| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 738, 13 November 2017
Welcome to this year's 46th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
Some Linux distributions go out of their way to provide options for everyone, offering up multiple desktops, toolkits, editions, and some even support many hardware architectures. This week Robert Rijkhoff starts us off with a look at SparkyLinux, a distribution which serves up dozens of desktops, browsers and flavours of installation media. Read on to learn about Robert's experiences and let us know in the Opinion Poll what you think about projects which provide many different editions. In our News section we talk about the Slax distribution coming back to life and its developer's views on selecting an init implementation. Plus we report on Arch Linux dropping 32-bit packages and share an overview of LineageOS - what it is and how to install it on a smart phone. In this week's Questions and Answers column we talk about rumours of spyware and malware in open source operating systems. Plus we are happy to share the releases of the past week and the torrents we are seeding. Finally, we are pleased to welcome the HardenedBSD project to our database. We wish you all a terrific week and happy reading!
- Review: SparkyLinux 5.1
- News: Slax developer explores init options, Arch Linux drops 32-bit packages, an overview of LineageOS
- Questions and answers: Worried about spyware
- Released last week: Redcore Linux 1710, Parrot Security OS 3.9, SharkLinux 4.13.0-17
- Torrent corner: Antergos, IPFire, KDE neon, Netrunner, PCLinuxOS, Redcore, SharkLinux
- Upcoming releases: Fedora 27
- Opinion poll: Number of supported editions
- DistroWatch.com news: New statistic added to Ranking page
- New additions: HardenedBSD
- New distributions: postmarketOS, Regata OS, HasCoding-OS
- Reader comments
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (61MB) and MP3 (76MB) formats.
|Feature Story (by Robert Rijkhoff)
SparkyLinux is a Debian-based distribution for 32- and 64-bit computers. According to Sparky's website, the distro aims to "provide a ready to use, out of the box operating system with a set of slightly customised, lightweight desktop environments." There are no less than 24 desktops to choose from, as well as various "Special" editions.
Like Debian, Sparky has three branches, which Sparky refers to as 'editions': Stable, Rolling and Development. For each edition there is a "Home" and "Minimal" version and, to make your choice yet more overwhelming, for each version various ISOs are available. Among others, the Home versions include ISOs for four different desktop environments and the Minimal versions include a "Linux Freedom" ISO. I couldn't find any information about the Linux Freedom version on the Sparky website but I am assuming that it ships with a libre kernel and no non-free packages.
If the download options sound complicated then that is because they are complicated. It doesn't help that the download section on the Sparky website is poorly designed. The pages feature long lists with links to dozens of ISOs and virtually no information to help you pick a suitable image. Worse, what little information is available is ambiguous. Various pages on the Sparky website state that the distro uses Debian's Testing branch while it is in fact built on all three Debian branches. Also, the download page suggests that the Stable editions are recommended - the link to the Stable ISOs is listed first and features an icon of a computer with a green monitor. The Rolling ISOs use the same icon with a red monitor, while the Development branch uses the colour black.
While trying to decide which version of Sparky to install I made the following table, which might make the available flavours a little easier to digest.
• Calamares installer
• ISOs for LXDE and Xfce
• Basic GUI or CLI installer
• Single ISO with choice of 24 desktops
• Linux Freedom edition
• Calamares installer
• ISOs for LXQt, Xfce and MATE
• Basic GUI or CLI installer
• Single ISO with choice of 24 desktops
• Linux Freedom edition
• Calamares installer
• ISOs for GameOver, Multimedia and Rescue edition
• Linux Freedom edition
• Calamares installer
• ISO for Xfce
• Basic GUI or CLI installer
• Single ISO with choice of 24 desktops
• Linux Freedom edition
Table: a simplified overview of Sparky Linux editions.
Sparky Rolling with the LXQt desktop
I decided to go with the Rolling edition and to try two different desktops: LXQt and Manokwari. I started with LXQt, for which there is a ready-made ISO.
The Home versions use the Calamares installer which, as always, worked flawlessly. The installer did have a few defaults which I hadn't seen before though. I was missing the option to encrypt the installation and by default the installer will configure the system so that users are logged in automatically (without entering a password). Also, unless you tell the installer otherwise the root password will be the same as your user password. My guess is that Sparky uses these defaults to make the distro more user-friendly.
