| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 838, 28 October 2019
Welcome to this year's 43rd issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
Just before Ubuntu's October releases were launched we published a poll asking which of the distribution's community editions we should review. The winner was Xubuntu as many readers were curious about how the new Xfce desktop would perform. We have a first impressions review of Xubuntu 19.10, along with observations on Xfce 4.14 and the distribution's experimental support for ZFS on root in this week's Feature Story. After you read about Ubuntu's ZFS features we would like to hear your thoughts on the advanced filesystem in our Opinion Poll - is ZFS a feature you find useful? In our News section we talk about UBports gradually coming to new platforms and report on a new emergency mode for the HAMMER filesystem. The Xfce team is outlining plans for version 4.16 of their desktop and we share details below. We then talk about init software and service managers, and their overlapping jobs in this week's Questions and Answers column. Plus we are pleased to share the releases of the past week with you and list the torrents we are seeding. We wish you all a wonderful week and happy reading!
- Review: Xubuntu 19.10
- News: UBports posts status on porting to new platforms, DragonFly BSD offers emergency mode for HAMMER, Xfce team plans 4.16
- Questions and answers: Clarifying how init and service managers work together
- Torrent corner: Alpine, ArchBang, Archman, BSDRP, Clonezilla, ExTiX, GhostBSD, KDE neon, MX, PrimTux, Septor, SmartOS, Tails, Voyager
- Released last week: MX Linux 19, Tails 4.0, PrimTux 5
- Upcoming releases: Fedora 31
- Opinion poll: How do you feel about ZFS on root?
- Reader comments
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (16MB) and MP3 (12MB) formats.
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Xubuntu is an official community edition of Ubuntu and was winner of this season's poll where we asked readers which flavour of Ubuntu 19.10 we should review. People seemed most interested in Xubuntu's move from Xfce 4.12, which uses GTK2 libraries, to 4.14 which migrated to GTK3 libraries.
This version of Xubuntu offers just nine months of support through to July 2020. People who desire longer support cycles will want to stick with Xubuntu 18.04 or wait for Xubuntu 20.04 which will be released next April.
The project's release announcement offers some details as to what we can expect from the Xfce 4.14 desktop:
Xubuntu 19.10 features Xfce 4.14, released in August 2019 after nearly 4.5 years of development. Backed by GTK3 and other modern technologies, Xfce 4.14 includes many new features, improved HiDPI support, and the same great performance for which Xfce is known.
This version of Xubuntu also introduces an experimental ZFS on root feature. While it has been possible to work with ZFS volumes on most Linux distributions for a few years now, most distributions do not provide an easy way to install the operating system on a ZFS storage volume. Since ZFS provides a number of useful features like on-line expansion to new devices, snapshots, metadata checksums, and transferring the filesystem across the network, it is nice to see this advanced filesystem get more attention on Ubuntu and its community editions.
Xfce Screensaver replaces Light Locker for screen locking. The new screensaver is built on years of development from the GNOME and MATE Screensaver projects and is tightly integrated with Xfce. It also features significantly improved support for laptops."
Before I get into what it was like using Xubuntu, I would like to talk briefly about my very first impressions of other editions of Ubuntu 19.10. I downloaded each of the eight editions and used them just long enough to get a screenshot, package listing, and to confirm whether the edition worked with my hardware. The Ubuntu distribution itself did not do well. It was unable to boot without crashing or locking up in VirtualBox, and every time it booted on my laptop GNOME would immediately crash, returning me to the login screen. It took me four attempts to get logged into GNOME long enough to snap a screenshot as the desktop kept crashing shortly after I signed in.
Ubuntu MATE and Kubuntu performed better, but with a catch. Both distributions would boot to a blank screen, making it seem as though the operating system had failed to start. Using Ctrl+ALT+F7 would switch to the running desktop session, which was hidden for some reason at start-up. Ubuntu Kylin mostly worked well, but its desktop panel would crash if I resized the desktop. The other community editions booted and ran live environments without any immediate problems.
Now back to Xubuntu 19.10. The distribution is available for 64-bit (x86) machines exclusively. The download for Xubuntu is a 1.5GB ISO file. Booting from the media brings up a graphical window which asks if we wish to try or install Xubuntu. This window also displays a list of available languages we can select for our session. At the bottom of the window is a link to the project's release notes and clicking this link displays the requested page in the Firefox browser.
Taking the Try option loads the Xfce 4.14 desktop. Icons on the desktop launch the project's system installer and open the Thunar file manager. There is a thin panel at the top of the screen which holds the application menu, task switcher and system tray. At a glance there doesn't appear to be much difference between Xfce 4.12 and 4.14, the layout, style and tools are much the same. Most of the work between the two versions appears to have gone into migrating the code behind the scenes rather than changing the user experience.
