| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 736, 30 October 2017
Welcome to this year's 44th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
Last week we covered the release of Ubuntu 17.10 along with the distribution's many official community editions. The new version of Ubuntu introduced some big changes to the operating system's desktop environment and we begin this week with a look at this latest release from Canonical. The biggest change in Ubuntu 17.10 was probably the shift from using the Unity desktop to using GNOME and we ask how our readers feel about this transition in our Opinion Poll. In our News section we discuss new kernel memory protections coming to the NetBSD operating system and talk about Nitrux adopting a new system installer. Plus we explore Linux Mint adding support for Flatpak and phasing out the project's KDE edition. Linux Mint has also provided a rough release schedule for the next version of Linux Mint Debian Edition, elementary OS reports on their success with pay-what-you-want apps and HAMMER fans will likely be pleased to hear about work going into making the file system work on Linux. In our Questions and Answers column we discuss four hypothetical security scenarios. Plus we share the releases of the past week and list the torrents we are seeding. Finally, we are pleased to welcome the Pop!_OS distribution to our database. We wish you all a fantastic week and happy reading!
- Review: Ubuntu 17.10 - on the GNOME again
- News: NetBSD adds kernel memory protection, Linux Mint to support Flatpak and drop KDE edition, Nitrux adopts Calamares installer, HAMMER userspace ported to Linux, elementary OS app store reaches a milestone
- Questions and answers: Several "what if" security questions
- Released last week: ArchLabs 2017.10, Proxmox 5.1, antiX 17
- Torrent corner: antiX, ArchLabs, LibreELEC, Manjaro, Nitrux, pfSense, Proxmox, Sabayon, Ultimate Edition
- Upcoming releases: Fedora 27, Black Lab Linux 9.2
- Opinion poll: Migrating from Unity to GNOME
- New additions: Pop!_OS
- New distributions: ArchMerge, RecalboxOS
- Reader comments
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Ubuntu 17.10 - on the GNOME again
Ubuntu is one of the world's most popular Linux distributions. The distribution is available in several flavours, the two most widely recognized being the Desktop and Server editions. The release of Ubuntu 17.10 introduces a number of important changes, the most visible ones mostly affecting the Desktop edition which I will focus on in this review. As 17.10 is an interim release rather than a long term support release, it will received security updates for just nine months.
One technical change in version 17.10 is the phasing out of 32-bit builds of the Desktop edition, though the Server edition is still available in 32-bit and 64-bit builds for the x86 architecture. Another significant change is the Ubuntu distribution has swapped out its in-house Unity desktop and replaced it with a customized version of the GNOME Shell desktop. Unity is still available in Ubuntu's software repositories if we wish to install it later.
I opted to download the Desktop edition of Ubuntu 17.10. The ISO for this edition is 1.4GB in size and booting from this media brings up a graphical window where we are asked if we would like to try Ubuntu's live desktop mode or launch the system installer. This screen also lets us select the system's language with the default being English.
Ubuntu 17.10 -- The live GNOME desktop
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At a glance, Ubuntu's GNOME desktop looks a great deal like the Unity 7 desktop environment. The colours and layout are much the same. A panel which acts as a quick-launch bar and task switcher is displayed down the left side of the display. A panel across the top of the screen displays the time and we find a system tray in the upper-right corner. On the desktop there are icons for opening the Nautilus file manager and launching the Ubiquity system installer. There are a few things which reveal the desktop to be GNOME instead of Unity, despite the default theme. One is the presence of the GNOME Activities button in the upper-left corner of the screen which shows us currently open applications and provides a search bar for running searches and queries. (I will talk about search queries later.) The Activities page essentially replaces Unity's dash. The second feature is another button positioned in the bottom-left corner of the screen. Clicking this button brings up a full-page grid of installed applications.
