| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 762, 7 May 2018
Welcome to this year's 19th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
There is a lot going on in the open source community at the moment with several projects making important changes. This past week we saw the release of Fedora 28, which may be the first Fedora version to release on schedule and also the first to make it easy to add third-party and proprietary software. We have some information on Fedora 28 in this issue and plan to have a full review of the project's new release next week. In other news, the Linux Mint team has been planning their next series of releases based on Ubuntu 18.04 and Debian 9. We have more information on Mint's roadmap in our News section. We also link to a fix for an error SolydXK users may be experiencing when attempting to upgrade the distribution. One common problem which came up a lot this past week was missing or unavailable developers. The Void project mentioned they are working around problems caused by one member of their team being out of contact and we cover what they are doing to deal with the missing developer. Then we talk about both Ubuntu Budgie and Ubuntu MATE planning to drop 32-bit support for future releases of their distribution. The Korora and Ubuntu Studio projects have had to scale back due to a lack of volunteers and HardenedBSD is switching from using LibreSSL to using OpenSSL largely due to lacking resources necessary to keep pace with LibreSSL's development. The GhostBSD project is also making changes, switching from using FreeBSD as its base to using TrueOS in order to share improvements. Speaking of TrueOS, it is the focus of our Feature Story this week as Jesse Smith takes the rolling release, FreeBSD-based system for a test drive. Also in this issue we are pleased to share the releases of the past week and the torrents we are seeding. In our Opinion Poll we ask whether our readers prefer the vanilla GNOME desktop environment provided by Fedora or the more customized look and feel of Ubuntu's GNOME desktop. Plus we are happy to welcome the All In One - System Rescue Toolkit project to our database. Finally, we are happy to share some custom DistroWatch wallpaper provided by one of our readers. We wish you all a wonderful week and happy reading!
- Review: TrueOS 18.03
- News: Mint team plans future releases, HardenedBSD switching back to OpenSSL, SolydXK fixes repository error, Fedora's updated file manager, Void team working around missing developer, Korora team takes time off, Ubuntu Studio discontinues LTS support, GhostBSD plans to use TrueOS as a base, Ubuntu flavours dropping 32-bit support
- Tips and tricks: Live upgrading Raspbian
- Released last week: Fedora 28, IPFire 2.19 Core 120, Kali 2018.2
- Torrent corner: Archman, BlankOn, Bluestar, BunsenLabs, Fedora, IPFire, Kali, KaOS, KDE neon, Pop!_OS, Porteus, Robolinux
- Upcoming releases: Tails 3.7
- Opinion poll: Customized GNOME vs vanilla GNOME
- DistroWatch.com news: Wallpaper for DistroWatch fans
- New additions: All In One - System Rescue Toolkit
- New distributions: Flatcar Linux, rareOS
- Reader comments
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
TrueOS is a rolling release operating system based on FreeBSD's development (-CURRENT) branch. The TrueOS operating system is available in two editions: a Desktop flavour and a Server flavour. The Desktop edition ships with the Lumina desktop environment, a graphical package manager and other graphical tools for managing the operating system. The Desktop edition is an approximately 2.4GB download and the Server edition is 884MB in size. I downloaded the Desktop edition for my TrueOS trial.
Booting from the Desktop edition's media brings up a graphical system installer. At the bottom of the installer there is a collection of buttons for launching tools to help us set up the system. One button opens a hardware compatibility checker so we can confirm devices such as our video card and network connection are recognized by TrueOS. Another button opens a window where we can configure our keyboard, a third button opens the system's network settings and another launches a terminal emulator, giving us access to the command line. I quite like having these options, especially the hardware compatibility tool as it largely makes up for TrueOS not having a live desktop environment for us to test drive.
The installer only has a few screens. We are asked to select our preferred language from a list and then choose whether to set up the Desktop or Server edition of TrueOS. We can also restore old copies of TrueOS that have been archived using the project's Life Preserver backup tool. Finally, we are given the opportunity to customize the storage options. TrueOS uses ZFS for handling storage and we can optionally name the ZFS storage pool, select which disk or partition to use and tweak options for sub-volumes. People who are not familiar with ZFS can probably take the default options offered.
The installer then sets up the operating system and, the first time we boot into the new copy of TrueOS, we are asked to complete a few more customisations. A graphical first-run wizard asks us to confirm which video driver it should use, select our time zone and create a password for the administrator account. We are also asked to provide a username and password for our regular account. The last screen gives us a chance to enable/disable some services, such as IPv6 support and the OpenSSH secure shell.
TrueOS 18.03 -- The default application menu
(full image size: 984kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
With all of those steps completed we are presented with a graphical login screen. From here we can sign into the Lumina 1.4 desktop environment. Lumina presents us with icons on the desktop which open popular applications such as Firefox and the VLC media player. There are also icons for opening the project's detailed Handbook, accessing system settings and launching the AppCafe software manager. A panel is placed at the bottom of the screen and is home to the application menu and a system tray. The project's Handbook is unusually detailed. It is presented as a collection of local web pages which are opened in Firefox and which cover many aspects of managing TrueOS and using the system.
One of the first things I noticed when exploring the Lumina desktop was that the icons (both on the desktop and in the application menu) were an odd mixture of two different styles. Most of the native Lumina tools and configuration modules use black & white icons while third-party applications, such as Firefox, are in colour. However, there are some exceptions where application icons are in black & white and TrueOS tools have colour icons. This makes for an unusual and visually inconsistent experience.
