| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 755, 19 March 2018
Welcome to this year's 12th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
Discussion of Linux distributions tends to focus on open source software and the new technologies each project makes available. However, there are many other important aspects to consider when it comes to choosing which Linux distribution to run, such as the project's community, support options and documentation. This week we turn our focus to documentation and tutorials, starting with a review of ArchMerge (freshly renamed to ArcoLinux). This distribution offers many video tutorials through its website which guide users through performing common tasks. We discuss the distribution and its tutorials in this week's Feature Story. We also share a review from Robert Rijkhoff of the Linux Academy educational resources. Both Linux Academy and ArcoLinux rely heavily on video tutorials and we would like to know how you feel about using videos to learn computer tasks in our Opinion Poll. In our News section we discuss progress on running Plasma Mobile on the Librem 5 phone, Ubuntu Budgie's new support forum and performance improvements coming to the Cinnamon desktop. Plus we share the distribution releases of the past week and share the torrents we are seeding. Finally, we are pleased to welcome the Omarine distribution to our database. We wish you all a fantastic week and happy reading!
- Review: ArchMerge 6.4.1
- News: Librem 5 runs the Plasma Mobile desktop, Ubuntu Budgie's new support forum, Cinnamon gets performance boost
- Resource review: Learning at the Linux Academy
- Released last week: Tails 3.6, Univention 4.3-0, LibreELEC 8.2.4
- Torrent corner: antiX, IPFire, LibreELEC, Minino, MX, NetBSD, NuTyX, Omarine, Raspbian, Tails, Zorin
- Opinion poll: Educational videos
- New additions: Omarine
- New distributions: CloverOS
- Reader comments
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (28MB) and MP3 (36MB) formats.
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
ArchMerge (aka ArcoLinux) 6.4.1
The distribution I have been asked most frequently to cover so far in 2018 is ArchMerge, an Arch-based project which runs the Xfce desktop environment and can be installed using the Calamares system installer. If the description sounds familiar, it should, as this summary could equally well apply to Archman, SwagArch and one edition of the Revenge OS distribution.
There are two main features which set ArchMerge apart from its close relatives. First, ArchMerge is available in two flavours. The full featured desktop edition ships with three graphical user interfaces (Xfce, Openbox and i3). A second, minimal flavour is available for people who want to start with a text console and build from the ground up.
The other point which helps ArchMerge stand out from the crowd of Arch-based distributions is its documentation. Arch Linux is famous for its detailed wiki, and rightfully so. ArchMerge takes a slightly different approach and, instead of supplying detailed pages for virtually every aspect of the distribution, the project supplies quick overviews and tutorials for common tasks and issues. These overviews are each accompanied by a video which shows the user how to perform the task.
The ArchMerge website places a strong emphasis on learning and the tutorial pages guide visitors through how to install the distribution, how to configure the desktop, how to install additional software and how to set up file synchronizing through Dropbox. There is also a section dedicated to fixing common problems, a sort of FAQ for distribution issues. Since there are videos for the topics covered, we are shown where to go and what each step should look like, rather than just being given a written description.
The live disc
The full version of ArchMerge is approximately 2GB in size while the minimal edition is just under half that size with a 960MB ISO. I decided to use the full edition for simplicity's sake. Booting from the distribution's ISO loads the Xfce desktop environment. When the desktop loads we find a dock placed down the left side of the screen and a panel at the bottom of the screen. The dock holds launchers for various applications while the bottom panel houses the application menu, task switcher and system tray. The Calamares system installer automatically launches when the desktop finishes loading, making it easy to get the installation process started.
ArchMerge 6.4.1 -- Browsing the application menu
(full image size: 1.8MB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Calamares is a graphical system installer which is increasingly popular among Arch-based distributions. ArchMerge does not appear to have customized the installer so I won't dwell on it. Calamares walks us through selecting our preferred language, time zone, partition layout and assigning our account a password. Installing the distribution was a problem-free process and the system was up and running in about twenty minutes.
ArchMerge boots to a graphical login screen. Here we can sign into the Xfce, Openbox or i3 graphical environments. The only unusual thing I noticed about the login screen was I didn't see any method for shutting down or suspending the computer. I had to sign into my account in order to shutdown the system.
I used Xfce pretty much exclusively during my trial and found the desktop to be very responsive and pretty easy to use. There is no welcome screen or other pop-ups that appear when we start using the distribution. The only notifications I saw were ones indicating new software updates were available. To download these updates I could click a red icon in the system tray which would bring up a window listing all available updates. From there we can mark which new packages we want to download and apply to our system.
ArchMerge features many different wallpapers and the background changed each time I logged in. There is an icon in the system tray which brings up options related to the desktop wallpaper. We can customize the background slide show quite a bit, or disable it entirely.
I found, at least early on, that the dock panel on the left side of the desktop distracted me. The dock places focus on icons the mouse pointer hovers over and this meant I often had an undulating bar on the left side of my screen as my mouse passed over the dock. After a few days I got used to this visual change and could ignore it.
I experimented with ArchMerge in two test environments. When running the distribution on my desktop computer, ArchMerge worked well. My hardware was properly detected, everything worked smoothly and the Xfce desktop offered a very fast and smooth experience. Things went about the same in VirtualBox, with the distribution working quickly and without fault. ArchMerge automatically integrated with VirtualBox and was able to use my host system's full screen resolution. In either environment a fresh copy of ArchMerge required about 6.5GB of drive space and Xfce sessions used about 540MB of memory.
ArchMerge uses the Pamac graphical package manager. Pamac divides software into different tabs or groups based on the software's status (installed, an update, or available for download). I found Pamac worked quickly and the interface was responsive. I like the way Pamac has a simple, package-oriented layout yet still does a nice job of dividing available software into categories to make items easier to find.
ArchMerge 6.4.1 -- Installing updates with Pamac
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Earlier I mentioned using Pamac's update section to install new packages. The first day I was running ArchMerge there were many updated packages available, totalling 612MB in size. Over the next few days, a handful of new updates regularly trickled in. All the new packages downloaded and installed without any problems.
