| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 608, 4 May 2015
Welcome to this year's 18th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
The Debian project is host to one of the world's largest open source communities. Software packaged for Debian makes its way through over one hundred Linux distributions and is used on millions of computers, ranging from desktops to servers to mobile devices, around the world. This week we begin with a review of Debian's latest release, code named "Jessie". Read on to find out how Debian's new Stable branch performs. In our News section this week we cover a wide range of topics, beginning with Ubuntu's experiment with Snappy packages. We also talk about a new fork of the Enlightenment desktop environment, a release of Debian GNU/Hurd, OpenBSD's new implementation of an old utility and the current status of the FreeBSD project. In our Questions and Answers column we talk about the frequency of distribution releases and then we share the torrents we are seeding in our Torrent Corner. Last week was a busy one with a lot of Linux and BSD releases and we provide a summary of all the exciting new versions. Plus, we welcome a new distribution to our database, Chromixium OS, and you can learn more about this interesting project below. We wish you all a wonderful week and happy reading!
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Fun with Debian 8.0 "Jessie"
The Debian project has a long and rich legacy. Debian is one of the oldest surviving GNU/Linux distributions and, along the way, it has also become one of the largest (over 1,000 developers work on Debian, providing users with over 40,000 packages) and Debian has even branched out, adding GNU/FreeBSD and GNU/Hurd ports to its list of offerings. Debian is sometimes referred to as the "universal operating system" because it runs on a wide array of architectures, offering not only a production branch (Stable), but also multiple development branches (Testing, Unstable and Experimental). Debian, in short, provides a little something for everyone. This "universal" approach, which allows Debian to work just about anywhere while doing almost anything, also attracts developers who wish to build products using Debian's packages and open infrastructure. Many of the world's more popular Linux distributions, including Linux Mint and Ubuntu, have their roots in Debian.
In short, Debian is not merely a distribution of Linux, it is also an unusual phenomenon in that the project is a melting pot, a technology testing ground and the foundation for over 100 actively maintained distributions. It is small wonder releases of Debian, which typically happen about once every two years, draw a great deal of attention. The latest release of Debian Stable, version 8.0, carries the code name "Jessie". Looking through the project's release notes, we find a number of important changes in Debian's latest version. This new version of Debian is the first to use systemd as the project's default init software. Debian 8.0 offers users support for two new architectures (arm64 and ppc64el) while dropping support for the IA-64 and Sparc architectures. Debian "Jessie" offers us several desktop environments and uses GNOME Shell 3.14 as the default desktop environment. A number of security improvements have been added to Debian's configuration and build process, making the operating system more secure. One of the more interesting new features is the Debian project has made live media images a part of the official release, rather than having live discs act as a post-release add-on.
Debian 8.0 -- Running the MATE desktop
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Debian is available in many different editions and builds. People wishing to try out the distribution can download full DVD images, smaller CD-sized images or minimal "net-install" images for installing packages over the network. These are in addition to the live disc images I mentioned above. I opted to download the full DVD image which, for the 64-bit x86 architecture, is 3.7GB in size. Booting from this ISO brings up a menu asking if we would like to run Debian's standard installer, run a graphical installer, run an installer with speech synthesis, launch a rescue mode or dive into more advanced installation options. I decided to proceed with the graphical system installer.
Debian's graphical installer allows for a good deal of customization and walks us through several more screens than most modern installers present. We are asked to select our preferred language from a list and then select our country or region from another list. We then provide the installer with our keyboard's layout and give our computer a hostname. The following screen gets us to create a password for the operating system's root account and then we are asked to create a regular user account for ourselves. The installer then asks us to select our time zone from a list and then choose whether we want to manually partition our hard drive or use a guided partitioning option. The Debian installer will default to using the ext4 file system on its root partition, but we can choose alternative file systems. The installer supports working with ext2/3/4, JFS, XFS and Btrfs. I decided to use Btrfs during my trial. We then wait a few minutes while our disk is formatted and the base components of the operating system are installed. We are then asked if we would like to install additional packages from network mirrors or from local media. Next we are asked if we would like to submit package usage data to the Debian project. The following screen offers to let us install a variety of roles, collections of packages for specific tasks. Available roles include Desktop, Web Server, Print Server, SSH Server and Standard System Utilities. Debian "Jessie" allows us to specify which desktop environment (or environments) we would like to install. GNOME, Xfce, Cinnamon, MATE, KDE and LXDE are supported and I decided to install MATE. With the roles we want selected, the installer once again copies files to our hard drive. When the installer is finished putting packages in place we are asked if we would like to install the GRUB boot loader. Once GRUB is in place we can reboot the computer and experience our brand new copy of Debian.
There are a few aspects of the system installer which stand out. One is that there are quite a few more steps in Debian's installer than in the installers of most other distributions. These days most distributions have streamlined their installers and tucked away advanced configuration options into separate, optional screens. Another thing which stands out is it is now possible to select which desktop environment we want to use from within the installer. In the past, desktop environments were selected from the boot menu prior to launching Debian's installer and I think this approach is more intuitive and more flexible. Finally, installing Debian took a surprisingly long time in my trial, over an hour in total. This is unusual in my test environments when installing such a small collection of software (Debian with the MATE desktop required approximately 3.5GB of packages to be placed on my hard drive).