Ubuntu uses a graphical system installer called Ubiquity. The installer is pleasantly streamlined and quickly walks the user through a minimal number of configuration steps. We are asked if we want to install software updates and media support, we are asked to select our time zone from a map and confirm our keyboard's layout. We are asked if we would like to manually partition our hard drive or have the installer handle partitioning for us. I like Ubiquity's partition manager, it is fairly simple to use, works quickly and supports a wide range of file systems, including ext2/3/4, XFS, JFS, Btrfs and LVM volumes. The final screen gets us to set up a username and password for ourselves and gives us the option of encrypting our user's home directory. The installer worked quickly and successfully in my test environments and concluded by offering to reboot the computer so I could get started with my new operating system.
Ubuntu 17.10 boots to a graphical, mostly purple login screen. By default, two session options are provided. These are labelled "Ubuntu" and "Ubuntu on Xorg". The first one loads the GNOME desktop running on Wayland while the second runs GNOME using the classic Xorg display server. For most of my trial I experimented with the Wayland session, though I did try both to confirm each session would work.
The first time I signed into my account, a window appeared and let me know that since I had encrypted my home folder, I could set up a recovery password. This would allow me to rescue my files in case I was unable to sign into my account at a later date.
Ubuntu 17.10 -- Browsing Help documentation
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One feature I explored early on and appreciated was the large Help button on the launch bar. Clicking this button opens documentation detailing how to use the GNOME desktop. Some of the help pages include videos, demonstrating where to find key features. I think this level of documentation and attention to detail is most welcome and, unfortunately, lacking in many distributions.
Ubuntu 17.10 -- The GNOME application menu
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As with the previous versions of Ubuntu featuring the Unity desktop, GNOME allows us to pin open applications to the launch bar for quick access later. GNOME refers to this action as marking a program as a favourite rather than pinning a short-cut, but the result is functionally identical.
Another feature I explored and appreciated is the Activities search bar can do more than find installed applications. We can also search for applications we have not yet installed. Typing the name of an application we have not yet downloaded brings up an option to open the distribution's software manager. We can also enable or turn off other search bar functions in the desktop's settings panel. The search bar can look for documents, find appointments in our calendar and work out simple math problems.
I experimented with running Ubuntu 17.10 in a VirtualBox virtual machine and on a laptop computer. In both environments, the distribution worked well. Ubuntu automatically integrates with VirtualBox and could use my host computer's full screen resolution. When running on my laptop computer, Ubuntu detected and properly used all my hardware. In either environment, the distribution tended to use about 790MB to 830MB of RAM and a fresh install took up about 4.6GB of hard drive space.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only did the GNOME on Wayland desktop session work, but it tended to be more responsive than the Unity desktop was on the same hardware. In the past I have had poor experiences with Wayland sessions. Fedora's Wayland session typically fails when I try to login and the RebeccaBlackOS Wayland sessions work, but tend to be unpolished. Ubuntu's Wayland session not only worked, it was usually hard to tell whether I was using the Wayland session or the Xorg session. I only noticed two differences when switching between the Wayland session and the classic Xorg session. The Wayland session usually worked better, especially when run inside VirtualBox. Windows would respond quicker and animations were smoother. However, I could not get the Totem media player to display video when running in a Wayland session. Totem did work properly when run from the Xorg session.
Ubuntu 17.10 -- Trying to play a video in Totem and VLC
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Ubuntu ships with a fairly small selection of popular open source software. The Firefox web browser and LibreOffice are included along with the Thunderbird e-mail client. Shotwell is present for working with photos and the Transmission bittorrent application is included. Ubuntu ships with the Cheese web cam utility, the Totem video player and the Rhythmbox audio player. We are also given a calendar application, a text editor and the Nautilus file manager. Network Manager is present to help us get on-line. In the background we find the systemd init software and version 4.13 of the Linux kernel.
The default applications generally worked well for me and I didn't run into many surprises. One of the few exceptions was my aforementioned trouble with the Totem video player not being able to play videos when run in the Wayland session. I could get around this limitation by installing the VLC multimedia player or switching to the GNOME on Xorg session.
