| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 804, 4 March 2019
Welcome to this year's 9th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
There is always something new happening in the open source community, which is part of what makes the Linux ecosystem so interesting to explore. This week we begin with a look at the young Condres OS distribution, a recent addition to our database, and explore its MATE edition along with some advertised features. Read on to find out more about its special features and how this Arch-based distribution performs. Also on the subject of new happenings, the Devuan project is holding its first conference for developers, administrators and people interested in using the distribution. Plus we are pleased to celebrate CentOS's 15th birthday and report a newcomer to the mobile device market, the PinePhone, should be able to run UBports when it launches later this year. Then, in our Questions and Answers column, we talk about how to securely erase hard drives and, in our Opinion Poll, we ask our readers how they like to wipe old hard drives clean. Plus we are pleased to share the distribution releases of the past week and list the torrents we are seeding. We wish you all a fantastic week and happy reading!
- Review: Condres OS 19.02 "MATE"
- News: Devuan plans first conference, CentOS marks 15th birthday, UBports to run on new PinePhone
- Questions and answers: Securely erasing hard drives
- Released last week: Ubuntu 16.04.6, NuTyX 10.6, Fatdog64 800
- Torrent corner: 4MLinux, Alpine, Archman, Clonezilla, Condres OS, Container, Fatdog64, KaOS, LibreELEC, Live Raizo, Nitrux, NuTyX, SmartOS, SolydXK, SwagArch, Ubuntu
- Opinion poll: Removing data from old hard drives
- New distributions: MiyoLinux
- Reader comments
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (18MB) and MP3 (14MB) formats.
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Condres OS 19.02 "MATE"
Condres OS is a rolling release distribution based on Arch Linux and one of the more recent members of the DistroWatch database. The distribution is available in nine editions (most of them for various desktop environments) and ships with convenience features such as desktop icons enabled (on GNOME), the ICE site specific browser, and the TLP power management software.
There are several desktop editions to choose from, including Cinnamon, GNOME, KDE Plasma, MATE, and Xfce. A minimal, command line only edition of Condres is a 1GB download, most of the desktop editions are about 2.3GB in size, and the KDE edition is 3.3GB. I decided to focus on the MATE edition which is a 2.3GB download.
Booting from the live disc brings up the GNOME Shell desktop which made me wonder if I had grabbed the wrong ISO by mistake. However, I rechecked the ISO's name and confirmed it was the MATE disc. (My second thought was that maybe all Condres discs standardize on GNOME for the live session and then install the desktop corresponding with the edition's name. However, I tested the KDE edition and found it boots into the KDE Plasma desktop.) GNOME Shell is presented with a dock at the bottom of the screen for launching applications and there are icons on the desktop for accessing the distribution's resources and launching the installer. The desktop icons do not work. Clicking them does not launch an application, instead the icon file is opened in a text editor. Things were not off to a great start with the unexpected desktop choice and broken icons, but I pushed ahead and launched the installer from GNOME's Activities menu.
Condres uses the Calamares graphical installer, as many Arch-based projects do these days. Personally, I like Calamares. It works quickly and has a friendly, streamlined interface. The installer walks us through selecting our preferred language, picking our time zone from a map and confirming our keyboard layout. Calamares supports automatic and manual partitioning. The manual approach is nicely streamlined and shows a graphical representation of the disk we are working on. The automated approach will suggest setting up swap space and installing the operating system on an ext4 partition, or taking over an existing partition. We are then asked to make up a username and password for ourselves. The installer worked quickly and without any problems, offering to reboot the computer when it was finished.
Booting into Condres OS brought up a graphical login screen and I signed into my account which logged me into a GNOME Shell session. I signed out and discovered there are four login session options available on the MATE edition: GNOME, GNOME, GNOME on X.Org, and MATE. The launchers for the GNOME sessions all seem to be the same and run the same command. The MATE session, which I focused on during my trial, is set up with a two-panel layout. The top panel is home to the Applications, Places, and System menus along with the system tray. The bottom panel holds the task switcher. Condres currently uses MATE 1.21, though being a rolling release, new versions of the desktop will become available over time.
On the desktop we find icons which link to the project's on-line resources, including the forum, documentation, source code, and donation pages. These icons open their corresponding links in the Chrome web browser. Another icon opens the Caja file manager. There are a couple of icons on the desktop which do not work, such as an icon for the system installer and another for displaying a list of installed packages. These icons appear in the GNOME session too and clicking the icons causes their short-cut information to be opened in the LibreOffice word processor.
