| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 733, 9 October 2017
Welcome to this year's 41st issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
Software developers are required to find a balance between taking advantage of modern technology to offer new features in their work, while also not leaving behind users who are still using older equipment. This week we explore either end of the spectrum, beginning with a look at KaOS. KaOS is a rolling release distribution which runs on 64-bit systems exclusively and ships with the latest available software packages. Then Nicolae Crefelean shares some thoughts on why developing for older hardware is still important and a potential cost-saving approach. In our Opinion Poll we would like to know how many of our readers favour moving technology forward at the expense of dropping 32-bit systems verses maintaining support for older hardware. In our News section we talk about the Fedora project delaying test images for the distribution's Server edition, IPFire's Apache upgrade and we explore some of the security features of Qubes OS. Plus we share the releases of last week and provide a list of the torrents we are seeding. We wish you all a terrific week and happy reading!
- Review: KaOS 2017.09
- News: Fedora delays Server beta, Qubes outlines security features, IPFire updates Apache
- Opinion: 32-bit support prematurely obsoleted
- Released last week: Emmabuntus 9-1.00, NixOS 17.09, FreeBSD 10.4
- Torrent corner: Antergos, Bluestar, Chakra, Debian, Emmabuntus, FreeBSD, IPFire, NixOS, NST
- Opinion poll: 32-bit being dropped by distributions
- Reader comments
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (62MB) and MP3 (62MB) formats.
|Feature Story (by Robert Rijkhoff)
KaOS is a rolling release distribution built from scratch. Its stated aim is "to create the highest quality distribution possible". For that, it uses the Linux kernel, the KDE Plasma desktop and Arch's Pacman package manager. Interestingly, the project's website states that they are hoping to one day replace the Linux kernel with the Illumos kernel.
Installation and first impressions
KaOS is only available for the x86 (64-bit) architecture. The 2017.09 ISO is 1.7GB in size and enables us to run KaOS before deciding whether or not we want to go ahead and install the distro. The download page provides instructions for verifying the integrity of the ISO and detailed release notes - among the highlights of the latest KaOS release are the removal of Grsecurity and the addition of a Qt5-based firewall application called Nomad.
Before running a new distro I usually first install it in GNOME Boxes. KaOS is the first distro that didn't work in the virtual environment. The live ISO would boot to the desktop but then froze. I had no such issues when I ran the ISO on my laptop.
The live environment features a prominent welcome window with links to more information about KaOS and a button to start the installer. What also stands out is the single panel on the right-hand side. Personally, it's not where I would place a panel that includes an application menu, short-cuts and a system tray. KDE is of course very customizable and the panel can be moved to where it belongs (at the top!).
KaOS 2017.09 -- The welcome screen on the live ISO
(full image size: 413kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
KaOS uses the Calamares installer which, as always, worked very well. I opted to overwrite the Parabola GNU/Linux system that was still installed on my laptop after my last review and to encrypt the new installation. The process took about 20 minutes.
After rebooting my laptop and logging into KaOS I was presented with a different welcome screen, a first run wizard called Kaptan. The application runs us through various Plasma settings. Among many others, we can choose the clicking behaviour for opening files and directories (single click or double click), what theme and application menu we want to use and which wallpaper we prefer. I'm not an experienced KDE user and I find customizing the Plasma desktop awkward, so for me the welcome screen was very welcome indeed. Unfortunately, though, I got a completely black screen after hitting the Finish button to apply my choices. I managed to get to a terminal via the Alt-F2 shortcut (which opens an application launcher) so that I could reboot the system. After logging back in I found all the customizations had been applied, apart from the wallpaper.
KaOS 2017.09 -- Customizing via the first-run wizard
(full image size: 311kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
KaOS ships with KDE/Qt applications where possible. The project believes that such applications "provide the superior tool" most of the time but there are a few GTK applications that have been allowed to enter the repositories - among them are Inkscape and Ardour. In short, KaOS aims to provide the best tool for the job, with a bias towards native KDE/Qt applications.
To my surprise, KaOS doesn't pre-install any tools for various common jobs. To mention just a few, there is no e-mail client, scanning application, torrent client, dedicated RSS reader or video editor. This seems odd as there are excellent KDE/Qt applications available for these jobs. At the same time we do get applications such as Kruler (which displays a ruler on the desktop), Kirigami ("a user interface framework for mobile and convergent applications"), Qt Designer (which has something to do with designing Qt interfaces) and a HP Device Manager (even though I don't have any HP hardware).
Some of the applications that are included by default can hardly be called "superior". In the category of Science we get Marble, which describes itself as "your swiss army knife for maps". The application includes 14 different maps that can be explored. There are a few interesting ones, such as Martin von Behaim's Erdapfel, although that particular map was rather difficult to view. More practical maps contain basic errors. For instance, on the political map various countries, including the US, Canada, Germany and Russia, have no border and the same background colour as the sea, while some smaller countries such as Kosovo are presented as terra nullius (the country's name has been omitted).