On the subject of icons, desktop icons cannot be simply clicked and dragged to a new location on Lumina. We can right-click on icons and select a move action from the context menu which appears.
TrueOS 18.03 -- Adjusting the theme
(full image size: 499kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
The default application menu has an unusual layout. The menu takes up relatively little screen space, but includes several sections. There is a search bar at the top of the menu. Under the search bar is a window where we can scroll through installed applications, but we can only see one application at a time. Next there is a button to open the Lumina file manager and, below that, is a button which opens a slightly larger window where we can browse through installed applications four at a time. Another button opens the control panel and the last button in the menu opens the desktop settings panel.
I found the application menu to be small and a bit awkward to use. There doesn't appear to be a way to customize it to make it larger or rearrange its elements. However, we can swap out the default menu for alternative application menus. This is achieved by going into the desktop settings and selecting the Panels module. The Panels module makes it easy to reorganize the panel's items and swap them out for alternative widgets.
TrueOS 18.03 -- The Handbook and an alternative application menu
(full image size: 342kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Exploring the application menu, I found TrueOS ships with a relatively small number of desktop programs. Firefox and Thunderbird are included along with the Trojita IMAP e-mail client. The VLC media player is included along with the Phototonic image viewer. The QTerminal virtual terminal is available along with the CUPS web-based printer manager tool. The operating system includes standard items such as an archive manager, text editor and PDF viewer with most of these being custom Lumina applications. The Clang compiler and OpenRC service manager are included too. The operating system runs on the FreeBSD 12.0-CURRENT kernel which should provide the latest drivers available in the FreeBSD community. However, as -CURRENT is a development branch, we may also encounter unexpected changes from time to time.
TrueOS 18.03 -- The Insight file manager
(full image size: 704kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
The few programs which were included in TrueOS generally worked well for me. Some of them required a little re-learning on my part, especially the native Lumina applications as I had not used some of them before. However, Firefox, VLC and Thunderbird performed the same as they do on Linux. One of the few application issues I ran into was with QTerminal, the virtual terminal. QTerminal's window could not be moved and pop-up boxes would not be displayed, the application would simply stop responding with a dialog box was supposed to be displayed. The application acted as though it had no communication with the window manager. Switching to another terminal application, such as Konsole, worked around this problem.
Since the operating system does not bundle many desktop applications, I made regular use of the AppCafe software manager. AppCafe features three tabs: Browse, Installed and Pending. The Installed tab shows us a list of applications already on the system. We can check boxes next to items we no longer want and click a button to remove them. The Pending tab shows a list of queued actions. We can click on a listed action to see a log of the underlying pkg package manager's actions and progress.
Most of the action happens in the Browse tab which lets us scroll through categories of applications and search for items by name. The category browsing option is a bit cluttered as items may be low level packages or desktop programs. This means we could end up browsing through a dozen Python modules in the middle of a group of multimedia applications. Items are displayed with their name, often an icon and a short description. Clicking on an item brings up a more detailed description and other information such as the package's dependencies.
TrueOS 18.03 -- Browsing through packages with AppCafe
(full image size: 750kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
New packages can be installed by clicking a button next to the item's description. When a new application is installed, its icon is added to the desktop. This is convenient, but since some packages are installed only as dependencies (and they may have icons of their own) it caused my desktop to fill up quickly with new icons.
Software updates are not handled by AppCafe, but by a separate utility found in the control panel. While there were no updates available during my trial, the update tool did present me with some useful options. We can schedule updates, set the system to optionally reboot after an upgrade and use alternative repositories. TrueOS provides two official sets of repositories: Stable and Unstable. The latter is a rolling collection of packages. We also have the option of specifying our own, custom repository if we do not like the two official choices.
TrueOS ships with two settings panels, the control panel which handles the configuration of the underlying operating system and the Lumina desktop settings panel. Lumina's settings were fairly straight forward and the customisations we can perform are similar to those found in other desktop environments. I think what sets Lumina apart, especially from other Qt-based desktops like KDE's Plasma, is that Lumina tends to handle configuration from its settings panel. Plasma, by contrast, often makes it possible to right-click or unlock and then manipulate widgets directly. I think this makes tweaking Plasma a more direct activity, but Lumina's central management approach makes all the desktop options easy to locate with less exploration. I didn't need to go hunting for things I could click on or move around, everything was handled in one place.
TrueOS 18.03 -- The two settings panels
(full image size: 544kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
The control panel focuses on lower level items. From the control panel we can launch AppCafe, the update manager and a module for working with user accounts. There are also tools available for managing boot environments, the firewall and background services. These all worked well for me and were straight forward to use.
Earlier I mentioned there is a inconsistency in the appearance of the Lumina icons, some displaying in colour and others in black & white. Something I picked up while using the control panel is desktop icons had to be double-clicked to be activated, but control panel modules would open with a single click. Personally, I do not have a strong preference for single- vs double-clicking, but switching back and forth between the two made it harder to get into a natural rhythm when using Lumina.
Something I noticed while using the TrueOS tools, and particularly AppCafe, was my regular user account could perform administrator actions without a password. I could add or remove software, start or stop services and change the firewall without being asked for my credentials. This seems to come from the first user on the system being added to two special user groups: wheel and operator. I created a second user account and tried adding and removing it from these groups. I found any user, even without special groups, could add and remove software packages and enable/disable services. A user with no special access could also edit the firewall. However, users with no special access or only operator (not wheel) access could not manage other users' accounts.
This approach seems oddly permissive and a potential security threat. It's not often unprivileged users are given so much free access to manipulate the system, especially without providing a password.
