| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 793, 10 December 2018
Welcome to this year's 50th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
Technology and software development move ever forward, typically at a high pace. In a world where packages can feel outdated after just six months it can be a struggle to stay current. openSUSE's Tumbleweed distribution addresses this problem by providing a rolling release operating system with optional file system snapshots to protect against broken packages. This week we begin with a look at Tumbleweed and the problems it fixes (and experiences) over time. In our News section we talk about Debian's struggle to migrate to a merged /usr system, Hyperbola gaining FSF recognition as a completely free distribution, and link to holiday technical tips the Void project is sharing. Then we talk about how to identify non-free software packages on your Linux distribution. If you use the techniques we mention, let us know how many non-free packages you find in our Opinion Poll. Finally, we are pleased to share last week's releases and list the torrents we are seeding. We wish you all a wonderful week and happy reading!
- Review: openSUSE Tumbleweed (2018)
- News: Debian struggles with usrmerge, Void provides technical tips, Hyperbola gets FSF approval
- Questions and answers: Finding and removing non-free packages
- Released last week: DragonFly BSD 5.4.0, Scientific Linux 7.6, CentOS 7-1810
- Torrent corner: Antergos, AUSTRUMI, CentOS, DragonFly BSD, ExTiX, FreeNAS, GuixSD, HardenedBSD, Kodachi, Omarine, Scientific, SmartOS, SwagArch
- Upcoming releases: FreeBSD 12.0, Tails 3.11
- Opinion poll: How many non-free packages are on your system?
- New distributions: Sculpt OS
- Reader comments
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
openSUSE Tumbleweed (2018)
openSUSE is a general purpose, community maintained distribution sponsored by SUSE. The distribution is available in two editions: Leap (a fixed release) and Tumbleweed (a rolling release). The Tumbleweed edition provides the latest available upstream packages, or as the openSUSE website states:
Any user who wishes to have the newest packages that include, but are not limited to, the Linux kernel, Samba, git, desktops, office applications and many other packages, will want Tumbleweed. Tumbleweed appeals to power users, software developers and openSUSE contributors.
openSUSE's Tumbleweed edition is available in 32-bit and 64-bit builds for x86 computers. There are also builds for the ppc64, ppc64le, and aarch64 architectures. There are live discs available in GNOME and KDE editions as well as a full sized DVD with more packages, and a minimal net-install CD. This gives us lots of options for running Tumbleweed in many environments. I decided to download the full DVD build for 64-bit computers. The download was 4.1GB in size.
Going into this test drive of Tumbleweed I had a slightly different focus than I did when I reviewed openSUSE Leap 15 earlier in the year. I was less interested in specific features or problems and more interested in how the distribution would perform over time. A fixed release platform, such as Leap, tends to remain the same for years - once you get the general feel of the operating system it doesn't change. But Tumbleweed, like other rolling releases, may change rapidly and may quickly become better or worse, and may have different requirements over a longer time-line. I was curious to see how maintaining Tumbleweed would feel compared to Leap: Would packages break? What resources would it take to keep up with new updates? Would applications visibly change over the course of a few months? With this in mind, I installed Tumbleweed in early October 2018 and kept using it occasionally, keeping up with new packages, to see what the overall experience would be like.
Booting from the Tumbleweed DVD brings up a graphical system installer. The installer shows us the project's license agreement and gives us a chance to select our preferred language and keyboard layout. Next we re asked to select the computer's role, which means we can choose to install the KDE Plasma desktop, GNOME, another desktop, set up a server (with no desktop) or a Transactional Server which is basically a server with a read-only root file system. I decided to stick with the default option and installed the Plasma desktop. The installer then offers to set up partitions for us, defaulting to using Btrfs as the root file system. We have the option to customize partitions or use another file system, but I accepted the default Btrfs option.
The installer then asks us to select our time zone from a map of the world and gives us the chance to create a user account for ourselves. The installer then shows us a summary of the actions it will take and gives us a chance to change these actions. Once we confirm the actions the installer copies its packages to the hard drive and automatically restarts the computer, booting into openSUSE.
When we first boot into Tumbleweed it brings up a login screen where we are invited to sign into the Plasma desktop or the IceWM window manager. Plasma is the default and the interface I chose to use during my experiment. openSUSE gives us the further option of running Plasma on a X11 session or on a Wayland session. I started out with the Wayland session and quickly found it to be impractical. The screen was often plagued by drawing artefacts and tearing windows. I also found new windows, especially confirmation boxes and file selection dialogs, appeared either off screen or half off the edge of the screen. When using the mouse pointer to navigate menus, the highlighted item was not the one the pointer was hovering over. Some programs, such as the GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) were not even visible on Wayland. The program would run, but its window was invisible in the Wayland session. I quickly switched over to the Plasma on X11 session which did not present any of these issues.
openSUSE Tumbleweed 2018 -- Adjusting desktop settings
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openSUSE ships with a fairly standard set of open source software, including Firefox, LibreOffice, the VLC media player, and GIMP. Since I installed the KDE Plasma desktop many applications were members of the KDE family, including the KOrganizer planner, KAddressBook, Kmail and the Dolphin file manager. TigerVNC was included for remote desktop sessions and Kleopatra was installed for managing certificates and security keys. The distribution ships with systemd as the init software and runs on version 4.18 of the Linux kernel. When I first installed Tumbleweed the default kernel was 4.18.12, but a month later I had been updated to 4.18.15 - the version gradually increases over time.