The main feature which makes ArchMerge stand out from other members of the Arch Linux family is the project's documentation. Unlike Arch, which has a highly detailed and exhaustive wiki, ArchMerge takes a more focused approach. The ArchMerge documents mostly focus on common issues and beginner concepts. This is a mixed blessing as it means there is less clutter in ArchMerge's search results (we don't need to figure out which of the dozen 10-page wiki articles might be the right one), but it also means the project may not have the specific information we want.
For beginners, at least, I think ArchMerge's focus makes sense. I feel it's good the project is looking at challenges newcomers are likely to have and addressing those. Arch is ideal for people who want to know and customize their whole system and the extensive wiki makes sense for that situation. ArchMerge is taking an approach that probably makes sense for the average home user who wants to know how to install Chrome, burn a disc, change their wallpaper and so on.
ArchMerge 6.4.1 -- Browsing on-line tutorials
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One of my few issues with the ArchMerge approach to documentation is that most of it is in video format, which is difficult to search or quickly scan for an answer. The written portions of the project's tutorials are mostly a summary of the commands and concepts discussed in the accompanying video. The actual commands and steps are not written out. It is expected that we will usually watch the video and see the steps performed on the presenter's screen. Some videos are lengthy - the package management tutorial is a full 17 minutes - and I have mixed feelings about this. A long, on-screen demo of package management is probably ideal for newcomers; it's nice being able to see someone else perform a task. Personally, I like text documents where I can quickly scan for a specific example or explanation, but I admit I'm not the intended audience of the the video lessons.
Sometimes the ArchMerge tutorials refer to Arch's wiki. For example, the tutorial page on installing the Chrome web browser mentions Arch's user repository (AUR) and links to an Arch article on the many tools which can be used to install software from the AUR. This gives users more information which will likely be useful the longer they explore Arch-based distributions.
Much of the software applications which ship with ArchMerge are standard, open source offerings such as Firefox, LibreOffice and the GNU Image Manipulation Program. However, the distribution ships with a few surprises and an unusual amount of duplication. For instance there are at least three web browsers included by default (Firefox, Chromium and Vivaldi), several image utilities (Darktable, GIMP, Inkscape, Nomacs and Shotwell) and there are at least five different virtual terminals (UXTerm, Termite, Xterm, Xfce Terminal and Cool Retro Term). I only found two video players (VLC and Parole) and one audio player (Lollypop). ArchMerge's full edition ships with multimedia codecs so we can play just about anything out of the box.
ArchMerge 6.4.1 -- Running LibreOffice and VLC
(full image size: 336kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
ArchMerge includes many configuration tools for customizing its desktop and window managers. Plus there are tools for managing printers and setting up a firewall. The distribution supplies us with the Thunar file manager, version 7.2 of the GNU Compiler Collection, systemd and version 4.14.15 of the Linux kernel.
One of the few features of ArchMerge I did not enjoy was the collection of command line aliases. Some of the 30 preset Bash aliases are helpful, but some conflict with the way I expect commands to work or throw errors when used with certain parameters. This meant I spent time undoing the preset aliases I didn't want, especially those for free, wget and ps.
Another quirk I ran into, when I first started using the distribution, was most web browsers I opened would prompt me for a keyring password multiple times. Chromium, Chrome and Vivaldi all did this at first; Firefox was the only exception. Most distributions I have used lately do not prompt for the keyring password and it was an annoying feature I soon worked around.
ArchMerge 6.4.1 -- Adjusting desktop notifications
(full image size: 623kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
From a technical aspect, I do not think ArchMerge brings much to the table that sets it apart from the buffet of other Arch-based distributions featuring the Xfce desktop. The silver icon theme is admittedly unusual and a visual breath of fresh fair. The ArchMerge distribution, on its own, does some things well and has a few bugs. On the whole, it balances out as a pretty good experience. The distribution has a good installer, a good package manager, a good desktop environment and a busy application menu - much like a few other Arch-based projects.
What sets ArchMerge apart is the focus on providing beginner friendly documentation and video tutorials. Whether we want to install Steam, verify a download or set up a virtual machine, chances are someone has created (or will create) a guide for doing so. ArchMerge's videos do not replace Arch's wiki, but it does act as a friendly way for the presenter to demo how to perform some common tasks. I think, for beginners at least, it is a valuable resource.
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Note: After this review was written, the ArchMerge project let us know it is in the process of changing its name to ArcoLinux. For now the existing ArchMerge links and domains still exist, but will forward to the new ArcoLinux website.
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Hardware used in this review
My physical test equipment for this review was a desktop HP Pavilon p6 Series with the following specifications:
- Processor: Dual-core 2.8GHz AMD A4-3420 APU
- Storage: 500GB Hitachi hard drive
- Memory: 6GB of RAM
- Networking: Realtek RTL8111 wired network card
- Display: AMD Radeon HD 6410D video card
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Visitor supplied rating
ArcoLinux has a visitor supplied average rating of: 8.4/10 from 7 review(s).
Have you used ArcoLinux? You can leave your own review of the project on our ratings page.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
Librem 5 runs the Plasma Mobile desktop, Ubuntu Budgie's new support forum, Cinnamon gets performance boost
The Librem 5 phone, which is scheduled to ship in early 2019, is designed to run a GNU/Linux operating system with the developers planning to support both GNOME and KDE user interfaces. The use of KDE's Plasma Mobile desktop on the Librem 5 came a little closer to reality this week as developers tested the environment and worked out some key bugs: "As many of you know, the Librem 5 phone will work with two options for your desktop environment, a GNOME based phone shell and Plasma Mobile. Working closely with the KDE community, we were able to install, run, and even see mobile network provider service on Plasma Mobile! The purpose of this article is to show the progress that has been made with Plasma Mobile on the current Librem 5 development board. Here, the setup steps and overcome challenges are highlighted." Photos of Plasma Mobile in action can be found in the project's blog post.
