| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 496, 25 February 2013
Welcome to this year's 8th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! Chakra GNU/Linux is, without doubt, one of the best KDE-centric distributions available today. Always up-to-date and, unlike many other projects these days, focusing strictly on one desktop only, Chakra has matured to the point that it can be recommended to even a novice Linux user. So is the distribution's latest release featuring the brand-new KDE 4.10 the best ever? Read below Jesse Smith's detailed review to find out. In the news section, Ubuntu leader responds to concerns and criticisms over the distribution's privacy (or lack thereof) issues, Mageia finally fixes a long-standing kernel upgrade bug, PC-BSD rolls out its first-ever release with a rolling-release update model, and FreeBSD developer compares FreeNAS with NAS4Free in search for a perfect BSD-based Network-Attached Storage (NAS) solution. Also in this issue, a link to a Linux distro guide by The Register, a review of "The Book of GIMP" from No Starch Press, and the usual regular sections including a summary of last week's distribution releases. Happy reading!
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (27MB) and MP3 (45MB) formats
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Review of Chakra GNU/Linux 2013.02
Chakra GNU/Linux is a Linux distribution with a focus on desktop computing. Originally based on Arch Linux, Chakra has forked away and now maintains its own packages and repositories. There are two things which set Chakra apart from most other Linux distributions. The first is that Chakra attempts to provide a pure KDE/Qt environment. While most distributions feature libraries for many toolkits and desktop environments, Chakra keeps an exclusive focus on KDE. Applications which rely on toolkits other than Qt can be installed as an application bundle. These bundles are large packages which contain all of the application's dependencies and these bundles can be isolated from the rest of the software on the system. This means if we want to run programs such as Firefox or Filezilla we need to download those software bundles through a separate package manager. The second feature which sets Chakra apart is that the base of the distribution stays relatively stable while end-user applications receive regular updates. This, in theory, gives us a stable base which shouldn't break while providing us with the latest versions of desktop applications. Chakra may be considered a semi-rolling release with this mixed approach to updates.
It hasn't been all that long since I last covered Chakra GNU/Linux and I didn't really expect many changes in the distribution itself. My main reason for trying the new Chakra release was to test drive some of the software which comes with it. Specifically I wanted to try KDE 4.10 which boasts several speed improvements and a complete re-write of the desktop indexing feature. I also wanted to try MariaDB, which is a drop-in replacement for MySQL that attempts to create a more open version of the MySQL database software.
Chakra GNU/Linux 2013.02 - the welcome widget and documentation
(full image size: 646kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Installation and first impressions
The Chakra GNU/Linux distribution is available as a 1.6 GB download. I found the distribution is available only in a single edition and the only supported architecture is 64-bit x86. Booting from the supplied image brings us to the KDE desktop interface. On the desktop is a welcome widget which provides links to documentation, release notes and links to the project's website. The welcome widget will also let us launch the distribution's graphical system installer. Chakra's installer has improved rapidly and the latest version feels polished and the interface is pleasant. Down the left side of the window we are shown the steps the installer will go through. On the right we are shown instructions and asked questions. The installer begins by showing us the project's release notes and then we are asked to confirm our keyboard layout. Next we are shown a map of the world and asked to click on our location. Doing this causes the installer to guess at our time zone and preferred language.
We can override the guesses if the installer's assumptions are wrong. The following screen asks us to set a password for the root account and we are given the option to create user accounts, as many as we want. I found that all users created at this time using the installer are granted admin access to the system via the "sudo" command. This means regular accounts, ones which will not require admin access, should be created after the installation is finished. Arranging partitions is handled by the KDE Partition Manager, which allows us to create standard partitions and most traditional file systems are supported. Once we have divided up the disk the installer resumes control and asks us to assign mount points. By default the installer does not format partitions (which is good as it avoids accidentally erasing data) and the installer reminds us that formatting the root partition is recommended. From there the installer copies its files to the hard drive and we can take a break.