One application I feel is worth highlighting is the calendar. The calendar by itself is a nice, simple calendar tool, but what makes it stand out is the ability to sync the calendar with on-line accounts. The default calendar can be synchronized with, for example, a Google or Nextcloud account. I successfully synced my desktop calendar with my Ubuntu Phone calendar for convenience and quite liked the result. As the calendar also links to the Activities search bar, this allows me to find appointments I previously made on my phone through my laptop's search feature.
Ubuntu 17.10 -- Running Firefox and LibreOffice
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However, I also ran into a bug when using calendar. Once, right after I signed into my account, a notification appeared saying the calendar application had crashed. The crash report tool offered to automatically submit a bug, which I agreed to do. Then the Firefox web browser opened and asked me to sign into an Ubuntu One account. This was probably to help the crash reporter submit a bug, but this connection was not made clear and I think a new user would see Firefox asking for credentials on an unfamiliar website as being entirely a different (and scary) process from the crash reporter sending a bug. Ideally, I don't feel the user should need to sign into any account to file an automated bug report.
I found when applications had notifications they wanted to share a small dot would appear next to the clock on the panel at the top of the screen. At first this notification reminder was so subtle I failed to notice it. On the one hand it is nice GNOME does not distract the user, but something a little more noticeable than a small, white dot might be useful. Clicking the dot shows us recent notifications.
Earlier I mentioned we can use the Activities search box to find applications, even ones we have not installed yet. The Ubuntu terminal does something similar where if we type the name of a program into the shell we have not yet installed, the terminal will provide the command we need to enter to install the missing software.
Ubuntu uses the GNOME Software Centre to handle finding, installing, removing and updating software packages. The Software Centre begins by showing us a list of software categories and some featured items. Clicking on a category brings up a list of sub-categories we can explore on the left side of the window and specific applications on the right. Clicking a program's entry brings up a full screen display with information on the selected program.
When we are on the first screen, browsing categories, there is a search button in the window's title bar we can click to search for packages by name. The search option disappears while we are browsing categories, which I found inconvenient as it meant I had to return to the initial page to perform a search. Searches tended to be slow and I sometimes saw error messages reporting not all results could be shown as the search query had timed out.
Ubuntu 17.10 -- The Software Centre
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The Software Centre handles working with traditional Deb packages and Snap packages. Unfortunately it can be hard to tell the two apart at a glance. Some searches, such as one for the Chromium browser, would return two options, the Deb package and the Snap, but they are not clearly marked. I found I could usually identify the Snap because it would not have a rating next to its name, while Deb packages typically had a rating out of five stars. Clicking on a package to bring up its information screen will also list the package's origin and Snaps list their origin as being from the Snap Store.
For most purposes it might not matter where a package comes from, or if it is bundled as a Deb or Snap, but Snaps are a lot larger. Some Snap packages could be anywhere from 4 to 40 times larger than their equivalent Deb package.
When searching for desktop applications I found that not all desktop software would show up in searches from the Software Centre. I could switch to a command line and use the APT tools to locate and install these packages which did not show up in Software Centre.
Software Centre features three tabs, one for finding new software, one for displaying installed applications and one for managing software updates. I found that if I went into the Installed tab, there were some applications I could remove and others I could not. For example, I could not remove Totem from within Software Centre, but another default application, Cheese, could be removed.
I tried installing a few Snap applications and found they mostly worked like traditional Deb packages in the way they installed and ran. However, sometimes when installing a new Snap the software manager would report the installation failed. However, if I tried to re-install the Snap, another error would be displayed reporting the Snap was already on my system. I found that closing and restarting the Software Centre would not fix this, but logging out of my account and signing back in would take the Snap out of package limbo and allow me to complete the installation.