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The Ubuntu Budgie team is working to unify their distribution's many community support forums. Up to this point communication has been spread across Facebook, Google Plus, Reddit, Twitter and other platforms. Ubuntu Budgie is now focusing community discussion on their new Discourse forum. The team's blog post states: "Currently, most of our support activities are spread across several social media platforms - Facebook, G+, Twitter, Reddit, IRC and our Gitter community room. What this means for you is that we will move most of our support to the forum. One of the reasons for moving to Discourse is making content more accessible and easier to find. Case and point, if you have a problem you would usually ask the question in our chatroom and wait for someone from our team or community to answer. However, due to the nature of the instant messaging platform, the answer is lost, and any new user facing the same problem needs to ask the question again. With Discourse any question is easily searchable due to its static nature. It will help us to foster the community even further making it even more significant, especially with the upcoming release that will attract a lot of new users."
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The Linux Mint team has been working on improving the performance of the Cinnamon desktop environment, particularly when launching new applications. "We developed a little script and a method to measure how long it took to flood the desktop environment with the creation of 200 windows. We could then measure the time reported by the script to build these 200 windows, and the time it actually took the desktop environment to recover from it and have these windows placed/mapped correctly and ready to be interacted with. Both measures were significantly higher in Cinnamon than in other desktops." The Mint team identified a few bottlenecks to performance which, when fixed, made the Cinnamon desktop more responsive. Details on the improvements can be found in the team's blog post.
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These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Resource Review (by Robert Rijkhoff)
Learning at the Linux Academy
For quite some time I have been planning to properly study various Linux topics. While looking into Linux certifications I came across Linux Academy. The website provides a free seven-day trial and I decided to sign up to see what it has to offer.
What's on offer
To make use of the free trial you have to get one of two subscriptions - you can choose a monthly subscription for $49 or pay $499 for a year's worth of access to the website's resources. It is worth mentioning that you have to provide your credit card details and that Linux Academy will take a payment of $1 to verify that the card details are valid.
Linux Academy has an impressive amount of resources, which are divided into three categories: courses, quick training and hands-on labs. A course is a series of videos (called "lectures") that cover a particular topic. Most courses prepare you for a particular certification; among others, you can prepare for a range of Red Hat, AWS and Linux Foundation exams. The quick training mostly consists of community guides written by Linux Academy members. I read a few of the guides and found them quite useful. Finally, I think that the hand-on labs are relatively short practice sessions using one of Linux Academy's cloud servers. I am not 100% sure sure about the labs though; the free trial doesn't give you access to them.
Linux Academy -- Searching for nginx content
(full image size: 60kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
To help you stay organised you can create a learning path. For instance, if you choose the "Learning Docker" path you have to complete two courses: Docker Quick Start and Docker Certified Associate Prep. You can also create a schedule for individual courses, which involves choosing how much time you want to spend studying on different days of the week.
To get a feel for Linux Academy I first took the obligatory introduction course ("Maximize Your Experience") and a short course about the Vim text editor. After that I dived into three proper courses. The first one I picked was the prep course for the Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator (LFCSA) exam.
The LFCSA exam covers a very wide range of topics and I was therefore somewhat bemused to see that I could complete the course in 12 hours, 48 minutes and 52 seconds. It turns out that this is the total length of the video content. To properly prepare for the exam you will have to spend a lot more time than that.
The videos are fairly short - around 12 minutes on average - and hardly scratch the surface of the various topics. As a random example, the video about managing user processes covers the top, htop, ps, nice and renice utilities. With the best will in the world there isn't a lot you can learn about Linux processes and these five utilities in less than 15 minutes.
In other words, the LFCSA course is useful as an overview of what you need to learn - no more, no less. This quickly becomes clear when you do the exercises at the end of each chapter. To master the topics you have to study resources such as man pages and practise the commands until you really understand them.
Linux Academy -- Starting the LFCSA prep course
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The quality of LFCSA videos isn't great either. Too often the sound is poor and quite a few videos contain mistakes. An interesting example is the video about searching for files. When the tutor explains how to use the find command's -not option he makes a mistake: he runs the command find /etc/security -not -name "security". He intended to list all directories in /etc that don't match the string "security" but the command instead lists all files in the /etc/security directory that don't contain the string. The tutor realises his error but rather than acknowledging it he quickly runs the clear command to erase the contents of the terminal.
Other videos have been edited when a mistake was made in a rather blunt way. In the video about network performance the tutor demonstrates the command ss -tn sport = :23. At that point there is a cut in the video: on the screen we suddenly see eight variations of the command and the tutor's voice comes back mid-sentence to explain that "you have to find a port that is actually listening on the port". It would have taken only a few minutes to do a retake but apparently the lecture was deemed good enough.
Whereas the LFCSA videos appear to have been hastily produced I did enjoy the Docker Quick Start course. For this course you can use Linux Academy's cloud servers; you can spin up a CentOS 7 server and run the commands discussed in the videos. The ability to install Docker and play with containers on a test server is a very nice feature of Linux Academy.
Linux Academy -- Running the hello-world Docker container
(full image size: 132kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
One thing that is annoying about both the LFCSA and Docker courses is that the videos don't have proper descriptions. If you want to try the commands that are being discussed you have to regularly pause the video to make notes. The same goes for any background information: you have to either remember it or pause the video and write it down.
It appears that the quality of a course largely depends on the tutor. The final course I picked was Python 3 for System Administrators. This course is presented by a different tutor and is much better than the LFCSA and Docker courses. The videos come with detailed descriptions, the sound quality is excellent and the tutor clearly enjoys sharing knowledge.
Linux Academy -- Learning Python 3
(full image size: 131kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
After studying for nearly a week I hadn't made up my mind about Linux Academy. The website has an enormous amount of content but the quality varies, depending on the tutor. Being able to test things on live servers is fantastic, although not necessary for most courses. Plus, you don't really need Linux Academy to spin up a VPS - there are plenty of hosting companies that let you play with a VPS for a few hours at very little cost.
