| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 728, 4 September 2017
Welcome to this year's 36th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
New distributions come along all the time, trying to solve old problems in new ways, improving on a parent distribution or showcasing new applications. This week we begin with a review of Nitrux, a project that is attempting all three. The Nitrux distribution features a custom, Plasma-based desktop environment called Nomad. It also offers a new package manager, firewall configuration tool and custom music player. Our Feature Story explores the details of the Nitrux distribution and its new utilities. In our News section we discuss a new community repository for SUSE Linux Enterprise, remote desktop tools coming to GNOME running on Wayland and an update to Bodhi Linux's installation media. We also cover two new changes coming to the Linux Mint distribution and Manjaro dropping support for 32-bit computers. Then, in our Tips and Tricks column, we talk about the Void distribution's approach to source-based software management. Plus we share the distribution releases of the past week and provide a list of the torrents we are seeding. In our Opinion Poll we ask our readers how important an operating system's package manager is when deciding what distribution to run. Finally, we are happy to welcome the BackSlash Linux project to our database. We wish you all a fantastic week and happy reading!
- Review: Nitrux 1.0.2
- News: SUSE creates new community software repository, remote desktop tools coming to GNOME on Wayland, Bodhi publishes updated media, Mint rewrites backup tool, Manjaro dropping 32-bit support
- Tips and tricks: Void source packages
- Released last week: Redcore Linux 1708, Emmabuntus 8-1.03, Bodhi Linux 4.3.0
- Torrent corner: 4MLinux, BlackArch, Bodhi, Emmabuntus, IPFire, KaOS, Linux Lite, Live Raizo, Manjaro, ReactOS, Redcore, Sabayon
- Opinion poll: Is the package manager important?
- New additions: BackSlash Linux
- New distributions: Namib GNU/Linux
- Reader comments
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (68MB) and MP3 (86MB) formats.
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Nitrux is a fairly new addition to the DistroWatch database. The distribution features a custom desktop environment, called Nomad, which is based on KDE's Plasma 5 desktop. The Nomad desktop reportedly features a simplified system tray and a friendly, graphical front-end for the UFW firewall utility. Nitrux also ships with a custom software manager called NX Software Center and a music player called Babe. The Nitrux project previously featured the Anbox utility for running Android apps on GNU/Linux desktop distributions, but Anbox has been removed in recent versions of the Nitrux distribution.
Nitrux is available in just one edition and is built for 64-bit x86 computers exclusively. Originally I tried to download Nitrux from the project's website and found my download kept getting disconnected partway through. I switched to downloading the project's ISO file (1.0GB in size) from a SourceForge mirror and this download completed successfully.
Booting from the Nitrux installation media brings up a menu asking if we would like to launch the distribution's live mode or start the system installer. Taking the live mode option, we are brought to a graphical login screen. We can sign into the Nomad desktop by using "nitrux" as both the username and password.
The Nomad desktop appears to use KDE's Plasma desktop software, but with a high degree of customization. The main desktop panel containing the application menu and system tray is placed at the top of the screen. A quick-launch bar is displayed at the bottom of the screen. The launch bar at the bottom of the desktop displays icons, but no tool tips or text to indicate what clicking on each icon will open. The application menu is displayed as a large grid of icons. The first page of the menu displays commonly used (or "favourite") applications. The second page lists all installed applications. The desktop's default background is mostly white with red and purple at the corners in shades that remind me of cotton candy.
Nitrux 1.0.2 -- The Nomad desktop and application menu
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Looking around the live desktop environment I did not find any launcher for a system installer. I checked the project's website and could not find any documentation on installing the operating system. I rebooted the computer and selected the installation option from the ISO's boot menu. The system installer is one I had not used before. It is a graphical application which begins by asking us to create a new username and password for ourselves. The partitioning screen comes next. Here I was shown a list of partitions, but there wasn't any clear indication of how I should proceed to change disk partitions or assign them to mount points. With some trial and error I found I could click a partition to highlight it and then click a box to assign the partition to a mount point. I could not find any way to create new partitions, so it seems we need to use a separate partition manger (such as GParted) before we begin the installation process.
Once we set up mount points we can choose whether to install a boot loader. Then the installer copies its files to the disk. When the installer finished, I was presented with a mostly blank screen with a quick-launch bar at the bottom and no clear way to shut down the computer or reboot. I used the quick-launch bar to open a terminal and forced a reboot from there.
When I booted into my freshly installed copy of Nitrux I was presented with a login screen. Signing in, I was once again shown the project's system installer with no desktop environment. It seems that when we install Nitrux from the minimal environment that just runs the installer, we end up with an operating system that just provides enough of an environment to launch its installer.
I booted from the installation media once more and went looking through the live desktop environment. I eventually discovered that the system installer is launched from a graphical utility called Systemback which is typically used to backup and restore the operating system. I went through the installation process again and, when I was finished, was presented with a full copy of Nitrux, complete with functioning desktop environment.
At least I ended up with a working desktop system when I ran Nitrux inside a VirtualBox virtual machine. When I tried to launch Nitrux on my physical desktop machine the distribution failed to boot. This surprised me as Nitrux is based on Ubuntu, a distribution which tends to work well with my hardware. This left me to experiment with Nitrux in the virtual environment. I found the operating system, when logged into the Nomad desktop, used 480MB of RAM. The desktop environment was sluggish at first, however performance picked up quite a bit after I disabled file indexing and some visual effects from the System Settings panel. Nitrux automatically integrated with VirtualBox and was able to make use of my computer's full screen resolution without any configuration on my part.
