| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 316, 17 August 2009
Welcome to this year's 33rd issue of DistroWatch Weekly! Many people who use Intel graphics and a recent Linux distribution must have come to the same conclusion: this combination is a disaster. Performance and stability issues affecting thousands of users have so far filled many pages on various forums. But, as Caitlyn Martin reports, despite the best of effort to find workarounds and solve the problems, a universal solution that would work across all Intel graphics chipsets has yet to be found. In the news section, Ubuntu updates its netbook remix interface for "Karmic Koala", Novell appoints a dedicated group of developers for openSUSE, FreeBSD prepares for the grand launch of a major new version of its operating system, and the Linux community continues to examine the recent CentOS conflict. Also in the news, some development updates on two lesser-known but highly interesting distributions - Foresight Linux and GoboLinux. Finally, if you are interested in helping to test the upcoming release of Fedora 12, don't miss our tips section describing the way to upgrade Fedora 11 to the latest "Rawhide" with one command. Happy reading!
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (35MB) and MP3 (30MB) formats (many thanks to Sonny Chauvin)
Join us at irc.freenode.net #distrowatch
|Feature Story (by Caitlyn Martin)
The status of Intel video drivers for Linux (and what it means for your favorite distro)
Anyone who reads the Linux technical press, Linux blogs, or the comments section of DistroWatch Weekly knows that there has been a lot of discussion, dissatisfaction, and even anger over the state of Intel video drivers for Linux. In a nutshell and without going into the nuts and bolts, Intel made significant changes to the drivers for their chipsets, introducing new technologies that were designed to radically improve performance. Keith Packard wrote a detailed technical description of the changes to the Intel drivers and what they mean which can be found here. (Tip of the hat to Adam Williamson of Red Hat who originally provided the link.)
Corresponding changes were made to the Linux kernel, including migrating the new Graphics Execution Manager (GEM), which manages video memory, into the mainline kernel beginning with version 2.6.28. Setting graphics resolution, which has traditionally been done as part of the X server, has also been migrated to the kernel. Kernel Mode Setting (KMS) is now enabled by default in the most recent Ubuntu 9.10 alpha release.
The changes in both the Intel driver and the kernel also required changes to X.Org. Even my brief and decidedly less than detailed description of these changes makes it obvious that an awful lot of Linux core code has been undergoing some very major changes during the past year. Sadly, the results have, at least so far, meant that for many users of some of the most popular Linux distributions, performance did not improve. Quite the opposite: performance severely deteriorated and instability was introduced. Some users who upgraded their systems to the latest and greatest version of their favorite distribution found themselves with a system that ran very poorly, crashed frequently, or in some cases, found that X wouldn't work at all. Phoronix described their testing of Ubuntu 9.04 on a Samsung netbook this way: "...a buggy Intel Linux graphics stack led to slow performance, stability issues, screen corruption, and other problems."
I freely admit that I am not an expert on X.Org internals or graphics drivers but I've tried to follow the technical discussions, the issues involved, and how they have impacted Linux distributions. Today we'll look at the state of Intel graphics in several popular distributions, looking both at what went right and what went wrong in recent releases, what progress has been made, and what can be expected from upcoming releases.
Different results on different systems
As we saw in the comments following my review of Mandriva 2009.1 in the May 25th issue of DistroWatch Weekly, a release which included what was probably the most problematic version of the Intel driver, some users, myself included, had severe issues while others reported that everything worked perfectly for them. Reports in the forums for Ubuntu and Fedora show similar results: some users have serious problems and other users don't. Workarounds work well on some systems and not on others. There are four factors which determine what kind of results you are likely to see on an individual system:
In addition, as Keith Packard explained, there are up to 48 combinations of settings for different features in the 2.6.x and 2.7.x Intel video drivers. Different settings yield different results. Despite all the expertise available on various forum discussions and mailing lists there are still users who report no success in getting X working properly on some recent distribution releases, no matter what they try.
- The model and revision of the Intel graphics chipset
- The version of the Intel driver used
- The version of the X.Org server
- The kernel used
The first step in finding out if a workaround is going to produce an acceptable result on a given system is to determine the model and revision of the chipset. At the command line you can type
lspci -v | grep VGA
which will display the required information. On my Sylvania g Netbook Meso the output looks like this:
00:02.0 VGA compatible controller: Intel Corporation Mobile 945GME Express Integrated Graphics Controller (rev 03) (prog-if 00 [VGA controller])
The package manager included in almost any Linux distribution should be sufficient to determine what version of the Intel driver being used. The package is usually called xorg-video-intel.
