| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 449, 26 March 2012
Welcome to this year's 13th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! Transitions from one operating system to another are never easy, but there are a number of tools that can help. CrossOver is one of those popular software packages that was designed to ease the switch from Windows to Linux or Mac OS X. If you absolutely have to be able to run certain Windows application on a Linux system, read our first-look review of the just-released CrossOver XI from CodeWeavers. In the news section, Oracle announces availability of free errata updates for its enterprise Linux distribution, while Xubuntu project lead Charlie Kravetz announces resignation from all development and management activities. The same section then continues with the usual round-up of interesting articles of the past week, such as Linux.com's overview of Scientific Linux, impressions of a recent development build of Mageia 2, and an interview with a UK-based school teacher and Linux enthusiast talking about Skolelinux. There is more, including an introduction to OmniBoot, a live DVD featuring a large collection of useful administration tools alongside several free operating systems, and a tutorial on creating encryption keys, encrypting files, signing messages and decrypting files with GPG. Happy reading!
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|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
First look at CrossOver XI from CodeWeavers|
For many people out there one of the biggest challenges of moving from one operating system to another is finding applications to do all the things a person did with their first operating system. After all, the majority of the population isn't as interested in what operating system they have, rather they focus on which applications they can run. With this in mind CodeWeavers has a product called CrossOver. The CrossOver suite allows a user to install and run Windows applications on Linux distributions or Mac OS X. If the mission of CrossOver sounds similar to WINE that is because CrossOver is based on the WINE project, but with additional effort put into polishing the user experience and testing compatibility. With the recent release of CrossOver XI the folks over at CodeWeavers offered a free trial and, as many of our readers are new to Linux and will likely benefit from the ability to run Windows applications on their new OS, I gladly accepted.
The Linux edition of CrossOver is available in a number of different package formats and builds. At the time of writing Debian (deb) packages are provided in 64-bit and 32-bit builds. There are RPM packages (in 32-bit builds only) and there is a generic binary archive for people running distributions which do not support either RPM or Debian packages. I opted to try the 32-bit build in Debian format on a machine running Kubuntu 11.10. When installing the CrossOver software I was informed by my package manager I'd also need the "desktop-file-utils" package to fulfil dependencies. The install proceeded without any problems and I found a new sub-menu added to my application menu entitled "CrossOver". Under this sub-menu were launchers for installing new applications, registering CrossOver, running a Windows command, un-installing the CrossOver suite, terminating a Windows app, opening the documentation and changing settings.
My next step, post-install, was to launch the registration application and activate my trail. This went smoothly. Next I decided I should install some software and see how well it worked. Here I hit a sort of mental roadblock as I rarely use Windows these days and, when I do, the applications I run are usually the same applications I use on my Linux machines: LibreOffice, VLC, Filezilla, Firefox, Skype... Aside from big title video games and anti-virus software I was hard pressed for a minute to think of what people actually use Windows for these days. Fortunately CodeWeavers had me covered, they have a Compatibility Centre which allows users to browse through their list of supported applications and see how well an application is likely to run. Apart from games, the common items which kept coming up were Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer and that is where I decided to start.
CrossOver XI - playing the Angry Birds demo
(full image size: 495kB, screen resolution 1366x768 pixels)
Here is where things get interesting and fun. CrossOver comes with an application installer to help users get Windows applications up and running. The installer looks a bit like a basic Linux package manager with a list of supported software displayed down the left side of the window and a detailed description of the software on the right. We can scroll through the application list or run searches for supported software. When we find the item we want, Internet Explorer for example, we can then tell the installer where to find the software we want (options include the Internet, a CD or a local folder). We can also decide which "bottle" or settings to associate with the new application which allows us to separate items into different virtual environments. Each "bottle", or virtual environment, lets us configure specific settings and keeps applications from interfering with each other. Then we hit the Proceed button and CrossOver does all the work of installing the software for us. In the case of programs which can be downloaded from the net, CrossOver downloads the software, unpacks it, downloads any dependencies and runs the application's installer for us. It's completely hands-free and while this is happening we're shown progress information on each step and we can opt to skip over non-critical dependencies. For instance, when installing Internet Explorer we're given the option of also installing Flash if we want it.