Once Chakra's files have been installed locally we are given a chance to customize the installation. We can choose whether to install the GRUB2 boot loader, add support for external devices at boot time (the default configuration should work fine for most people) and we can opt to download software bundles. We will talk about bundles more in a bit, but for now I decided to download the Firefox bundle. Once Firefox downloaded and I indicated I didn't require additional bundles the installer announced it was finished and I was asked to reboot the system.
Chakra GNU/Linux boots to a plain, grey graphical login screen. Signing into my account I was greeted by a graphical wizard which offers to run us through some customization steps. For example, we are asked which common folders we would like to have included in our home directory (Documents, Downloads, Videos, Music and Images are available). The next page asks whether we want to single-click or double-click to open files and folders and whether we use our mouse left-handed or right-handed. This option to change the mouse's behaviour is an interesting accessibility convenience which I do not believe I've ever seen done during the initial login before and I think it's a nice touch, especially for left-handed people. The follow page asks which desktop theme we would like to use and previews of each theme are displayed, this lets us start with the best look for us. We're also asked if we would like to set up our desktop to act like a folder (the way KDE3 worked) or we can use the modern Plasma style of desktop (which is KDE4's default).
Moving further into the configuration wizard we are asked which style of application menu we want, and we can choose between Kickoff, Classic, Lancelot and Homerun, each of which comes with a preview so we know what we are getting into. Then we can choose which of the available wallpapers to use. It was after selecting my favourite wallpaper that I found the configuration steps went from pleasantly convenient to unusually detailed and counter-productive. For example, we are asked whether we want to add a profile picture to our user account, then how frequently the system should check for updates (with the default set to every 15 minutes). Another screen asks if the CUPS printer management software should be enabled and if we want to enable Bluetooth support at boot time. Another page offers to enable the firewall and/or install Clam anti-virus software. These steps strike me as things which new users shouldn't have to consider and it really pads out the time required to get from the login screen to a working desktop environment. At the end the wizard offers to show us guides and manuals for working with Chakra in general and KDE in particular and then the wizard disappears, leaving us at our newly customized desktop.
My first impression of the Chakra desktop was that it was very responsive. KDE provided a polished interface which performed very well. Desktop effects and indexing were enabled by default and I found these features didn't have any negative impact on the system's performance. On the desktop I found an icon for launching Firefox (the bundle which I had downloaded at install time). All of the settings I had selected during the configuration steps mentioned above were correctly applied and so I started with the desktop environment arranged the way I wanted it and I didn't need to dig into the KDE System Settings panel to change anything.
Shortly after logging in a notification appeared in the lower-right corner of my screen letting me know software updates were available in the repositories. This message was accompanied by a command I could run in a virtual terminal to upgrade the system. Chakra, like its parent, uses the pacman package manager to handle updates along with installing and removing software. At the time of writing the Chakra developers are working on a graphical package manager, but for now users need to transition to the command line to manage software packages. Or at least packages which can be found in the main repositories. Apart from the regular software repositories, Chakra also provides a small collection of bundles.
A bundle is a piece of software which is packaged with its dependencies, making for a large, self-contained download. These bundles are handled by a graphical application which has a very simple interface. The bundle manager shows us a list of available bundles in alphabetical order. Clicking a button next to a bundle's name causes it to download and install. Once the bundle is installed, its entry moves to the top of the manager's list and we can either remove or launch the bundle with the click of a button. A bundle which has been installed on the system places its launcher icon in our application menu. The bundles provided are usually applications created with the GTK+ software and include such popular titles as Firefox, Filezilla, GIMP and Chromium. These bundles are kept up to date and I found the latest version of each application was usually available. The only problem I encountered while using the bundle manager was that attempting to launch a newly installed program would cause the manager to crash. This was especially unfortunate if a download was in progress as the download would have to be restarted, the bundle manager does not support resuming downloads if it is interrupted.