I found that, out of the box, openSUSE would play my audio files, including MP3s. However, I could not play video files due to the codecs not being included. There are a few ways to attempt to resolve this and I decided to try the easiest first. I went on-line and did a search for openSUSE's "1-click" media support, which took me to a community website where I could indeed click a button to set up community repositories, install third-party media support and some media players. The 1-click install failed and aborted due to missing package dependencies.
openSUSE Tumbleweed 2018 -- Trying to play a video file
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I then opened the distribution's software manager and made sure the necessary community repositories were enabled. I then tried to manually install the codecs and media players I wanted. These also failed to download because of missing or broken dependencies. I was unable to install the new VLC beta, MPlayer and gstreamer codecs, as all were missing dependencies. I was able to install the mpv player, but it crashed whenever I tried to play a video file. In the end, after a handful of attempts, I gave up on being able to play videos on Tumbleweed. Broken media support did not resolve itself during the span of my trial.
Having talked about struggling with media packages, I think this is a good time to talk more about software management on Tumbleweed. When we first sign into the Plasma desktop a widget checks for new updates and will leave an icon in the system tray letting us know when new packages are available. The first day I was running Tumbleweed there were 88 updates. The desktop widget does not handle installing these new packages for us, instead it advises us to open a terminal and run "sudo zypper dup" to grab the latest versions of packages. The "zypper dup" command performs a distribution upgrade, installing new packages, removing stale ones and trying to fix any dependency issues.
By the end of the first month I had installed about 1,100 updates, totalling over 700MB in size. In other words, I'd basically downloaded a whole new distribution's worth of software in four weeks.
Apart from the update widget and the zypper command line package manager, there are two graphical software managers. The first is Discover, which handles desktop software. On the left side of the Discover window there are links for opening a list of available software, checking updates and browsing settings. On the right we see programs in the selected software category or search results. We can click a button next to an application's entry to install it, or click on the package to bring up more information about it.
openSUSE Tumbleweed 2018 -- Text fields in settings panel undefined
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When I first started using Discover it worked fairly well, except that all the text entries in the Settings panel were missing. Every option and checkbox had the word "undefined" next to it, making it impossible to know what the user was selecting. This was fixed in a future update.
One of the options in Discover is to enable the Flathub Flatpak repository which gives us access to portable packages. Installing Flatpaks worked for me. Something which did not work was the Launch button on each program's information page. Clicking the Launch button failed to open the selected program, whether it had been installed through a Flatpak or RPM archive.
openSUSE Tumbleweed 2018 -- Discover with fixed settings panel
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The final software manager is built into the YaST control panel, which I'll get to in a moment. The software manager offers several different views and methods of filtering software and can be used to enable or disable access to repositories. The YaST software manager is highly flexible, and makes it possible to find items through all sorts of ways (searching for key words, browsing categories, browsing alphabetically, and so on). However, it is also complex enough that it is likely to put off a lot of users who just want to quickly find and install a package.
openSUSE Tumbleweed 2018 -- One of the many package views in YaST
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openSUSE offered me two settings panels: the KDE System Settings panel and YaST. The former is mostly used to adjust the look and behaviour of the desktop. We can adjust the theme, change fonts, enable visual effects and workspace behaviour. Generally speaking the KDE panel does not deal with the underlying components of the operating system, but there are modules for working with printers and user accounts. I found the user account manager worked and I was ale to create a new user. The printer module did not perform as well. I was asked for my password at each screen and, ultimately, the KDE printer module failed to set up a printer. At one point I created a virtual printer in YaST, and then found the KDE module could not adjust its settings.
openSUSE Tumbleweed 2018 -- Trying to manage printers
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YaST, on the other hand, deals with the lower levels of the operating system. Through YaST we can control software packages, adjust administrator access, read logs, manage file system snapshots, set up printers, manager users and adjust the firewall. Managing printers through YaST worked - in fact virtually everything worked well. I think most people will find the firewall, with its many zones, overly complicated. Though it can be useful if we want different rules for different locations, but for most people the firewall configuration tool adds extra levels of complexity.
Updates and snapshots
One of my favourite YaST modules is called Snapper and works with file system snapshots. When we change a setting in YaST, or install new packages, openSUSE takes a snapshot of the system. The Snapper tool lets us see what changes were made between snapshots and compare individual files across time. It is a handy tool for catching problems and reverting changes which break functionality.
