| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 839, 4 November 2019
Welcome to this year's 44th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
The MX Linux distribution is a middle-weight project based on Debian's Stable branch and technology provided by antiX. The MX project has gained a lot of attention in the past few years due to a combination of strong performance, a mixture of stable core with up to date desktop software, unusual desktop layout, and allowing users to run either SysV init or systemd at boot time. We begin this week with a look at MX Linux 19 and report on its features, updated desktop software, and custom tools. Then, in our News section, we discuss new features and updates coming to Ubuntu 20.04, and link to a detailed talk on how Fedora's Modularity feature benefits users. Plus the Netrunner project is phasing out the distribution's Manjaro-based branch and we share the details below. We also share a reminder that version 29 of Fedora will reach the end of its supported life later this month. In our Questions and Answers column we explore methods of manipulating PDF documents, both using desktop applications and command line tools. Plus we are pleased to share the releases of the past week and list the torrents we are seeding. We wish you all a fantastic week and happy reading!
- Review: MX Linux 19
- News: Ubuntu plans features for 20.04, Fedora developer explains benefits of Modularity, Fedora 29 nears its end of life, Netunner drops Manjaro-based edition
- Tips and tricks: Manipulating PDFs
- Released last week: Fedora 31, ALT 9.0, Zentyal 6.1
- Torrent corner: ALT, Android-x86, Arch, ArcoLinux, AUSTRUMI, Clonezilla, Fedora, KaOS, KDE neon, MidnightBSD, Sparky, Zentyal
- Upcoming releases: FreeBSD 12.1
- Opinion poll: Vertical desktop panels
- Reader comments
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (14MB) and MP3 (10MB) formats.
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
MX Linux 19
Something interesting about software in general, and Linux distributions in particular, is that projects tend to evolve over time. Some of them break away from their parent projects, some merge with other distributions, and some change their direction. The MX Linux distribution is an unusual mixture of ideas and technologies that has grown out of a collection of projects. MX Linux can trace its digital genealogy back through antiX, MEPIS, and Debian. This gives the current generation of MX a combination of Debian's large, stable repository of software, the tendency toward low resource usage of antiX, and the convenient tools of MEPIS. MX is also rare in that it allows us to select which init software (SysV init or systemd) we want to use when the computer starts. But how well do all of these pieces fit together in reality?
MX Linux 19 is based on Debian 10 "Buster" and antiX. The latest release ships with version 4.14 of the Xfce desktop and includes AppArmor support with several profiles enabled by default. The distribution is available in 32-bit (x86) and 64-bit (x86_64) builds, with the ISO files being about 1.4GB in size. Booting from the distribution's media brings up the Xfce desktop. The desktop panel is displayed vertically down the left side of the screen with the application menu in the bottom-left corner The system tray and task switcher sit above the menu and the logout button is displayed in the upper-left corner. In the upper-right quadrant of the desktop we find the Conky status panel displaying the current time and some resource statistics.
There are three icons on the live desktop, one labelled FAQ, one called Manual, and one for the system installer. The Manual icon launches the PDF viewer and displays a local copy of the distribution's manual. I was impressed with the documentation, which provides about 180 pages of details on using, configuring, and upgrading the operating system. The documentation tends to be both helpful and clearly written. I like seeing detailed information like this, doubly so when it is provided locally so that a working Internet connection is not required to get help. The FAQ icon similarly opens a PDF which covers common queries about init software, portable package support, the project's release cycle, and fixes for CPU vulnerabilities such as Spector and Meltdown.
MX Linux 19 -- The welcome window
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Shortly after the desktop loads, a welcome window appears. The welcome window also provides links to the FAQ document and manual. It further includes links to the MX forums and various tools to help install additional software and codecs. Most of the welcome window's functions are best suited to an installed operating system and I will come back to talk about them later.
MX Linux uses a custom, graphical installer. The installer begins by offering to let us change our keyboard layout. In my case, the installer defaulted to using a plain US-based layout. Disk partitioning comes next. The disk partitioning screen includes a button for launching the GParted utility to adjust disk partitions. The screen also offers to take over space on the disk and automatically set up partitions, or we can manually assign mount points to existing partitions. I decided to go with the manual option. The MX installer takes an unusual approach in that instead of giving us a free-form way to assign any partition to any mount point, it lists common mount points (root, home, swap, etc) and we can optionally assign a partition to each. This might seem less flexible, but should suit almost all desktop users and, after the operating system is set up, we can customize mount points later if need be.
When the first beta was published for MX 19 I tried it and found the installer could not create Btrfs volumes, despite Btrfs being listed as an optional filesystem type. This bug was reported and I was pleased to find MX was able to create Btrfs volumes in the final release. However, when Btrfs is selected as the root filesystem, the installer is unable to install GRUB and quits before completing the install process. After trying a few times to get MX to install on Btrfs I gave up and switched to ext4.