Chakra GNU/Linux 2013.02 - adjusting settings and installing bundles
(full image size: 909kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Chakra GNU/Linux comes with a large collection of software, most of which fits into the distribution's KDE/Qt focus. For example, the web browser we are given is Rekonq, Calligra is the default office suite, in the application menu's Development sub-section we find Qt Designer. The Okular document viewer is included, along with KPPP for dial-up networking and Network Manager for high-speed connections. The Marble desktop globe software is included as are several links to key parts of the Chakra project's website. The Amarok audio player and the Dragon video player are included. The k3b disc burner software is installed for us and Kdenlive is provided for editing video files. The KDE System Settings control panel is available to us, along with the Kinfocentre which provides information on our system and its hardware. The KDE Partition Manager is installed for us as is the KUser account manager. A program called miniBackup lets us make copies of our settings, program configurations and security keys. We're provided with the Yakuake drop-down virtual terminal, the KGpg encryption software, a text editor and archive manager. The KDE help files are installed for us and there is a convenient "find files" utility. Popular multimedia codecs are supplied for us and the GNU Compiler Collection is installed on the system. I found the Rekonq web browser wouldn't work with websites requiring Flash, however when I installed the Firefox bundle I found it automatically enabled Flash support. Behind the scenes Chakra comes with the Linux kernel, version 3.7.
Hardware and system configuration
I ran Chakra GNU/Linux on my desktop machine (dual-core 2.8 GHz CPU, 6 GB of RAM, Radeon video card, Realtek network card) and found the distribution worked very well on this hardware. Boot times were brief and the desktop was responsive. I found sound worked out of the box and my display was set to its maximum resolution. I also tried running Chakra in a VirtualBox virtual machine and found the same excellent performance in the virtual environment. Chakra uses more RAM than most distributions I've tried as logging into the desktop used around 410MB of memory. Two of the larger memory users were a database process (the database appears to be used for the Akonadi service) and systemd, the young init technology slowly making its way through the Linux ecosystem. I'd never bothered to compare systemd's resource usage against other init systems prior to this week, but I had the opportunity while using Chakra. I found systemd running on Chakra used approximately 50% more memory than Upstart running on Ubuntu.
Chakra GNU/Linux 2013.02 - running various desktop applications
(full image size: 780kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Earlier I mentioned the main reason I downloaded the latest release of Chakra was to get first-hand experience with KDE 4.10 and MariaDB. Let's look at KDE first. Right away I noticed a speed improvement with KDE 4.10 compared to the 4.8 and 4.9 releases. Bringing up menus and launching applications felt faster. Usually the first thing I do when trying a new KDE-centric distribution is disable file indexing as I find it has a serious impact on performance. However, this time I left file indexing turned on and KDE was still faster than ever. The same goes for enabling desktop effects. I have lower-end video cards in my personal machines and enabling desktop effects tends to make for a sluggish environment. Not so in this case, I spent the entire week with effects enabled and indexing turned on and found the desktop was more responsive than KDE 4.8 had been with these features disabled. Maybe it was the theme I was using, but I felt the graphics look sharper on Chakra 2013.02 than I've experienced in previous releases. I didn't experience any KDE-related bugs during the week I was using Chakra. In short, I'm very impressed with the latest KDE release.
MariaDB is a more subtle change as it is background software. I didn't have a chance to do any benchmarks to compare it against MySQL, however I can confirm MariaDB provides a good drop-in replacement. I copied a MySQL database from another machine and created a user account in MariaDB to see how it would work. MariaDB worked exactly like MySQL. In fact, without the MariaDB name displayed in some of the configuration files I probably wouldn't have known I wasn't using the MySQL brand. I would say the transition from one database to the other by the Chakra developers has been a success.
