| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 490, 14 January 2013
Welcome to this year's second issue of DistroWatch Weekly! Many of us take this time of year as an opportunity to gaze back at things we have recently experienced and to look ahead at things to come. This week we are going to do both. In our news section we hear the story of Dan Gillmor, a man who decided to migrate to Linux to find out how he feels about his experiment with open source. We also look back at some of the more influential projects of 2012 and what they have brought to the community. Looking ahead we examine what the openSUSE project is doing to make their distribution more relevant to consumers of low-power laptops. In our feature this week Jesse Smith revisits the Manjaro Linux distribution and shares his experiences with the young Arch-based project. Also in this week's edition we bring you news of the Linux community's latest releases and we take a look at a useful application, called Able2Extract, which has just been ported to Linux. Plus, we bring you news, reviews and podcasts from around the web. We here at DistroWatch wish you a pleasant week and happy reading!
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (22MB) and MP3 (37MB) formats
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Return to Manjaro Linux 0.8.3
Back in December I wrote an article in which I briefly touched on three different Linux distributions. One of those distributions was Manjaro Linux, a young project based on Arch Linux. At the time I was quickly proceeding through the three projects I had on my list and, when I ran into a dead end early on I decided to cut my losses and move on to the next project on the list. As it turned out, where I had run into problems was not, as I first thought, due to a malfunction, but rather to a misunderstanding of the project's documentation and editions. What I had thought was the project's Xfce edition was, in fact, their net-install disc. Following my review appearing on DistroWatch one of the developers left a comment explaining what had happened and suggesting Manjaro hadn't been given its due consideration. After some reflection, I found I agreed with the developer, my decision to move on was rash. It's one thing to abandon or criticize a project for technical faults, limitations or documentation errors, it is another to criticize a project over a simple misunderstanding. I offer my apologies to the Manjaro developers and community. I hope you will bear with me now as I return to explore this young distribution in greater detail.
As just mentioned, Manjaro Linux is based on Arch Linux and the Manjaro team is focused on making that base easier to set up and use. In particular Manjaro comes with a command line installer which should lower the bar to people wanting to try Arch and experience the K.I.S.S principle. The distro comes in a number of editions, including Xfce, KDE, Cinnamon, MATE and a net-install option. The project's mirrors also contain an ISO for a community contributed Enlightenment edition. Each ISO is offered in 32-bit and 64-bit builds. I opted to try the Xfce edition and the ISO image I downloaded was approximately 780 MB in size.
Booting from the Manjaro Linux media brings us to an Xfce desktop. A dialogue box appears, providing us with the passwords for the regular user and root accounts. The background is a splash of green on black. The desktop is laid out in the traditional fashion with the application menu and task switcher at the bottom of the screen. On the desktop we find icons on the desktop for browsing the file system, opening the project's documentation and for launching the installer. The documentation is clear and fairly detailed. It walks us through performing a basic installation of the distribution. There are also notes included in the documentation relating to package management and keeping our operating system up to date. This local documentation mostly deals with getting started and it is further augmented by the project's Wiki.
Manjaro Linux 0.8.3 - the project's documentation and website
(full image size: 197kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
The Manjaro installer is a series of curses-based menus and prompts, similar in style to Slackware's installer or FreeBSD's. The first question we are asked is whether we would like to use the stable installer or the new installer currently being tested. The latter features some new features, such as Btrfs support. I decided to stick with the stable version of the installer as I didn't plan to set up Btrfs volumes. The stable installer walked me through choosing my time zone from a menu and then confirming the system's clock had the correct time. Next up is partitioning, which is handled using the cfdisk utility. Once we have the disk carved up we are asked which partition we wish to use for swap space and which should be used for the root partition. We are then asked which file system we want to use for the root partition and options include Reiser, JFS, XFS, ext2/3/4 and Btrfs.
The installer then copies its files to the local drive, a process which went quickly, taking less than 15 minutes. With its files copied, the installer walks us through some final configuration steps. We are asked to set a root password and create a regular user account. We are asked for our locale/language and keymap and I found both of the menus asking for the keyboard layout and our language were cryptic, using abbreviations rather than normal, human readable names for languages and keyboards. The last two steps in the install process are installing the GRUB2 boot loader and, if we wish, we are offered a chance to manually edit Manjaro's configuration files in a text editor. After that we can reboot the system and try running Manjaro locally.
