| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 635, 9 November 2015
Welcome to this year's 45th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
For most computer users, the desktop environment is their primary method of interacting with their operating system. A good desktop environment is essential to providing most users with a pleasant computing experience. However, what qualifies a desktop environment as "good" is subjective and we, in the open source community, have many options from which to choose. This week we focus our attention on desktop environments and their relationships with various distributions. In our News section we talk about the latest release of the Cinnamon desktop which will soon be available to users of the Linux Mint distribution. We also talk about the KDE spin of Fedora and some of the problems the developers of Fedora's KDE spin face. Plus we talk about Debian's efforts to make running all graphical desktop environments more secure. Also in our News section we discuss Red Hat's recent deal with Microsoft to provide Red Hat Enterprise Linux to Microsoft's Azure customers. Our review this week covers Fedora 23 Workstation, the latest release from the Red Hat sponsored community distribution. In our Questions and Answers column we talk about balancing security with ease of use and in our Torrent Corner we share the torrents we are currently seeding. Later in this issue we provide a list of distribution releases from the past week and, in our Opinion Poll, we ask why many people have not yet transitioned to using advanced file systems. We wish you all a fantastic week and happy reading!
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (31MB) and MP3 (24MB) formats
• Music credit: Clouds Fly With Me by Matti Paalanen
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
A tip of the hat to Fedora 23
The Fedora distribution is a Red Hat sponsored community project which regularly ships with some of the latest software the open source community has to offer. The most recent release of the distribution, Fedora 23, features GNOME 3.18, LibreOffice 5, version 4.2 of the Linux kernel and the ability to access Google Drive from the GNOME file manager. This release also features packages built with security hardening features like address space layout randomization (ASLR) which makes it more difficult to exploit vulnerabilities in software. In addition, Fedora has almost entirely migrated from Python 2 to Python 3 with all core utilities such as the Anaconda system installer now using Python 3. A full list of changes can be found in the Fedora 23 release notes.
These days, the Fedora distribution is made available in several editions, including Workstation, Server and Cloud. I decided to download the project's Workstation edition which is available as a 1.4GB ISO. The default desktop environment for the Workstation edition is GNOME Shell, but spins of Fedora are available with alternative desktop environments.
Booting from the Fedora media brings up a graphical screen where we are asked if we would like to try the live GNOME desktop environment or launch the project's Anaconda system installer. Jumping straight into the installer, we find that Anaconda is a graphical application which firsts asks us to select our preferred language from a list. We are then brought to a hub navigation screen where we can access configuration modules in the order of our choosing. These modules assist us in changing our keyboard's layout, partitioning the hard disk, adjusting the system's clock and assigning a hostname to our computer. These modules were pretty straight forward to use with the exception of the disk partitioning module. While the disk partitioning screens are flexible, giving us the ability to work with multiple disks, LVM volumes, Btrfs and traditional file systems, I found the style of these screens confusing. Fedora has one of the few partition managers where I need to stop and carefully consider the presented options and how they work and I find the multi-screen process unnecessarily complicated compared to the partitioning tools used by other Linux distributions.
I did get through the partition manager with virtually no problems, other than being told I could not set up my entire installation on a Btrfs volume. The Fedora distribution requires the /boot partition be placed on a traditional file system, such as ext4. When I tried to use Btrfs for all mount points, I was warned my actions would not end well and given the chance to go back and change my disk layout. The installer then began copying its files to my hard drive and I was presented with a second hub screen. This hub screen contains just two modules, one for creating a password for the root account and another module for creating a user account. The installer soon finished copying its files to my drive and I was prompted to reboot the computer.
Booting into our new copy of Fedora brings us to a graphical login screen. From here we can sign into our account and access GNOME Shell, GNOME Classic or GNOME on Wayland desktop sessions. While I do appreciate the user experience of GNOME Shell on touch devices, I find I much prefer the GNOME Classic desktop when using a keyboard and mouse to operate my computer. At this point, the Wayland session does not work smoothly for me, so I spent the bulk of my time using the GNOME Classic session.