For the most part I was happy with this release of Chakra. The distribution was stable, it played well with my hardware and the collection of modern software -- especially the KDE desktop -- was welcome. The distribution includes a lot of functionality out of the box and I like the organization of the distribution's application menu. The installer has improved a lot over the past few years, becoming more stable and more attractive. I felt the installer was user friendly and the steps were clear. The one complaint I have about the installer is with regards to the disk partitioning section. Switching to a different application to handle partitions makes for a break in the flow and I hope the developers find a way to integrate disk partitioning in future releases. My only other concern was with regards to software management. I know the Chakra team is currently developing a graphical package manager, but for now they have stuck users with pacman, which is one of the less user-friendly package managers. It works and it is fast, but the command line syntax and output are not appealing, especially when compared next to software such as YUM. The Bundle manager is straight forward enough to use, but it wasn't stable. In short, Chakra is fast, modern and pleasant to look at, but it really needs a beginner friendly package manager.
|Miscellaneous News (by Ladislav Bodnar)
Ubuntu on privacy, Mageia's kernel bug, PC-BSD's first rolling-release image, FreeNAS vs NAS4Free, The Register's Linux distro guide
Ever since the inclusion of the infamous Amazon lens into Ubuntu 12.10 desktop, the project's decision makers has been on the receiving end of criticism from privacy advocates. The good news is that Ubuntu leaders seem to be listening. The question is, are they also willing to address the problem? Muktware's Swapnil Bhartiya summarises some of the recent exchanges in "Mark Shuttleworth Addresses Ubuntu Privacy Issues: Is It Enough?" "Ubuntu faced stiff criticism from bodies like EFF and FSF over the data leak and privacy concern due to the way Dash handles local searches. When Canonical did not respond to suggestions from EFF, Richard Stallman, the creator of free software movement, went ahead and called Ubuntu a spyware for not respecting user's privacy and sending user data to its servers by default. There is some confusion, but the fact is no one (including Richard Stallman) has any problem with Canonical gathering user data and displaying ads when local searches are conducted. The problem is with the way it has been implemented. The feature is turned on by default and users did not even know (they were never informed) that their search queries were being sent to, and stored at, Canonical's servers which are further shared with its partners."
* * * * *
The Mageia developers have recently announced a rather lengthy delay in the development of the upcoming version 3; this in order to give themselves a bit more time to fix the remaining bugs. One of them, a kernel upgrade error which has been plaguing some users of the distribution's current stable version, seems to have been finally squashed. The Inquirer's Egan Orion reports in "Mageia Linux has fixed its kernel upgrade process": "Last autumn I encountered and wrote about a serious glitch in a software maintenance upgrade distributed by Mageia, the popular fork of Mandriva Linux that I've had installed on my desktop PC for about a year. Now the Mageia distribution has permanently resolved that problem. At the time it was a somewhat disconcerting experience, since Linux software maintenance upgrades are relatively frequent events that most often proceed quietly once authorised, and they never fail. Well, almost never. I was able to recover the system without too much difficulty however, so I wrote about how to fix the problem in order to help other Mageia users that also might have encountered the same upgrade error. Recovering from that problem was relatively easy once I had booted another Linux system."
* * * * *
The intention of PC-BSD developers to switch to a rolling-release development model is moving full steam ahead. Last week the first testing images of the "new" PC-BSD appeared on the project's download servers, with additional explanatory notes from Kris Moore, the project leader: "These are the first images built of PC-BSD Rolling Release, based upon FreeBSD 9.1-RELEASE, which use PKGNG as the backend for keeping your desktop and base-system packages up to date. You are welcome to download and give them a spin if you want to help us beta-test them. They include updated packages from about 2 weeks ago, which includes KDE 4.9.5 among others. Our build server is still finishing up building the entire package repository and I hope to have all 20k pkgng packages online in another week or so, with weekly updates after that. The weekly updates will include all the latest PC-BSD / TrueOS utilities, so you can expect to see much more frequent bug fixes and enhancements. For users running on the original PC-BSD / TrueOS 9.1 release, I also have an online system update in the works; this update will convert your existing install to PKGNG and allow you to start tracking the rolling release."