Debian boots to a graphical login screen. From there we can sign into our account and find ourselves running the desktop environment we selected at install time. In my case, I was presented with MATE. At the top of the screen we find the application menu and system tray while the bottom of the screen is home to a task switching panel. There are icons on the desktop for accessing the file manager. The desktop has a neutral background and the theme is plain, the colours dull. I did not see any notifications or other distractions on the desktop.
Debian 8.0 -- The desktop settings panel
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During my time with Debian I ran the distribution in two test environments, a desktop computer and a VirtualBox virtual machine. In both test environments Debian required between 160MB and 180MB of RAM when logged into MATE. Debian ran very well on my desktop machine. The distribution set my screen to its maximum resolution, networking and sound functioned as expected. The desktop was very responsive and the system quick to boot. When running in the VirtualBox virtual machine Debian booted quickly, the desktop was responsive and everything worked. However, my screen resolution was somewhat limited. Usually this is not a problem as I would simply install VirtualBox's guest add-ons, but this action was not entirely straight forward in Debian. I'll come back to VirtualBox add-ons shortly, but for now I'd like to explore the applications which ship with Debian.
Browsing through the application menu we find the Iceweasel web browser, the LibreOffice productivity suite, a document viewer and a dictionary application. The GNU Image Manipulation Program is installed for us along with the Caja file manager and the Orca screen reader. Network Manager is present to help us get on-line and the MATE desktop ships with a collection of configuration modules to help us customize the user interface. Debian offers users an archive manager, a calculator and a text editor. In the background we find version 3.16 of the Linux kernel. All in all, Debian ships with a fairly small collection of desktop applications. The programs it does provide are useful and worked well for me. Some features the operating system provides, however, did not work as expected. For example, when I would attempt to play a media file a notification would appear, letting me know there was no appropriate program available to open my media. The system then offered to find a suitable application for playing media files. When I accepted the offer to install a media player nothing happened.
Debian 8.0 -- Managing packages with Synaptic
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As we have established, Debian does not offer us multimedia applications, media codecs or Flash by default. As I mentioned earlier, the distribution does not provide VirtualBox support by default either. I wanted to tackle VirtualBox add-on modules early in my trial to get a better experience in my virtual machine and this lead me through some interesting steps. I opened Debian's package manager, Synaptic, and searched for VirtualBox and found no suitable matches. I then went to VirtualBox's website to see if they had a Debian 8.0 repository set up yet and, at the time of writing, they do not. I next tried to install VirtualBox's generic third-party add-ons, but the installation failed as the module could not detect which version of the X display server Debian was running. I then returned to Synaptic and realized I had overlooked something important. Debian "Jessie" automatically enabled Debian's security update repositories, but all other package repositories had not been enabled during the installation. This meant I had access to only 1,386 packages (most of them already installed on my machine). I manually added Debian's main, contrib and non-free repositories and Synaptic then reported it had access to the full range of 42,991 packages Debian currently provides.
At this point I found VirtualBox add-on packages are, in fact, available in Debian's repositories. The repositories also provided me with a Flash player, codecs and multimedia applications. Soon I was able to watch Flash videos and view my desktop at a higher resolution. Playing media files was still a bit of a mixed experience. Audio files played on my test systems without any trouble. However, when I tried to play video files the media player I was using would either lock-up or crash. I tried playing multiple video files in two different video players (VLC and MPlayer). Regardless of which file I was attempting to view, my media players would crash.
Once I enabled the necessary package repositories and found the many various programs I wanted in the repositories, my time with Debian went smoothly. Apart from the video players I tried to use, all the desktop software I installed worked well. Debian's Stable branch lived up to its name. The operating system was solid and fast. It is not often I see a desktop distribution that requires less than 200MB of memory to operate and it is not often I find a desktop as responsive as MATE is when running on Debian. There is a trade-off though. Debian is light and fast partly because it presents us with a small number of features. Debian's application menu is lean and we need to install most of the programs we want from the repositories. Debian does not have a update notification service, we need to check for security updates manually. In short, if a person wants to run Debian "Jessie" as their desktop operating system, there is quite a bit of initial configuration work to do. Once these initial steps have been completed, Debian runs smoothly and does everything quickly, but it is a good idea to set aside more than the usual amount of time to install Debian and acquire all the desired software.
Debian 8.0 -- Filing a bug report
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This past week while I was using Debian "Jessie" the nagging thought which kept crossing my mind was that while I greatly enjoy Debian's flexibility, its power, its vast array of software and its stability the distribution really seems much better suited for use on servers than desktop computers. It's not that Debian cannot be used as a desktop operating system, many people do and projects such as Linux Mint and Ubuntu prove that Debian can be adapted to work very well on desktop and laptop computers. However, I think the Debian project's focus is more geared toward server environments. I think this point was driven home for me when I noticed Debian, by default, runs an e-mail server in the background, but no update notification service.