The first time we sign into GNOME, a series of configuration screens appear and ask us to select our preferred language and our keyboard's layout. We are also asked if we would like to enable GNOME's location services and automated bug reporting. The following screen asks if we would like to connect our local account to on-line accounts such as Facebook, Google and ownCloud. With these steps completed, the desktop brings up a window containing the GNOME help documentation. I'm not entirely certain if the configuration screens GNOME shows us are more useful or annoying. A little customization early on can be nice, but asking if we want to enable location services on a desktop computer and connect to a Google account makes me wonder if GNOME is primarily funded by companies such as Google and Twitter. I will say though that the help documentation is quite nice to have. It provides users with simple steps for performing common tasks and I think that is a nice feature.
Fedora 23 -- The GNOME Settings panel
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The desktop will be presented differently depending on which login session we use. The GNOME Shell environment offers a mostly empty desktop with an Activities button in the upper-left corner. Accessing the Activities view allows us to switch between open applications. The Activities menu also allows us to search for and launch desktop applications. Personally, I find the Activities menu a bit awkward to navigate with a keyboard and mouse, so I usually used the GNOME Classic desktop. GNOME Classic features a tree-style application menu in the upper-left corner of the screen along with a menu of commonly accessed directories. Both desktops provide a settings menu over in the upper-right corner of the display.
Looking through Fedora's list of default applications we find the Firefox web browser, the Empathy messaging software, LibreOffice 5 and the Evolution e-mail application. The Shotwell photo manager is installed for us along with the DevAssistant utility, which I will talk about later. Fedora ships with the Cheese webcam utility, the Rhythmbox audio player and the Totem video player. The distribution ships with a settings panel for managing the GNOME desktop, printers and user accounts. We are also provided with the Boxes virtual machine manager, a calculator, a file manager, document viewer and a weather app. There is an application for managing the system clock, a remote desktop viewer and a simple image viewer. Fedora ships with systemd 222 and version 4.2.3 of the Linux kernel. The distribution does not provide us with much in the way of multimedia codecs and there is no support for Flash.
Fedora 23 -- Various desktop applications
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On the subject of multimedia support, I found trying to play a media file would bring up a window which would offer to locate the appropriate codecs for us in the distribution's repositories. This is a nice feature in theory, but not particularly useful since there are no additional codecs in the Fedora repositories. To gain multimedia support we need to manually locate and connect to a third-party software repository such as RPM Fusion.
At the time of writing, RPM Fusion has not published links to its Fedora 23 package repositories, but the files are there for those who can figure out where to look. I enabled the RPM Fusion repositories which in turn allowed Fedora to locate and install the missing multimedia codecs I needed to access my media files. At least the search feature worked sometimes. On a few occasions the search feature found the codecs I needed, but then reported it could not install the located codecs. No reason for the failure was provided at any time when an installation failed. I didn't find Flash in the RPM Fusion repositories, but I did find a Flash installer. Installing the Flash installer program pulled in extra (and unexpected) packages such as the obsolete YUM package manager. Since the Flash installer program relies on files and directories which are not presently used (possibly because the DNF package manager has replaced YUM) the Flash installer did not work. I was able to install the Gnash player which is a free software alternative to Flash. Gnash worked fairly well, not perfectly, but good enough for most purposes.
Fedora uses the GNOME Software application to manage desktop applications and updates. The Software application begins by showing us some recommended items and categories of software we can browse. Categories are further broken down into sub-categories, each containing just a few applications. This multi-level approach to categories makes it easier to find a particular type of application, but means browsing for a specific item might take more time. We also have the option of searching for programs by name. One thing I found curious about Software was the application appears to be almost exclusively focused on providing us with desktop software, not background items, libraries or command line programs. However, there are exceptions. So while I could not find the nmap command line program or the Flash plugin installer from within Software, I did use the Software package manager to install multimedia codecs.
Fedora 23 -- The Software package manager
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We can also use the DNF command line package manager to locate, install, remove or update software on our system. I found DNF worked fairly well, it is not as fast as the APT or pacman package managers on other distributions, but I prefer the clear output and syntax of DNF. On the first day of my trial with Fedora, DNF found 137 updates in the distribution's repositories and these new packages totalled 289MB in size. All updates I downloaded during my trail installed cleanly and without any problems.
