| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 708, 17 April 2017
Welcome to this year's 16th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
One of the positive aspects of using open source software is that the code which makes up our applications can be reviewed and audited for problems. This means anyone who has the skills and time can find bugs or security issues and fix them without waiting for a commercial software vendor to do it for them. This week we talk about installing programs using source code and the potential benefits involved in our Questions and Answers column. Then, in our Opinion Poll, we talk about sources and methods of installing new software. First though, we talk about a user friendly distribution, Maui Linux, which is based on KDE neon. The KDE neon project showcases the latest KDE software and Maui Linux shapes this cutting edge software into a full featured desktop system. We have more details on Maui Linux below, in our Feature Story. This week, in our News section, we talk about Snap packages coming to the Fedora distribution, Void supporting Flatpak, Red Hat retiring version 5 of Red Hat Enterprise Linux and how to run Android software on the GNU/Linux desktop. Plus we talk about the FreeNAS project's plans for the future of FreeNAS Corral, what will happen to Ubuntu GNOME once Ubuntu switches out Unity for the GNOME desktop and Debian's Project Leader election. As usual, we cover the releases of the past week and provide a list of the torrents we are seeding. We wish you all a fantastic week and happy reading!
- Review: Maui Linux 17.03
- News: Snap runs on Fedora, Void supports Flatpak, Red Hat retires RHEL 5, Android running on GNU/Linux desktops, FreeNAS changes plans for Corral, the future of Ubuntu GNOME, Debian elects new Project Leader
- Questions and answers: Seeking security in source code
- Released last week: Ubuntu 17.04, OpenBSD 6.1, OpenELEC 8.0.0, Tiny Core Linux 8.0
- Torrent corner: Antergos, CentOS, GoboLinux, NuTyX, OSGeo-Live, PCLinuxOS, TrueOS, Univention, Vine
- Upcoming releases: Tails 2.12
- Opinion poll: Sources for new software
- Reader comments
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (97MB) and MP3 (71MB) formats.
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Maui Linux 17.03
Maui Linux is a distribution which originally grew out of Netrunner, but is now developed as a separate project. Maui is currently based on KDE neon which is, in turn, based on Ubuntu long term support (LTS) releases. The project's website describes Maui as follows:
Fast and easy to use, yet powerful for computer users of all levels, Maui is a part-rolling distribution based on KDE Neon/Ubuntu. Maui features its own managed repositories and backport channels.
The Maui distribution is available in one edition which ships with the KDE Plasma 5 desktop environment. Maui is available for 64-bit x86 computers exclusively and the installation media is 1.9GB in size. The distribution does not shy away from shipping proprietary software and includes popular applications such as Steam and Skype in the default installation.
Booting from the Maui media causes the distribution to launch a live desktop environment. We are presented with the KDE Plasma 5.9.3 environment. The background is colourful and there are large icons on the desktop. These icons launch a software & hardware information panel, open the Dolphin file manager, open the project's release notes in the Firefox web browser and launch the distribution's system installer. At the bottom of the screen we find a panel that contains the application menu, task switcher and system tray. The icons in the panel are larger than I would usually expect. I also found the default fonts were unusually large on Maui compared to most other distributions. I liked seeing the bigger text as I tend to prefer larger (or at least thicker) fonts.
Maui uses the Calamares graphical system installer. Calamares works quickly and presents fairly clear prompts for information that make it easy to get the operating system installed quickly. Calamares walks us through selecting our preferred language from a list and we can choose our time zone from a map. We are then asked to confirm our keyboard's layout. Next comes disk partitioning and Calamares offers to either take over the disk or let us manually partition our hard drive. I took the manual option and found the partition manager to be easy to navigate and fairly flexible. Maui supports working with ext2/3/4, Btrfs, XFS, JFS and Reiser file systems. The installer can also set up encrypted partitions, help us place where to install the GRUB boot loader and work with either MBR or GPT disk layouts. The final screen of the installer asks us to create a user account. The installer then copies its files to our hard drive and offers to reboot the computer.
Maui Linux 17.03 -- The System Settings panel
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The new copy of Maui boots to a graphical login screen that is set against a plain, blue background. Signing into our account brings us back to the Plasma desktop. The application menu Maui uses is a bit unusual in that it takes up the whole screen, but doesn't present a grid of applications like GNOME or mobile devices usually do. Instead the full screen menu is divided into three columns. To the left we see a list of "favourite" programs, to the right we see a list of software categories and the middle column shows applications in the highlighted category. At the top of the menu is a search bar where we can look for programs using key words. Personally, I was not a fan of this full screen menu. It required more mouse movement than usual as I had to move the mouse to the bottom-left corner of the screen to bring up the menu, then move to the far-right to select a category and back to the middle to pick my application. Luckily, Maui provides three alternative menu styles we can access by right-clicking on the application menu button. These alternative menus include KDE's typical two-panel launcher and a classic tree-style menu.