CrossOver XI - installing Internet Explorer
(full image size: 76kB, screen resolution 707x581 pixels)
The CrossOver application installer is quite straight forward and has an easy to use interface. After it had set up Internet Explorer for me I grabbed some other freely available packages like the Windows Media Player, the Angry Birds game demo and a few others. Media Player installed without problems, but crashed the first couple of times I tried to complete the configuration step. Eventually I got it up and running by letting it keep all of its default settings. The big test though, in my mind, was getting Office up and running. In the past when I've used WINE (or WINE-based products) Office has usually run, but with catches. For example, Office would install, as long as I removed the Access component. Or I could run old versions, like Office 97, but not Office 2007. This time I opted to download a trial edition of Office 2010, told CrossOver where the trial's archive was located and let it run. A few minutes later I had a fully functional Office 2010 install which ran quickly and without any problems. I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised.
CrossOver XI - running MS Office 2010
(full image size: 144kB, screen resolution 1366x768 pixels)
All of the software I installed got assigned menu entries in the Linux application menu. They were bundled together under a sub-menu called "Windows Applications" so that they weren't mixed in with native Linux software.
Another key component of CrossOver is the Bottle Manager. As I touched on above, a bottle is a sort of virtual environment which has its own settings. It's a bit like a virtual machine in that it keeps the Windows applications separate from each other and allows us to assign specific settings to each app. Each bottle pretends to be its own installation of Windows and comes with its own trimmed down control panel. We can "reboot" bottles, add or remove applications inside the bottles and each bottle has its own task manager. The layout of the Bottle Manager is simple with bottles listed down the left side of the window and settings for the selected bottle displayed on the right. The only issue I ran into with the Bottle Manager was if I spent too much time in the control panel settings a dialog box would appear asking me to register my trial again. Since I'd already registered I could close the dialog and continue to work without causing any problems.
An additional function of CrossOver is the ability to force Windows programs to terminate and a bottle to reset. Essentially this means if the Office applications are hanging or if the media player is locked up, we can reset the entire virtual Windows environment, forcing the malfunctioning applications to close. I only used the feature once as most applications worked smoothly, and I found the terminate featured worked as advertised.
On the subject of malfunctioning software perhaps the most difficult aspect of evaluating CrossOver is that it's hard to tell when an issue has its roots in CrossOver and when it's a matter of poorly written software. For instance, when I was experimenting with Internet Explorer the browser was slow, prone to crash and the window kept flickering. This happened more than I would have expected having previously used Internet Explorer on Windows. On the other hand Microsoft Office 2010 worked smoothly, quickly and I experienced no problems. When I tried Angry Birds, I found about four out of every five launches resulted in the game crashing immediately, but the one time out of five it did run it ran perfectly. So if one program works well and one doesn't, is that a flaw in CrossOver or a sign of a poorly coded application? I suspect the truth may be a little bit of both.
There were a few other glitches I ran into besides the odd program crashing. The clipboard didn't work as I expected. I could copy items from a Windows application into a Linux program, though the copied text would sometimes come with other text or garbled pieces of data. However, transferring data from a Linux program to a Windows application usually worked as expected. When installing Windows applications and running Internet Explorer I found the rest of my desktop applications slowed down a lot and my desktop became less responsive. When using other applications, such as Word, performance tended to remain good, so it seems to be an issue only with a few programs.
CrossOver XI - managing bottles
(full image size: 90kB, screen resolution 1366x768 pixels)
Overall my experience with CrossOver has been great, certainly better than with any other Windows compatibility solutions I've used. CrossOver takes the WINE base and provides a nice interface, a list of supported applications (and by supported I mean they offer e-mail and phone technical support), and automated installation and dependency resolution. It's like having Linux package management utilities combined with Windows software and the result is really user-friendly. In fact I found myself wishing CrossOver had a Windows edition for those odd times I have to work on Windows machines as it makes software management so much easier. I love being able to have multiple browser and office versions on the same box without having to jump through hoops, I like the little extras and how optimum OS settings are handled automatically. The experience isn't perfect, but it's probably the most compatibility one can get without actually running multiple versions of the Microsoft operating system.