Earlier I mentioned the DevAssistant application, a program which tries to make setting up coding projects easier for developers. As someone who writes code and needs to juggle GitHub accounts and RPM builds, I was happy to see this tool included. I tried setting up a few coding projects through DevAssistant and the application worked fairly well. DevAssistant offers to connect us to a GitHub project, will install RPM build tools and compilers for us and install dependencies. For new projects, the application will try to set up files needed to build RPM packages. My one issue with DevAssistant was that, upon completing its work, DevAssistant would lock up while still indicating it was working. After confirming DevAssistant was not active, I was able to force the application to quit and then re-start it to set up additional projects.
Fedora 23 -- DevAssistant
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I experimented with Fedora in two test environments, a physical desktop computer and a VirtualBox virtual machine. Fedora worked well on my desktop computer. The system was responsive, though a bit slow to boot. Fedora properly detected my screen's resolution and automatically connected to the local network. In the virtual machine, Fedora offered a less pleasant experience. When running in VirtualBox, the distribution was slow to perform tasks and the desktop was sluggish when responding to input. By default, Fedora does not integrate with VirtualBox and offers a low screen resolution. I ended up installing VirtualBox plug-ins and enabling 3-D support after enabling RPM Fusion's software repositories. This gave me a better display resolution, but the system was still uncomfortably slow to respond. Fedora was quite heavy on RAM in either test environment, requiring 720MB of memory to run GNOME Shell and about 625MB to run GNOME Classic. This makes Fedora one of the most memory-hungry distributions I have encountered.
Last week, when I reviewed Ubuntu 15.10, I commented that the experience was virtually identical to running the previous two releases of the Ubuntu distribution. I came away from my time with Fedora 23 with a very similar feeling. There are some minor package upgrades with regards to GNOME, the Linux kernel and LibreOffice, but otherwise the experience is virtually identical, at least on the surface, to running the previous two versions of Fedora. As with Ubuntu, this is either good news or bad, depending on your views on the distribution. If you loved GNOME last year and enjoy working with the Anaconda installer and liked the configuration tools and default utilities of Fedora 21 and 22, then Fedora 23 provides you with more of the same, along with some behind the scenes bonus material like packages built with ASLR. On the flip side of things, if you disliked GNOME's excessive use of white space, the extra configuration screens, Anaconda's strange approach to handling storage space, and you don't like the way the Software package manager seems to randomly show or hide software, then you may be unhappy to hear those characteristics are still present.
I am pleased to report the tools that ship with Fedora 23 generally worked well. I was especially happy to see progress has been made on the DevAssistant utility, even if the program did still lock up on me when it was finished setting up a project. I was especially happy to note the package manager lock-ups I have experienced with nearly every Fedora release in the past five years did not occur during my time with Fedora 23. A few packages did fail to install (for reasons unknown) and that was annoying, but at least I did not encounter locks on the package database that usually plagued past versions of the distribution.
On the whole I generally enjoyed Fedora 23. There are some rough edges, but most things worked for me. My one concern with the edition I tried was that the edition was called Workstation, but virtually every aspect of the operating system acts like a mobile device. Which I would probably like if this edition were called the Consumer edition or the Mobile edition. The big buttons, empty screen space and Activities menu would be well suited to a tablet. However, I feel this style is out of place on a developer's workstation. Fedora Workstation seems to be walking a strange path where the user needs to know how to hunt down and configure extra repositories to play audio files and should be expected to use tools such as DevAssistant to set up coding projects, but yet the user also needs to be guided through accessing Facebook and finding a web browser in the package manager. I guess what I am getting to is Fedora 23 worked well for me, I am just not sure who the target audience is.
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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)
Cinnamon 2.8 comes to Linux Mint, a key Fedora KDE maintainer quits, Debian explores running X without root privileges and Red Hat signs deal with Microsoft
A new and improved version of the Cinnamon desktop environment will soon be available to users of the Linux Mint distribution. Cinnamon 2.8 boasts improved performance, better sound and system tray management and better support for multi-screen configurations. Clement Lefebvre announced the new version of Cinnamon, posting: "On behalf of the team and all the developers who contributed to this build, I am proud to announce the release of Cinnamon 2.8! This new version will be featured in Linux Mint 17.3 `Rosa' planned for the end of November and in LMDE 2 `Betsy'. Have a lot of fun with this new release and don't hesitate to give us some feedback! Enjoy." A full list of improvements to Cinnamon along with screen shots can be found in the release announcement.