SparkyLinux 5.1 -- The Calamares installer's Users tab
(full image size: 499kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
The LXQt desktop has a traditional layout with a modern look and feel –
Sparky uses the Numix theme with the Flatabulous icon set (which have
been renamed Sparky5 and Ultra-Flat-Icons). The desktop is quite
configurable but some of the settings menus are somewhat basic. For
instance, there isn't an easy way to change the default wallpaper or to
use a background colour for the desktop. I should note, however, that
LXQt is a relatively new desktop environment - the version that was
installed was 0.11.1.
There were a also few small tweaks that I hadn't come across before and
which I quickly changed. Most notably, by default task manager buttons
have a width of 400 pixels (which makes them a lot wider than I'm used
to) and the system tray displays items for windows on any desktop. The
desktop is quite configurable but some of the settings are basic.
Even though LXQt uses the Qt framework there are various non-Qt applications pre-installed. We get the Firefox browser, Thunderbird e-mail client and HexChat IRC client. LibreOffice is the default office suite and we can edit plain text files with Leafpad. For scanning documents we can use Simple Scan and Xfburn is available for burning CDs. The most prominent Qt applications are QTerminal and the Clementine audio player. I would have liked a few more Qt applications but it didn't really bother me. All the pre-installed applications have the same look and feel, so I never really noticed I was using, say, a GTK application in a Qt environment.
SparkyLinux 5.1 -- Installing QupZilla using Web Browser Installer
(full image size: 417kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
Sparky doesn't have a software centre. To manage software we can use Synaptic, the command line or APTus. The latter is in effect a graphical front-end for Debian's package management tools (APT and dpkg) and can be used to manage third-party software. APTus also features a web browser installer. If you like to try different browsers you will feel like a child in a sweet shop - there are 24 browsers to choose from.
Aesthetics, bugs and aiming to be user-friendly
LXQt certainly looks good for a lightweight desktop. That said, there were various minor aesthetic imperfections. Somehow the font for the user interface was set to point size 11, which is quite large when the font used for title bars is size 9. The relatively large fonts might also explain why notifications were sometimes truncated (the text didn't fit in the available space). A more annoying issue was that icons in the system tray are white and displayed against a light-grey background. These are minor issues but I hope the out of the box experience will be improved. With a little more polish LXQt would be a very compelling desktop environment indeed.
Perhaps unavoidably, I did encounter a few more serious issues. After playing with Sparky for a couple of hours my laptop suddenly suspended itself. The reason was that the battery was nearly empty. It was only then that I realised that the system tray didn't include a battery status indicator. There are plenty of widgets available for the system tray but nothing to show how much life is left in the battery. I later discovered that there is an 'Enable Battery Watcher' check box under "Power Management Settings", with a separate check box for displaying a system tray icon. It is not really a bug, but not showing a battery icon when a laptop is being used is an odd default setting.
SparkyLinux 5.1 -- Font size and power management settings
(full image size: 487kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
A second issue worth mentioning is that I couldn't open an external encrypted drive. Sparky would recognise the drive but after entering the pass phrase I got the cryptic error "function bd_crypto_luks_open_blob called but not implemented". I couldn't find much information about the error, other than a suggestion to install the package libblockdev-crypto2. Luckily that worked; after also rebooting the laptop I was able to mount the drive. My guess is that the initial error was the result of Sparky's attempt to create a user-friendly distro. Earlier I mentioned that the installer didn't provide an option to encrypt the hard drive - it appears that encryption is poorly supported all around.
SparkyLinux 5.1 -- Error while mounting an encrypted drive
(full image size: 682kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
There are other areas where Sparky is trying to make Linux more user-friendly. To mention some random examples, a screen-saver pops up after ten minutes of inactivity but the screen is never locked, so you never need to log back in by entering your password (the setting to change this is hidden in the above-mentioned "Power Management" menu). The sudo utility is enabled and you can perform tasks that need root privileges by entering your user password. Non-free and contributed packages are available out of the box (no need to edit the /etc/apt/sources.list file to add repositories) and the vi and vim text editors aren't installed - you get the nano editor instead.
Most Debian users will probably frown upon such customisations but those users are clearly not Sparky's intended audience. And there were convenient features I liked. For instance, Sparky makes it very easy to access various third-party repositories. In the /etc/apt/sources.d directory we find Sparky's repositories as well as third-party repos for, among others, Dropbox, Google Earth, VirtualBox and PlayOnLinux.
Many of these third-party packages can be enabled via the above-mentioned APTus application. APTus mostly worked well. It failed to install Skype and when I installed the non-free codecs I found the installer only wanted to install two packages: flashplayer-mozilla and gsfonts-x11 - dozens of forbidden fruits such as libdvdcss2 for playing encrypted DVDs were already installed. I had no issues installing Google Earth, SpiderOak and various web browsers.