Which brings me to the question a lot of people are bound to ask: With virtualization technology making it easy to run Windows on a Linux desktop, why bother with compatibility software? There are a few reasons. First, virtual machines require a good deal of resources. Even one instance of Windows will take a few gigabytes of disk space and at least one gigabyte of RAM to be effective. If we need to run different versions of software we're looking at several virtual machines, that's a lot of wasted resources. Plus it's unlikely games will run smoothly in a virtual environment. By comparison CrossOver requires little disk space and very little memory to function and, as I've mentioned above, it does a better job of package management. The other big factor is cost. CrossOver is free to try and the full edition can be purchased for $49.95. By comparison Windows 7 Home edition will set a person back $129.95 and Windows 7 Ultimate is $349.95 from the Microsoft website. That's a lot of money just to run an application or two. CrossOver is a lighter, less costly solution which allows us to test it before we buy it, it integrates well into the Linux desktop and takes the pain out of handling Windows programs. I definitely recommend it for anyone who still needs to run that one necessary Windows application.
|Miscellaneous News (by Ladislav Bodnar)
Free updates for Oracle Linux, overview of Scientific Linux, Xubuntu and Mageia updates, Skolelinux interview, OmniBoot
Among the many free clones of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) Oracle Linux is possibly the least trusted in the geek community, largely due to Oracle's ambiguous treatment of Linux and open-source software at times. Yet, the distribution's strong corporate backing may be seen as an advantage in some circles. Recently, Oracle started pushing for a wider adoption of its distribution - first with public availability of installation DVD images from a number of popular mirror sites and now also with free errata updates: "ISO images of the Oracle Linux installation media as well as individual binary RPMs (and the sources) of major and minor releases have always been freely available for download, use and distribution, ever since we started the Oracle Linux support program. We're now taking this a step further: in addition to the above, we will now also provide updated packages or errata for free from separate yum repositories. If you would like to keep your Oracle Linux system up to date, you can now do so by subscribing your system to the respective '_latest' repository for your distribution. See the installation instructions on the public yum front page." This free update service doesn't mean that Oracle's subscription program will go away; as the above article points out, paying customers get several extra services, such as indemnification against intellectual property claims and enterprise management features.
* * * * *
Speaking about free RHEL clones, Scientific Linux is another one that has been gaining prominence in recent months. Last week Linux.com's Carla Schroder wrote an excellent overview of the project in "Scientific Linux, the Great Distro With the Wrong Name": "So what is Scientific Linux good for? Desktop? Server? Laptop? High-demand server? Yes to all. It is a faithful copy of RHEL, plus some useful additions of its own. Scientific Linux offers several different download images, from a 161 MB boot image for network installations, to live CD and DVD images, to the entire 4.5 GB distro on two DVDs. I tried the LiveMiniCD first, which at 482 MB isn't all that mini. This is the IceWM edition. IceWM is a good lightweight desktop environment, but despite expanding to 1.6 GB at installation the LiveMiniCD installation looks bare-bones. The only visible graphical applications are Firefox and Thunderbird, and Nautilus is installed but it is not in the system menu. There is a big batch of servers and clients, storage clients, networking and system administration tools. IceWM is a nice graphical environment for a server - I know, the old rule is 'No X Windows On A Server', but in real life administrators should use whatever makes them the most efficient and gets the job done."