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Sad news arrived last week in the wake of the release of Fedora 23. Kevin Kofler, one of the developers of Fedora's KDE spin and maintainer of many KDE packages for the Fedora distribution, removed himself from the Fedora KDE Special Interest Group (SIG) and from maintainership of Fedora's KDE packages. Kofler's announcement appears to have been triggered by issues he sees as on-going problems in both the KDE and Fedora communities. Regarding recent changes to KDE, he wrote: "The set of packages keeps growing and growing (mainly due to splitting of existing packages). The KDE SC used to be about a dozen packages. When a new release came out, it could be updated to manually (without any scripts) by one person in about a day. These days, we are talking about hundreds of packages. (I am supposedly co-maintaining over 300 packages at the moment.)" He also expressed frustration with the way spins are treated in the Fedora community: "The way the Fedora Project has been treating KDE since Fedora 21 (when `Fedora.Next' was introduced) makes me feel like a second-class citizen in the Fedora community. After years of fighting for equal treatment of KDE in Fedora, Fedora.Next with its `Fedora is now more focused' (on GNOME) message was a major setback and a huge disappointment. (Another symptom of this evolution is how the PackageKit backend was rewritten with only the exact feature set GNOME Software happens to need, leaving Apper utterly broken.)" Some Fedora users are concerned as to what this means for the future of Fedora's KDE spin, downloads for which already account for a mere 5% of Fedora's total installation media downloads.
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Traditionally, the X software which is used to display graphics on most Linux and BSD platforms, has run with root (or system administrator) privileges. Operating with root access is potentially dangerous and a security concern since anyone able to compromise the X software would gain nearly unlimited access to the computer where X was running. The Debian distribution is rolling out updates to the X display software which allows X to run without root access. The Phoronix website reports: "A Phoronix reader pointed out that as of the end of October, the xorg-server 1.17.3-1 update no longer uses setuid root by default. This non-root X.Org Server by default makes use of systemd's logind and libpam-systemd. It also needs a kernel DRM/KMS video driver, X runs on a virtual console from where it was started, and it now stores the Xorg.0.log within ~/.local/share/xorg/. If you are trying to avoid logind or you're using a graphics processor not backed by a modern DRM/KMS driver, you will need to install the xserver-xorg-legacy package to let the X.Org Server run as root."
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Last week, both Red Hat and Microsoft announced a joint business deal which will, among other things, make Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) a supported product on Microsoft's cloud infrastructure. According to a Red Hat blog post on the subject, recent releases of Red Hat products, including RHEL 6.7 and 7.1, will be made available in Microsoft's Azure cloud. "Red Hat Cloud Access will be available to Red Hat customers in the weeks following the announcement for Microsoft Azure, enabling customers to easily import Red Hat products and use them in Azure. Pre-configured pay-as-you-go Red Hat offerings in the Azure Marketplace will be available in the months to follow."
One interesting aspect of Red Hat's agreement with Microsoft is the way the companies have addressed patents. Microsoft has long held claim that Linux violates its software patents and has used this claim to discourage the use of Linux and to encourage companies who sell Linux-based software to sign licensing deals. Red Hat's blog reports, "Red Hat and Microsoft have agreed to a limited patent arrangement in connection with the commercial partnership for the benefit of mutual customers. The heart of the arrangement is a patent standstill that provides that neither company will pursue a patent lawsuit or claim against the other or its customers, while we are partnering." It will be interesting to see how the Linux community reacts to this partnership. About nine years ago, Novell (then the corporate backer of SUSE and openSUSE) signed a business agreement with Microsoft which also included patent protection. The fallout was remarkable, with a number of open source projects and users boycotting openSUSE. Time will tell if the Linux community has softened its stance with regards to Microsoft or if Red Hat will face a similar condemnation.
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Balancing privacy with ease of use
Trying-to-keep-things-private asks: I've read a lot about Linux distros being more secure than operating systems like Windows since you can review the source code yourself and that makes a lot of sense. There are Linux distros available that focus on security such as Tails and Ubuntu Privacy Remix. Unfortunately they all seem to have cons.