When software updates are available a red icon appears in the system tray. Clicking the icon opens the Octopi graphical package manager. Right-clicking the icon gives us the option of configuring checks for updates, syncing the package database or opening an update manager. The update manager is simple, it opens a window which lists available package upgrades with the option to proceed or cancel. We cannot select which packages we want to download or ignore.
Condres OS 19.02 -- The Octopi package manager
(full image size: 610kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Since Condres is a rolling release distribution, it gets a steady stream of updates. The first day I was using it there were 75 new packages available, totalling 511MB in size. The second day there were 27 packages,151MB in size. For someone like me who usually uses fixed releases, keeping up with Condres upgrades is like drinking from a fire hose.
The Octopi package manager has a simple layout, displaying available packages in the repositories to the left and categories of software on the right. A pane at the bottom of the window provides a short summary of highlighted packages. While Octopi's controls are simple and straight forward, package names are displayed with just their short, cryptic name and a version number. The categories (of which there are many) are likewise named in a way that will likely only make sense to experienced Linux users. Most people won't know at a glance what the "fprint" or "dlang" categories will provide, for example.
Octopi lets us search for programs based on their name. Searches for descriptions or other key words tended to not yield results. Octopi can perform installations, remove packages and perform mass upgrades, using the pacman command line package manager in the background.
One issue I ran into while using Octopi is that attempting to clean the package manager cache would result in an error "pacache could not be found on the system". This error was also displayed when trying to run the cache clean-up tool from the application menu.
Condres OS 19.02 -- Trying to clean the package cache and launch the firewall tool
(full image size: 513kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
I explored running Condres OS in two environments, starting with VirtualBox. Condres automatically resized its desktop to match the VirtualBox window and could use my full screen resolution. As normal, the GNOME desktop was sluggish in the virtual environment. What surprised me though was the MATE desktop was also slow to respond at first. I discovered MATE was set up to use compositing by default, which was making windows and menus respond slowly. With compositing disabled the MATE desktop became more responsive with no noticeable side effects. Videos still lagged poorly in the virtual machine, both when streaming on-line or playing local video files.
When run on a physical workstation, Condres performed better. The desktop was responsive with its default settings, audio worked out of the box and my screen resolution was properly detected. Condres was able to detect wireless networks in the area, but not connect to them. The network manager would not even prompt for my wi-fi password.
Something Condres does that I appreciate is it sets the noatime mount flag on the operating system partition. This prevents the system from writing new access times on files we have opened, improving disk performance.
The MATE edition of Condres used an unusually large amount of disk space, about 7.8GB. This is probably a side-effect of installing two desktop environments. Memory consumption was pleasantly low and running a MATE session required just 255MB of RAM.
The distribution ships with a fairly standard collection of applications. Looking around I found the Firefox, Chrome and Chromium web browsers, the Filezilla file transfer client and LibreOffice. The Thunderbird e-mail client is included along with the Transmission bittorrent software. A document viewer, image viewer and the Caja file manager are installed too. We can edit images with the GNU Image Manipulation Program and Inkscape. Rhythmbox is present for playing audio and the VLC and Totem players are include for showing videos. Condres ships with media codes out of the box.
Condres OS 19.02 -- Running LibreOffice and Caja
(full image size: 208kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Along with a text editor and archive manager, Condres offers us the Steam gaming portal and the WINE software is available for running Windows applications. The distribution uses Network Manager to get online. In the background we find Condres uses systemd for its init software and runs version 4.20 of the Linux kernel.
A few programs and launchers caught my attention. Stacer, for example, is a program I had not used before. Stacer monitors the system, provides a dashboard with an overview of resource usage, and includes a system monitor, file clean-up tool and a process monitor. The monitoring and dashboard tabs of the Stacer application are certainly helpful for getting a quick glance at the system's status. Other screens were less helpful.
For example, one tab of the application lists available background services and provides controls to start/stop or enable/disable services. These controls do not work and Stacer has no effect on the background services. I suspect this is because Stacer does not run with, or prompt for, administrator access.
Condres OS 19.02 -- Stacer's services management screen
(full image size: 571kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
In a similar vein, Stacer's file clean-up area shows us how much disk space is consumed by temporary files, package archives or other items. Selecting one of these categories of files gives us the option of purging them from the disk. When I clicked the clean-up button, a message would appear saying something like "610MB cleaned". However, if I reloaded the tab it would once again show the same collection of files were still on the disk. This means Stacer was not only failing to remove files, it was giving a false message reporting success to the user.