Impact on popular Linux distributions
Linux distributions released in the last four or five months have had to decide between using an older version of X.Org and the corresponding Intel driver or including code known to be problematic. Distributions that chose older code avoided the Intel issue at the cost of not supporting some of the latest and greatest hardware on the market. The popular distributions which release every six months and which stay on the cutting edge all have Intel graphics issues to some degree. How serious the issues are depends on when they released and how much progress had been made in mitigating the problems. The rest of this report examines the impact on and progress by some of the most popular Linux distributions.
- Ubuntu 9.04 was released on April 23rd and users with Intel graphics were severely impacted. The Ubuntu forum includes a Jaunty Intel Graphics Performance Guide which offers three possible workarounds, all of which involve upgrading the Intel driver to a 2.7.x release and possibly upgrading the kernel as well. At the end of the guide are responses and reports from Ubuntu users totalling an amazing 107 pages. Glancing through the reports will reveal mixed results. For some users the problems they had experienced were completely resolved. Others reported no improvement. With my Intel Mobile Express 945GME graphics chipset the best I could achieve was either excellent performance but poor stability in the form of system freeze-ups or X crashes, or poor performance and some video corruption but excellent stability. Another workaround is to revert to an older 2.4.1 Intel driver, an approach which was abandoned early on in the forum but which worked reasonably well for me.
In the discussion which follows the Performance Guide, the Ubuntu developers make it clear they will not be porting more recent kernel builds or Intel drivers to 9.04. Development is now focused on solving the problems in time for the release of 9.10 on October 29th.
The third alpha of Ubuntu 9.10 shipped with the latest 2.8.0 Intel driver, X.Org Server 1.6.2 RC1, and a development snapshot of the Linux 2.6.31 kernel. Phoronix reported poor performance test results with this alpha but I found significant improvement on my system. Ubuntu 9.10 alpha 4, released last week, also includes a newer kernel snapshot and the 2.8.0 driver, which no longer supports EXA and DRI1. While enabling UXA and DRI2 caused instability on my system with the 2.7.x drivers I have no such problem with 2.8.0. With 3D animation enabled I do still see some brief video corruption for a second, perhaps less, when a new window is opened, and a corresponding stutter in whatever action is being performed. I wonder if the stutter I see is part of the cause of the poor performance numbers the Phoronix testers saw. Once a window is open performance seems to be very good. I see no problems at all with 2D graphics using the latest Ubuntu 9.10 build. This is the same result I reported in my review of Pardus 2009 last week. Even though this is an early alpha build with some bugs I found Ubuntu 9.10 to already be far more usable than Ubuntu 9.04.
I should mention that Ubuntu 8.04 LTS uses older code and was not affected. Ubuntu Netbook Remix 8.04 was the factory installed OS on my netbook. With all the latest updates it performs flawlessly.
- Mandriva 2009.1 was released on April 29th and suffered from essentially the same problems that Ubuntu 9.04 had. Mandriva took more time to provide a workaround which resulted in what was essentially an unusable distribution at the time I reviewed the release in May. The workarounds, when offered, again involved upgrading the driver and possibly the kernel and the results on my system were essentially the same as I experienced with Ubuntu, forcing me to give up on the release.
The second alpha of Mandriva 2010 was released on July 31st. It includes a 2.6.31-rc4 kernel, one release candidate earlier than the version included in the latest Ubuntu alpha. It also includes X.Org server 1.6.2 with the latest 2.8.0 Intel driver. In the release announcement the developers state that the new Intel driver "should improve performance and stability," which, in fact, it does. My brief testing of this alpha release shows the expected bugs but usable if imperfect support for my Intel 945GME graphics chipset. Running KDE 4.3 with 3D animation enabled I saw essentially the same results I reported in my review of Pardus 2009 and in Ubuntu 9.10 alpha 4 running GNOME.
- Fedora 11 was released on June 9th. The later release allowed Fedora developers to include a 2.7.0 Intel driver as opposed to the 2.6.x drivers included in the April releases of Ubuntu and Mandriva. Fedora developers were also able to incorporate workarounds for some of the existing issues and perhaps even tying them to specific graphics chipsets. The net result was that Fedora 11 was better out of the box on my Sylvania netbook than either Mandriva 2009.1 or Ubuntu 9.04, even after trying the various upgrades and workarounds. 3D performance was still not what it should be but my system was stable. I did not run Fedora 11 for any length of time on my system. There have been no development releases of Fedora 12 as of yet; however, it is clear that the progress being made on the Intel drivers upstream should translate to improvement in Fedora paralleling Ubuntu and Mandriva.
