape, it prompted me and asked if I wanted to close all my windows. It worked in the store in Windows but I haven't used Windows on this machine. It's not even registered yet. ;)
@ 18 I don't care about touching my screen but it came with my new machine. I wouldn't pay extra for it and don't really see a good use case but to each his own.
23 • @22 (by OstroL on 2020-01-06 19:12:07 GMT from Poland)
"I use MX Linux with kernel 4.19.0-6-amd64 and touch is supported on my HP Envy x360 w/AMD Ryzen and Radeon graphics."
Touch screen gestures is not just pushing the windows around, or pulling its corner, but swiping from the edges and corners, pinching and zooming etc. You don't have it in MX Linux, or any other Linux available Distro.
Ah, by the way, you shouldn't have bought x360 if you don't need touch gestures. You've already "wasted" that money.
24 • deb-deltas and touchscreens (by Jeff on 2020-01-06 19:49:55 GMT from United States)
Back in 2011-2012 I tried deb-deltas on Debian, didn't see much savings in bandwidth or time so I gave up on it. Seems to be a possibly good idea that failed in execution.
I have a strong dislike for touchscreens on a PC.
Why would I purposely put fingerprints and smudges on the monitor?
I am constantly wiping the smears off on my phone and it has glass made for ease of cleaning.
25 • @ 25 (by Ari on 2020-01-06 20:25:28 GMT from United States)
>> I have a strong dislike for touchscreens on a PC.
Does your 'strong dislike' compensate for the inability of Linux not having touch screens gestures? Or, are you searching for a way to defend that inability?
26 • Touch screens (by Jesse on 2020-01-06 20:47:58 GMT from Canada)
@25: Linux has had support for touch screens for years. I've been using it with my laptop's touch screen since 2014.
As to the more specific complaint about gestures, that is desktop specific. It's not a Linux thing, but a desktop configuration. Unity 8, for example, works beautifully out of the box with touch gestures (swipes, pinch, etc) and has for about five years.
Your specific desktop may not work well with touch gestures, but that is not an inability on the part of Linux as a whole, just that desktop.
27 • hyperbola (by daniel on 2020-01-06 21:05:43 GMT from Moldova, Republic of)
hyperbola decision is very funny, from historical point of view.
Initially GNU could choose to use BSD, but they didn't and opted to create a new kernel,
while now a FSF endorsed linux distro is ditching linux for BSD.
what's next in this decade maybe HP-UX and AIX open sourcing themself ?
28 • Non-free in Linux (by Ken on 2020-01-06 21:32:56 GMT from United States)
Doesn't linux-libre exist precisely to address the non-free problems in the generic linux kernel? Hyperbola already uses it, and it's maintained upstream from them. Why are they worried about problems that shouldn't exist in the kernel they're using?
29 • @ 27 Touch screens (by kacz on 2020-01-06 21:59:06 GMT from Netherlands)
"As to the more specific complaint about gestures, that is desktop specific. It's not a Linux thing, but a desktop configuration. Unity 8, for example, works beautifully out of the box with touch gestures (swipes, pinch, etc) and has for about five years."
Unity 8 is not available to use in desktops, so the Linux desktop had dropped touch screen gestures. With more and more innovative laptops arriving in the scene, Linux would be only good enough for older hardware, isn't it?
30 • Unity 8 (by Jesse on 2020-01-06 22:05:36 GMT from Canada)
Unity 8 is available for desktop systems. https://github.com/ubports/unity8
31 • Android-x86 (by Roger on 2020-01-06 22:24:13 GMT from Belgium)
Some years ago I bought from Via two APC 8750 with Android 2.3 or also called Android PC.
Never used them much, one is maybe used four times.
I found it not really good enough to run as a desktop OS, still have those little motherboards, but what to do with them ?
I tried Android-x86, but the same thing, not really anything for normal use.
Conclusion : Android as a desktop, it still needs a lot of work.
32 • @ 30 (by kacz on 2020-01-06 22:31:35 GMT from Netherlands)
Have you tried to install it and run it? It is not usable at this stage. Maybe, never will.
Samsung also had stopped promoting Linux on DeX. Even there, The distros that ran on LoD didn't have any touch gesture abilities.
Linux appears to be for older computers/laptops. Do you think Linux will be any use on ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo or on ASUS VivoBook S14 with the ScreenPad? Or even on HP Envy x360 or Lenovo Yoga?
33 • Unity 8 (by Jesse on 2020-01-06 22:33:45 GMT from Canada)
>> "Have you tried to install it and run it? "
Yes, multiple time s over the years. Worked pretty well for the most part. I wouldn't call it polished by any means, but it's functional.