The GNOME settings panel has changed since the last time I used the desktop environment. Now, rather than having a panel with a grid of icons which open new screens of settings, the settings window is split into two panes. On the left are categories of settings such as Wi-fi, Notifications and Privacy while on the right we see the settings in that category. The new panel is perhaps less colourful and the layout of the specific settings (and their spacing) make me think touch screens may have been a motivation behind the new design.
Ubuntu 17.10 -- The settings panel
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I generally found the new settings panel worked well. It took me little time to get used to the new layout. Something I appreciated about the two-pane style was I did not need to go back "up" a level to get an overview of available options. Categories are simply listed down the side which I think makes quickly browsing for an option faster. One of the few things I did not like about the new panel was that some settings categories are hidden under others. For example, to manage user accounts or adjust the system's clock, we need to know to look under the Details category, which brings up a new screen of categories, including Users and Date & Time.
Version 17.10 is a big change for the Ubuntu distribution. Apart from the desktop switching to GNOME from Unity, more effort appears to have been made to integrate Snaps into software management. The introduction of Wayland is also new as, previously, the next iteration of Unity was going to use the Mir display software.
On the surface, just looking at the desktop and the way things are presented, I feel the developers did a very good job at making GNOME look like Unity. In that respect, existing Ubuntu users should feel more or less at home. I was especially impressed with Wayland. I have never had a truly positive experience with Wayland desktop sessions before, but Ubuntu not only got GNOME on Wayland working, the Wayland session generally worked better and faster than the Xorg session. The Totem application did not work well with Wayland, but VLC did making it an easy issue to work around. I think GNOME on Wayland is more responsive than Unity which is another nice point in this release's favour.
However, I did run into some frustrations with the transition to the GNOME desktop. GNOME does not have Unity's HUD, or the option to disable the global menu bar and searches in the Activities screen were slower than Unity's scope searches. These missing (or less polished) features might not be noticed by new users, but existing Ubuntu users are likely to feel let down. I also noticed that some applications use the global menu bar while others do not. The file manager uses the menu bar at the top of the screen, but the LibreOffice suite does not and it makes for an inconsistent experience.
I do like the new settings panel. It feels more open, more transparent in a way. And I was able to perform fewer clicks to find what I wanted, so I feel the new system settings panel is a step in the right direction.
My big complaint this time around was with the software manager. Software Centre was slow, it did not always find items I wanted and knew were in the repositories, and searches for Snaps often timed out. I sometimes ran into glitches where I could not install a package, or a package would install while claiming it had not. The Software Centre also would not allow me to remove some programs. These limitations led me to use the APT command line tools in place of the Software Centre. I realize the developers are trying to mix Deb packages and Snap packages together under one unified umbrella and I sympathize because that must be difficult. Unfortunately, the result right now is that many things mostly work, but nothing in the Software Centre really works perfectly.
On the whole the transition from Unity to GNOME (and Xorg to Wayland) went much better than I thought it would. Ubuntu 17.10 was quick and easy to navigate and worked smoothly for the most part. There are some minor rough patches here and there, but on the whole I was pleasantly surprised with the performance of this release. I was sceptical about Ubuntu dropping Unity for GNOME, but I think the transition is going well. I do hope some features, like the HUD and disabling the global menu bar, come back in time for Ubuntu 18.04. If not, the Unity 7 desktop is still available in the distribution's repositories.
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Hardware used in this review
My physical test equipment for this review was a de-branded HP laptop with the following
- Processor: Intel i3 2.5GHz CPU
- Display: Intel integrated video
- Storage: Western Digital 700GB hard drive
- Memory: 6GB of RAM
- Wired network device: Realtek RTL8101E/RTL8102E PCI Express Fast
- Wireless network device: Realtek RTL8188EE Wireless network card
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Visitor supplied rating
Ubuntu has a visitor supplied average rating of: 7.5/10 from 445 review(s).