What I like about Debian is I can take the distribution and use it to serve up content on just about any platform ranging from a super computer to a data centre cloud to a Raspberry Pi. In any of those environments I can expect Debian to run smoothly, to be stable and to run just about any software I want. Maintenance will be minimal and Debian will be supported for three to five years by the many wonderful Debian developers. Debian has all the qualities I look for in a server, it's fast, it's lightweight, it's reliable and it is very conservative. However, what I look for in a desktop system is quite a bit different. On the desktop I want brief initial setup times and lots of useful software pre-installed, I want multimedia support and notification of security updates. I want all my software repositories to be accessible without manual work on my part. I want modern desktop applications and, preferably, no e-mail service running in the background. Debian, vanilla Debian, does not do so well in these areas, but Debian is flexible enough to serve as a base for other projects (like Linux Mint) which do offer these characteristics.
What I'm coming around to is I've been hearing commentary from a number of people this past week or two asking if Debian is still relevant. And I'm happy to say Debian is very relevant and a very important cornerstone of the open source community. However, I think it is important to select the best tool for the job and every tool has its strengths and weaknesses. Debian is a fantastic base for other projects, Debian is a rock solid server operating system and Debian is leading the field in portability. Debian is an amazing social experiment in getting developers to work together and the Debian project is constantly leading the way when it comes to adopting more secure builds and working with upstream developers. Debian, in brief, could not be more important, more relevant, in the Linux ecosystem. With all that being said, I do not think running on desktop and laptop computers is one of Debian's strengths. The operating system can be made to work well on a desktop machine, but it needs to be worked into the role, shaped to fit the desktop. Debian is not an install-and-go desktop distribution. It is not trying to be, it has plenty of children vying to fill that role.
* * * * *
Hardware used in this review
My physical test equipment for this review was a desktop HP Pavilon p6 Series with the following specifications:
- Processor: Dual-core 2.8GHz AMD A4-3420 APU
- Storage: 500GB Hitachi hard drive
- Memory: 6GB of RAM
- Networking: Realtek RTL8111 wired network card
- Display: AMD Radeon HD 6410D video card
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
Ubuntu experiments with Snappy packages, Bodhi forks Enlightenment, a new version of Debian GNU/Hurd released, OpenBSD re-implements file utility and FreeBSD publishes quarterly report
Will Cooke, a Canonical developer, announced recently that future versions of Ubuntu's "Desktop Next" edition will be built using Snappy packages rather than Debian-style .deb packages. "Our plan for 15.10 (which is still being finalized, and will be discussed in more depth at UOS in a couple of weeks) is to have a build based on Snappy Personal and so the current .deb based Desktop Next image will be going away and will be replaced with the new Snappy version. We'll preserve the most recent Desktop Next .deb based ISO on cdimage.ubuntu.com (link to follow as soon as it's available). The future is Snappy and you'll have an image to play with Real Soon Now." Snappy packages will hopefully provide users with more secure applications and more reliable package updates.
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Does the world need another open source desktop environment? Jeff Hoogland, the lead developer of Bodhi Linux, thinks it does and he makes a compelling case. According to Hoogland, the Enlightenment interface, Bodhi's default desktop environment, has been going through rapid development cycles that make the software unstable and sometimes break backward compatibility. To give Bodhi users a more stable, predictable desktop environment, Hoogland intends to fork Enlightenment. "On top of the performance issues, E19 did not allow for me personally to have the same workflow I enjoyed under E17 due to features it no longer had. Because of this I had changed to using the E17 on all of my Bodhi 3 computers -- even my high end ones. This got me to thinking how many of our existing Bodhi users felt the same way, so I opened a discussion about it on our user forums. I found many felt similar to how I did. So that left only one question: What was to be done about it? After much reflection, I came to the same conclusion others had before me that lead to the creation of the MATE and Trinity desktops -- fork it." The new fork of Enlightenment is called "Moksha" and will be featured in the upcoming release of Bodhi Linux 3.1.0. More information on the fork is available on the Bodhi Linux blog.
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The Debian project maintains a number of ports, branches of Debian which use alternative technologies. One such port is Debian GNU/Hurd, an operating system that combines the GNU userland utilities with GNU's Hurd microkernel and Debian's package management tools. The Debian GNU/Hurd team has published an unofficial release of their operating system which uses much of the same source code and technologies as Debian's main GNU/Linux operating system. "Debian GNU/Hurd is currently available for the i386 architecture with more than 80% of the Debian archive, and more to come! Since the last snapshot release coinciding with "Wheezy", the init system has been switched to sysvinit for a more Debian-like experience. Further changes since the last snapshot include: The core GNU Hurd and GNU Mach packages were updated to versions 0.6 and 1.5, respectively. Besides numerous other improvements, they bring vastly improved stability under load and prolonged uptime. The networking drivers were migrated to user-space drivers using the NetDDE framework and a Linux-2.6.32 codebase." Further information, download links and documentation can be found in the port's release announcement.
