| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 401, 18 April 2011
Welcome to this year's 16th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! Puppy Linux has emerged as the most popular among the lighter distributions available on the market. Its most recent release continues the distro's proud tradition of being super-fast even on modest hardware, while, at the same time, it also re-ignites the debate on running standard desktop application in the superuser mode. In this week's feature article Robert Storey weighs the pros and cons of Puppy Linux 5.2.5 and adds a few tips and tricks for good measure. In the news section, Stefano Zacchiroli is re-elected as Debian Project Leader, HatStacks offers a new web-based software portal for Fedora users, and the developer of Incognito Live System explains the reasons for the "untrusted website" message some visitors were getting while accessing the project's download page. Last but not least, a step-by-step instruction for compiling a vanilla Linux kernel and adding it to your distribution's bootloader menu. Happy reading!
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|Feature Story (by Robert Storey)
Puppy Linux 5.2.5 - taking a bite out of bloat|
Dogs never bite me. Just humans. (Marilyn Monroe)
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Puppy Linux - the brainchild of Australian developer Barry Kauler - first made its appearance in 2006 and quickly became known for its snappy speed and cutesy appearance. I assume that Barry likes dogs.
Currently, there are three renditions of this OS bearing the name "Puppy:" Wary, Quirky, and Lucid. Wary is designed to run on older hardware boasting museum-piece video cards and analog dial-up modems. Thus, it is "wary" of new hardware. Quirky is almost the exact opposite, where Barry and friends are experimenting with some new "quirky" ideas. And finally there is Lucid, the top dog, which is attempting to bring Puppy into the realm of competing desktop distros but without the bloat.
Another variation on the theme is Pupeee, a fork which was optimized for the diminutive hardware of the early ASUS eeePC netbooks. Those early netbooks (I have one) had wimpy specs (Intel Celeron-M processor at 900 MHz, 512 MB RAM, no hard drive). More recent models boast beefier specs and seem to work well with Lucid, which has diminished the need for Pupeee.
Today I'll be taking a look at Puppy Linux 5.2.5 Lucid, which was released on 2011-04-03. I'm testing it with a 4-year-old Dell Inspiron laptop featuring an Intel dual-core CPU running at 1.5 GHz with 2 GB of RAM and 80 GB hard drive. This is my main workhorse machine, and has Ubuntu 10.10 installed. Aside from having the fun of testing Puppy, this was a serious experiment to see if there were enough new features in this latest Puppy release to tempt me away from Ubuntu.
The Puppy 5.2.5 ISO file occupies a mere 128 MB, which means it will easily fit even on an 8-cm mini-CD. Though you can run it as a live CD, you'll get more functionality by installing it. However, even as a live CD, Puppy runs very fast because the whole operating system can fit into RAM. This is in sharp contrast to most other live distros, which run very slowly as the CD drive thrashes looking for data. It's popular to install Puppy on a USB memory stick and thus have a convenient OS-to-go, but for this review I'm installing on a spare partition of my hard drive.
One of the great features of Puppy is just how fast it installs. A bloated distro can take up to an hour before the first boot, but a typical Puppy installation session occupies less than 10 minutes. However, if you've never installed Puppy before, you might need several tries because there are a few opportunities to mess things up.
One thing that confuses a lot of punters is that at some point you'll be asked where the Puppy files reside (CD or Directory), and if you click on "CD" you'll get an error message. That's because the CD must be mounted before you even start the installation program. In Puppy, you mount CDs, memory sticks and drive partitions simply by clicking on their icons, which appear on the lower-left corner of the desktop.
Puppy Linux 5.2.5 - mount the CD before starting the install process
A second issue that can trip-up even veteran Puppy users is a question about "alternative MBRs." In most cases, "default" will work, but in the past I had to use one of the options to make Puppy boot on a USB stick. If your Puppy appears stillborn, you'll need to run through the whole installation procedure again and try one of the four options - if that doesn't work, go through it again and try the next option. In the one case where I had to do this, mbr.bin was what finally worked.
Puppy Linux 5.2.5 - selecting from bootloader options
One more hurdle on the path to Puppyhood is that you're given an opportunity to use the pfix=copy option, which allows file lupu_525.sfs to be copied into RAM at boot-up. I chose not to do this, but feel free to be different. This option can be altered at any time after installation. Another option is whether or not you wish to do a "frugal" or "full" install. If you're installing on a hard drive, I'd suggest "full."