Have you used Ubuntu? You can leave your own review of the project on our ratings page.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
NetBSD adds kernel memory protection, Linux Mint to support Flatpak and drop KDE edition, Nitrux adopts Calamares installer, HAMMER userspace ported to Linux, elementary OS app store reaches a milestone
The NetBSD team is experimenting with a new security feature called kernel address space layout randomization (KASLR). The new feature makes it more difficult for malicious users and programs to attack the kernel as the location of kernel components in memory will be different each time the computer boots. Maxime Villard writes, "Recently, I completed a Kernel ASLR implementation for NetBSD-amd64, making NetBSD the first BSD system to support such a feature. Simply said, KASLR is a feature that randomizes the location of the kernel in memory, making it harder to exploit several classes of vulnerabilities, both locally (privilege escalations) and remotely (remote code executions)." This new feature provides a different approach to kernel memory protection than OpenBSD's kernel address randomized link which we talked about back in June.
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The Linux Mint team published several important items in their October newsletter. One of the bigger changes mentioned is the KDE edition of Linux Mint will be discontinued after the release of Linux Mint 18.3. The KDE Plasma desktop has a different ecosystem and toolkit which make it quite a different environment when compared next to the other Mint desktop editions and the team has decided to focus on the Cinnamon, MATE and Xfce editions. The Plasma desktop will still be available in the distribution's software repositories for people who wish to install it.
The newsletter also reports the third version of Linux Mint Debian Edition will be released in the first quarter of 2018. The new version will be based on Debian 9 "Stretch" and be available in just one edition featuring the Cinnamon desktop. In addition, the Mint team is working on bringing Flatpak universal package support to the distribution: "Linux Mint 18.3 will ship with Flatpak installed and configured by default to point to two Flatpak repositories, called 'remotes': Flathub and GNOME-apps. A new section was added to the Software Manager for Flatpaks. Although Flathub and GNOME-apps are configured by default, you can modify the list of remotes. If you add new ones, they will appear in the Software Manager. Packages and Flatpaks are completely different things, but in the Software Manager, they're presented the same way: They're just applications you install."
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The Nitrux team has announced on Twitter that their distribution will be dropping the Systemback utility currently used for installing the operating system. In its place, Nitrux will use the Calamares system installer to set up the distribution in the future. Calamares offers a streamlined, graphical interface which works across multiple families of Linux distributions.
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The HAMMER and HAMMER2 advanced file systems were originally created for the DragonFly BSD operating system. Tomohiro Kusumi has announced that the userland components of HAMMER have been ported to Linux. At this early stage HAMMER file systems can be created on Linux, but not mounted. The HAMMER file systems made on Linux can be mounted by a DragonFly BSD system.
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The elementary OS team introduced a new application store with pay-what-you-want software packages earlier this year. The new software manager, called AppCenter, features over 50 new applications which can be enjoyed by elementary OS users. "This past May we released the major update to elementary OS that debuted the new pay-what-you-want app experience in AppCenter. In those past six months, we've seen over 50 apps released by developers. These quality apps were built by developers specifically for elementary OS; every single one is GTK+, HiDPI-ready, and a fully native experience. Each app has also gone through both automated and human testing and review. In many cases we've found small issues or improvements for the apps while reviewing them, and we file those along with any release-blocking issues." More information on the AppCenter software manager can be found in this coverage of the 50 apps milestone.
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These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Several "what if" security questions
Watching-for-malware asks: I'm trying to learn more about the world of software and GNU/Linux, but searching the web often yields confusing and even contradictory results. Could you please answer the following:
Suppose this scenario: A particular GNU/Linux distro contains well hidden surveillance code that collects data about user behavior (web pages visited, personal e-mails, documents accessed, devices connected, local network status etc.). And suppose that although the distro's developer team is sufficiently big and the distro is used on a large enough scale, even so, at some time some malevolent code still infiltrates.
Questions: what's the probability that the above scenario is likely to happen? How soon is the bad code likely to be discovered, assuming some serious organizations (like for ex. some country's educational system) use the distro daily?