KaOS 2017.09 -- Exploring a map in Marble
(full image size: 309kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
The FatRat download manager also made me frown. The application was able to download torrents fine but I never got to explore its other features, partly because the on-line documentation routinely returned an error 500 and partly because FatRat kept crashing when I tried things like the RSS feed manager. FatRat appears to be unmaintained - the last stable release is from 2010 - and it shows.
Other pre-installed applications worked but were a little disappointing. Calligra, the productivity suite, is a good example. It has all I need for my modest office needs but I didn't get on with the interface. By default, menus and window decorations take up roughly 45% of the available screen real estate (yes, I measured it) which by any standard seems somewhat excessive. The large menu displayed to the right of text documents and worksheets is particularly offensive. I understand that this is a sensible place for a menu on 16:9 displays but I was missing an option to simply remove the menu. The presence of the sidebar menu meant it wasn't practical to have Calligra and, say, a browser window open side by side.
KaOS 2017.09 -- Trying to use Calligra and a web browser side-by-side
(full image size: 252kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
It wasn't all misery in the applications department. For browsing we get the QupZilla browser, which I really liked. I found QupZilla to be fast, stable and it renders web pages perfectly fine. A nice touch is that the browser blocks ads by default (using AdBlock) and that it's very configurable. Other web browsers are available in the repositories, including Konqueror, Firefox, Opera and even Google Chrome (oddly, Chromium isn't available) but I found no need to use a different browser.
I also liked the QPhotoRec data recovery utility. In the past I've used PhotoRec on the command line to retrieve photos from a digital camera - the application can be a real life-saver (or, well, data saver). I wasn't aware there is also a graphical version of PhotoRec and I was keen to test it. Although I had no data to be rescued I tried to recover data from an old USB drive and it worked wonderfully well.
KaOS 2017.09 -- QPhotoRec and the Babe audio player
(full image size: 504kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
Another application worth mentioning is the default audio player: Babe. Jesse recently didn't have any luck with the audio player when he reviewed Nitrux but it worked fairly well for me. I was able to select the directory in which I store my music and Babe retrieved everything recursively and it was able to play the file formats I use for music (mp3, flac and ogg). The application wasn't very good at retrieving album covers though. Babe won't use cover images stored in album directories and will instead try to retrieve them on-line. As a result, about half the albums in my music collection didn't have covers and the covers that were displayed were almost all incorrect. There were other small nuisances, such as the fact that Babe will display a desktop notification every time a new song starts playing.
The player itself is quite nice. By default it shows two panes: a large pane to display a list (or grid) with songs, albums, artists or playlists and a small pane to show the album cover and the song (or album) that is currently playing. Various controls (previous, next, pause, shuffle etc.) are displayed while hovering over the album cover. Among the controls is also a 'Go Mini' button which hides the left pane or, when selected again, reduces the size of the window to just the album cover. A final control that should be mentioned is the 'Babe it' button (a love heart), which can be used to 'babe' or 'unbabe' a song (yep, that is a verb). Babed songs are called 'Babes' and are listed under the Playlists tab.
Package management and the command line
As said, I found the default software selection disappointing and I spent quite a bit of time installing applications. KaOS doesn't feature a software centre but we can manage packages using Octopi, which is a graphical front-end for the Pacman package manager. Octopi worked well but it's by no means a replacement for a software centre. There is no easy way, for instance, to list all available media players or web browsers. To find out what software might be useful I largely relied on the Applications section on the KDE website.
Most of the software I installed worked well, with the exception of the Kmail email client. First, I got an error while installing Kmail. When I asked the KaOS IRC channel about the error I was instantly given a couple of commands to be copied and pasted into a terminal window, which solved whatever the issue was.
KaOS 2017.09 -- Kmail error
(full image size: 835kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
Once Kmail was up and running I found that the message list wasn't visible - the message preview pane occupied the space where you would normally have a list with e-mails in the selected mail folder. Changing the layout in the settings and then reverting that change will give you the traditional layout, with the mailbox(es) to the left and the message list and preview pane to the right. The bad experience didn't end there though. I found that it would take Kmail between 5 to 20 second to open e-mails (even plain text emails with no attachments). Unfortunately, there appears to be no other e-mail client in the KaOS repositories - even mutt isn't included.
Other applications I installed were Skanlite, KTorrent, LibreOffice, GIMP, VLC, Inkscape, Kdenlive, Akregator, Digikam, Kdenlive and the Latte dock. I had no major issues with any of these applications and some I really enjoyed. In particular the Kdenlive video editor is a very nice application. Also worth mentioning is that the window decorations and menus in Inkscape, the only pure GTK application I installed, were indistinguishable from native Qt applications.
As an aside, three of the applications I installed - LibreOffice, GIMP and VLC - were beta releases. I'm not sure why KaOS doesn't ship the latest stable versions of these applications but all three worked fine. In the case of GIMP I actually quite enjoyed having the unstable release - I got to play with the new handle transform tool.