Another feature which stood out was an icon in the system tray which, when clicked, causes a drop-down virtual terminal to appear at the top of the desktop. This drop-down terminal makes it easy to quickly launch programs from a command line environment. Next to the drop-down terminal icon is an indicator which lets us know when software updates are available.
Clicking the update icon in the system tray opens a window which displays the available software updates in Maui's repositories. The distribution uses the mintUpdate update manager which lists available updates with a safety rating. Ratings are given in the range of 1 through 5 with packages ranked as 1 being safe while packages marked with a 5 are considered unsafe. The update manager automatically selects packages in the range of 1 through 3 to be installed while riskier packages are displayed, but not downloaded automatically. During my trial with Maui all the available updates installed without any problems.
Maui Linux 17.03 -- Adjusting which updates are automatically selected
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Maui pulls in software packages from several sources. The distribution uses packages from Ubuntu and Ubuntu's Backports repositories as well as the Canonical Partners repository, a personal package archive (PPA) for WINE and Maui's own repositories. These package sources provide us with a wide range of software. To manage all of these packages we can use the APT command line tools or the Synaptic graphical package manager. Synaptic has a fairly simple layout, presenting a list of available packages in alphabetical order. We can use search terms or filters to narrow down the list to make it easier to find what we want. We can click a box next to packages to queue them to be installed, removed or upgraded. Synaptic may not be as newcomer friendly as many modern software managers, but it works quickly and offers many package- and repository-management options.
Maui Linux 17.03 -- Managing software packages with Synaptic
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I tried running Maui in two test environments, one was a desktop computer and the other was a VirtualBox virtual machine. Maui booted and ran in both environments, detecting my network connection and playing sound without any problems. I was pleased to find Maui integrated with VirtualBox automatically and was able to make full use of my host computer's screen resolution. In both environments Maui used approximately 360MB of RAM when logged into the Plasma desktop. The only difference I noticed when running Maui in the two environments was the Plasma desktop lagged when running in VirtualBox. This made navigating menus or moving windows frustrating. I found that disabling desktop effects and compositing improved Plasma's responsiveness a good deal. Maui still was not snappy in the virtual environment, but it worked well enough for day to day use. When running on physical hardware, Maui's desktop was responsive. I found the distribution was able to detect and set up my printer using a module in the System Settings panel, which I will touch on later.
Maui Linux 17.03 -- Setting up a printer
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Applications and features
The distribution ships with a lot of popular software, including the Firefox web browser with the Adobe Flash player. We are also given a copy of LibreOffice, the Pidgin messaging software, the Transmission bittorrent client and Thunderbird for e-mails. Maui provides us with a remote desktop client, the Okular document viewer and the Skype VoIP client. The distribution ships with several multimedia applications including the Audacious music player, the Handbrake transcoding software, the VLC media player, the vokoscreen desktop recorder and the Kamoso webcam utility. We are offered such artistic programs as the GNU Image Manipulation Program, the Krita drawing program and Inkscape. There are several games in the application menu along with the Steam gaming portal from Valve. Maui ships with the KDE Partition Manager, a copy of VirtualBox for running virtual machines and a process monitor. Common utilities such as an archive manager, text editor, calculator and the K3b disc burning application round out the selection. In the background we find Java is available along with the GNU Compiler Collection. Maui uses systemd 229 for its init software and runs on version 4.4.0 of the Linux kernel.
One of the tools Maui provides which stood out was Grub Customizer. This is a graphical utility which helps the user edit their boot menu entries, add or edit kernel parameters and change the appearance of the boot menu. Digging around GRUB's configuration files by hand can get confusing and editing the boot loader's configuration manually can lead to a system not booting properly. Having this graphical tool, which turns managing GRUB into a point and click experience, was a welcome feature.
Maui Linux 17.03 -- The default application menu
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Another feature of Maui I appreciated was the System Settings panel, which is used to tweak and customize the Plasma desktop, also includes configuration modules for managing the underlying operating system. Looking through the settings panel we can find modules for managing printers, creating user accounts and managing background services. I find that I like this unified settings panel approach where I can configure both the desktop and manage the operating system. This seems more convenient to me than having separate settings panels for the operating system and the desktop environment.
While I was using Maui I took note of a few features which I felt set the distribution apart from others I have tried recently. Earlier I mentioned Maui tends to use large fonts and icons, which I appreciate. I also found the default theme placed clear, thick borders around windows. I like this as it removes the guess work as to which window currently has focus and where the border is for resizing a window. Often times distributions will use themes which cause windows to blur together or hide window edges and I preferred Maui's high-contrast approach.