ZFS snapshots and boot environments
One of the tools I mentioned finding in the control panel allows the user to work with boot environments. This is a special feature not found in many other open source operating systems (other than openSUSE), at least by default, as it generally requires the use of an advanced file system such as ZFS or Btrfs. Before committing to any change of the operating system, such as installing a new package or applying a fresh batch of upgrades, we can create a new boot environment. This takes a snapshot of the operating system at a fixed point in time. Whenever we reboot the computer we have the option of selecting which boot environment we wish to load. This allows us to jump back in time and use the operating system as it was at the time the snapshot was created. This almost instantly undoes any damaged caused by a broken update or a misconfigured service.
TrueOS 18.03 -- Managing boot environments
(full image size: 668kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
I tested this feature and found it worked perfectly and I was very glad to see it presented, especially on a rolling release platform using a development kernel. Any new wave of updates could break functionality, but almost anything can be fixed by rebooting and selecting the previous boot environment snapshot.
I tested TrueOS in a VirtualBox virtual machine and on a desktop computer. When running in VirtualBox the operating system performed well. It was quick to boot, the Lumina desktop was responsive and the operating system integrated nicely with my host environment. When I tried running TrueOS on the desktop computer I found it would not boot in Legacy BIOS mode, only in UEFI mode. I also could not boot the system with the default settings and drivers. I had to run the operating in safe mode with the generic vesa graphics driver in order to get TrueOS to boot. Once the operating system was up and running, it performed well. In either environment, TrueOS tended to use around 240MB of active RAM and 260MB of wired memory. A fresh install consumed about 2.2GB of disk space.
Something that I feel is worth mentioning is TrueOS provides different downloads for DVD and USB thumb drives. Unlike most Linux distributions, we cannot simply download the DVD ISO file of TrueOS and write it to a USB thumb drive, we need to specifically download the USB image file.
I think TrueOS offers a lot of good features and a lot of power, but I also think there are several issues with the operating system. Hardware support appears to be getting better, but I still had trouble getting TrueOS to boot on my desktop computer. Lumina offers good performance and lots of flexibility, but also several inconsistencies and it took me a while to adapt to them. The default application menu is cluttered and the scrollable window that shows one application entry at a time is an unusual approach I have not seen elsewhere. I preferred using the alternative, tree-style menu.
The ease with which non-admin users can adjust settings, without even a password, concerns me. Usually the BSD family is strict with security and TrueOS's control panel appears to be an exception to this rule. Otherwise, I very much like the power and straight forward approach used by TrueOS's many configuration modules. They tend to be useful and easy to manage.
The ZFS features and boot environments alone make me tempted to switch to using this operating system on a daily basis. The ability to stay on the cutting edge of development and almost instantly roll back any problems from the boot menu is a great ability to have.
TrueOS is missing some third-party software available to Linux users (Steam and Chrome come to mind), but otherwise the software selection on TrueOS seems to be on par with Linux. And I think most Linux users would feel fairly at home on a TrueOS system as the file system layout and applications are mostly the same.
On the whole, I think this project offers a lot of interesting and powerful features, but also has some rough points which may come from its cutting edge nature. There are some bumps in the road, but I really like the tools and performance on display with TrueOS.
* * * * *
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
* * * * *
Visitor supplied rating
TrueOS has a visitor supplied average rating of: 4.8/10 from 68 review(s).
Have you used TrueOS? You can leave your own review of the project on our ratings page.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
Mint team plans future releases, HardenedBSD switching back to OpenSSL, SolydXK fixes repository error, Fedora's updated file manager, Void team working around missing developer, Korora team takes time off, Ubuntu Studio discontinues LTS support, GhostBSD plans to use TrueOS as a base, Ubuntu flavours dropping 32-bit support
Linux Mint's monthly newsletter for April has been published and it includes some important details on the upcoming releases of Linux Mint 19 (which will be based on Ubuntu 18.04) and Linux Mint Debian Edition 3 (LMDE 3). "We're often asked when Linux Mint 19 or LMDE 3 will be released, what editions will be supported, and whether such or such changes affecting Ubuntu will also affect us. Here are a few elements of response: We will release in this order: Cinnamon 3.8, Linux Mint 19, LMDE 3. Linux Mint 19.x releases (19, 19.1, 19.2, 19.3) will be available in 3 editions (Cinnamon, MATE, Xfce), both in 32- and 64-bit. LMDE 3 will be available in a single edition (Cinnamon), both in 32- and 64-bit. Ubuntu ships with ubuntu-report, which collects metrics and usage data. This package won't be present in Linux Mint, no data will be collected or sent. In Ubuntu 18.04, support for home directory encryption was removed in the installer. Although it's to soon to confirm whether or not this feature will stay, we're working on it at the moment and we're hoping to keep it. The LMDE 3 installer will not get support for disk or home directory encryption." More information on the upcoming Mint releases can be found in the project's news letter.
* * * * *
HardenedBSD is a security-focused fork of FreeBSD and was an early adopter of the LibreSSL security library, which is designed to replace OpenSSL and be more proactive towards security fixes. Lately the maintenance cost of running the quickly changing LibreSSL library has become too much of a burden and HardenedBSD is switching back to using OpenSSL by default. "After recently updating 12-CURRENT to LibreSSL 2.7.2 from 2.6.4, it has become increasingly clear to us that performing major upgrades requires a team larger than a single person. Upgrading to 2.7.2 caused a lot of fallout in our ports tree. As of 28 April 2018, several ports we consider high priority are still broken. As it stands right now, it would take Bernard a significant amount of his spare personal time to fix these issues. Until we have a multi-person team dedicated to maintaining LibreSSL in base along with the patches required in ports, HardenedBSD will use OpenSSL going forward as the default crypographic library in base." More details on this migration back to OpenSSL can be found in the project's news post.