Puppy Linux 5.2.5 - it is possible to run the whole Puppy from RAM
After you've done all the above and the installer works its magic, you might think you are done. However, don't remove the Puppy CD from the drive and reboot just yet. You've also got to install GRUB, or else you won't have a bootable system. In the menus, find "System --> GRUB bootloader config" - you'll be given the option of "simple" or "expert," and I suggest you keep it simple. You'll first be presented with an opportunity to configure GRUB to use the framebuffer (and thus create a pretty boot menu), but in line with my KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) philosophy, I took the first option, "standard."
By the way, kudos to the developers of Puppy Linux for using supposedly "out-of-date" GRUB 1.x, rather than the "modern" but far messier GRUB 2. This is one case where the good old days were really better. I've never understood the logic behind GRUB 2 - it appears to be a solution in search of a problem. Anyway, next you'll be asked where you want the GRUB files to go. The obvious answer should be the same partition where you're installing Puppy. One suggestion I'd like to make to the developers: change your example from "/dev/hda2" to "/dev/sda2."
Puppy Linux 5.2.5 - installing GRUB
Finally, but crucially, you are asked to select the "GRUB destination." You're presented with three options, and it's a bit of a trick question. The first option offered, "Root," will only work if you're using a boot manager such as GAG. In fact, this is what I do, and I highly recommend GAG if you've got more than one operating system installed on your hard drive. However, the vast majority of users will probably choose option 3, the "MBR" even though you're warned that it's "possibly unsafe." Most odd is option 2, installing to a floppy. I know that Puppy likes to support old hardware, but I'm not sure it's still possible to even buy floppy disks. At least it's reassuring to know that Puppy does not support cassette-tape drives.
Puppy Linux 5.2.5 - choosing the bootloader location
If you do screw up the GRUB installation, the good news is that you don't have to reinstall everything. Just boot the live CD again and go through the GRUB configuration procedure. Compared to most distros, reconfiguring Puppy's GRUB is simplicity itself.
Having successfully survived the pitfalls of installation, I booted-up. Like everything else about Puppy, boot time was fast. The desktop is very cheerful with lots of artistic icons. Clicking on any icons or menus brings such an immediate response that you could be forgiven for thinking you're running a mainframe rather than a lowly PC. The instant response time is one of the greatest joys of the Puppy desktop.
Puppy Linux 5.2.5 - the default desktop
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After admiring the aesthetics, my next mission was to get online, and actually this proved to be more traumatic than I expected. Outside of exploiting the occasional free WiFi spot, my connection to the Internet is almost exclusively via a 3G USB broadband modem. I clicked through the menus and found "Setup --> Internet Connection Wizard" and chose "Internet by dialup analog or wireless modem." While attempting to click my way through the configuration, Puppy suddenly froze on me. The screen was locked, the cursor wouldn't move, and even CTRL-ALT-Backspace wouldn't get me out of this mess. I finally had to do a brute-force reboot by pulling the power cord and removing the laptop's battery.
Unfortunately, this led to more problems. Puppy does not recover gracefully from hard crashes, even though I installed it with the robust ext4 file system. On attempting to boot, I was informed that Puppy had not shut down properly. It did finally boot, but only to a text-mode command prompt. An error message gave me the impression that I needed to run the "fsck" command as root. However, running fsck on a mounted partition is generally disastrous. Thankfully, fsck helpfully informs you of this fact if you attempt to launch it and gives you an opportunity to back out. The proper thing to do at this point was to reboot the computer with either the Puppy live CD or else my Ubuntu installation. Then, since I had Puppy installed on /dev/sda3, as root I ran this command:
I was informed by fsck that it had successfully recovered the journal and that everything was now peachy swell. I rebooted again, and this time I reached the command prompt with no visible error messages. Graphics did not start, however, until I typed "startx" and hit enter. Fortunately, that returned me to the Puppy desktop, and nothing seemed to have been permanently mangled. Nevertheless, I can't say that this big adventure instilled confidence, and I can imagine a newbie faced with all this complexity would be reaching for the Windows install disk.