* * * * *
For those looking for a solid Network-Attached Storage (NAS) solution based on FreeBSD, the choice comes down to two projects - FreeNAS and NAS4Free. So which of the two is better? Well-known FreeBSD developer Ivan Voras offers some insight in a blog post entitled "FreeNAS vs NAS4Free": "I've (finally) tried both FreeNAS and NAS4Free and I'd like to share some thoughts and experiences. Both of these are 'NAS-in-a-box' products intended to be installed on computers with a large number of drives, which they will export to the world in a variety of protocols. Both are based on FreeBSD, both fully support ZFS and they even share a common history." And the conclusion? "Ordinarily, I would recommend NAS4Free since it uses a newer kernel and has all the basic functionality that FreeNAS does, but for me, FreeNAS with its older kernel is simply more stable. Adding to this, it has a better user interface and a cleaner design (using SQLite for its database, yay!). But it also has the annoying slow USB access and is much harder to 'customize' with additional packages (zabbix-client, in my case... I simply gave up and set up basic SNMP monitoring), so... I can't really say for sure. FreeNAS seems a better choice, kind of."
* * * * *
Finally, a link to a yet-another-distro-guide, this time courtesy of The Register's Scott Gilbertson. From "Ubuntu? Fedora? Mint? Debian? We'll find you the right Linux to swallow": "While I suggest actually installing a big-name distro to start with, that doesn't mean you shouldn't feel free to experiment with distros of all shapes and sizes. In fact, just because you've settled on one distro for a while doesn't mean you can't jump ship whenever you want. Just install VirtualBox and try out any distro that catches your eye in a virtual machine. If you find one you like better than your current choice - install it. It's that simple. So how do you find the right distro for you? First off you need to figure out what's important to you. Do you want something where everything works out of the box or are you looking for something where you can customise every detail of the user interface? Do you want only free software or are you okay with proprietary drivers and non-free apps like Adobe Flash? Figure out what your priorities are and then see how each distro addresses them. In my experience there are three good indicators of how well a distro will suit the Linux newcomer switching from Windows."
|Book Reviews (by Jesse Smith)
The Book of GIMP
The GNU Image Manipulation Program, affectionately referred to as the GIMP, is a desktop application for, as the name suggests, working with images. The GIMP is often held up as the quintessential open source program, whether it is being praised or critiqued. Some people like to point out the GIMP's interface is complex, intimidating to new users and poses a steep learning curve. Fans of the program point out the GIMP is incredibly powerful and flexible, allowing it to be used for almost any task involving one or more images. I, myself, am a regular user of the GIMP and have it open several times a week for various reasons. That being said, I am in no way an expert at using the program. My level of expertise with the GIMP can easily be classified as "casual novice". Quite often I use the program simply to re-size images, crop off unwanted parts or improve a photograph's contrast. On rare occasions I'll dig into effects and filters to amuse myself or to remove red eye from pictures. This just scratches the surface of what the GIMP can do. I'm very much a casual user where the GIMP is concerned and, for that matter, a casual photographer. I've often wanted to explore the GIMP's power further, but never felt I had the time or enough motivation to do so. That was before I picked up a copy of The Book of GIMP: A Complete Guide To Nearly Everything.
The authors behind The Book of GIMP, Olivier Lecarme and Karine Delvare, are professionals. Specifically speaking, Lecarme is a professor of computer science and Delvare is a web development consultant. Between the two of them they know their computers and their images and that becomes immediately apparent when we open their book. If you have tried other books which guide the reader through using an application, especially an open source application, you've probably become familiar with the long introduction. Typically the author explains what the program is and who the intended audience is and what open source is and what Linux is. Not so with The Book of GIMP. The authors of this text assume we have a general idea of what we are doing and why we are here and they intend to get straight to business! Right away the authors set about tackling the GIMP's most controversial aspect: its interface. We're told about opening files, saving files, the application's tool box, what the various parts of the window show us and what the controls are. All parts of the GIMP are laid bare. This is a great way to start as the GIMP has many controls and exploring all the components up front lets the authors demystify the complex user interface.