Left to explore Nitrux in a VirtualBox environment, I started looking around the Nomad desktop. Nomad's information screens identify it as being based on KDE Plasma 5.10, but the environment looks and acts quite a bit differently than Plasma. For example, applications use a unified menu bar, which is displayed in the panel at the top of the screen. The application menu is a large grid of icons and, unlike the Plasma desktop, Nomad will not allow the menu to be swapped out for alternative menus. An effort appears to have been made to streamline Plasma, removing customization options and alternative widgets.
There are some other odd design choices too. For example the virtual terminal application has a bright blue background. The default fonts tend to have a tall, thin look which I found hard on my eyes after a while.
Nitrux 1.0.2 -- A virtual terminal and the notification area
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Another problem I ran into is the distribution sometimes displays icons without accompanying text or tool tips. This can leave us somewhat in the dark as to what controls do. For example, when signing out of the Nomad desktop we are presented with a confirmation screen containing four symbols: a line, a circle, a lighting bolt and an arrow. Given the context I was able to work out which button corresponded to a given action (reboot, shut down, logout and sleep) but the lack of accompanying text meant I spent more time interpreting Nomad's screens than would normally be required if text had simply been included. This is an issue that popped up a number of times during my trial and it made using Nitrux feel like using an operating system with a foreign language locale selected.
Another visual problem I ran into was the desktop's top panel would sometimes be invisible when I logged in. I could still click on the panel to open the application menu, but the panel was not drawn on the screen. With a little experimenting I found this was caused by VirtualBox's 3-D support. Disabling VirtualBox's 3-D display feature caused the Nomad panel to always be displayed properly.
Software management on Nitrux is handled primarily by the NX Software Center. When NX Software Center first opens we are presented with a window containing two buttons near the top. Both buttons look to me to be "Home" buttons, judging by their shape, but there is no text to give them context. The first tab shows a single icon labelled "Core". It is not clear right away whether this is an installed package, an available package or an upgrade as no further information is provided. The second tab shows us a list of categories. Some of these categories are software related, but others do not appear to be. For example, some listed categories are Business, Communication, Developer Tools, Food & Drinks, Games, and Health & Fitness. Clicking a category shows us available packages in the given category. Some of these items are fairly clearly labelled, carrying names like "Investment Viewer" while others are more cryptic, such as the "irpf2017" package. A text field near the top of the window lets us search for specific packages by name.
Nitrux 1.0.2 -- The NX Software Center
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Clicking on some packages opens up a new page containing a description of the selected package and a screen shot. Other times, clicking on a package does not bring up anything other than a blank page and the words "Other open source". At the bottom of the information screen is an Install button. Sometimes clicking this button causes the selected package to be installed and its icon added to the application menu. Other times, clicking the Install button results in an error simply reporting "not found" and the package is not installed.
Once I had installed a few items I found they were added to the first tab in the NX Software Center so I gather the first tab lists installed items. So far as I could tell, NX Software Center only lets us work with Snap packages, not Debian packages and to work with Debian archives we need to turn to the command line.
Nitrux 1.0.2 -- Browsing available packages
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Since Nitrux uses Ubuntu repositories (specifically Ubuntu 17.10's repositories), I has expected the distribution to offer APT and apt-get package management tools. However, Nitrux ships with pacapt which is basically a command line program which uses the Pacman package manager's syntax and works with Debian packages. This means that instead of using "apt-get upgrade" to install software updates, we run "pacman -Syu".
While using Nitrux I never saw any indication software updates were available and I had to check for security updates manually. There is no graphical update manager, leaving the user to download security updates from the command line.
Nitrux uses the KDE System Settings panel to configure the desktop experience. For the most part the settings panel is pretty standard and contains the same configuration modules used by other platforms running KDE software. There are several modules available for changing the look of the desktop, adjusting short-cuts and tweaking visual effects. There is a module for setting up KDE Connect, a service which facilitates communication with Android devices. There is also a tool for enabling and disabling systemd services.
Nitrux 1.0.2 -- The settings panel
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There were a few odd design choices here too. For example, the tool to create and adjust user accounts is not called "Users", but rather "Account Details". There is no module for setting up printers and scanners. There are three tools listed under the panel's Network category. These three modules are called Connections, Settings, and Connectivity. At first these may seem like three ways of describing the same thing, but upon closer inspection these modules handle setting up network connections, managing proxies and working with Samba shares, respectively.
The Nitrux website makes special mention of the distribution's firewall. The firewall utility is a graphical front-end for the UFW firewall. The custom firewall tool has a fairly simple layout which allows us to create new rules that either deny or allow network traffic. We can fine-tune the rules a bit, selecting source and destination addresses and ranges of ports. The firewall tool works, though I'm not sure if I see a large difference between using it or the more commonly used GUFW front-end for the UFW firewall.
I ran into a couple of issues when trying to print. The first was there is no printer configuration module available. I also found the CUPS printing software is not installed by default. I checked in the Nitrux software manager and could not find any front-end to working with printers or CUPS. I then switched to the command line and installed the system-config-printer package along with CUPS and CUPS drivers. The printer configuration utility was not added to my application menu so I launched it from the command line. CUPS was able to detect my network printer, but attempting to complete the setup resulted in CUPS throwing a vague "Internal error" message and failing to complete the connection to my printer.