To make a long story short, I learned that in order to set up 3G broadband, you need to create a file named /etc/wvdial.conf. The trick is knowing what to put in that file, so I will include mine below. It will most likely work for you, though possibly you'll need to tweak the settings a bit if your ISP is a little weird. So without further ado:
Modem = /dev/ttyUSB0
Baud = 460800
Init2 = ATZ
Init3 = ATQ0V1E1S0=0&C1&D2S11=55+FCLASS=0
Carrier Check = no
Dial Command = ATDT
Phone = *99#
Username = ppp
Password = ppp
Stupid Mode = yes
Auto Reconnect = yes
Init5 = AT+CGDCONT=1,"IP",""
Phone = *99#
Username = ppp
Password = ppp
Auto Reconnect = yes
Init5 = AT+CGDCONT=1,"IP",""
Init1 = AT+CPIN=
#To force only 2G or 3G, uncomment the Init4 line and append 0 (2G) or 2 (3G), and substitute your operator's name for MYOPS.
#Init4 = AT+COPS=0,0,"MYOPS",
#Init6-Init9 lines are available for user purposes; the commented examples can be used as described:
#To force the 3G quality of service level, uncomment the Init6/Init7 line pair and set value two places each, for 384k/144k/64k, omitting the "k" (e.g., =1,4,64,384,64,384).
#To list all the APNs stored in the modem, uncomment the Init8 line; check the Connection status log for lines beginning with +CGDCONT:.
#To list the operator identifier stored in the modem, uncomment the Init9 line; check the Connection status log for a line beginning with +COPS:.
#Init6 = AT+CGEQMIN=1,4,64,384,64,384
#Init7 = AT+CGEQREQ=1,4,64,384,64,384
#Init8 = AT+CGDCONT?
#Init9 = AT+COPS?
The above file configures PupDial, which is Puppy's graphical front-end for the text-mode wvdial program. You just connect by clicking the "Connect" button, but one thing that PupDial doesn't do is give you feedback. So if you want to be sure that you really did connect, you could either launch a browser (but more on that below), or just try to ping distrowatch.com from the command line:
root@puppypc:~> ping distrowatch.com
The one last connectivity-related thing you ought to do is run the firewall utility from the "Setup --> Linux-Firewall Wizard" menu. This is dead-easy, just accept the defaults. Once set up, you needn't bother with it again. A firewall icon will become visible in the lower-right panel, and if you hold your mouse cursor over it, you should see the words "Firewall On."
Every time you read a review of Puppy Linux, inevitably the reviewer brings up the issue of Puppy's rather unusual user profile, which is to run the desktop and all applications as root (aka the "superuser"). Our intrepid reviewer then points out that this could be a security hole. Just as inevitably, one or more commenters out in Blogland comes riding to the rescue, protesting that Puppy is just as secure as any other Linux distro. "Running as root is safe - millions of users do so without ever getting hacked, so it can't be a security risk," says this voice, followed by: "Why do you reviewers keep whining about this?"
Because it is a security risk. In the next few paragraphs I will whine about this too, just like my predecessors. Feel free to skip ahead if you'd rather not read my whining, though by doing so you'll also miss my suggestions on how to minimize the risk.
So to clarity: when you boot up Puppy, you are not presented with a log-in prompt. Rather, you are logged in automatically as root and no password is requested. In theory, that shouldn't matter on a single-user system. In practice, once you go online, you are no longer running a single-user system - you are on a network, and there are lots of mean, nasty people out there who will employ every dirty trick in the book to break into your machine.
As mentioned, Puppy comes with a firewall, and you should of course be using it. But a firewall won't stop that which you've decided to allow in. Once you connect to a web site and start watching Flash videos, you have poked a hole in your firewall. A well-written web browser should protect you, but browser plug-ins like Adobe Flash are not open-source and have been hit numerous times with zero-day vulnerabilities. Though most Flash exploits target Windows users, there's no reason why Linux can't be targeted as well. The chief defense that Linux has in this case is the system of user privileges (or rather, the lack of privileges granted to non-root users). Some distros employ additional sophisticated defenses such as SELinux or AppArmor, and there is a cool technique called "sandboxing." However, these weapons aren't built into Puppy, and trying to roll-your-own wouldn't be trivial.
The good news is that Puppy comes configured, by default, with one non-privileged user by the name of spot. You can add additional users as well, though there isn't much reason to do so unless you've got two or more people sharing the same computer. Unfortunately, you cannot log into your desktop as spot. Rather, you've got to open a terminal and type at the command line: "su spot." Once you become spot, any command you launch (from the command line) will only have spot's limited privileges. Thus, if spot types "firefox," he/she can browse the Internet in relative safety. There are some caveats: the Chromium browser at present cannot be launched this way in Puppy (it will generate an error message and exit), while some other applications don't work properly (gFTP, for example). Also, when you launch applications as spot, the menus tend to have small and ugly fonts, though this is something I can live with. What I cannot live with is the knowledge that I'm browsing the Internet and checking my email with a system that could possibly be compromised. Security, to me, is a big deal.