Earlier, I mentioned there is a README icon on the desktop which brings up a window with the project's release notes. This is convenient for finding out about new features. Though I think newcomers to Maui might be confused as the distribution is referred to alternatively as Maui and Netrunner in the notes.
One of the few aspects of Maui I did not like was the distribution is very quick to log us out. Clicking any of the shutdown, reboot or logout buttons in the application menu (whether intentionally or accidentally) immediately logs out the user without further warning or pause. If the user is not careful, this can cause work in progress to be lost. Most other distributions wait a few seconds or get confirmation before logging out the user to avoid accidentally interrupting tasks and I would have preferred if Maui had followed the trend.
On the whole I enjoyed using Maui, more than I had expected. There was not any one feature or program which really stood out as amazing, but I liked the overall style of the distribution. Maui provides a lot of software and features out of the box, offers a stable core based on an Ubuntu LTS release and includes cutting edge KDE Plasma software. I like that the application menu is full of useful software while avoiding overlap in functionality. I also appreciate how easy it is to use the Calamares installer and how quickly Calamares sets up the operating system. Mostly, I like that the distribution provides distinct windows, large fonts and a high-contrast theme which I found easy to look at over longer periods.
I ran into just two issues or concerns while using Maui. One was the performance of the desktop with its default settings in the virtual test environment. Maui performed well on my desktop computer, but Plasma was slow to respond when running in VirtualBox. It is possible to improve performance by adjusting some items in the System Settings panel, but it would have been nice if the desktop had defaulted to more efficient settings.
My second issue was not a bug, but rather a matter of style. Maui has a friendly look, lots of simple configuration modules and, over all, a very modern and easy to use approach. Everything looks new and tasks are typically performed through slick, graphical wrappers. The one exception I found was Synaptic. The venerable package manager works well, but is a bit cryptic compared to most modern software managers. I like Synaptic for its speed and flexibility, but I think something like GNOME Software or mintInstall might be more in line with Maui's newcomer-friendly approach.
On the whole, I like Maui. The distribution is easy to set up, friendly and generally stayed out of my way while I was working. This seems like a fairly beginner friendly desktop distribution which does a good job of making things easy without distracting the user or doing too much hand holding.
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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
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Visitor supplied rating
Maui Linux has a visitor supplied average rating of: 9.2/10 from 29 review(s).
Have you used Maui Linux? You can leave your own review of the project on our ratings page.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
Snap runs on Fedora, Void supports Flatpak, Red Hat retires RHEL 5, Android running on GNU/Linux desktops, FreeNAS changes plans for Corral, the future of Ubuntu GNOME, Debian elects new Project Leader
Snaps are portable software packages which should be able to run on any Linux distribution with the Snap software installed. Developers can create Snap packages that will easily work across multiple distributions and users can download and install Snaps without waiting for their distribution to package the software in their official repositories. "Among other things, Snaps make packaging, distribution and updates really easy for developers and automated for users. Which means you will get the latest version of your installed apps directly from upstream, on release day, or even daily if upstream has integrated Snap publication into their CI process." A post on the Ubuntu Insights site has reported that Snap is now available for Fedora, specifically versions 24, 25 and the upcoming version 26 of Fedora. Support for Snap packages can be added to Fedora by installing the snapd package from Fedora's repositories.
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To date, most of the projects lining up to support working with either the Flatpak or the Snap portable package formats have been mainstream distributions like Fedora and Ubuntu. However, they are not the only ones. The independent, lightweight Void distribution has put their support behind Flatpak. In a brief news post the team says: "Today we merged Flatpak into the repository for all supported architectures and both libc implementations (musl and glibc). Flatpak provides a simple and user-friendly way to run, update and create self-contained desktop applications. It is possible to run proprietary, big and bloated software like Skype or Spotify on a lightning fast and sleek musl-based Void Linux system." This should also allow Void users to install the latest open source Flatpak packages from upstream projects as new versions become available.
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Red Hat has announced it is retiring support for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5. Version 5 was originally released back in 2007 and, following ten years of support and eleven updates, is being retired. This will also likely mark the end of support for related community projects such as CentOS 5. Red Hat customers who need to continue using version 5 have the option of purchasing extended support for three and a half years. The Red Hat announcement has further details: "We recognize that some customers will wish to remain on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 even after the March 31, 2017 retirement date. To meet this customer requirement, Red Hat will offer customers the option to purchase the Extended Life Cycle Support (ELS) Add-On as an annually renewable subscription. This ELS Add-On provides customers with up to an additional three and a half (3.5) years of Critical Impact security fixes and selected Urgent Priority bug fixes for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.11. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 ELS coverage will conclude on November 30, 2020. Note that the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 ELS Add-On is available for the x86 (32- and 64-bit) and z Systems architectures only. The Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 ELS Add-On is not available for the Itanium architecture. In addition, the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 ELS Add-On is only available for Server, and does not apply to layered products or Add-Ons."