We are next asked if we would like to install the GRUB boot loader and, if so, where. We are also asked if we would like to enable the Samba service for sharing files over our local network. Then we pick our time zone from a list. Optionally, we can launch a tool which lets us enable/disable services MX can run in the background. These services include items like the cron daemon, Bluetooth, scanning, and the CUPS printing software. The last step asks us to make up a username and password for ourselves, along with a password for the root account.
While the MX installer is a little different in style from other popular installers, such as Anaconda, Ubiquity and Calamares, it works quickly and I found it easy to navigate. I think the MX installer does a good job of balancing ease of use while providing advanced options we can explore if desired.
MX boots to a graphical login screen. Signing into the Xfce session presents us with the same desktop icons (minus the launcher for the installer) and with the same welcome screen. The welcome window offers us quick access to on-line video tutorials, the user manual, the FAQ document, and provides a link to the distribution's wiki. One button in the welcome window launches MX Tools, which I will talk about later. There is also a launcher for the Tweaks Tool, a configuration utility which helps us adjust the desktop panel's placement, Xfce's theme, and we can switch (or disable) the desktop's compositor.
MX Linux 19 -- The FAQ document and application menu
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There are two other tools of immediate interest in the welcome window. One is a simple utility that will locate and download media codecs. I didn't need to use this tool as I already had all the video and audio codecs I needed to play popular file formats. However, if we discover one is missing, the Codecs tool will grab as many as it can to make sure our needs are covered. There is another package management utility we can access from the welcome window through a button called Popular Apps. This launcher opens the MX Packager Installer and I'll talk about it later when I cover the distribution's various software managers.
MX ships with a fairly standard collection of open source software. The Firefox web browser, the Thunderbird e-mail client, and the Transmission bittorrent software are included. LibreOffice and the Orage calendar are featured. There is a tool called PDF Arranger for merging, splitting and rotating PDF documents. Both the GNOME PPP dial-up client and Network Manager are featured to help us connect to networks.
MX Linux 19 -- The Firefox browser and Thunar file manager
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The GNU Image Manipulation Program is featured along with an image viewer. There is a launcher in the application menu to toggle the Conky status widget on/off, which I appreciated having. We have a number of multimedia options available, including the Clementine music player, the VLC media player, the Asunder CD ripper, and the Xfburn disc burning application. There are a few utilities for connecting our file manager to external devices such as iPods, and phones.
To keep our data safe, MX ships with the flexible luckyBackup archiving software. There are also tools for managing printers and setting up custom Samba shares, which makes transferring files between computers on the local network a pleasant point-n-click experience.
In the background we find Java is installed by default and MX ships with the GNU Compiler Collection. Also by default, MX Linux ships with the SysV init software to get the operating system up and running. However, people who prefer to use systemd can select to use systemd init from the boot menu. I experimented with both init implementations and found that the two experiences were, from the end user's point of view, virtually identical. There were two practical differences: systemd booted about three seconds faster and if the user wants to run Snap packages, systemd must be running in the background. MX ships with version 4.19 of the Linux kernel, though more kernels are available through the distribution's Package Installer.
MX Linux 19 -- Enabling the firewall and browsing settings
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MX Tools is a collection of graphical utilities which will help us configure and manage the operating system. The MX Tools panel includes about two dozen modules for handling the desktop and underlying operating system components. Some of the highlights include a USB Image Writer for copying a downloaded image file to a thumb drive. It supports both read-only or writable modes. There is a Disk Cleanup tool which will hunt down and remove old cached packages, trash folders, image thumbnails and other old files and remove them. When it is done it will tell us how much data was deleted.
There is a Boot Repair tool for re-installing the GRUB boot loader and repairing its configuration. A Snapshot tool can create bootable ISO archives of the operating system. A User Manager, as expected, helps us create and delete accounts and change passwords.
MX Linux 19 -- The MX Tools panel
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There are tools for installing NVIDIA drivers and downloading media codecs. There is a repository manager which connects us with MX, antiX, and Debian package repositories. This tool will also help us pick the fastest available package mirror.
Other tools let us enable/disable sounds when we sign into our account or logout. There is a tool for mounting Apple mobile devices, connecting them to our filesystem. There is also a utility for customizing the GRUB menu and picking the default operating system the computer will boot.
Each of these tools is small, focused, and pretty straight forward to use. They tend to provide a description as to what the tool does inside the application and the buttons are clearly labelled. Some of the tools have several options and may be a little overwhelming to newcomers (I feel the same way about luckyBackup), but I think more experienced users will appreciate the speed and no-frills approach these modules provide.
When software updates for the distribution become available, MX displays an icon in the system tray which turns green. Clicking this green icon opens the update manager which lists the available updates. We can then install them with a click. The update manager takes an all-or-nothing approach, we cannot choose which new items to download. However, if we do wish to customize updates, or otherwise manage software in a more fine-grained manner, we can turn to Synaptic.