From openSUSE's boot menu we can select older snapshots to boot into. This allows us to temporarily revert changes to the operating system, to run an older kernel or desktop environment. I like having file system snapshots I can boot into for when the system breaks. It makes the operating system more robust. I especially like having this feature with Tumbleweed as the rapid changes are more likely to introduce new behaviour or problems. Being able to revert the system back to yesterday's configuration was occasionally helpful.
openSUSE Tumbleweed 2018 -- Browsing file system snapshots
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There were some side effects of using older snapshots. One of them is that programs that have been installed are added to the user's application menu. When we boot into an older snapshot the application may no longer be there, but its icon remains in the menu. This means the user can still see the program's menu entry, but can no longer run it.
Speaking of odd behaviour, once I installed updates, closed the software manager and restarted the computer. When I signed back into my account the Discover software manager opened and immediately asked for my password so it could install waiting updates. This only happened once, but took me by surprise. Discover's actions were all the more unusual because, when I checked, there were no new updates available.
Finally, on the subject of Tumbleweed's ever-changing nature, I feel resource usage should be mentioned. Tumbleweed running Plasma used about 480MB of memory, and this memory consumption stayed fairly level during my trial. Disk usage though started at around 6GB and steadily grew, due mostly to the stream of updates and file system snapshots. Within a month Tumbleweed was using over 9GB of disk space. After five weeks it was consuming 10GB.
As I mentioned before, I was pulling in over 1,000 updates a month and seemingly installing enough new packages to replace an entire operating system. This uses up a lot of bandwidth (over 700MB in four weeks in my case) and I had a fairly modest collection of applications installed. Potential Tumbleweed users should plan to consume a lot more disk space and bandwidth than they would with most fixed release distributions.
My experiment with openSUSE's Tumbleweed was a mixed experience. On the positive side, Tumbleweed stays constantly up to date, providing the latest packages of software all the time. For people who regularly want to stay on the cutting edge, but who do not want to re-install or perform a major version-to-version upgrade every six months, Tumbleweed provides an attractive option. I also really like that file system snapshots are automated and we can revert most problems simply by restarting the computer and choosing an older snapshot from the boot menu.
On the negative side, a number of things didn't work during my time with the distribution. Media support was broken, the Discover software manager had a number of issues and some configuration modules caused me headaches. These rough edges sometimes get fixed, but may be traded out for other problems since the operating system is ever in flux.
In the long term, a bigger issue may be the amount of network bandwidth and disk space Tumbleweed consumes. Just to keep up with updates we need set aside around 1GB of downloads per month and (when Btrfs snapshots are used) even more disk space. In a few weeks Tumbleweed consumed more disk space with far fewer programs installed as my installation of MX Linux. Unless we keep on top of house cleaning and constantly remove old snapshots we need to be prepared to use significantly more storage space than most other distributions require.
Tumbleweed changes frequently and uses more resources to keep up with the latest software developments. I would not recommend it for newer Linux users or for people who want predictability in the lives. But for people who want to live on the cutting edge and don't mind a little trouble-shooting, Tumbleweed provides a way to keep up with new versions of applications while providing a safety net through Btrfs snapshots.
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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
- Display: AMD Radeon HD 6410D video card
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Visitor supplied rating
openSUSE has a visitor supplied average rating of: 8.8/10 from 267 review(s).
Have you used openSUSE? You can leave your own review of the project on our ratings page.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
Debian struggles with usrmerge, Void provides technical tips, Hyperbola gets FSF approval
Many mainstream Linux distributions, such as Fedora and openSUSE have merged some of their top-level directories into the /usr directory of the file system. This process, called merge-usr (or usrmerge) removes redundant directories such as /bin and /sbin, turning them into symbolic links. Recently, Ubuntu and Debian have been working toward usrmerge systems, but Debian packagers have hit a snag. "The decision on whether /usr merge would be done by default has changed multiple times during the debootstrap development timeline. The initial support was coded in September 2016, and released in debootstrap version 1.0.83, in a disabled-by-default state. In October 2016 there was an attempt to enable it by default, but this was reverted in November, because the dpkg-shlibdeps program (which is used during package builds to automatically generate dependencies on packages that provide the needed shared libraries) broke. Therefore, Debian 9.0 (with the code name "Stretch") was released in June 2017 without this feature." Problems continue with the move, largely because Debian plans to support both traditional and usrmerge systems. Other distributions have typically avoided problems by having a firm cut-off date when packages were expected to work with the new file system layout. LWN has further details on Debian's migration.
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As many people begin preparations for the holidays, the Void distribution is celebrating with a series of informative articles and tutorials called The Advent of Void. The series covers alternative compilers, connecting to remote file systems over secure shell, generating passwords, and unusual web browsers. The entire series can be found on the project's news page and offers a great way to lean new tips and tricks.