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The OpenBSD project launched version 5.7 of their famously secure operating system last week. The new release features a number of driver and cryptographic improvements and we provide more information on this new release below. Putting aside the release of OpenBSD 5.7 for a moment, one important aspect of the OpenBSD project is the proactive approach its developers take regarding security. New and improved implementations of commonly used software packages regularly come out of OpenBSD. At the end of April we learned that one developer, Nicholas Marriott, has undertaken the task of rewriting the ageing and insecure file utility. The file program is included in virtually every Linux, BSD and UNIX operating system and is used to determine the format of a file or program. Since file is used on a lot of data, particularly unknown or untrusted data, it is important to have a secure implementation of the command. After Nicholas Marriott announced his new version of file, the open source program's original author, Ian Darwin, posted this encouraging reply, "The Albatross fell off, and sank;
Like lead into the sea."
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The FreeBSD project has released its quarterly status report for the months of January through March 2015. The report explores developments and progress made in all aspects of the FreeBSD project. "The first quarter of 2015 was another productive quarter for the FreeBSD project and community. FreeBSD is being used in research projects, and those projects are making their way back into FreeBSD as new and exciting features, bringing improved network performance and security features to the system. Work continues to improve support for more architectures and architecture features, including progress towards the goal of making ARM (32- and 64-bit) a Tier 1 platform in FreeBSD 11. The toolchain is receiving updates, with new versions of Clang/LLVM in place, migrations to ELF Tool Chain tools, and updates to the LLDB and gdb debuggers. Work by ports teams and kernel developers is maintaining and improving the state of FreeBSD as a desktop operating system. The pkg team is continuing to make binary packages easier to use and upgrade." Some of the highlights in the latest report mention FreeBSD changing from using GNATs to Bugzilla for problem reports, ongoing work being done with FreeBSD's bhyve hypervisor, work being done on the new Lua boot loader and multipath TCP support. The report also mentions efforts to support Secure Boot on UEFI-enabled machines and address space layout randomization (ASLR). Further, the report contains information on the status of third-party software in the FreeBSD ports collection, including WINE, Xfce, KDE and GNOME.
| Questions And Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Distribution release frequency
Whither-the-distros asks: I've been following your news site for many years now and I've noticed recently that the frequency of new distribution releases and updates has been on a pretty significant decline. Looking back even just two years ago, there were often twice as many updates and new releases in a given week. Would you care to share some statistics on this, or comment on the trend? What could be causing it, and is it a sign of trouble for the future of some of our smaller distributions?
DistroWatch answers: I would love to share some statistics with you, dear reader, there are fewer things I enjoy more than researching and finding hidden gems of trivia. I went back through our database and dug up all the release announcements (both final/stable releases and announced development releases) from January 2005 through to March 2015. Here are some bits of information I was able to unearth.
First, in the past ten years DistroWatch covered the release of 3,691 final/stable distribution versions from January 2005 to March 2015. We also covered the release of 2,278 development releases. These were development releases the projects formally announced and where documentation was provided, the statistics do not cover unannounced development releases or routine ISO updates. In total that means 5,969 release announcements have been posted to our front page over the past ten years. That is an average of 49 release announcements (30 stable releases and 19 announced development releases) per month.
The busiest month we have had in the past ten years came about back in March 2005 when we posted a massive 81 release announcements (45 final and 36 development releases). The following month, April 2005, we announced 48 stable releases, plus 22 development releases for a total of 70 announcements. So 2005 was a very busy time for distribution developers and DistroWatch. Our slowest month was January 2012 when we announced a mere 25 releases (20 stable releases and 5 development versions). January 2010 was also a particularly slow month with 14 final releases and 14 development releases for a total of 28 announcements on our front page.
When I first started digging into the database I wondered if, statistically, release announcements really had been dropping off. We have some very busy months, usually around April and October. We also see fewer releases around December and January in most years. So perhaps whether new versions are coming out faster or slower depends on what time of the year we are examining?
As it turns out, there are cycles of releases. As I mentioned above, January is typically a slow month for DistroWatch while other months will suddenly become very busy. However, outside of these small, yearly cycles there was a slight down trend in the frequency of distribution releases from 2005 to 2008. It's not a big shift though. In our busiest month ever in the past ten years we covered an average of just over 2 releases per day. Our slowest month in the past year had us putting out an average of about 1 release per day. These are the extremes and, on average, there has not been much change year-to-year. If we look at a chart of the data we can see a decline in releases from about 2005 through to 2008, but then things stabilize and stay consistent from 2008 to 2015. In five of the past seven years we have averaged more than 10 release announcements per week. What I'm saying is there isn't any draught of distribution releases, nor has there been any significant decline in distribution releases in the past seven years. Plus, let's not forget we are currently tracking 293 actively developed distributions. There are a lot of developers out there producing a lot of interesting work.
Distribution release statistics by month (2005-2015)
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As to what the slight decline in average monthly releases might mean from 2005 to 2008, I think it is difficult to make accurate sweeping statements about a group as populous and diverse as the open source community. However, I am going to go out on a limb and make some guesses as to what might have happened.
First, I suspect fewer release announcements do not mean fewer distributions or less diversity. What I suspect happened was release cycles lengthened, especially for smaller projects. Ten to fifteen years ago a lot of important functionality was coming into the Linux community very quickly. Developers tended to push out releases as soon as possible and end users were often eager to get the latest release of a distribution because it almost certainly had a feature they wanted. Keep in mind, when we look back ten years or more ago we are looking at a time when Fedora and Ubuntu were new projects, Mint did not exist yet, OpenOffice was relatively young, SELinux was just starting to appear in distributions and the Linux kernel had recently moved from a split development/stable model to a unified branch. The open source landscape was quite a bit different and a lot of us were quickly grabbing the latest releases of distributions in order to get new hardware drivers and other features.