Distributions like Debian GNU/Linux, openSUSE and Slackware Linux did not have a final release during the past six months and have avoided the problems which plagued distributions with faster release cycles. Red Hat Enterprise Linux and its free clones, including Scientific Linux and CentOS, also avoided the issue because they always use older, stable code.
Taking a look at releases in development: Milestone 5 of openSUSE 11.2, released on August 10th, includes the 2.8.0 version of the Intel driver, X.Org server 1.6.3 and a 2.6.31-rc4 kernel. A problem with X freezing up before KDM loads in runlevel 5 has been reported on systems using Intel or VESA video drivers. Slackware 13 RC2, released on August 6th, also includes X.Org server 1.6.3 and the 2.8.0 Intel driver but uses a slightly older 184.108.40.206 kernel. I have not had a chance to test these development releases yet.
The problems caused by the wholesale changes in the Intel graphics stack have not been fully resolved. Judging by the forums of distributions using the 2.8.0 Intel driver in testing and my own experience, it appears that the most serious problems, particularly those affecting system stability, have been solved. Based on the rate of progress in recent months I am hopeful that releases scheduled for the 3rd and 4th quarters of 2009 may finally have Intel graphics performance that is at least the equal of what we had last year. The promised improvements in performance using the kernel-based GEM, kernel mode switching (KMS), UXA and DRI2 will be delivered later than the Intel developers anticipated and after much heartache for the user community. In the end, though, the promises that were made will undoubtedly be fulfilled.
The usual critics of Linux have used the Intel video driver regression as further "proof" that Linux is somehow not ready for the desktop. The openness of the Linux community allowed every aspect of this issue to be examined in excruciating detail which made the situation seem somehow unique. It isn't. Problematic proprietary video drivers have been released for proprietary operating systems before and probably will be again.
Linux users with affected Intel chipsets ended up running one of the many Linux distributions that didn't have the problem or else simply ran a previous but still supported version of their favorite distro. We continued to enjoy Linux on the desktop even if we experienced some disappointment and frustration with our favorite distribution. My own frustration with Mandriva was an expression of the fact that I had come to expect nothing less than excellence from their products over a period of years.
We can only hope that those who develop core elements of Linux and the various Linux distributors have learned from this experience and will think twice before rushing code to market too early in the future.
|Tips and tricks (by Ladislav Bodnar)
Running Fedora "Rawhide"
A few months ago we started a series of articles on running the development releases of major distributions. So far we have covered Mandriva "Cooker", Slackware "Current" and openSUSE "Factory". Today, with the imminent release of Fedora 12 Alpha, we'll upgrade a stable Fedora 11 release to the latest "Rawhide", the Fedora development branch.
Of all the distributions that we have looked at so far, upgrading a stable Fedora to the latest Fedora development is probably the easiest. It is done with a single command:
# yum --disablerepo=* --enablerepo=rawhide update
This command updates the repository information, then downloads and upgrades all packages installed on the system plus adds any new dependencies.
I upgraded my Fedora 11 installation (installed from the GNOME live CD with all the latest updates, with the ext3 file system on the hard disk partition) over the weekend using the above command. Although the process was fairly long (the required package download was in excess of 800 MB, I was pleased to see that everything went smoothly and all upgrades completed without any errors. However, I wasn't able to boot into the new kernel (2.6.31-rc5), the default in Rawhide - the screen simply blanked out during the boot process (the system has an older NVIDIA graphics card - NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4200). Luckily, the kernel from Fedora 11 (2.6.29) was still available in the GRUB boot menu (this can be brought up by pressing the Esc key while the "Loading Fedora" message appears on the screen). The kernel from Fedora 11 booted up just fine.
Once on "Rawhide", the system can be updated regularly with the standard yum update to keep up with the latest packages.
A word of caution though. From my experience, running Fedora "Rawhide" tends to be a wild ride. It is nowhere near as trouble-free as Debian "Testing" or Slackware "Current" and it sometimes breaks completely - to the point that it is actually faster to re-install the whole system than to fix it. This is, of course, the result of Fedora developers introducing many new features into their distribution, some of which have never been tried before, so it is only natural that things break. Nevertheless, running "Rawhide" is a great way of staying on top of the latest innovations, interact with other testers on the development mailing list, report bugs, and generally live on the bleeding edge of Linux development. It may not for everybody, but those with time on their hands and willingness to help with testing should have plenty of fun.