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The Android operating system runs a huge number of applications. The Android software ecosystem is massive and contains many useful tools, games and communications software. Over the years there have been several efforts to make Android applications run on GNU/Linux operating systems, with varying degrees of success. Most recently the Anbox project has made progress in running Android on GNU/Linux systems, including Canonical's mobile Ubuntu Touch platform. The Anbox software uses Linux container technology and should work on any Linux distribution that can run Snap packages. "Anbox puts the Android operating system into a container, abstracts hardware access and integrates core system services into a GNU/Linux system. Every Android application will behave integrated into your operating system like any other native application. To achieve our goal we use standard Linux technologies like containers (LXC) to separate the Android operating system from the host. The Android version doesn't matter for this approach and we try to keep up with the latest available version from the Android Open Source project." Further information can be found on the Anbox website.
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Back on March 15th, FreeNAS Corral was released. The new version, which was originally going to be named FreeNAS 10, marked a significant departure from past versions of the FreeBSD-based storage system. A lot of changes were introduced in FreeNAS Corral and it seems many of the project's users were not in favour of the new design. Kris Moore has reported that the FreeNAS team has shifted direction and is now treating FreeNAS Corral as a technology preview while new features are being backported to the older FreeNAS 9 release. "FreeNAS Corral as it was originally released is being relegated to "technology preview" status while we work hard to re-base its exciting new features upon the rock-solid FreeNAS 9.10 base. As many of you die-hard FreeNAS users know, we released FreeNAS Corral on March 15th, and the initial community response was largely positive. There was a lot of excitement around the updated UI and the VM/Docker support, especially. However, we've also seen nearly half of the initial users revert back to FreeNAS 9.10. User feedback about this drop-off has been clear: challenges upgrading from 9.10, general instability, lack of feature parity with 9.10 (Jails, iSCSI, etc), and some users experiencing lower performance than expected given the increased demands FreeNAS Corral has on system hardware resources. With the subsequent departure of the FreeNAS Corral project lead, we re-examined the features, benefits, and issues with Corral and have decided to revise our plan for its future." Details on FreeNAS's plans for the future can be found in Moore's forum post.
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We recently reported that Canonical is ceasing development of the Unity desktop environment. Future versions of Ubuntu will use the GNOME desktop environment instead of Unity. This move raised some questions as to what would happen to the Ubuntu GNOME community edition, which supplies the GNOME Shell desktop on an Ubuntu base. Jeremy Bicha has posted an answer, indicating Ubuntu GNOME will be discontinued. "As announced last week by Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth, Ubuntu 18.04 LTS will include GNOME instead of Unity. Specifically, it will be GNOME (including GNOME Shell) with minimal Ubuntu customization. Next year, if you are using either Ubuntu 16.04 LTS or Ubuntu GNOME 16.04 LTS, you will be prompted to upgrade to Ubuntu 18.04 LTS. For normal release users, this upgrade should happen with the release of 17.10. As a result of this decision there will no longer be a separate GNOME flavor of Ubuntu. The development teams from both Ubuntu GNOME and Ubuntu Desktop will be merging resources and focusing on a single combined release, that provides the best of both GNOME and Ubuntu. We are currently liaising with the Canonical teams on how this will work out and more details will be announced in due course as we work out the specifics."
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The Debian project's developers have voted on who will be their next Project Leader. Debian regularly votes new leaders into office in what is, for open source projects, an unusually democratic process. This year's winner of the Project Leader position is Chris Lamb. Lamb's platform talks a good deal about making Debian easier for new users and improving the support and documentation for newcomers. He also wants to improve Debian's image as a project: "What I believe Debian suffers most from is a problem of communication and perception with respect to the outside world. Our unflashy image - best encapsulated in our unengaging website - speaks to what P. G. Wodehouse might refer to as a lack of 'snap and vim'. My short experience in the start-up community has taught me that polish and pizzazz are essential parts of any project, be they for-profit or not. We are doing ourselves, our users and potential future developers a disservice by neglecting (or deliberately avoiding) the most basic of marketing." The results of the Debian election can be found on the project's website.
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These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Seeking security in source code
Seeking-the-source asks: I know I'm not supposed to install software from .deb packages on the Internet, they aren't as secure as installing from my distro's repositories. But what about tar files with source code? Is it safer to install programs from tar files?
DistroWatch answers: Tar files and Deb archives are really just file formats which can be used to transfer files (often programs) from one place to another. There is no an inherent security benefit to using one archive format over the other.
The reason people running Linux usually install software from their distribution's software repositories is the packages in the repositories have typically been vetted in some way. Chances are someone with a degree of technical skill has looked over the program, tested it and packaged it for the repository. That does not mean for certain the program is safe and secure, but it does mean obvious malware or misbehaving software is unlikely to make it into a distribution's repository.