DistroWatch answers: How likely is it that someone manages to sneak malicious, user monitoring code into a Linux distribution? Not likely. Not because it's difficult to write such code or because Linux distributions are invulnerable to such attacks, but because the attack is likely to be time consuming, yield poor results and the attacker is probably going to be caught eventually.
To get a malicious package into a major distribution (one likely to be used, for example, in a country's educational system) the attacker probably needs to either become a package maintainer for the distribution or a contributor to an upstream project. Either path will likely involve a mentorship, people checking the new person's code contributions and establishing a history of useful code to earn trust. Whichever route is taken by the attacker, they need to get to a point where they can contribute code or other changes without someone watching what they are doing and (probably) sneak the code in a bit at a time so any package maintainer doing a simple comparison won't notice the malicious behaviour.
To make matters more difficult for an attacker, almost all Linux development is done in the open, with change logs, publicly visible patches and people signing off on their work. It leaves a sort of paper trail.
What all this means is an attacker likely needs to get involved in a community for weeks or months, create useful patches, slowly try to sneak in malicious code without anyone noticing and do all of this on a package which has enough popularity to be installed by default on a major distribution. And, because of the audit trail most projects have, the malicious author is likely to be identified eventually. That is a lot of work and a lot of risk to go through to track desktop users. When we factor in that even the most popular distributions probably only hold about 2% of the world's desktop market, anybody trying to inject malicious code is looking at a lot of work and risk for little payout. Most malicious authors are probably better off taking other avenues to compromise workstations, like remotely targeting popular web browsers or trying to guess users' secure shell credentials.
As to how soon malicious code is likely to be discovered? When the Debian guessable key generation bug was committed, it took about a year and a half for it to be discovered and fixed. This was a fairly subtle bug, one which made cryptography keys easier to guess. There was no monitoring, no sending private data over the network, no extra hard drive activity. When such a subtle bug takes less than two years to be found and patched, we can be fairly certain blatantly malicious activity (especially spying which requires transmitting data over monitored networks) is going to be exposed much faster.
Watching-for-malware asks: 2. I've read on the web that anti-virus software (here I'm referring mainly to ClamAV which is free open source) is not only not needed in GNU/Linux, but even potentially harmful due to the fact that it has access to many types of files and thus it could potentially be exploited by some bad parties.
Questions: do you think the average end user is better with or without ClamAV? Does being "better safe than sorry" even apply here? Suppose I choose not to use anti-virus at all. By downloading any document from the web (be it PDF file, picture, movie etc.) and saving it to an external hard drive or USB stick, if I open that same hard drive or USB stick in a Windows environment, what is the chance of some self-executing malware activating at the same time one opens the downloaded document in Windows? What if before opening one scans the files with any anti-virus in Windows?
DistroWatch answers: In my experience anti-virus software is not only impractical on Linux, due to the nature of attacks against Linux machines, but likely to be more trouble than it is worth. Since most Linux users get their software from vetted repositories and downloaded files are not executable by default, anti-virus software does not play much of a role for Linux users. An anti-virus program is more likely, in my experience, to find a false positive and want to delete your data rather than actually guard against malware. And, as the question pointed out, any anti-virus service is a potential attack vector since it downloads virus definitions from the Internet.
As for saving a file to a USB stick and opening that file on a Windows computer, the odds of getting infected there are the same as if you downloaded the file directly to the Windows machine from the Internet. Which is why the Windows machine should have its own security in place.
Watching-for-malware asks: 3. I've read that the use of WINE/PlayOnLinux is a potential security problem as well. I fail to see how, since I think running a program in WINE environment is without root account and one could make a special user account for WINE use only. I may be wrong, though.
Do you have any advice here?
DistroWatch answers: When you run Windows software using the WINE compatibility software, you are running a program (usually) under your own user account. WINE, by default, gives the programs it runs access to your home directory. The result is any program run with WINE will have the same access to your files as any other program (Firefox, LibreOffice, VLC) you run under your account.