An odd quirk of Condres is it ships with two welcome screens. One of these screens is shown when we are using the live disc, but neither welcome screen appears when we sign into the installed system. Both welcome screens appear to have been borrowed from other distributions with just the name and links to on-line resources changed. These welcome screens connect us to on-line documentation and the forum. Some of the links worked and some did not. One of the welcome windows would lock-up after a button was pressed to open an on-line resource and would only resume responding when the web browser it launched had been closed. Clicks are still registered though so if we open one link and then click four more buttons in the welcome window, nothing will happen until we close our browser. Then we will find four more browser processes queued up to launch.
I tried playing with Steam. Steam failed to launch, reporting it was missing dependencies, mostly 32-bit libraries. I was able to remove and re-install Steam to get it working.
Pressing the keyboard's Print Screen button would cause an error to be displayed saying the MATE-screenshot tool was not installed. This means the short-cut was set up at some point but the associated package not installed to handle the short-cut. No dedicated screenshot tool is present by default, but the GNU Image Manipulation Program can take screenshots, or we can install one using Octopi.
The MATE desktop ships with a collection of configuration tools which can be accessed through the System menu or by opening the distribution's control centre. The tools mostly deal with the appearance of the desktop, window behaviour, and desktop effects. There are some other modules for handling how notifications are displayed, configuring the firewall and setting up printers.
Condres OS 19.02 -- The settings panel
(full image size: 508kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
I ran into a number of issues with the configuration tools. For instance, there are two notification modules, one for the MATE desktop and one for the KDE Plasma desktop (which was not installed). The firewall tool would not open, whether accessed from the System menu or the control centre. Trying to open the firewall tool from the command line failed if it was run as a regular user (who was then prompted for the sudo password), but the firewall utility would open if it was run with sudo directly. In other words, running "sudo gufw" works, but running "gufw" and entering our password when prompted for it causes the firewall tool to crash.
The printer utility also failed to function. It would open, but clicking the Unlock button to access printer settings had no effect and the utility remained locked. This prevents the user from setting up a printer.
Related to the topic of settings, there is no global volume control in the system tray. There is no sound mixer or audio volume control in the application menu either. The user needs to find and install a sound mixer from the distribution's repositories.
The Condres OS website mentioned seven key features the distribution provides and, since they're prominently displayed, I would like to quickly explore each one and my impressions of them.
ICE - ICE is a tool which creates (or removes) site-specific browser links from the application menu. Basically it asks us to provide a URL, a bookmark name and the menu category we want the short-cut to appear under. ICE then creates a launcher in the application menu and clicking it will open a web browser with a minimal user interface. This makes the target website look and act more like a typical application window. Personally this is not a feature I find useful, it seems more roundabout than using a regular browser short-cut. However, for administrators who want to set up quick access to web-mail or an on-line service, ICE does its job well.
Condres OS 19.02 -- Setting up site-specific browsing with ICE
(full image size: 597kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Battery usage (TLP) - Condres ships with the TLP software installed. TLP is designed to improve battery life on Linux. I did not run any benchmarks on it this week, but in the past I have tried TLP with modest success in improving battery life. Laptop users should benefit from having it available.
Desktop memory usage - The Condres website claims the distribution's desktop has been trimmed down to offer better performance: "Condres OS idles at just a few hundred megabytes of memory usage, as opposed to other popular operating systems that idle at up to several gigabytes. This also helps bring boot times down to just a few seconds."
I have a few thoughts about this claim. The first is that the MATE edition does indeed require relatively little memory, about 255MB. So that aspect of the claim is certainly accurate. The second is I have rarely, if ever, encountered any operating system (open or proprietary) that consumed multiple gigabytes of memory at idle. The heaviest Linux distribution I have used required about 1GB. Which makes the project's statement feel more like marketing hype than a technical perk.
These two points bring me to the conclusion that while Condres is relatively streamlined compared to, for example, some proprietary systems and may boot faster and run lighter than those, Condres is not noticeably lighter, faster or quicker to boot than other GNU/Linux distributions running the same desktop environment.
The next advertised feature is Pushbullet. The Condres website says Pushbullet can be used to sync small files and notifications between devices. However, Pushbullet is not installed on Condres. There is, to be fair, a desktop client for the Pushbullet service in the project's repositories. The user just needs to install it, as with any other distribution.