Although KaOS lacks a software centre the system does notify you when updates are available. The Octopi icon in the system tray (an octopus) will turn red and start blinking, which is mildly annoying but definitely encouraged me to apply updates as soon as possible. There were plenty of updates during the three weeks I tried KaOS and they were all installed quickly and cleanly.
KaOS 2017.09 -- Updating the system using Octopi
(full image size: 214kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
Earlier I mentioned that by default KaOS places a single panel on the right-hand side of the screen. I came across similar odd design choices. Dolphin, for instance, has its main toolbar on the left. I managed to customize applications to my liking but it was slightly frustrating to have to undo many of KaOS's tweaks.
The customizations extend to the command line. The default terminal emulator is Konsole and we also get Yakuake, a drop-down terminal that can be displayed (and hidden) using a custom keyboard shortcut. Both terminals use the Powerline plugin to make the command line prompt look prettier. The Vim text editor should also use Powerline for its status line but this has been misconfigured, causing an error to be displayed instead. I have no need for Powerline whatsoever and was able to get Vim to work properly again by removing the powerline.vim file.
KaOS 2017.09 -- The Yakuake terminal and two Konsole terminals
(full image size: 716kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
There are other ways in which KaOS is trying to enhance the command line experience. The bottom-right terminal in the above screen shot is what is displayed when you run the top command. At first I thought it was showing the output of the htop utility but it is in fact top. As with Powerline, I agree the output looks prettier but I can't see what it adds. In fact, if you are familiar with top you will note that various bits of information about processes have been removed in KaOS's top implementation.
Similarly, KaOS seems to have a fetish for aliases. It is normal for distros to add one or two aliases to the default bashrc file, typically to use colours when listing files and directories. In KaOS we got over a dozen aliases. Among others, cp is an alias for cp -i (ask before overwriting a file when copying) and df is an alias for df -h (report on disk space usage in a human-readable format). Whether or not such aliases are useful is debatable.
Another interesting alias is upd, which is short for mirror-check && sudo pacman -Syu. To update the system I would normally simply run pacman -Syy and I couldn't find much information about the mirror-check command. Other aliases seem to have been added for very specific use cases. For instance, dvdburn is an alias for growisofs -Z /dev/sr0 -R -J and vp is short for vim PKGBUILD.
While using KaOS I often pondered what the distro adds to running a distro like Arch Linux with the Plasma desktop. Both are rolling release distros that ship with the Pacman package manager and the latest and greatest versions of the KDE Plasma desktop (you can compare the version of packages yourself).
There are two obvious differences between Arch and KaOS: the latter has a graphical installer and is dedicated to KDE and Qt. The installer doesn't seem that important - if installing Arch is too daunting then there are always Arch-based distros such as Manjaro and Antergos. The focus on all things KDE is a unique selling point though. Plus, KaOS comes with various customizations, whereas Arch is a blank canvas.
Personally, I would prefer the blank canvas. I found the selection of pre-installed software poorly chosen and the relatively small KaOS repositories are somewhat limiting - I was missing a software centre and I couldn't find a functional e-mail client, for instance. I also feel that, with the exception of the welcome screens, the various customizations made by KaOS are largely unsuccessful.
That said, after I had tweaked everything to my liking as far as possible I did enjoy using KaOS. Plasma looks good and there are plenty of excellent KDE/Qt applications. The system was fairly responsive, there were no insurmountable bugs and the frequent updates didn't break anything. KaOS also deserves praise for its documentation, which is simply excellent. It's just that KaOS seems to be trying a little bit too hard to be different.
* * * * *
Hardware used for this review
My physical test equipment for this review was a Lenovo Z570 laptop with the following specifications:
- Processor: Intel Core i3-2350M, 2.3GHz
- Memory: 4GB of RAM
- Wireless network adaptor: Qualcomm Atheros AR9285
- Wired network adaptor: Realtek RTL8101/2/6E 05)
* * * * *
Visitor supplied rating
KaOS has a visitor supplied average rating of: 7.8/10 from 34 review(s).
Have you used KaOS? You can leave your own review of the project on our ratings page.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
Fedora delays Server beta, Qubes outlines security features, IPFire updates Apache
This week the Fedora project released a new beta snapshot for Fedora 27. The development snapshot offers a preview of new packages and features the Fedora team is developing. Missing among the usual download images for Fedora 27 Beta were ISO files for the project's Server edition. Fedora Magazine explains why the Server images have been delayed: "The Fedora Project just released the beta version of Fedora 27, including Fedora Workstation and Fedora Atomic Host. Since Fedora ships with three editions, you may be wondering: where's Fedora 27 Server beta? The short answer: it's coming soon. Remember Boltron, the Modular Server Preview from a few months ago? The Fedora Server team has been building on feedback from that preview and plans to make the next Fedora Server release based on this technology. But, the team also wants to make sure it would be actually useful to you, not just another preview. And, when it came time to make the general beta release, the team decided it wasn't ready yet." The project also reported it would be holding back 32-bit builds of the beta due to a problem in the checksum process: "Also be aware that we are missing i686 (32-bit Intel architecture) images for this release; this is due to a bug in image checksum creation and which we will fix by the final release."