* * * * *
Users of the SolydXK distribution may encounter errors when attempting to install or update software this week. A recent update changed the address for the project's package repositories and, for people who installed this update, they will need to edit the repository information manually. A post on the SolydXK blog explains: "I had to update some packages to prepare them to the server migration I’m currently working on. Most of the changes are made in the solydxk-system package which will change the SolydXK repository URL in /etc/apt/sources.list to use the new server. Unfortunately, the rewrite did not go well with the previous adaptation of solydxk-system. Some users reported that the URL contained 'http://https://' which, of course, will not function. It is fixed in the solydxk-system version I uploaded today. However, users that already have that wrong URL need to adjust their sources.list file manually. If you get 404 errors while updating your system you can follow these steps in a terminal..." The instructions are presented in the blog post.
* * * * *
In preparation for the release of Fedora 28, Fedora Magazine put together some information to help users make the most of the distribution's Workstation edition. The Workstation edition runs the GNOME desktop and users may notice some significant changes, such as a lack of desktop icons and speed improvements in GNOME Files. "The roadmap of new features and improvements also includes significant architectural rewrites. Notably, these changes will improve search performance, so a heavy search does not cause the application to lock up. This new 'backend' to Files has other benefits too, including the ability to pause copy and move operations. Along with performance improvements, new file views are under development. This includes a 'flow view' that dynamically adjusts icon spacing when you resize a window. All these improvements are the result of difficult decisions and hard work by developers over the past few months." The article also talks about how to restore desktop icons using extensions or the Nemo file manager.
* * * * *
The developers of Void, an independent, rolling release distribution, are facing a common problem in the open source community: how to handle the project leader disappearing. "We have a problem. In the last few months people have been complaining about the lack of management capabilities in the Void Core Team. We have been aware of the problem, and it's time to explain the situation. The current project leader has disappeared. We have had no contact with him since the end of January, and no meaningful contact for well over a year. This itself would be concerning on its own, but no threat to the project." The project's blog post goes on to discuss how the remaining members of the Void team are migrating to new resources to keep the project active.
* * * * *
Earlier this year we discussed the Korora team slowing their distribution's release cycle. In the time since then, the Korora project has decided to take a break largely due to a lack of time and resources: "We're not one for many words and so we'll get straight to the point: Korora for the foreseeable future is not going to be able to march in cadence with the Fedora releases. In addition to that, for the immediate future there will be no updates to the Korora distribution. Our team is infinitesimal (currently one developer and two community managers) compared to many other distributions, we don't have the luxury of being able to dedicate the amount of time we would like to spend on the project and still satisfy our real life obligations. So we are taking a little sabbatical to avoid complete burn out and rejuvenate ourselves and our passion for Korora/Fedora and wider open source efforts.
What does that mean from here, well the servers will stay up so repos don't break but there will be no updates applied. We can't say how long this break will be, but sincerely hope you have enjoyed your time around here."
* * * * *
Last week, when we covered the release of Ubuntu 18.04 and its many community editions, one community flavour stood out. While most Ubuntu editions offer three to five years of support under the long term support (LTS) banner, Ubuntu Studio 18.04 only provides nine months of support. The reason is practically the theme of this week's news stories: a lack of volunteers. "For everyone who is asking why 18.04 is not an LTS, we want to be clear: we are very much in need of volunteers to help with development. We especially need help with packaging and documentation. This entire project is run by volunteers. Nobody on the Ubuntu Studio team is employed by Canonical. We do this out of passion for the project. That said, we simply do not currently have the manpower that it takes to support a long-term support version. If you would like to change that for future releases, please help!" The project's future plans are discussed in this blog post.
* * * * *
The GhostBSD project develops a desktop-friendly operating system based on FreeBSD. The GhostBSD team is looking at switching to a new base, possibly using TrueOS's rolling release as a future foundation. The project's website reports: "For some time we have discussed problems that GhostBSD is facing in the long run. Some of our community have asked for improvements including a better rc such as OpenRC. We all have thought of OpenRC, but for a small team, it is a hard thing to do on our own as a project. After a lot of discussions, we decided to join TrueOS's effort. Since then it is now making more sense as both of the main developers of GhostBSD work for iXsystems." iXsystems also sponsors work on TrueOS.
* * * * *
Both Ubuntu Budgie and Ubuntu MATE have announced that they will be dropping support for 32-bit x86 computers in future releases. The announcements (Ubuntu Budgie, Ubuntu MATE) point out that 32-bit support is still available through the distributions' 18.04 LTS releases and these versions will continue to receive updates for the next three years. The Ubuntu MATE team mentions that it is estimated fewer than 10% of their users install the 32-bit build of their distribution and, of those, many are actually running 64-bit hardware: "Why drop i386 (32-bit Intel) as a release architecture? Less than 10% of Ubuntu MATE users are running the i386 (32-bit Intel) images. Of those who do, thanks to the recent introduction of installation telemetry reports, many are choosing to install the i386 images on AMD64 (64-bit Intel) capable hardware."