Xubuntu 19.10 -- The Xubuntu Help documentation
(full image size: 102kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Xubuntu uses the Ubiquity installer which it shares with Ubuntu and most of the other Ubuntu community flavours. The installer begins by asking us to select our preferred language and it offers to show us a copy of the release notes. We are then given the option of downloading software updates during the installation and, if we like, to install third-party items such as media codecs and drivers. Disk partitioning comes next with three main categories of choices: guided installation, wipe the disk and use ZFS, or manual partitioning. The manual option is pleasantly straight forward and we can assign mount points to partitions with a few clicks. I decided to go back though and use ZFS during my trial. Partly because it is new and partly because I very much appreciate the array of features ZFS provides. ZFS as the operating system's main filesystem is labelled as experimental and not recommended for production systems yet, though it was set up properly in my tests.
The installer then asks us to pick our time zone from a map of the world. The last page asks us to make up a username and password while packages are copied to our drive. When the installer is finished it offers to restart the computer. My installs each went smoothly and fairly quickly.
Booting Xubuntu brings up a graphical login screen. Signing into our account loads the Xfce desktop again, decorated with a simple, blue background. Menus and the panel tend to be a soft grey and folders have a natural, "office folder yellow" colouring. When I first signed in there were no notifications or welcome screen. The distribution seems inclined to stay out of the way and let us get straight to work. One feature which encourages this straight-to-work approach is the Do Not Disturb button in the notification area. Toggling this button disables desktop notifications, though these tend to be rare anyway.
The desktop was pleasantly responsive and I didn't notice any problems or things requiring my attention so I dived straight into exploring what the operating system had to offer. The application menu has a two-pane layout with categories on the right and specific launchers on the left. There is a search bar at the top of the menu which helps us find specific programs.
Xubuntu 19.10 -- Experimenting with a dark theme
(full image size: 227kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Xubuntu ships with a fairly standard collection of popular open source applications. We are given the Firefox browser, LibreOffice, Thunderbird, the Transmission bittorrent software, and Pidgin messaging application. The Parole media player is included and can play both audio and video files. The Xfburn disc burning application is provided along with the GNU Image Manipulation Program, Atril document viewer, and a simple image viewer.
Xubuntu ships with the Thunar file manager, a local copy of the Xubuntu Help documentation, and a tool called Gigolo for connecting to remote network shares. Network Manager is included to help us get on-line. In the background we find the GNU Compiler Collection, the systemd init software, and version 5.3 of the Linux kernel.
Xubuntu 19.10 -- Running LibreOffice and GIMP
(full image size: 180kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
When working from the command line, making a typo or trying to run a program which is not installed will cause a short message to be displayed telling us how to install the missing software. For example, if I try to run the Clang compiler before it is installed, the shell will ask me to first run "sudo apt install clang". This short message is helpful and does not introduce a noticeable delay in the shell's response to our command.
Xubuntu ships with a handful of tools for working with packages. The first is GNOME Software, a modern, graphical front-end to manipulating packages. GNOME Software is divided into three tabs - one for exploring available software, one for listing and removing installed applications, and one for displaying available updates.
When browsing for software we can type searches for keywords, we can browse through categories of desktop applications, or we can scroll through recommended items. Whichever method we use to find software, we can click on an item to bring up a full page description with a screenshot. Software can be added or removed with a click. The only issue I had with GNOME Software is it prompts for our password every time we queue a package for installation or removal. This can get tedious quickly, especially if we are removing multiple packages, each of which asks for confirmation, followed by a password prompt.
Xubuntu 19.10 -- Browsing packages with GNOME Software
(full image size: 198kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Another graphical tool is the update manager. When new packages are available the update manager will list them and, optionally, install them for us. It's a straight forward, no-frills experience.
People who wish to work with packages on the command line can use the APT collection of tools to work with individual packages. Xubuntu also ships with support for Snap packages. These can also be managed from the command line or, alternatively, we can work with Snap packages through GNOME Software. In fact, I could not (at a glance) tell whether new software I was installing via GNOME Software was a Snap package or a Deb package. The only indication I found that a package was a Deb or Snap was that Snap packages had a listed "channel" on their description page rather than just a version number. This means working with Snaps is a smooth experience, but it can be problematic from a resource management perspective because Snaps are a lot larger than Deb files (sometimes 20 times larger).
I started off trying Xubuntu in a VirtualBox environment. The distribution ran smoothly and everything worked well. I was happy with how responsive Xfce was in the virtual machine. The only issue I ran into was sometimes the desktop would not automatically resize when the VirtualBox window changed size. It was still possible to manually change Xfce's resolution in the desktop's settings panel when the resolution did not change automatically.
When running Xubuntu on a workstation all my hardware was properly detected. The distribution ran smoothly and I encountered no serious problems or stability issues. When running on physical hardware I found that moving windows around the desktop sometimes lagged a little. Disabling the compositor fixed this issue. The problem only appeared when using the physical workstation and did not occur in the virtual environment.