Running Fedora "Rawhide" - stimulating, but risky
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|Miscellaneous News (by Chris Smart)
Ubuntu updates netbook remix interface, Novell assigns dedicated openSUSE team, FreeBSD sprints towards next release, LWN analyses recent CentOS troubles, updates on Foresight Linux and GoboLinux
As the next release of Ubuntu draws near, some major changes are starting to appear. With the Jaunty 9.04 release, Canonical introduced an official Netbook Remix edition which uses a custom interface on top of GNOME. The current version has quite a lot of merit and is certainly a step in the right direction for netbooks; however, it's horribly clunky and slow. Now it is getting a revamp for 9.10, due in around two months from now. The new version improves upon the interface as it stands, and has reportedly received a much needed speed boost. South Africa's Broadband News reports: "The most obvious change will be that the right-hand bar, which housed links to the various hard drives, removable drives and common directories, is to be removed and this menu now integrated into the single left-hand menu under a 'files and folders' menu option. The result is a pleasingly larger area for launcher icons and a less cluttered overall appearance." Will Canonical be able to secure its much sought-after netbook market share before Moblin and Chrome OS take off? Shuttleworth has been looking forward to the challenge with Microsoft in this market segment, so no doubt this new improvement is designed to help bolster their product.
* * * * *
Novell, the company behind openSUSE, has one main goal in the Linux world - to displace Red Hat as the number one enterprise Linux vendor. To help them achieve this, they have been busy improving their Linux offerings and releasing new technology such as the online build service. Now, the company is dedicating a special group of ten employees to work solely on the operating system. Roland Haidl made the announcement on a project's mailing list: "This is the Novell 'openSUSE Team', and it is there to be a part of the community and make it easier for people to join in, enjoy and contribute." Novell is not an open source company and they have had a hard time trying to fit into the free software world. Relationship with the development team and community in general did not go well after the acquisition from Novell. Now, they might be loosening the reins a little, as Haidl admits: "We (speaking as part of the Novell management) learned to trust the community," which can only be good for the project at large. However, does the dedication of a new team show more or less faith in the community?
Elsewhere, it was recently announced that openSUSE 10.3 will be discontinued at the end of October 2009. The announcement comes hand in hand with a change in the maintenance period of all releases, now shortened to 18 months. Recently Novell changed the release cycle of their products to once every 8 months and, as such, the old support period of two years wasn't seen as suitable. Instead, it will now be '2 releases plus 2 months' which equates to 18 months. Michael Loeffler wrote: "openSUSE will shorten the maintenance period to 2 versions plus 2 months which translates with the current release cycle of 8 months to 18 months instead of 24 months we had with openSUSE 11.1 and previous releases." If a release slips a month, will that change the support date of the previous version? One would assume so, based on the formula.
* * * * *
The operating system market is certainly heating up with key releases from Microsoft, Apple and Ubuntu due out in the following months. But as Gerard van Essen writes, "let's not forget about FreeBSD." Version 7.0 was released 18 months ago, with 8.0 scheduled for late September. Currently at beta 2, no new features will be added after beta 3. However, the final release is set to be delayed due to an issue with the SVN to CVS exporter when creating the stable branch. Originally 8.0 was intended to be a minor update to the previous release, but all the changes which have gone in make it a new major release. According to the release notes, some of the improvements include superpages for AMD64, a new default scheduler, hard disk spin-down support, various userland changes, as well as support for numerous new hardware devices. FreeBSD is certainly not standing still in the fast moving operating system scene.
* * * * *
The CentOS project, which produces a highly popular free clone of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. This was due to an internal conflict -- now apparently settled -- that was made public after all other options to resolve it had failed. Now, Jonathan Corbet of Linux Weekly News has written an article looking into the history of the issue and the consequences of the conflict. He concludes that using a distro like CentOS brings inevitable risks: "A system running CentOS is relying on the efforts of a relatively small group of volunteers; these volunteers are not obligated to continue to provide support to anybody. The project's governance and processes are on the murky side - even if it looks like things are about to get better. CentOS is fully dependent on Red Hat for security updates, and it necessarily imposes a delay between the release of Red Hat's fix (which discloses any vulnerability which wasn't already in the open) and the availability of a fix for CentOS." This is certainly a serious issue for many, especially as CentOS is often used as an enterprise grade operating system. He ads, however, that this is not a criticism but rather a warning that there are trade-offs associated with a distribution choice.
* * * * *
If you are a fan of GNOME, you've probably heard of Foresight Linux, a distribution that focuses on presenting the very latest GNOME features in one compact package. At least that was the original plan, but given the lack of recent news and releases, one would be more inclined to believe that project has lost a bit of steam recently. To revive the project, Michael Johnson, the director of OS engineering at rPath and former Red Hat developer, has expressed his thoughts about the future of Foresight Linux on the distribution's mailing list: "I think it's time to propose a change. Because I'm rPath's Director of Operating Systems, in charge of rPath Linux, this may come as a big shock, but perhaps I'm the one in the best place to say this: rPath Linux is not the right base OS for Foresight. rPath Linux is a great OS for the purpose for which it was built, and delivers great value to rPath's customers for building server-oriented application stacks that include a versioned operating system. But the development model of rPath Linux is too divergent from the development model of Foresight to make it an appropriate long-term base for Foresight." The author goes as far as suggesting a switch to Fedora as a more appropriate base for Foresight Linux, while retaining the Conary package management tools and infrastructure.