Command-line tips and tricks
Although this review is not meant to be a primer on using the command-line interface, I do want to pass along a few tips that are especially relevant to configuring Puppy. If you open a terminal window, the root command prompt is nothing but a pound sign "#", and strangely even "su spot" gives you the same prompt. You aren't informed which directory you're in, and typing the wrong command could "clobber" (overwrite) an important system file, or delete it entirely.
To change all that, fire up Puppy's intuitive graphical Edit program (or non-intuitive vi if you're used to it), and create a file named .bashrc in the /root directory, with this content:
alias rm='rm -i'
alias cp='cp -i'
alias mv='mv -i'
set -o noclobber
Close the terminal window, and open a new one. Now your root prompt should look like this:
And if you type "su spot" you should see this:
As spot, you should also create file .bashrc with the same content as above, but I suggest adding one additional line:
PATH=$PATH:$HOME/program ; export PATH
If you later have any scripts of your own, put them in /root/spot/program.
You've got one more important thing to do. By default, root, spot and any new users you create will use the sh shell, but I'd seriously advise switching this to bash. That's particularly important for spot. To do this, edit file /etc/passwd and change "/bin/sh" to "/bin/bash" for both root and spot. Since you are messing with a crucial system file, before editing I suggest backing it up by typing:
cp /etc/passwd /etc/passwd.original
Care and feeding
Puppy already comes with a decent selection of useful software packages pre-installed. However, everybody wants more, and fortunately it's not difficult to teach this dog some new tricks.
Binary packages (known as "PETs") are readily installed/removed by clicking on the "Quickpet" icon which resides on Puppy's desktop. You'll find all the usual suspects in there, such as GIMP, Firefox and Google Earth (Note: Google Earth installed but wouldn't run). I especially appreciated the inclusion of Emacs, the "Swiss Army Knife" of editors that I'm using right now to type this review. A nice touch is Kompozer, a WYSIWYG tool for simple web site development. Even WINE is included, though I didn't put it to the test since I no longer have any Windows applications. About the only complaint I have is that some of the packages are a bit dated, but they still work and that's what really matters.
Although it's nice to have pets, an interesting new development which began only with the 5.x Lucid releases is the ability to install Ubuntu DEB packages. This is still a work in progress, and many of the packages I tried to install ran into unresolvable dependency issues. Furthermore, the packages on offer are only a subset of the enormous Ubuntu repositories. Nevertheless, this has potential to help our Puppy grow into a full-sized dog.
To set up the Ubuntu repositories (and also update Puppy's pets), start Quickpet, then choose the More Pets --> Puppy Package Manager --> and click the Configure Package Manager button. Select whatever repositories you are interested in, and finally click Update now.
Asian language support
There are packages to support several European languages, but one thing Puppy lacks is any support for the major Asian languages. In fact, it's quite a serious omission for any modern OS now that we have Unicode. If you open a web page at a Chinese web site, all you'll see are square boxes with numbers in them. Fortunately, this can be rectified easily by doing the following:
You have to log out (or better yet, just reboot) for the new font to take effect.
- Download this font: zenhei
- Put that archive file into the /root folder, and unpack it: tar -xvf wqy-zenhei-0.6.26-0.tar.gz
- You'll now have a directory /root/wqy-zenhei, so move to that directory and copy "wqy-zenhei.ttf" to /usr/share/fonts/truetype/ttf-liberation/
- And finally, as root, execute this command: fc-cache -fv
After a full week of usage, I can't say that Puppy Linux 5.2.5 Lucid is quite ready to compete with industrial-strength distros such as Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora or openSUSE. It does come very close and I was able to get most of my work done, but the collection of PET packages is still insufficient to meet my heavy demands. The addition of the Ubuntu repository is potentially a solution, but the package collection is far from complete, and the issue of "dependency hell" is a source of frustration.
Furthermore, the wisdom of running as root continues to haunt Puppy. In this era of online shopping and online banking, users expect ironclad security, and it should not require command-line hacks to get it. Discussion of this issue often gets heated, even rabid, turning into an all-consuming flamefest at times. I wish people wouldn't get so emotional about it, but it is what it is. I don't expect the raging debate to end any time soon.