My only real APTus criticism is that some of the options should arguably be a bit more hidden for new users, or at least come with a prominent warning. For instance, I am not sure if it is a good idea to let users install the Liquorix Kernel or remove all non-free packages with a click on a button and without any information about what exactly the scripts do. And I also encountered a bug when I re-installed Sparky LXQt towards the end of my trial - APTus was no longer installed because of a dependency hell.
SparkyLinux 5.1 -- APTus can't be installed because of unmet dependencies
(full image size: 610kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
With the release of Sparky 5.1 the project added Manokwari to its collection of desktop environments. I had not heard of Manokwari and thought it would be interesting to see what it has to offer.
There is no ISO with Manokwari pre-installed and the Minimal editions don't give you the option to select the Manokwari desktop, which means we need to use APTus to install the desktop. I didn't want to install Manokwari alongside LXQt as this would leave all the applications that came with LXQt on the system. My plan was to use the advanced installer to completely wipe LXQt; to not select any desktop environment in the installer and to then install the sparky-desktop-manokwari package.
The minimal ISO boots to a nicely themed Openbox desktop. The installer is quite minimal and not recommended for people who are new to installing operating systems. In particular the first steps - choosing the locale and keyboard layout - can be awkward if you're not in the US (and therefore need to change the defaults). Partitioning wasn't much easier. The installer first gives you the option to set up partitions and then asks where different file systems should be created. The installer works but provides very little guidance, and I was missing an option to go back to the previous page. The absence of a "Back" button meant that I couldn't, for instance, double-check which partition was meant for which file system.
Towards the end of the installation you can pick one of 20 desktop environments. As said, the new Manokwari desktop isn't listed and I therefore decided to skip this step. I had expected that the result would be a system without X11 and a desktop environment but that wasn't the case - after rebooting my laptop I was again presented with Openbox.
SparkyLinux 5.1 -- Selecting a desktop in the advanced installer
(full image size: 788kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
For many years I used CrunchBang, a now discontinued distro that combined Debian with Openbox. I still have a soft spot for Openbox and have to say that Sparky has done a great job setting up Openbox so that it is nice looking and usable out of the box. It features a panel (tint2) and the same Numix theme that is used in LXQt. Also worth mentioning is that applications you install are automatically added to the menu (something that normally needs to be done manually in Openbox).
SparkyLinux 5.1 -- Installing Manokwari using Desktop Installer
(full image size: 535kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
Strictly speaking Openbox is a window manager rather than a desktop environment. It is therefore a good base for installing another desktop environment. The APTus application includes a desktop installer and Manokwari is included in this list, so I decided to install Manokwari on top of Openbox. Running the installer opened a terminal window via which the desktop was installed, without any further prompts. Once the installer had finished I unfortunately encountered a Sparky Openbox bug - the "Logout" button doesn't work. The "Reboot" option did work, although I had to enter my password twice, in separate windows. The first window was particularly confusing: it said "Authentication is required to set a wall message".
SparkyLinux 5.1 -- Trying to reboot in Openbox
(full image size: 731kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
While installing Manokwari I realised that Sparky's desktop installer will install just the desktop and nothing else. Applications that are likely to be useful, such as an office suite and e-mail client, are not included. I suspect that largely explains why Manokwari turned out to be hardly usable. Before I get into that, though, I should explain what Manokwari is.
The Manokwari desktop is based on GNOME 3 and appears to have been created for BlankOn Linux, a Debian-based distro developed in Indonesia. The desktop features a single panel at the top and clicking on the menu-icon in the top-left corner opens an application menu. A second menu is revealed when you poke the top-right corner of the screen with your mouse.
SparkyLinux 5.1 -- The Manokwari desktop
(full image size: 141kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
The main menu is quite neat. A search box lets you to quickly open installed applications or to search for something in Google or on Wikipedia. It is also possible to enter a command to be run in a terminal window but that feature didn't work for me because GNOME Terminal wasn't installed. As said, I suspect this is a Sparky-related issue - presumably GNOME Terminal is installed out of the box on BlankOn Linux.
SparkyLinux 5.1 -- Running the top command from the Manokwari desktop
(full image size: 117kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
The second menu is similar to the Raven menu in the Budgie desktop but not quite as useful. Manokwari's implementation features four bookmarks (which are all links to BlankOn Linux websites and social media accounts, and which cannot be changed); a set of audio controls which can only be used in combination with the Audacious audio player; a weather applet; quick access to menu settings and the current date and time. I didn't use the menu at all but other people might find it useful.