Manjaro boots, quite quickly, to a graphical login screen. In fact, Manjaro does just about everything quickly. The system is light and the Xfce desktop is very responsive. The distribution seems designed with the idea it will stay out of the way as much as possible. Should the user wish to do something it seems to be expected the user will find what they need, rather having the system bring things to their attention. This makes for a clean environment, though it also means the onus is on the user to make sure things are running the way they wish and that the system is kept up to date.
Manjaro comes with a fairly small selection of software out of the box. The applications it does include are generally lighter than the mainstream solutions. For instance, we are treated to the Midori web browser and Sylpheed e-mail client. Pidgin and XChat are available for instant messaging. The distro does not include a productivity suite, but there is a menu entry labeled "LibreOffice Installer" and I'll come back to that in a bit. The GNU Image Manipulation Program is included, along with a PDF viewer, the xfburn disc burner and the Xnoise audio player. I found multimedia, such as mp3 files, would play out of the box. We also find some small programs for editing text, handling file archives and simple calculations.
There are a lot of programs for adjusting the Xfce environment, using these we can change the look & feel of the desktop, change system time and make other adjustments. There is a graphical sensor viewer, handy if you want to monitor your machine's temperature. The Qt Designer program is available to us, though Manjaro does not come with any compiler. We are provided with Java and a Flash browser plugin. To help us get on-line the Network Manager utility is installed for us. We are also given two graphical programs for dealing with software packages, which I will touch on in a moment. My one surprise was the lack of any OpenSSH client utilities, which come included with most Linux distributions. Behind the scenes we find the Linux kernel, version 3.4 at time of writing.
There are two graphical applications related to package management included in the Manjaro distribution, the first is called PkgBrowser. This program's window is divided into three sections. The entire left side of the screen is dedicated to setting filters and search parameters that will let us locate software packages, either installed locally or in the repositories. In the upper-right corner of the screen is a list of software which matches our current search parameters. Under this list is a box which contains detailed information on the currently selected package. While PkgBrowser bears a strong resemblance to graphical package managers in other distributions, it doesn't do any software management, it allows us to find software and learn about packages, but it doesn't perform any installations, removals or updates. These tasks are left to the Pacman-GUI utility. Pacman-GUI is a graphical front-end to the pacman package manager. Launching this application brings up a screen with many buttons, each one labeled with an action we can ask of the underlying package manager.
Possible actions include updating our repository information, downloading all available upgrades, searching for a specific package, removing a package or installing a package. Choosing to perform an installation or a removal brings up a prompt asking us for the exact name of the package we want to work with. This is where is comes in handy to have the PkgBrowser window open, we can find software with PkgBrowser and manipulate software with the Pacman-GUI program. As such I came to think of Pacman-GUI not so much as a package manager, but more as a launch point, a way to run pacman jobs without the need to remember the proper syntax. Personally, I suspect once users become accustomed to the way Manjaro handles software they may find working directly with the pacman command line package manager more straight forward, or at least faster. The Manjaro package repositories are smaller than the mainstream Linux distributions. At the time of writing there were approximately 6,000 packages in the default repositories.
Manjaro Linux 0.8.3 - browsing and managing software packages
(full image size: 228kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Earlier I mentioned that Manjaro Linux doesn't come with an office suite, instead providing a launcher for a program which will install LibreOffice. I ran the LibreOffice Installer app and it let me select which components I wanted and which language packs I required. The program then downloaded the requested components and provided me with progress bars showing how far along it was. The installer appeared to complete its tasks cleanly and added LibreOffice launchers to my application menu, However, I was not able to launch any of the LibreOffice applications, any attempt to run them would indicate missing dependencies and the program would close.
The one serious issue I ran into during my trial came in the wake of an update. After several days of smooth use I ran into a problem when, after an update, Manjaro Linux would no longer boot. Attempts at booting in fallback mode or with various kernel parameters failed to get the system to a stage where I could login. Sadly, this signaled an end to my trial and acted as a reminder of the risks in maintaining a rolling release distribution.