On the other hand, perhaps I'm barking up the wrong tree. Is Puppy meant to be blockbuster OS, built to withstand attacks like a server farm? Or is it just a lightweight fun OS that we can use to revive old hardware, or run from a USB stick when we need portability? A lot of people like Puppy - it's in the top 10 of the DistroWatch page-hit ranking. I enjoy Puppy too, and it's what I run exclusively on my netbook. Maybe the only thing wrong with Puppy is that users' expectations tend to exceed the developer's intentions.
|Miscellaneous News (by Ladislav Bodnar)
Stefano Zacchiroli re-elected as DPL, HatStacks web-based software portal for Fedora, Incognito and "untrusted websites"
Debian developer Stefano Zacchiroli (pictured on the right), has been elected as Debian Project Leader (DPL) for the second year running: "The winner of the election is Stefano Zacchiroli." Of course, this year's election was about as unexciting as it gets as Zacchiroli was the only candidate. One day before his term expired, the outgoing (and incumbent) DPL wrote on the debian-devel-announce mailing list: "Let's pretend for the rest of this mail that I still don't know what happened in the elections between me and that NOTA bloke. Today is the last day of the current DPL term, so what could possibly be better than SPAM-ing all of you with a report of what happened in DPL land since last month?" The post touches on some interesting subjects, including the Debian dErivatives eXchange (DEX) initiative, upcoming conferences (including DebConf) and the distro's relationship with the GNOME project, Free Software Foundation and the gNewSense distribution.
* * * * *
A useful service designed primarily for Fedora users has been born. HatStacks, a web-based software portal offering a one-click installation method of many popular applications, went live last week: "Welcome to HatStacks: a free, web based software portal for the Fedora, Red Hat, and openSUSE Linux distributions. With HatStacks you can add applications to your myStack, and get recommendations for others via smartStack. HatStacks is partners with our sister project, HumanityStacks, a similar portal for Debian and Ubuntu. You can create an account and even add programs to your myStack in HatStacks, and then go over to HumanityStacks on an Ubuntu computer and install the same programs from your stack in just a few minutes through our private repository of applications. HatStacks was created in January of 2011 by a privately owned, independent FOSS, SAAS firm." A great service for those users who don't like mocking around in the terminal to install packages not normally available in the standard Fedora repository.
* * * * *
Finally, a quick clarification on one of the recently released distribution. As one user noted, "I keep getting 'untrusted website' message from DistroWatch link while trying to access the website of Incognito Live System", a new version of which was released last week. Here is the response from the distro developer (who -- quite naturally -- prefers to remain incognito: "The project that hosts our website prefers not to give any money to the SSL Certification Authorities mafia. I guess the recent Comodo compromise is enough of a proof that the current CA-based trust model is inherently flawed. This webserver's SSL certificate is signed by a non-commercial, cooperative CA called CaCert which is not installed on any major browsers except Debian's Iceweasel. Depending on your security needs, you may thus want to 1 - visit our website without using SSL at all, or 2 - install the CaCert root certificate into your web browser, or 3 - add an exception into your web browser so that it considers our website certificate as valid. On the other hand, we're (sadly) considering offering our web hosters a commercial certificate signed by the SSL mafia. Not that it would make our website more secure at all, but it would at least avoid web browsers to display their "untrusted website" warning, that most visitors (read: anyone who is not that much fond of Internet security issues) have no clue what to do about."
Incognito Live System - browse the Internet in complete anonymity
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|Tips and Tricks (by Jesse Smith)
Compiling the Linux kernel
A few weeks ago we saw the release of the 2.6.38 version of the Linux kernel. Generally I don't find myself all that interested in the minor point releases, but the performances improvements included in this release caught my attention and I decided to try it out. After grabbing the source from kernel.org it occurred to me that since it had been quite some time since I installed a vanilla kernel from source I should check to make sure no changes had made to the process. What I soon found was that the kernel documentation appears to be a bit out of date and sparse. It's generally assumed that people already know the steps and will be running a distribution featuring the LILO bootloader. A quick check also showed that the documentation available on distribution websites tended to be distro-specific (which is natural) but also assumes that we want to use git and the distro's package manager to install the latest kernel.
So, for those mere mortals among us who aren't already familiar with the workings of the kernel and don't want to install a bunch of extra version control and package building tools, I would like to present a step-by-step guide for compiling and installing the Linux kernel. And I'll try to make it as distro neutral as possible.
The first thing I recommend doing is making backups of your data. The kernel is an essential, low-level part of the operating system and making changes to it can cause problems. It probably won't break, but better safe than sorry. After you're done making backups, you'll need to make sure you have the following tools installed: your build system, including the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC). Some distributions refer to these packages as "build-essentials". And you'll need either mkinitramfs or mkinitrd, depending on your distribution. Each of the above should be available in your distribution's repository.