Nitrux 1.0.2 -- Trying an alternative look
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Finally, on the subject of system configuration, there is an application included with Nitrux called Kvantum Manager. This utility offers a quick and easy way to tweak the Nomad desktop environment. These tweaks can help us alter the desktop's theme, improve performance and place text under icons. I was not able to use Kvantum to get rid of the unified menu panel or switch application menus, but I did get a faster desktop with more text to assist in navigating the interface.
Nitrux does not ship with many applications by default. We are given a few common desktop programs such as the Chromium web browser (without Flash support), the Kate text editor and the Dolphin file manager. The distribution ships with the Babe music player, which I will come back to later, and the VLC multimedia player. Codecs are included for playing common media formats. We are given a PDF viewer, the Ark archive manager and a hardware information browser. Nitrux ships with version 6.3 of the GNU Compiler Collection and the systemd init software. The distribution runs on version 4.11.0 of the Linux kernel.
Earlier I mentioned the Babe music player which appears to be a media player unique to Nitrux. The initial screen Babe greets us with is a bit confusing. Near the top of the window is an empty Sources list. Then there is a plus sign in the middle of the window and a drag-n-drop region on the right. Near the bottom of the window we find an area which I think should allow us to type in a YouTube address and another box where I think we can select the location of extensions. There seem to be several options open to us, but not a lot of familiar-looking controls. I tried the + button first and was given the chance to select a directory where my audio files were kept. I started by selecting a directory with just two audio files. Babe locked up for a few seconds and then displayed an error message which simply read "oops".
Nitrux 1.0.2 -- The Babe music player
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I next tried dragging audio files from the Dolphin file manager to the drag-n-drop region of Babe's window. The media player appeared to lock up for about a minute while a lot of data was passed over my network connection and then Babe crashed. After this, I switched to using VLC to play audio and video files and found the VLC multimedia player worked well.
Nitrux's motto is "Simple, quick and responsive." During my trial, I felt as though none of those descriptions suited the distribution. With its default settings, the Nomad desktop was not particularly responsive (though it might have been if I had managed to get the distribution running on physical hardware). Nitrux was relatively slow to boot and applications were not particularly quick (or slow) to load.
This is a young project and it has a lot of problems, ranging from hardware compatibility to lack of an update manager, to a software manager that was only able to install packages about two-thirds of the time, to a music player that crashed when asked to play audio files. There is a noticeable lack of documentation and on-screen queues for completing tasks. Perhaps the most obvious example of this lack of guidance comes at install time. I found selecting the Install option from the live media's boot menu would result in the operating system not installing properly. I had to load the live desktop, launch the backup manager and use that to launch the system installer - a process that is as roundabout as it is counter-intuitive.
What really puzzled me about Nitrux is the distribution is based on software that works well with my computer and that I find useful. Nitrux is largely based on Ubuntu and the KDE Plasma desktop, both examples of software that play well with my hardware. Yet Nitrux has its own system installer which is less friendly than Ubuntu's. The desktop is less flexible and slower than Plasma. The software manager does not function as well as Ubuntu's Software Center and cannot work with Debian packages.
I was unhappy with the distribution's approach of removing the APT tools and update manager and replacing them with command-line only tools which use Pacman syntax. Keeping APT and pacapt together might have made sense for appealing to Pacman fans, but stripping APT and its related tools out entirely just crippled package management on the distribution without adding any benefit.
This style of approach seems to be repeated throughout the distribution, replacing working utilities (music player, system installer, software manager, application menu) with alternatives that do not function as well as the ones provided by the parent distribution.
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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
Nitrux has a visitor supplied average rating of: 8.1/10 from 46 review(s).
Have you used Nitrux? You can leave your own review of the project on our ratings page.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
SUSE creates new community software repository, remote desktop tools coming to GNOME on Wayland, Bodhi publishes updated media, Mint rewrites backup tool, Manjaro dropping 32-bit support
SUSE is working to expand the number of software packages available to its enterprise customers with a new, community run repository. The new software repository is called SUSE Package Hub and is offered as a free add-on for SUSE Linux Enterprise customers. A post on the SUSE blog states: "It's a place where SUSE Linux Enterprise users can go to find a collection of popular open source packages that are pre-built for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12, ready to install and use. While the packages from the SUSE Package Hub are not officially supported by SUSE, they are officially approved for use, and you can use these packages with SUSE Linux Enterprise Server without worrying about breaking your SUSE support contract. And even better than Rerun, packages in SUSE Package Hub are free with a valid SUSE Linux Enterprise subscription." New packages can be submitted to the repository by community members and third-party software vendors.
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The Wayland protocol is expected to eventually replace the X display server (currently used by most distributions) in the near future. In fact some distributions, such as Fedora, are already using Wayland by default to power the GNOME desktop. One drawback to using the new Wayland technology has been the lack of remote desktop utilities. Thanks to Jonas Ådahl from Red Hat, remote desktop access is coming to GNOME running on Wayland sessions. "GNOME's Vino remote desktop server was left behind when GNOME transitioned their desktop from the X compositor to Wayland. This meant that people who use distributions that stay close to upstream, like Fedora 25, have been left without a working VNC or even an RDP server for almost a full year. Jonas Ådahl from Red Hat has been busy adding new D-Bus APIs to libmutter. Mutter is the GNOME window manager and Wayland compositor. The two new APIs, org.gnome.Mutter.RemoteDesktop and org.gnome.Mutter.ScreenCast, expose a PipeWire stream containing the contents of the system's screens. The new APIs can create full-screen streams, or streams for individual windows. Only the former has been implemented." A post on the Ctrl blog website has further details.