Another advertised feature is Syncthing. The Syncthing software allows users to share multiple files or directories between devices without using cloud storage. Imagine using bittorrent, but just for files you wanted to keep in sync between two or more computers. Syncthing is indeed installed on Condres and works. I find its interface confusing. The big drop-down menu doesn't have any actionable items and the menu where we can set up shares is a tiny button in the upper-right corner. Sometimes the same folders are listed as being synced multiple times which can further add confusion to the experience. Syncthing seems to work well enough, but I wouldn't recommend it for less experienced users as there are a bunch of manual steps to be done sharing device names and access codes between systems.
Powerline-Shell is the penultimate feature listed on the project's front page. Powerline-Shell is described as an adaptive and beautiful terminal prompt. This software is installed, but not enabled by default. I followed the setup instructions on the upstream project's website and it replaced my shell prompt with an error message. Like Pushbullet, Powerline-Shell is technically available, but not set up by default and requires manual work to get it functioning.
Finally, Condres points out the distribution is a rolling release, based on Arch Linux. "It is not - nor will it ever be - necessary to re-install a later release of Condres OS in order to enjoy the very latest and most up-to-date system possible." In this case the choice of words is unfortunate because, on the second day of my trial, I installed a new batch of updates and it rendered the operating system unable to boot to a login screen. While I could rescue the system enough to get a command prompt, all graphical tools no longer worked. I had to re-install Condres from scratch to get it working in a reasonable amount of time. Of course then I had to wait a few days for replacement packages to become available so I was stuck on older versions of software for a few days in order to avoid damaging the operating system again.
In short, this is one of those instances where I must acknowledge Condres always provides the latest versions of software, however I must also state that it is sometimes necessary to re-install the operating system.
I was thoroughly frustrated by my experience with Condres. Trying to use this distribution produced no shortage of error messages, false positive messages, settings modules that didn't work and the edition I tested did not even default to using the correct desktop environment. Two of the seven key features (Powerline-Shell and Pushbullet) are not enabled by default and, in Pushbullet's case, not even installed.
Condres OS 19.02 -- Various error messages from trying to launch programs
(full image size: 656kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Some of the desktop icons don't work under MATE and none of them work under the (default) GNOME session. There are two welcome screens, neither of which launch, and there is a KDE configuration module installed when KDE is not one of the available desktops on the media I tested.
The icing on the cake of this week's trial was the system being unable to boot to its login screen after the second round of updates, which is a poor showing for a distribution that advertises one of its key advantages as not needing to be re-installed.
To be fair, my experience was not all bad and I will give credit where it is due. Having Syncthing installed to share files between computers is nice. Syncthing may have a rough user interface, but it is a useful tool that side-steps the need to have a server or cloud service when synchronizing documents between machines. I will also say that most of the applications installed (the web browsers, LibreOffice, and so on) worked beautifully as usual. Plus I like that Condres installs TLP by default for better battery performance.
However, the list of issues rolls on, including being able to see, but not connect to wireless networks, not being able to launch the firewall utility without using the command line, not being able to connect to printers, and not having a sound mixer control on the system. Oversights like these make me wonder if anyone tested the ISO files before they were uploaded to the public as it is difficult to imagine how else key features like wireless Internet access and volume control could be overlooked. I think Condres OS has a long way to go before it will be ready for most people to use.
* * * * *
Condres OS 19.03 was published shortly after this review was finished and about two days before it was due to be published so I have not had a chance to fully test the new release. I did download the MATE edition of the new version. The MATE edition still uses the GNOME Shell desktop with desktop icons on the live media. Some icons work in the live environment, some do not. During the install process, the desktop keeps prompting the user for the administrator's password. Dismissing the four prompts without providing a password does not negatively affect the install process.
Once installed, the new version of Condres OS MATE appears to be virtually identical to the previous version, still featuring GNOME as the default desktop with MATE as an alternative. The one big change is every time the user logs in the interface is locked and we are prompted for the administrator's password in order to allow pacman to check for updates. Once the check is complete, two update icons appear in the system tray. When I first installed Condres OS 19.03, selecting one icon told me 8 new packages were available while the second said there were 20. The latter turned out to be correct.
There is a new update manager which lists available upgrades. None are selected by default and there is no "select all" button, leaving the user to select all new packages manually. The upgrade manager then then failed, indicating packages were in conflict with no method offered for resolving the situation. Beyond that, so far, I have found the new version to be much the same as the previous with some updated applications.
* * * * *
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
* * * * *
Visitor supplied rating
Condres OS has a visitor supplied average rating of: 5.8/10 from 5 review(s).