There is a slight elevated risk here over running native Linux software, not due to permissions, but because of the source of the software. Most people download their Windows files from websites without verifying checksums or package signatures. These security checks are automatically performed for you when you download native Linux software through your package manager.
Watching-for-malware asks: 4. Related to above. If a program is available for both platforms (so it contains both a GNU/Linux executable and a Windows executable), is it safer to run the Windows executable via WINE compared to the GNU/Linux executable?
DistroWatch answers: Whenever possible do not download your software from a third-party website. You will be much safer getting your software directly from your distribution's repository. However, if you must download executables and run them, it's not likely to make much difference whether you run a Windows binary through WINE or a Linux executable directly. My suggestion would be, if you must do this, run the program under a separate user account or in a virtual machine. At least that places a layer of protection between your files and the unvetted program.
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More answers can be found in our Questions and Answers archive.
|Released Last Week
Matt Dobson has announced the release of a new version of ArchLabs, a 64-bit distribution based on Arch Linux and featuring the Openbox window manager. The new release makes use of a long term support kernel and ArchLabs specific packages have been added to the project's own repository from the AUR community repository. "A major change is the move to the LTS Kernel, hopefully this will provide us with even further stability as there are less frequent updates and changes to the LTS as opposed to the latest kernel. Another major change is the repackaging of ArchLabs specific packages. These have been signed with our GPG signatures and keyring and added to our own ArchLabs repository. Pacman will still update these packages as normal. This aids in reinstall time as you will no longer have to rely on any AUR packages on a fresh install. Calamares has been updated to the latest version, this brings a new user creation section, fixes and improvements to language, locale and keyboard support." The project's release announcement has further details and screen shots.
Proxmox 5.1 "Virtual Environment"
Daniela Häsler has announced the availability of a new version of Promox Virtual Environment, a Debian-based platform for running virtual appliances and virtual machines. The new version, Proxmox 5.1 "Virtual Environment", is based on Debian 9.2, includes Ceph 12.2 and version 4.13 of the Linux kernel. "Proxmox Server Solutions GmbH, developer of the open-source virtualization platform Proxmox Virtual Environment (VE), today announced the release of its version 5.1. Most important enhancement is the software-defined storage solution Ceph v12.2 Luminous which is now stable for production and included in the enterprise support agreement. Proxmox VE 5.1 is based on Debian 9.2 and comes with a 4.13 Linux kernel. Proxmox VE 5.1 comes with production-ready Ceph cluster packages. The virtualization platform integrates Ceph v12.2 Luminous, the long term stable release of the software-defined storage solution. Users can now implement Ceph clusters as distributed storage solution in production. Help and support is provided by the Proxmox team via the Proxmox VE subscription service. Ceph is a distributed object store and file system designed to provide excellent performance, reliability and scalability." Further information is provided in the release announcement.
The antiX distribution is a lightweight operating system based on Debian. The project's latest release, antiX 17, is based on Debian 9.2 and removes the systemd init software in favour of SysV init. "antiX comes in four flavours for both 32- and 64-bit processors. antiX-full: 4 windows managers - IceWM (default), Fluxbox, JWM and herbstluftwm plus full LibreOffice suite. antiX-base: 4 windows managers - IceWM (default), Fluxbox, JWM and herbstluftwm. antiX-core: no X, but should support most wireless. antiX-net: no X, Just enough to get you connected (wired) and ready to build. So what is included? Lots! Explore! Based on Debian Stretch, but without systemd and libsystemd0. eudev 3.2-4 replaces udev. Customised 4.10.5 kernel with fbcondecor splash. LibreOffice 5.2.7-1. Firefox-ESR 52.4.0esr. Claws-Mail 3.14.1-3+b1. systemd-free CUPS for printing. XMMS for audio. GNOME-MPlayer for playing video..." Additional information can be found in the project's release announcement.