Next you'll want to get the kernel source code, which for the 2.6.38 release is available here. Other releases can be found at kernel.org. For the remainder of my example, I'm going to assume we're building kernel 2.6.38 and the kernel that's currently running on our system is 2.6.32, please adjust version numbers to match your situation. If you're unsure what kernel you're currently running, you can find out by using the command:
Once the new kernel package has downloaded, open a terminal and unpack the source code:
tar xjf linux-2.6.38.tar.bz2
Move into the source code's directory:
The next step you'll probably want to do is grab your distribution's current kernel configuration file. This will make sure the new kernel you build has the same settings as the one you already have. The old config file is probably kept in your system's /boot folder and will have a name like config-2.6.32. We're going to copy that file into the kernel's source directory:
cp /boot/config-2.6.32 .config
We'll then update the configuration file with any new features that have been added. We can do this with the command:
If you're jumping a few kernel versions you'll likely be asked a lot of questions here. It's typically safe to take the defaults and just press Enter at each prompt. Our next step is to compile the kernel. We do this by running:
The compile process will take quite some time, probably in the range of an hour. When the compiling is finally finished we'll want to install the new kernel and its modules. We do this with:
make install modules_install
Our next step is to create an initial RAM disk. Depending on which distro you're on this may be done in one of two ways. Modern distros tend to use a tool called mkinitramfs. If your system uses mkinitramfs, we can make the RAM disk with this command:
mkinitramfs -o initrd.img-2.6.38 -v 2.6.38
Other distributions may use mkinitrd, in which case we can use the command:
mkinitrd initrd.img-2.6.38 2.6.38
Once the RAM disk has been created, we then copy it into our /boot directory:
cp initrd.img-2.6.38 /boot
Our last step is to update our boot loader so the new kernel will appear as an option at boot time. On machines using the GRUB boot loader, we can run the following as root:
If you're on a distro which still uses the LILO boot loader, then we need to update LILO's configuration file (usually /etc/lilo.conf) and re-run LILO. There's a tutorial showing the steps on this page.
The next time you reboot the machine, the new kernel will be available in the boot menu.
As I said at the beginning of this piece I was curious to see what sort of improvements were in this release of the kernel. I did find my desktop was slightly more responsive. I tend not to run a lot of intensive tasks at once, so there wasn't much there to improve. I did find my machine woke up from sleep mode and re-connected to the network faster than before and, though I haven't done a strict measurement, I think boot time has improved. With these improvements I was surprised to find my video card's performance had dropped off significantly, making videos choppy and some parts of the screen not display properly. Apparently I wasn't the only one. Have you tried the latest kernel? What were your impressions?
|Released Last Week
Parted Magic 6.0
Patrick Verner has announced the release of Parted Magic 6.0, a specialist live CD designed for disk management and data rescue tasks: "Parted Magic 6.0. If you have experienced booting issues with Parted Magic, this is the version you have been waiting for. The way the kernel is handled has been completely redone. This is the reason for the new major version number. The kernel modules, udev, and firmware have been moved to the initramfs. The nice graphical boot menu that we have been using for years has been removed in favor of a very basic one. Many laptops and notebooks could not start the complex menu. A large number of major and minor bugs have been fixed as well. Updated programs: LVM 2.02.84, util-linux 2.19, Linux kernel 18.104.22.168, udev 165, glibc 2.13, xfsprogs 3.1.4, BusyBox 1.18.4, Memtest86 4.20, NTFS-3G 2011.4.12..." Visit the project's news page to read the release announcement.
Epidemic GNU/Linux 3.2
Epidemic GNU/Linux 3.2, a Brazilian desktop distribution based on Debian's "testing" branch, has been released. New features in this version include: eMorph - a new utility which serves as a second system installation step and which allows users to install or remove selected sets of programs, extending or reducing the functionality of the system with just a few mouse clicks; eUpgrade - a new tool which makes it easy to upgrade the distribution to a newer version from the comfort of a graphical application; ePendrive - a utility that allows the user to save changes made to the distribution while running it from a USB storage device; improved, beginner-friendly installer written in C++ and Qt.... Read the detailed release announcement (in Portuguese) to find out more about the release.