Have you used Condres OS? You can leave your own review of the project on our ratings page.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
Devuan plans first conference, CentOS marks 15th birthday, UBports to run on new PinePhone
The Devuan team created a fork of the Debian distribution in 2015 with the intention of providing a stable operating system that does not include dependencies on systemd. The Devuan developers are organizing the first Devuan Conference which will take place in Amsterdam this April. "Once again, the Veteran Unix Admins salute you, and now invite you to celebrate community development and software freedom at the first Devuan Conference this coming spring!" Details on the conference and its topics can be found on the project's website.
* * * * *
The CentOS project, a freely available enterprise distribution based on the source code for Red Hat Enterprise Linux, celebrated its 15th birthday this week. "15 years ago, the CentOS project started up in order to fill a gap left by a change in the way that Red Hat decided to market their product. Many of the people that were involved in those early days are still involved today, although in different capacities than they were then. Over they years, their involvement has changed, due to their own changing job responsibilities, as well as the shifting technological landscape."
* * * * *
Over the past year there has been a lot of talk about a privacy-focused phone called the Librem 5, which is expected to run a GNU/Linux distribution that will use a custom version of GNOME and (optionally) the KDE Mobile user interface. While it is an appealing platform, the niche nature of the device makes it relatively expensive - the device pre-orders for $649. People wanting to test out GNU/Linux-based phone solutions at a lower price point may want to examine the PinePhone. The PinePhone is expected to run UBports (possibly with other operating system options) and should retail for $149. Both devices are expected to be available sometime in 2019.
* * * * *
These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Securely erasing hard drives
Cleaning-up asks: Does the shred program conform to proper security standards for wiping hard drives? Where can I find "best practices"?
DistroWatch answers: There is a saying I like which goes, "Standards are important, that is why everyone has one." The phrase seems applicable here because whether shred, or any other data erasing program, follows security standards will depend on whose standard we are comparing it against. The organization I visited that had a policy of "Throw the used hard drives in a closet until someone figures out where to dispose of them" would likely view shred as going above and beyond their standards. The Department of Defence would likely view running shred as a good view step, prior to physically destroying the hard drive.
Assuming your requirements are somewhere in the middle, that you want to make file recovery very difficult, but not go to the trouble of actually destroying the physical disk, then shred is often a good tool to use. Its syntax is simple, it overwrites data (optionally multiple times using multiple methods), and using shred is less work than manually running a tool such as the dd command multiple times to achieve the same result.
If you want to see shred in action you can create a simple text file and then cause it to be overwritten using shred, then look at the contents of the text file. This will prove the file's data is being overwritten with random bytes. Then you can run shred again with the "-u" flag to cause the file to be deleted. The same overwrite process is performed on hard drives and files so practicing on a text file will show you how shred will operate on your entire drive.
The shred command does have limitations when wiping files (as opposed to wiping drives), and its capability depends on which file system you are using. Logging file systems, copy-on-write file systems, and file systems that take snapshots may thwart shred when it is used on individual files. A complete list of situations where shred may not work is included in its manual page.
As for finding best practices, generally (apart from physically destroying a drive) best practices will almost always offer the same advice: write random data to the entire drive multiple times. The only question is which tool to use for the job. The Red Hat documentation suggests performing a data cleanse with a program called badblocks. The Arch Linux wiki suggests using dd, badblocks, or shred. The SUSE blog echos the recommendations for shred and dd, and mentions a third called scrub. Any of these programs should do the job and the above articles offer examples for how to use each of these tools.
* * * * *
Additional answers can be found in our Questions and Answers archive.
|Released Last Week
NuTyX is a French Linux distribution (with multi-language support) built from Linux From Scratch and Beyond Linux From Scratch, with a custom package manager called "cards". The project's latest release is NuTyX 10.6. "I'm very please to announce the new NuTyX 10.6 release. This is a maintenance release until the version 11 of NuTyX is available. NuTyX 10.6 comes with kernel lts 4.14.103, glibc 2.28, gcc 8.2.0, binutils 2.30, python 3.7.1, xorg-server 1.20.3, qt 5.11.3, gtk 3.24.5, gimp 2.10.8, plasma 5.12.6 LTS, kf5 5.53.0, mate 1.20.3, xfce4 4.12.3, firefox 65.0.1, etc... A second kernel is proposed for people who want to use the very last version of the kernel 4.19.25. NuTyX 10.5 user's are invited to upgrade. Four new ISOs are available in 64-bits and 32-bits. Sizes are from 315MB up to 1.29GB. They are available on the download page. The 64 bits is available in Fixed and Rolling releases as a base and a MATE ISO." Further details are available on the project's news page.