* * * * *
Finally, a quick update on GoboLinux, a distribution that is unlike anything else we've seen due to its radical break from the traditional UNIX file system hierarchy. Instead of directories such as /usr/bin/, applications are stored in individual subdirectories under /Programs/, with all direct libraries and dependencies included. This is similar to the Mac OS X approach. Jonas Karlsson has posted a status update on the upcoming 015 version. He states that some issues with the build environment are preventing the finalisation of several new ideas for the new release. As such, some internal directory structures will be changed: "First of all, GoboLinux 015 will feature he first version of /System/Index. This will replace /System/Links for most parts, like 'bin', 'lib' etc. To describe /System/Index in short, one can say that it has the same function as /System/Links, just that it functions as build prefix as well (the install prefix is still /Programs/Foo/x.y)." The /Files directory will also be dropped in favour of a new /Data directory. How will these changes affect users' ability to upgrade from previous releases?
|Released Last Week
SAM Linux 2009
SAM Linux 2009, a PCLinuxOS-based distribution and live CD featuring the Xfce desktop, has been released: "The Sam Linux team announces the release of SAM Linux 2009. The distribution is based on PCLinuxOS 2009.1 but it will be the last release based on PCLinuxOS. The most important changes are the upgrade to kernel version 220.127.116.11, Xfce 4.6.1, support of a variety of WLAN hardware and support of the MSI Wind netbook architecture. Minor changes include the upgrade of all packages as of 18 July 2009 and the use of Opera as email client instead of Thunderbird. SAM Linux 2009 is made fully compatible with the PCLinuxOS repositories. In the process of changing from PCLinuxOS to a distribution still unannounced we will stop hosting our own PCLinuxOS repository but we will keep up the support for SAM Linux 2009 as long as it is in use by our community." Here is the brief release announcement.
SAM Linux 2009 - the last release to be based on PCLinuxOS
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Roberto J. Dohnert has announced the release of PC/OS 2009.3, a desktop Linux distribution based on Xubuntu: "PC/OS 2009.3 has been released to the general public. This release fixes many of the hardware issues that users had with PC/OS 2009v2 series. With this release we went ahead and installed all updates so all security updates since PC/OS maintenance pack 3 have been applied. The changes to PC/OS 2009.3 application wise are common across all releases except that Xfce 4.6 was not included in WebStation due to some issues that are being explored right now on some models of netbooks. OpenOffice.org 3.1, Pidgin 2.5.8, Firefox 3.0.12, Mozilla Thunderbird and many more application updates have been applied." Read the complete release announcement for more information.
Ryan Finnie has released Finnix 93.0, a small, self-contained, bootable Linux CD distribution for system administrators, based on Debian's testing branch: "Finnix 93.0 released. It is a maintenance release, but due to the length of time between Finnix 92.1 and 93.0, the time between Debian upstream updates warranted a major version number bump. New features include Linux kernel 2.6.30, and updated upstream software. Vitals: Linux 2.6.30 (based on Debian 2.6.30-5), Debian testing (2009-08-08). Changes: dist-upgrade; upgraded Memtest86+ to 2.11; re-ordered main menu (x86); several fixes related to Debian and Linux kernel upgrades; removed: EVMS (unmaintained upstream, obsolete, low penetration), unionfs-tools (incompatible with current Unionfs), cramfsprogs (not used by Finnix, low need outside Finnix), ftp (use lftp instead)." Please see the release announcement and release notes for further information.
François Dupoux has announced the release of SystemRescueCd 1.2.3, a Gentoo-based Linux system rescue disk available as a bootable CD-ROM or USB stick for administrating or repairing a system and data after a crash. What's new in this release? "Updated the alternative kernels to Linux kernel 18.104.22.168; updated e2fsprogs to version 1.41.8 (ext2, ext3, ext4 file system tools); updated dump to 0.4b42 (better support for ext4); updated NTFS-3G to version 2009.4.4 AR16 (NTFS-3G advanced release); added missing firmware (package linux-firmware); initial support Partclone 0.1.1; updated GParted to version 0.4.6; updated Parted to version 1.9.0." See the complete changelog for more details.
kademar Linux 4.9
Adonay Sanz Alsina has announced the release of kademar Linux 4.9, a live DVD with KDE 3 based on Debian GNU/Linux 5.0, offering support for Catalan, Spanish and English languages. Some of the new features in this release include: enhancements to CADI, the distribution's system configuration tool, which now comes with a GRUB configuration module and various new web browser configuration options; minor bug fixes and enhancements in "kademarcenter", a hardware setup utility; major update to the system installer which now includes an option to choose a 100% "libre" system; a new graphical start-up with fbsplash; updated Linux kernel 2.6.29. Read the release announcement (in Spanish) for a more complete list of changes and enhancements.