To say that Manokwari is a minimal desktop environment is an understatement. In fact, if you feel GNOME 3 is too minimalist than you don't want to go anywhere near Manokwari. Various basic features appear to have been disabled and there is very little that can be customised. To mention just a few examples, the super (Windows) key does nothing and right-clicking on the desktop has no effect. GNOME Tweaks isn't installed, which means you can't, for instance, use a different theme (Adwaita is the default) or add a "Minimise" button to windows. It is not even possible to set up work spaces or to change the wallpaper - there is a "Backgrounds" menu in the settings but the active wallpaper isn't shown in the list and picking another wallpaper doesn't do anything.
Again, Sparky is to blame for at least some of these issues. The gnome-tweak-tool package, for instance, isn't a dependency of the sparky-desktop-manokwari package (it's a "recommend" item). It appears to be an odd omission but my guess is that the Sparky developers may have left out Tweaks by design - after I installed Tweaks I found several options didn't work. For instance, I could change the theme (the Numix/Sparky5 theme was still there) but I couldn't add a minimise button to windows. I also found that Tweaks showed that four work spaces had been set up but I still had no way to switch between desktops.
SparkyLinux 5.1 -- Customising Manokwari using GNOME Tweaks
(full image size: 138kB, resolution: 1366x768 pixels)
At this point I have strayed into the topic of bugs, of which there are plenty in Sparky Manokwari. None of the sound buttons and Fn keys on my laptop worked. The Alt-Tab behaviour was completely broken - sometimes random windows were displayed, other times Manokwari cycled back and forth through two windows, even though many more windows were open. Windows you open don't always get focus and may therefore hide behind other windows, and the same was happening with the "fly-out" panel. There is no network applet in the system tray, which makes it awkward to use wireless networks, nor is it possible to use the volume applet to quickly change the sound level - the volume icon simply opens the settings menu. The screen-saver is configured to come up after ten minutes of inactively but it never does. Applications you install don't appear in the applications menu until you have logged out and logged back in again. The list goes on.
It is not that easy to review Sparky. The project spreads its wings far and wide and there isn't a flagship version of the distro. To get a good feel for the project I looked at one of the Home editions (LXQt) and one of the Minimal editions (Manokwari).
By and large I enjoyed Sparky LXQt. The desktop could have been a little more polished out of the box and there were a couple of annoying issues but I ended up with a nice looking, fully functioning and lightweight operating system. My time with Manokwari was a different story. The desktop had plenty of eye candy but was hardly usable. My guess is that the Sparky developers mainly focus on the Home editions and that alternative desktops are made available on a 'why not' basis. That theory could be wrong though, as Sparky's Openbox spin is very nice indeed. Perhaps Manokwari was the rotten apple among the available desktop environments.
Still, it is probably fair to say that Sparky is biting off more than it can chew. For a small project it is maintaining an incredible number of spins. Getting a single desktop environment to work nicely is hard work. Getting 24 desktop environments to work nicely is an enormous task - and then I haven't even mentioned the Linux Freedom and Special editions. As a result at least one of the Sparky versions is, quite frankly, an embarrassment.
I would argue that the scale of the project also explains why Sparky has an off-putting download page and why the project seems to be confused about whether or not it is based on Debian's Testing branch. The same goes for the documentation. Sparky's wiki is rather basic. The page about the Manokwari desktop, for instance, includes only a very short description and basic installation instructions. That is still better than the page about the LXQt desktop though as it doesn't exist. Again, I don't think at all that this is because of incompetence or laziness. I think it is simple a case of there not being enough hours in the day to give everything the attention it deserves.
A final thing that stood out for me is Sparky's focus on providing a convenient system. My daily driver is a Fedora install with an encrypted hard drive and SELinux in enforcing mode. Sparky's default configuration felt wrong but I realise it will suit other users.
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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)
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Visitor supplied rating
SparkyLinux has a visitor supplied average rating of: 8.2/10 from 41 review(s).
Have you used SparkyLinux? You can leave your own review of the project on our ratings page.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
Slax developer explores init options, Arch Linux drops 32-bit packages, an overview of LineageOS
Last week we mentioned the Slax project may be returning to life and switching from using Slackware as a base to using Debian. Following this shift in its package base, fans of Slax have raised questions about the future of the distribution and which tools it will use. One question in particular which has come up a lot is whether Slax will migrate to using systemd along with the transition to Debian. A recent post on Slax's blog reads: "As long as somebody else prepares things up for me (by packaging it), and as long as it works and makes my life easier, I am not affected by that (as a developer of Slax!) in any negative way. And I believe that the end users of Slax are even less affected by systemd. I didn't notice any single place where systemd would affect the end user's experience (except the fact that the system boots up faster). So after all, I don't mind using systemd in Slax. I am not pro- or against- it, my position is best described as neutral. If you have faced any issues as the end user, I welcome your comments. Thank you!"