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The Hyperbola GNU/Linux-libre developers announced this week that their distribution is now officially recognized as a purely free software operating system by the Free Software Foundation (FSF). "Hyperbola GNU/Linux-libre is a modified version of the GNU operating system along with the Linux-libre kernel distributed by Hyperbola Project. We are now listed by the Free Software Foundation as meeting their guidelines for a fully free software OS." The FSF website lists the criteria for completely free distributions and the projects they recognize as being entirely free.
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These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Finding and removing non-free packages
Cleaning-up-unwanted-packages asks: How can I find and cleanse non-free packages from Ubuntu? I want to get rid of any non-free stuff like MP3 codecs and drivers.
DistroWatch answers: Before we get into how to find and remove non-free pieces of software from your distribution, I would like to clarify one point. While MP3 was covered by software patents for many years in some countries, such as the United States of America, these days those patents have expired. You can listen to MP3 audio files without infringing patents or worrying about the software doing the decoding being non-free.
Next, I would like to suggest that, for most people, it will be easier to start with a completely free software distribution instead of beginning with a mixed licensing system and removing the non-free pieces. We provide a list of entirely free (as defined by the Free Software Foundation) Linux distributions on our Search page. Installing a distribution such as Trisquel will give you an experience similar to Ubuntu while starting with a purely free software operating system.
That being said, if you already have Ubuntu installed and do not want to start over, you can do a few things to locate and remove non-free components. For example, if you want to get rid of NVIDIA non-free video drivers you can run the following from the command line:
dpkg -l | grep -i nvidia
The above command will list all the NVIDIA packages on your system which you can then remove using your package manager. Be careful doing this, if you do not have another (open source) video driver in place, or if your desktop depends on an NVIDIA package, you could end up removing access to your desktop in the process. Always check the list of depending packages that will get removed when you uninstall something.
You will probably want to swap out your existing kernel as the default Linux kernel has some non-free components in it for hardware compatibility. On Ubuntu and related distributions you can use the Trisquel Linux-libre packages. You should be able to download the kernel package from their repository and install the package by clicking on it or running the dpkg command in the directory where you downloaded the Linux-libre files.
dpkg -i linux-*.deb
I recommend installing the Linux-libre packages and testing them first before removing your old Linux image package files. Removing a working kernel and replacing it with a libre kernel may prevent your computer from booting.
A handy tool you can use to check for non-free packages is called Virtual Richard M Stallman (vrms). You can install and run this program to get a list of non-free software on your computer:
sudo apt install vrms
Keep in mind many non-free items on Debian and Ubuntu systems are firmware and drivers used for hardware compatibility. If you remove everything the vrms program lists, it may prevent your computer from starting or connecting to the network.
Finally, if you want to perform a manual check for non-free items you can find licensing information for most packages by looking in the /usr/share/doc directory. Packages listed there will include a copyright file in their directory which will tell you if the software is licensed under the GPL, MIT, BSD or another license. When you find a non-free entry you can remove the corresponding package.
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More answers can be found in our Questions and Answers archive.
|Released Last Week
DragonFly BSD 5.4.0
The DragonFly BSD project has announced a new version of their operating system. The new version, DragonFly BSD 5.4.0,includes a number of performance improvements, ships with version 8.0 of the GNU Compiler Collection, and HAMMER2 file system bug fixes. "Big-ticket items: Better support for asymmetric NUMA (Non-Uniform Memory Access) configurations. In particular, both the memory subsystem and the scheduler now understand the Threadripper 2990WX's architecture. The scheduler will prioritize CPU nodes with direct-attached memory and the memory subsystem will normalize memory queues for CPU nodes without direct-attached memory (which improves cache locality on those CPUs). Incremental performance work. DragonFly as a whole is very SMP friendly. The type of performance work we are doing now mostly revolves around improving fairness for shared-vs-exclusive lock clashes, reducing cache ping-ponging due to non-contending SMP locks (i.e. massive use of shared locks on shared resources), and so forth. Major updates to dports brings us to within a week or two of FreeBSD's ports as of this writing, in particular major updates to chromium, and making the whole mess work with gcc-8. DragonFly now ships with GCC 8.0, and runs as the default compiler. It is also now used for building dports." Further information can be found in the release announcement.