* * * * *
Some bad news for the users and fans of Xubuntu, an official Ubuntu sub-project that has found some resonance with many Unity refugees. Charlie Kravetz, a former project lead, has formally resigned from Xubuntu: "Due to circumstances now surrounding the Xubuntu project, I will no longer be able to participate in any capacity. For 18 months as Project Lead, I attempted to keep as many as possible involved with this project. Some of those individuals fought every attempt I made to better the project. Now, having observed the project from the sidelines for almost an entire release cycle, I find that those individuals were actually playing some kind of games, for reasons I will never understand. As of the release of 'Precise Pangolin' as Xubuntu 12.04, I am resigning any and all positions with the project. I wish the Xubuntu success in the future." The development of the distribution continues unabated, however, with the developers issuing a call for testing before this week's planned release of beta 2 of Xubuntu 12.04.
* * * * *
Mageia is another distribution whose developers are marching in long strides towards the next stable release, expected in just over a month from now. It's not all plain sailing at the moment though and according to this blog post on Blogger's Mandriva Linux Chronicles there are still bugs and issues that need to be resolved. Nevertheless, the author also finds a number of positives in the distribution's latest development build: "I really like the way in which Mageia 2 is working with KDE 4.8.1. Let me say this and, please, computer experts, do not feel offended. I simply do not care if KDE is a resource hog or not. I mean, KDE runs perfectly on my 2 GB RAM, 500 GB HD, even if I have several programs open (including Firefox with 6 tabs). It also looks beautiful with all the eye candy and plasma widgets. People can get systems with twice the horsepower of mine to run another OS that requires a ridiculous amount of resources and they are happy that way. So, to be honest, I find KDE's demands reasonable (again, I am a simple computer user, not a technical expert). Stability? Well, I haven't experienced a single KDE crash in a very long, long time."
* * * * *
The Linux kernel, GNU and open-source software have been forged into all kinds of end-user solutions. One prominent area where Linux has great potential is the education sector. Among the specialist distributions focusing on capturing this market is Skolelinux (also known as Debian-Edu). Petter Reinholdtsen, one of the project's main developers, has published an interesting interview with John Ingleby, a teacher and long-time Linux user based in the United Kingdom: "For very many years UK schools installed and taught only proprietary software, so that at the highest levels the notion of 'computer' means simply 'proprietary office applications'. However, schools today are experiencing budget constraints, and many are having to think hard about upgrading Windows XP. At the same time, we have students showing teachers how to use iPads, MacBooks and Android, so the choice of operating system is no longer quite so automatic. What is more, our government at last realised that we need people with programming skills, so they're putting coding back in the curriculum! And it's encouraging that the first 10,000 Raspberry Pi units sold out in 2 hours. I don't really know what strategy is going to get UK schools to use free software, but building an active community of Skolelinux/Debian Edu users in this country has to be part of it."
* * * * *
Finally, news about one of those mega-compilation bootable DVD images with dozens of useful rescue and diagnostic tools thrown in together with several popular Linux distributions. Created by Don Manuel, the 3.5 GB OmniBoot 0.3 live DVD comes not only with the usual range of utilities, such as AVG Rescue CD, Hardware Detection Tool, Kon-Boot, Memtest86+, NT Password and Registry Editor or Plop Boot Manager, but also a number of free operating systems in their live modes. The list includes SliTaz GNU/Linux 4.0 RC1, FreeNAS 0.7.1, GeeXboX 2.0, Parted Magic 2012_2_27, Puppy Linux 5.3.1 "Slacko", SystemRescueCd 2.5.0, Debian GNU/Linux 6.0.3 "Xfce", KNOPPIX 6.7.1, PCLinuxOS 2011.08, Linux Mint 12 and FreeDOS. And that's before we'll get to the Toolbox menu, which displays an enormous range of utilities for boot and password management, disk diagnosis, wiping and cloning, CPU stress testing and dozens more for every possible administration task imaginable. OmniBoot looks like an excellent, all-purpose Swiss Army knife for computer geeks or PC technicians to have in their arsenal of useful tools. Download it from SourceForge: OmniBoot v0.3 dvd.iso (3,579MB).