So my question to you: Can you recommend some distros that are above average for security and privacy, but are user friendly and can be used as an everyday OS? I would love for you to recommend some Linux distros that are above average and some that are way above average.
DistroWatch answers: First, I would like to point out that distributions such as Tails, which are highly focused on privacy and on-line security, generally are not designed with regular day-to-day computer use in mind. A distribution like Tails is useful for people who wish to communicate information privately or operate in a hostile environment. Tails is useful for journalists who need to send reports or communicate privately with sources. Such a distribution might also be useful for a political protester. Tails is meant to make communication as private and anonymous as possible without the requirement of installing the operating system on the local computer. This makes Tails a distribution that is far above average when it comes to privacy, but not particularly practical for use at home or the office.
Most of the mainstream Linux distributions have a pretty good security record and try to protect the privacy of their users. Part of that is the nature of open source (it's harder to hide spyware when people can see exactly what the program is doing). Part of what makes Linux better at privacy though is the culture. People who work on Linux (and free software) are usually more interested in personal rights, privacy and keeping their computers secure. Many Linux distributions are not made by corporate software companies and so lack much of the financial incentive to monitor their users.
This does mean that, on the whole, most Linux distributions will be better about not monitoring your behaviour and phoning home with information about you. (Many see Ubuntu's transmission of dash searches to be an exception, but even this invasive feature can be easily disabled in the distribution's settings panel.) Most of the mainstream distributions are also proactive when it comes to fixing security holes which might lead to the operating system being compromised.
I think what you are looking for may depend on just how secure you need to be. If you are a journalist trying to protect a source, then Tails is probably the best tool for the job. On the other hand, most people doing common tasks at home like sending e-mail, browsing the web and making on-line purchases should be fine with something like Linux Mint. For people who want to have a useful day-to-day operating system, but want to be able to lock it down further, then I suggest looking at Fedora. On Fedora SELinux is enabled by default. Plus, Fedora is one of the few distributions to ship with SELinux tools by default. Running SELinux means the operating system can be locked down quite a bit and SELinux, when used properly, can mitigate many security breaches.
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Past Questions and Answers columns can be found in our Q&A Archive.
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 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. 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: 130
- Total data uploaded: 19.4TB
|Released Last Week
Stephan Raue has announced the release of OpenELEC 6.0, a major new version of the specialist Linux distribution designed for media centres and featuring the brand-new Kodi 15.2 media centre software: "The OpenELEC team is proud to announce OpenELEC 6.0 (6.0.0) The most visible change is Kodi 15.2 (Isengard). Beginning with Kodi 15.0, most audio encoder, audio decoder, PVR and visualisation add-ons are no longer pre-bundled into OpenELEC but can be downloaded from the Kodi add-on repository if required. PVR backends, such as VDR and TVHeadend, will install needed dependencies automatically. We now officially support WeTek's WeTek_Play device with a build that installs to internal NAND and dual-boots with Android on an SD card. The iMX6 build extends support to all Solidrun CuBox-i/TV, Solidrun Hummingboard devices and the OSMC Vero. We recommend CuBox-i2eX / Hummingboard-i2eX or better devices. Under the hood there are updates to FFmpeg 2.6, MESA 10.6, X.Org Server 1.17, libva 1.6, systemd 219, Binutils 2.25, glibc 2.22, LibreSSL 2.1.7, LLVM 3.6 and Linux kernel 4.1 (except for iMX6 and WeTek_Play)." Continue to the release announcement for more details.
The Fedora team has launched a new version of their Red Hat sponsored Linux distribution. The new release, Fedora 23, is available in multiple editions, including Workstation, Server and Cloud as well as multiple community spins. The latest version of Fedora ships with version 3.18 of the GNOME desktop, LibreOffice 5 and version 4.2 of the Linux kernel. This release sees core utilities, such as the system installer and package manager, ported to Python 3. In addition, software packages have been hardened with memory address randomization built in. "As with every Fedora release, almost every component has a new version, with improvements across the board. Of particular note, Fedora Workstation includes the GNOME 3.18 desktop environment and the LibreOffice 5.0 office suite. Fedora 23 also has important under-the-hood security improvements, with increased hardening for all compiled software and with insecure SSL3 and RC4 protocols disabled. We've also updated all of the software installed by default in Fedora Cloud Base Image and Fedora Workstation to use Python version 3, and the Mono .NET compatible framework is now at version 4. Perhaps most importantly, Unicode 8.0 support now enables the crucial U1F32D character." Additional information can be found in the release announcement and in the detailed release notes.