34 • Touch screens (by Friar Tux on 2020-01-06 23:27:18 GMT from Canada)
Ugh!! Many years ago I bought a Blackberry Playbook (the latest and greatest at the time). It was disgusting. No matter how many times I cleaned the screen, by the time I had used it for two or three hours it looked gross. After about a month, I cleaned it, wrapped it up, and it is still sitting in my dresser drawer to this day. It has turned me off touch screens for good. Give me a laptop with a keyboard. The only time I need to clean the screen is when it gets too dusty, and I have a fine haired Wilkinson shaving brush for that. Works beautifully.
35 • @13 - touch screen (by Joey on 2020-01-07 00:57:09 GMT from New Zealand)
I have tested Mint 17, 18, 19 and several other distros on a 12" Asus that has touch screen. No problem. If I play a bit of Mahjong you can tell by the pattern formed from fingerprints on the screen :)
36 • Delta Packages (by Justin on 2020-01-07 04:31:11 GMT from United States)
How do you even know if your distribution uses delta packages? I use Linux Mint and this article was the first I've heard of them.
37 • Touch screens (by Me on 2020-01-07 09:08:02 GMT from Canada)
It is quite interesting to use your finger to do graphic work on GIMP.
If you have a newer 13", 14" or even the latest 15" laptops, the screen is near than your wrist, when you have hands on the desk. It is much easy to use both hands on the screen than use the mouse. It also helps you with the wrist pain that you've accumulated in years of mouse use. Some people have accumulated problems of the joints of fingers, especially the middle joint of the middle finger by the extensive use of the mouse (scrolling).
In some known laptops, the touchpad doesn't work with Linux distros, so, the only solution is to use the mouse. I have one like that, and it also has a touchscreen, thankfully.
38 • Android x86 (by Glenn Condrey on 2020-01-07 09:23:54 GMT from United States)
There is an option in Android x86 to make apps run as they would on an Intel processor.
Its important to turn that feature on, or apps may not work well, if at all.
I have Android x86 installed on a dual core HP 11.6" laptop with a AMD A4 processor, and all apps run just peachy.
39 • @38 Android on PC (by OstroL on 2020-01-07 12:29:21 GMT from Poland)
Would you like to try another distro on Android 10? It is still at alpha stage, but works nicely. Search for BlissOS-dev (Googe it).
40 • Android x86 and Virtualbox (by Artemis3 on 2020-01-07 17:34:53 GMT from Venezuela)
Strange, i haven't tried with v9, but various versions, including 4, 5, 7 and 8 i have ONLY used them in VIrtualbox. And yes they work fine. I wonder what you were doing wrong? Perhaps the virtual machine configuration? Are you allocating enough video ram, 3d, multiple cpu cores?
I'm on Artix Linux btw. Nothing special, just another Arch with a different init...
41 • Android-x86 (by Tourniquette on 2020-01-07 18:09:56 GMT from United States)
Porting Android to x86 architectures is pretty neat. However, whenever I need/want to run Android apps on a large screen, like say a monitor or TV, I've been using Samsung DeX. Runs pretty flawlessly, especially if you enable DeX Labs to be able to resize opened windows.
42 • to touch or not to touch (by Jumper on 2020-01-07 19:19:12 GMT from New Zealand)
Reading through the comments so far there is some confusion of expectations. Many laptops that have touch screens can run Linux, but you cannot expect smartphone gestures to work. I don't run Windows at all, but I guess Win10 might "support" touch via a proprietary driver for a given specific laptop. That is another discussion altogether. In the same vein, I read here of people running Android on their TV ... assuming today's huge 55" and up screen TVs. i) why? ii) does the TV has touchscreen and gestures?
We must not confuse using hammers for nails with using screwdrivers for screws.
43 • @42 (by OstroL on 2020-01-07 19:41:54 GMT from Poland)
Have you seen 55" laptops?
The matter is about touchscreen laptops, not TVs or desktops.
You don't use Windows, so you don't know about it. Windows 10 works on any touchscreen laptop, and yet can run in two modes, desktop and tablet mode. One can open time line by swiping from the left in both modes. You can open virtual desktops by swiping. You can zoom and pinch. The thing is, one Linux DE could do lot of touchscreen gestures, other than the touchpad gestures, and that was Unity. And, it was taken out.
One that could was taken out!
And, one that cannot do anything was made default. Are we going forward or backward?