Manjaro Linux 0.8.3 - making use of multimedia applications and codecs
(full image size: 199kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
I tried running Manjaro Linux on my desktop machine (dual-core 2.8 GHz CPU, 6 GB of RAM, Radeon video card, Realtek network card) and in a VirtualBox environment. At first I had a little trouble getting Manjaro to run on the physical hardware. I found the system wouldn't boot with the default kernel parameters, nor with "nomodeset" passed to the kernel. The operating system would boot if I insisted on using the non-free video drivers which come on the installation media. Once the boot issue was resolved, Manjaro worked smoothly and desktop performance was quite fast. When running the distribution in a virtual environment I found it booted without any problems and, again, the system was very responsive. Manjaro is light on memory too, requiring only about 160MB of RAM to login to the Xfce desktop.
The project's website states that Manjaro Linux is designed with the hope of bridging the gap between do-it-yourself distributions such as Arch and convenient out-of-the-box solutions such as Linux Mint. In my opinion that is a very long bridge. There is a big chasm between "just works" and doing everything manually. Manjaro, while it may be drawing inspiration from both ends of the spectrum, ends up closer to the Arch side than the Mint side of the divide. The basic installer with its many steps and required knowledge, the somewhat awkward package management and the small collection of default packages all seem to be geared toward experienced Linux users. Still, there are conveniences, such as having working multimedia support out of the box, a cleanly configured Xfce desktop and the optional use of non-free drivers. I suspect people who like Arch and want to get the system up and running quickly will appreciate Manjaro, also people who want a lightweight operating system and don't mind a rolling release model may like what Manjaro has to offer. At the moment I feel the young project would benefit from a graphical installer (or a streamlined text installer) and a more modern package manager, but otherwise the technology in place and the documentation available look promising.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
Migrating to Ubuntu, running openSUSE on a Chromebook and a look at influential open source projects.
For well over a decade now the question has raged back and forth as to whether Linux is ready for desktop use. The answer, of course, depends entirely on whose desktop we are talking about. Everybody has different needs, people have different levels of comfort with new technology and users run different applications. Dan Gillmor over at The Guardian decided to swap out his proprietary platforms for open source software to see what would happen. He traded his Mac desktop for Ubuntu and moved to using Android on his tablet and phone. He says, of the switch to Ubuntu, "For a month or so, I was at sea -- making keystroke errors and missing a few Mac applications on which I'd come to rely. But I found Linux software that worked at least well enough, and sometimes better than Mac or Windows counterparts. And one day I realized that my fingers and brain had fully adjusted to the new system; now I'm a bit confused when I use a Mac."
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According to a recent ZDnet article Amazon's top selling laptop runs a flavour of Linux. By default the Samsung Chromebook runs a stripped down operating system with the Linux kernel at its core. However, the enterprising engineers in the openSUSE community saw an opportunity to make the most out of the device and ported openSUSE 12.2 to run on the Chromebook. The small device is able to run the Xfce desktop and the ported version of openSUSE supports wireless networking. "... a small team of SUSE engineers and openSUSE community members have been working on supporting the ARM Chromebook with openSUSE, and can now report their first success: a `mostly working' openSUSE 12.2 image that you can boot from (using a USB stick so the stock image is left untouched). This image already includes a usable Xfce desktop."
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The start of a new year is a good time to take stock of what we have, where we came from and, possibly, where we are going. In that vein Carla Schroder has put together a quick look at some of the open source projects she feels are important and have made their influence felt over the past twelve months. She covers Linux distributions, hardware and file systems that have made an impact on the open source landscape. "There are literally hundreds of important and useful Linux projects to choose from. Linux Mint is a beautiful polished distro with one of the best Xfce implementations. Automotive Linux is red-hot, Valve Software is rolling out games to Linux, the Linux kernel continues its amazing success as the ultimate general-purpose operating system kernel of all time, the wealth of high-quality multimedia and artistic programs continues to grow, big distributed science and research projects, supercomputing, mobile, and everything in between." We hope you will chime in with your favourite open source project in the comments section below.
|Statistics (by Ladislav Bodnar)
OSDisc.com orders in 2011 and 2012
Measuring the popularity of Linux distribution is not an easy task. While some data, such as our Page Hit Ranking statistics, Google trends, online polls and download counts can give some indications as to what users of free operating system prefer, each of these data sets has its flaws and larger than acceptable margin of error. To add to the mix of available statistics, here is another piece of information, this time from OSDisc.com. OSDisc.com is a popular online store selling CDs, DVDs and USB storage devices with free operating systems. The site owners were kind enough to compile their sales data for the past two years and these are summarised below. The third column of each table represents the percentage of each distribution's share of the total number of sales made by OSDisc.com for the specified period.