The distribution is fairly light on resources. Xubuntu only required about 2.8GB of disk space for a fresh install. When running on a ZFS volume, the system used about 740MB of RAM when logged into Xfce, and this amount sometimes varied upward to 800MB. When running on a classic filesystem, such as ext4, Xubuntu uses less memory, about 360MB.
Since ZFS as the root filesystem is one of the big (and experimental) features of this release I want to talk about it a bit. The user doesn't need to do anything when setting up ZFS. We just hand over control of our storage drive to the installer and it does the rest. Once we start using Xubuntu I found the system had a lot of ZFS mount points set up. The filesystem has been broken into a lot of little pieces and the layout seems designed for a server more than a desktop as several of the sub-volumes are in the /var directory and contain things like mail and logs. (Having rapidly changing content, like the /var directory, on a separate sub-volume makes managing snapshots easier on servers, but has little practical impact on desktop machines.) This makes using tools like df a little cluttered, but there is no practical side effect.
Xubuntu 19.10 -- Creating ZFS snapshots
(full image size: 267kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
All the commonly used ZFS functions seem to work. I was able to create snapshots, restore files from snapshots, set user storage quotas. Compression is turned off by default, but we can enable it to reduce the amount of physical storage our files require and there was no noticeable performance penalty when I tried this.
I didn't notice much of a performance impact from using ZFS. In some cases I think write-intensive operations, such as installing packages, might have been a little slower, but otherwise ZFS offered approximately the same performance I would have expected from any distribution running on ext4. I really liked the ability to set up snapshots and, even more, the option of expanding storage space by just plugging in a new drive and adding it to the storage pool with a single zpool command. I am hoping future versions of the Ubuntu family also add boot environments, as openSUSE has with Btrfs snapshots, as that would make the operating system much more resilient against configuration problems and broken upgrades.
I feel I do not get to say this often enough: this distribution is boring in the best possible way. Even with new, experimental filesystem support and a complete shift in the libraries used to power the Xfce desktop, Xubuntu is beautifully stable, fast, and easy to navigate. The distribution shipped with defaults I found pleasant, the desktop was responsive, all of my hardware was detected, and even with ZFS enabled (with multiple features turned on) the distribution still used less memory than Ubuntu or Fedora Workstation on the same hardware.
Perhaps what I appreciated most about Xubuntu was that it did not distract me or get in the way at all. I did not see a notification or a pop-up or welcome screen during my trial. The distribution just installed and got out of my way so I could start working. And to further facilitate that, Xubuntu ships with a great collection of open source applications. There are enough to get most tasks accomplished without cluttering the menu. It's a fine line to walk and Xubuntu does it well.
I have some mixed feelings about Snap packages being enabled by default and seamlessly integrated with GNOME Software. For people who like to use Snaps and want quick access to them, this is great. If you prefer to use classic Deb packages over Snaps then the new approach may cause you to accidentally download the larger, portable package. I am fairly neutral on Snap, but I do prefer to install the smaller Deb package if it is available and GNOME Software does not seem to give preference to one over the other.
On the whole I am impressed with Xubuntu 19.10. I found myself wishing this was an LTS release as I would like to put this version on several computers, particular those of family members who run Linux on laptops. Xubuntu is providing a great balance between new features, stability, performance, and options and I highly recommend it for almost any desktop scenario.
* * * * *
Hardware used in this review
My physical test equipment for this review was a desktop HP Pavilon p6 Series with the following specifications:
- Processor: Dual-core 2.8GHz AMD A4-3420 APU
- Storage: 500GB Hitachi hard drive
- Memory: 6GB of RAM
- Networking: Realtek RTL8111 wired network card, Ralink RT5390R PCIe Wireless card
- Display: AMD Radeon HD 6410D video card
* * * * *
Visitor supplied rating
Xubuntu has a visitor supplied average rating of: 8.8/10 from 172 review(s).
Have you used Xubuntu? You can leave your own review of the project on our ratings page.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
UBports posts status on porting to new platforms, DragonFly BSD offers emergency mode for HAMMER, Xfce team plans 4.16
The UBports team has been working on supporting more platforms, including the PinePhone, the Librem 5, and the Raspberry Pi. While work on all platforms is going well and initial progress in getting the mobile operating system running on these devices has been successful, there are still challenges remaining. One of the hurdles UBports developers now face is the Librem 5 devkit and the final product use some different hardware components. "Unfortunately, hardware changes between the Librem 5 devkit and the final phone mean that we can't be certain that any of the fixes we make on the devkit will carry over to the final product. Purism informed us that we will be receiving Librem 5 devices sometime in 2020. Purism says they want to ship to backers who paid for the Librem 5 device first, prior to sending us devices for development. For those reasons, we can not commit to more development on the platform until we have a final device." Additional details can be found in a UBports blog post. People who are receiving Librem 5 phones now will be running a mobile version of PureOS with a GNOME-based interface.