The reason I decided to cancel my subscription was something else though: I am not too keen on learning by watching videos. Most of the videos I watched didn't have proper descriptions, which meant I constantly had to pause the video to take notes. And then there is the fact that videos aren't suitable as reference material - if you want to quickly look up how to, say, use the cut command then you have to find the relevant video and fast forward to the bit you are interested in. I much rather have study material in writing.
Another thing to be aware of is that you only have access to the content for as long as you pay. If you buy a book then it is yours forever. If you stop paying Linux Academy the content is gone. For $500 per year I can buy lots of books and spin up endless amounts of test servers.
Still, as an introduction to various topics Linux Academy is a great resource. If you want to study for whatever Linux certification then the courses will give you a good overview of the various topics and utilities you need to master. If you are interested in Linux containers then you could also get some hands-on experience. I can see myself buying a subscription in future.
|Released Last Week
The Amnesic Incognito Live System (Tails) is a Debian-based live DVD/USB with the goal of providing complete Internet anonymity for the user. The project's latest version, Tails 3.6, makes it easier to lock and unlock the desktop and improves persistently installed applications, allowing software to be set up in the background without blocking the launch of the GNOME desktop. The distribution now provides command line tools for removing meta data from PDF documents. "You can now lock your screen by clicking on the [lock] button in the system menu. If you set up an administration password when starting Tails, you can unlock your screen with your administration password. Otherwise, you can set up a password to unlock your screen when locking your screen for the first time. We improved a lot the backend of the Additional Software persistence feature. Your additional software is now: Installed in the background after the session starts instead of blocking the opening of the desktop. Always installed even if you are off-line. Install pdf-redact-tools, a command line tool to clean metadata and redact PDF files by converting them to PNG images. An error message indicating the name of the graphics card is now displayed when Tails fails to start GNOME." Additional information and screen shots can be found in the project's release announcement.
Univention Corporate SErver 4.3-0
Univention Corporate Server (UCS) is an enterprise-class distribution based on Debian GNU/Linux. The developers have published a new release, version UCS 4.3-0. The latest version is based on Debian 9 and now uses an unmodified Debian kernel. The distribution also features new Samba packages and improved SAML authentication. "We are very happy to announce the availability of Univention Corporate Server (UCS) 4.3. Considerable highlights are: UCS 4.3 is based on Debian GNU/Linux 9 (Stretch). More than 20,000 source packages have been updated and some have been adapted to the needs of UCS users. The Linux kernel of Debian GNU/Linux is now used unmodified. This greatly improves compatibility to hardware and software which has been certified for Debian 9. Also new in UCS 4.3 are e.g. MariaDB and Nagios 4. The portal pages introduced with the UCS 4.2 gave users a simple way to access applications relevant to them. With UCS 4.3, administrators can easily build and manage these portals in visual composer mode and via drag and drop. It is now also possible to show different content to different users, depending on their group membership, permissions, department, branch or school. With UCS 4.3, SAML authentication is linked to the Kerberos login. Users logged in to Microsoft Windows or Linux (Ubuntu) can access Web applications that support SAML without re-authentication." Additional details can be found in the company's release announcement.
LibreELEC is a minimal operating system designed to run the Kodi media centre. LibreELEC runs on desktop computers, laptops and ARM-powered devices such as Raspberry Pi computers. "Team LibreELEC celebrates its second birthday (and international Pi-Day) with the release of LibreELEC (Krypton) v8.2.4 which brings minor bug-fixes and new firmware to support the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ hardware announced this morning. Highlights of the new Pi hardware include: A 1.4GHz 64-bit quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU; dual-band 802.11ac wireless LAN and Bluetooth 4.2; faster Ethernet (Gigabit Ethernet over USB 2.0); power-over-Ethernet support (with separate PoE HAT); improved PXE network and USB mass-storage booting; improved thermal management. Improvements to WiFi stability and performance on the 3B+ are noticeable. In private testing over the last two months we have been able to stream typical HD media over a 5GHz network at 105Mb/sec without the buffering and dropouts seen with the previous (2.4GHz only) model, and even 2.4GHz speeds reached 50Mb/sec where the 3B struggled to reach 35Mb/sec." Further information is available in the project's release announcement.
MX Linux 17.1
The MX Linux project has announced the release of MX Linux 17.1, a desktop distribution based on Debian and featuring the Xfce desktop environment. This version delivers a recent Linux kernel, new and improved "MX apps" and updated applications, including Firefox 58 and LibreOffice 6: "MX LInux 17.1 released. This release is a roll-up of all updates since the initial release and features the following highlights: 4.15 kernels for both 32-bit and 64-bit ISO images (the 64-bit ones are patched for the Meltdown/Spectre issues)l the 32-bit ISO image has a PAE kernel for RAM usage above 4 GBl easily change kernels, e.g to the latest Liquorix kernel or downgrade to Debian Stable kernel (4.9) via the MX package installer; the latest updates from Debian, antiX and MX repositories; updated packages - Firefox 58.0.2 (59 hitting repository soon), VLC 2.2.8 (3.0 in test repository), Clementine 1.3.1; Thunderbird 52.6.0, LibreOffice 6.0.1, LuckyBackup 0.4.9, Passwords and Keys 3.20.0, Xfce Terminal 0.8.3; MX-Updater now has an 'auto-update' option in preferences that enables unattended upgrades...." Read the rest of the release announcement for further information.
MX Linux 17.1 -- Running the Xfce desktop
(full image size: 584kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Simon Long has announced the release of an updated build of Raspbian, a Debian-based distribution for the Raspberry Pi single-board computers. This new version improves compatibility with large monitors and provides a way to set a default screen option depending on the size of the monitor: "You may have noticed that we released a updated Raspbian software image yesterday. While the main reason for the new image was to provide support for the new Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+, the image also includes, alongside the usual set of bug fixes and minor tweaks, one significant chunk of new functionality that is worth pointing out. ... The Appearance Settings application was a good place to start regarding support of different screen sizes. One of the features I originally included was a button to set everything to a default value. Now, there is no longer a single defaults button, but a new Defaults tab with multiple options." Read the full release announcement for further information and screenshots.