What happens next is a whirlwind of short tutorials, advice and explanations. Generally I found the authors fall into a pattern where we are shown an image, then the authors explore ways to touch up, alter or otherwise improve the image. Along the way we are shown snapshots of the image as each tool or effect is applied until we arrive at a final, polished product. At first we start off with simple tasks, such as re-sizing a photograph or cropping the edges off an image. Later, as we progress, we get into removing objects from an image, correcting red eye, replacing backgrounds, correcting colour, improving alignment and dealing with perspective, along with a thousand other concepts. While each topic is covered clearly the authors do not linger on specific concepts. There is a lot of functionality to cover when dealing with the GIMP and as such the tutorials are short and direct. Should we wish to explore a specific tool to discover the many things we can do with it we can do that on our own time, the authors are more interested in getting us (and our images) straight from Point A to Point B.
Due to the large number of topics, which tend to be presented and then left as we move on to something else, I suspect most readers will want to follow along and treat each section of the book as a lesson. I recommend reading one sub-chapter through, then finding a similar image to the one shown in the book and going through the same steps. Simply sitting down and trying to read an entire chapter is likely to leave the reader feeling bombarded with new ideas and it's easier to retain the steps required to use a tool if we practice along with the text. I also found the authors seem to assume we either have some experience working with cameras or with other image manipulation software, such as Photoshop. Some of the terms and lessons talk about colour distribution, perspective and light. Occasionally the ideas mentioned were outside my realm of experience as I am a complete amateur when it comes to taking and altering photographs. The authors always present the tools they are using clearly, but the reasons for using those specific tools on a specific image may be lost to those not trained in the art of photography.
The Book of GIMP is divided into three sections. The first deals with tutorials, lessons and the steps we might use to alter images, design logos and create animations. I think of this as the "doing" section of the book. The second section is essentially a reference guide to the GIMP's many parts. Virtually every function, filter and tool available in the GIMP is listed in this section, which makes it handy if we want a refresher on how to do something mentioned in the first section. For example, if I want to be reminded how the Clone tool works, I can open the table of contents, find Part II -> Tools -> The Clone Tool: Page 348. On page 348 I find a complete description of the Clone tool and its close relatives the Heal and Perspective Clone tools. Along with the description of what the tool is and how to use it there are also examples (with screen shots) which show us how to properly use the Clone mechanism. I call this section the "toolbox" of the book. The third and final section of The Book of GIMP is a series of appendices which cover miscellaneous pieces of information which don't necessarily fit into the category of using the GIMP. For example, the authors explain how to install GIMP on Linux (several popular distributions are covered), Windows and Mac OS X. Creating and running batch processes on multiple images is discussed and we are also introduced to some interesting information on vision and optical illusions, just to round out our education. This last section may not be relevant to many readers, but I think it is certainly interesting and worth reading just for the trivia included.
Usually I don't have reason to comment on the appearance of a book, but in this case I think it is relevant. The Book of GIMP contains many images, some are stock images for the tutorials and others are screen shots. These images, by necessity, are printed in colour. What I found interesting is the text of the book is also in colour. The chapter titles are done in red, the sub-chapter headers are printed in blue and the diagrams are done in primary colours. The body of the text is done in standard black. This use of colour, combined with dual-column text on each page (as one might see used for the text of a play) makes the book easy on the eyes. I found my vision naturally flowed from point to point and having short rows of text makes it easier, I think, to glance away to an example image and then quickly return to our position in the instructions. The Book of GIMP is an instructional book which practically implements its own advice and I believe this speaks well for the authors' authority.