Synaptic is a highly flexible and fast package manager. By default it displays a list of all available packages in a pane to the right of the window while software categories and filters are placed on the left. Synaptic can not only install and remove batches of software we select, it can also perform upgrades on specific packages. Synaptic further has the ability to enable and disable repositories - it is the Swiss Army knife of low-level graphical package managers.
Another available tool for managing software is the MX Package Installer. This desktop utility displays a list of about 30 software categories, such as Kernels, Browser and Games. Clicking on a category expands it to show a handful of popular applications in that category. Each entry is listed with a brief description. We can click as many items as we want to be queued for installation, then click the Install button to download the highlighted items. This is a relatively quick and easy way to gain access to popular applications.
MX Linux 19 -- Exploring available packages
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MX Package Installer has a number of tabs which open up additional options. One provides access to the MX Testing repository and another to packages in the Debian Backports repository. This expands our selection of software, but (as the application warns us) software in these directories is not as well tested and may cause problems.
The Package Installer has another tab, this one for browsing and installing Flatpak packages. The Flatpak tab shows us a list of available Flatpak bundles, the size of the download and the version of the Flatpak. By default items in the https://flathub.org/ Flathub repository are shown, but we can add other Flatpak repositories if we wish with a few clicks. When we install a desktop application using a Flatpak, its launcher is added to the application menu. The Package Installer includes a button which will attempt to upgrade all installed Flatpaks. Flatpaks worked well for me on MX and the only problem I faced when managing Flatpaks was there were no descriptions of the bundles in Package Installer. Usually we can guess what a program does based on its name, but some are less obvious. For instance, I wasn't sure what Remmina or Kigo did before installing them.
We are not done yet, there are two more approaches to handling software on MX Linux, both using the command line. There are the usual APT tools, which are available on any Debian-based distribution. There is also an custom, interactive command line package manager provided by antiX. This tool guides the user through managing software from the console, but otherwise works much the same as Synaptic or APT.
When running MX in a VirtualBox environment the distribution performed well. The Xfce desktop is pleasantly responsive, the system boots and opens applications quickly, and the experience was smooth. When running on a physical workstation the experience was similarly pleasant and all my computer's hardware was properly detected.
A fresh copy of MX Linux uses about 5.2GB of disk space and generally consumed about 400MB of RAM when signed into the desktop. This memory footprint could go up or down a little depending on which background services we enabled at start time and whether Conky was running, through it stayed in the 400MB range.
MX Linux 19 -- Installing Flatpaks
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Something I kept noticing during my trial with MX is that the distribution appears to have evolved in a lot of little ways since I last reviewed it almost two years ago. For the most part the distribution has remained the same with the same features, desktop, tools, and focus. However, in each corner of the distribution I noticed little improvements. The update manager is a little more streamlined, making it easier to use. The upgraded Xfce desktop feels just a little more polished in its performance and rendering. The Flatpak manager provides a little more information. AppArmor is now enabled by default, providing a little additional security with, as far as I can tell, no negative side-effects. It looks to me as though the documentation has been fleshed out a little too.
All of this is to say that MX Linux 19 is very similar to version 17, but with little improvements, little bits of polish. The project appears to have made the included tools, desktop, and security features a little better without introducing (from what I have observed so far) any drawbacks. I also think the project deserves credit for managing to juggle two init systems, allowing the user to pick which one they want at boot time, without causing any problems with either init implementation. I don't think any other Linux distribution has done this out of the box.
One thing I find appealing about MX is that, while the project may not be the best distribution in any single category, it provides an excellent overall experience. What I mean is: MX is not the world's fastest distribution, but it is fast and responsive. It may not be the most user friendly, but I think most Linux users will find it easy to use and navigate. The MX Tools may not be the best administration tools in the world, but they do provide a great range of functionality and I found them straight forward to use. MX doesn't have the most extensive documentation, but it provides more information than most.
Combined, all of these positive characteristics made MX 19 one of the best desktop experiences I have run this year. The distribution is fast, flexible, fairly easy to use, and did a great job of providing me with conveniences (like the welcome window, manual, and MX Tools) while staying out of my way. I didn't get nagged by pop-ups, I didn't run into any serious errors. The distribution provided a quiet, fast, polished environment in which I could work and I enjoyed it a lot.
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Hardware used in this review
My physical test equipment for this review was a desktop HP Pavilon p6 Series with the following specifications:
- Processor: Dual-core 2.8GHz AMD A4-3420 APU
- Storage: 500GB Hitachi hard drive
- Memory: 6GB of RAM
- Networking: Realtek RTL8111 wired network card, Ralink RT5390R PCIe Wireless card
- Display: AMD Radeon HD 6410D video card
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Visitor supplied rating
MX Linux has a visitor supplied average rating of: 8.9/10 from 1088 review(s).