Zorin OS 12.3
Artyom Zorin has announced the release of Zorin OS 12.3, an updated version of the project's beginner-friendly distribution based on Ubuntu. Among a plethora of other improvements, this release also comes with Wine 3.0, the latest stable version of the compatibility layer capable of running Windows applications under Linux: "We're excited to announce the release of Zorin OS 12.3. This version focuses on strengthening the fundamentals of the operating system that contribute towards Zorin OS's unique user experience: simplicity, security, and functionality. The latest version of the Wine compatibility layer for Windows applications has been built into Zorin OS 12.3. This means more Windows applications run faster and with better reliability than ever before. Amongst a myriad of other upgrades, the Wine developers have focused on improving how Windows games run thanks to the introduction of Direct3D 10 and 11 support. That means you'll have access to an even larger library of games to play in Zorin OS." Read the full release announcement for further information and screenshots.
antiX is a lightweight Linux distribution based on Debian. The antiX project has released an update to the distribution's 17 series, antiX 17.1, which features fixes for the Spectre and Meltdown CPU bugs. "So what has changed since antiX-17 release? New 4.9.87 patched for Meltdown/Spectre kernel; all packages upgraded to Debian 9.4; elogind now included on full and base flavours; eudev updated from 3.2 to 3.5; Firefox-ESR upgraded to 52.7.1; LibreOffice version 5.2.7-1; xf86-video-sisimedia-antix - latest version for sis graphics; improved localization including new languages offered eg Amharic. New: repo-manager - ported from MX Linux - GUI to easily set up default repositories; antix-viewer - ported from mx-viewer - very simple viewer to display an URL; live-usb-maker-gui-antix - ported from MX Linux as a front end to the antiX live-usb-maker application." The release announcement has more details.
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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: 778
- Total data uploaded: 18.4TB
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
This week we talked about two educational resources, ArchMerge/ArcoLinux and the Linux Academy. Both of these resources offer video tutorials and a chance for hands-on learning. This week we would like to find out how our readers feel about using videos to learn technical subjects.
If you have used ArchMerge/ArcoLinux or Linux Academy, please let us know what you thought of their videos in the comments.
You can see the results of our previous poll on the size of current distributions in last week's edition. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
New projects added to database
Omarine is a Linux-based operating system for servers. It can also be used for desktops with the GNOME or Plasma option right at the login screen without any additional configuration. Omarine was originally based on Slackware, but is now independently developed.
Omarine 3.0 -- Running the KDE Plasma desktop
(full image size: 489kB, resolution: 1600x900 pixels)
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Distributions added to waiting list
- CloverOS. CloverOS is a minimal Linux distro that automates a tuned Gentoo Linux installation intended to be easy to use and out of the box.
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DistroWatch database summary
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This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 26 March 2018. Past articles and reviews can be found through our Article Search page. To contact the authors please send e-mail to:
- Jesse Smith (feedback, questions and suggestions: distribution reviews/submissions, questions and answers, tips and tricks)
- Ladislav Bodnar (feedback, questions, donations, comments)
- Bruce Patterson (podcast)
If you've enjoyed this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly, please consider sending us a tip.
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|Linux Foundation Training
|Reader Comments • Jump to last comment
1 • Weekly Poll (by Darren Neufeldt on 2018-03-19 00:34:09 GMT from Canada) |
While I do like to use Video's to learn there are somethings where I too like to have a book. The weekly poll needed a third option: Video and Book.
2 • poll + releases (by distroflowers on 2018-03-19 00:51:19 GMT from Australia)
Videos are good coz you can just absorb information without having to work too hard at it. Tutorials/books can also be good. However, the teaching in all media has to be clear and to the point, or it can be awfully boring.
Good week for releases - MX-Linux, Antix, Zorin OS.
3 • Videos (by reader on 2018-03-19 01:06:05 GMT from United States)
Without hands-on, videos enter one ear and exit the other.
4 • Video tutorials (by historyb on 2018-03-19 01:36:28 GMT from United States)
As a visual learner I like to see videos to follow
5 • Videos (by zephyr on 2018-03-19 01:51:34 GMT from United States)
Use videos for many projects, Linux is certainly no different. A great aspect of most video tutorials is reviewing in case something was missed the first time.
Completely rebuilt and upgraded my lappie using YouTube, thankful for the many people who contribute their resources and time to helping others.
cheers! : )
6 • Video learning (by JDNSW on 2018-03-19 01:53:24 GMT from Australia)
As a general rule I prefer text based learning to a video - I can read a lot faster than a presenter can speak, and if I don't understand something, just looking at the last line or two is a lot quicker than rewinding the video and viewing it again. On the other hand, pictures help many subjects! (But can be incorporated in text)
A separate issue is that I, for one, am reliant on satellite internet, with very restricted data quantities - and video uses vastly more bandwidth than does text!
7 • Videos (by DaveW on 2018-03-19 02:16:06 GMT from United States)
I do find video learning useful, but like both authors mentioned, I also want some form of written documentation that can be readily searched.
8 • Video instructions (by Counterdutch on 2018-03-19 02:25:48 GMT from Netherlands)
No fun without working soundcard , there must be written documentation, where you can find quick solutions.
9 • Re: ArchMerge aka ArcoLinux (by eco2geek on 2018-03-19 04:49:06 GMT from United States)
It's an interesting distro. I didn't install it, but I'm thinking about it, since it looks like a good way to get experience with an Arch-based distro.
Running from the live media, it uses the Z shell by default.