The Book of GIMP strikes me as being an excellent introduction to the GIMP and, to an extent, image processing (and pre-processing) in general. I suspect the book is aimed at people who already have a little experience working with images, perhaps professionally. People who have experience working with Photoshop and are looking to switch to open source software will enjoy this book. People who want to learn more about processing images and are looking for an application which is free to use will get a lot out of this book too. The Book of GIMP really provides an education, not only showing us how to use a given set of tools (provided by the GIMP), but the book also covers why we might want to use these tools and which ones to use to our greatest advantage. I found instructions in this book which will speed up my own casual work and I learned what many of the mysterious tools in the GIMP's utility box do. The book's tag line, "A Complete Guide To Nearly Everything," may sound lofty, but the Book of GIMP really does deliver. We cover everything from the application's interface to photo processing concepts to applying filters to writing our own GIMP plugins. Anything you ever wanted to know about using the GIMP (and more) is included in these pages.
- Title: The Book of GIMP
- Authors: Olivier Lecarme and Karine Delvare © 2013
- Published by: No Starch Press
- Pages: 676
- ISBN-10: 1-59327-383-5
- ISBN-13: 978-1-59327-383-5
- Available from: No Starch Press, Amazon.com and others
|Released Last Week
Michael Tremer has announced the release of IPFire 2.13, a major new update of the project's specialist distribution for firewalls: "Today is the day on which we officially release IPFire 2.13. We are very proud to have a brand-new milestone release with a lot of exciting, new features. The list of changes, enhancements, and fixes is endless, but we would like you to pay special attention to the following features which we're the most excited about. The most important components of the base system have been updated to include a brand-new kernel based on the Linux 3.2 release. With that, IPFire now supports more hardware than ever before and many of the hardware problems from the past should be gone. The most basic system libraries have been replaced as well, giving us great performance and fixing some general security issues." Here is the full release announcement.
Jay Flood has announced the release of Porteus 2.0, a Slackware-based live CD with a choice of KDE 4, LXDE, Razor-qt and Xfce desktops: "The Porteus community is excited to announce that Porteus 2.0 final is now available for immediate download. This is the first stable release of our Standard and Xfce editions based on Slackware Linux 14.0. Here are some of the major changes between version 1.2 and version 2.0: Linux kernel upgraded to version 3.7.8; Razor-qt replaced Trinity as the desktop environment for the 32-bit standard edition; all desktops were upgraded to their latest stable versions - KDE 4.9.5, Razor-qt 0.5.2, Xfce 4.10 (Thunar upgraded to 1.6.2), LXDE (latest components except for PCManFM), Firefox upgraded to version 18.0.2; Porteus package manager now resolves all dependencies such as Python and Perl...." Read the rest of the release announcement for more details.
Porteus 2.0 - a Slackware-based live CD
(full image size: 457kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.4
Red Hat, Inc. has announced the release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 6.4, the latest update of the company's enterprise-class operating system: "Red Hat, Inc., the world's leading provider of open source solutions, today announced general availability of the next minor release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.4. It has been optimized for performance, stability and flexibility, and designed to help organizations manage their workloads across physical, virtual and cloud environments. Red Hat Enterprise Linux introduces several new components that help enterprises meet these core business objectives. Red Hat has collaborated with its partners and the upstream community on the parallel Network File System (pNFS) industry standard." See the press release and read the detailed release notes for more information.
Thomas Veerman has announced the release of MINIX 3.2.1, an updated version of the UNIX-like operating system based on a microkernel architecture: "The MINIX team is proud to announce the latest MINIX release, named 3.2.1, a year after the previous release, 3.2.0. 3.2.1 boasts significantly more polish again in terms of base-system expansion and cleanup, in areas such as userland utilities, libraries, the build system, but also drivers and kernel improvements, various performance improvements, and more. A detailed list: support for dynamically linked executables, also build shared versions of base system libraries; remove the use of Intel segments altogether, giving a performance boost while context switching; full new clean updated NetBSD build system import...." Read the rest of the release notes for a detailed list of changes and new features.