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Earlier this year the Arch Linux project announced it would be phasing out support for 32-bit x86 installation media and packages. The Arch developers are now following through and plan to purge 32-bit packages from the distribution's repositories by the end of November. "Following nine months of deprecation period, support for the i686 architecture effectively ends today. By the end of November, i686 packages will be removed from our mirrors and later from the packages archive." Arch Linux users who cannot upgrade to a 64-bit installation may wish to migrate to a community maintained repository of 32-bit Arch Linux packages.
* * * * *
Our readers may be familiar with the name LineageOS, an open source operating system with its roots in Android. LineageOS uses a modified Linux kernel and open source applications to provide a complete mobile operating system that runs on a wide range of devices. Gael Duval, founder of the Mandrake Linux distribution, has written an overview of LineageOS - what it is, why it is special and how to install it on a smart phone. "A LineageOS ROM provides all those system layers, from the kernel to pre-installed applications. And this is built from, mostly, open source software. Not entirely open source software, because most low-level device drivers are made by hardware makers and released as proprietary software, without sources. This is the limit of LineageOS as an open source operating system: it will hardly ship with 100% open source low level drivers. There are some initiatives in that direction though, in particular the Replicant project plans to release a fully free Android distribution that will run on several devices." The complete article can be found on Duval's blog.
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These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Worried about spyware
Avoiding-information-leaks asks: Are there distributions which include spyware? I have heard some distros install malware to monitor users.
DistroWatch answers: Generally speaking, reports of malware or spyware being installed on Linux distributions are based more on fear than fact. Some people like to speculate that American distributions include spyware from the NSA and Russian distributions have been compromised by their government and Chinese distributions are loaded with spyware from the Chinese government, and so on. However, these allegations do not come accompanied with evidence.
I can think of only two reports of Linux distributions being compromised in some way where there was evidence to back up the speculation. The first was regarding Red Star OS, a Linux-based system developed by North Korea. The distribution reportedly watermarked files on the user's computer to make it possible to trace leaked documents and media sharing.
The other example of a distribution including spyware is a bit more open to debate depending on how you choose to define the meaning of spyware. For a while the Ubuntu distribution sent local search queries to Canonical by default, a move some qualified as spyware while others viewed the behaviour as a useful feature. Ubuntu has since ceased sending local searches to Canonical by default and modern versions of the distribution (versions 16.04 and newer) do not send search queries unless the user opts into the feature.
There are some distributions (or specific applications in a distribution) which will send telemetry data or crash reports back to the developers. The Clear Linux project, for example, is up front about the fact it collects telemetry data. This feature usually is not qualified as spyware when distributions are up front about the fact they collect data and provide a method for disabling the feature.
Claims that some Linux distributions contain malware are almost always motivated by politics rather than facts. If someone suggests an operating system is compromised I recommend asking them for evidence of their claim.
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More answers can be found in our Questions and Answers archive.
|Released Last Week
Redcore Linux 1710
Redcore Linux is a Gentoo-based distribution featuring the LXQt desktop environment. The project has released a new update of its rolling release distribution, Redcore Linux 1710. "Hey there Redcore lovers. It is my pleasure to announce that Redcore Linux 1710, codename Helvetios, ISO is now ready and available for download from the usual place. This one is very special, as Redcore Linux just turned one year old. So, we packed it with plenty new features and we did our best to make it the best Redcore Linux release to date. Here is a brief change log: Resync with Gentoo ebuild tree (03.11.2017). Linux 4.9.53 LTS kernel with BFQ and UKSM enable by default, Linux 4.12.14 kernel available in the repository. Graphics stack is once more on the edge with mesa 17.2.4, LLVM 5.0.0, libdrm 2.4.87, xorg-server 1.19.5. LXQT is now at 0.12.0 and I'm proud to say we are the first distro to release it to the masses; we built it and played with it since the release day. Printer drivers are now pre-installed and pre-configured, so everything should just work. Sisyphus package manager received much love this cycle, it is now better than ever: it can search by name, category or description, it can install/remove multiple packages at once, it is multi-threaded, it can filter and display all, installed or upgradable packages and, last but not least, it can recover from database corruption or deletion. Vasile (our Swiss Army knife) also received much love, it was rewritten from scratch with modularity in mind, and we have many more plans with it." More information can be found in the project's release announcement.
