| 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: 8.4/10 from 69 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)
|Linux Foundation Training
|• 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 126.96.36.199, limiting process resource usage, converting file systems on Fedora, Debian turns 25, Lubuntu migrating to Wayland|
|• Issue 776 (2018-08-13): NomadBSD 1.1, Maximum storage limits on Linux, openSUSE extends life for 42.3, updates to the Librem 5 phone interface|
|• Issue 775 (2018-08-06): Secure-K OS 18.5, Linux is about choice, Korora tests community spin, elementary OS hires developer, ReactOS boots on Btrfs|
|• Issue 774 (2018-07-30): Ubuntu MATE & Ubuntu Budgie 18.04, upgrading software from source, Lubuntu shifts focus, NetBSD changes support policy|
|• Issue 773 (2018-07-23): Peppermint OS 9, types of security used by different projects, Mint reacts to bugs in core packages, Slackware turns 25|
|• Issue 772 (2018-07-16): Hyperbola GNU/Linux-libre 0.2.4, UBports running desktop applications, OpenBSD auto-joins wi-fi networks, boot environments and zedenv|
|• Issue 771 (2018-07-09): Linux Lite 4.0, checking CPUs for bugs, configuring GRUB, Mint upgrade instructions, SUSE acquired by EQT|
|• Issue 770 (2018-07-02): Linux Mint 19, Solus polishes desktop experience, MintBox Mini 2, changes to Fedora's installer|
|• Issue 769 (2018-06-25): BunsenLabs Helium, counting Ubuntu users, UBports upgrading to 16.04, Fedora CoreOS, FreeBSD turns 25|
|• Issue 768 (2018-06-18): Devuan 2.0.0, using pkgsrc to manage software, the NOVA filesystem, OpenBSD handles successful cron output|
|• Issue 767 (2018-06-11): Android-x86 7.1-r1, transferring files over OpenSSH with pipes, LFS with Debian package management, Haiku ports LibreOffice|
|• Issue 766 (2018-06-04): openSUSE 15, overview of file system links, Manjaro updates Pamac, ReactOS builds itself, Bodhi closes forums|
|• Issue 765 (2018-05-28): Pop!_OS 18.04, gathering system information, Haiku unifying ARM builds, Solus resumes control of Budgie|
|• Issue 764 (2018-05-21): DragonFly BSD 5.2.0, Tails works on persistent packages, Ubuntu plans new features, finding services affected by an update|
|• Issue 763 (2018-05-14): Fedora 28, Debian compatibility coming to Chrome OS, malware found in some Snaps, Debian's many flavours|
|• Issue 762 (2018-05-07): TrueOS 18.03, live upgrading Raspbian, Mint plans future releases, HardenedBSD to switch back to OpenSSL|
|• Issue 761 (2018-04-30): Ubuntu 18.04, accessing ZFS snapshots, UBports to run on Librem 5 phones, Slackware makes PulseAudio optional|
|• Issue 760 (2018-04-23): Chakra 2017.10, using systemd to hide files, Netrunner's ARM edition, Debian 10 roadmap, Microsoft develops Linux-based OS|
|• Issue 759 (2018-04-16): Neptune 5.0, building containers with Red Hat, antiX introduces Sid edition, fixing filenames on the command line|
|• Issue 758 (2018-04-09): Sortix 1.0, openSUSE's Transactional Updates, Fedora phasing out Python 2, locating portable packages|
|• Issue 757 (2018-04-02): Gatter Linux 0.8, the UNIX and Linux System Administration Handbook, Red Hat turns 25, super long term support kernels|
|• Issue 756 (2018-03-26): NuTyX 10.0, Neptune supplies Debian users with Plasma 5.12, SolydXK on a Raspberry Pi, SysV init development|
|• Issue 755 (2018-03-19): Learning with ArchMerge and Linux Academy, Librem 5 runs Plasma Mobile, Cinnamon gets performance boost|
|• Issue 754 (2018-03-12): Reviewing Sabayon and Antergos, the growing Linux kernel, BSDs getting CPU bug fixes, Manjaro builds for ARM devices|
|• Issue 753 (2018-03-05): Enso OS 0.2, KDE Plasma 5.12 features, MX Linux prepares new features, interview with MidnightBSD's founder|
|• Issue 752 (2018-02-26): OviOS 2.31, performing off-line upgrades, elementary OS's new installer, UBports gets test devices, Redcore team improves security|
|• Issue 751 (2018-02-19): DietPi 6.1, testing KDE's Plasma Mobile, Nitrux packages AppImage in default install, Solus experiments with Wayland|
|• Issue 750 (2018-02-12): Solus 3, getting Deb packages upstream to Debian, NetBSD security update, elementary OS explores AppCentre changes|
|• Issue 749 (2018-02-05): Freespire 3 and Linspire 7.0, misunderstandings about Wayland, Xorg and Mir, Korora slows release schedule, Red Hat purchases CoreOS|
|• Issue 748 (2018-01-29): siduction 2018.1.0, SolydXK 32-bit editions, building an Ubuntu robot, desktop-friendly Debian options|
|• Issue 747 (2018-01-22): Ubuntu MATE 17.10, recovering open files, creating a new distribution, KDE focusing on Wayland features|
|• Issue 746 (2018-01-15): deepin 15.5, openSUSE's YaST improvements, new Ubuntu 17.10 media, details on Spectre and Meltdown bugs|
|• Full list of all issues|
|Random Distribution |
Local Area Security Linux (L.A.S.)
Local Area Security Linux was a 'Live CD' distribution with a strong emphasis on security tools and small footprint. We currently have 2 different versions of L.A.S. to fit two specific needs - MAIN and SECSERV. This project was released under the terms of GPL.
|Tips, Tricks, Myths and Q&As |
|Tips and tricks: Basename, for loop, dirname, aliases, bash history, xsel clipboard|
|Tips and tricks: Working with images from the command line|
|Questions and answers: Smbclient|
|Questions and answers: Accessing encrypted content from live media|
|Tips and tricks: Find common words in text, find high memory processs, cd short-cuts, pushd & popd, record desktop|
|Questions and answers: Improving performance with custom-compiled source packages|
|Tips and tricks: Gathering system information|
|Tips and tricks: File encryption and cloud backup|
|Tips and tricks: Running Mandriva "Cooker"|
|Questions and answers: The best "base" distribution|
|More Tips & Tricks and Questions & Answers|