Scientific Linux 7.6
Pat Riehecky has announced the release of Scientific Linux 7.6, a new update of the entereprise-class Linux distribution rebuilt from source packages provided by Red Hat Enterprise Linux and sponsored by Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, USA. The new release comes with several minor updates and a known issue affecting the Cinnamon desktop users: "Scientific Linux 7.6 x86_64. These are the notes for the 'release candidate' of Scientific Linux 7.6. Please also review the upstream vendor's 7.6 release notes for major upstream changes. Scientific Linux 7.x users should run 'yum clean expire-cache' at this time. Major differences from upstream 7.6: Scientific Linux features the X.Org fix listed in Bugzilla 1650634. Major differences from Scientific Linux 7.5: sl-release is updated to use the 7.6 repos; PackageKit has initial support for notification of SL7 minor release upgrades, to use this feature you must install sl7-upgrade. Known issues: Cinnamon desktop from EPEL7 prevents upgrades due to Caribou and GNOME Shell." Here is the brief release announcement, with further information provided in the detailed release notes.
Karanbir Singh has announced the release of CentOS 7-1810, the latest update in the CentOS 7 series, built from the source code of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.6: "We are pleased to announce the general availability of CentOS Linux 7 (1810) for the x86_64 architecture. Effective immediately, this is the current release for CentOS Linux 7 and is tagged as 1810, derived from Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.6 source code. Updates released since the upstream release are all posted, across all architectures. We strongly recommend every user apply all updates, including the content released today, on your existing CentOS Linux 7 machine by just running 'yum update'. As with all CentOS Linux 7 components, this release was built from sources hosted at git.centos.org. In addition, SRPMs that are a byproduct of the build (and also considered critical in the code and buildsys process) are being published to match every binary RPM we release." See the release announcement and release notes for further information.
CentOS 7-1810 -- The Getting Started greeter
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Proxmox 5.3 "Virtual Environment">
Proxmox is a commercial company offering specialised products based on Debian GNU/Linux. The company's latest release is Proxmox 5.3 "Virtual Environment" which includes several improvements for storage and containers. "Proxmox VE 5.3 brings many improvements in storage management. Via the Disk management it is possible to easily add ZFS raid volumes, LVM, and LVMthin pools as well as additional simple disks with a traditional file system. The existing ZFS over iSCSI storage plug-in can now access LIO target in the Linux kernel. Nesting is enabled for LXC containers making it possible to use LXC or LXD inside a container. Also, access to NFS or CIFS/Samba server can be configured inside containers. For the keen and adventurous user, Proxmox VE brings a simplified configuration of PCI passthrough and virtual GPUs (vGPUs such as Intel KVMGT)–now even possible via the web GUI." Further details can be found in the distribution's release announcement.
Guix System Distribution 0.16.0
Guix System Distribution (GuixSD) is a Linux-based, stateless operating system that is built around the GNU Guix package manager. The operating system provides advanced package management features such as transactional upgrades and roll-backs, reproducible build environments, unprivileged package management, and per-user profiles. The project's latest release is GuixSD 0.16.0 which includes several new packages and improvements to the package manager. "On GuixSD, 'guix system reconfigure' will now always load replacements of system services. That way, when you deem appropriate, you can run 'herd restart service' to start the upgraded service. As usual, 985 packages were added and 1,945 were upgraded, notably the GNU C Library now at version 2.28 (which, incidentally, allowed us to get rid of our Hurd-specific glibc variant, at last!). Today Guix provides 8,715 packages. The manual is now partially translated into German. The French translation is now 90% complete. You can help translate the manual into your native language by joining the Translation Project." Further details are available in the release announcement.
UBports 16.04 OTA-6
UBports is a community project which continues the development of Ubuntu Touch, a mobile operating system originally started by Canonical. The UBports team has announced the release of a new update, 16.04 OTA-6. The new version brings fixes and stability improvements, as well as several enhancements to the Morph web browser. "OTA-6 brings a number of fixes and improvements to Ubuntu Touch. In this release, we primarily focused on bug fixes and stability improvements. Half of the confirmed closed tickets for OTA-6 affected the Morph browser. This got to be so high, in fact, it swayed the decision to start the release process! A number of high-visibility issues were fixed: Unable to restore previous session at startup. No way to accept self-signed certificates. Webapps cannot access local content on device. ReCaptcha says "browser not supported". Media playback does not stop when a tab is closed. Scrollbar theme does not match the system theme." Additional information can be found in the project's release announcement. Download instructions for supported devices can be found on the project's Get UT page.
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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: 1,156
- Total data uploaded: 22.5TB
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
How many non-free packages are on your system?
In our Questions and Answers column we talked about how to detect and remove non-free software packages on a free and open source software (FOSS) system. We would like to hear how much non-free software is on your computer. If you are running non-free packages, let us know why in the comments.
You can see the results of our previous poll on how much swap space to use in last week's edition. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
Distributions added to waiting list
- Sculpt OS. Sculpt OS is small distribution of the Genode Operating System Framework. Sculpt uses Genode as a base userland with the NOVA microhypervisor as its kernel. Sculpt supports running legacy OSes as virtual machines using VirtualBox and hardware assisted virtualization. Sculpt features a package manager with packages for virtual machines, a port of the Arora web browser, and games.