antix 17 -- Running IceWM
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Nanni Bassetti has announced the release of CAINE (Computer Aided INvestigative Environment) 9.0, an Ubuntu-based Linux distribution offering a forensic environment. The project's news page lists the following tools which have been added or upgraded in the distribution along with a screen shot of the distribution's default desktop environment: "Added/Changed in CAINE 9.0: RegRipper, VolDiff, SafeCopy, PFF tools, pslistutil, mouseemu, NBTempoX, Osint: Infoga, The Harvester, Tinfoleak regfmount and libregf-utils installed. many and many scripts and programs. SSH server disabled by default (see manual page for enabling it). Autopsy 2.24 fixed - srch_strings changed with 'GNU strings' renamed in srch_strings. Many other fixes and software updates." SystemBack is used as the project's system installer.
The LibreELEC project develops a minimal operating system which is dedicated to running the Kodi media centre. The project's latest release, LibreELEC 8.2.0, introduces changes to Samba, dropping the SMB1 protocol and supporting SMB2 and SMB3. "The Kodi SMB client now defaults to SMB3 connections but can fail to negotiate SMB3 with old Samba (NAS) versions. A new option in Kodi Settings > Services > SMB client > allows SMB2 or SMB1 to be forced for compatibility with legacy SMB servers. The embedded Samba server defaults to and supports only SMB2/SMB3 connections. The LibreELEC Settings add-on allows the minimum protocol version to be changed, e.g. to enable SMB1 for compatibility with legacy SMB clients. It also supports GUI configuration of WORKGROUP name. Samba detects v3 /storage/.config/samba.conf configurations and ignores them to avoid the Samba service failing on startup. If this happens Samba starts with a default v4 configuration. Custom Samba configurations must be updated to use the new Samba 4.x base template (samba.conf.sample)." Further information is available in the project's release announcement.
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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: 621
- Total data uploaded: 16.2TB
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Migrating from Unity to GNOME
This week we began with a review of Ubuntu 17.10. One of the big changes in Ubuntu 17.10 was the removal of the Unity 7 desktop in favour of GNOME 3. In this Opinion Poll we would like to hear whether you think swapping out Unity for GNOME has made using Ubuntu better or worse.
You can see the results of our previous poll on using cross-platform ports systems in last week's edition. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
Migrating from Unity to GNOME
|I preferred the Unity desktop: ||265 (13%)|
| I prefer the GNOME desktop: ||574 (28%)|
| I have not tried the new version yet: ||233 (11%)|
| I am not an Ubuntu user: ||993 (48%)|
New projects added to database
Pop!_OS is an Ubuntu-based Linux distribution featuring a custom GNOME desktop. Pop!_OS is designed to have a minimal amount of clutter on the desktop without distractions in order to allow the user to focus on work. The distribution is developed by Linux computer retailer System76.
Pop!_OS 17.10 -- Running the GNOME desktop
(full image size: 469kB, resolution: resolution: 1360x768 pixels)
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Distributions added to waiting list
- ArchMerge. ArchMerge is a fork of ArchLabs which features three graphical environments built into a single installation. ArchMerge includes Xfce, Openbox and i3, each with matching themes.
- RecalboxOS. RecalboxOS is a Linux distribution which turns a computer into a Kodi media centre and retro gaming console. The distribution runs on x86 personal computers, Raspberry Pi and Odroid computers.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 6 November 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 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|
|• 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|
|• 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 |
VAST (VIPER Assessment Security Tools)
VAST was a Linux-based security distribution specifically designed for penetration testing VoIP and UC networks. It enables security professionals and UC administrators to rapidly perform VoIP security assessments and enumerate vulnerabilities in IP Phones or IP PBX servers in a lab environment. With VAST, a security consultant has every tool necessary to carry out a successful on-site or remote penetration test or vulnerability assessment against a UC network. VAST was built on Linux Mint and includes all of the open source VIPER Lab tools, in addition to some other network penetration testing tools.