* * * * *
Qubes OS is a project which creates an operating system that isolates tasks and information using Xen lightweight virtual machines. The project is previewing features for the upcoming release of Qubes OS 4.0 in a series of blog posts. The latest post covers different classes of virtual machines. "Qubes implements explicit partitioning security model, which means that users (and/or admins) can define multiple security domains and decide what these domains can and cannot do. This is a different model than the popular sandboxing model, as implemented by increasingly many applications and products today, where every application is automatically sandboxed and some more-or-less pre-defined set of rules is used to prevent behaviour considered 'unsafe' (whatever that might mean). I believe the explicit partitioning model provides many benefits over the sandboxing model, among the most important one being that it is information-oriented, rather than application-oriented. In other words it tries to limit damage to the (user's) data, rather to the (vendor's) code and infrastructure. There have always been a few different kinds of VMs in Qubes: AppVMs, Template VMs, Standalone VMs, NetVMs, ProxyVMs, DispVM, etc. In Qubes 4 we have slightly simplified and cleaned up these categories..."
* * * * *
The IPFire project creates a distribution for use on firewalls. The distribution uses a web-based interface for administration which is powered by the Apache web server. The latest IPFire update bumps the Apache service from version 2.2 to 2.4 which may have side-effects. "For all users that have installed their own Virtual Hosts in Apache, the web user interface won't restart after the update. Please update the configuration files to the new configuration file format of Apache 2.4 and then restart the system. All IPFire add-ons will of course be automatically migrated." Additional information on the upgrade can be found on the project's news page.
* * * * *
These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Opinion (by Nicolae Crefelean)
32-bit support prematurely obsoleted
Let's make one thing clear: 32-bit CPUs must fade away, just as 8-bit and 16-bit did in the past - it's not personal, it's evolution. But timing is important, because software and hardware share a symbiotic relationship. Now that Canonical has dropped the 32-bit Ubuntu Desktop ISO images, support for the aging CPU architecture has become a rarity.
Here's how top 15 looks on DistroWatch:
||32-bit desktop support
||32-bit server support
One might say that if so many high-level popular distributions decided to drop 32-bit support, they're onto something and that we should just let go. And while there are multiple reasons that make perfect sense to move to 64-bit only, not enough people have the technical skills to know why in some cases this move is being pushed a bit too soon. Sadly, even some developers and distro maintainers overlook the practical importance of keeping 32-bit around for a while longer.
The main advantages of running a 64-bit operating system and programs are better overall performance and the ability to allow programs to use more than 4GB of RAM, which is not possible with a 32-bit operating system. And although an operating system with a 32-bit PAE kernel can make use of up to 64GB of RAM, each running process will still be limited to 4GB RAM at a time. This can be a serious bottleneck for resource-intensive games and productivity software, which is why it's best to use 64-bit operating systems and programs whenever possible.
But even when you have a 64-bit CPU, that's not enough for a decent computing experience. The 64-bit software comes with the cost of an increased RAM consumption. This is of course not a problem when we have enough RAM to handle our needs, but it quickly turns into an inconvenience when our programs need more RAM than physically available. When this happens, the kernel must resort to swapping.
Below you can see the RAM usage difference in Lubuntu and Ubuntu (Unity), both version 16.04. This clearly shows why Lubuntu 32-bit is the best fit for computers with low RAM.
|Lubuntu + Task Manager
|Lubuntu + Task Manager + YouTube in Firefox
|Ubuntu + System Monitor
|Ubuntu + System Monitor + YouTube in Firefox
If you know what swapping is, skip this paragraph; otherwise, read on. RAM is very fast and hard disk drives are very slow. The programs we use load their data into RAM because that's how they're best able to perform quickly. But when the available RAM is insufficient for all the running programs, the operating system has to make use of swap space. The swap space is located on a storage device - usually a hard disk drive (HDD) or a solid state drive (SSD). HDDs are much slower than SSDs, and if you replaced your HDD with an SSD on the same PC you noticed first hand the significant boost in the startup time of the operating system and all your programs. The low performance of the HDDs is mostly noticeable when the operating system starts swapping huge chunks of data and the PC starts to feel sluggish.
So how do we avoid swapping?
Buy more RAM;
use software that requires less RAM for the job (32-bit vs 64-bit).
As I wrote this article, Amazon had for sale close to 300 laptop models that come with 4GB or less RAM, and plenty of them cannot be upgraded. Yes, we're getting close to 2018 and you can still buy a brand new PC that limits you drastically with regards to what you can do with it. Who does this? Plenty of well known brands in computing: Acer, Apple, ASUS, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Samsung, Toshiba and others - all in the name of low cost PCs. And there are a lot of good PCs out there with 64-bit CPUs having 2-4 cores and SSDs, but they have low RAM because that's how the computer manufacturers prefer doing business. How else do you "encourage" your customers to buy a better model?