Today, the open source landscape is a bit different. Most of the people I know who use Linux are using more stable, long term support releases. They are upgrading every few years rather than every few months. They want longer support cycles rather than rapid updates. Most people today do not care if they are using LibreOffice 4.0 or 4.1, if they are running Linux 3.13 or 3.16. The Linux development cycle has, in my opinion, matured and stabilized. I suspect this is a good thing as it makes Linux a more attractive product for end users, a better choice for server administrators and a better platform for third-party developers.
My best guess is that many distributions do not feel the need to push out new updates as soon as a new feature is introduced. More projects are working on a time-based release cycle rather than pushing out a new ISO with every new feature. I think the Linux ecosystem has matured and settled into a steady pace of development that will be better for everyone involved.
I also think rolling release distributions have become more popular in the past decade. Instead of multiple point releases some projects are choosing to maintain rolling package repositories. These distributions are quietly updating their ISO files without announcing it and therefore several small projects and projects staying on the bleeding edge are often not represented in our statistics.
Bittorrent is a great way to transfer large files, particularly open source operating system images, from one place to another. Most bittorrent clients recover from dropped connections automatically, check the integrity of files and can re-download corrupted bits of data without starting a download over from scratch. These characteristics make bittorrent well suited for distributing open source operating systems, particularly to regions where Internet connections are slow or unstable.
Many Linux and BSD projects offer bittorrent as a download option, partly for the reasons listed above and partly because bittorrent's peer-to-peer nature takes some of the strain off the project's servers. However, some projects do not offer bittorrent as a download option. There can be several reasons for excluding bittorrent as an option. Some projects do not have enough time or volunteers, some may be restricted by their web host provider's terms of service. Whatever the reason, the lack of a bittorrent option puts more strain on a distribution's bandwidth and may prevent some people from downloading their preferred open source operating system.
With this in mind, DistroWatch plans to give back to the open source community by hosting and seeding bittorrent files for distributions that do not offer a bittorrent option themselves. For now, we are hosting a small number of distribution torrents, listed below. The list of torrents offered will be updated each week and we invite readers to e-mail us with suggestions as to which distributions we should be hosting. When you message us, please place the word "Torrent" in the subject line, make sure to include a link to the ISO file you want us to seed and please make sure the project you are recommending does not already host its own torrents. We want to primarily help distributions and users who do not already have a torrent option. To help us maintain and grow this free service, please consider making a donation.
The table below provides a list of torrents we currently host. If you do not currently have a bittorrent client capable of handling the linked files, we suggest installing either the Transmission or KTorrent bittorrent clients.
Archives of our previously seeded torrents may be found here. All torrents we make available here are also listed on the very useful Linux Tracker website. Thanks to Linux Tracker we are able to share the following torrent statistics.
Torrent Corner statistics:
- Total torrents seeded: 54
- Total downloads completed: 23,934
- Total data uploaded: 6.2TB
|Released Last Week
BackBox Linux 4.2
Raffaele Forte has announced the release of BackBox Linux 4.2, the latest stable build of the project's Ubuntu-based distribution dedicated to penetration testing and forensic analysis: "The BackBox team is pleased to announce the updated release of BackBox Linux, version 4.2! This release includes features such as Linux Kernel 3.16 and Ruby 2.1. What's new: preinstalled Linux kernel 3.16; new Ubuntu 14.04.2 base; Ruby 2.1; installer with LVM and full disk encryption options; handy Thunar custom actions; RAM wipe at shutdown and reboot; system improvements; upstream components; bug corrections; performance boost; improved anonymous mode; predisposition to ARM architecture (armhf Debian packages); predisposition to BackBox Cloud platform. New and updated hacking tools: beef-project, crunch, fang, galleta, jd-gui, metasploit-framework, pasco, pyew, rifiuti2, setoolkit, theharvester, tor, torsocks, volatility, weevely, whatweb, wpscan, xmount, yara, zaproxy." Read the rest of the release announcement for system requirements and upgrade instructions.
Lucas Holt has announced the release of MidnightBSD 0.6, a new stable version of the project's FreeBSD-derived operating system designed primarily for desktop use: "MidnightBSD 0.6-RELEASE. This release is primarily a security fix and mport package tool release. Security: OpenSSL - the receipt of a specifically crafted DTLS handshake message may cause OpenSSL to consume large amounts of memory; the receipt of a specifically crafted DTLS packet could cause OpenSSL to leak memory; a flaw in OBJ_obj2txt may cause pretty printing functions such as X509_name_oneline, X509_name_print_ex et al. to leak some information from the stack; OpenSSL DTLS clients enabling anonymous (EC)DH ciphersuites are subject to a denial of service attack; TCP SYN - when a segment with the SYN flag for an already existing connection arrives, the TCP stack tears down the connection, bypassing a check that the sequence number in the segment is in the expected window; fix several security vulnerabilities in routed, rtsold, and namei with respect to Capsicum sandboxes looking up nonexistent path names and leaking memory..." Read the rest of the release notes for further details.