* * * * *
These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Tips and Tricks (by Jesse Smith)
Live upgrading Raspbian
Like many technology enthusiasts, I have a Raspberry Pi single board computer. And, if you are like me, then the Pi is running Raspbian, a Debian-based distribution specifically built to work with the Pi's hardware. You may even, like me, want to upgrade the Raspbian operating system without taking the computer off-line. The good news is, if you have another computer on hand running the OpenSSH service, it is fairly easy to perform a backup and upgrade of the Pi without taking it off-line. Let's explore how this can be done.
In this example, I am going to be running commands on a system running Raspbian 8 Jessie and performing the steps necessary to upgrade to Raspbian 9 Stretch. In my case, I will be backing up an image (or snapshot) of the Pi's main drive, an SD card, to another computer on my network. This remote computer is called Workstation and it will hold an image of my Pi's file system for safe keeping in case something goes wrong.
Before we begin it is a good idea to make sure we know the network name or IP address of our remote computer. We should also make sure we have lots of free space on our Raspberry Pi's SD card. I have a fairly minimal installation of Raspbian and the upgrade process requires about 1GB of extra disk space. If you are running a desktop environment on the Pi or have several services installed, you will probably want at least 2GB of free space before beginning. We can check the available free space by running the "df -h" command on the Pi and checking the amount of available space on the /dev/root device.
The first thing I recommend doing, from Rasbpian's command line, is running a command in order to find out which version of the operating system you are using:
If you are running Raspbian Jessie, the command will display "8.0", if you are running Raspbian Wheezy, it should show "7.0". If you have already upgraded to the latest version, Stretch, then the command will show "9.0". This example focuses on upgrading from Jessie to Stretch, but the steps are the same for migrating from Wheezy to Jessie.
Before we perform the upgrade, we should take a snapshot of our Pi's SD card so we can rollback the upgrade if anything goes wrong. To do this we first need to find out what name Raspbian calls the SD card. Running the command
should display several lines. At least one (probably the first line) should have an entry that starts with text similar to "/dev/mmcblk0p7 on / type ext4" or "/dev/mmcblk0p6 on / type ext4". This lets us know that the SD card is called /dev/mmcblk0 and the root file system is on partition 6 or 7. The first part of the name, /dev/mmcblk0, is what we need to copy the entire device.
The next step is to copy the contents of the SD card to our remote computer. In this example, I backup the SD card named mmcblk0 to my computer named workstation.
sudo dd if=/dev/mmcblk0 | ssh workstation dd of=raspberry-backup.img
You can use the IP address or name of your remote computer in place of workstation in the above command. The backup process is likely to take several minutes, maybe even an hour, depending on the speed of the local network. When the Pi has finished transferring an image of its hard drive we should make sure we are running the latest versions of our operating system's packages to ease the upgrade process. This can be done with a string of apt commands.
sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade && sudo apt dist-upgrade
With the operating system up to date, we need to tell the package manager to switch over from using its old package repositories to using the repositories for the new version. In short, we will be migrating from the Raspbian Jessie packages over to Raspbian Stretch. We can accomplish this by exploring the /etc/apt directory and using a text editor to update each file manually, changing each occurrence of the word "jessie" to "stretch". Personally, I prefer to automate the process using the find command:
find /etc/apt -name "*.list" -print | xargs sed -i 's/jessie/stretch/g'
Now everything is in place and we can run the commands necessary to upgrade Raspbian. This process is likely to take over an hour as many packages will need to be downloaded and installed. The upgrade process will likely stop occasionally to ask us if we want to keep our old configuration files or install new versions. This means we should check on the upgrade process every few minutes until it finishes. Personally, I usually keep old versions of configuration files, which is the default action. Here are the three commands we need to run to upgrade all the packages on our system:
sudo apt update
When the above three commands finally complete, all there is left to do is clean up packages which are no longer required and reboot the system:
sudo apt upgrade
sudo apt dist-upgrade
sudo apt autoremove
Assuming everything went smoothly, the Raspberry Pi will reboot and be running the new version of the operating system. We can run
sudo apt-get clean
to confirm the version number has been bumped up from 8.0 to 9.0.
In the rare case where something goes wrong and the new version of Raspbian does not boot as expected, then we can fix the situation fairly easily. Take the SD card out of the Pi and plug it into the remote computer (Workstation in the above example). We can then use the dd command to write the raspberry-backup.img file back to our SD card. With that done, plugging the SD card back into the Pi and power cycling the Pi will restore its operating system back to its previous state when we began the upgrade.
* * * * *
More tips can be found in our Tips and Tricks archive.
|Released Last Week
Jay Flood has announced the release of Porteus 4.0, a set of small, portable Linux distributions based on Slackware Linux (and an indirect continuation of the original Slax project which has since switched to the Debian base). Porteus provides separate live media for its seven desktops, all of which are available for both x86_64 and i586 architectures: "Team Porteus is immensely gratified to announce the immediate availability of Porteus 4.0 final in seven desktop flavours. Major changes include: Linux kernel 4.16.3; core is based on Slackware 'current'; seven desktop options to choose from; new configuration file which replaces the .sgn file and can hold cheatcodes, one per line; new update-browser feature to update or download your preferred browser (available in GUI); support for EFI (using syslinux for both BIOS and EFI boots); new Porteus update feature built in to update the base modules; Intel microcode available in boot folder." Here is the brief release announcement as published on the project's user forums.