Although Ubuntu remains the most wanted distribution among the OSDisc.com customers, it's interesting to note that some of the projects often considered as good alternatives to Ubuntu, have dramatically increased their market share. Linux Mint is now just a stone's throw away from Canonical's flagship product, while Xubuntu, Lubuntu and Zorin OS have also recorded noticeable spikes in interest. Mageia, the "number two" distribution in terms of DistroWatch's page hit stats, has appeared in OSDisc.com statistics for the first time, replacing Mandriva Linux which is no longer present. As is always the case with this CD/DVD vendor, many utility projects, such as Trinity Rescue Kit, SystemRescueCd or Parted Magic tend to get a surprisingly large number of orders.
|Software Review (by Jesse Smith)
Able2Extract 8.0 from InvestInTech.com
It happens so frequently I can almost perform both sides of the conversation in my sleep. Someone (a client, a family member, a friend) calls and tells me they have received a document via e-mail. They have to make edits and send it back, but they can't figure out how to make changes to the attached document. The received file is a PDF document and, inevitably, the person calling doesn't have a copy of Adobe Acrobat, Foxit's editor or converter software. They may be able to copy & paste the document's text into their productivity software, but the formatting is going to suffer in an awful way. The issue is sometimes complicated further depending on the operating system the caller is using.
It is for situations like the one above that Able2Extract was created. The Able2Extract software was developed by Investintech, a company based in Canada that specializes in dealing with PDF documents. Up until recently Able2Extract was developed exclusively for the Windows platform, but version 8.0 has been ported to both OS X and Linux. The Linux edition is supported on Fedora (version 15 and newer) and Ubuntu (10.04 and newer). The software is proprietary and offered in both Deb and RPM package formats. I downloaded the Debian package, which is 22MB in size and will run on both 32-bit and 64-bit systems. Installing the package places Able2Extract's binary files, libraries and documentation in the /opt directory. The program's icon is added to our application menu under the "Office" category.
Launching Able2Extract brings up a screen with the software's license agreement. We are then informed the program may be used for a week for free as a trial. Following that week further use will require a license key. With the preliminaries out of the way we are brought to an empty document viewer which looks much like other PDF viewers such as Adobe Reader, Okular or Evince. The Able2Extract software pops up a tip showing us how to get started by opening a file. Once we open a PDF file the software will display similar tips to help us through the process of converting the document into a different format.
Over the course of my trial I opened many PDF documents. Some were entirely embedded images, some were complex manuals with pictures and text, others were solely text in a simple format and some were carefully crafted text documents with a very particular formatting. A couple were small, just a single page, others were over 1,000 pages in length. With a single exception all of the PDF files opened and displayed without any problem, just as they would in other document viewers. (The one exception to my successful experiences opened, but didn't format properly and displayed a handful of extra blank pages.) Now we get to the interesting part, converting a PDF document into another format. Able2Extract supports a range of target formats. Any PDF we open can be converted into an image, an AutoCAD file, an HTML document, or various OpenOffice/LibreOffice formats. Specifically Able2Extract will support exporting files in Writer, Calc and Impress formats. Microsoft Office 2007 formats are also supported and we can save our exported files as Word, Excel or PowerPoint documents. Our destination format can be selected with the click of a button at the top of the application's window.