OmniBoot 0.3 - a mega DVD compilation with dozens of tools, utilities, free operating systems and boot options
(full image size: 299kB, screen resolution 1024x768 pixels)
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Private communication and backups with GPG
In a previous DistroWatch Weekly we talked about ways to use the OpenSSL utility to encrypt and decrypt files. Some people pointed out the topic of keeping data private wouldn't be complete without discussing GNU Privacy Guard. With that in mind, this week we will look at how to use GNU Privacy Guard (often referred to as GPG). We will cover creating encryption keys, encrypting files, signing messages and decrypting files.
The first thing we will want to do is create something called a key pair. A key pair is comprised of a public key (which we can send to everybody) and a private key (which we keep to ourselves). The public key allows other people to encrypt messages and files to send to us. The private key unlocks the encrypted data. This is why it's important no one else gets a copy of our private key, because doing so would allow them to access anything sent to us. To generate our new keys we run:
The GNU Privacy Guard program will ask us a few technical questions, such as what type of key we want, how long the key should be and when it should expire. Pressing Enter at each of these prompts will give us reasonable defaults. We'll then be asked a few identifying questions, including our name and e-mail address and we'll be asked to protect our new key pair with a password. It's important the password be both reasonably long and easy to remember.
To confirm we have successfully created a new key, we can list all keys on our account using:
In the output of the above command we should see a new entry with our e-mail address attached to it and the date the key was created. The next thing we will want to do is send our public key to other people, enabling them to send us encrypted information. To do this we export our public key to a file. The following example assumes our key pair was created using the e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org:
gpg2 --output public-key.bin --export email@example.com
The above command saves our public key to a file named public-key.bin. We can then e-mail this key to other people. The above outputs the raw binary data of our public key. If we'd like to send something a little more text-friendly and copy/paste the key into an e-mail we can use the following to display the text version of our key:
gpg2 --armor --export firstname.lastname@example.org
Of course if we want to send encrypted information to another person, we need to receive their public key too. In the following example we have received a file, called susans-public-key, from Susan (email@example.com) and we're going to add her public key to our system. We do this using:
gpg2 --import susans-public-key
At this point we have exchanged public keys with another person. We can now send them a message. Running the following command will encrypt the file secret_file.txt:
gpg2 --encrypt secret_file.txt
The gpg2 program will ask us who to send the file to. We supply the person's e-mail address, firstname.lastname@example.org in this case. We then get back a file called secret_file.txt.asc, which we can send to Susan. As before we can add the --armor flag to get a more e-mail friendly version of the file:
gpg2 --armor --encrypt secret_file.txt
Should we want to output the text to our terminal instead of to a file we can use the --output flag followed by a dash:
gng2 --output - --armor --encrypt secret_file.txt
Last, but not least, we can accept text from one command line program and output the encrypted version. The following encrypts the text "Hello World" and outputs the scrambled version to our console:
echo Hello World | gpg2 --output - --armor --encrypt
One more option we should look at is the "--sign" option. This places the sender's digital signature on the file or text being sent. It's a way to confirm the message is from you and the data hasn't been altered in transit. Package managers often check software archives to make sure they're signed by a recognized developer or build server. To sign a block of text we can run something like:
gpg2 --armor --output scrambled_file --sign --encrypt plain_file.txt
Now that we've looked at a variety of ways to scramble our data we need to consider how to unscramble, or decrypt, an incoming message. In the following example we have received an encrypted file and we want to display its contents in our terminal:
gpg2 --decrypt secret_file
We will be asked for our password, the one we used to create our key pair back in the first step. With our password verified the unscrambled contents of the file will be displayed on the screen and, if the file was signed, gpg2 will tell us who signed the encrypted file. Of course not all files are text and so we may want to write the decrypted data to another file. The following example decrypts a file, confirms the signature is valid and saves the decrypted data to my_plain_file.pdf:
gpg2 --output my_plain_file.pdf --decrypt secret_file