Of course, the second-hand market is also huge and there are plenty of good laptops and even desktop PCs that while otherwise capable of decent computing, their RAM limitation makes them unfit for 64-bit software despite having the capability.
Just in case you somehow missed this information, you should know that SSDs have a limited write cycle on their memory cells. So a HDD makes your PC very slow while swapping, and swapping on an SSD will shorten its lifetime. Basically, swapping is not good. And if you can't add more RAM to your PC because of a technical limitation, these are your options:
use the swap and deal with the consequences;
reduce your RAM usage by choosing a 32-bit OS and programs;
buy a PC with enough RAM for your needs, and which has RAM upgrade options.
Here's a wake up call for the developers and operating system builders: there's a lot of 64-bit capable hardware that is limited to 2-4GB of RAM by design. And then there's very good (older) hardware that does the job very nicely even with the latest and greatest OS - but the RAM limit affects them. Would you prefer people go buy a new PC rather than donate to your projects? And even after these people get new PCs, they will sell or give away the old ones, and the new users will face the same problem.
Here's a wake up call for the users: if you're affected by the RAM limitation, make sure you let the developers know. When you don't have the money or it doesn't make sense to buy a new PC because your existing one is already very capable, if you keep quiet you will soon see all the nice 32-bit options go away, and it will partially be your fault. Also, if you use an OS that still offers a 32-bit version, donate to the project and let them know specifically that you donated because 32-bit is still very important to you. Or at least write them a thank you message, because with less options today soon we will have to throw away perfectly capable PCs just because the developers and builders think almost nobody still cares about 32-bit.
There are users knowledgeable enough to use 64-bit software on RAM-limited PCs, because they are fully aware of their hardware specifications and they even monitor the RAM usage the whole time they use their PCs so they make good use of them with their favourite operating systems. That's beautiful, and we need more people like that. Be one of those users, but if you can, remember to support the projects you rely on. Or make plans for a new PC.
Lastly, here's a wake up call for the PC manufacturers: stop building PCs with less than 4GB of RAM - that's the least you can do. As many of us know, RAM is cheap. So when you decide to solder it on the motherboard without leaving an upgrade option, don't cripple the hardware. We have plenty of software developers doing their craft by the "RAM is cheap" mantra, so kindly consider that and help us move to 64-bit sooner rather than later. Besides, offering 32-bit drivers and support costs money, right?
Welcome to the server side
The first part of the article covers the interest of the users from the desktop side. Most of us only see that because we expect the desktop to come up when we push the power button of our PCs. But what happens when you want a blog, or a small presentation website? You'll be expecting a cheap hosting service to do the job, and most likely you will only look at the cost, not the operating system on your server. But if you're knowledgeable enough, getting the right Virtual Private Server (VPS) can lower your costs by using 32-bit to your advantage. You will pay less money for a VPS with less RAM, while running the same simple blog or website.
As a business owner you will surely care about the number of VPS instances you can sell, because the more customers you have, the more money you will make with your hardware. It's in your best interest to have knowledgeable customers, and not just because you can sell more VPS instances, but because having more customers on less hardware means you'll pay for less physical machines, less maintenance, less electricity, less power protection, less redundancy, have cheaper and faster disaster recovery, and so on.
We can easily see how 32-bit is very valuable in different ways. Of course if you plan having a huge database with data surpassing the 32-bit integer limit you will need a 64-bit operating system. A professional knows when to use a hammer, a sledgehammer or a pickhammer. That's why having choices is very important, and that's why everyone should give a second thought before considering dismissing 32-bit. This article barely scratches the surface of the advantages of the old architecture, for the purpose of being easier to digest. So leave your thoughts in the comments below, and share your insights and use cases for 32-bit.
|Released Last Week
Emmabuntüs is a Debian-based desktop distribution which strives to offer a beginner-friendly desktop experiencing while requiring few resources. The distribution ships with the Xfce desktop environment. The project's latest release is the second version to be based on Debian and uses Debian 9 "Stretch" packages at its core. The new version ships with UEFI boot support for both 32-bit and 64-bit computers. The project's release announcement lists the following changes: "Based on Debian 9.1 Stretch. UEFI support of the 32-bit version in addition to the 64-bit. Selection script for the new wallpapers designed by our friend Odysseus Libre. Installation menu for the non-free software in the Xfce menu. Added the book of Odysseus Libre 'The square who wanted to become circular' within Calibre, both in French and English version. Updated OOo4kids to version 1.5.1, thanks to the precious help of our friend Eric Bachard. Update of the Debian beginner's handbook by our mate arpinux. HandySoft replaced by GNOME Software Removal of SuperTuxKart and Hedgewars, in order to decrease the size of the distribution."