Have you used MX Linux? You can leave your own review of the project on our ratings page.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
Ubuntu plans features for 20.04, Fedora developer explains benefits of Modularity, Fedora 29 nears its end of life, Netunner drops Manjaro-based edition
Matthias Klose has announced that the development of Ubuntu 20.04 "Focal Fossa" has begun. The next version of Ubuntu is scheduled to launch in April of 2020 and will feature a number of key package updates. "Focal Fossa is now open for development, with the syncs from Unstable done and built, and autopkg testers trying to catch up. The development version starts with only a few changes: Python 3.8 is now added as a supported Python3 version, with the goal to ship Python 3.8 as the only Python3 version in Focal. Details will follow on the ubuntu-devel ML. Perl was updated to version 5.30. s390x is now built targeting z13 (GCC only for now)." Links to further details can be found in Klose's mailing list post.
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Stephen Gallagher posted a lengthy e-mail to the Fedora mailing lists in which he explored the topic of Modularity, a feature the Fedora team has been promoting for the past few releases which packages alternative versions of software. Gallagher explains the problem Modularity is trying to solve as follows: "This leads us to a classic problem that Linux distributions have faced: the 'Too Fast/Too Slow' problem. Linux distributions are traditionally quite monolithic. The package collections they ship are generally self-consistent, providing generally whatever the latest stable major release of the software at the time of the distribution release. As the release ages, it will receive bug fixes and enhancements, but usually will remain on the same major version.
This is excellent for the maintainers of the distribution, because it allows them to test that everything works together as a cohesive whole. It means that there's one authoritative version to align to.
Users, on the other hand, are most concerned about solving their problem. It matters less to them that the distribution is cohesive and more that the tools they need are available to them.
The 'Too Fast/Too Slow' problem is basically this: users want a solid, stable, reliable, unchanging system. They want it to stay that way for the life of their application. However, they also want their application to run using the set of dependencies it was designed for. If that doesn't happen to be the same version (newer or older) as the one selected for the monolithic distribution, the user will now have to resort to alternative means to get up and running." Gallagher covers an overview of what Modularity is, along with some situations that Modularity is not designed to address.
Meanwhile, Ben Botton posted a reminder this week that Fedora 29 will reach the end of its supported life on November 26th. Users of Fedora 29 are advised to upgrade to either Fedora 30 or 31 to continue receiving security updates. "With the release of Fedora 31 earlier this week, Fedora 29 will reach end-of-life on 26 November 2019. At that time, all open Bugzilla bugs will be closed and no more package updates will be published. If an open bug applies to Fedora 30, 31, or Rawhide, please update the
version field in Bugzilla in order to prevent it from being automatically closed on the EOL date."
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The Netrunner team has announced that the project will be discontinuing their Manjaro-based edition, for a second time. The Netrunner developers originally launched a Manjaro-based branch in 2014. It was soon discontinued and then revived in 2017. The project now plans to no longer created new Manjaro-based media, though existing installations will continue to work. "In times where Linux becomes more and more complex and mature as a real alternative for existing proprietary software, we think bundling efforts is the best way for any participant to increase the chance for long term success, seeking collaboration and synergies instead of infinitely splitting efforts. Since we join supporting Manjaro, this leaves Netrunner Rolling to be in a state besides the theming customizations of becoming redundant. We therefore decided to no longer release any updated installation mediums. We still offer continued support through our forums for current Rolling versions, and since they are based directly on Manjaro, they should be rolling on just fine for the time being." Netrunner's Debian-based branch is unaffected by this change.
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These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Tips and Tricks (by Jesse Smith)
For the most part, PDF documents are generally designed to be read, but not altered. They are useful for passing along information in a consistent format, but manipulating the contents of a PDF document can be difficult. Many applications which display PDFs do not provide tools for editing or rearranging the pages of these documents. This week I want to talk about two handy tools for managing the contents of a PDF.
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First, let's look at a desktop application for managing PDFs. In particular, I like PDF Arranger. PDF Arranger can generally be found in the repositories of modern versions of most distributions.
The application features a pleasantly simple interface. At the top of the window is a menu bar where we can choose to import existing documents and perform simple manipulations on documents or pages we have selected. Below this, the bulk of the window displays the document pool. Any PDF we import into PDF Arranger is divided into individual pages. These pages are displayed, in order, in the pool. If we import multiple documents, their pages will all be shown in the pool.
We can then use the mouse to drag and drop a page into a new order in the pool. We can also use the Shift and arrow keys to highlight groups of pages to manipulate. Once a page (or multiple pages) have been highlighted, we can choose an action to perform on them. We can delete pages from the pool, rotate them, or crop their edges. Then we can re-arrange them into the order we like.
Once we have re-arranged and manipulated the pages into the form we want, we can either select a range of pages to export into a new PDF, or we can export the entire pool into one new, big PDF.
PDF Arranger -- Manipulating a single PDF page
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What I like about PDF Arranger is it has a fairly straight forward interface. Pages, once imported into the pool, can be dragged around. We can discard or manage groups of pages at once. There are relatively few controls and menu options, which keeps the interface clean. Most importantly, every option works for me and I've yet to encounter any serious problems with the program.