It's not only changing wallpaper every so often, it's downloading wallpaper from the internet, using a program named "Variety". There's an icon in the system tray that brings up its configuration options; by default it's set to use a maximum of 500MB for downloaded wallpaper. (Personally, wallpaper that changed every 5 minutes would annoy the heck out of me.)
I'm usually not a big fan of dark themes, but ArchMerge's default theme looks pretty good. Of course, you can change it.
10 • Written vs. Video (by cflow on 2018-03-19 05:04:31 GMT from United States)
For me, it really depends on the content I'm learning. I do notice how some sources incredibly side towards one or the other - and not how I'd prefer them.
For instance, for learning Blender, game engines, art software, etc. I'd rather read clearly written tutorials with static pictures, as videos always go by too fast to analyze the details. Yet the majority of tutorials in those areas are videos nowadays, where I must frequently stop rewind, and replay them to frustration.
Then there are command line tips and text-software that I often like seeing videos about, as I get to see cause-and-effect relationship in real time on a computer screen, and get a feel of how they're supposed to be used for in the first place. Unfortunately, most tutorials in this area stay in pure text, where often the context of the commands feels hidden.
Of course, in both type, there are good and bad ones in general.
11 • Videos - MX Linux (by Hoos on 2018-03-19 05:07:30 GMT from Singapore)
MX Linux has many instructional videos on Youtube, mainly done by runwiththedolphin (Developer Dolphin_Oracle). https://mxlinux.org/videos
He also does them for antiX, on the same Youtube channel.
Not only are they useful, he is quietly humorous so the videos are enjoyable.
12 • @11 - addition (by Hoos on 2018-03-19 05:13:05 GMT from Singapore)
I will add that MX Linux has a very comprehensive Manual in various languages as well, so it comes with an impressive range of both written and visual instructional material.
13 • Video learning, if properly viewed, ... (by Greg Zeng on 2018-03-19 05:47:31 GMT from Australia)
Videos can be viewed on-line or off-line. If on-line, then I prefer a Chromium -based, or Firefox-based web browser, with VARIABLE-SPEED playback, and VOICE-TEXT subtitles (Google's YouTube service works best for me).
All on-line video-tutorials can be recorded in various degrees of quality, with the same web-browsers, given the correct choice of add-ons. Playback of these videos off-line requires correct video playback software. Linux seems to not have such variable-playback video software? In Windows, I use "Potplayer".
Not many video-instruction materials are prepared properly. Lack of on-screen labels is the most common failing. Next is the audio-quality of the voice: background noises, over-loud "background music", poor accents from non-English speakers, poor microphone standards, etc.
Most instructional tapes do not provide any time-line, to quickly locate the important topic headings. These also generally do not know how to add the needed web-links to help students to learn better. Often on YouTube, the "instructors" add strange ramblings. Usually the instructor does not explain whether mouse-clicks, keyboard-keys, etc are needed to do the instruction.
A very common mistake is to have the screen sized to FULL-HD (1080p). This makes the playback use so much bandwidth, so much computer data waste, and most items on the screen slow & small-sized on play-back (icons, cursor, graphics, etc). When I prepare material, I enlarge the font sizes, simplify the eye-candy, and possibly use 720p (High Definition), instead of 1080p.
14 • videos vs books (by meanpt on 2018-03-19 09:00:09 GMT from Portugal)
TL;DR: I use both videos and text.
Videos usually make me sleepy and take too much time to get to the point, when and if there is a "point", something you only know after going through it. BUT they provide for a faster learning when interactions with UI's are concerned. The same applies for building UI's.
Books are my preferred way to go as I can quickly go through the content and find if it's worth to invest the time to get what I eventually need to know.
15 • Re: ArchMerge aka ArcoLinux (by alexis on 2018-03-19 10:23:38 GMT from France)
One thing that I feel was overlooked it this article but is truly interresting with this distribution is it's choice to include 3 vastly different graphical environments with the default intall: Xfce, Openbox and i3, allowing the user to experience pretty much the full range of "desktop environments" available to linux, going from a full-fledged DE (Xfce) to a minimalistic floating windows WM (Openbox) and event a tilling WM (i3).
This last point was truly what caught my eye as there a very few distributions that actually offer a tilling wm as a default solution, and those few that do are often specialist niche distro's that suppose that if you've event ever heard of them you must know what you're doing.
But here, not only does the distribution offer you i3 pre-installed by default but in even goest through the trouble of trying to teach you how to use it.
This alone I feel should set this distro apart from pretty much everything else out there.
16 • Video Training (by kc1di on 2018-03-19 10:34:00 GMT from United States)
Video Training is good if well done. only problem if I have but one computer and am trying to watch the video on a You tube or similar channel I can not always try what is suggested without interrupting the course. This makes it difficult at times to follow the course. I thus prefer to use written instructions with good illustrations and explanations so I can try them as I go. That why much learning in Linux is done on the various forums as inconsistant as that method my be. PS do think this opinion poll should have had more options.
17 • Video Tutorials (by Jim on 2018-03-19 10:37:13 GMT from United States)
I like text based. I type like crap. Copy and paste really helps me.
18 • I dislike using videos to learn (by Tim on 2018-03-19 13:10:39 GMT from United States)
I dislike using videos to learn, because I like to have the info in a text format where I can see it and refer to it without having to try to rewind a video to the spot I need.
19 • videos meh (by Mark on 2018-03-19 14:59:04 GMT from United Kingdom)
I much prefer text+images to videos, so I can go through it at my own pace, easily go back to previous bits, or proceed through things in a non-linear fashion.
Videos have some advantages over text, in some cases, but I think they should be used in moderation, as a supplement not a replacement.
20 • Video Tutorials (by Sam Crawford on 2018-03-19 15:29:18 GMT from United States)
It's hard to copy and paste a command into a terminal from a video.
21 • Poll (by dragonmouth on 2018-03-19 17:42:48 GMT from United States)
I prefer written instructions because it is easy to go back and forth at my own pace. I like to practice what I'm reading about. It is hard to do with a video. Videos are good for giving one an overview or an outline of the subject.