* * * * *
DragonFly BSD has introduced a new feature for HAMMER filesystems which will allow operations to occur, even in situations when there is not enough storage space to allow for the usual data protections. DragonFly BSD Digest explains: "As anyone who has been running HAMMER1 or HAMMER2 has noticed, snapshots and copy on write and infinite history can eat a lot of disk space, even if the actual file volume isn't changing much. There's now an emergency mode for HAMMER2, where disk operations can happen even if there isn't space for the normal history activity. It's dangerous, in that the normal protections against data loss if power is cut go away, and snapshots created while in this mode will be mangled. So definitely don't leave it on!"
* * * * *
The Xfce team has recently finished their migration from using GTK2 libraries to the newer GTK3 libraries which power the GNOME and MATE desktops. The Xfce team has worked to keep their desktop experience unchanged while making this migration, but now that it has been completed, the developers are looking at ways to improve their desktop experience. Changes coming to Xfce are presented in this blog post: "In the 4.14 cycle we tried to do a 1:1 port of what used to be our GTK2 desktop environment, avoiding visual changes. In the 4.16 cycle we plan to harmonize the appearance of certain elements that either became inconsistent through the port or already were inconsistent before (e.g. toolbars or inline toolbars). We will also play with client-side decorations where we feel it makes sense (for instance replacing the so-called XfceTitledDialog, that is used for all settings dialogs with a HeaderBar version). Before anyone gets too excited (both positively or negatively): It is not planned to redesign more complex applications (like Thunar) with HeaderBars in 4.16. We will however try to keep the experience and looks consistent, which means gradually moving to client side decorations also with our applications (please note that client side decorations are not the same as HeaderBars!). Through this change e.g. 'dark modes' in applications will look good." Progress being made on Xfce 4.16 can be monitored through the project's roadmap.
* * * * *
These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Clarifying how init and service managers work together
Curious-about-service-managers asks: Could you clarify how the different init system options work together and/or replace other init options and/or service managers? I got to thinking about this when reading your article about Adélie, where it said: "The distribution runs on version 4.14 of the Linux kernel and uses a combination of SysV init and OpenRC to start and manage services."
I was under the impression that OpenRC replaces SysV, but apparently I'm not understanding something. It must be that systemd includes both an init system and a service manager (systemctl?), whereas SysV is only for initializing the system and OpenRC is only for controlling services? Then I read a comment from a reader that said:
"Void uses runit, which I prefer over Alpine's SysV/OpenRC." So apparently runit also combines an init system and a service manager?
DistroWatch answers: I think the easiest way to approach this (often complex) topic is to first define what initialization (init) software is and what a service manager is. The init process is the first userland process that gets started on a Linux, BSD or other Unix/Unix-like operating system. It runs right after the kernel. Because init is the first process run, it is sometimes referred to as PID 1 (process ID 1).
The init process has a couple of core tasks:
Sometimes init implementations will do other things, but these are the core functions each version of init should have.
- It gets the userland part of the operating system up and running. Different versions of init approach how this is done differently.
- It acts as the adoptive parent of processes which no longer have a running parent process.
- It helps shutdown or reboot the system.
A service manager is a tool that starts and stops background processes. These processes are sometimes called services or daemons. A service manager typically needs to have some way to keep track of dependencies between services (making sure the network comes on-line before synchronizing the system clock with a remote server is a good example). Some service managers will also monitor background processes and restart them if they crash, restrict resource usage, and log actions.
What typically happens when a Linux distribution boots is its init software (whether that is runit, SysV init, systemd, or another implementation) does some minimal work to get things in order and then runs a program or script that acts as a service manager to bring all the necessary background services on-line. Then, when it is time to shutdown the system, the service manager will start telling background programs to terminate and, when it is done, init will take the system off-line.
Here is where it gets tricky. Most init implementations are not just one component, or one program. Most init implementations ship with multiple programs that assist in bringing the operating system on-line, monitoring processes, and shutting down the system. Because of this separation of specific tasks into multiple programs or scripts, it is often possible to mix an init process with a service manager from another project. For instance, most distributions which use OpenRC as their service manager run SysV init as the underlying PID 1. However, it does not need to be this way. The OpenRC project does include its own init program and can use it as a replacement for SysV init.
In a similar fashion, runit can be used as a complete init & service manager implementation, and I think Void does this. However, one could launch the runit service manager components from SysV init, if they wanted. Generally speaking, the init process does not care what it runs to manage services on the operating system. This allows administrators to experiment with different service managers.