Redcore Linux 1710 -- Running the LXQt desktop
(full image size: 1.3MB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Parrot Security OS 3.9
Lorenzo Faletra has announced the release of Parrot Security OS 3.9, an updated build of the project's specialist distribution featuring a collection of tools for penetration testing and forensic analysis, based on Debian's "Testing" branch. This release brings a major new feature - an introduction of application sandboxing via Firejail: "Parrot 3.9 is now ready and it includes some important new features that were introduced to make the system more secure and reliable. The most important feature is the new sandbox system, introduced to protect many applications from 0-day attacks out of the box. The sandbox is based on Firejail, a suid program which is very easy to configure and customize to protect many critical applications in a quick and effective way (if an application does not work as expected, customize the corresponding Firejail profile to be more permissive). The other characteristic of this release is a long list of little details we wanted to fix to make the system look better, and the new Debian updates we have introduced to include the latest technologies." Read the brief release announcement for further information.
SharkLinux is an Ubuntu-based distribution featuring the MATE desktop environment. The project has released new installation media labeled SharkLinux 4.13.0-17. "This release comes with several system changes from previous builds which aim to increase system efficiency and allow greater control for user configuration. The more significant upgrades include changes to package management and the new 'pkg' command which significantly reduce install times and provide fallbacks in the event of mirror outages, configurations at startup are no longer network dependent and finish in 50% of the execution time from previous builds and tools added to allow easy toggling of both the automatic system maintenance and default sudo behaviour. As well SharkLinux has adopted the 'edge' variant of Ubuntu's HWE kernel and now features the 4.13 series kernel." Further details on the new features and package updates can be found 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: 636
- Total data uploaded: 16.4TB
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Number of supported editions
This week we explored the SparkyLinux distribution which features many branches, editions and desktop environments. One of the concerns Robert Rijkhoff raised was that Sparky may be spreading itself too thin by offering so much variety to its users.
We would like to know whether you prefer it when a distribution offers many desktop environments and editions, providing something for everyone, or do you find yourself gravitating toward projects which focus on one, polished edition?
You can see the results of our previous poll on distributions with familiar looking desktop environments in last week's edition. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
Number of supported editions
|I like a project to offer one focused edition: ||725 (42%)|
| I prefer multiple editions: ||583 (34%)|
| I do not have a preference: ||424 (24%)|
New statistic added to Ranking page
One feature that has been asked for is additional statistics on our Ranking page where our readers can submit reviews of distributions. This week we added a column to the rankings which shows which rating (out of 10) has been submitted the most frequently.
Sometimes two projects may have the same average rating, but different groupings of ratings. For example, a project which has two ratings of 6 will have the same average rating as a project with ratings of 10 and 2. Showing the most popular rating will, we hope, make it easier to get a sense for what most reviewers think of a distribution while paying less attention to outlying ratings.
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New projects added to database
Founded in 2014 by Oliver Pinter and Shawn Webb, HardenedBSD is a security-enhanced fork of FreeBSD. The HardenedBSD Project is implementing many exploit mitigation and security technologies on top of FreeBSD. The project started with Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR) as an initial focal point and is now implementing further exploit mitigation techniques.
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Distributions added to waiting list
- postmarketOS. postmarketOS is an Alpine-based distribution for use on mobile devices such as smart phones.
- Regata OS. Regata OS is a Brazilian Linux distribution based on openSUSE Leap and designed for developers and gamers as well as beginners.
- HasCoding-OS. HasCoding-OS is a Turkish Linux distribution featuring KDE's Plasma desktop software and is based on the Ubuntu operating system.
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DistroWatch database summary
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This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 20 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)
If you've enjoyed this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly, please consider sending us a tip.