When we download software directly from a website (whether the program is in a Deb file, a tar archive or an RPM file) we are removing that vetting process done by the distribution and stripping away one layer of security from our system. This usually is not a good idea as it puts us at the mercy of whoever provided us with the archive.
As far as installing software from source code as opposed to installing a binary file, the only way installing from source code is going to help us is if we look through the source code and audit it ourselves. The act of installing software from source code is, in itself, not safer than installing a binary package, but having the source code means we can look at the source. If we have the technical skill to read the code, or know someone who does, we can then look through the source code we have downloaded to see if it is likely to harm our system. If you are just going to download and install the source code without looking through it, there is no security benefit to having the source code.
Due to the lack of vetting process, it is usually not a good idea to install software from third-party websites. However, if you do end up downloading a Deb, tar archive or another package, there are ways you can reduce the risk to your system. Running the software in a virtual machine, such as VirtualBox, can help reduce your risk as it places the potentially dangerous software in its own container, isolating it from your operating system. Sandboxing tools like Firejail can also reduce your risk a little if the sandbox is set up to properly limit a program's access to your operating system. Sandboxes and virtual machines do not make your system bullet-proof against malicious programs, but they do add an extra layer of protection.
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We have more answers to your questions in our Questions and Answers archive.
|Released Last Week
Stephan Raue has announced the release of OpenELEC 8.0.0, a new feature release of the project's specialist, Linux-based distribution built around Kodi, an open-source media and entertainment software: "The OpenELEC 8.0 (internal version 8.0.0) release has been published. Users running older OpenELEC releases or with auto-update disabled will need to update manually. If you would like to update from an older OpenELEC release please read update instructions and advice on the Wiki before updating. Manual update files can be obtained from the downloads page. OpenELEC 8.0.0 is a feature release. The main changes are: new platform, WeTek Play 2Play 2, supported with its own build; WeTek Play 2 brings endless entertainment to your living room, enjoy the latest movies and series in 4K UHD, play games, browse the internet, keep up with the news, or use the DVB modular tuner to watch thousands of TV channels via satellite, terrestrial and cable connections; new platform, WeTek Hub, supported by its own build; Raspberry Pi Zero W supported by Raspberry Pi builds...." Read the rest of the release announcement for a full list of changes and improvements.
Tiny Core Linux 8.0
Tiny Core Linux 8.0 has been released. Tiny Core Linux is a minimalist (but extensible) distribution, built from scratch, with a focus on being as small as possible - the 32-bit "TinyCore" edition with a graphical window manager (flwm) is a 16 MB download. This major new release delivers a number of updates - chief among them is the 4.8 version of the Linux kernel: "Team Tiny Core is proud to announce the release of Core v8.0. Changelog for 8.0: BusyBox updated to 1.25.1 and cpio patched for UID/GID error; Linux kernel updated to 4.8.17; glibc updated to 2.24; GCC updated to 6.2.0; e2fsprogs base libraries and applications updated to 1.43.3; util-linux base libraries and applications updated to 2.28.2. Most extensions have been copied over from the 8.x repository - note that the X.Org 7.7 extensions have been updated, the ncurses and readline extensions have changed major versions and the OpenSSL extension has been factored out into OpenSSL and CA certificates." Here is the brief release announcement as published on the project's user forums. The Tiny Core 8.0 ISO images are available for both the x86 and the x86_64 platforms.
The OpenBSD developers have announced the availability of a new stable release of their security-oriented operating system. The new release, OpenBSD 6.1, introduces bug fixes, several new or improved hardware drivers and security enhancements to the system installer. "Installer improvements: The installer now uses privilege separation for fetching and verifying the install sets. Install sets are now fetched over an HTTPS connection by default when using a mirror that supports it. The installer now considers all of the DHCP information in file name, boot file-name, server-name, tftp-server-name, and next-server when attempting to do automatic installs or upgrades. The installer no longer adds a route to an alias IP via 127.0.0.1, due to improvements in the kernel routing components." Additional details on the OpenBSD 6.1 release can be found in the project's release announcement and a complete list of changes since version 6.0 can be found in the project's changelog.
The KaOS development team has announced the release of new installation media for their KDE-focused, rolling release distribution. The new snapshot, KaOS 2017.04, features an improved installer with the ability to use GPT disk layouts on legacy BIOS systems. The project has also introduced a separate Wayland edition of the distribution for people who would like to run KDE's Plasma desktop on a Wayland session instead of the traditional X display server. Plus, the new release features built-in VirtualBox guest modules for people who wish to run the distribution in a virtual machine. "A nice way of celebrating the fourth anniversary of this distribution is releasing KaOS 2017.04 in two flavors. This time a Plasma Wayland version is added alongside the regular X-based ISO. The Plasma Wayland version is a smaller ISO, ships with a more limited amount of applications than the regular Plasma version. At this stage, a Wayland session can only be run on free graphics drivers and the live mode (plus install) will automatically switch to a regular X-based Plasma session should the user select non-free drivers during boot-up of the Live session. A Wayland session will not run in VirtualBox." Further information is available in the project's release announcement.