As you correctly assumed, the systemd project also includes both init software and a service manager. If I remember correctly, systemd is unusual in that it merges the init software and service manager into one process. This may be viewed as a more streamlined approach, or more monolithic, depending on one's point of view. Services can be enabled, disabled, started, and stopped by the administrator through the systemctl program. The systemctl program is not the service manager itself, rather it provides the administrator with a way to inspect and manipulate processes handled by the service manager. On most distributions running SysV init software the tool for starting and stopping services is called service, and on distributions that use OpenRC as the service manager there are a few commands for handling services.
All of that is to say that a distribution's init and service manager are closely tied, but separate roles. It is possible to have a distribution that uses the same technology (SysV init, BusyBox, OpenRC, runit, systemd) for both roles. However, it is also possible to mix components from different projects so that SysV init or BusyBox gets things started and then hands service management over to OpenRC or runit.
* * * * *
In the interest of disclosure, please note that I am an upstream maintainer for SysV init.
* * * * *
Additional answers can be found in our Questions and Answers archive.
|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 has released a new version, Tails 4.0, which is the first version to be based on Debian 10 "Buster". "We are especially proud to present you Tails 4.0, the first version of Tails based on Debian 10 (Buster). It brings new versions of most of the software included in Tails and some important usability and performance improvements. Tails 4.0 introduces more changes than any other version since years. This release also fixes many security issues. You should upgrade as soon as possible. Major changes to included software: Replace KeePassX with KeePassXC, which is more actively developed. Update OnionShare from 0.9.2 to 1.3.2, which includes a lot of usability improvements. Update Tor Browser to 9.0: A gray border, called letter boxing, is now displayed around the content of web pages when you resize the window of Tor Browser. Letter boxing prevents websites from identifying your browser based on the size of its window. Letter boxing replaces the yellow warning that was displayed until now when maximizing Tor Browser. The onion icon has been removed from the top bar." Further details can be found in the project's release announcement.
MX Linux 19
The MX Linux team has published a new version of their Debian- and antiX-based distribution. The project's latest version, MX Linux 19, is based on Debian 10.1 "Buster" and features the Xfce 4.14 desktop along with the SysV init software. "We are pleased to offer MX-19 for your use. As usual, this ISO includes the latest updates from Debian 10.1 (Buster), antiX and MX repos. Xfce 4.14, GIMP 2.10.12, MESA 18.3.6, updated firmware, Latest debian 4.19 kernel, patched sudo info. Browser: Firefox 69; Video Player: VLC 3.0.8; Music Manager/Player: Clementine 1.3.1; E-mail client: Thunderbird 60.9.0; Office suite: LibreOffice 6.1.5 (plus security fixes); and more in the MX repositories. New and updated mx-apps: mx-installer (based on gazelle-installer) fixes pertaining to automount and partitioning. MX Date & Time, to make clock setting chores easier. formatusb, for formatting USB storage devices. mx-packageinstaller now displays version number for Flatpak applications. mx-packageinstaller now features libreoffice upgrades from Debian Backports (currently 6.3.X). mx-alerts package for sending emergency messages to users. mx-updater no longer requires a password to check for updates (still required for installation of updates). New wallpaper artwork (mx19-artwork package). New app: bash-config to help with theming your bash prompt and managing aliases." Further details can be found in the distribution's release announcement.
MX Linux 19 -- The welcome window and Xfce desktop's application menu
(full image size: 540kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
UBports 16.04 OTA-11
The UBports team has published an update to their mobile operating system. The new version, 16.04 OTA-11, features improved keyboard navigation, more fine-grained web browsing options, and push notifications no longer require that the user have an Ubuntu One account. "We were calling this a "small release" originally. Our plan was to cover the backlog of pull requests that weren't quite ready for OTA-10. It turns out, that made this 'small' update not small at all. Your keyboard, now smarter: Kugi has outdone himself this time. With this update you'll find a new way to edit text via the Ubuntu Touch on-screen keyboard: the Advanced Text Functions. Using this feature, you can move around your typed text, undo and redo actions, move around a text selection rectangle, and use the cut/copy/paste commands, all from the same overlay. To get started, press and hold the space bar! We are still unsure about the discoverability of this feature, so stay tuned for changes that will make it even easier to find and use! This update also adds the option of a Dvorak keyboard layout for the refined OSK user. The PR included fixes to allow multiple keyboard layouts to share the same correction dictionary and word overrides. Huge thanks, zoenb! Rounding off the updates to the keyboard are improvements to the Polish layout, removing some diacritics that are not used in the language." Additional information on this release can be found in the project's release announcement.