Emmabuntus 9-1.00 -- Running the Xfce desktop
(full image size: 562kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
NixOS is a Linux distribution which is assembled using the Nix package manager. Nix features package snapshots, rollbacks and the ability to manage the configuration of the operating system and its services. The NixOS project has released a new update, NixOS 17.09. The new version offers updated desktop packages, the ability to revive old user identification numbers (UIDs) and many new services. "In addition to numerous new and upgraded packages, this release has the following highlights: The GNOME version is now 3.24. KDE Plasma was upgraded to 5.10, KDE Applications to 17.08.1 and KDE Frameworks to 5.37. The user handling now keeps track of deallocated UIDs/GIDs. When a user or group is revived, this allows it to be allocated the UID/GID it had before. A consequence is that UIDs and GIDs are no longer reused. The module option services.xserver.xrandrHeads now causes the first head specified in this list to be set as the primary head. Apart from that, it's now possible to also set additional options by using an attribute set... The handling of SSL in the services.nginx module has been cleaned up, renaming the misnamed enableSSL to onlySSL which reflects its original intention. This is not to be used with the already existing forceSSL which creates a second non-SSL virtual host redirecting to the SSL virtual host. This by chance had worked earlier due to specific implementation details. In case you had specified both please remove the enableSSL option to keep the previous behaviour. Another addSSL option has been introduced to configure both a non-SSL virtual host and an SSL virtual host with the same configuration." A complete list of new changes and services can be found in the release notes. NixOS is available in Graphical and Minimal editions.
The FreeBSD Release Engineering Team has announced the availability of a new update to FreeBSD's 10.x production series. The new version, FreeBSD 10.4, includes support for eMMC storage and expands Wake-On-LAN support for Intel networking cards. In addition, the GNOME desktop has been updated to version 3.18. "The FreeBSD Release Engineering Team is pleased to announce availability of FreeBSD 10.4-RELEASE. This is the fifth release of the stable/10 branch, building upon the stability and reliability of 10.3-RELEASE and introducing new features. Some of the highlights: 10.4-RELEASE is the first FreeBSD release to feature full support for eMMC storage, including eMMC partitions, TRIM and bus speed modes up to HS400. Please note, though, that availability of especially the DDR52, HS200 and HS400 modes requires support in the actual sdhci(4) front-end as well as by the hardware used. Also note, that the SDHCI controller part of Intel Apollo Lake chipsets is affected by several severe silicon bugs. Apparently, it depends on the particular Apollo Lake platform whether the workarounds in place so far are sufficient to avoid timeouts on attaching sdhci(4) there. Also in case a GPT disk label is used, the fsck_ffs(8) utility now is able to find alternate superblocks. The aesni(4) driver now no longer shares a single FPU context across multiple sessions in multiple threads, addressing problems seen when employing aesni(4) for accelerating ipsec(4). Support for the Kaby Lake generation of Intel i219(4)/ i219(5) devices has been added to the em(4) driver...." Further information can be found in the project's release announcement and release notes.
Network Security Toolkit 26-9267
Ron Henderson has announced the availability of a new version of the Network Security Toolkit (NST) distribution. NST is a bootable, live CD based on Fedora. The toolkit provides easy access to open source network security applications. The latest version, NST 26-9267, is based on Fedora 26 and includes several new features. "The Ntopng Hosts page has been enhanced for the geolocation of top active traffic flow connections. The Map below depicts top flow connections emanating from a site in Albany, N.Y. to web and compute cloud services data centres located in Ashburn, Va. (Amazon - AWS) and Cambridge, Ma. (Akamai - Cloud Delivery Platform). A host marker spreading feature allows one to expose flows to load balancing servers at those locations. The combination of host marker spreading with the superimposition of flows is similar to the Etherape application but with the enhancement of geolocation. Flows can be filtered for fine-grained analysis. Each host marker has an associated information window pop-up that includes nDPI - Ntop Deep Packet Inspection protocol detection, traffic flow rates and the accumulated data sent and received totals. An 'Active Flow Connections Editor' is also provided for configuring flow appearance and filter control. The Snort IDS NST WUI page now uses the Snorby application for the visual presentation of IDS events. NST Snort integration can simultaneously manage multiple instances of Snort IDS sensors using different rule sets..." More information can be found in the project's release announcement.
Chakra GNU/Linux 2017.10
The Chakra GNU/Linux project has announced the release of a new snapshot of the semi-rolling release distribution. The new installation media carries the version number 2017.10 and offers several package upgrades as well as an updated system installer. "The 2017.10 ISO is a maintenance release. As always, it is a snapshot of our stable repositories and includes all the package upgrades and changes that have happened in Chakra since the previous ISO release. Noteworthy changes include: New versions of the Linux kernel, Xorg server, and graphics drivers. Support for mesa libglvnd1. Dropping support for catalyst. The installer, Calamares, has been updated to version 3.1.5. Our home grown Heritage theme for Plasma received several improvements in the logout screen and icons. This release also ships with the following package versions that already available in our repositories..." A list of updated packages, along with screen shots of Chakra running the Plasma desktop environment, 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: 595
- Total data uploaded: 15.9TB
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
32-bit being dropped by distributions
This week Nicolae Crefelean talked about distributions dropping 32-bit builds, removing support both for older CPU architectures and making it harder for people running low-resource computers. This week we would like to find out what you think about the phasing out of 32-bit operating systems. Is it time to drop the older architecture or do 32-bit distributions still hold a valuable place in the world?