My only complaint with PDF Arranger is I have yet to find a way to select pages which are not near each other. Using the arrow keys we can select groups of pages near one another in the pool, but I do not think the application has an option for working on non-adjacent pages. To get around this, we can drag pages around so they are next to each other and then highlight a group side-by-side pages to manipulate.
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There are also command line tools for working with PDFs. My favourite is a tool called PDFtk. Now, to be accurate, there is a desktop version of PDFtk, but I prefer PDF Arranger's desktop interface while I like the flexibility and scriptability of the command line version of PDFtk.
The PDFtk program is run with a series of parameters. Typically we start by passing PDFtk a list of documents we want to manipulate. Then we provide it with an action command, indicating what kind of operation we are performing. Then we provide the keyword output followed by the name of the file we are going to create. This output file contains our changes.
In its simplest form, PDFtk does not need to be given any action command. We can, technically, give it an input file to work on, the keyword output, and the name of a new file to create. This effectively makes a new copy of our PDF. This can be useful either for testing purposes or to try to repair any damaged meta-data in the original document. Here is what a PDFtk command looks like when we want to just make a clean copy of the original file:
pdftk original.pdf output new-file.pdf
While PDFtk supports a lot of action commands and options, I want to focus on five. These are called:
Let's look at a few examples of these action commands being used. This first example uses the cat action command. This allows us to either insert pages of documents into one big document, or possibly remove a series of pages. Here we append one PDF to another one, making one long document:
- cat - merge together a series of pages from one or more documents
- shuffle - collate multiple pages, usually from multiple files
- burst - expand one PDF document into multiple, one-page documents
- rotate - turn pages on their sides
- unpack_files - extract files embedded in a PDF and save them in a directory.
pdftk original-one.pdf original-two.pdf cat output new-long-file.pdf
We can also specify a range of pages to collect and place in the output file. For instance, here we take the first 5 pages, and then every page from page 20 until the end of the document. All of these end up in one final PDF with the original pages 6 through 19 removed.
pdftk original-file.pdf cat 1-5 20-end output new-file.pdf
Here is one more example where we simply reverse the order of all the pages in a document, handy for when we fed pages the wrong way around into the scanner:
pdftk backward-file.pdf cat end-1 output proper-order.pdf
The shuffle command works in a similar way to cat, but it takes the first page of each specified file/range in parallel and places them in the output file. This effectively collates the original files. The next example effectively merges two documents, placing their pages together as if they were shuffled together like a deck of cards:
pdftk left-pages.pdf right-pages.pdf shuffle new-book.pdf
The next example takes one PDF file and creates a new PDF for each page included in the original. When it is done we end up with files named pg_0001.pdf, pg_0002.pdf, pg_0003.pdf, etc:
pdftk original-file.pdf burst
The rotate command is fairly straight forward. It turns a PDF's pages around, usually 90 degrees left or right. We can also tell PDFtk to rotate a page to an absolute position using the four compass directions: north, south, east, and west. For example, this command rotates every page 90 degrees to the right:
pdftk original-file.pdf rotate 1-endright output new-file.pdf
While this next example will turn all the pages in the document upside down. This is again helpful if every copy was scanned upside down and we want to correct it:
pdftk upside-down-file.pdf rotate 1-endsouth output fixed-file.pdf
Finally, the unpack_files command extracts the file elements from a PDF and places them in a directory. In this case we dump the contents of the PDF into a new directory called target-directory:
pdftk original-file.pdf unpack_files output target-directory
The PDFtk software can do more operations, including compressing files and working with passwords. However, these are probably the most commonly used operations.
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Additional tips can be found in our Tips and Tricks archive.
|Released Last Week
ALT Linux 9.0
ALT Linux is an independently developed distribution which is available in Workstation, Server and Education editions. The distribution runs on several CPU architectures, making it run on a wide range of hardware. The project's latest release is ALT Linux 9.0. An English translation of the original Russian release announcement reads: "In addition to expanding the range of hardware platforms, a number of other significant improvements have been implemented for Alt 9.0 distribution kits: APT (advanced packaging tool, system for installing, updating and removing software packages) introduced rpmlib support (FileDigests), which will allow installing third-party packages (Yandex Browser, Chrome and others) without repackaging, and many other improvements. LibreOffice office suite is implemented in two versions: Still for corporate customers and Fresh for experimenters and advanced users. A single Samba package is available (for regular workstations and for Active Directory domain controllers). The Application Centre is available (an analogue of Google Play), in which you can search for the desired free program from various categories (educational, office, work with multimedia, etc.) and install on your computer."