Parted Magic 4.4
Patrick Verner has released Parted Magic 4.4, a live CD designed primarily as a hard disk partitioning and data rescue tool: "This new version of Parted Magic has some major updates. Users can now get online with dial-up networking through our 'Start Network' program. Parted Magic is not in the desktop media business, but ALSA sound drivers and ALSA core programs were added if you would like to use a media player. We highly suggest Slackware 12.x packages. Unionfs is now being used for the big directories and Parted Magic's RAM usage, with the default boot option, has been halved - it only takes 256 MB of RAM to run completely from system memory and free up that CD-ROM drive or USB stick. At boot time the SSH daemon is started and public keys are generated, so that's one less thing for people using SSH to deal with. Last but not least, you will notice that Super Grub Disk is now an option in the boot menu." Visit the project's home page to read the full release announcement.
"Transforma tu vida!" proclaims the title of the release announcement for Tuquito 3, an Ubuntu-based, beginner-friendly distribution from Argentina with GNOME as the main desktop. Previously based on Debian and KDE, Tuquito has now transformed itself into a distribution with plethora of new usability features, social networking add-ons, Google applications, support for proprietary graphics drivers, and other conveniences. Some of the main features include: automatic detection of hard disk partitions with one-click activation; support for all available printers and scanners; support for web cams, inclusive of the Intel and Genius models; automatic detection of digital cameras and USB pen drives; 100% compatible with MS Office file formats; full support for Windows file systems (FAT and NTFS); new system and application installer; Garfio, a one-click back-up solution.... See the full release announcement (in Spanish) for a detailed list of features and a handful of screenshots.
Tuquito 3 - a user-friendly distribution from Argentina
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Linux From Scratch 6.5
Linux From Scratch (LFS) 6.5 has been released. Linux From Scratch isn't a distribution in the traditional sense of the word, but rather a book containing a set of instructions for building a base Linux system from source code. From the release announcement: "The Linux From Scratch community is pleased to announce the release of LFS version 6.5. This release includes numerous changes from LFS 6.4 (including updates to Linux kernel 22.214.171.124, GCC 4.4.1, and glibc 2.10.1) and security fixes. It also includes editorial work on the explanatory material throughout the book, improving both the clarity and accuracy of the text." Besides the above-mentioned updates, the new version of Linux From Scratch also includes Bash 4.0, module-init-tools 3.10, udev 145 and many of the very latest GNU packages.
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
New distributions added to database
- Dragora GNU/Linux. Dragora GNU/Linux is an independent GNU/Linux distribution based on the concept of simplicity. It is recognised by Free Software Foundation as one of the few distributions that only provides free software. Dragora has been inspired by the philosophy driving the development of Slackware Linux, but there are some important differences, including a streamlined system installer, a more powerful package management system and exclusive support for the i686 processor architecture.
- Firefly Linux. Firefly Linux is a lightweight operating system designed with netbooks in mind. Based on Arch Linux, it comes with the small and fast LXDE desktop environment, many popular applications, and out-of-the-box support for wireless networks, sound cards and graphics cards. Firefly Linux includes some non-free software, including the Flash browser plugin and Skype telephony software, while thousands of additional packages are available for installation via the distribution's command-line or graphical package management tools.
Firefly Linux - a lightweight distribution for netbooks, based on Arch Linux
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* * * * *
New distributions added to waiting list
- PenaOS. PenaOS is an Ubuntu-based Linux distribution with the goal of helping users to write scientific articles. Its most important feature is the integration of OpenOffice.org with Zotero, a powerful, easy-to-use research tool that helps gather, organise, and analyse sources for a research paper and then share the results.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
And this concludes the latest issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 24 August 2009.