You can see the results of our previous poll on using free vs non-free web browsers in last week's edition. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
32-bit being dropped by distributions
|Maintaining a 32-bit build is a waste of resources: ||681 (26%)|
| 32-bit builds are still important: ||1513 (57%)|
| No strong opinion: ||467 (18%)|
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 16 October 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.
(Tips this week: 0, value: US$0.00)
|Linux Foundation Training
|• 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|
|• Issue 790 (2018-11-19): NetBSD 8.0, Bash tips and short-cuts, Fedora's networking benchmarked with FreeBSD, Ubuntu 18.04 to get ten years of support|
|• Issue 789 (2018-11-12): Fedora 29 Workstation and Silverblue, Haiku recovering from server outage, Fedora turns 15, Debian publishes updated media|
|• Issue 788 (2018-11-05): Clu Linux Live 6.0, examining RAM consumpion, finding support for older CPUs, more Steam support for running Windows games on Linux, update from Solus team|
|• Issue 787 (2018-10-29): Lubuntu 18.10, limiting application access to specific users, Haiku hardware compatibility list, IBM purchasing Red Hat|
|• Issue 786 (2018-10-22): elementary OS 5.0, why init keeps running, DragonFly BSD enables virtual machine memory resizing, KDE neon plans to drop older base|
|• Issue 785 (2018-10-15): Reborn OS 2018.09, Nitrux 1.0.15, swapping hard drives between computers, feren OS tries KDE spin, power savings coming to Linux|
|• Issue 784 (2018-10-08): Hamara 2.1, improving manual pages, UBports gets VoIP app, Fedora testing power saving feature|
|• Issue 783 (2018-10-01): Quirky 8.6, setting up dual booting with Ubuntu and FreeBSD, Lubuntu switching to LXQt, Mint works on performance improvements|
|• Issue 782 (2018-09-24): Bodhi Linux 5.0.0, Elive 3.0.0, Solus publishes ISO refresh, UBports invites feedback, Linux Torvalds plans temporary vacation|
|• Issue 781 (2018-09-17): Linux Mint 3 "Debian Edition", file systems for SSDs, MX makes installing Flatpaks easier, Arch team answers questions, Mageia reaches EOL|
|• Issue 780 (2018-09-10): Netrunner 2018.08 Rolling, Fedora improves language support, how to customize Kali Linux, finding the right video drivers|
|• Issue 779 (2018-09-03): Redcore 1806, keeping ISO downloads safe from tampering, Lubuntu makes Calamares more flexible, Ubuntu improves GNOME performance|
|• Issue 778 (2018-08-27): GuixSD 0.15.0, ReactOS 0.4.9, Steam supports Windows games on Linux, Haiku plans for beta, merging disk partitions|
|• Issue 777 (2018-08-20): YunoHost 220.127.116.11, limiting process resource usage, converting file systems on Fedora, Debian turns 25, Lubuntu migrating to Wayland|
|• Issue 776 (2018-08-13): NomadBSD 1.1, Maximum storage limits on Linux, openSUSE extends life for 42.3, updates to the Librem 5 phone interface|
|• Issue 775 (2018-08-06): Secure-K OS 18.5, Linux is about choice, Korora tests community spin, elementary OS hires developer, ReactOS boots on Btrfs|
|• Issue 774 (2018-07-30): Ubuntu MATE & Ubuntu Budgie 18.04, upgrading software from source, Lubuntu shifts focus, NetBSD changes support policy|
|• Issue 773 (2018-07-23): Peppermint OS 9, types of security used by different projects, Mint reacts to bugs in core packages, Slackware turns 25|
|• Issue 772 (2018-07-16): Hyperbola GNU/Linux-libre 0.2.4, UBports running desktop applications, OpenBSD auto-joins wi-fi networks, boot environments and zedenv|
|• Issue 771 (2018-07-09): Linux Lite 4.0, checking CPUs for bugs, configuring GRUB, Mint upgrade instructions, SUSE acquired by EQT|
|• Issue 770 (2018-07-02): Linux Mint 19, Solus polishes desktop experience, MintBox Mini 2, changes to Fedora's installer|
|• Issue 769 (2018-06-25): BunsenLabs Helium, counting Ubuntu users, UBports upgrading to 16.04, Fedora CoreOS, FreeBSD turns 25|
|• Issue 768 (2018-06-18): Devuan 2.0.0, using pkgsrc to manage software, the NOVA filesystem, OpenBSD handles successful cron output|
|• Issue 767 (2018-06-11): Android-x86 7.1-r1, transferring files over OpenSSH with pipes, LFS with Debian package management, Haiku ports LibreOffice|
|• Issue 766 (2018-06-04): openSUSE 15, overview of file system links, Manjaro updates Pamac, ReactOS builds itself, Bodhi closes forums|