Fedora 23 -- GNOME Shell and viewing the application menu
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The developers of Tails (The Amnesic Incognito Live System), a Debian-based live operating system for communicating securely, have announced the release of Tails 1.7. The new release fixes a number of bugs and introduces "offline mode" which disables all network activity. You can now start Tails in offline mode to disable all networking for additional security. Doing so can be useful when working on sensitive documents. We added Icedove, a re-branded version of the Mozilla Thunderbird email client. Icedove is currently a technology preview. It is safe to use in the context of Tails but it will be better integrated in future versions until we remove Claws Mail. Users of Claws Mail should refer to our instructions to migrate their data from Claws Mail to Icedove." Further information can be found in the project's release announcement. The project has also provided a list of known issues.
SME Server 8.2
Terry Fage has announced the release of a new version of the SME Server distribution. SME Server is intended for use on servers in small and medium businesses and is based on CentOS. The latest release, SME Server 8.2, provides users with an update to the distribution's 8.x series and is based on CentOS 5.x. SME Server 8.2 introduces support for Windows 10 domains and includes OpenSSL packages from the project's upstream distribution. "CentOS 5 has dropped support for i586 and therefore SME Server 8.2 will not work on i586 hardware. i586 hardware means processors before and including Intel Pentium, Pentium MMX; AMD K5, K6, K6-II, K6-III and Via C3. i686 architecture processors are Intel Pentium Pro, Pentium II, Pentium III; AMD Athlon, Athlon XP and later. Some notes on SME Server 8.2 including help on upgrades can be found at http://wiki.contribs.org/SME_Server_8. Please note Upstream policy on Production Phase 3 for EL5. Only those security updates deemed crucial are now being released upstream for EL5 (so also for SME 8) The Koozali team recommends that you start moving workloads from SME Server 8 to SME Server 9. Planned EOL for CentOS 5 is March 31 2017." Further information can be found in the project's release announcement.
The openSUSE project has announced the launch of a new edition and new release for the openSUSE distribution. The new edition is called Leap and the initial release carries the version number 42.1. openSUSE 42.1 is a community project which also pulls in packages from SUSE Linux Enterprise (SLE), making Leap a hybrid of sorts. "Version 42.1 is the first version of openSUSE Leap that uses source from SUSE Linux Enterprise (SLE) providing a level of stability that will prove to be unmatched by other Linux distributions. Bonding community development and enterprise reliability provides more cohesion for the project and its contributor’s maintenance updates. openSUSE Leap will benefit from the enterprise maintenance effort and will have some of the same packages and updates as SLE, which is different from previous openSUSE versions that created separate maintenance streams. Community developers provide an equal level of contribution to Leap and upstream projects to the release, which bridges a gap between matured packages and newer packages found in openSUSE's other distribution, Tumbleweed." The release features a new version of the YaST system administration tool, KDE's Plasma 5.4 and GNOME 3.16. More information on openSUSE 42.1 "Leap" can be found in the project's release announcement and in the release notes.
openSUSE 42.1 -- Running KDE's Plasma 5 desktop
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Rob Whyte has announced the release of Vinux 5.0. Vinux is based on the Ubuntu distribution and is designed to be used by blind and partially sighted users. "This release features not just the Unity Desktop, but GNOME Shell and the ever popular GNOME 2 fork called MATE, though we primarily will support Unity only. Remember we recommend that when possible users perform updates on a regular basis. This will enable the Vinux team to update packages, and introduce new features. Vinux 5.0 is based upon Ubuntu Trusty Tahr 188.8.131.52 LTS. Some of the highlights in Vinux 5.0: New re-designed Vinux boot logo. Up to date accessibility infrastructure. Current GNOME-Orca and accessibility framework. Improvements with Nautilus file manager when processing large folders." Vinux 5.0 is available in 32-bit and 64-bit builds for the x86 architecture and will receive security updates through until 2019. Further information on this release can be found in the project's README file.