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The Bodhi Linux project published a new version, 4.3.0, this week and then quickly published a minor bug-fix release, version 4.3.1. The reason for the quick update was an issue in the default software repository configuration which affected users of Bodhi's Standard edition. "It seems like just yesterday that I was posting about Bodhi 4.3.0. Oh wait, it was just yesterday. In a friendly reminder that I am still human - we had a pretty major issue with one of the Bodhi 4.3.0 discs. Most issues we can simply patch via the package manager after the fact without releasing a new set of ISO images, but this issue was fairly unique. The new system was failing to add the official Bodhi repository to the installed system. Because of this I've published a set of discs with the 4.3.1 version number. You will only be affected by this issue if you installed Bodhi 4.3.0 using the Standard release." People who have already installed Bodhi Linux 4.3.0 can fix the issue themselves by adding the line "deb http://packages.bodhilinux.com/bodhi xenial b4main" to their /etc/apt/sources.list file.
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The Linux Mint team has unveiled a few new changes that will be coming to the distribution in the near future. One feature grants applications the ability to share progress information with the desktop environment, which allows a progress bar to be displayed in the task switcher. "When an application is busy doing something it usually shows you a progress bar. Instead of mindlessly looking at the bar and waiting for it to reach 100% people usually seize the opportunity to do something else or distract themselves on the Web while waiting. The problem is.. how do you know when the application is ready if you can't see its progress bar? How can you keep an eye on the progress of the operation after you minimize the window or focus other windows on top of it? Some applications like the USB Stick formatter or the Nemo file operations worked around that problem by changing their window title to indicate their progress. That way their percentage is visible not only on their titlebar but also in the panel window list. Windows 7 did even better, they implemented a mechanism which allows applications to communicate progress to their environment. We decided to make this possible in Linux by implementing it in LibXapp." In addition, the backup utility has been given an overhaul, streamlining the backup process and allowing the backup application to run as a regular user instead of as the administrator. Details on both changes, along with screen shots, can be found on the Linux Mint blog.
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Philip Müller has announced Manjaro Linux will begin phasing out support for 32-bit computers in the final quarter of 2017. A post on the Manjaro Linux website has the details: "Due to the decreasing popularity of i686 among the developers and the community, we have decided to phase out the support of this architecture. The decision means that v17.0.3 ISO will be the last that allows users to install 32-bit Manjaro Linux. September and October will be our deprecation period, during which i686 will be still receiving upgraded packages. Starting from November 2017, packaging will no longer require that from maintainers, effectively making i686 unsupported."
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These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Tips and Tricks (by Jesse Smith)
Void source packages
Last May I reviewed an independently developed Linux distribution called Void. The Void project has a number of unusual characteristics which make it an interesting distribution to follow. Void uses the runit init software rather than the more commonly used systemd and SysV init. Void is a lightweight, rolling release project which uses Flatpak packages to expand its range of available software. Void also uses a custom package manager, the X Binary Package System (XBPS). I talked a bit about these features in my review, but glossed over another significant feature: Void's source-based packages.
Void's source-based packages are handled by a framework that should feel familiar to people who have run Gentoo or one of the BSDs. The source framework - the tools for building Void's source packages and the recipes for turning the source code into executable files - is stored in a git repository and managed by the xbps-src utility. To get started, I recommend reading Void's wiki page on using xbps-src.
To start using Void's source packages, or ports system, we need to install the xtools package and download a copy of the source framework. We can accomplish this with the following four commands:
Note the "./" in front of the xbps-src command. This is required because the xbps-src script is inside the void-packages directory. At this point we have the framework in place to start configuring source packages and building them into installable packages. A list of the available software can be found under the srcpkgs directory. There are hundreds of packages available, so take your time browsing! Each package's meta data, distro-specific patches and configuration settings can be found in a directory named after the package. For example, the information for the VLC multimedia player can be found under srcpkgs/vlc. Each package's directory contains a template file which contains meta information and configuration settings. While we could edit this file directly to change settings, the recommended approach is to use the xbps-src utility to toggle any configuration changes we wish to make.
git clone https://github.com/voidlinux/void-packages
To see what configuration options are available for a given package we can run xbps-src with the show-options flag. For example:
./xbps-src show-options vlc
We can then turn certain options on or off with the -o flag. For instance the following command disables the Lua option when compiling the VLC media player:
./xbps-src -o ~lua pkg vlc
At this point I feel it is important to stop and address the pkg parameter in the above line. The xbps-src script accepts a number of action commands. The pkg parameter causes Void to build the selected software into a binary package we can install, like a .deb or .rpm archive on other distributions. There are a number of other parameters we can try:
|./xbps-src pkg vlc
||build a package for the VLC software
||deletes the VLC package from the system
||displays a list of installed packages
|./xbps-src install vlc
||install the VLC software
Details on the XBPS build process, its stages and options can be found in the xbps manual. I found it to be a helpful document, especially when I was playing around with alternative configurations for packages.
Running the command for building a package, for example: "./xbps-src pkg vlc", will download the necessary dependencies, compile the source code and save the resulting binary package in the hostdir/binpkgs directory. From there we can install the newly created package using the xi command. For example:
The xi command will prompt us for our sudo password if required so the new package can be installed on the operating system.