The deepin development team has announced the release of deepin 2014.3 which brings new updates to the project's Ubuntu-based desktop Linux distribution, together with a new website domain (deepin.org) and a new product name - now spelt with a lower-case "d". From the release announcement: "deepin 2014.3 is the revised version. This version is the achievement after we comprehensively fixed bugs in the system and applications in the last version and optimized the performance of the last version. Meanwhile, the system features and UI interfaces have been adjusted slightly. In terms of the languages the system supports, deepin 2014.3 has increasingly supported 23 languages. In addition, deepin has relatively complete community documents and nearly 70 mirror sites worldwide, allowing users all around the world to be able to experience the infinite charm of the deepin system. This time, we focused on fixing and optimizing Dock and Control Center to make the experience and stability of deepin 2014.3 greatly improved."
Chromixium OS 1.0
The Chromixium project has announced the release of Chromixium OS 1.0, an Ubuntu-based Linux distribution that attempts to recreate the look and feel of Chrome OS while providing a complete Linux system with the ability to install popular desktop applications: "I am extremely proud to announce that Chromixium 1.0 final, a stable version, is ready for download from Sourceforge right now. Chromixium combines the elegant simplicity of the Chromebook with the flexibility and stability of Ubuntu’s long-term support release. Chromixium puts the web front at the center of the user experience. Web and Chrome applications work straight out of the browser to connect you to all your personal, work and education networks. Sign into Chromium to sync all your applications and bookmarks. When you are offline or when you need more power, you can install any number of applications for work or play, including LibreOffice, Skype, Steam and a whole lot more. Security updates are installed seamlessly and effortlessly in the background and will be supplied until 2019." Read the release announcement for more information and screenshots.
Chromixium OS 1.0 -- The default desktop and application menu
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Simplicity Linux 15.4
David Purse has announced the release of Simplicity Linux 15.4, a set of lightweight Puppy Linux-based distributions for desktops and netbooks - now available in both 32-bit and 64-bit flavours: "Simplicity Linux 15.4 is now available for download in Netbook and Desktop editions, both available in 32-bit and 64-bit variants. It is based on the excellent LXPup and it uses its implementation of LXDE as the desktop environment. The 32-bit kernel is the 3.14.20 kernel and the 64-bit kernel is the 3.17.20 kernel. As usual, our Netbook edition is lighter, with shortcuts to web applications rather than locally installed applications. Desktop is our heavier version, with bigger, locally installed applications, like VLC and LibreOffice. We hope you enjoy using Simplicity Linux as much as we enjoyed working on it. Netbook: Chrome, Tor Browser, shortcuts on the wbar dock for Gmail, Grooveshark, Kindle, Netflix, Rock 181.fm. Desktop: Chrome, TOR Browser, Netflix, full LibreOffice." Here is the brief release announcement.
Stefan Sperling has announced the availability of OpenBSD 5.7. "We are pleased to announce the official release of OpenBSD 5.7. This is our 37th release on CD-ROM (and 38th via FTP/HTTP). We remain proud of OpenBSD's record of more than ten years with only two remote holes in the default install. As in our previous releases, 5.7 provides significant improvements, including new features, in nearly all areas of the system. Improved hardware support includes: new xhci(4) driver for USB 3.0 host controllers; new umcs(4) driver for MosChip Semiconductor 78x0 USB multiport serial adapters; new skgpio(4) driver for Soekris net6501 GPIO and LEDs; new uslhcom(4) driver for Silicon Labs CP2110 USB HID based UART..." The latest release of the security oriented flavour of BSD includes many changes such as the removal of SSLv3 support from base utilities and more strict enforcement of write-exclusive-or-execute (W^X) in the kernel. The release announcement has more details and the project provides a full changelog of the changes between OpenBSD 5.6 and version 5.7. Sperling further linked to the project's errata page which lists potential problems and fixes for the new release.
John Martinson has announced the release of Robolinux 7.9.1, the new stable version of the project's Debian-based distribution which comes with an optional virtual machine pack capable of running Windows and Windows applications: "The new Robolinux 7.9.1 release, 'Apex X12 Privacy & Security!', which has two more privacy and security applications added into all eight Robolinux GNOME, KDE Xfce and LXDE 32-bit and 64-bit 7.9.1 variants: the Invisible Internet Project (I2P) and RootKit Check. For the last three months Robolinux has been building an arsenal of privacy and security applications into all eight of its operating systems. These new versions are a direct result of our users asking for more privacy and security applications. Robolinux version 7.9.1 also added rcconf which allows you to remove any unnecessary memory-resident services from running when you boot up Robolinux. The result is Linux will run even faster. In addition, 7.9.1 also has the newest VirtualBox 4.3.26 and Firefox 37.0.1." See the project's SourceForge page to read the release announcement.