IPFire 2.19 Core 120
IPFire is a Linux distribution which focuses on security and is suited for being used as a firewall. Administration is handled through a web interface. The project has released a new update to its 2.19 series: IPFire 2.19 Core Update 120. The new version removes old and broken cryptography functions and introduces new security requirements: "Cryptography is one of the foundations to a secure system. We have updated the distribution to use the latest version of the OpenSSL cryptography library (version 1.1.0). This comes with a number of new ciphers and major refacturing of the code base has been conducted. With this change, we have decided to entirely deprecate SSLv3 and the web user interface will require TLSv1.2 which is also the default for many other services. We have configured a hardened list of ciphers which only uses recent algorithms and entirely removes broken or weak algorithms like RC4, MD5 and so on. Please check before this update if you are relying on any of those, and upgrade your dependent systems." A complete list of changes can be found in the project's release announcement.
Kali Linux 2018.2
Kali Linux is a Debian-based distribution with a collection of security, penetration testing and forensics tools. The project's latest release is Kali Linux 2018.2, which includes kernel updates and fixes for the Meltdown and Spectre CPU bugs. "This Kali release is the first to include the Linux 4.15 kernel, which includes the x86 and x64 fixes for the much-hyped Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities. It also includes much better support for AMD GPUs and support for AMD Secure Encrypted Virtualization, which allows for encrypting virtual machine memory such that even the hypervisor can't access it." There have also been updates to the Bloodhound, Reaver, PixieWPS, Burp Suite and Hashcat packages. Further details can be found in the project's release announcement and in the Change Log.
BunsenLabs Linux Helium
BunsenLabs Linux is a Debian-based distribution which features the Openbox window manager as the default graphical user interface. The project has released BunsenLabs Linux Helium, which is based on Debian 9 Stretch. "The visual appearance has been worked over with new GTK themes (including hdpi, thanks to forum member vinzv!), the Paper icon theme with a few custom additions, and new wallpaper images based on "Beam" by Rashad Mohammed. We also have new default Conky and Geany themes. There are some preset graphic theming collections accessible via the BLOB accessory. The menu has been worked over and improved in some places. Under the hood, many small improvements have been made: Calls to gksu, which is insecure, are replaced with pkexec. The default package list has been adjusted and some useful system tools added. The former CrunchBang audio mixer, pnmixer, has returned. PulseAudio configuration tweaks previously needed have been removed. Qt5 GTK2 theme support has been added. The boot menu now has "boot in cli" and "Rescue" options." Additional information can be found in the project's release announcement.
BunsenLabs Linux Helium -- Running the Openbox window manager
(full image size: 537kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
The Fedora team has launched a new release of their popular, Red Hat sponsored distribution. The new version, Fedora 28, introduces some important changes, including the ability to more easily add third-party software to the operating system's Workstation edition. "The headline feature for Fedora 28 Server is the inclusion of the new Modular repository. This lets you select between different versions of software like NodeJS or Django, so you can chose the stack you need for your software. Interested? Check out the documentation for using modules. Also of note: 64-bit ARM (Aarch64) is now a primary architecture for Fedora Server. Fedora 28 Workstation has big news too. For the first time, we're making it easy for users to enable certain third-party software sources, including proprietary NVIDIA drivers. We've worked for a long time to figure out the right way to do this without compromising our ideals, and I think the opt-in approach we're trying now does it well. Read more in the Magazine article on third-party repos, and also check out other F28 Workstation news." Further information can be found in the project's release announcement. Fedora is available in three main flavours (Workstation, Server and Atomic), as well as multiple community spins.
Robolinux is an Ubuntu-based, desktop distribution available in Cinnamon and MATE editions. The project has published a new release, Robolinux 9.2, which brings the distribution up to date with important bug fixes. There have also been a number of updates to the distribution's desktop applications: "Robolinux is very pleased to announce its newly upgraded Cinnamon & MATE 3D 9.2 LTS 2021 versions release. The main focus on this significant upgrade was to improve speed, security and stability. Both of the new Robolinux 9.2 versions have newer Linux kernels that run much faster as well as fixes for the recent x86 and x64 Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities. Users should be aware that since January 1st 2018 all Robolinux operating systems come with free expert tech support. It should also be noted that both of the Robolinux 9.2 versions provide optional UEFI support and have the newest VirtualBox version 5.2.10, the newest Firefox version 59.0.2, the newest Thunderbird version 52.7.0 and quite a significant number of very important upstream security and application updates." Further information is provided in the project's release announcement.
BlankOn 11.0 -- Running the Manokwari desktop
(full image size: 772kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
* * * * *
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: 838
- Total data uploaded: 19.2TB
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Customized GNOME vs vanilla GNOME
Last week we talked about Ubuntu and its highly customized GNOME Shell desktop environment. This week we reported on the launch of Fedora 28 and its more vanilla approach to GNOME. We would like to hear which approach you prefer. Do you want to experience GNOME Shell the way its developers envisioned as presented in Fedora? Or do you like the more customized version of GNOME available in Ubuntu?
You can see the results of our previous poll on Ubuntu running Unity versus Ubuntu running GNOME Shell in last week's edition. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
Customized GNOME vs vanilla GNOME
|I like vanilla GNOME (Fedora): ||287 (13%)|
| I like customized GNOME (Ubuntu): ||211 (10%)|
| I am fine with either: ||185 (9%)|
| I do not use GNOME: ||1277 (60%)|
| I like GNOME but on a different distro: ||168 (8%)|
Wallpaper for DistroWatch fans
One of our readers sent us a very nice note of appreciation this week and included some their artwork. One of the images was desktop wallpaper featuring our logo and slogan. We'd like to thank Pedro Paulo for sending this in and we're happy to share it for anyone else who would like to decorate their desktop background with a reminder to keep computing fun.