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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, 17 December 2018. Past articles and reviews can be found through our Article Search page. To contact the authors please send e-mail to:
- Jesse Smith (feedback, questions and suggestions: distribution reviews/submissions, questions and answers, tips and tricks)
- Ladislav Bodnar (feedback, questions, donations, comments)
- Bruce Patterson (podcast)
If you've enjoyed this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly, please consider sending us a tip.
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|Linux Foundation Training
|Reader Comments • Jump to last comment
1 • Poll (by DaveW on 2018-12-10 00:45:01 GMT from United States) |
According to vrms, I have 6 non-free and 4 contrib packages installed on my Linux Mint system. I am not a FOSS addict, and had not worried about what was and was not free.
The major non-free software is Adobe Flash, SpiderOak, TeamViewer, and VirtualBox guest additions. Other than maybe Adobe Flash, I wouldn't think any of that is a hot-button issue.
2 • Non Free Programs (by Mike on 2018-12-10 00:48:11 GMT from Australia)
vrms reported 6 non-free apps. Two to do with microcode and 2 regarding Ubuntu fonts. I left these alone to avoid problems. I removed unrar which I never use and I left Adobe Flash-PlugIn as some websites may still need it.
3 • vrms (by Bob on 2018-12-10 01:05:34 GMT from United States)
2 non-free: amd and intel micorcode, and 1 contrib: iucode-tool (Intel processor microcode), on xubuntu 16.04.
4 • openSUSE Tumbleweed - Btrfs sucks (by Eric Yeoh on 2018-12-10 03:11:18 GMT from Malaysia)
I have been running Tumbleweed on my "media" computer i.e. connected to the TV to consume DVDs, streaming media etc for close to a year now. I made it a point to *NOT* use Btfrs and only use XFS on my filesystems. Yes - the frequent large updates can be a pain - but that is given since it is a rolling release distro. I have never needed thus far to troubleshoot anything. Connected to a large TV also makes it easier for me to reply to mails or even do a little social media. Even for my SLED/S 15 deployments - I pass on Btfrs and all would be good.
5 • Non-Free Software (by Not_Bob on 2018-12-10 03:30:55 GMT from United States)
I am sure I have plenty of non-free software on my computer, but I don't care because its way more important to me to have a computer I can use for all my needs than it is for me to live with, let's see, a my wireless card not working.
6 • Trisquel (by saravanan on 2018-12-10 03:43:12 GMT from India)
I used Trisquel for nearly a year. Linux libre is good but may be i should be born on a country with more money in my pocket to hold and buy from a company which sells linux libre hardware, service and support. Libre sums down only when the hardware too is libre.
7 • How much non-free software? (by R. Cain on 2018-12-10 03:52:34 GMT from United States)
Assuming one utilizes due diligence by choosing to use only highly-regarded, highly-rated distributions; and then utilizes the same criteria in choosing applications, non-free software on one's system is a moot point--all one's software has been 'vetted by the marketplace' much more thoroughly than any one individual could conceivably do. It might provide an interesting fact and point of discussion regarding one's system, but there is no need for this to be a matter of concern whatever.
8 • "The Advent of Void" (by tim on 2018-12-10 04:12:18 GMT from United States)
9 • Suse (by JC on 2018-12-10 05:52:24 GMT from United States)
That printer problem is why I haven't been able to use any SUSE product in a long time. It happens with the "stable" releases as well.
10 • NFS (by zykoda on 2018-12-10 07:38:42 GMT from United Kingdom)
vrms reports 15 non-free and 10 contributed of 2915 installed on everyday mint18.3 distro. Other distros and multi-boot facilities have similar. Just upgraded CPU from Phenom X4 955 to FX-8320 on main machine so that anbox now works (SSE 4.1, 4.2, 4A required)
11 • How much non-free software? (by lincoln on 2018-12-10 07:49:03 GMT from Brazil)
No non-free or contrib packages installed on debian! rms would be proud.
Debian is amazing and very stable. I am happy with it.
12 • OpenSuse Tumbleweed (by Klaus on 2018-12-10 08:21:29 GMT from Hong Kong)
Thanks to Jesse for the review. For those interested in trying OpenSuse Tumbleweed I think it would be useful to have a mini-review of Gecko-Linux Tumbleweed, to see whether it solves most of the shortcomings.
I have been a SuSe/OpenSuse user for more than ten years and, though still my overall favourite distribution (for desktop use at work and mainly because of Yast), I am aware of some of its weaknesses. I've been using Gecko Tumbleweed since last year and it seems to fill some of the gaps of "factory" OpenSuse Tumbleweed.
13 • to FOSS or not? (by SOHO on 2018-12-10 08:25:22 GMT from United Kingdom)
Brits have little choice as our semi-national broadcaster, the BBC, is riven with political corruption courtesy of the ruling Oxbridge mafia and in hock to devils like M$, thanks to their ignorance. As a result using the iPlayer for most regular folks means AdobeFlashPlayer is the most straightforward (but not only for the more adept) option. Even that situation is due to worsen as BBC funding is being cut further by the ever ill-informed politicians like a tourniquet to invoke compliance.