22 • Poll (by jadecat on 2018-03-19 23:14:36 GMT from United Kingdom)
Give me the written word every time. Video is fine as a reference or reminder.
23 • Video training (by FOSSilizing Dinosaur on 2018-03-20 17:03:36 GMT from United States)
The Full Manual, with Table of Contents, cross-references (early hypertext), update history and index, does benefit from some animated gif (early video) illustrations.
Many instructional videos waste huge amounts of storage, bandwidth and time providing over-simplified instruction that quickly becomes obsolete.
One common use of videos in enterprises has been to eliminate candidates with poor comprehension and retention. Another is introduction of concepts for orientation, something far more supportive than "RTFM" (when there is no FM) or "go fish on Google (giggle)" from classic Arch culture.
24 • Those image apps on Arco are not duplications (by Adrien on 2018-03-21 03:46:55 GMT from United States)
Darktable is RAW workflow app.
GIMP is a raster editor.
Inkscape is a vector editor.
Shotwell is a photo organizer.
Numacs is a simple viewer.
If you want to edit raster images, use GIMP. If you want to edit vector images, use Inkscape. If you need to process RAW camera images, use Darktable. If you want to organize your photos, (including the now processed JPG versions of those RAW camera shots) use Shotwell.
If all you want to do is look at an image quickly without waiting for any of the previous apps to load their vast pile of editing tools or an entire photo/negative database, then use Numacs. If XFCE, Openbox or i3 had a built-in 'quick-look' feature, I suppose you could leave out Numacs.
25 • Videos vs. no-video (by Adrien on 2018-03-21 03:53:53 GMT from United States)
I like to use videos to learn as PART of my learning, but certainly, not the only method.
However, there is a difference between learning a skill or task, and trying to solve a problem. While learning may be involved in the later, what I really want in that case is a text reference. I don't want to watch a video for 5 minutes, just to still not be sure if it's going to answer my question or even apply to my situation.
I don't have time to waste watching someone fiddle while they click a screen. if a screen cast is done well however, it can be more illustrative and informative than just text, or text with pictures. I haven't used Linux Academy, to comment, but courses on Learnable/SitePoint are *usually* well done, short, and to the point. (and are divided into small topics for easy scanning without wasting my time)
26 • opinon poll.. (by Jordan on 2018-03-21 13:39:07 GMT from United States)
..on videos. Instructional videos are amazing. The fact of having more than one computer is obviously helpful with that: one to watch the info and the other to implement the needed regimen as it goes along.
Number of Comments: 26
|• Issue 755 (2018-03-19): Learning with ArchMerge and Linux Academy, Librem 5 runs Plasma Mobile, Cinnamon gets performance boost|
|• Issue 754 (2018-03-12): Reviewing Sabayon and Antergos, the growing Linux kernel, BSDs getting CPU bug fixes, Manjaro builds for ARM devices|
|• Issue 753 (2018-03-05): Enso OS 0.2, KDE Plasma 5.12 features, MX Linux prepares new features, interview with MidnightBSD's founder|
|• Issue 752 (2018-02-26): OviOS 2.31, performing off-line upgrades, elementary OS's new installer, UBports gets test devices, Redcore team improves security|
|• Issue 751 (2018-02-19): DietPi 6.1, testing KDE's Plasma Mobile, Nitrux packages AppImage in default install, Solus experiments with Wayland|
|• Issue 750 (2018-02-12): Solus 3, getting Deb packages upstream to Debian, NetBSD security update, elementary OS explores AppCentre changes|
|• Issue 749 (2018-02-05): Freespire 3 and Linspire 7.0, misunderstandings about Wayland, Xorg and Mir, Korora slows release schedule, Red Hat purchases CoreOS|
|• Issue 748 (2018-01-29): siduction 2018.1.0, SolydXK 32-bit editions, building an Ubuntu robot, desktop-friendly Debian options|
|• Issue 747 (2018-01-22): Ubuntu MATE 17.10, recovering open files, creating a new distribution, KDE focusing on Wayland features|
|• Issue 746 (2018-01-15): deepin 15.5, openSUSE's YaST improvements, new Ubuntu 17.10 media, details on Spectre and Meltdown bugs|
|• Issue 745 (2018-01-08): GhostBSD 11.1, Linspire and Freespire return, wide-spread CPU bugs patched, adding AppImage launchers to the application menu|
|• Issue 744 (2018-01-01): MX Linux 17, Ubuntu pulls media over BIOS bug, PureOS gets endorsed by the FSF, openSUSE plays with kernel boot splash screens|
|• Issue 743 (2017-12-18): Daphile 17.09, tools for rescuing files, Fedora Modular Server delayed, Sparky adds ARM support, Slax to better support wireless networking|
|• Issue 742 (2017-12-11): heads 0.3.1, improvements coming to Tails, Void tutorials, Ubuntu phasing out Python 2, manipulating images from the command line|
|• Issue 741 (2017-12-04): Pop!_OS 17.10, openSUSE Tumbleweed snapshots, installing Q4OS on a Windows partition, using the at command|
|• Issue 740 (2017-11-27): Artix Linux, Unity spin of Ubuntu, Nitrux swaps Snaps for AppImage, getting better battery life on Linux|
|• Issue 739 (2017-11-20): Fedora 27, cross-distro software ports, Ubuntu on Samsung phones, Red Hat supports ARM, Parabola continues 32-bit support|
|• Issue 738 (2017-11-13): SparkyLinux 5.1, rumours about spyware, Slax considers init software, Arch drops 32-bit packages, overview of LineageOS|