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|Linux Foundation Training
|• Issue 746 (2018-01-15): deepin 15.5, openSUSE's YaST improvements, new Ubuntu 17.10 media, details on Spectre and Meltdown bugs|
|• Issue 745 (2018-01-08): GhostBSD 11.1, Linspire and Freespire return, wide-spread CPU bugs patched, adding AppImage launchers to the application menu|
|• Issue 744 (2018-01-01): MX Linux 17, Ubuntu pulls media over BIOS bug, PureOS gets endorsed by the FSF, openSUSE plays with kernel boot splash screens|
|• Issue 743 (2017-12-18): Daphile 17.09, tools for rescuing files, Fedora Modular Server delayed, Sparky adds ARM support, Slax to better support wireless networking|
|• Issue 742 (2017-12-11): heads 0.3.1, improvements coming to Tails, Void tutorials, Ubuntu phasing out Python 2, manipulating images from the command line|
|• Issue 741 (2017-12-04): Pop!_OS 17.10, openSUSE Tumbleweed snapshots, installing Q4OS on a Windows partition, using the at command|
|• Issue 740 (2017-11-27): Artix Linux, Unity spin of Ubuntu, Nitrux swaps Snaps for AppImage, getting better battery life on Linux|
|• Issue 739 (2017-11-20): Fedora 27, cross-distro software ports, Ubuntu on Samsung phones, Red Hat supports ARM, Parabola continues 32-bit support|
|• Issue 738 (2017-11-13): SparkyLinux 5.1, rumours about spyware, Slax considers init software, Arch drops 32-bit packages, overview of LineageOS|
|• Issue 737 (2017-11-06): BeeFree OS 18.1.2, quick tips to fix common problems, Slax returning, Solus plans MATE and software management improvements|
|• Issue 736 (2017-10-30): Ubuntu 17.10, "what if" security questions, Linux Mint to support Flatpak, NetBSD kernel memory protection|
|• Issue 735 (2017-10-23): ArchLabs Minimo, building software with Ravenports, WPA security patch, Parabola creates OpenRC spin|
|• Issue 734 (2017-10-16): Star 1.0.1, running the Linux-libre kernel, Ubuntu MATE experiments with snaps, Debian releases new install media, Purism reaches funding goal|
|• Issue 733 (2017-10-09): KaOS 2017.09, 32-bit prematurely obsoleted, Qubes security features, IPFire updates Apache|
|• Issue 732 (2017-10-02): ClonOS, reducing Snap package size, Ubuntu dropping 32-bit Desktop, partitioning disks for ZFS|
|• Issue 731 (2017-09-25): BackSlash Linux Olaf, W3C adding DRM to web standards, Wayland support arrives in Mir, Debian experimenting with AppArmor|
|• Issue 730 (2017-09-18): Mageia 6, running a completely free OS, HAMMER2 file system in DragonFly BSD's installer, Manjaro to ship pre-installed on laptops|
|• Issue 729 (2017-09-11): Parabola GNU/Linux-libre, running Plex Media Server on a Raspberry Pi, Tails feature roadmap, a cross-platform ports build system|
|• Issue 728 (2017-09-04): Nitrux 1.0.2, SUSE creates new community repository, remote desktop tools for GNOME on Wayland, using Void source packages|
|• Issue 727 (2017-08-28): Cucumber Linux 1.0, using Flatpak vs Snap, GNOME previews Settings panel, SUSE reaffirms commitment to Btrfs|
|• Issue 726 (2017-08-21): Redcore Linux 1706, Solus adds Snap support, KaOS getting hardened kernel, rolling releases and BSD|
|• Issue 725 (2017-08-14): openSUSE 42.3, Debian considers Flatpak for backports, changes coming to Ubuntu 17.10, the state of gaming on Linux|
|• Issue 724 (2017-08-07): SwagArch 2017.06, Myths about Unity, Mir and Ubuntu Touch, Manjaro OpenRC becomes its own distro, Debian debates future of live ISOs|
|• Issue 723 (2017-07-31): UBOS 11, transferring packages between systems, Ubuntu MATE's HUD, GNUstep releases first update in seven years|
|• Issue 722 (2017-07-24): Calculate Linux 17.6, logging sudo usage, Remix OS discontinued, interview with Chris Lamb, Debian 9.1 released|
|• Issue 721 (2017-07-17): Fedora 26, finding source based distributions, installing DragonFly BSD using Orca, Yunit packages ported to Ubuntu 16.04|
|• Issue 720 (2017-07-10): Peppermint OS 8, gathering system information with osquery, new features coming to openSUSE, Tails fixes networking bug|
|• Issue 719 (2017-07-03): Manjaro 17.0.2, tracking ISO files, Ubuntu MATE unveils new features, Qubes tests Admin API, Fedora's Atomic Host gets new life cycle|
|• Issue 718 (2017-06-26): Debian 9, support for older hardware, Debian updates live media, Ubuntu's new networking tool, openSUSE gains MP3 support|