Ikey Doherty has announced the release of SolusOS 1.3, a new maintenance update of the project's Debian-based desktop Linux distribution with GNOME 2: "The SolusOS team is pleased to announce the release of SolusOS 1.3 'Eveline'. This is strictly a maintenance release, and includes base system adjustments and updates not present in the 1.2 release. This release is available in the following architectures: x86, x86 with PAE, amd64. What's new? Between the 1.2 release and this release, there have been over 300 MB in package updates. This ISO image is fully up to date and includes (but is not limited to) the following software versions: Firefox 18.0.2 (19.0 will be provided when released), Thunderbird 17.0, Linux kernel 3.3.6, GNOME 2.30, sudo 1.8.5, ufw 0.31, SolusCC 1.3. The GConf defaults were totally redone, removing the duplicate Cardapio issue. Firefox is now the default web browser." Read the complete release announcement for further information and screenshots.
Gabriele Martina has announced the release of SalentOS 12.04.2, an updated build of the project's Ubuntu-based lightweight Linux distribution with a choice of Openbox or Razor-qt desktop user interfaces: "With great pleasure I announce the release of SalentOS 12.04.2, UbuBox and Razor-qt editions. After about four months of work here are the new ISO images with these main features: fixed GTK+ 3 application crashes with Openbox; revised software, removed Sylpheed and added Thunderbird; Razor-qt 0.5.2 with related bug fixes (Razor-qt SalentOS); new wallpapers and Openbox themes; upgraded adeskbar to 0.5.1; improved Samba support; Sakis3g packaged and installed; minor bug fixes and all Ubuntu updates." Here is the brief release announcement (with a screenshot of the Openbox edition) in Italian and English.
SalentOS 12.04.2 - an Ubuntu-based distribution with Openbox or Razor-qt
(full image size: 2,301kB, screen resolution 1280x1024 pixels)
Superb Mini Server 2.0.3
Superb Mini Server (SMS) 2.0.3, an updated build of the Slackware-based distribution for servers, has been released: "Superb Mini Server version 2.0.3 released (Linux kernel 3.4.33). It's that time again, this release feature the latest long-term support kernel 3.4.33, along with the latest stable releases of server packages, such as Postfix 2.10.0, Samba 4.0.3, Dovecot 2.1.15, MySQL 5.5.30, PHP 5.3.22. New packages in this release are: Heimdal, a Kerberos 5 implementation; Avahi, a Zeroconf implementation; libdaemon moved from /extra/avahi to main distribution; ConsoleKit, Polkit and libatasmart to fully support udisks; cifs-utils which split from the Samba package; elilo, an EFI linux bootloader (the installer doesn't have support for elilo); xhost, a server access control program for X. New packages on the extra ISO image are MariaDB, a drop-in replacement for MySQL and a built of CUPS with PAM support. SMS 2.0.3 features by default the long awaited Samba 4." Read the rest of the release announcement for more details.
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
New distributions added to waiting list|
- Point Linux. Point Linux is a GNU/Linux distribution that aims to combine the power of Debian GNU/Linux with the productivity of MATE, the GNOME 2 desktop environment fork. Point Linux provides an easy-to-set-up-and-use distribution for users looking for a fast, stable and predictable desktop.
- SolydXK. SolydX and SolydK are Debian-based distributions with the Xfce and KDE desktops. SolydXK aims to be simple to use, providing an environment that is both stable and secure. SolydXK is an open-source alternative for small businesses, non-profit organisations and home users.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 4 March 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)
If you've enjoyed this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly, please consider sending us a tip.
(Tips this week: 0, value: US$0.00)
|Linux Foundation Training
|• 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|
|• 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|
|• Full list of all issues|
|Random Distribution |
Boston University Linux
Boston University Linux (or BU Linux for short) was a CentOS-based distribution specifically tailored for the Boston University environments. Among the more interesting enhancements are network installation, Kerberos authentication, tight default security, automatic security updates, OpenAFS file system, and extra software applications.