Epidemic GNU/Linux 3.2 - a Debian-based desktop distribution with KDE from Brazil
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DEFT Linux 6.1
Stefano Fratepietro has announced the release of DEFT Linux 6.1, a customised distribution of the Ubuntu live CD containing some of the best open-source applications dedicated to incident response and computer forensics: "DEFT Linux 6.1 is ready for download. DEFT Linux 6.1 is the last planned release of the DEFT 6 series. From June 2011 we will start working on version 7. It will feature great improvements of both the architectural structure and the included applications. Release notes: start faster by 15% over the previous version; optimization of initrd; RegTime.py and Recovery.py. Fixed problem of large pcap file uploads in Xplico. Revision of all DEFT extras tools to comply with their licenses. DEFT 6 can boot from USB drives." Here is the brief release announcement.
Incognito Live System 0.7
Incognito Live System is a Debian-based live CD offering complete Internet anonymity for the user. Version 0.7 was released today and is available for free download. What's new? "Tor 0.2.1.30; protecting against memory recovery - new, safer way to wipe memory on shutdown which is now also used when the boot media is physically removed; hardware support - install more printer drivers, support mobile broadband devices such as 3G USB dongles, install Atheros and Broadcom firmware; Iceweasel - install the HTTPS Everywhere extension, many Anonymity Set preservation enhancements, mostly inspired by the Tor Browser Bundle configuration; user-friendly encryption support; add opt-in i2p support with Iceweasel integration through FoxyProxy...." Read the detailed changelog for a full list of new features.
Carsten Schöne has announced the release of StressLinux 0.7.105, an openSUSE-based distribution dedicated to users who want to test their systems on high load and to monitor the health of these systems: "A new StressLinux release (0.7.105) is ready for download. The base system is now openSUSE 11.4 with updated network card drivers for r8101, r8168 and r8169. StressLinux specific packages are updated as well, including BusyBox, iperf, lm_sensors, lshw, Memtest86, Memtest86+, mprime, smartmontools (svn r3314), x86info and y-cruncher. There is one known issue, Memtest86+ is not working from within the ISO images. This seems to be an issue between the new package and the SUSE Studio build system and will be fixed in a later release..." Visit the project's home page to read the brief release announcement.
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
- Kongoni GNU/Linux 2011-beta2, the release announcement
- FreeNAS 8.0-rc5, the release announcement
- Chakra GNU/Linux 2011.04-ms5, the release announcement
- Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Edubuntu, Ubuntu Studio, Mythbuntu 11.04-beta2, the release announcement
- Clonezilla 1.2.8-26
- BlankOn Linux 7.0-alpha4, 7.0-alpha5
- Estrella Roja 11.04-rc1
- OpenFiler 2.99
- Netrunner 3
- Scientific Linux 4.9-rc1
- PC-BSD Current-20110414
- Sabily 11.04-beta
- RIPLinuX 11.9
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
New distributions added to waiting list
- LDR. LDR (Linux Done Right) is an Arch-based Linux distribution which has many software components pre-configured.
- PLATYPUX. PLATYPUX, built from Linux From Scratch, is an easy-to-use French Linux distribution featuring the Openbox window manager.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 25 April 2011.
Robert Storey, Ladislav Bodnar and Jesse Smith
|Linux Foundation Training
|• Issue 819 (2019-06-17): OS108 and Venom, renaming multiple files, checking live USB integrity, working with Fedora's Modularity, Ubuntu replacing Chromium package with snap|
|• Issue 818 (2019-06-10): openSUSE 15.1, improving boot times, FreeBSD's status report, DragonFly BSD reduces install media size|
|• Issue 817 (2019-06-03): Manjaro 18.0.4, Ubuntu Security Podcast, new Linux laptops from Dell and System76, Entroware Apollo|
|• Issue 816 (2019-05-27): Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.0, creating firewall rules, Antergos shuts down, Matthew Miller answers questions about Fedora|
|• Issue 815 (2019-05-20): Sabayon 19.03, Clear Linux's developer features, Red Hat explains MDS flaws, an overview of mobile distro options|
|• Issue 814 (2019-05-13): Fedora 30, distributions publish Firefox fixes, CentOS publishes roadmap to 8.0, Debian plans to use Wayland by default|