ExTiX is a desktop distribution based on Ubuntu. The project's latest release, ExTiX 19.10, is based on Ubuntu 19.10 and features the LXQt desktop. The project's release announcement states: "I have made a new version of ExTiX - The Ultimate Linux System. I call it ExTiX 19.10 LXQt Live DVD. The best thing with ExTiX 19.10 is that while running the system live (from DVD/USB) or from hard drive you can use Refracta Snapshot (pre-installed) to create your own live installable Ubuntu system. So easy that a ten year child can do it! One other very good thing with this version of ExTiX is that it is quite light. The ISO file is of only 1,200MB, which means that you can run the system super fast from RAM. When the boot process is ready you can eject the DVD or USB stick. Use Boot Alternative 2 or Advanced options -> Load to RAM. NVIDIA's proprietary graphics driver 430.50 is pre-installed in ExTiX 19.10. It will automatically be used if your computer has support for it. ExTiX 19.10 LXQt DVD 64-bit is based on Debian and Ubuntu 19.10. The original system includes the desktop environment GNOME. After removing GNOME I have installed LXQt 0.14.1. LXQt is the Qt port and the upcoming version of LXDE, the Lightweight Desktop Environment. It is the product of the merge between the LXDE-Qt and the Razor-qt projects: A lightweight, modular, blazing-fast and user-friendly desktop environment."
ExTiX 19.10 -- Running the LXQt desktop
(full image size: 2.0MB, resolution: 1920x1080 pixels)
PrimTux is a lightweight distribution developed by a small team of school teachers and computer enthusiasts in the educational environment. The project's latest release is available in two editions with one based on Lubuntu for 64-bit machines and one on Debian for 32-bit machines. An English translation of the project's release announcement (in French) reads: "Here are the main new features: Student sessions are not installed by default. Teachers and parents can easily create the desired sessions through executable scripts from the welcome window. In the same way, it is possible to choose the launcher of applications sessions: HandyMenu or BNE (School Digital Office). Several adapted applications of click menus and developed in web technologies by the team are emerging. Whiskers menu in all sessions; the theme has been reviewed. Through the association Collective PrimTux, the team increases its initiatives to better recognize the distribution. Contacts with academic officials of the National Education." The live session is password protected and the admin password is "tuxprof".
Voyager Live 19.10
The Voyager Live team has published a new version of the project's Ubuntu-based distribution. The new version, Voyager Live 19.10, ships with GNOME 3.34 and version 5.3 of the Linux kernel. The new release provides nine months of support. An English translation of the project's release announcement (in French) reads: "Introducing Voyager GE 19.10, which continues the adventure with the GNOME Shell version 3.34 desktop by introducing new features. With the promise finally realized to have a light, fast, fluid and powerful GNOME environment. This version is based on the Linux 5.3 kernel and the Ubuntu Eoan Ermine distribution. The 19.10 release is an intermediate version with 9 months of update which prepares for the future version 20.04 LTS (long-term support) of 5 years which arrives every 2 years. The general idea of Voyager is to introduce GNOME Shell with pre-installed GNOME extensions and scripts grouped in an environment that optimize the system with a choice of necessary software. All with a redesigned ergonomics. Warning: Voyager 19.10 is just a variant of Ubuntu. The entire internal structure is left by default to avoid any security issues and packages and all updates come from official Ubuntu repositories."
Eric Turgeon has announced the release of GhostBSD 19.10, the latest stable build of the project's desktop-oriented, rolling-release operating system based on TrueOS and featuring the MATE desktop environment: "I am happy to announce the availability of GhostBSD 19.10 with some improvement to the live ISO image and UEFI multiboot fix and improvement. GhostBSD 19.10 is a significant improvement over 19.09. Our latest ISO image contains improvements to our EFI multiboot installation process and our backend installer. GhostBSD 19.09 marked the last major change of GhostBSD. For current users of GhostBSD 19.09, there is no need to re-install to upgrade to GhostBSD 19.10. For new users, the GhostBSD 19.10 ISO image provides a simple, elegant installation process to get you going quickly. Changes since 19.09: UEFI multiboot installation for supported hardware; changed the ISO boot setup; removed netmount services. Issues fixed: bug #113 - update station issues; feature #119 - rewrite the code to build the live ISO image in order to fix the EFI issue caused by sysroot...." Here is the full release announcement with screenshots and upgrade instructions.
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
The table below provides a list of torrents DistroWatch is currently seeding. If you do not have a bittorrent client capable of handling the linked files, we suggest installing either the Transmission or KTorrent bittorrent clients.
Archives of our previously seeded torrents may be found in our Torrent Archive. We also maintain a Torrents RSS feed for people who wish to have open source torrents delivered to them. To share your own open source torrents of Linux and BSD projects, please visit our Upload Torrents page.
Torrent Corner statistics:
- Total torrents seeded: 1,675
- Total data uploaded: 28.6TB
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
|Opinion Poll (by Jesse Smith)
How do you feel about ZFS on root?
In our review of Xubuntu we talked about ZFS on root (installing the operating system on a ZFS storage volume) being introduced as an experimental feature. ZFS offers a lot of advantages over classic filesystems, such as snapshots, protection against bitrot, transparent compression, and on-line expansion to new devices. In the past we covered some common misunderstandings about ZFS.