Nanni Bassetti has announced the release of CAINE 7.0, an updated build of the specialist distribution containing a large collection of tools designed for forensic analysis and penetration testing. This version is based on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS: "CAINE 7.0 'DeepSpace' is out. Changelog: Linux kernel 3.13; based on Ubuntu 14.04.1 64-bit, UEFI and Secure Boot ready; SystemBack is the installer. The important news is that CAINE 7.0 blocks all the block devices (e.g. /dev/sda), in read-only mode. You can use a tool with a GUI named BlockOn/Off present on Caine's desktop. This new write blocking method assures that all disks are really preserved from accidentally writing operations, because they are locked in read-only mode. If you need to write to a disk, you can unlock it with BlockOn/Off or by using 'Mounter' to change the policy. Another important news is the addition of the VNC server and client for controlling CAINE from a remote location. CAINE now boots faster and it can boot to RAM." Visit the project's home page to read the full release announcement, see the screenshots, and to check out the list of newly added software applications.
Chris Buechler has announced the release of a new version of pfSense, an operating system designed for use in firewalls. The new release, pfSense 2.2.5, arrives on the project's 11th birthday and contains mostly bug fixes for previous versions. "pfSense software version 2.2.5 is now available. This release includes a number of bug fixes and some security updates. Today is also the 11 year birthday of the project. While work started in late summer 2004, the domains were registered and the project made public on November 5, 2004. Thanks to everyone that has helped make the project a great success for 11 years. Things just keep getting better, and the best is yet to come. Security fixes and errata - pfSense-SA-15_08.webgui: Multiple Stored XSS Vulnerabilities in the pfSense WebGUI. The complete list of affected pages and fields is listed in the linked SA." People who were running an earlier version of pfSense in the 2.2.x series should be able to upgrade smoothly to the latest version. "As always, you can upgrade from any previous version straight to 2.2.5. For those already running any 2.2.x version, this is a low risk upgrade. For those on 2.1.x or earlier versions, there are a number of significant changes which may impact you." Further information can be found in the project's release announcement.
Chakra GNU/Linux 2015.11
The Chakra project has announced the availability of new installation media for Chakra GNU/Linux. The new version, Chakra GNU/Linux 2015.11 (code name "Fermi"), uses KDE's Plasma 5 as the default desktop environment. The Calamares system installer has replaced Chakra's Tribe installer and the SDDM display manager has been included as it integrates well with KDE's Plasma. "We are delighted to announce that Chakra 2015.11-Fermi is out! As always, this release is a snapshot of our stable repositories and includes all the updates and changes that have happened in Chakra since the last release. The Fermi series of ISO releases marks some very important changes for Chakra: Plasma 5 is the default desktop environment, replacing kde-workspace 4. Calamares a new modern installer which is actively developed, has replaced Tribe, which has served Chakra well over the years but it was becoming very outdated. A new repository structure, which includes changes aiming at simplifying things for both developers and users. A new display manager, SDDM, which is very well integrated with Plasma 5. New artwork, codenamed 'Heritage' , which is a fork of the very successful Caledonia artwork, together with new wallpapers. Unfortunately Kapudan, our desktop greeter that runs after the first boot and allows users to adjust some personal settings, hasn't been ported to Frameworks 5 yet, so it will be missing from this ISO." Further details can be found in the project's release announcement.
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Why not use advanced file systems?
Advanced file systems are a common feature across most open source operating systems these days. Linux has Btrfs and add-on modules for ZFS; FreeBSD, OpenIndiana and NetBSD offer ZFS support; DragonFly BSD provides users with the HAMMER file system. These advanced file systems provide users with an easy way to manage multiple storage devices, snapshots, deduplication, boot environments, better security against data loss and the ability to store massive amounts of data. Yet many people still stick with older file systems such as ext4 and UFS.
There are many possible reasons why advanced file systems might see less adoption. Many Linux distributions do not support Btrfs in their installers, for example. Many people are exposed to false information about Btrfs and ZFS while others take a philosophy of sticking with what has worked for them in the past. This week we would like to hear from readers who do not currently use advanced file systems and find out why you stick with older file systems. Please leave us a comment with your thoughts.