Caitlyn Martin, Chris Smart and Ladislav Bodnar
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|Linux Foundation Training
|• Issue 785 (2018-10-15): Reborn OS 2018.09, Nitrux 1.0.15, swapping hard drives between computers, feren OS tries KDE spin, power savings coming to Linux|
|• Issue 784 (2018-10-08): Hamara 2.1, improving manual pages, UBports gets VoIP app, Fedora testing power saving feature|
|• Issue 783 (2018-10-01): Quirky 8.6, setting up dual booting with Ubuntu and FreeBSD, Lubuntu switching to LXQt, Mint works on performance improvements|
|• Issue 782 (2018-09-24): Bodhi Linux 5.0.0, Elive 3.0.0, Solus publishes ISO refresh, UBports invites feedback, Linux Torvalds plans temporary vacation|
|• Issue 781 (2018-09-17): Linux Mint 3 "Debian Edition", file systems for SSDs, MX makes installing Flatpaks easier, Arch team answers questions, Mageia reaches EOL|
|• Issue 780 (2018-09-10): Netrunner 2018.08 Rolling, Fedora improves language support, how to customize Kali Linux, finding the right video drivers|
|• Issue 779 (2018-09-03): Redcore 1806, keeping ISO downloads safe from tampering, Lubuntu makes Calamares more flexible, Ubuntu improves GNOME performance|
|• Issue 778 (2018-08-27): GuixSD 0.15.0, ReactOS 0.4.9, Steam supports Windows games on Linux, Haiku plans for beta, merging disk partitions|
|• Issue 777 (2018-08-20): YunoHost 126.96.36.199, limiting process resource usage, converting file systems on Fedora, Debian turns 25, Lubuntu migrating to Wayland|
|• Issue 776 (2018-08-13): NomadBSD 1.1, Maximum storage limits on Linux, openSUSE extends life for 42.3, updates to the Librem 5 phone interface|
|• Issue 775 (2018-08-06): Secure-K OS 18.5, Linux is about choice, Korora tests community spin, elementary OS hires developer, ReactOS boots on Btrfs|
|• Issue 774 (2018-07-30): Ubuntu MATE & Ubuntu Budgie 18.04, upgrading software from source, Lubuntu shifts focus, NetBSD changes support policy|
|• Issue 773 (2018-07-23): Peppermint OS 9, types of security used by different projects, Mint reacts to bugs in core packages, Slackware turns 25|
|• Issue 772 (2018-07-16): Hyperbola GNU/Linux-libre 0.2.4, UBports running desktop applications, OpenBSD auto-joins wi-fi networks, boot environments and zedenv|
|• Issue 771 (2018-07-09): Linux Lite 4.0, checking CPUs for bugs, configuring GRUB, Mint upgrade instructions, SUSE acquired by EQT|
|• Issue 770 (2018-07-02): Linux Mint 19, Solus polishes desktop experience, MintBox Mini 2, changes to Fedora's installer|
|• Issue 769 (2018-06-25): BunsenLabs Helium, counting Ubuntu users, UBports upgrading to 16.04, Fedora CoreOS, FreeBSD turns 25|
|• Issue 768 (2018-06-18): Devuan 2.0.0, using pkgsrc to manage software, the NOVA filesystem, OpenBSD handles successful cron output|
|• Issue 767 (2018-06-11): Android-x86 7.1-r1, transferring files over OpenSSH with pipes, LFS with Debian package management, Haiku ports LibreOffice|
|• Issue 766 (2018-06-04): openSUSE 15, overview of file system links, Manjaro updates Pamac, ReactOS builds itself, Bodhi closes forums|
|• Issue 765 (2018-05-28): Pop!_OS 18.04, gathering system information, Haiku unifying ARM builds, Solus resumes control of Budgie|
|• Issue 764 (2018-05-21): DragonFly BSD 5.2.0, Tails works on persistent packages, Ubuntu plans new features, finding services affected by an update|
|• Issue 763 (2018-05-14): Fedora 28, Debian compatibility coming to Chrome OS, malware found in some Snaps, Debian's many flavours|
|• Issue 762 (2018-05-07): TrueOS 18.03, live upgrading Raspbian, Mint plans future releases, HardenedBSD to switch back to OpenSSL|
|• Issue 761 (2018-04-30): Ubuntu 18.04, accessing ZFS snapshots, UBports to run on Librem 5 phones, Slackware makes PulseAudio optional|
|• Issue 760 (2018-04-23): Chakra 2017.10, using systemd to hide files, Netrunner's ARM edition, Debian 10 roadmap, Microsoft develops Linux-based OS|
|• Issue 759 (2018-04-16): Neptune 5.0, building containers with Red Hat, antiX introduces Sid edition, fixing filenames on the command line|
|• Issue 758 (2018-04-09): Sortix 1.0, openSUSE's Transactional Updates, Fedora phasing out Python 2, locating portable packages|
|• Issue 757 (2018-04-02): Gatter Linux 0.8, the UNIX and Linux System Administration Handbook, Red Hat turns 25, super long term support kernels|