We would like to know how you feel about ZFS. Do you plan to use it, or are you planning to stick with classic filesystems like ext4? We would like to hear your thoughts in the comments.
You can see the results of our previous poll on purchasing commercial support in last week's edition. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
How do you feel about ZFS on root?
|I am using ZFS on root and like it: ||104 (7%)|
| I am using ZFS on root and do not like it: ||7 (0%)|
| I am not using it yet but plan to try ZFS on root: ||285 (19%)|
| I am not using ZFS on root and have no plans to use it: ||638 (42%)|
| I am not using ZFS on root and am undecided: ||470 (31%)|
|Website News (by Jesse Smith)
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 4 November 2019. Past articles and reviews can be found through our Article Search page. To contact the authors please send e-mail to:
- Jesse Smith (feedback, questions and suggestions: distribution reviews/submissions, questions and answers, tips and tricks)
- Ladislav Bodnar (feedback, questions, donations, comments)
- Bruce Patterson (podcast)
|Linux Foundation Training
|• Issue 841 (2019-11-18): Emmabuntus DE3-1.00, changing keys in a 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 a new base, Debian plans firewall changes, 15 years of Fedora, how to merge directories|
|• Issue 836 (2019-10-14): Archman 2019.09, Haiku improves ARM support, Project Trident shifting base OS, Unix turns 50|
|• Issue 835 (2019-10-07): Isotop, Mazon OS and, KduxOS, examples of using the find command, Mint's System Reports becomes proactive, Solus updates its desktops|
|• Issue 834 (2019-09-30): FreedomBox "Buster", CentOS gains a rolling release, Librem 5 phones shipping, Redcore updates its package manager|
|• Issue 833 (2019-09-23): Redcore Linux 1908, why Linux distros are free, Ubuntu making list of 32-bit software to keep, Richard M Stallman steps down from FSF leadership|
|• Issue 832 (2019-09-16): BlackWeb 1.2, checking for Wayland session and applications, Fedora to use nftables in firewalld, OpenBSD disables DoH in Firefox|
|• Issue 831 (2019-09-09): Adélie Linux 1.0 beta, using ffmpeg, awk and renice, Mint and elementary improvements, PureOS and Manjaro updates|
|• Issue 930 (2019-09-02): deepin 15.11, working with AppArmor profiles, elementary OS gets new greeter, exFAT support coming to Linux kernel|
|• Issue 829 (2019-08-26): EndeavourOS 2019.07.15, Drauger OS 7.4.1, finding the licenses of kernel modules, NetBSD gets Wayland application, GhostBSD changes base repo|
|• Issue 828 (2019-08-19): AcademiX 2.2, concerns with non-free firmware, UBports working on Unity8, Fedora unveils new EPEL channel, FreeBSD phasing out GCC|
|• Issue 827 (2019-08-12): Q4OS, finding files on the disk, Ubuntu works on ZFS, Haiku improves performance, OSDisc shutting down|
|• Issue 826 (2019-08-05): Quick looks at Resilient, PrimeOS, and BlueLight, flagship distros for desktops,Manjaro introduces new package manager|
|• Issue 825 (2019-07-29): Endless OS 3.6, UBports 16.04, gNewSense maintainer stepping down, Fedora developrs discuss optimizations, Project Trident launches stable branch|
|• Issue 824 (2019-07-22): Hexagon OS 1.0, Mageia publishes updated media, Fedora unveils Fedora CoreOS, managing disk usage with quotas|
|• Issue 823 (2019-07-15): Debian 10, finding 32-bit packages on a 64-bit system, Will Cooke discusses Ubuntu's desktop, IBM finalizes purchase of Red Hat|
|• Issue 822 (2019-07-08): Mageia 7, running development branches of distros, Mint team considers Snap, UBports to address Google account access|
|• Issue 821 (2019-07-01): OpenMandriva 4.0, Ubuntu's plan for 32-bit packages, Fedora Workstation improvements, DragonFly BSD's smaller kernel memory|
|• Issue 820 (2019-06-24): Clear Linux and Guix System 1.0.1, running Android applications using Anbox, Zorin partners with Star Labs, Red Hat explains networking bug, Ubuntu considers no longer updating 32-bit packages|
|• Issue 819 (2019-06-17): OS108 and Venom, renaming multiple files, checking live USB integrity, working with Fedora's Modularity, Ubuntu replacing Chromium package with snap|
|• Issue 818 (2019-06-10): openSUSE 15.1, improving boot times, FreeBSD's status report, DragonFly BSD reduces install media size|
|• Issue 817 (2019-06-03): Manjaro 18.0.4, Ubuntu Security Podcast, new Linux laptops from Dell and System76, Entroware Apollo|