44 • parted magic (by dmacleo on 2020-01-07 21:35:41 GMT from United States)
I remember when this was free. then price was very high but seems to have dropped now so maybe I'll buy it
45 • HyperBSD (by koolaid guzzler on 2020-01-07 21:46:49 GMT from United States)
Forking OpenBSD could turn out to be an exciting plan if the man power and direction is there. Time to start using Hyperbola? This is like the opposite of Trident switching to a sinking ship like GahnooLinux.
It's funny how systemDRM opponents are repeatedly prodded to develop alternatives if they don't like the way GahnooLinux is going, but every time they try, the systemDRM proponents characterize it as a bad idea. Classic "My Way Or The Highway" aggressive marketing tactics.
These are people who spend their time scrubbing kernels of proprietary junk. They know better than you do when that particular work has become untenable. I checked out their site and it turns out they don't like PolypAudio either; extra points for them on my score sheet!
Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Sony use OpenBSD (FreeBSD? NetBSD?) for one of the Playstation operating systems? I just don't get where this criticism of OpenBSD is coming from. It's viable & mature; over 20 years old. Sure it's not Linux-- that's the allure!
Good luck to the Hyperbola folks!!
46 • Touch Screens (by Newby on 2020-01-08 06:05:19 GMT from Canada)
There have been a number of comments about using touchscreens.
I am adding my vote to those who can't stand them. Aside from mucking up and adding bacteria to your screen, they don't work well for everyone. I have to use one of those touch stylus things to get reliable response. Using my fingers seems to be a no-go. Don't know why. Thought the capacitive sensing technology was supposed to be superior to the older resistive sensing. Think there were also opto-position sensing screens on the market for a short period.
A possible help for anyone suffering carpel tunnel:
Use a large screen display and a wireless keyboard with built-in touchpad (such as from Logitech). Then you can sit a reasonable distance back from the screen with the keyboard in your lap. Much easier on the eyes, AND the wrists!
On a related note, wonder if there is a Linux equivalent to Dragon Naturally Speaking? Then one could sit back and dictate your text to something like LibreOffice. No hands or eyeballs needed.....
Have to go back and read Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy again. Trying to remember just how "smart" that tablet thing the hero carried around actually would be in practice.
For anyone having trouble getting touchpads working on laptops:
Was helping friend setting up Linux on an Asus Vivo laptop purchased over the holidays. Everything worked except the touchpad and wireless. External mouse did work ok. Found a number of online tips that worked, but in the end, turned out to be an issue of kernel support (specifically the ELAN touchpads). Rather than confusing my friend with a kernel upgrade, switched to a more current distro recent kernel and problem solved (in this case, MX Linux).
Anyway, if you have any problems, the answer is 42, and remember to treat your pet mice well....
47 • @ 46 (by Akoy on 2020-01-08 08:34:44 GMT from Canada)
"I am adding my vote to those who can't stand them. Aside from mucking up and adding bacteria to your screen,"
Never seen a sick touchscreen at the doctors, or any medicine for such a sickness in the pharmacy.
On the other hand, your dislike doesn't mean that Linux shouldn't work towards new technology. How are you going to use the "old" Lenovo Yoga Book, or new Thinkbook Plus or still to come Carbon X1 Fold with Linux?
48 • Touchscreens (by Newby on 2020-01-08 12:58:52 GMT from Canada)
re 47 Akoy
Assume you were trying to be "funny"? It's not the touch screen's health you should worry about; it's yours! Studies have shown touch screens on cell phones are filthier than toilets! Do you really want to be holding that thing up next to your face?!!? Uck!
Anyway, I have absolutely no problem with you enjoying the new technology you refer to. Was just saying touchscreens don't work for me without using a stylus. Where this DOES become a concern to me is, if one day the ONLY choice is to use a touch screen. Am I going to have to replace some of my "digits" (fingers) with stylus to cope with the modern world? Just because a technology is "new", or glitzy, or has more "bells and whistles" does NOT make it better.
Since you seem enamoured with new technology, you might be interested in the "foldable" touch screen devices they have been displaying this past week at the CES show in Las Vegas. I have a great deal for you. You can get your PRESENT touch screen bent for free without having to go out and buy one of the fancy new ones! No joke. You may have heard of this fella Uri Geller who bends spoons with his mind? Well just stare at that obsolete screen you presently own and CONCENTRATE really hard. There you go, Bent for free.
Disclaimer: It is up to you to figure out how to "unbend" the thing when you want to take it out of your pocket and use it......