Apart from that, it is often better to work around the pathetic monetising attempts by misguided developers. Electorates should choose their representatives more carefully!
14 • OpenSuse Tumbleweed (by Saleem Khan on 2018-12-10 09:38:04 GMT from Pakistan)
If compared on the basis of being a rolling release which would rate higher , OpenSuse tumbleweed or Arch Linux?
15 • @14 about rolling release (by pin on 2018-12-10 09:52:04 GMT from Sweden)
None, instead Void Linux everyday of the week! Rolling release, no systemd, musl libC, libressl, runit, xbps and xbps-src. Your choice!
Been using it for almost two years now, no breakage so far. Total size on disk <5GB.
16 • To FOSS or not to FOSS (by Trevor on 2018-12-10 10:10:23 GMT from Canada)
Personally for me, if I don't have to use proprietary drivers I won't. The only reason why I use some proprietary drivers is so the computer, and its devices, can function. As the kernel and FOSS drivers progress, those proprietary drivers are being used less and less - and I'm perfectly fine with that. FOSS has come a long way from when I started using GNU/Linux 20 years ago. If you prefer FOSS just be patient - or get involved in making FOSS even better.
17 • @15: OpenSuse Tumbleweed Vs Arch (by Saleem Khan on 2018-12-10 10:10:35 GMT from Pakistan)
I thought void Linux was about to die , thought it has been abandoned by project leader so it's demise is inevitable like it happened to many projects in past .
18 • @17 (by pin on 2018-12-10 10:34:14 GMT from Sweden)
Void is alive and well. Yes, the creator of the project is not aboard anymore. It now is a community distro with more then a handfull of devoted devs. Look for yourself, https://github.com/void-linux
I'm more than happy with it and won't change my rolling release box for anything else. I have two other systems, but they are not based on a rolling release.
19 • Fedora and FOSS (by Christian on 2018-12-10 11:50:26 GMT from Brazil)
A few years back, Fedora was on the FSF FOSS list. It's not the case for a while now. I was surprised to run VRMS on my Fedora 29 system and find 48 non-free packages. I know this isn't the default install, but I honestly tought it would be considerably less.
Yes, it is harder to use a Linux distro that follows the strict FSF standards. However, if people won't start using, is won't move forward.
Perhaps (if there are any devs reading this), the Software Center (Gnome's Software or KDE's Discover, etc), could have an option to offer you a FOSS alternative to what you're trying to install before actually installing.
20 • Non-free packages (by Jim on 2018-12-10 11:56:11 GMT from United States)
Not only did I answer I don't know, I guess I really don't care. I want my stuff to work and if non-free packages are offered and work better I will use them. I also have a feeling if I tried to remove them, on the next boot my machine might not just boot up. I know I am not all that great technically.
21 • Non-free packages (by Sebastian on 2018-12-10 12:14:28 GMT from Germany)
vrms reports 46 non-free and 16 contrib packages on my Debian 9 laptop. I rely on a bunch of drivers, including for my Nvidia graphics cards, I also use Oracle Java for Minecraft, Skype, nautilus-dropbox and a bunch of non-free utilities
22 • Poll: (by dragonmouth on 2018-12-10 13:08:21 GMT from United States)
I do not prostrate myself at the FOSS altar. I do not care if non-free software is present or not. I just want things to work. I am more concerned about the growing cancer that is systemd.