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Distributions added to the database|
Chromixium is an Ubuntu-based Linux distribution that attempts to recreate the look & feel and functionality of Google's Chrome OS on a conventional desktop. It combines the Openbox window manager with the Compton desktop compositor, Plank dock and LXDE's LXPanel to provide the desktop and menus. The Chromium web browser, equipped with the PepperFlash plugin, is the main online application, although the complete array of Ubuntu software can be easily added for offline/desktop use. Ubuntu updates are installed automatically, providing long-term security support.
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Distributions added to waiting list
- PrimTux. PrimTux is a distribution designed for use in French elementary schools. The project is built using packages from Debian's "Jessie" repositories.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 11 May 2015. 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)
If you've enjoyed this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly, please consider sending us a tip.
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|Linux Foundation Training
|• Issue 764 (2018-05-21): DragonFly BSD 5.2.0, Tails works on persistent packages, Ubuntu plans new features, finding services affected by an update|
|• Issue 763 (2018-05-14): Fedora 28, Debian compatibility coming to Chrome OS, malware found in some Snaps, Debian's many flavours|
|• Issue 762 (2018-05-07): TrueOS 18.03, live upgrading Raspbian, Mint plans future releases, HardenedBSD to switch back to OpenSSL|
|• Issue 761 (2018-04-30): Ubuntu 18.04, accessing ZFS snapshots, UBports to run on Librem 5 phones, Slackware makes PulseAudio optional|
|• Issue 760 (2018-04-23): Chakra 2017.10, using systemd to hide files, Netrunner's ARM edition, Debian 10 roadmap, Microsoft develops Linux-based OS|
|• Issue 759 (2018-04-16): Neptune 5.0, building containers with Red Hat, antiX introduces Sid edition, fixing filenames on the command line|
|• Issue 758 (2018-04-09): Sortix 1.0, openSUSE's Transactional Updates, Fedora phasing out Python 2, locating portable packages|
|• Issue 757 (2018-04-02): Gatter Linux 0.8, the UNIX and Linux System Administration Handbook, Red Hat turns 25, super long term support kernels|
|• Issue 756 (2018-03-26): NuTyX 10.0, Neptune supplies Debian users with Plasma 5.12, SolydXK on a Raspberry Pi, SysV init development|
|• Issue 755 (2018-03-19): Learning with ArchMerge and Linux Academy, Librem 5 runs Plasma Mobile, Cinnamon gets performance boost|
|• Issue 754 (2018-03-12): Reviewing Sabayon and Antergos, the growing Linux kernel, BSDs getting CPU bug fixes, Manjaro builds for ARM devices|
|• Issue 753 (2018-03-05): Enso OS 0.2, KDE Plasma 5.12 features, MX Linux prepares new features, interview with MidnightBSD's founder|
|• Issue 752 (2018-02-26): OviOS 2.31, performing off-line upgrades, elementary OS's new installer, UBports gets test devices, Redcore team improves security|
|• Issue 751 (2018-02-19): DietPi 6.1, testing KDE's Plasma Mobile, Nitrux packages AppImage in default install, Solus experiments with Wayland|
|• Issue 750 (2018-02-12): Solus 3, getting Deb packages upstream to Debian, NetBSD security update, elementary OS explores AppCentre changes|
|• Issue 749 (2018-02-05): Freespire 3 and Linspire 7.0, misunderstandings about Wayland, Xorg and Mir, Korora slows release schedule, Red Hat purchases CoreOS|
|• Issue 748 (2018-01-29): siduction 2018.1.0, SolydXK 32-bit editions, building an Ubuntu robot, desktop-friendly Debian options|
|• Issue 747 (2018-01-22): Ubuntu MATE 17.10, recovering open files, creating a new distribution, KDE focusing on Wayland features|
|• Issue 746 (2018-01-15): deepin 15.5, openSUSE's YaST improvements, new Ubuntu 17.10 media, details on Spectre and Meltdown bugs|
|• Issue 745 (2018-01-08): GhostBSD 11.1, Linspire and Freespire return, wide-spread CPU bugs patched, adding AppImage launchers to the application menu|
|• Issue 744 (2018-01-01): MX Linux 17, Ubuntu pulls media over BIOS bug, PureOS gets endorsed by the FSF, openSUSE plays with kernel boot splash screens|
|• Issue 743 (2017-12-18): Daphile 17.09, tools for rescuing files, Fedora Modular Server delayed, Sparky adds ARM support, Slax to better support wireless networking|
|• Issue 742 (2017-12-11): heads 0.3.1, improvements coming to Tails, Void tutorials, Ubuntu phasing out Python 2, manipulating images from the command line|
|• Issue 741 (2017-12-04): Pop!_OS 17.10, openSUSE Tumbleweed snapshots, installing Q4OS on a Windows partition, using the at command|
|• Issue 740 (2017-11-27): Artix Linux, Unity spin of Ubuntu, Nitrux swaps Snaps for AppImage, getting better battery life on Linux|