Able2Extract 8.0 - selecting the output format
(full image size: 355kB, screen resolution 1280x1000 pixels)
For each document type we have the option of extracting the entire contents of the PDF file or a selection of the file defined by drawing a box around the desired area with our mouse pointer. During my experiment with Able2Extract I tried exporting files into all of the possible formats and found it worked smoothly and, usually, quickly. The process is always straight forward: open a document, click the "select all" button, hit the icon for the output format and choose a file name for the new file. It's all pleasantly simple. The only issue I ran into was when I tried creating image files from the source PDF document. When the conversion process completed Able2Extract would display an error saying the destination file, the image I wanted to create, didn't exist. However, the image file would be created and the contents would correctly mirror the original PDF. I suspect the error message is a leftover debug message and can be safely ignored. One feature of Able2Extract I especially enjoyed was the way in which it would allow me to customize the formatting of spreadsheet files.
We can do things like manually adjust the size of data cells and change headers & footers. We can also create or destroy tables to further customize how Able2Extract interprets the data in the source PDF file. All of the exports I performed to OpenOffice/LibreOffice formats worked very well and I had no complaints with the resulting documents. When exporting to MS-Office files I sometimes ran into formatting issues, but I suspect this is due to my opening the MS-Office documents in LibreOffice. In other words, I think my formatting issues were a result of LibreOffice not properly interpreting the alien format, rather than Able2Extract's formatting instructions. At time of writing I haven't had the chance to open any of my newly created files in MS-Office to confirm this.
A very handy feature of Able2Extract is its batch job utility. Clicking the Batch icon on the application's menu bar brings up a window where we can queue multiple files, select a desired output format and just leave Able2Extract to process the entire list. If you have ever walked into an office that has thousands of documents they want converted from PDF to a word processing format you will appreciate just how welcome this set-and-forget feature is. I ran the batch process on a directory of manuals and books, all of which were properly copied and converted.
Able2Extract 8.0 - setting up a batch job
(full image size: 57kB, screen resolution 1280x1000 pixels)
The one area where Able2Extract didn't perform as I had hoped was when I asked it to open a PDF file containing an image which in turn contained text. Basically I see this as a worst case scenario, where a person has e-mailed over a file that is all "text", but the text is actually one giant image. To its credit, Able2Extract immediately figured out what I had opened and displayed a tip window letting me know it had detected the text-filled image. I was asked to read some documentation on the subject and told that, as this was a special case, to extract the text I would have to download Able2Extract Pro which contains optical character recognition (OCR) technology. As the Pro version is offered with a free one-week trial, I gave it a try. The Pro version of Able2Extract runs on all supported platforms (Linux, OS X and Windows) and I had no trouble installing the Pro software alongside the basic version. I ran two images containing text through the Pro version of Able2Extract. One was a small image containing only black-on-white text I had created for the purpose of my experiment and the other was a PDF copy of a business card which was dominated by an image containing text. In both cases the software appeared to work for a few seconds and then locked up. No output was created in either case.
Able2Extract 8.0 - customizing spreadsheet layout
(full image size: 258kB, screen resolution 1280x1000 pixels)
Overall I was happy with Able2Extract. Aside from my worst case scenario mentioned above, the program performed very well. It handled a wide variety of PDF files of all sizes and it was able to consistently and cleanly export data to all supported formats. Able2Extract works well as both a document viewer and as a converter and features a beautifully simple interface. Speaking of the interface, Able2Extract is put together with the Qt framework which makes for a native-looking port. It may sound like a small thing, but I see a lot of programs which don't blend in when moved to a different operating system or even a different desktop environment. I like that Able2Extract looks as though it belongs on my desktop. Mostly I was taken with the batch converter utility. Often where there is one PDF document waiting to be edited, there are dozens more. The batch utility will save people like myself a good deal of time.
The basic edition of Able2Extract is free to try for a week and can be purchased for $99.85 (I believe the price is in Canadian dollars) and the "Pro" version I mentioned above costs $129.95. Volume licensing is available for organizations. The cost of Able2Extract puts the price tag approximately on even footing with Foxit and makes it much more financially attractive than Adobe Acrobat. The fact that Able2Extract is a cross-platform solution also gives it a strong advantage over its closest competitors.