Fatdog64 Linux 800
Fatdog64 Linux is a lightweight distribution which originally began as a fork of Puppy Linux, but has since grown into its own, distinct distribution. The project's latest release, Fatdog64 Linux 800, is newly based on Linux From Scratch (LFS) and offers many package upgrades as well as improved driver support. "Fatdog64-800 GNU/Linux is the first release of Fatdog64 with a new base platform, replacing the LFS 7.5/CLFS 3.0 platform, which was used in release 710 series. Release 800 is now based on LFS (Linux From Scratch) 8.2, combined with CLFS (Cross LFS) 2017.17, with packages updated to same version of BLFS or later. At the time of the release there are more than 1,700 packages and many more will be added as time passes. As usual Fatdog64 does not upgrade from any older version but especially so for this release, being based a totally different platform. Save file/folders from older versions aren't compatible, start a fresh save file/folder instead. A few older packages may still work, but in general they aren't supported and you should upgrade to the new package version if available. The same applies for SFS archives. Of special note: this release uses OpenSSL from 1.1.x branch, which is known to be incompatible with OpenSSL 1.0.x branch that was used in earlier Fatdog64 versions. All older applications that depend on OpenSSL will definitely not work." The release notes offer further details.
Fatdog 64 Linux 800 -- Exploring the Fatdog64 application menu
(full image size: 1.1MB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
The Ubuntu team has announced the release of a minor update for Ubuntu 16.04 and its Community Editions. The new version, 16.04.6, is a long-term support (LTS) release with support carried through to 2021. The release announcement states: "The Ubuntu team is happy to announce the release of Ubuntu 16.04.6 LTS (Long-Term Support) for its Desktop and Server products, as well as other flavours of Ubuntu with long-term support. Unlike previous point releases, 16.04.6 is a security-targeted release for the purpose of providing updated installation media which protects new installations from the recently discovered APT vulnerability (USN-3863-1). Many other security updates for additional high-impact bugs are also included, with a focus on maintaining stability and compatibility with Ubuntu 16.04 LTS." Additional information can be found in the release notes.
KaOS is an independent, rolling release distribution featuring the pacman package manager and the KDE Plasma desktop environment. The project's latest snapshot, KaOS 2019.02, features KDE Plasma 5.15 and LibreOffice 6.2.0. "Major updates included a move to Python 3.7 (3.7.2), Readline 8.0.0, Glib2 2.58.3, Qt 5.12.1, PHP 7.2 besides the usual full Frameworks, Plasma & KDE Applications replacements, so most systems will see 70-80% of their install replaced by new packages so a new ISO is more than due. Plasma 5.15 is included in this ISO. Highlights of this version include changes to the configuration interfaces, including more options for complex network configurations, integration with third-party technologies like GTK, Wayland now supports virtual desktops, and Firefox 64 can now optionally use native KDE open/save dialogs. This is a bleeding-edge functionality that is included in KaOS, it can be enabled by installing the xdg-desktop-portal and xdg-desktop-portal-kde packages and setting GTK_USE_PORTAL=1 in Firefox's .desktop file." Further details can be found in the distribution's release announcement.
Condres OS 19.03
The developers of Condres OS have published a new snapshot of their rolling release, Arch-based desktop distribution. The new version updates the various desktop environments and polishes the Calamares system installer. "Today we are proud to release Condres OS 2019.03 with the flavours KDE, GNOME, Cinnamon, MATE, Xfce, and X.Org. They are enhanced with some useful packages and scripts, a brand new installer and a custom patched version of desktop and filesystem. KDE Plasma stands at version 5.15.2, while GNOME comes in at 3.30 and Xfce at 4.12.4, while Cinnamon comes in at 4.0 and MATE at 1.21.2. This release comes with the name 19.03. Calamares - our new installer This is the 2nd release with the new installer built from the Calamares Installer Framework and we are quite happy with it. It is under steady development and will in the near future improve quite a bit on LVM and LUKS2. The partitioning is done by the brand new kpmcore 3.3.0, which is also at the heart of the KDE Partition Manager (KPM). The corresponding package for that is called partitionmanager." Further information can be found in the release notes.