The documentation mentions we can use the command ./xbps-src install to install software rather than building a package for it. I tried this and the process appeared to complete successfully, but it did not result in the specified software being installed in my path. I checked the documentation and it says the newly built software will be installed in the directory masterdir/destdir/packagename. However, when I looked, my masterdir/destdir directory was completely empty, so I'm not sure where my software went after it was built. After that, I returned to building packages and manually installing them with the xi command.
When we are through with software and want to remove it, we can use the xbps-remove command. For example, to uninstall the Firefox browser we can use
The above command removes the Firefox browser, but not any dependencies the browser might leave behind. To also clear away package dependencies which are no longer required we can run:
xbps-remove -o firefox
On the whole, I found the xbps-src approach to building source code into packages to be fairly straight forward. The framework seems to be solid and useful. Having direct access to the build recipes as well as easy access to key configure flags certainly introduces a good deal of flexibility into the build process.
I am more familiar with FreeBSD's ports system so I think it's natural I draw some comparisons between the two. One of the big things that stood out for me was that FreeBSD organizes its 27,000+ ports into categories. So a port might be named "www/firefox" while on Void all ports are stored in one directory, so the name of the package is just "firefox". This is more simple and saves us some hunting, but means the srcpkgs directory is likely to get quite large over time.
Another thing I noticed was Void's ports are kept on GitHub where it is easy to submit a new package or an update. FreeBSD takes a more roundabout approach and has people send patches to the bug tracker when a port needs to be submitted or updated. Though I think FreeBSD's tools for handling ports are a bit streamlined in comparison. FreeBSD (and, to a point, Gentoo) limits the number of tools used. On FreeBSD I can checkout the ports framework with one command (portsnap) and perform builds, configuration, installs and removals with another command (make). Void uses four tools: git to checkout ports, xbps-src to build and configure packages, xi to install software and xbps-remove to delete old packages. The effects are the same and the steps approximately the same, but Void uses different tools for different jobs while FreeBSD mostly unifies things under its make utility.
My final comparison is I found the meta-data on Void's packages to be easier to read. I find FreeBSD ports to be somewhat cryptic, even after using (and creating them) for years. Void's template files are quite clear and I was able to read and modify them without requiring any documentation. That was a pleasant surprise and it helped me dive quickly into working with Void's collection of packages.
All in all, I liked Void's approach to working with source builds. It took me a little while to get familiar with the various options, but the result is a powerful collection of tools which give us flexibility when it comes to the features we build into our software.
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More tips can be found in our Tips and Tricks archive.
|Released Last Week
Redcore Linux 1708
Ghiunhan Mamut has announced the release of a new snapshot of Redcore Linux, a rolling release desktop distribution based on Gentoo. The new snapshot offers several package upgrades and new fixes. "This release focuses on polishing the overall look'n'feel and out of the box experience of the distribution. New features are still present though. Here is a brief changelog since Redcore Linux 1706: resync with Gentoo stable portage tree (27.08.2017); Linux kernel LTS 4.9.40 with BFQ and UKSM enabled by default; Linux kernel 4.12.x available in the repository, for those who may want to use newer kernels; early CPU microcode updates are now enable by default for both Intel and AMD, this should improve the overall stability; graphics stack updated to mesa 17.1.7, llvm 4.0.1, libdrm 2.4.83, xorg-server 1.19.3; better WIFI connectivity support, Broadcom, Mediatek and Ralink chips should now work out of the box." A complete list of changes can be found in the release announcement. The Redcore Linux installer now requires the target computer has 2GB of RAM and 20GB of hard disk space.
The Emmabuntus project has announced the release of an update to the project's Debian-based edition. The new release will probably be the last to be based on Debian 8 "Jessie" as the new version, likely to arrive in September 2017, will be based on Debian 9 "Stretch". "This Debian Edition 1.03 version includes the following fixes and enhancements: Version based on Debian 8.9. Replacement of Icedove by Thunderbird. Replacement of the httpredir repositories by the FTP ones. Replacement of the now obsolete Pipelight and Pepper Flash by Adobe Flashplayer. Replacement of the now obsolete Skype 4.3 by the version 5.3, on 64-bits architecture only. Addition of the Arduino IDE. Addition of a function to change the Dock level within the Xfce menu. Addition of the French and English tutorials to configure a printer." A complete list of changes can be found in the project's release announcement.
Bodhi Linux 4.3.0
Jeff Hoogland has announced the release of a new version of the lightweight Bodhi Linux distribution. Bodhi ships with the Moksha desktop (a fork of Enlightenment) and is available in three flavours: Standard, AppPack (offering more applications) and Legacy (for older computers). The project's release announcement reads: "Today I am pleased to announce the release of Bodhi Linux 4.3.0. This is a normal update release and it comes three months after the release of Bodhi 4.2.0. Existing Bodhi 4.x.y users do not need to reinstall as the primary goal of this update release is to simply keep the current ISO image up to date. This release image includes EFL 1.19.1, Terminology 1.1.0, Ephoto 1.5, and Linux kernel 4.11. As with every release in the 4.x.y Bodhi series it is built on top of the rock solid foundation that is Ubuntu 16.04."