DistroWatch desktop wallpaper
(full image size: 587kB, resolution: 1920x1200 pixels)
* * * * *
New projects added to database
All In One - System Rescue Toolkit
All In One - System Rescue Toolkit (AIO) is a live desktop distribution designed to rescue systems, recover files and reset Windows passwords. AIO is based on Lubuntu and ships with several rescue utilities for use by repair technicians and system administrations.
All In One - System Rescue Toolkit -- Running the LXDE desktop
(full image size: 780kB, resolution: 1232x940 pixels)
* * * * *
Distributions added to waiting list
- Flatcar Linux. Flatcar Linux is an immutable Linux distribution for running containers. It is a fork of CoreOS's Container Linux and compatible with it.
- rareOS. rareOS is a fork of Pop!_OS featuring the Cinnamon desktop environment.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 14 May 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)
|Linux Foundation Training
|• Issue 848 (2020-01-13): elementary OS 5.1, accessing USB ports directly, NetBSD expanding Wayland support, Fedora phasing out old Python packages|
|• Issue 847 (2020-01-06): Android-x86 9.0, Hypberbola switching to BSD base, Debian votes on init diversity, slow adoption of Wayland and delta packages|
|• Issue 846 (2019-12-23): NomadBSD 1.3, Tails publishes boot fix, Arch update requires intervention, Purism launches server lineup, password protecting files|
|• Issue 845 (2019-12-16): OpenIndiana 2019.10, BunsenLabs' "Lithium" preview, MX-Fluxbox, 10 years of Tails, installing local packages|
|• Issue 844 (2019-12-09): Project Trident Void alpha, alpha installer for "Bullseye", SparkyLinux portable edition, dealing with large log files|
|• Issue 843 (2019-12-02): Obarun 2019.11.02, Bluestar 5.3.6, using special characters on command line, Fedora plans to disable empty passwords, FreeBSD's quarterly status report|
|• Issue 842 (2019-11-25): SolydXK 10, System Adminstration Ethics book review, Debian continues init diversity debate, Google upstreaming Android kernel patches|
|• Issue 841 (2019-11-18): Emmabuntus DE3-1.00, changing keys in keyboard layout, Debian phasing out Python 2 and voting on init diversity, Slackware gets unofficial updated live media|
|• Issue 840 (2019-11-11): Fedora 31, monitoring user activity, Fedora working to improve Python performance, FreeBSD gets faster networking|
|• Issue 839 (2019-11-04): MX 19, manipulating PDFs, Ubuntu plans features for 20.04, Fedora 29 nears EOL, Netrunner drops Manjaro-based edition|
|• Issue 838 (2019-10-28): Xubuntu 19.10, how init and service managers work together, DragonFly BSD provides emergency mode for HAMMER, Xfce team plans 4.16|
|• Issue 837 (2019-10-21): CentOS 8.0-1905, Trident finds new base, Debian plans firewall changes, 15 years of Fedora, how to merge directories|
|• Issue 836 (2019-10-14): Archman 2019.09, Haiku improves ARM support, Project Trident shifting base OS, Unix turns 50|
|• Issue 835 (2019-10-07): Isotop, Mazon OS and, KduxOS, examples of using find command, Mint's System Reports becomes proactive, Solus updates its desktops|
|• Issue 834 (2019-09-30): FreedomBox "Buster", CentOS gains a rolling release, Librem 5 phones shipping, Redcore updates its package manager|
|• Issue 833 (2019-09-23): Redcore Linux 1908, why Linux distros are free, Ubuntu making list of 32-bit software to keep, Richard M Stallman steps down from FSF leadership|
|• Issue 832 (2019-09-16): BlackWeb 1.2, checking for Wayland session and applications, Fedora to use nftables in firewalld, OpenBSD disables DoH in Firefox|
|• Issue 831 (2019-09-09): Adélie Linux 1.0 beta, using ffmpeg, awk and renice, Mint and elementary improvements, PureOS and Manjaro updates|
|• Issue 930 (2019-09-02): deepin 15.11, working with AppArmor profiles, elementary OS gets new greeter, exFAT support coming to Linux kernel|
|• Issue 829 (2019-08-26): EndeavourOS 2019.07.15, Drauger OS 7.4.1, finding licenses of kernel modules, NetBSD gets Wayland application, GhostBSD changes base repo|
|• Issue 828 (2019-08-19): AcademiX 2.2, concerns with non-free firmware, UBports working on Unity8, Fedora unveils new EPEL channel, FreeBSD phasing out GCC|
|• Issue 827 (2019-08-12): Q4OS, finding files on disk, Ubuntu works on ZFS, Haiku improves performance, OSDisc shutting down|
|• Issue 826 (2019-08-05): Quick looks at Resilient, PrimeOS, and BlueLight, flagship distros for desktops,Manjaro introduces new package manager|
|• Issue 825 (2019-07-29): Endless OS 3.6, UBports 16.04, gNewSense maintainer stepping down, Fedora developrs discuss optimizations, Project Trident launches stable branch|
|• Issue 824 (2019-07-22): Hexagon OS 1.0, Mageia publishes updated media, Fedora unveils Fedora CoreOS, managing disk usage with quotas|
|• Issue 823 (2019-07-15): Debian 10, finding 32-bit packages on a 64-bit system, Will Cooke discusses Ubuntu's desktop, IBM finalizes purchase of Red Hat|
|• Issue 822 (2019-07-08): Mageia 7, running development branches of distros, Mint team considers Snap, UBports to address Google account access|