|Released Last Week
Lee Ward has announced the release of Fuduntu 2013.1, a new build of the rolling-release distribution which features GNOME 2 as its default desktop: "Fuduntu 2013.1 released. For those with hardware that use proprietary drivers, one of the first things that will be noticed after install is Jockey, the program that checks hardware and presents the user with the proprietary driver(s) needed. An example of this would be graphics drivers for NVIDIA and AMD cards. Since we're on the topic of installation, we would like to point out that, by default, sudo is now enabled for all new installs. Another noticeable thing will be the new dock. Unfortunately, AWN is no longer being maintained upstream and there are several bugs that have been left open. In addition, AWN will no longer build against the latest glib. After much discussion, the team decided to migrate to the Cairo dock. This is now installed by default." Read the detailed release announcement for a complete list of new features.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.9
The legacy 5.x branch of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) has moved to version 5.9, incorporating all recent feature and security updates: "Red Hat, Inc. today announced the next minor release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.9. This release marks the beginning of Production Phase 2 of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 and demonstrates the company's continuing effort to promote stability and the preservation of customers' investments in the platform. It maintains Red Hat's commitment to a 10-year life cycle through the introduction of several new features, including hardware enablement, security, standards and certifications, developer tools, virtualization, and more. As with all minor releases, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.9 maintains backwards compatibility with hardware and software platforms across the life cycle of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5." See the press release and the detailed release notes for more information.
OS4 13.2 "OpenDesktop"
Roberto Dohnert has announced the release of OS4 13.2 "OpenDesktop" edition, an Ubuntu-based Linux distribution with a customised Xfce desktop: "Today we are pleased to announce the release of OS4 OpenDesktop 13.2. This release brings a long-awaited update to our next-generation desktop operating system platform. With this release we have also refreshed our pre-installed hardware line. Some of the advancements brought to OpenDesktop 13.2 are: Linux kernel 3.2, the 3.5 kernel is still available in the repositories; Thunar 1.6.3; Fogger for creating we-based desktop applications; parental controls; support for Kindle Fire, Kindle Fire HD and Nook-based tablets; a new system profiler and benchmark utility. It also brings updates to applications and device drivers as well as bug fixes in the kernel itself." Read the full release announcement for additional information.
Michael Creel has announced the release of PelicanHPC 2.9, a Debian-based live DVD that makes it possible to set up high-performance computing clusters in minutes: "PelicanHPC version 2.9 is available. Octave 3.6.3, dynare 4.3.1, some updates to the econometrics stuff, and also the usual sync to Debian. This release is mainly to incorporate package updates from Debian. A note: PelicanHPC is based on Debian stable ('Squeeze'), and is made using live-build v2.x. Before too long, the testing version of Debian ('Wheezy') will become stable. To make live images with 'Wheezy', you need to use live-build v3.x. The build script for PelicanHPC will need to be adapted to use live-build 3.x. I doubt that I will have time/interest to do that, so if anyone would like to take on the job, feel free to go for it." Visit the distribution's home page to read the brief release announcement.
Version 0.16 of Tails (The Amnesic Incognito Live System), a Debian-based distribution with strong privacy and anonymity features while browsing the world wide web, has been released: "Tails, The Amnesic Incognito Live System, version 0.16, is out. All users must upgrade as soon as possible. Notable user-visible changes include: replace the too-easy-to-misclick shut-down button with a better 'Shutdown Helper' applet; display ~/Persistent in GNOME Places and GTK+ file chooser; install dictionaries for a few languages; set Unsafe Browser's window title to 'Unsafe Browser'; install ekeyd to support the EntropyKey; install font for Sinhala script; update Poedit to 1.5.4; expose Vidalia's 'broken onion' icon less; hide the persistence setup launchers in kiosk mode; disable IPv6 on all network interfaces - this is a workaround for the IPv6 link-local multicast leak that was recently discovered...." Read the full release announcement for a complete list of changes and bug fixes.
Untangle Gateway 9.4
Untangle, Inc. has announced the release of Untangle Gateway 9.4, a new version of the Debian-based network gateway with pluggable modules for network applications: "Untangle, Inc., a network software and appliance company, today announced the release of Untangle 9.4, the latest version of its award-winning multi-function firewall software. Untangle 9.4 includes a new Captive Portal as well as a new Host Table and improvements to Session Viewer. Captive Portal receives an entirely new implementation in Untangle 9.4. Captive Portal's role in Untangle's offering is growing more important in several key markets including hospitality and retail alongside established verticals like education and small/medium business. Despite adding new features and functionality to Captive Portal, Untangle has also made it simpler and easier to maintain. Captive Portal is now part of Untangle's Integrated Rules Engine (IRE) and can address critical use cases frequently requested by customers." Here is the full press release.