Bodhi Linux 4.3.0 -- Running the Moksha desktop
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BlackArch Linux 2017.08.30
BlackArch Linux is an Arch Linux-based distribution designed for penetration testers and security researchers. The project has announced the availability of a new snapshot of the distribution. The new ISO image carries the version number 2017.08.30 and the distribution's blog provides the following release announcement: "Today we released new BlackArch Linux ISO images. Here's the changelog: bug fix - strap.sh (removed 'http:' for PGP key server); updated BlackArch installer to version 0.5.2 (update SHA1 sum of strap.sh); include Linux kernel 4.12.8; updated many BlackArch tools; updated all system packages; updated all window manager menus (Awesome, Fluxbox, Openbox). We wish to thank all of BlackArch's users, mirrors, and supporters. Thanks for your help." BlackArch Linux is available in Live and net-install editions. Download options include a live dual-layer DVD image or a single-CD network installation ISO.
Linux Lite 3.6
Jerry Bezencon has announced a new release of Linux Lite, a beginner friendly Linux distribution based on Ubuntu and featuring the Xfce desktop environment. The new version, Linux Lite 3.6, makes it easier to select nearby software sources for faster downloads and includes a new way to search through documentation. "Linux Lite 3.6 Final is now available for download. There have been a number of changes since the 3.4 release. In this release, we introduce two major new features. Firstly, Lite Sources is a repository selector that allows you to easily select a software repository nearest to you. When new versions of Linux Lite branded applications are released, you'll now get much faster download speeds thanks to Lite Sources. The second newest feature for Linux Lite 3.6 is the inclusion of both an on-line and off-line search engine for the Linux Lite Help Manual. Search results are highlighted to allow you to easily find the help content you need fast." Details on how to use these features, along with screen shots, can be found in the project's release announcement.
Linux Lite 3.6 -- Running the Xfce desktop
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Linux From Scratch 8.1
Bruce Dubbs has announced the release of Linux From Scratch (LFS) and Beyond Linux From Scratch (BLFS) 8.1. The new release of the book, which guides readers through building their own Linux distribution, offers many updated packages and several fixes over the previous 8.0 release of the Linux From Scratch instruction book. The release announcement states: "The Linux From Scratch community is pleased to announce the release of LFS version 8.1, LFS version 8.1 (systemd), BLFS version 8.1, and BLFS version 8.1 (systemd). This release is a major update to both LFS and BLFS. The LFS release includes updates to glibc-2.26, binutils-2.29, and gcc-7.2.0. In total, 32 packages were updated, fixes made to bootscripts, and changes to text have been made throughout the book. The BLFS version includes approximately 900 packages beyond the base Linux From Scratch Version 8.1 book. This release has over 885 updates from the previous version including numerous text and formatting changes." The guides are available in SysV init and systemd editions.
KaOS is an independently developed Linux distribution which focuses on providing a polished collection of KDE/Qt-based software. The project's latest snapshot, KaOS 2017.09, features a hardened Linux kernel with Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR). The latest snapshot also includes the Nomad firewall utility and the Kooka scanner tool. "It has been a few years, but finally there is an up to date (Qt5/kf5 based) firewall application available again. Nomad-firewall is available on this ISO. A second scan application is added, Kooka (just ported to kf5). This application has quite a few more options than skanlite, so it is nice to be able to add a second (Qt/kf5 based) option for scanning. Krita 3.2 has the new option to use the G?MIC plugin. For that gmic-qt is added to the repositories. With this, the options to add effects to any artwork/image are sheer endless. A change in how printer packages are packaged makes it that now most printers are automatically recognized and setup, no need any longer to run any print wizard. This counts for both Live mode and installed system." Additional changes are detailed in the project's release announcement.
Manjaro Linux 17.0.3
Philip Müller has announced the release of an update to the Manjaro Linux distribution, a desktop-focused derivative of Arch Linux. This update, Manjaro Linux 17.0.3, brings a number of bug fixes and newer packages. It is also likely to be the last version of Manjaro Linux to support 32-bit computers. "Manjaro Gellivara was a great release! Now we are proud to announce v17.0.3, our final release of Gellivara. It took us a little over two months to finish this updated version. We improved our hardware detection, fixed some features in our installer (Calamares), added the latest packages available to our install media and polished our release as a whole. Everyone, who used older install media than v17.0.2 release, should read also this announcement about password weakness and follow its advice to secure your systems. Also, Gellivara is the last edition of Manjaro Linux supporting 32-bit Architecture. Read more about this decision here." The release announcement has more details.
IPFire 2.19 Core 113
IPfire is an independent Linux distribution for use on firewalls and routers. The project has released a new update, IPFire 2.19 Core Update 113. The new version includes the Who Is Online utility to assist administrators is viewing which network devices are connected. "This is the official release announcement for IPFire 2.19 – Core Update 113. The change log is rather short, but comes with a big new feature: Who Is Online? (or WIO in short) has finally arrived on IPFire. It has been ported by the original author Stephan Feddersen and Alex Marx and is available as a usual add-on package called wio. It is a built in monitoring service for the local network showing what devices are connected, which ones are on line and can also send alarms on various events. Give it a try!" Further details on this release and its updated packages can be found in the project's release announcement.
* * * * *
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. To share your own open source torrents of Linux and BSD projects, please visit our Upload Torrents page.
Torrent Corner statistics:
- Total torrents seeded: 553
- Total data uploaded: 15.3TB
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Is the package manager important?
There are many factors to consider when selecting a Linux distribution to install. People often look at the default desktop environment, whether a project is a rolling release or fixed, the range of package selection and default applications.