Condres OS 19.03 -- Running the KDE Plasma desktop
(full image size: 678kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
A new version of 4MLinux, an independently-developed distribution for desktops (JWM, 32-bit) and servers (complete LAMP stack, 64-bit), has been released. Version 28.0 ships with Linux kernel 4.19.19, updated desktop and server packages (LibreOffice 6.2.1, GIMP 2.10.8, DropBox 66.4.84, Firefox 65, Chromium 72, MESA 18.2.0, Apache 2.4.38, MariaDB 10.3.12, PHP 5.6.40 and PHP 7.2.15), as well as improved installation script: "The status of the 4MLinux 28.0 series has been changed to 'stable'. As always, the new major release has some new features: improved installation script (new disk formatting options have been added); much more firmware available (for network devices, sound cards and scanners); added support for reading bar codes (via ZBar), better support for Debian and Fedora packages (via Midnight Commander and Engrampa), new web browser (NetSurf) as well as new download manager (Gwget). Additionally, Electrum is now available as a downloadable extension (both Bitcoin and Litecoin wallets are supported by 4MLinux)." Read the full release announcement as published on the project's Blogspot page.
Linux From Scratch 8.4
Bruce Dubbs has announced the availability of the latest stable release of Linux From Scratch (LFS) and Beyond Linux From Scratch (BLFS), version 8.4. LFS is a book that provides step-by-step instructions on how to build a base Linux system from scratch (using a standard Linux live system). BLFS expands on the LFS book by giving further lessons on how to compile X Window System, window managers and desktop environments, as well as a variety of popular desktop and server packages and their dependencies. The brief release announcement reads: "The Linux From Scratch community is pleased to announce the release of LFS Version 8.4, LFS Version 8.4 (systemd), BLFS Version 8.4, and BLFS Version 8.4 (systemd). This release is a major update to both LFS and BLFS. The LFS release includes updates to glibc 2.29, Binutils 2.32 and Bash 5.0. A total of 33 packages have been updated. Changes to text have been made throughout the book. The Linux kernel has also been updated to version 4.20.12. The BLFS version includes approximately 1,000 packages beyond the base Linux From Scratch 8.4 book. This release has over 730 updates from the previous version, in addition to numerous text and formatting changes."
Arjen Balfoort has announced the release of SolydXK 201902, the latest stable build from the project that develops a set of desktop-oriented Linux distribution (with Xfce and KDE Plasma), based on Debian's stable branch: "New 201902 ISO images have been released. These are some of the highlights: the live installer will update itself when starting, it should show its update progress but sometimes it takes a while before it shows, the live installer now supports F2FS and NILFS2 file systems for flash drives; partition encryption during installation has been improved; we have changed the SolydXK Firefox settings even further to improve user privacy and also to comply with Mozilla's distribution policies - this is done in the firefox-solydxk-adjustments package which can be purged if you don't need it; Waterfox is now packaged and distributed by the SolydXK repository; several new features have been added and many bugs have been solved in our SolydXK applications." Read the rest of the release announcement for more information.
* * * * *
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: 1,282
- Total data uploaded: 24.0TB
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Removing data from old hard drives
In our Questions and Answers column we talked about different methods for removing old files and erasing hard drives. Many people want to clean up their old disks before throwing them out, or giving them away, in order to prevent private or confidential information from leaking to the public.
We would like to know what tools our readers use to clean data off old disks. Do you use tools like shred and dd, or another method? Let us know how you erase disks in the comments.
You can see the results of our previous poll on methods used to prevent window focus stealing in last week's edition. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
Removing data from old hard drives
|I use badblocks: ||16 (1%)|
| I use dd: ||235 (18%)|
| I use shred: ||102 (8%)|
| I use a combination of the above: ||62 (5%)|
| I use another tool: ||270 (20%)|
| I physically destroy disks: ||403 (30%)|
| I do not wipe old drives: ||243 (18%)|
Distributions added to waiting list
- MiyoLinux. Miyo is an acronym for "make it your own". Primarily intended for users with older hardware, MiyoLinux is a very minimal and base system based on Devuan.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 11 March 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 806 (2019-03-18): Kubuntu vs KDE neon, Nitrux's znx, notes on Debian's election, SUSE becomes an independent entity|