That covers encrypting and decrypting data. If, at some point, you want to get rid of a key, or a pair of keys, you can do so using the --delete-key flag. In the following example we decide we no longer need to send messages to Susan and delete her public key from our records:
gpg2 --delete-key email@example.com
We can also delete our own secret key, though it's very rare we would wish to do so. Deleting our secret key means we will not be able to read encrypted messages sent to us. Likewise, if we have encrypted documents for storage we won't be able to decrypt them in the future. Still, if we're sure we want to destroy our private key we can use this command:
gpg2 --delete-secret-keys firstname.lastname@example.org
All of the above may look complicated and there is a lot of stuff to remember. Luckily we don't have to keep all of this in our heads. The KGpg privacy utility presents all of the above functionality in a simple graphical interface. It allows us to create and manage keys and encrypt or decrypt files. It's very handy to have if we don't want to dive down to the command line. Since there is a GUI tool for all of this functionality you might be wondering why we'd cover the command line version here. Well the gpg2 program is designed to be interactive and work on desktop systems, however Linux distributions tend to ship a second version of the GNU Privacy Guard, gpg (note there's no "2" in the name), which is designed to be non-interactive. This makes it ideal for use in terminals and shell scripts. Take, for example, this mini-script which backs up a directory, encrypts the archive and sends it to a remote server:
tar czf - ~Documents/ | gpg -r email@example.com --output backup.tar.gz --encrypt
In the above example we backup the contents of the Documents directory and encrypt it so that Bob can read the archive later. The file is then securely copied to remote-server.com. Later if we want to restore our documents from the archive we can use:
scp backup.tar.gz remote-server.com:
gpg --output - --decrypt backup.tar.gz | tar xzf -
It's a great way to make sure backups stay secure, even if they're stored on an untrusted server. For more information on the gpg and gpg2 commands, please see the GNU Privacy Guard website.
|Released Last Week
Zorin OS 6 "Lite"
Artyom Zorin has announced the release of Zorin OS 6 "Lite" edition, a Lubuntu-based distribution featuring the lightweight LXDE desktop environment: "The Zorin OS team is proud to finally release Zorin OS 6 Lite, the latest evolution of the Zorin OS Lite series of operating systems, designed specifically for Windows users using old or low-powered hardware. This release is based on Lubuntu 11.10 and uses the LXDE desktop environment to provide one of the fastest and most feature-packed interfaces for low-specification machines. New features and refinements include a more lightweight version of the Software Center which makes it much easier to install applications in Zorin OS Lite and update programs. We also include our innovative Zorin Look Changer, Zorin Internet Browser Manager, Zorin OS Lite Extra Software and other programs from our earlier versions in Zorin OS 6 Lite." Here is the short release announcement.
Legacy OS 4 "Mini"
John Van Gaans has announced the release of Legacy OS 4 "Mini", a Puppy-based desktop Linux distribution designed to run on obsolete Pentium 3/4 personal computers and laptops: "Today sees the release of Legacy OS 4 Mini, an update for TEENpup 2010 Mini Beta. Those updating from TEENpup 2010 Mini will need to save any important documents, music, etc. to an external hard drive or USB stick as a full reinstall is required to update to this new version. This release sees TEENpup 2010 Mini re-branded to Legacy OS 4 Mini. Users now have a choice between Legacy OS 2 (Puppy series 2-based) and Legacy OS 4 Mini (Puppy series 4-based) depending on hardware requirements. Legacy OS is a Linux distribution designed to run on obsolete legacy hardware. A user should be able to bring back to life a PC or laptop running a Pentium 3 or 4 processor." Read the remainder of the release announcement for further details, screenshots and relevant links.
Legacy OS 4 "Mini" - a Puppy-based distribution for older computers
(full image size: 1,385kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
VectorLinux 7.0 "Light"
Robert Lange has announced the release of VectorLinux 7.0 "Light" edition, a desktop distribution featuring four lightweight desktop configurations with JWM, IceWM, Openbox and LXDE: "VectorLinux 7.0 Light is completed and released. The term 'Light' is relative. This 4-in-1 edition gives you the choice of several window managers, in progressively heavier configurations. These are layered on top of the VectorLinux 7.0 Standard base, so the expected libraries, toolkits, compilers and codecs remain available. For those who want a starting point for their own customized desktop, there is the 'Barebone' option. It is managed by the super-lightweight JWM, without much fluff. Netsurf, a small and speedy web browser, gives you access to the power of the Internet. Use the included build tools and package manager to download and install the programs of your choice. This configuration has been tested on a Pentium 3 with 128 MB of memory." Read the rest of the release announcement to learn more about the available options.