This week we would like to find out how big a roll the default package manager plays in your decision to install a distribution. Does it really matter to you whether a distro uses RPM, APT, Pacman or Emerge? Or is the package manager low level enough that you do not think about how software management works behind the scenes?
You can see the results of our previous poll on using Snap vs Flatpak in last week's edition. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
Is the package manager important?
|Yes the package manager is very important to me: ||1058 (57%)|
| Yes the package manager is somewhat important to me: ||520 (28%)|
| No the package manager is not important to me: ||282 (15%)|
New projects added to database
BackSlash Linux is an Ubuntu-based desktop distribution featuring a custom shell running on top of the KDE Plasma desktop. BackSlash features a user interface inspired by macOS.
BackSlash Linux Olaf -- Checking for updates
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* * * * *
Distributions added to waiting list
- Namib GNU/Linux. Namib GNU/Linux is an Arch-based distribution featuring the MATE desktop environment. The graphical Calamares system installer assists users in setting up the operating system.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 11 September 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)
|Linux Foundation Training
|• Issue 843 (2019-12-02): Obarun 2019.11.02, Bluestar 5.3.6, using special characters on the command line, Fedora plans to disable empty passwords, FreeBSD's quarterly status report|
|• Issue 842 (2019-11-25): SolydXK 10, System Adminstration Ethics book review, Debian continues init diversity debate, Google upstreaming Android kernel patches|
|• Issue 841 (2019-11-18): Emmabuntus DE3-1.00, changing keys in a keyboard layout, Debian phasing out Python 2 and voting on init diversity, Slackware gets unofficial updated live media|
|• Issue 840 (2019-11-11): Fedora 31, monitoring user activity, Fedora working to improve Python performance, FreeBSD gets faster networking|
|• Issue 839 (2019-11-04): MX 19, manipulating PDFs, Ubuntu plans features for 20.04, Fedora 29 nears EOL, Netrunner drops Manjaro-based edition|
|• Issue 838 (2019-10-28): Xubuntu 19.10, how init and service managers work together, DragonFly BSD provides emergency mode for HAMMER, Xfce team plans 4.16|
|• Issue 837 (2019-10-21): CentOS 8.0-1905, Trident finds a new base, Debian plans firewall changes, 15 years of Fedora, how to merge directories|
|• Issue 836 (2019-10-14): Archman 2019.09, Haiku improves ARM support, Project Trident shifting base OS, Unix turns 50|
|• Issue 835 (2019-10-07): Isotop, Mazon OS and, KduxOS, examples of using the find command, Mint's System Reports becomes proactive, Solus updates its desktops|
|• Issue 834 (2019-09-30): FreedomBox "Buster", CentOS gains a rolling release, Librem 5 phones shipping, Redcore updates its package manager|
|• Issue 833 (2019-09-23): Redcore Linux 1908, why Linux distros are free, Ubuntu making list of 32-bit software to keep, Richard M Stallman steps down from FSF leadership|
|• Issue 832 (2019-09-16): BlackWeb 1.2, checking for Wayland session and applications, Fedora to use nftables in firewalld, OpenBSD disables DoH in Firefox|
|• Issue 831 (2019-09-09): Adélie Linux 1.0 beta, using ffmpeg, awk and renice, Mint and elementary improvements, PureOS and Manjaro updates|
|• Issue 930 (2019-09-02): deepin 15.11, working with AppArmor profiles, elementary OS gets new greeter, exFAT support coming to Linux kernel|
|• Issue 829 (2019-08-26): EndeavourOS 2019.07.15, Drauger OS 7.4.1, finding the licenses of kernel modules, NetBSD gets Wayland application, GhostBSD changes base repo|
|• Issue 828 (2019-08-19): AcademiX 2.2, concerns with non-free firmware, UBports working on Unity8, Fedora unveils new EPEL channel, FreeBSD phasing out GCC|
|• Issue 827 (2019-08-12): Q4OS, finding files on the disk, Ubuntu works on ZFS, Haiku improves performance, OSDisc shutting down|
|• Issue 826 (2019-08-05): Quick looks at Resilient, PrimeOS, and BlueLight, flagship distros for desktops,Manjaro introduces new package manager|
|• Issue 825 (2019-07-29): Endless OS 3.6, UBports 16.04, gNewSense maintainer stepping down, Fedora developrs discuss optimizations, Project Trident launches stable branch|
|• Issue 824 (2019-07-22): Hexagon OS 1.0, Mageia publishes updated media, Fedora unveils Fedora CoreOS, managing disk usage with quotas|
|• Issue 823 (2019-07-15): Debian 10, finding 32-bit packages on a 64-bit system, Will Cooke discusses Ubuntu's desktop, IBM finalizes purchase of Red Hat|
|• Issue 822 (2019-07-08): Mageia 7, running development branches of distros, Mint team considers Snap, UBports to address Google account access|
|• Issue 821 (2019-07-01): OpenMandriva 4.0, Ubuntu's plan for 32-bit packages, Fedora Workstation improvements, DragonFly BSD's smaller kernel memory|
|• Issue 820 (2019-06-24): Clear Linux and Guix System 1.0.1, running Android applications using Anbox, Zorin partners with Star Labs, Red Hat explains networking bug, Ubuntu considers no longer updating 32-bit packages|