Slackel 1.0 "Openbox"
Dimitris Tzemos has announced the release of Slackel 1.0 "Openbox" edition, a lightweight desktop Linux distribution based on Slackware's "Current" branch: "Slackel Openbox 1.0 has been released. A collection of two Openbox ISO images are immediately available, including 32-bit and 64-bit installation images. Slackel Openbox 1.0 includes the 'Current' tree of Slackware and Openbox 3.5.0 accompanied by a very rich collection of software. Linux kernel is 3.7.1. The Midori 0.4.7 web browser, Claws-Mail 3.8.1 and Transmission are the main networking applications included in this release. SpaceFM is the file manager. It comes also with OpenJDK 7u9, Rhino, IcedTea-Web, Pidgin and gFTP. Wicd is used for setting up your wired or wireless networking connections. In the multimedia section Whaaw! Media Player is the default movie player, Exaile 3.3.0 is the application to use for managing your music collection and more." The release announcement.
Pear Linux 6.1
David Tavares has announced the release of Pear Linux 6.1, an Ubuntu remix with a simple but beautiful user interface (a customised GNOME 3) and out-of-the-box support for many popular multimedia codecs: "I am pleased to announce the release of Pear Linux 6.1. Pear Linux 6.1 builds on top of our popular previous release of Pear Linux 6 with newly updated software. As Pear Linux 6.1 is based on Ubuntu 12.04.1 it is an LTS (Long-Term Support) release, provided with 5 years of security updates. New software: Pear PPA Manager, Pear Cleaner; software updated, kernel updated. Users who already have Pear Linux 6 installed do not need to get Pear Linux 6.1. All the aforementioned updates and improvements in 6.1 will be applied by installing the latest updates from the Update Manager available this week." Here is the brief release announcement.
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
|Around the Web
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New distributions added to waiting list|
- ArchE17. ArchE17 is a Linux distribution based on Arch Linux equipped with the Liquorix kernel, Yaourt, and, as the name implies, the recently released stable Enlightenment 0.17 desktop environment. ArchE17 will be released weekly as a rolling-release live CD that is designed to run off a standard CD or USB drive.
- Haze OS. Haze OS aims to provide the safest, fastest, easiest and the best out-of-the box solution for your desktop or netbook computers. It is based on Ubuntu. It's completely free and open-source.
- ubermix. Ubermix is a free, specially-built, Ubuntu-based Linux distribution designed with the needs of education in mind. Built by educators with an eye towards student and teacher empowerment, ubermix takes all the complexity out of student devices by making them as reliable and easy-to-use as a cell phone, without sacrificing the power and capabilities of a full operating system. With a turn-key, 5-minute installation, 20-second quick recovery mechanism, and more than 60 free applications pre-installed, ubermix turns whatever hardware you have into a powerful device for learning.
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DistroWatch database summary
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This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 21 January 2013. To contact the authors please send email to:
- Jesse Smith (feedback, questions and suggestions: distribution reviews, questions and answers, tips and tricks)
- Ladislav Bodnar (feedback, questions, suggestions and corrections: news, donations, distribution submissions, comments)
- Bruce Patterson (feedback and suggestions: podcast edition)
|Linux Foundation Training
|• Issue 843 (2019-12-02): Obarun 2019.11.02, Bluestar 5.3.6, using special characters on the command line, Fedora plans to disable empty passwords, FreeBSD's quarterly status report|
|• Issue 842 (2019-11-25): SolydXK 10, System Adminstration Ethics book review, Debian continues init diversity debate, Google upstreaming Android kernel patches|
|• Issue 841 (2019-11-18): Emmabuntus DE3-1.00, changing keys in 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|
|• Full list of all issues|
Star Labs - Laptops built for Linux.
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Webconverger is a live, Debian-based web kiosk. It is designed for deployments in places like offices or Internet cafés where only web applications are used. Webconverger maintains a proprietary fault tolerant configuration service with email support to help deploy Webconverger en masse. The service is optional.