|• Issue 765 (2018-05-28): Pop!_OS 18.04, gathering system information, Haiku unifying ARM builds, Solus resumes control of Budgie|
|• Issue 764 (2018-05-21): DragonFly BSD 5.2.0, Tails works on persistent packages, Ubuntu plans new features, finding services affected by an update|
|• Issue 763 (2018-05-14): Fedora 28, Debian compatibility coming to Chrome OS, malware found in some Snaps, Debian's many flavours|
|• Issue 762 (2018-05-07): TrueOS 18.03, live upgrading Raspbian, Mint plans future releases, HardenedBSD to switch back to OpenSSL|
|• Issue 761 (2018-04-30): Ubuntu 18.04, accessing ZFS snapshots, UBports to run on Librem 5 phones, Slackware makes PulseAudio optional|
|• Issue 760 (2018-04-23): Chakra 2017.10, using systemd to hide files, Netrunner's ARM edition, Debian 10 roadmap, Microsoft develops Linux-based OS|
|• Issue 759 (2018-04-16): Neptune 5.0, building containers with Red Hat, antiX introduces Sid edition, fixing filenames on the command line|
|• Issue 758 (2018-04-09): Sortix 1.0, openSUSE's Transactional Updates, Fedora phasing out Python 2, locating portable packages|
|• Issue 757 (2018-04-02): Gatter Linux 0.8, the UNIX and Linux System Administration Handbook, Red Hat turns 25, super long term support kernels|
|• Issue 756 (2018-03-26): NuTyX 10.0, Neptune supplies Debian users with Plasma 5.12, SolydXK on a Raspberry Pi, SysV init development|
|• Issue 755 (2018-03-19): Learning with ArchMerge and Linux Academy, Librem 5 runs Plasma Mobile, Cinnamon gets performance boost|
|• Issue 754 (2018-03-12): Reviewing Sabayon and Antergos, the growing Linux kernel, BSDs getting CPU bug fixes, Manjaro builds for ARM devices|
|• Issue 753 (2018-03-05): Enso OS 0.2, KDE Plasma 5.12 features, MX Linux prepares new features, interview with MidnightBSD's founder|
|• Issue 752 (2018-02-26): OviOS 2.31, performing off-line upgrades, elementary OS's new installer, UBports gets test devices, Redcore team improves security|
|• Issue 751 (2018-02-19): DietPi 6.1, testing KDE's Plasma Mobile, Nitrux packages AppImage in default install, Solus experiments with Wayland|
|• Issue 750 (2018-02-12): Solus 3, getting Deb packages upstream to Debian, NetBSD security update, elementary OS explores AppCentre changes|
|• Issue 749 (2018-02-05): Freespire 3 and Linspire 7.0, misunderstandings about Wayland, Xorg and Mir, Korora slows release schedule, Red Hat purchases CoreOS|
|• Issue 748 (2018-01-29): siduction 2018.1.0, SolydXK 32-bit editions, building an Ubuntu robot, desktop-friendly Debian options|
|• Issue 747 (2018-01-22): Ubuntu MATE 17.10, recovering open files, creating a new distribution, KDE focusing on Wayland features|
|• Issue 746 (2018-01-15): deepin 15.5, openSUSE's YaST improvements, new Ubuntu 17.10 media, details on Spectre and Meltdown bugs|
|• Issue 745 (2018-01-08): GhostBSD 11.1, Linspire and Freespire return, wide-spread CPU bugs patched, adding AppImage launchers to the application menu|
|• Issue 744 (2018-01-01): MX Linux 17, Ubuntu pulls media over BIOS bug, PureOS gets endorsed by the FSF, openSUSE plays with kernel boot splash screens|
|• Issue 743 (2017-12-18): Daphile 17.09, tools for rescuing files, Fedora Modular Server delayed, Sparky adds ARM support, Slax to better support wireless networking|
|• Issue 742 (2017-12-11): heads 0.3.1, improvements coming to Tails, Void tutorials, Ubuntu phasing out Python 2, manipulating images from the command line|
|• Full list of all issues|
|Random Distribution |
Ulteo Open Virtual Desktop
Ulteo Application System (Ulteo AS) is a Debian/Ubuntu-based Linux distribution created by Gaël Duval, the original founder of Mandrake Linux (now Mandriva Linux) and co-founder of MandrakeSoft (now Mandriva). It is a hybrid, network-oriented and mostly automatic computing system that ships with hundreds of applications and innovative features. The basic version of the Ulteo AS provides a choice of applications for daily use, such as Firefox, Thunderbird, OpenOffice.org, etc., but can be easily extended with a set of applications from the Ulteo panel. It also provides document and panel content synchronisation capabilities between a local installation of Ulteo AS and Ulteo Open Virtual Desktop.