Number of Comments: 22
|• 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 18.104.22.168, limiting process resource usage, converting file systems on Fedora, Debian turns 25, Lubuntu migrating to Wayland|
|• Issue 776 (2018-08-13): NomadBSD 1.1, Maximum storage limits on Linux, openSUSE extends life for 42.3, updates to the Librem 5 phone interface|
|• Issue 775 (2018-08-06): Secure-K OS 18.5, Linux is about choice, Korora tests community spin, elementary OS hires developer, ReactOS boots on Btrfs|
|• Issue 774 (2018-07-30): Ubuntu MATE & Ubuntu Budgie 18.04, upgrading software from source, Lubuntu shifts focus, NetBSD changes support policy|
|• Issue 773 (2018-07-23): Peppermint OS 9, types of security used by different projects, Mint reacts to bugs in core packages, Slackware turns 25|
|• Issue 772 (2018-07-16): Hyperbola GNU/Linux-libre 0.2.4, UBports running desktop applications, OpenBSD auto-joins wi-fi networks, boot environments and zedenv|
|• Issue 771 (2018-07-09): Linux Lite 4.0, checking CPUs for bugs, configuring GRUB, Mint upgrade instructions, SUSE acquired by EQT|
|• Issue 770 (2018-07-02): Linux Mint 19, Solus polishes desktop experience, MintBox Mini 2, changes to Fedora's installer|
|• Issue 769 (2018-06-25): BunsenLabs Helium, counting Ubuntu users, UBports upgrading to 16.04, Fedora CoreOS, FreeBSD turns 25|
|• Issue 768 (2018-06-18): Devuan 2.0.0, using pkgsrc to manage software, the NOVA filesystem, OpenBSD handles successful cron output|
|• Issue 767 (2018-06-11): Android-x86 7.1-r1, transferring files over OpenSSH with pipes, LFS with Debian package management, Haiku ports LibreOffice|
|• Issue 766 (2018-06-04): openSUSE 15, overview of file system links, Manjaro updates Pamac, ReactOS builds itself, Bodhi closes forums|
|• Issue 765 (2018-05-28): Pop!_OS 18.04, gathering system information, Haiku unifying ARM builds, Solus resumes control of Budgie|
|• Issue 764 (2018-05-21): DragonFly BSD 5.2.0, Tails works on persistent packages, Ubuntu plans new features, finding services affected by an update|
|• Issue 763 (2018-05-14): Fedora 28, Debian compatibility coming to Chrome OS, malware found in some Snaps, Debian's many flavours|
|• Issue 762 (2018-05-07): TrueOS 18.03, live upgrading Raspbian, Mint plans future releases, HardenedBSD to switch back to OpenSSL|
|• Issue 761 (2018-04-30): Ubuntu 18.04, accessing ZFS snapshots, UBports to run on Librem 5 phones, Slackware makes PulseAudio optional|
|• Issue 760 (2018-04-23): Chakra 2017.10, using systemd to hide files, Netrunner's ARM edition, Debian 10 roadmap, Microsoft develops Linux-based OS|
|• Issue 759 (2018-04-16): Neptune 5.0, building containers with Red Hat, antiX introduces Sid edition, fixing filenames on the command line|
|• Issue 758 (2018-04-09): Sortix 1.0, openSUSE's Transactional Updates, Fedora phasing out Python 2, locating portable packages|
|• Issue 757 (2018-04-02): Gatter Linux 0.8, the UNIX and Linux System Administration Handbook, Red Hat turns 25, super long term support kernels|
|• Issue 756 (2018-03-26): NuTyX 10.0, Neptune supplies Debian users with Plasma 5.12, SolydXK on a Raspberry Pi, SysV init development|
|• Issue 755 (2018-03-19): Learning with ArchMerge and Linux Academy, Librem 5 runs Plasma Mobile, Cinnamon gets performance boost|
|• Issue 754 (2018-03-12): Reviewing Sabayon and Antergos, the growing Linux kernel, BSDs getting CPU bug fixes, Manjaro builds for ARM devices|
|• Issue 753 (2018-03-05): Enso OS 0.2, KDE Plasma 5.12 features, MX Linux prepares new features, interview with MidnightBSD's founder|
|• Issue 752 (2018-02-26): OviOS 2.31, performing off-line upgrades, elementary OS's new installer, UBports gets test devices, Redcore team improves security|
|• Issue 751 (2018-02-19): DietPi 6.1, testing KDE's Plasma Mobile, Nitrux packages AppImage in default install, Solus experiments with Wayland|
|• Issue 750 (2018-02-12): Solus 3, getting Deb packages upstream to Debian, NetBSD security update, elementary OS explores AppCentre changes|
|• Issue 749 (2018-02-05): Freespire 3 and Linspire 7.0, misunderstandings about Wayland, Xorg and Mir, Korora slows release schedule, Red Hat purchases CoreOS|
|• Issue 748 (2018-01-29): siduction 2018.1.0, SolydXK 32-bit editions, building an Ubuntu robot, desktop-friendly Debian options|
|• Issue 747 (2018-01-22): Ubuntu MATE 17.10, recovering open files, creating a new distribution, KDE focusing on Wayland features|
|• Issue 746 (2018-01-15): deepin 15.5, openSUSE's YaST improvements, new Ubuntu 17.10 media, details on Spectre and Meltdown bugs|
|• Issue 745 (2018-01-08): GhostBSD 11.1, Linspire and Freespire return, wide-spread CPU bugs patched, adding AppImage launchers to the application menu|
|• Issue 744 (2018-01-01): MX Linux 17, Ubuntu pulls media over BIOS bug, PureOS gets endorsed by the FSF, openSUSE plays with kernel boot splash screens|
|• Issue 743 (2017-12-18): Daphile 17.09, tools for rescuing files, Fedora Modular Server delayed, Sparky adds ARM support, Slax to better support wireless networking|
|• Issue 742 (2017-12-11): heads 0.3.1, improvements coming to Tails, Void tutorials, Ubuntu phasing out Python 2, manipulating images from the command line|
|• Full list of all issues|
|Random Distribution |
Athene Operating System
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