You can see the results of last week's poll on the number of computers in the home here. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
Why not use advanced file systems?
|Traditional file systems work for me: ||1026 (47%)|
| I am waiting for new file systems to mature: ||497 (23%)|
| I worry about resource usage: ||126 (6%)|
| I have concerns with the license: ||9 (0%)|
| My preferred OS does not support advanced file systems: ||116 (5%)|
| Other: ||94 (4%)|
| I do use an advanced file system: ||304 (14%)|
Distributions added to waiting list
- POS OS. POS OS is a point of sale operating system created by RoshanTech. It is based on the Linux Mint distribution.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 16 November 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)
- Michael DeGuzis of Libre Geek (podcast)
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 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|
|• Issue 712 (2017-05-15): NixOS 17.03, Alpha Litebook running elementary OS, Canonical considers going public, Solus improves Bluetooth support|
|• Issue 711 (2017-05-08): 4MLinux 21.0, checking file system fragmentation, new Mint and Haiku features, pfSense roadmap, OpenBSD offers first syspatch updates|
|• Issue 710 (2017-05-01): TrueOS 2017-02-22, Debian ported to RISC-V, Halium to unify mobile GNU/Linux, Anbox runs Android apps on GNU/Linux, using ZFS on the root file system|
|• Issue 709 (2017-04-24): Ubuntu 17.04, Korora testing new software manager, Ubuntu migrates to Wayland, running Nix package manager on alternative distributions|
|• Issue 708 (2017-04-17): Maui Linux 17.03, Snaps run on Fedora, Void adopts Flatpak, running Android apps on GNU/Linux, Debian elects Project Leader|
|• Issue 707 (2017-04-10): PCLinuxOS 2017.03, Canonical stops Unity development, OpenBSD on a Raspberry Pi, setting up a VPN for privacy|
|• Issue 706 (2017-04-03): Super Grub2 Disk, Snap packages of deepin applications, Subgraph OS routes network traffic for one application, announcements from Linux Mint|
|• Issue 705 (2017-03-27): Minimal Linux Live, sharing control of the operating system, new KaOS features, Uplos32 provides 32-bit fork of PCLinuxOS|
|• Issue 704 (2017-03-20): ToarusOS 1.0.4, Linux Mint's security record, Debian starts Project Leader election, Ubuntu 12.04 reaches end-of-life|
|• Issue 703 (2017-03-13): SolydXK 201701, CloudReady, Solus announces new features, KDE Connect sends text messages from desktop, openSUSE's YaST module for Let's Encrypt|
|• Issue 702 (2017-03-06): Fatdog64 Linux, elementary OS bundled with new netbook, Haiku announces new features, security and the size of a distro's development team|
|• Issue 701 (2017-02-27): OBRevenge 2017.02, Mageia 6 delays, NetBSD reproducible builds, questions about swap space, trying to steam video on a Raspberry Pi|
|• Issue 700 (2017-02-20): RaspBSD, Debian replaces Icedove with Thunderbird, Fedora's licensing guidlines, tips for switching shells, finding battery charge, getting IP address and killing processes|
|• Issue 699 (2017-02-13): Clear Linux, GhostBSD network utility ported to FreeBSD, Ubuntu coming to Fairphone, elementary OS crowd funding an app store|
|• Issue 698 (2017-02-06): Solus 2017.01.01, comparing containers with portable applicatins, Tails dropping 32-bit support, Debian Stretch enters freeze|
|• Issue 697 (2017-01-30): Subgraph OS 2016.12.30, running Ubuntu on an Android phone, Arch Linux phasing out 32-bit support, Linux Mint testing updated LMDE media|
|• Issue 696 (2017-01-23): GoboLinux 016, remotely running desktop applications, Solus adopting Flatpak, KDE neon using Calamares, TrueOS tests OpenRC|
|• Full list of all issues|
|Random Distribution |
Sorcerer was a source-based Linux distribution. Source tarballs are downloaded directly from software project home pages or as patches when an old source was previously downloaded. Sources are compiled for the architecture and with the optimisations that the system administrator specifies. Sorcerer has both command-line and menu-driven source management programs.