|• Issue 816 (2019-05-27): Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.0, creating firewall rules, Antergos shuts down, Matthew Miller answers questions about Fedora|
|• Issue 815 (2019-05-20): Sabayon 19.03, Clear Linux's developer features, Red Hat explains MDS flaws, an overview of mobile distro options|
|• Issue 814 (2019-05-13): Fedora 30, distributions publish Firefox fixes, CentOS publishes roadmap to 8.0, Debian plans to use Wayland by default|
|• Issue 813 (2019-05-06): ROSA R11, MX seeks help with systemd-shim, FreeBSD tests unified package management, interview with Gael Duval|
|• Issue 812 (2019-04-29): Ubuntu MATE 19.04, setting up a SOCKS web proxy, Scientific Linux discontinued, Red Hat takes over Java LTS support|
|• Issue 811 (2019-04-22): Alpine 3.9.2, rsync examples, Ubuntu working on ZFS support, Debian elects new Project Leader, Obarun releases S6 tools|
|• Issue 810 (2019-04-15): SolydXK 201902, Bedrock Linux 0.7.2, Fedora phasing out Python 2, NetBSD gets virtual machine monitor|
|• Issue 809 (2019-04-08): PCLinuxOS 2019.02, installing Falkon and problems with portable packages, Mint offers daily build previews, Ubuntu speeds up Snap packages|
|• Issue 808 (2019-04-01): Solus 4.0, security benefits and drawbacks to using a live distro, Gentoo gets GNOME ports working without systemd, Redox OS update|
|• Issue 807 (2019-03-25): Pardus 17.5, finding out which user changed a file, new Budgie features, a tool for browsing FreeBSD's sysctl values|
|• Issue 806 (2019-03-18): Kubuntu vs KDE neon, Nitrux's znx, notes on Debian's election, SUSE becomes an independent entity|
|• Issue 805 (2019-03-11): EasyOS 1.0, managing background services, Devuan team debates machine ID file, Ubuntu Studio works to remain an Ubuntu Community Edition|
|• Issue 804 (2019-03-04): Condres OS 19.02, securely erasing hard drives, new UBports devices coming in 2019, Devuan to host first conference|
|• Issue 803 (2019-02-25): Septor 2019, preventing windows from stealing focus, NetBSD and Nitrux experiment with virtual machines, pfSense upgrading to FreeBSD 12 base|
|• Issue 802 (2019-02-18): Slontoo 18.07.1, NetBSD tests newer compiler, Fedora packaging Deepin desktop, changes in Ubuntu Studio|
|• Issue 801 (2019-02-11): Project Trident 18.12, the meaning of status symbols in top, FreeBSD Foundation lists ongoing projects, Plasma Mobile team answers questions|
|• Issue 800 (2019-02-04): FreeNAS 11.2, using Ubuntu Studio software as an add-on, Nitrux developing znx, matching operating systems to file systems|
|• Issue 799 (2019-01-28): KaOS 2018.12, Linux Basics For Hackers, Debian 10 enters freeze, Ubuntu publishes new version for IoT devices|
|• Issue 798 (2019-01-21): Sculpt OS 18.09, picking a location for swap space, Solus team plans ahead, Fedora trying to get a better user count|
|• Issue 797 (2019-01-14): Reborn OS 2018.11.28, TinyPaw-Linux 1.3, dealing with processes which make the desktop unresponsive, Debian testing Secure Boot support|
|• Issue 796 (2019-01-07): FreeBSD 12.0, Peppermint releases ISO update, picking the best distro of 2018, roundtable interview with Debian, Fedora and elementary developers|
|• Issue 795 (2018-12-24): Running a Pinebook, interview with Bedrock founder, Alpine being ported to RISC-V, Librem 5 dev-kits shipped|
|• Issue 794 (2018-12-17): Void 20181111, avoiding software bloat, improvements to HAMMER2, getting application overview in GNOME Shell|
|• Issue 793 (2018-12-10): openSUSE Tumbleweed, finding non-free packages, Debian migrates to usrmerge, Hyperbola gets FSF approval|
|• Issue 792 (2018-1203): GhostBSD 18.10, when to use swap space, DragonFly BSD's wireless support, Fedora planning to pause development schedule|
|• Issue 791 (2018-11-26): Haiku R1 Beta1, default passwords on live media, Slax and Kodachi update their media, dual booting DragonFly BSD on EFI|
|• Issue 790 (2018-11-19): NetBSD 8.0, Bash tips and short-cuts, Fedora's networking benchmarked with FreeBSD, Ubuntu 18.04 to get ten years of support|
|• Issue 789 (2018-11-12): Fedora 29 Workstation and Silverblue, Haiku recovering from server outage, Fedora turns 15, Debian publishes updated media|
|• 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 |
Q4OS is a Debian-based desktop Linux distribution designed to offer classic-style user interface (Trinity) and simple accessories, and to serve stable APIs for complex third-party applications, such as Google Chrome, VirtualBox and development tools. The system is also very useful for virtual cloud environments due to its very low hardware requirements.