While we're kidding around about technology, Samsung announced at that same CES show, a monster 292 inch flat panel TV. Anyone around here have enough money, and a big enough room to install that thing? You probably need a forklift just to get it into your place (ever see how they move pianos?). Yup; gotta love that "new technology".
We now return you to your normal sane comments.......
49 • HyperBSD (by LightBit on 2020-01-08 13:30:12 GMT from Slovenia)
@45: PlayStation is based on FreeBSD, but it only has single hardware to support.
Did you use OpenBSD? OpenBSD might be great for firewalls, but it is not viable as typical desktop as it often won't even boot on laptops. FreeBSD is much more viable.
I don't think they have manpower for this.
50 • @ 48 (by Akoy on 2020-01-08 13:36:37 GMT from United States)
"It's not the touch screen's health you should worry about; it's yours! Studies have shown touch screens on cell phones are filthier than toilets! Do you really want to be holding that thing up next to your face?!!? Uck!"
Never seen anyone holding laptops to their faces! :)
51 • Touch screens are not new. PartedMagic (by Garon on 2020-01-08 14:04:34 GMT from United States)
@48, "Studies have shown touch screens on cell phones are filthier than toilets! Do you really want to be holding that thing up next to your face?!!? Uck!"
Come on now. Who did the studies, who's phone did they use, who's toilet did they use. I've seen some pretty bad ones in my trime. Just saying...
Unity was great for touch screens. I always thought it was a great UI also. Alas it is no more. We'll have no progressive movements around here young man.
I have no problem with paying for PartedMagic. If someone takes the time to put it all together in a very useable package then it is well worth the 11.00 asking price. There should be no reason for anyone to have a problem with paying.
Delta packages are something we don't need at this time. The cost far out weighes the benifits.
Good day all.
52 • Delta and Touch (by Angel on 2020-01-09 02:26:54 GMT from Philippines)
Delta: Just upgraded a laptop I hadn't used in a while. Runs KDE neon. 515MB over a 30Mbps connection. Began at 9:33, Downloaded and installed by 9:43. Don't know what difference delta would make, but it can't be much.
Touch: Bought a tablet with Windows 8 some years ago. Even though the OS was designed with touch in mind, it was a pain most of the time. Too many small targets to hit, fingers too clumsy. Later, still years ago, bought a nice Asus laptop TP300 Flip 13.3" with Windows 8.1, later upgraded to Windows 10. Enjoyed the novelty for a while, but soon got tired of flipping. Easier than the old tablet, but still not ideal for my use and clumsy fingers. Haven't used the touchscreen in years. With a pretty good touchpad and keyboard, it just never seemed necessary or useful.to flip. The laptop is still around, running like new and being used by a young relative who doesn't know it's a touchscreen. Didn't tell him, because I didn't want him installing all kinds of games and such.
An Aussie friend bought a (very expensive) Lenovo Yoga 720 in Oz. The touchscreen failed after a year or so. Hasn't fixed it. Doesn't miss it.
As always, you mileage may vary.
53 • LinuxCnsole 2019 (by Emeka Obasi on 2020-01-09 06:59:18 GMT from Nigeria)
Linux is traditionally used by computer geeks and experienced gamers but Linuxconsole 2019 is without a doubt the most user friendly linux console yet and has been getting rave reviews both from experienced gamers and beginners like myself
54 • @46 (by Emeka Obasi on 2020-01-09 07:14:44 GMT from Nigeria)
you can also add the following to your list of complaints about touchscreens: terrible battery life, heavier weight, poor viewing angles, not to mention that they are way more pricey. I am not a fan of touchscreens computers myself but unfortunately that's where we're headed.
55 • @24 (by Emeka Obasi on 2020-01-09 07:22:12 GMT from Nigeria)
I hate touch screens as much as you do but i also realized that i had better get used it since more and more computers are using touchscreens. i've come to realize that the more i use it the more comfortable i am with it.
56 • Wayland (by Joe on 2020-01-09 07:25:49 GMT from United States)
Wayland is important cuz, X has so many insecurity by design problems its a reputational issue. Sure user noticeable incentive isnt there, until it is. I think that day of major embarassments for X straggler distros is coming.
57 • Wayland (@56) and Touchscreen delusions (@57) (by curious on 2020-01-09 10:45:49 GMT from Germany)
Wayland will be important when - and ONLY when - it works perfectly for everyone without requiring that the desktop environment is GNOME and/or the video card not Nvidia.
Currently, besides GNOME, only KDE (Plasma) has a chance of working effectively with Wayland, and I remember that they had very significant problems if the video card was Nvidia.