Matthew Miller has announced the release of Fedora 31. The new version includes a special isolated container feature called Fedora Toolbox. "If you haven't used the Fedora Toolbox, this is a great time to try it out. This is a simple tool for launching and managing personal workspace containers, so you can do development or experiment in an isolated experience. It's as simple as running 'toolbox Enter' from the command line. This containerized workflow is vital for users of the ostree-based Fedora variants like CoreOS, IoT, and Silverblue, but is also extremely useful on any workstation or even server system. Look for many more enhancements to this tool and the user experience around it in the next few months - your feedback is very welcome. Fedora Editions are targeted outputs geared toward specific 'showcase' uses. Fedora Workstation focuses on the desktop, and particular software developers who want a 'just works' Linux operating system experience. This release features GNOME 3.34, which brings significant performance enhancements which will be especially noticeable on lower-powered hardware." The release announcement offers further details. The Fedora distribution is available in Workstation and Server editions as well as various other community spins.
Fedora 31 -- Browsing the GNOME application launcher
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Zentyal Server 6.1
Zentyal Server is a commercial unified network server that offers easy and efficient computer network administration for small and medium-size businesses. The project's latest release, Zentyal Server 6.1, is a minor update to the 6.0 release and is based on Ubuntu 18.04.3 LTS. "Important enhancements to Zentyal Server Development Edition 6.1 include: Based on Ubuntu 18.04.3 LTS. Integration of SOGo 4.1. Pagination of users (domain and directory) - With a large number of users it was difficult to manage the 'Users and Computers' section and the GUI load increased significantly. We have now added pagination of users to avoid these issues. Search option is also available. Shared roster bug (ejabbered) - You can now see the groups and users in ejabbered. Dynamic DNS bug - Dynamic DNS updates work now. OpenVPN upgrade bug - OpenSSL update broke OpenVPN. This has been fixed now." Additional details can be found in the distribution's release announcement and in the changelog.
The KaOS team has published a new snapshot of the distribution's rolling desktop operating system. The project is removing Python 2 packages and is publishing cutting edge packages for KDE Plasma 5.17. "Quite a few big changes for this release, probably the biggest news for this release is for the first time the default install is Python2 free. Python2 will be depreciated by the end of this year, so it is time to get this distribution ready for this change. The repositories still contain Python2 packages, but those are in the process of being phased out too. Next change is a new GCC 9.2.0/Glibc 2.30 based Toolchain. Normally KaOS stays about one year behind major new GCC versions, but the changes between 8 and 9 are not as big as usual and all in the repositories have caught up to GCC 9, thus it is now available six months after the initial release. A big part of the core repository was rebuild in this new Toolchain, plus the whole Glib2 and Boost stacks were updated. This meant moving to Glib2 2.62.2, Boost 1.71.0, Gobject-Introspection 1.6.20 among the many moved to their latest version. Systemd is now also available in the most recent release, 243. Libarchive gained ZSTD support, a needed feature for upcoming Pacman changes." Further details can be found in the project's release announcement.
Lucas Holt has announced the release of MidnightBSD 1.2, the latest stable version of the project's FreeBSD-derived operating system with a goal to create an easy-to-use desktop with graphical ports management and system configuration. This version is mostly a security and bug-fix update: "I'm happy to announce the availability of MidnightBSD 1.2 for the amd64 and i386 architectures. This release focused on updating base system libraries and security. A significant effort has been put into updating various mports. Portsnap is now included in the base system. You can use it to fetch mports. As this is a relatively new feature, please report any issues. Bug fixes: fixed spell(1) by bringing back deroff(1); fixed a bug with the mdnsd startup script (/etc/rc.d/mdnsd) where it wouldn't modify the /etc/nsswitch.conf properly when enabling mDNSresponder. Security fixes: the kernel driver for /dev/midistat implements a handler for read(2) - this handler is not thread-safe, and a multi-threaded program can exploit races in the handler to cause it to copy out kernel memory outside the boundaries of midistat's data buffer...." See the release announcement and release notes for further details.
* * * * *
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: 1,677
- Total data uploaded: 28.6TB
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
|Opinion Poll (by Jesse Smith)
Vertical desktop panels
This week we reviewed MX Linux, a distribution which uses an unusual desktop layout, placing the Xfce desktop panel down the left side of the display. Vertical desktop panels are not all that common, with most distributions placing the panel horizontally across the top or bottom of the screen. MX Linux and KaOS are two exceptions which use the extra space provided by most modern wide screen displays to push the panel to the side.
We would like to know if you have a preference for a vertical or horizontal desktop panel. Let us know your preferred layout in the comments.