|• Issue 821 (2019-07-01): OpenMandriva 4.0, Ubuntu's plan for 32-bit packages, Fedora Workstation improvements, DragonFly BSD's smaller kernel memory|
|• Issue 820 (2019-06-24): Clear Linux and Guix System 1.0.1, running Android applications using Anbox, Zorin partners with Star Labs, Red Hat explains networking bug, Ubuntu considers no longer updating 32-bit packages|
|• Issue 819 (2019-06-17): OS108 and Venom, renaming multiple files, checking live USB integrity, working with Fedora's Modularity, Ubuntu replacing Chromium package with snap|
|• Issue 818 (2019-06-10): openSUSE 15.1, improving boot times, FreeBSD's status report, DragonFly BSD reduces install media size|
|• Issue 817 (2019-06-03): Manjaro 18.0.4, Ubuntu Security Podcast, new Linux laptops from Dell and System76, Entroware Apollo|
|• Issue 816 (2019-05-27): Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.0, creating firewall rules, Antergos shuts down, Matthew Miller answers questions about Fedora|
|• Issue 815 (2019-05-20): Sabayon 19.03, Clear Linux's developer features, Red Hat explains MDS flaws, an overview of mobile distro options|
|• Issue 814 (2019-05-13): Fedora 30, distributions publish Firefox fixes, CentOS publishes roadmap to 8.0, Debian plans to use Wayland by default|
|• Issue 813 (2019-05-06): ROSA R11, MX seeks help with systemd-shim, FreeBSD tests unified package management, interview with Gael Duval|
|• Issue 812 (2019-04-29): Ubuntu MATE 19.04, setting up a SOCKS web proxy, Scientific Linux discontinued, Red Hat takes over Java LTS support|
|• Issue 811 (2019-04-22): Alpine 3.9.2, rsync examples, Ubuntu working on ZFS support, Debian elects new Project Leader, Obarun releases S6 tools|
|• Issue 810 (2019-04-15): SolydXK 201902, Bedrock Linux 0.7.2, Fedora phasing out Python 2, NetBSD gets virtual machine monitor|
|• Issue 809 (2019-04-08): PCLinuxOS 2019.02, installing Falkon and problems with portable packages, Mint offers daily build previews, Ubuntu speeds up Snap packages|
|• Issue 808 (2019-04-01): Solus 4.0, security benefits and drawbacks to using a live distro, Gentoo gets GNOME ports working without systemd, Redox OS update|
|• Issue 807 (2019-03-25): Pardus 17.5, finding out which user changed a file, new Budgie features, a tool for browsing FreeBSD's sysctl values|
|• Issue 806 (2019-03-18): Kubuntu vs KDE neon, Nitrux's znx, notes on Debian's election, SUSE becomes an independent entity|
|• Issue 805 (2019-03-11): EasyOS 1.0, managing background services, Devuan team debates machine ID file, Ubuntu Studio works to remain an Ubuntu Community Edition|
|• Issue 804 (2019-03-04): Condres OS 19.02, securely erasing hard drives, new UBports devices coming in 2019, Devuan to host first conference|
|• Issue 803 (2019-02-25): Septor 2019, preventing windows from stealing focus, NetBSD and Nitrux experiment with virtual machines, pfSense upgrading to FreeBSD 12 base|
|• Issue 802 (2019-02-18): Slontoo 18.07.1, NetBSD tests newer compiler, Fedora packaging Deepin desktop, changes in Ubuntu Studio|
|• Issue 801 (2019-02-11): Project Trident 18.12, meaning of status symbols in top, FreeBSD Foundation lists ongoing projects, Plasma Mobile team answers questions|
|• Issue 800 (2019-02-04): FreeNAS 11.2, using Ubuntu Studio software as an add-on, Nitrux developing znx, matching operating systems to file systems|
|• Issue 799 (2019-01-28): KaOS 2018.12, Linux Basics For Hackers, Debian 10 enters freeze, Ubuntu publishes new version for IoT devices|
|• Issue 798 (2019-01-21): Sculpt OS 18.09, picking a location for swap space, Solus team plans ahead, Fedora trying to get a better user count|
|• Issue 797 (2019-01-14): Reborn OS 2018.11.28, TinyPaw-Linux 1.3, dealing with processes which make desktop unresponsive, Debian testing Secure Boot support|
|• Issue 796 (2019-01-07): FreeBSD 12.0, Peppermint releases ISO update, picking the best distro of 2018, roundtable interview with Debian, Fedora and elementary developers|
|• Issue 795 (2018-12-24): Running a Pinebook, interview with Bedrock founder, Alpine being ported to RISC-V, Librem 5 dev-kits shipped|
|• Issue 794 (2018-12-17): Void 20181111, avoiding software bloat, improvements to HAMMER2, getting application overview in GNOME Shell|
|• Full list of all issues|
Star Labs - Laptops built for Linux.
View our range including the Star Lite, Star LabTop and more. Available with a choice of Ubuntu, Linux Mint or Zorin OS pre-installed with many more distributions supported. Visit Star Labs for information, to buy and get support.
|Random Distribution |
GenieOS was a desktop-oriented Linux distribution based on the stable Debian GNU/Linux at the time of release. However, GenieOS attempts to be more user-friendly by limiting the system to a selected number of packages and enhancing it with many useful, but non-free applications and plugins, such as those required for viewing encrypted DVDs, Flash and Java browser plugins, and MPlayer with support for many popular audio formats. GenieOS includes the GNOME and KDE desktop environments.