Bodhi Linux 1.4.0
Jeff Hoogland has announced the release of Bodhi Linux 1.4.0, an Ubuntu-based distribution featuring the latest build of the Enlightenment 17 window manager: "The end of March is approaching and that means our first quarter update release is here. As is the case with all our update releases packages are fairly fresh. Enlightenment has been built from a fresh SVN pull from March 20th and the default Midori browser has been updated to the latest release. A more current build of the Linux kernel is in use as well; we are using the 3.2.0-19 build from upstream Ubuntu sources this release. Beyond that you will find current versions of other non-default software in our repositories including Firefox 11, Chromium 17 and LibreOffice 3.5 A new feature this live CD sports is the ability to boot fully into system memory (RAM)." Read the complete release announcement for further notes on new features and a few screenshots.
Pear OS 4
Pear OS 4, a new version of the Ubuntu-based Linux distribution of many names, including Pear Linux or Comice OS, has been released: "Comice OS 4 - available now. New features at a glance: Comice OS Shell, Pear Appstore, Skype, LibreOffice. Pear Appstore is one of the most highlighted applications of Comice OS. Installing new application is just an one-click thing. It supports parallel downloading, resuming downloads, update notification and cache cleaning. Comice Shell is a modification of GNOME Shell according to visions of Pear Linux. Mission Control allows you to view running applications and the various workspaces used. Click the Launchpad icon in your dock and your open windows fade away, replaced by a view of all the applications on your PC. Each application is represented by an icon, and Launchpad creates as many pages of application icons as you need." See the release announcement and the features page for more information.
Pear OS 4 - a new stable version of the Ubuntu-based distribution
(full image size: 1,132kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Parted Magic 2012_3_24
Patrick Verner has announced the release of Parted Magic 2012_3_24, an bug-fix update to the project's specialist live CD with tools for disk management and data rescue tasks: "Parted Magic 2012_3_24. This version fixes more issues related to BusyBox/Clonezilla interaction and updates a mess of X.Org drivers. The BusyBox applets stat and ls no longer worked with Clonzilla. If you find any more issues, let me know. X.Org drivers Nouveau-git, xf86-input-keyboard 1.6.1, xf86-video-openchrome 0.2.905, xf86-video-wsfb 0.4.0, xf86-video-glint 1.2.7, xf86-video-modesetting 0.2.0, and xf86-video-vmware 11.99.901 were updated. Programs bar 1.11.1 and md5deep 4.1 were added. Improvements were made to pmagic_shred_zero, pmagic_wipe, pmagic_wipe_part and pmagic_erase. The other noticeable upgrades are Linux kernel 3.2.13, Firefox 11.0, nwipe 0.08, and e2fsprogs 1.42.1. LVM partitions now mount correctly when using Mount Partitions." The release announcement is on the distribution's news page.
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
New distributions added to database
* * * * *
New distributions added to waiting list
- Emmabuntüs. Emmabuntüs is an Ubuntu remix for the desktop with some non-free software applications (Flash, media codecs and Skype) and a dockbar.
- Linuxfx OS. Linuxfx OS is an Ubuntu-based Brazilian distribution with the latest KDE desktop and a recent Linux kernel.
- ShilaOS. ShilaOS is an Ubuntu remix with a theme dedicated to Shila Amzah, a popular Malaysian singer.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 2 April 2012.