|• Issue 819 (2019-06-17): OS108 and Venom, renaming multiple files, checking live USB integrity, working with Fedora's Modularity, Ubuntu replacing Chromium package with snap|
|• Issue 818 (2019-06-10): openSUSE 15.1, improving boot times, FreeBSD's status report, DragonFly BSD reduces install media size|
|• Issue 817 (2019-06-03): Manjaro 18.0.4, Ubuntu Security Podcast, new Linux laptops from Dell and System76, Entroware Apollo|
|• Issue 816 (2019-05-27): Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.0, creating firewall rules, Antergos shuts down, Matthew Miller answers questions about Fedora|
|• Issue 815 (2019-05-20): Sabayon 19.03, Clear Linux's developer features, Red Hat explains MDS flaws, an overview of mobile distro options|
|• Issue 814 (2019-05-13): Fedora 30, distributions publish Firefox fixes, CentOS publishes roadmap to 8.0, Debian plans to use Wayland by default|
|• Issue 813 (2019-05-06): ROSA R11, MX seeks help with systemd-shim, FreeBSD tests unified package management, interview with Gael Duval|
|• Issue 812 (2019-04-29): Ubuntu MATE 19.04, setting up a SOCKS web proxy, Scientific Linux discontinued, Red Hat takes over Java LTS support|
|• Issue 811 (2019-04-22): Alpine 3.9.2, rsync examples, Ubuntu working on ZFS support, Debian elects new Project Leader, Obarun releases S6 tools|
|• Issue 810 (2019-04-15): SolydXK 201902, Bedrock Linux 0.7.2, Fedora phasing out Python 2, NetBSD gets virtual machine monitor|
|• Issue 809 (2019-04-08): PCLinuxOS 2019.02, installing Falkon and problems with portable packages, Mint offers daily build previews, Ubuntu speeds up Snap packages|
|• Issue 808 (2019-04-01): Solus 4.0, security benefits and drawbacks to using a live distro, Gentoo gets GNOME ports working without systemd, Redox OS update|
|• Issue 807 (2019-03-25): Pardus 17.5, finding out which user changed a file, new Budgie features, a tool for browsing FreeBSD's sysctl values|
|• Issue 806 (2019-03-18): Kubuntu vs KDE neon, Nitrux's znx, notes on Debian's election, SUSE becomes an independent entity|
|• Issue 805 (2019-03-11): EasyOS 1.0, managing background services, Devuan team debates machine ID file, Ubuntu Studio works to remain an Ubuntu Community Edition|
|• Issue 804 (2019-03-04): Condres OS 19.02, securely erasing hard drives, new UBports devices coming in 2019, Devuan to host first conference|
|• Issue 803 (2019-02-25): Septor 2019, preventing windows from stealing focus, NetBSD and Nitrux experiment with virtual machines, pfSense upgrading to FreeBSD 12 base|
|• Issue 802 (2019-02-18): Slontoo 18.07.1, NetBSD tests newer compiler, Fedora packaging Deepin desktop, changes in Ubuntu Studio|
|• Issue 801 (2019-02-11): Project Trident 18.12, the meaning of status symbols in top, FreeBSD Foundation lists ongoing projects, Plasma Mobile team answers questions|
|• Issue 800 (2019-02-04): FreeNAS 11.2, using Ubuntu Studio software as an add-on, Nitrux developing znx, matching operating systems to file systems|
|• Issue 799 (2019-01-28): KaOS 2018.12, Linux Basics For Hackers, Debian 10 enters freeze, Ubuntu publishes new version for IoT devices|
|• Issue 798 (2019-01-21): Sculpt OS 18.09, picking a location for swap space, Solus team plans ahead, Fedora trying to get a better user count|
|• Issue 797 (2019-01-14): Reborn OS 2018.11.28, TinyPaw-Linux 1.3, dealing with processes which make the desktop unresponsive, Debian testing Secure Boot support|
|• Issue 796 (2019-01-07): FreeBSD 12.0, Peppermint releases ISO update, picking the best distro of 2018, roundtable interview with Debian, Fedora and elementary developers|
|• Issue 795 (2018-12-24): Running a Pinebook, interview with Bedrock founder, Alpine being ported to RISC-V, Librem 5 dev-kits shipped|
|• Issue 794 (2018-12-17): Void 20181111, avoiding software bloat, improvements to HAMMER2, getting application overview in GNOME Shell|
|• Issue 793 (2018-12-10): openSUSE Tumbleweed, finding non-free packages, Debian migrates to usrmerge, Hyperbola gets FSF approval|
|• Issue 792 (2018-1203): GhostBSD 18.10, when to use swap space, DragonFly BSD's wireless support, Fedora planning to pause development schedule|
|• Issue 791 (2018-11-26): Haiku R1 Beta1, default passwords on live media, Slax and Kodachi update their media, dual booting DragonFly BSD on EFI|
|• Full list of all issues|
Star Labs - Laptops built for Linux.
View our range including the Star Lite, Star LabTop and more. Available with a choice of Ubuntu, Linux Mint or Zorin OS pre-installed with many more distributions supported. Visit Star Labs for information, to buy and get support.
|Random Distribution |
Vinux is an Ubuntu-derived distribution optimised for the needs of blind and partially sighted users. By default Vinux provides two screen readers, Braille display support and a friendly community. When booting the live Vinux image, the users are greeted by the Orca screen reader that enables them to navigate the graphical Unity desktop using keyboard commands. Additionally, Brltty provides grade 1 and 2 Braille output via Orca.