KaOS 2017.04 -- Running KDE Plasma using Wayland
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Rancher OS 1.0.0
Rancher Labs has announced the release of RancherOS 1.0.0, a major release of the company's minimalist Linux distribution designed for running Docker containers: "Rancher Labs, a provider of container management software, today announced the general availability of RancherOS, a simplified Linux distribution built from containers, for containers. RancherOS eliminates any unnecessary libraries and services, resulting in a footprint three times smaller than that of other container operating systems. The simplified container environment reduces container boot time, increases efficiency and improves security by reducing the number of components that can be exploited. Key features of RancherOS include: minimalist OS - eliminates the need for unnecessary libraries and services; automatic configuration - simplifies OS configuration by using cloud-init to parse the cloud-config files from multiple data sources; simple setup - runs services inside containers orchestrated using Docker Compose service files, making setup as simple as running a Docker container." Read the full press release for more information.
Baruwa Enterprise Edition 6.9
Andrew Colin Kissa has announced the release of Baruwa Enterprise Edition (also called BaruwaOS) 6.9, the latest update of the project's commercial server distribution built from the source code of the recently-released Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.9: "Today we are issuing Baruwa Enterprise Edition release - BaruwaOS 6.9. This release tracks the upstream base OS update 6.9. The release notes: support for disabling SMTP TIME rejections - some users prefer to accept all messages regardless of the virus infection status and spam characteristics and quarantine the messages to allow them to be accessed via the web interface; support for disabling the DANE protocol - an option has been added to baruwa-setup to allow for the enabling and disabling the built-in DANE protocol support; improved Local Scores management - the management of spam rule local scores has been improved, it is now possible to set spam rule local scores to 0.0; improved Sophos integration...." Here is the brief release announcement, with further details provided in the release notes.
Adam Conrad has announced the release of Ubuntu 17.04. The latest release of Ubuntu features nine months of support and security updates. The new release includes version 4.10 of the Linux kernel as well as driverless printing to supported devices. Support for 32-bit PowerPC computers has been dropped and new installations will, by default, be set up using a swap file instead of a swap partition for added flexibility. "Under the hood, there have been updates to many core packages, including a new 4.10-based kernel, and much more. Ubuntu Desktop has seen incremental improvements, with newer versions of GTK+ and Qt, updates to major packages like Firefox and LibreOffice, and stability improvements to Unity. Ubuntu Server 17.04 includes the Ocata release of OpenStack, alongside deployment and management tools that save DevOps teams time when deploying distributed applications - whether on private clouds, public clouds, x86, ARM, or POWER servers, zSystem mainframes, or on developer laptops." Further information can be found in the project's release announcement and release notes.
Ubuntu 17.04 -- Displaying the Unity Dash
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Ubuntu GNOME 17.04
Jeremy Bicha has announced the availability of Ubuntu GNOME 17.04. The new version of the distribution ships with version 3.24 of the GNOME desktop environment and will receive security updates for nine months. "The Ubuntu GNOME developers are proud to announce our latest non-LTS release 17.04. For the first time in Ubuntu GNOME's history, this release includes the latest stable release of GNOME 3.24. Although Ubuntu's release schedule was originally centered around shipping the latest GNOME release, this had not been possible since GNOME 3.0 was released six years ago. Take a look at our release notes for a list of highlighted changes and improvements." The release announcement indicates this will probably be the final version of Ubuntu GNOME: "As announced last week by Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth, Ubuntu 18.04 LTS will include GNOME instead of Unity. Specifically, it will be GNOME (including GNOME Shell) with minimal Ubuntu customization. Next year, if you are using either Ubuntu 16.04 LTS or Ubuntu GNOME 16.04 LTS, you will be prompted to upgrade to Ubuntu 18.04 LTS. As a result of this decision there will no longer be a separate GNOME flavor of Ubuntu."
Ubuntu MATE 17.04
Martin Wimpress has announced the launch of Ubuntu MATE 17.04. The new release, which features nine months of support, ships with MATE 1.18 as the default desktop environment. With this release, the distribution's MATE desktop has completed the transition from using GTK+ 2 libraries to GTK+ 3. "This is our favourite release of Ubuntu MATE so far and, we believe, a real return to form. Ubuntu MATE 16.10 was a transitional release, in every sense, and 17.04 concludes the upheaval of migrating to GTK+ 3. We’ve put a great deal of effort into refining Ubuntu MATE 17.04 in the following ways: the MATE team did an amazing job releasing MATE 1.18.0 which completes the transition to GTK+ 3, fixes countless bugs and introduces some much-needed new features and modernisations; Daniel Foré from elementary contributed new icons which deliver style and panache; Ikey Doherty from Solus created Brisk menu in collaboration with Ubuntu MATE; Dave from Linux & Other Stuff contributed a new dark theme called Ambiant-MATE Dark...." Further information and a list of changes can be found in the project's release announcement.