|• Issue 737 (2017-11-06): BeeFree OS 18.1.2, quick tips to fix common problems, Slax returning, Solus plans MATE and software management improvements|
|• Issue 736 (2017-10-30): Ubuntu 17.10, "what if" security questions, Linux Mint to support Flatpak, NetBSD kernel memory protection|
|• Issue 735 (2017-10-23): ArchLabs Minimo, building software with Ravenports, WPA security patch, Parabola creates OpenRC spin|
|• Issue 734 (2017-10-16): Star 1.0.1, running the Linux-libre kernel, Ubuntu MATE experiments with snaps, Debian releases new install media, Purism reaches funding goal|
|• Issue 733 (2017-10-09): KaOS 2017.09, 32-bit prematurely obsoleted, Qubes security features, IPFire updates Apache|
|• Issue 732 (2017-10-02): ClonOS, reducing Snap package size, Ubuntu dropping 32-bit Desktop, partitioning disks for ZFS|
|• Issue 731 (2017-09-25): BackSlash Linux Olaf, W3C adding DRM to web standards, Wayland support arrives in Mir, Debian experimenting with AppArmor|
|• Issue 730 (2017-09-18): Mageia 6, running a completely free OS, HAMMER2 file system in DragonFly BSD's installer, Manjaro to ship pre-installed on laptops|
|• Issue 729 (2017-09-11): Parabola GNU/Linux-libre, running Plex Media Server on a Raspberry Pi, Tails feature roadmap, a cross-platform ports build system|
|• Issue 728 (2017-09-04): Nitrux 1.0.2, SUSE creates new community repository, remote desktop tools for GNOME on Wayland, using Void source packages|
|• Issue 727 (2017-08-28): Cucumber Linux 1.0, using Flatpak vs Snap, GNOME previews Settings panel, SUSE reaffirms commitment to Btrfs|
|• Issue 726 (2017-08-21): Redcore Linux 1706, Solus adds Snap support, KaOS getting hardened kernel, rolling releases and BSD|
|• Issue 725 (2017-08-14): openSUSE 42.3, Debian considers Flatpak for backports, changes coming to Ubuntu 17.10, the state of gaming on Linux|
|• Issue 724 (2017-08-07): SwagArch 2017.06, Myths about Unity, Mir and Ubuntu Touch, Manjaro OpenRC becomes its own distro, Debian debates future of live ISOs|
|• Issue 723 (2017-07-31): UBOS 11, transferring packages between systems, Ubuntu MATE's HUD, GNUstep releases first update in seven years|
|• Issue 722 (2017-07-24): Calculate Linux 17.6, logging sudo usage, Remix OS discontinued, interview with Chris Lamb, Debian 9.1 released|
|• Issue 721 (2017-07-17): Fedora 26, finding source based distributions, installing DragonFly BSD using Orca, Yunit packages ported to Ubuntu 16.04|
|• Issue 720 (2017-07-10): Peppermint OS 8, gathering system information with osquery, new features coming to openSUSE, Tails fixes networking bug|
|• Issue 719 (2017-07-03): Manjaro 17.0.2, tracking ISO files, Ubuntu MATE unveils new features, Qubes tests Admin API, Fedora's Atomic Host gets new life cycle|
|• Issue 718 (2017-06-26): Debian 9, support for older hardware, Debian updates live media, Ubuntu's new networking tool, openSUSE gains MP3 support|
|• Issue 717 (2017-06-19): SharkLinux, combining commands in the shell, Debian 9 flavours released, OpenBSD improving kernel security, UBports releases first OTA update|
|• Issue 716 (2017-06-12): Slackel 7.0, Ubuntu working with GNOME on HiDPI, openSUSE 42.3 using rolling development model, exploring kernel blobs|
|• Issue 715 (2017-06-05): Devuan 1.0.0, answering questions on systemd, Linux Mint plans 18.2 beta, Yunit/Unity 8 ported to Debian|
|• Issue 714 (2017-05-29): Void, enabling Wake-on-LAN, Solus packages KDE, Debian 9 release date, Ubuntu automated bug reports|
|• Issue 713 (2017-05-22): ROSA Fresh R9, Fedora's new networking features, FreeBSD's Quarterly Report, UBports opens app store, Parsix to shut down, SELinux overview|
|• Issue 712 (2017-05-15): NixOS 17.03, Alpha Litebook running elementary OS, Canonical considers going public, Solus improves Bluetooth support|
|• Issue 711 (2017-05-08): 4MLinux 21.0, checking file system fragmentation, new Mint and Haiku features, pfSense roadmap, OpenBSD offers first syspatch updates|
|• Issue 710 (2017-05-01): TrueOS 2017-02-22, Debian ported to RISC-V, Halium to unify mobile GNU/Linux, Anbox runs Android apps on GNU/Linux, using ZFS on the root file system|
|• Issue 709 (2017-04-24): Ubuntu 17.04, Korora testing new software manager, Ubuntu migrates to Wayland, running Nix package manager on alternative distributions|
|• Issue 708 (2017-04-17): Maui Linux 17.03, Snaps run on Fedora, Void adopts Flatpak, running Android apps on GNU/Linux, Debian elects Project Leader|
|• Issue 707 (2017-04-10): PCLinuxOS 2017.03, Canonical stops Unity development, OpenBSD on a Raspberry Pi, setting up a VPN for privacy|
|• Issue 706 (2017-04-03): Super Grub2 Disk, Snap packages of deepin applications, Subgraph OS routes network traffic for one application, announcements from Linux Mint|
|• Issue 705 (2017-03-27): Minimal Linux Live, sharing control of the operating system, new KaOS features, Uplos32 provides 32-bit fork of PCLinuxOS|
|• Issue 704 (2017-03-20): ToarusOS 1.0.4, Linux Mint's security record, Debian starts Project Leader election, Ubuntu 12.04 reaches end-of-life|
|• Full list of all issues|
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We wanted to make it possible to everybody to look at what Linux can offer, and to make it possible for software publishers wanting to show their Linux-based software to distribute a no hassle hands-off demo CD. But this kind of CD makes also a wonderful Linux-to-go solution: you might carry your favorite desktop configuration in your pocket, sit in front of a non-Linux box, boot from the CD and be in front of your preferred environment in minutes.