Jesse Smith and Ladislav Bodnar
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|Linux Foundation Training
|• 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|
|• Issue 733 (2017-10-09): KaOS 2017.09, 32-bit prematurely obsoleted, Qubes security features, IPFire updates Apache|
|• Issue 732 (2017-10-02): ClonOS, reducing Snap package size, Ubuntu dropping 32-bit Desktop, partitioning disks for ZFS|
|• Issue 731 (2017-09-25): BackSlash Linux Olaf, W3C adding DRM to web standards, Wayland support arrives in Mir, Debian experimenting with AppArmor|
|• Issue 730 (2017-09-18): Mageia 6, running a completely free OS, HAMMER2 file system in DragonFly BSD's installer, Manjaro to ship pre-installed on laptops|
|• Issue 729 (2017-09-11): Parabola GNU/Linux-libre, running Plex Media Server on a Raspberry Pi, Tails feature roadmap, a cross-platform ports build system|
|• Issue 728 (2017-09-04): Nitrux 1.0.2, SUSE creates new community repository, remote desktop tools for GNOME on Wayland, using Void source packages|
|• Issue 727 (2017-08-28): Cucumber Linux 1.0, using Flatpak vs Snap, GNOME previews Settings panel, SUSE reaffirms commitment to Btrfs|
|• Issue 726 (2017-08-21): Redcore Linux 1706, Solus adds Snap support, KaOS getting hardened kernel, rolling releases and BSD|
|• Issue 725 (2017-08-14): openSUSE 42.3, Debian considers Flatpak for backports, changes coming to Ubuntu 17.10, the state of gaming on Linux|
|• Issue 724 (2017-08-07): SwagArch 2017.06, Myths about Unity, Mir and Ubuntu Touch, Manjaro OpenRC becomes its own distro, Debian debates future of live ISOs|
|• Issue 723 (2017-07-31): UBOS 11, transferring packages between systems, Ubuntu MATE's HUD, GNUstep releases first update in seven years|
|• Issue 722 (2017-07-24): Calculate Linux 17.6, logging sudo usage, Remix OS discontinued, interview with Chris Lamb, Debian 9.1 released|
|• Issue 721 (2017-07-17): Fedora 26, finding source based distributions, installing DragonFly BSD using Orca, Yunit packages ported to Ubuntu 16.04|
|• Issue 720 (2017-07-10): Peppermint OS 8, gathering system information with osquery, new features coming to openSUSE, Tails fixes networking bug|
|• Issue 719 (2017-07-03): Manjaro 17.0.2, tracking ISO files, Ubuntu MATE unveils new features, Qubes tests Admin API, Fedora's Atomic Host gets new life cycle|
|• Issue 718 (2017-06-26): Debian 9, support for older hardware, Debian updates live media, Ubuntu's new networking tool, openSUSE gains MP3 support|
|• Issue 717 (2017-06-19): SharkLinux, combining commands in the shell, Debian 9 flavours released, OpenBSD improving kernel security, UBports releases first OTA update|
|• Issue 716 (2017-06-12): Slackel 7.0, Ubuntu working with GNOME on HiDPI, openSUSE 42.3 using rolling development model, exploring kernel blobs|
|• Issue 715 (2017-06-05): Devuan 1.0.0, answering questions on systemd, Linux Mint plans 18.2 beta, Yunit/Unity 8 ported to Debian|
|• Issue 714 (2017-05-29): Void, enabling Wake-on-LAN, Solus packages KDE, Debian 9 release date, Ubuntu automated bug reports|
|• Issue 713 (2017-05-22): ROSA Fresh R9, Fedora's new networking features, FreeBSD's Quarterly Report, UBports opens app store, Parsix to shut down, SELinux overview|
|• Full list of all issues|
|Random Distribution |
VAST (VIPER Assessment Security Tools)
VAST was a Linux-based security distribution specifically designed for penetration testing VoIP and UC networks. It enables security professionals and UC administrators to rapidly perform VoIP security assessments and enumerate vulnerabilities in IP Phones or IP PBX servers in a lab environment. With VAST, a security consultant has every tool necessary to carry out a successful on-site or remote penetration test or vulnerability assessment against a UC network. VAST was built on Linux Mint and includes all of the open source VIPER Lab tools, in addition to some other network penetration testing tools.