|• Issue 739 (2017-11-20): Fedora 27, cross-distro software ports, Ubuntu on Samsung phones, Red Hat supports ARM, Parabola continues 32-bit support|
|• Issue 738 (2017-11-13): SparkyLinux 5.1, rumours about spyware, Slax considers init software, Arch drops 32-bit packages, overview of LineageOS|
|• Issue 737 (2017-11-06): BeeFree OS 18.1.2, quick tips to fix common problems, Slax returning, Solus plans MATE and software management improvements|
|• Issue 736 (2017-10-30): Ubuntu 17.10, "what if" security questions, Linux Mint to support Flatpak, NetBSD kernel memory protection|
|• Issue 735 (2017-10-23): ArchLabs Minimo, building software with Ravenports, WPA security patch, Parabola creates OpenRC spin|
|• Issue 734 (2017-10-16): Star 1.0.1, running the Linux-libre kernel, Ubuntu MATE experiments with snaps, Debian releases new install media, Purism reaches funding goal|
|• Issue 733 (2017-10-09): KaOS 2017.09, 32-bit prematurely obsoleted, Qubes security features, IPFire updates Apache|
|• Issue 732 (2017-10-02): ClonOS, reducing Snap package size, Ubuntu dropping 32-bit Desktop, partitioning disks for ZFS|
|• Issue 731 (2017-09-25): BackSlash Linux Olaf, W3C adding DRM to web standards, Wayland support arrives in Mir, Debian experimenting with AppArmor|
|• Issue 730 (2017-09-18): Mageia 6, running a completely free OS, HAMMER2 file system in DragonFly BSD's installer, Manjaro to ship pre-installed on laptops|
|• Issue 729 (2017-09-11): Parabola GNU/Linux-libre, running Plex Media Server on a Raspberry Pi, Tails feature roadmap, a cross-platform ports build system|
|• Issue 728 (2017-09-04): Nitrux 1.0.2, SUSE creates new community repository, remote desktop tools for GNOME on Wayland, using Void source packages|
|• Issue 727 (2017-08-28): Cucumber Linux 1.0, using Flatpak vs Snap, GNOME previews Settings panel, SUSE reaffirms commitment to Btrfs|
|• Issue 726 (2017-08-21): Redcore Linux 1706, Solus adds Snap support, KaOS getting hardened kernel, rolling releases and BSD|
|• Issue 725 (2017-08-14): openSUSE 42.3, Debian considers Flatpak for backports, changes coming to Ubuntu 17.10, the state of gaming on Linux|
|• Issue 724 (2017-08-07): SwagArch 2017.06, Myths about Unity, Mir and Ubuntu Touch, Manjaro OpenRC becomes its own distro, Debian debates future of live ISOs|
|• Issue 723 (2017-07-31): UBOS 11, transferring packages between systems, Ubuntu MATE's HUD, GNUstep releases first update in seven years|
|• Issue 722 (2017-07-24): Calculate Linux 17.6, logging sudo usage, Remix OS discontinued, interview with Chris Lamb, Debian 9.1 released|
|• Issue 721 (2017-07-17): Fedora 26, finding source based distributions, installing DragonFly BSD using Orca, Yunit packages ported to Ubuntu 16.04|
|• Issue 720 (2017-07-10): Peppermint OS 8, gathering system information with osquery, new features coming to openSUSE, Tails fixes networking bug|
|• Issue 719 (2017-07-03): Manjaro 17.0.2, tracking ISO files, Ubuntu MATE unveils new features, Qubes tests Admin API, Fedora's Atomic Host gets new life cycle|
|• Issue 718 (2017-06-26): Debian 9, support for older hardware, Debian updates live media, Ubuntu's new networking tool, openSUSE gains MP3 support|
|• Issue 717 (2017-06-19): SharkLinux, combining commands in the shell, Debian 9 flavours released, OpenBSD improving kernel security, UBports releases first OTA update|
|• Issue 716 (2017-06-12): Slackel 7.0, Ubuntu working with GNOME on HiDPI, openSUSE 42.3 using rolling development model, exploring kernel blobs|
|• Issue 715 (2017-06-05): Devuan 1.0.0, answering questions on systemd, Linux Mint plans 18.2 beta, Yunit/Unity 8 ported to Debian|
|• Issue 714 (2017-05-29): Void, enabling Wake-on-LAN, Solus packages KDE, Debian 9 release date, Ubuntu automated bug reports|
|• Issue 713 (2017-05-22): ROSA Fresh R9, Fedora's new networking features, FreeBSD's Quarterly Report, UBports opens app store, Parsix to shut down, SELinux overview|
|• Full list of all issues|
|Random Distribution |
STUX GNU/Linux was a Linux system that runs from a CD-ROM; STUX can automatically load and save main configuration and personal files on a writable partition. It was based on Slackware Linux.
|Tips, Tricks, Myths and Q&As |
|Questions and answers: Advocating Linux and free software|
|Myths and misunderstandings: GPL |
|Questions and answers: Several "what if" security questions|
|Tips and tricks: Digital cameras, mobile phones and music players under Linux|
|Tips and tricks: Check free disk space, wait for a process, command line spell-check, shutdown PC when CPU gets hot|
|Myths and misunderstandings: sudo|
|Tips and tricks: Adding an AppImage to the application menu|
|Questions and answers: Partitioning disks for ZFS|
|Questions and answers: Mounting network shares at boot|
|Tips and tricks: Basename, for loop, dirname, aliases, bash history, xsel clipboard|
|More Tips & Tricks and Questions & Answers|