You can see the results of our previous poll on ZFS on root in last week's edition. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
|Website News (by Jesse Smith)
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 11 November 2019. Past articles and reviews can be found through our Article Search page. To contact the authors please send e-mail to:
- Jesse Smith (feedback, questions and suggestions: distribution reviews/submissions, questions and answers, tips and tricks)
- Ladislav Bodnar (feedback, questions, donations, comments)
- Bruce Patterson (podcast)
|Linux Foundation Training
|• Issue 843 (2019-12-02): Obarun 2019.11.02, Bluestar 5.3.6, using special characters on the command line, Fedora plans to disable empty passwords, FreeBSD's quarterly status report|
|• Issue 842 (2019-11-25): SolydXK 10, System Adminstration Ethics book review, Debian continues init diversity debate, Google upstreaming Android kernel patches|
|• Issue 841 (2019-11-18): Emmabuntus DE3-1.00, changing keys in a keyboard layout, Debian phasing out Python 2 and voting on init diversity, Slackware gets unofficial updated live media|
|• Issue 840 (2019-11-11): Fedora 31, monitoring user activity, Fedora working to improve Python performance, FreeBSD gets faster networking|
|• Issue 839 (2019-11-04): MX 19, manipulating PDFs, Ubuntu plans features for 20.04, Fedora 29 nears EOL, Netrunner drops Manjaro-based edition|
|• Issue 838 (2019-10-28): Xubuntu 19.10, how init and service managers work together, DragonFly BSD provides emergency mode for HAMMER, Xfce team plans 4.16|
|• Issue 837 (2019-10-21): CentOS 8.0-1905, Trident finds a new base, Debian plans firewall changes, 15 years of Fedora, how to merge directories|
|• Issue 836 (2019-10-14): Archman 2019.09, Haiku improves ARM support, Project Trident shifting base OS, Unix turns 50|
|• Issue 835 (2019-10-07): Isotop, Mazon OS and, KduxOS, examples of using the find command, Mint's System Reports becomes proactive, Solus updates its desktops|
|• Issue 834 (2019-09-30): FreedomBox "Buster", CentOS gains a rolling release, Librem 5 phones shipping, Redcore updates its package manager|
|• Issue 833 (2019-09-23): Redcore Linux 1908, why Linux distros are free, Ubuntu making list of 32-bit software to keep, Richard M Stallman steps down from FSF leadership|
|• Issue 832 (2019-09-16): BlackWeb 1.2, checking for Wayland session and applications, Fedora to use nftables in firewalld, OpenBSD disables DoH in Firefox|
|• Issue 831 (2019-09-09): Adélie Linux 1.0 beta, using ffmpeg, awk and renice, Mint and elementary improvements, PureOS and Manjaro updates|
|• Issue 930 (2019-09-02): deepin 15.11, working with AppArmor profiles, elementary OS gets new greeter, exFAT support coming to Linux kernel|
|• Issue 829 (2019-08-26): EndeavourOS 2019.07.15, Drauger OS 7.4.1, finding the licenses of kernel modules, NetBSD gets Wayland application, GhostBSD changes base repo|
|• Issue 828 (2019-08-19): AcademiX 2.2, concerns with non-free firmware, UBports working on Unity8, Fedora unveils new EPEL channel, FreeBSD phasing out GCC|
|• Issue 827 (2019-08-12): Q4OS, finding files on the disk, Ubuntu works on ZFS, Haiku improves performance, OSDisc shutting down|
|• Issue 826 (2019-08-05): Quick looks at Resilient, PrimeOS, and BlueLight, flagship distros for desktops,Manjaro introduces new package manager|
|• Issue 825 (2019-07-29): Endless OS 3.6, UBports 16.04, gNewSense maintainer stepping down, Fedora developrs discuss optimizations, Project Trident launches stable branch|
|• Issue 824 (2019-07-22): Hexagon OS 1.0, Mageia publishes updated media, Fedora unveils Fedora CoreOS, managing disk usage with quotas|
|• Issue 823 (2019-07-15): Debian 10, finding 32-bit packages on a 64-bit system, Will Cooke discusses Ubuntu's desktop, IBM finalizes purchase of Red Hat|
|• Issue 822 (2019-07-08): Mageia 7, running development branches of distros, Mint team considers Snap, UBports to address Google account access|
|• Issue 821 (2019-07-01): OpenMandriva 4.0, Ubuntu's plan for 32-bit packages, Fedora Workstation improvements, DragonFly BSD's smaller kernel memory|
|• Issue 820 (2019-06-24): Clear Linux and Guix System 1.0.1, running Android applications using Anbox, Zorin partners with Star Labs, Red Hat explains networking bug, Ubuntu considers no longer updating 32-bit packages|
|• Issue 819 (2019-06-17): OS108 and Venom, renaming multiple files, checking live USB integrity, working with Fedora's Modularity, Ubuntu replacing Chromium package with snap|
|• Issue 818 (2019-06-10): openSUSE 15.1, improving boot times, FreeBSD's status report, DragonFly BSD reduces install media size|
|• Issue 817 (2019-06-03): Manjaro 18.0.4, Ubuntu Security Podcast, new Linux laptops from Dell and System76, Entroware Apollo|
|• Issue 816 (2019-05-27): Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.0, creating firewall rules, Antergos shuts down, Matthew Miller answers questions about Fedora|