The Xubuntu project, a community edition of Ubuntu featuring the Xfce desktop environment, has announced the release of Xubuntu 17.04. The new release features some applications and Xfce components which have been ported to GTK+ 3 and this release includes bug fixes for Mugshot along with a new mini-mode for the Parole media player. "Several Xfce panel plugins and applications have been ported to GTK+ 3, paving the way for improved theming and further development. Core Xfce libraries exo and libxfce4ui have also been updated with full GTK+ 3 support, the latter adding support for Glade development in Xubuntu with the installation of libxfce4ui-glade. The Greybird and Numix themes have also been refreshed with improved support for the toolkit. Camera functionality has been restored in Mugshot, Parole introduced a new mini mode and improvements for network streams, and a number of welcome fixes have made their way into Thunar and Ristretto. Simon Tatham’s Portable Puzzle Collection (sgt-puzzles), an addicting collection of logic games, has been included along with the new SGT Puzzles Collection." Further details can be found in the Xubuntu 17.04 release announcement and in the release notes.
Ubuntu Budgie 17.04
David Mohammed has announced the release of Ubuntu Budgie 17.04, a desktop Linux distribution featuring the Budgie desktop (developed by Solus). This is the project's first stable release as an officially recognised Ubuntu flavour: "We are pleased to announce the release of the next version of our distribution - and the first as an official flavor of the Ubuntu family. Based on 16.04 and 16.10 budgie-remix experiences, feedback and suggestions we have received from our users, the new release comes with a lot of new features, fixes and optimizations: focused heavily on stability; more customisation options via budgie welcome; complete desktop look and feel change - Material design of Adapta or Vimix; startup wizard on first logon taking new users through the first logon procedures; browser ballot - we believe you should decide what your favorite browser should be; overhaul of our delivered application set - the best from the GNOME family as well as the fantastic Terminix terminal emulator; latest upstream budgie-desktop v10.2.9." See the release announcement and release notes for more information.
Ubuntu Budgie 17.04 -- The Budgie desktop
(full image size: 843kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Ubuntu Kylin 17.04
The Ubuntu Kylin project, a member of the Ubuntu family developing a Linux distribution designed and optimised for users in China, has announced the release of version 17.04. In a surprise last-minute move (and as a result of the recent Ubuntu decision to scrap the Unity desktop), the Ubuntu Kylin developers have also discarded Unity and replaced it with a custom desktop called "UKUI" (based on MATE): "We are glad to announce the Release of Ubuntu Kylin 17.04 (code name 'Zesty Zapus'). In this release, the most noteworthy part is that we have launched a new desktop environment, UKUI, which provides a simpler and more enjoyable experience for browsing, searching and managing your computer. UKUI is a customized desktop based on MATE, redesigned with a brand-new start menu, control panel, desktop task bar, desktop theme and icons. Its main features include: a brand-new theme and icons; a quick start menu; easy-to-use control panel; extensible file manager. This release is based on 4.10 Linux kernel." Please consult the release announcement (in Chinese) and release notes (in English) for further information.
Simon Quigley has announced the release of Lubuntu 17.04, a new version of the project's official Ubuntu variant featuring the Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment (LXDE) and designed specifically for older machines and low-resource computers: "Thanks to all the hard work by our contributors, Lubuntu 17.04 has been released. Code-named 'Zesty Zapus', Lubuntu 17.04 is the 12th release of Lubuntu, with support until January of 2018. What’s improved since 16.10? We now ship with Linux kernel 4.10; general bug-fix release as we prepare to switch to LXQt; LXDE components have been updated with bug fixes; the artwork has received an update. Lubuntu is a good operating system for many old computers, but not for all of them. A rule of thumb is that the computer should not be more than 10 years old. For advanced internet services like Google+ and YouTube, your computer needs at least 1 GB of RAM. For local programs and simple browsing habits, your computer needs at least 512 MB of RAM." Here is the full release announcement, with additional details provided in the release notes.
Valorie Zimmerman has announced the release of Kubuntu 17.04, the latest update from the project which integrates an Ubuntu base system with the latest KDE Plasma desktop and applications: "Kubuntu 17.04 released. Code-named 'Zesty Zapus', Kubuntu 17.04 continues our proud tradition of integrating the latest and greatest open source technologies into a high-quality, easy-to-use Linux distribution. The team has been hard at work through this cycle, introducing new features and fixing bugs. Under the hood, there have been updates to many core packages, including a new 4.10-based Linux kernel, KDE Frameworks 5.31, Plasma 5.9.4 and KDE Applications 16.12.3. The Kubuntu desktop has seen some exciting improvements, with newer versions of Qt, updates to major packages like Krita, Kdenlive, Firefox and LibreOffice, and stability improvements to the Plasma desktop environment." See the release announcement and release notes for more information, screenshots, known issues and upgrade instructions.