|• Issue 805 (2019-03-11): EasyOS 1.0, managing background services, Devuan team debates machine ID file, Ubuntu Studio works to remain an Ubuntu Community Edition|
|• Issue 804 (2019-03-04): Condres OS 19.02, securely erasing hard drives, new UBports devices coming in 2019, Devuan to host first conference|
|• Issue 803 (2019-02-25): Septor 2019, preventing windows from stealing focus, NetBSD and Nitrux experiment with virtual machines, pfSense upgrading to FreeBSD 12 base|
|• Issue 802 (2019-02-18): Slontoo 18.07.1, NetBSD tests newer compiler, Fedora packaging Deepin desktop, changes in Ubuntu Studio|
|• Issue 801 (2019-02-11): Project Trident 18.12, the meaning of status symbols in top, FreeBSD Foundation lists ongoing projects, Plasma Mobile team answers questions|
|• Issue 800 (2019-02-04): FreeNAS 11.2, using Ubuntu Studio software as an add-on, Nitrux developing znx, matching operating systems to file systems|
|• Issue 799 (2019-01-28): KaOS 2018.12, Linux Basics For Hackers, Debian 10 enters freeze, Ubuntu publishes new version for IoT devices|
|• Issue 798 (2019-01-21): Sculpt OS 18.09, picking a location for swap space, Solus team plans ahead, Fedora trying to get a better user count|
|• Issue 797 (2019-01-14): Reborn OS 2018.11.28, TinyPaw-Linux 1.3, dealing with processes which make the desktop unresponsive, Debian testing Secure Boot support|
|• Issue 796 (2019-01-07): FreeBSD 12.0, Peppermint releases ISO update, picking the best distro of 2018, roundtable interview with Debian, Fedora and elementary developers|
|• Issue 795 (2018-12-24): Running a Pinebook, interview with Bedrock founder, Alpine being ported to RISC-V, Librem 5 dev-kits shipped|
|• Issue 794 (2018-12-17): Void 20181111, avoiding software bloat, improvements to HAMMER2, getting application overview in GNOME Shell|
|• Issue 793 (2018-12-10): openSUSE Tumbleweed, finding non-free packages, Debian migrates to usrmerge, Hyperbola gets FSF approval|
|• Issue 792 (2018-1203): GhostBSD 18.10, when to use swap space, DragonFly BSD's wireless support, Fedora planning to pause development schedule|
|• Issue 791 (2018-11-26): Haiku R1 Beta1, default passwords on live media, Slax and Kodachi update their media, dual booting DragonFly BSD on EFI|
|• Issue 790 (2018-11-19): NetBSD 8.0, Bash tips and short-cuts, Fedora's networking benchmarked with FreeBSD, Ubuntu 18.04 to get ten years of support|
|• Issue 789 (2018-11-12): Fedora 29 Workstation and Silverblue, Haiku recovering from server outage, Fedora turns 15, Debian publishes updated media|
|• Issue 788 (2018-11-05): Clu Linux Live 6.0, examining RAM consumpion, finding support for older CPUs, more Steam support for running Windows games on Linux, update from Solus team|
|• Issue 787 (2018-10-29): Lubuntu 18.10, limiting application access to specific users, Haiku hardware compatibility list, IBM purchasing Red Hat|
|• Issue 786 (2018-10-22): elementary OS 5.0, why init keeps running, DragonFly BSD enables virtual machine memory resizing, KDE neon plans to drop older base|
|• Issue 785 (2018-10-15): Reborn OS 2018.09, Nitrux 1.0.15, swapping hard drives between computers, feren OS tries KDE spin, power savings coming to Linux|
|• Issue 784 (2018-10-08): Hamara 2.1, improving manual pages, UBports gets VoIP app, Fedora testing power saving feature|
|• Issue 783 (2018-10-01): Quirky 8.6, setting up dual booting with Ubuntu and FreeBSD, Lubuntu switching to LXQt, Mint works on performance improvements|
|• Issue 782 (2018-09-24): Bodhi Linux 5.0.0, Elive 3.0.0, Solus publishes ISO refresh, UBports invites feedback, Linux Torvalds plans temporary vacation|
|• Issue 781 (2018-09-17): Linux Mint 3 "Debian Edition", file systems for SSDs, MX makes installing Flatpaks easier, Arch team answers questions, Mageia reaches EOL|
|• Issue 780 (2018-09-10): Netrunner 2018.08 Rolling, Fedora improves language support, how to customize Kali Linux, finding the right video drivers|
|• Issue 779 (2018-09-03): Redcore 1806, keeping ISO downloads safe from tampering, Lubuntu makes Calamares more flexible, Ubuntu improves GNOME performance|
|• Issue 778 (2018-08-27): GuixSD 0.15.0, ReactOS 0.4.9, Steam supports Windows games on Linux, Haiku plans for beta, merging disk partitions|
|• Issue 777 (2018-08-20): YunoHost 184.108.40.206, 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|
|• 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 or Linux Mint pre-installed with many more distributions supported. Visit Star Labs for information, to buy and get support.
|Random Distribution |
pfSense is a free, open source customized distribution of FreeBSD specifically tailored for use as a firewall and router that is entirely managed via web interface. In addition to being a routing platform, pfSense includes a long list of related features and a package system which allows further expandability.