All other window managers or desktop environments are not functional with Wayland unless each of them develops their own Wayland compositor - which the majority does not have the manpower or resources for. In effect, anyone who does not like GNOME will probably be best off avoiding Wayland for now.
Concerning touchscreens, I would like to know what exactly makes a laptop with a touchscreen "innovative". Is it the inflated price that can be demanded from gullible customers? Is it the greater complexity (greater chance of breakdown)? Is it the lovely fingerprint smears everywhere?
So far, the only use case for a touchscreen on a decently sized laptop is to make using badly designed user interfaces (often websites) slightly less terrible. The far better solution would be better UI design - which is not brain surgery or "rocket science".
58 • @ 57 (by Whyhnds on 2020-01-09 11:52:31 GMT from Canada)
>> Concerning touchscreens, I would like to know what exactly makes a laptop with a touchscreen "innovative".
But one and see.
>> Is it the lovely fingerprint smears everywhere?
Didn't mother taught to you to wash your hands?
59 • @58: (by dragonmouth on 2020-01-09 13:43:39 GMT from United States)
Touchscreens are not an innovation. Compaq Concerto, a 2 in 1 laptop, hit the market in 1993. Its touchscreen feature did not set the world on fire, so it was discontinued. Since then, many manufacturers introduced their own touchscreen laptops/tablets with various success.
Personally, I prefer computers with a keyboard and a mouse since the control is more precise than a touchscreen or a touch pad.
60 • Touchscreen laptops (by Moraw on 2020-01-09 13:53:30 GMT from Greece)
What the use of touchscreen laptops, some people ask.
You can take notes.
You can draw on the screen.
You can design on the screen. GIMP, Sketchup etc.
You can use both hands, all 10 fingers on the screen.
And, many more.
61 • @ 59 (by Youm on 2020-01-09 14:17:14 GMT from United States)
"Touchscreens are not an innovation. Compaq Concerto, a 2 in 1 laptop, hit the market in 1993."
Sure. Linux ran on it!?
Carbon X1 Fold is still to come in 2020!
Would Linux run on it?
62 • Carbon X1 Fold support (by curious on 2020-01-09 15:30:47 GMT from Germany)
You want Linux to run on it? Then why don't you convince the relevant hardware manufacturers to provide the necessary Linux drivers - or develop them yourself - or PAY for somebody to develop them for you?
Just demanding that Linux must support "innovative" technology is not sufficient, especially when there are plenty of existing bugs to fix and plenty of other things to develop - such as Wayland compositors for every window manager that is not GNOME.
63 • Linux and innovative technology (by OstroL on 2020-01-09 17:30:27 GMT from Poland)
Well, everyday, every week or every month something innovative happens. Every new day is innovative. For projects to go forward, money is needed, lots of money. If business puts money in, it has to see the profit coming in, in a year or few years. Even for open-source software to happen, money is needed. Bread has to bought, electricity has to be paid, children fed, etc, etc.
Its quite unbelievable to fathom, how much money had gone to build the first PC and the software for it. Open source is good, but it happened as result to create software for an existing computer. Hardware won't be produced, if the shareholders won't earn money. Software also won't be produced, if the shareholders won't earn money. We have one example, where a DE was discontinued in the open-source world for exactly that reason.
One might say, "why don't you convince the relevant hardware manufacturers to provide the necessary Linux drivers?" These drivers can't be made without money. The developers' time has to be paid. While they create those drivers, and maintain them, the company and their shareholders have to pay for that time. In a way, we are demanding that the business company pay to create drivers for us to use freely. Can we do that? Is it moral? Asking someone else to pay for us?
We can't ask the baker to give us bread free, can we?
64 • @61 Youm: (by dragonmouth on 2020-01-10 00:08:32 GMT from United States)
"Sure. Linux ran on it!?"
Hardly anything ran on it. Even Windows ran sketchily on it. That's why it didn't last too long. The point I was trying to make is that today's touchscreens are not innovative. It's been dome before and found wanting. As far as Linux running everything that Windows does is nothing more than me-too-ism. Linux is not and should not be a free version of Windows.
65 • Touch screens (by Jim on 2020-01-10 11:01:31 GMT from United States)
i understand there are people that actually need touchscreens, but I have spent the past 20 years trying to keep others from touching my screen, not about to change that now!
66 • @65 (by Youm on 2020-01-10 15:14:17 GMT from United States)
"I have spent the past 20 years trying to keep others from touching my screen"
Who would want to touch your screen? They are quite busy touching their screens. Have a look around.
Number of Comments: 66
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