Ubuntu Studio 17.04
The Ubuntu Studio team has announced the release of Ubuntu Studio 17.04. The new release of this Linux distribution for audio, video and graphic artists offers the same package base as Ubuntu 17.04 and includes nine months of security updates. According to the release announcement, there are a few small changes in this new version, including swapping the system-config-printer-gnome utility with system-config-printer and the Krita drawing program has been added to the default installation. The Darktable software has been dropped from the 32-bit installation media. "We are happy to announce the release of our latest version, Ubuntu Studio 17.04 Zesty Zapus. As a regular version, it will be supported for 9 months. Since it’s just out, you may experience some issues, so you might want to wait a bit before upgrading. Please see the release notes for a complete list of changes and known issues. Changes in this release: system-config-printer-gnome replaced with system-config-printer; added pm-utils; Krita has been added back; Darktable is removed from 32-bit ISO image due to lack of upstream support." A list of changes and significant package versions can be found in the project's release notes.
Ultimate Edition 5.4
Ultimate Edition developer "TheeMahn" has announced the release of Ultimate Edition 5.4, the latest version of the project's Ubuntu-based desktop Linux distribution. This build is based on the just-released Ubuntu 17.04 and includes, for the first time, the Budgie desktop: "Ultimate Edition 5.4 was built from the Ubuntu 17.04 'Zesty Zapus' tree using a combination of Tmosb (TheeMahn's Operating System Builder) and work by hand. Tmosb is also included in this release (1.9.8), allowing you to do the same. It has the capabilities to build over 3,000 operating systems. This release is not a long-term supported (LTS) release. Currently I have only built the tip of the iceberg. I have finished building Ultimate Edition 5.4 and can build 5.5 based on Zesty (17.04). Our beta testers asked for inclusion of Budgie and I have made it so. I try and listen to my people. This release has the Budgie desktop; however it is not set as default. One of my beta testers and programmers tells me today that we will have an edition for the ARM architecture next release." Here is the full release announcement. Although the release is labeled as "lite" as its default desktop environment is MATE, it is a 3.7 GB download due to the inclusion of a large number of popular packages.
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
The table below provides a list of torrents DistroWatch is currently seeding. If you do not 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 in our Torrent Archive. We also maintain a Torrents RSS feed for people who wish to have open source torrents delivered to them. Thanks to Linux Tracker we are able to share the following torrent statistics.
Torrent Corner statistics:
- Total torrents seeded: 371
- Total data uploaded: 61.9TB
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Sources for new software
In this week's Questions and Answers column we talked about installing software and one of the benefits of using software provided by a distribution's repositories. We would like to find out where our readers get their software. Do you get it all from your distribution's repositories, from a third-party market like Steam, from unofficial PPAs or from upstream websites? Leave us a comment with your thoughts on finding good sources of software for your Linux distro.
You can see the results of our previous poll on using VPNs and Tor in last week's edition. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
Sources for new software
|I get some software from third-party stores (ie Steam): ||114 (8%)|
| I use third-party repositories (PPAs): ||145 (10%)|
| I download some software from upstream websites: ||91 (6%)|
| I use some combination of the above: ||508 (34%)|
| I use all of the above: ||262 (18%)|
| I use distribution repositories exclusively: ||374 (25%)|
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 24 April 2017. Past articles and reviews can be found through our Article Search page. To contact the authors please send e-mail to:
- Jesse Smith (feedback, questions and suggestions: distribution reviews/submissions, questions and answers, tips and tricks)
- Ladislav Bodnar (feedback, questions, donations, comments)
- Bruce Patterson (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 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|
|• Issue 695 (2017-01-16): Zorin OS 12, Peppermint team fixes installer bug, Debian refreshes Jessie media, Ubuntu improves low graphics mode, Exciting things coming in 2017|
|• Full list of all issues|
|Random Distribution |
Funtoo Linux is a Gentoo-based distribution developed by Daniel Robbins (the founder and former project leader of Gentoo Linux) and a core team of developers, built around a basic vision of improving the core technologies in Gentoo Linux. Funtoo Linux features native UTF-8 support enabled by default, a git-based, distributed Portage tree and Funtoo overlay, an enhanced Portage with more compact mini-manifest tree, automated imports of new Gentoo changes every 12 hours, GPT/GUID boot support and streamlined boot configuration, enhanced network configuration, up-to-date stable and current Funtoo stages - all built using Funtoo's Metro build tool.