|• Issue 815 (2019-05-20): Sabayon 19.03, Clear Linux's developer features, Red Hat explains MDS flaws, an overview of mobile distro options|
|• Issue 814 (2019-05-13): Fedora 30, distributions publish Firefox fixes, CentOS publishes roadmap to 8.0, Debian plans to use Wayland by default|
|• Issue 813 (2019-05-06): ROSA R11, MX seeks help with systemd-shim, FreeBSD tests unified package management, interview with Gael Duval|
|• Issue 812 (2019-04-29): Ubuntu MATE 19.04, setting up a SOCKS web proxy, Scientific Linux discontinued, Red Hat takes over Java LTS support|
|• Issue 811 (2019-04-22): Alpine 3.9.2, rsync examples, Ubuntu working on ZFS support, Debian elects new Project Leader, Obarun releases S6 tools|
|• Issue 810 (2019-04-15): SolydXK 201902, Bedrock Linux 0.7.2, Fedora phasing out Python 2, NetBSD gets virtual machine monitor|
|• Issue 809 (2019-04-08): PCLinuxOS 2019.02, installing Falkon and problems with portable packages, Mint offers daily build previews, Ubuntu speeds up Snap packages|
|• Issue 808 (2019-04-01): Solus 4.0, security benefits and drawbacks to using a live distro, Gentoo gets GNOME ports working without systemd, Redox OS update|
|• Issue 807 (2019-03-25): Pardus 17.5, finding out which user changed a file, new Budgie features, a tool for browsing FreeBSD's sysctl values|
|• Issue 806 (2019-03-18): Kubuntu vs KDE neon, Nitrux's znx, notes on Debian's election, SUSE becomes an independent entity|
|• Issue 805 (2019-03-11): EasyOS 1.0, managing background services, Devuan team debates machine ID file, Ubuntu Studio works to remain an Ubuntu Community Edition|
|• Issue 804 (2019-03-04): Condres OS 19.02, securely erasing hard drives, new UBports devices coming in 2019, Devuan to host first conference|
|• Issue 803 (2019-02-25): Septor 2019, preventing windows from stealing focus, NetBSD and Nitrux experiment with virtual machines, pfSense upgrading to FreeBSD 12 base|
|• Issue 802 (2019-02-18): Slontoo 18.07.1, NetBSD tests newer compiler, Fedora packaging Deepin desktop, changes in Ubuntu Studio|
|• Issue 801 (2019-02-11): Project Trident 18.12, the meaning of status symbols in top, FreeBSD Foundation lists ongoing projects, Plasma Mobile team answers questions|
|• Issue 800 (2019-02-04): FreeNAS 11.2, using Ubuntu Studio software as an add-on, Nitrux developing znx, matching operating systems to file systems|
|• Issue 799 (2019-01-28): KaOS 2018.12, Linux Basics For Hackers, Debian 10 enters freeze, Ubuntu publishes new version for IoT devices|
|• Issue 798 (2019-01-21): Sculpt OS 18.09, picking a location for swap space, Solus team plans ahead, Fedora trying to get a better user count|
|• Issue 797 (2019-01-14): Reborn OS 2018.11.28, TinyPaw-Linux 1.3, dealing with processes which make the desktop unresponsive, Debian testing Secure Boot support|
|• Issue 796 (2019-01-07): FreeBSD 12.0, Peppermint releases ISO update, picking the best distro of 2018, roundtable interview with Debian, Fedora and elementary developers|
|• Issue 795 (2018-12-24): Running a Pinebook, interview with Bedrock founder, Alpine being ported to RISC-V, Librem 5 dev-kits shipped|
|• Issue 794 (2018-12-17): Void 20181111, avoiding software bloat, improvements to HAMMER2, getting application overview in GNOME Shell|
|• Issue 793 (2018-12-10): openSUSE Tumbleweed, finding non-free packages, Debian migrates to usrmerge, Hyperbola gets FSF approval|
|• Issue 792 (2018-1203): GhostBSD 18.10, when to use swap space, DragonFly BSD's wireless support, Fedora planning to pause development schedule|
|• Issue 791 (2018-11-26): Haiku R1 Beta1, default passwords on live media, Slax and Kodachi update their media, dual booting DragonFly BSD on EFI|
|• Full list of all issues|
Star Labs - Laptops built for Linux.
View our range including the Star Lite, Star LabTop and more. Available with a choice of Ubuntu, Linux Mint or Zorin OS pre-installed with many more distributions supported. Visit Star Labs for information, to buy and get support.
|Random Distribution |
Hubworx products include Hubworx Network Manager, Hubworx Web Office, and Hubworx Thin Client Server. Hubworx Network Manager was a complete Linux Operating System (based on Mandriva Linux) designed to manage your network and protect it from intruders. It comes with simple but powerful tools to administer your system and protect against viruses, spam, and undesirable content. Hubworx Web Office was a suite of web-enabled applications securely accessible from any PC with an Internet connection. Tools include e-mail client, shared calendar, contact management, project manager. Hubworx Thin Client Server was designed to extend the useful life of any obsolete PC by converting it into a powerful thin client. Standard software includes a suite of open source office applications.