|• Issue 717 (2017-06-19): SharkLinux, combining commands in the shell, Debian 9 flavours released, OpenBSD improving kernel security, UBports releases first OTA update|
|• Issue 716 (2017-06-12): Slackel 7.0, Ubuntu working with GNOME on HiDPI, openSUSE 42.3 using rolling development model, exploring kernel blobs|
|• Issue 715 (2017-06-05): Devuan 1.0.0, answering questions on systemd, Linux Mint plans 18.2 beta, Yunit/Unity 8 ported to Debian|
|• Issue 714 (2017-05-29): Void, enabling Wake-on-LAN, Solus packages KDE, Debian 9 release date, Ubuntu automated bug reports|
|• Issue 713 (2017-05-22): ROSA Fresh R9, Fedora's new networking features, FreeBSD's Quarterly Report, UBports opens app store, Parsix to shut down, SELinux overview|
|• Issue 712 (2017-05-15): NixOS 17.03, Alpha Litebook running elementary OS, Canonical considers going public, Solus improves Bluetooth support|
|• Issue 711 (2017-05-08): 4MLinux 21.0, checking file system fragmentation, new Mint and Haiku features, pfSense roadmap, OpenBSD offers first syspatch updates|
|• Issue 710 (2017-05-01): TrueOS 2017-02-22, Debian ported to RISC-V, Halium to unify mobile GNU/Linux, Anbox runs Android apps on GNU/Linux, using ZFS on the root file system|
|• Issue 709 (2017-04-24): Ubuntu 17.04, Korora testing new software manager, Ubuntu migrates to Wayland, running Nix package manager on alternative distributions|
|• Issue 708 (2017-04-17): Maui Linux 17.03, Snaps run on Fedora, Void adopts Flatpak, running Android apps on GNU/Linux, Debian elects Project Leader|
|• Issue 707 (2017-04-10): PCLinuxOS 2017.03, Canonical stops Unity development, OpenBSD on a Raspberry Pi, setting up a VPN for privacy|
|• Issue 706 (2017-04-03): Super Grub2 Disk, Snap packages of deepin applications, Subgraph OS routes network traffic for one application, announcements from Linux Mint|
|• Issue 705 (2017-03-27): Minimal Linux Live, sharing control of the operating system, new KaOS features, Uplos32 provides 32-bit fork of PCLinuxOS|
|• Issue 704 (2017-03-20): ToarusOS 1.0.4, Linux Mint's security record, Debian starts Project Leader election, Ubuntu 12.04 reaches end-of-life|
|• Issue 703 (2017-03-13): SolydXK 201701, CloudReady, Solus announces new features, KDE Connect sends text messages from desktop, openSUSE's YaST module for Let's Encrypt|
|• Issue 702 (2017-03-06): Fatdog64 Linux, elementary OS bundled with new netbook, Haiku announces new features, security and the size of a distro's development team|
|• Issue 701 (2017-02-27): OBRevenge 2017.02, Mageia 6 delays, NetBSD reproducible builds, questions about swap space, trying to steam video on a Raspberry Pi|
|• Issue 700 (2017-02-20): RaspBSD, Debian replaces Icedove with Thunderbird, Fedora's licensing guidlines, tips for switching shells, finding battery charge, getting IP address and killing processes|
|• Issue 699 (2017-02-13): Clear Linux, GhostBSD network utility ported to FreeBSD, Ubuntu coming to Fairphone, elementary OS crowd funding an app store|
|• Issue 698 (2017-02-06): Solus 2017.01.01, comparing containers with portable applicatins, Tails dropping 32-bit support, Debian Stretch enters freeze|
|• Issue 697 (2017-01-30): Subgraph OS 2016.12.30, running Ubuntu on an Android phone, Arch Linux phasing out 32-bit support, Linux Mint testing updated LMDE media|
|• Issue 696 (2017-01-23): GoboLinux 016, remotely running desktop applications, Solus adopting Flatpak, KDE neon using Calamares, TrueOS tests OpenRC|
|• Issue 695 (2017-01-16): Zorin OS 12, Peppermint team fixes installer bug, Debian refreshes Jessie media, Ubuntu improves low graphics mode, Exciting things coming in 2017|
|• Full list of all issues|
|Random Distribution |
FIRE was a portable bootable CD-based distribution with the goal of providing an immediate environment to perform forensic analysis, incident response, data recovery, virus scanning and vulnerability assessment. It also provides necessary tools for live forensics/analysis on win32, Solaris, SPARC and x86 Linux hosts just by mounting the CDROM and using trusted static binaries available in /statbins. In other words, FIRE was a Linux distribution with lots of useful security tools and a fine menu system which makes it very easy to use. Nothing on your computer was modified, so you can try it out safely.