|• Issue 756 (2018-03-26): NuTyX 10.0, Neptune supplies Debian users with Plasma 5.12, SolydXK on a Raspberry Pi, SysV init development|
|• Issue 755 (2018-03-19): Learning with ArchMerge and Linux Academy, Librem 5 runs Plasma Mobile, Cinnamon gets performance boost|
|• Issue 754 (2018-03-12): Reviewing Sabayon and Antergos, the growing Linux kernel, BSDs getting CPU bug fixes, Manjaro builds for ARM devices|
|• Issue 753 (2018-03-05): Enso OS 0.2, KDE Plasma 5.12 features, MX Linux prepares new features, interview with MidnightBSD's founder|
|• Issue 752 (2018-02-26): OviOS 2.31, performing off-line upgrades, elementary OS's new installer, UBports gets test devices, Redcore team improves security|
|• Issue 751 (2018-02-19): DietPi 6.1, testing KDE's Plasma Mobile, Nitrux packages AppImage in default install, Solus experiments with Wayland|
|• Issue 750 (2018-02-12): Solus 3, getting Deb packages upstream to Debian, NetBSD security update, elementary OS explores AppCentre changes|
|• Issue 749 (2018-02-05): Freespire 3 and Linspire 7.0, misunderstandings about Wayland, Xorg and Mir, Korora slows release schedule, Red Hat purchases CoreOS|
|• Issue 748 (2018-01-29): siduction 2018.1.0, SolydXK 32-bit editions, building an Ubuntu robot, desktop-friendly Debian options|
|• Issue 747 (2018-01-22): Ubuntu MATE 17.10, recovering open files, creating a new distribution, KDE focusing on Wayland features|
|• Issue 746 (2018-01-15): deepin 15.5, openSUSE's YaST improvements, new Ubuntu 17.10 media, details on Spectre and Meltdown bugs|
|• Issue 745 (2018-01-08): GhostBSD 11.1, Linspire and Freespire return, wide-spread CPU bugs patched, adding AppImage launchers to the application menu|
|• Issue 744 (2018-01-01): MX Linux 17, Ubuntu pulls media over BIOS bug, PureOS gets endorsed by the FSF, openSUSE plays with kernel boot splash screens|
|• Issue 743 (2017-12-18): Daphile 17.09, tools for rescuing files, Fedora Modular Server delayed, Sparky adds ARM support, Slax to better support wireless networking|
|• Issue 742 (2017-12-11): heads 0.3.1, improvements coming to Tails, Void tutorials, Ubuntu phasing out Python 2, manipulating images from the command line|
|• Issue 741 (2017-12-04): Pop!_OS 17.10, openSUSE Tumbleweed snapshots, installing Q4OS on a Windows partition, using the at command|
|• Issue 740 (2017-11-27): Artix Linux, Unity spin of Ubuntu, Nitrux swaps Snaps for AppImage, getting better battery life on Linux|
|• Issue 739 (2017-11-20): Fedora 27, cross-distro software ports, Ubuntu on Samsung phones, Red Hat supports ARM, Parabola continues 32-bit support|
|• Issue 738 (2017-11-13): SparkyLinux 5.1, rumours about spyware, Slax considers init software, Arch drops 32-bit packages, overview of LineageOS|
|• Issue 737 (2017-11-06): BeeFree OS 18.1.2, quick tips to fix common problems, Slax returning, Solus plans MATE and software management improvements|
|• Issue 736 (2017-10-30): Ubuntu 17.10, "what if" security questions, Linux Mint to support Flatpak, NetBSD kernel memory protection|
|• Issue 735 (2017-10-23): ArchLabs Minimo, building software with Ravenports, WPA security patch, Parabola creates OpenRC spin|
|• Issue 734 (2017-10-16): Star 1.0.1, running the Linux-libre kernel, Ubuntu MATE experiments with snaps, Debian releases new install media, Purism reaches funding goal|
|• Full list of all issues|
|Random Distribution |
BitKey is a Debian-based live distribution containing specialist utilities to perform highly secure air-gapped Bitcoin transactions. It contains a swiss army knife of handy Bitcoin tools that support a wide range of usage models, including a few very secure ones which would otherwise be difficult to perform. The system boots into one of the three available modes: "cold-offline" - for creating a wallet and signing transactions; "cold-online" - for watching the wallet and preparing transactions; "hot-online" - standard usage but less secure as the private keys are known to the computer which is connected to the internet. BitKey also provides tools for generating "brainwallets", for the most paranoid of Bitcoin users. The live CD provides a simple desktop based on the Metacity window manager with quick links to the Bitcoin tools and Chromium for web browsing.