|• Issue 813 (2019-05-06): ROSA R11, MX seeks help with systemd-shim, FreeBSD tests unified package management, interview with Gael Duval|
|• Issue 812 (2019-04-29): Ubuntu MATE 19.04, setting up a SOCKS web proxy, Scientific Linux discontinued, Red Hat takes over Java LTS support|
|• Issue 811 (2019-04-22): Alpine 3.9.2, rsync examples, Ubuntu working on ZFS support, Debian elects new Project Leader, Obarun releases S6 tools|
|• Issue 810 (2019-04-15): SolydXK 201902, Bedrock Linux 0.7.2, Fedora phasing out Python 2, NetBSD gets virtual machine monitor|
|• Issue 809 (2019-04-08): PCLinuxOS 2019.02, installing Falkon and problems with portable packages, Mint offers daily build previews, Ubuntu speeds up Snap packages|
|• Issue 808 (2019-04-01): Solus 4.0, security benefits and drawbacks to using a live distro, Gentoo gets GNOME ports working without systemd, Redox OS update|
|• Issue 807 (2019-03-25): Pardus 17.5, finding out which user changed a file, new Budgie features, a tool for browsing FreeBSD's sysctl values|
|• Issue 806 (2019-03-18): Kubuntu vs KDE neon, Nitrux's znx, notes on Debian's election, SUSE becomes an independent entity|
|• Issue 805 (2019-03-11): EasyOS 1.0, managing background services, Devuan team debates machine ID file, Ubuntu Studio works to remain an Ubuntu Community Edition|
|• Issue 804 (2019-03-04): Condres OS 19.02, securely erasing hard drives, new UBports devices coming in 2019, Devuan to host first conference|
|• Issue 803 (2019-02-25): Septor 2019, preventing windows from stealing focus, NetBSD and Nitrux experiment with virtual machines, pfSense upgrading to FreeBSD 12 base|
|• Issue 802 (2019-02-18): Slontoo 18.07.1, NetBSD tests newer compiler, Fedora packaging Deepin desktop, changes in Ubuntu Studio|
|• Issue 801 (2019-02-11): Project Trident 18.12, the meaning of status symbols in top, FreeBSD Foundation lists ongoing projects, Plasma Mobile team answers questions|
|• Issue 800 (2019-02-04): FreeNAS 11.2, using Ubuntu Studio software as an add-on, Nitrux developing znx, matching operating systems to file systems|
|• Issue 799 (2019-01-28): KaOS 2018.12, Linux Basics For Hackers, Debian 10 enters freeze, Ubuntu publishes new version for IoT devices|
|• Issue 798 (2019-01-21): Sculpt OS 18.09, picking a location for swap space, Solus team plans ahead, Fedora trying to get a better user count|
|• Issue 797 (2019-01-14): Reborn OS 2018.11.28, TinyPaw-Linux 1.3, dealing with processes which make the desktop unresponsive, Debian testing Secure Boot support|
|• Issue 796 (2019-01-07): FreeBSD 12.0, Peppermint releases ISO update, picking the best distro of 2018, roundtable interview with Debian, Fedora and elementary developers|
|• Issue 795 (2018-12-24): Running a Pinebook, interview with Bedrock founder, Alpine being ported to RISC-V, Librem 5 dev-kits shipped|
|• Issue 794 (2018-12-17): Void 20181111, avoiding software bloat, improvements to HAMMER2, getting application overview in GNOME Shell|
|• Issue 793 (2018-12-10): openSUSE Tumbleweed, finding non-free packages, Debian migrates to usrmerge, Hyperbola gets FSF approval|
|• Issue 792 (2018-1203): GhostBSD 18.10, when to use swap space, DragonFly BSD's wireless support, Fedora planning to pause development schedule|
|• Issue 791 (2018-11-26): Haiku R1 Beta1, default passwords on live media, Slax and Kodachi update their media, dual booting DragonFly BSD on EFI|
|• 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 22.214.171.124, 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|
|• 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 |
LAMPPIX was a Linux live CD based on Knoppix and Damn Small Linux. It comes with the XAMPP web server, MySQL database, PHP and Perl scripting languages, as well as other tools to run PHP-driven web pages directly off a CD-ROM.
|Tips, Tricks, Myths and Q&As |
|Tips and tricks: Gathering system information|
|Questions and answers: Using chroot|
|Tips and tricks: Compiling the Linux kernel|
|Tips and tricks: Command line weather, ionice, rename files, video preview snapshot, calednar, ls colour settings|
|Tips and tricks: Find common words in text, find high memory processs, cd short-cuts, pushd & popd, record desktop|
|Tips and tricks: Running the Linux-libre kernel|
|Tips and tricks: Simple rsync examples|
|Questions and answers: Logging into the desktop as root|
|Tips and tricks: An overview of hard and soft links|
|Questions and answers: The appeal of rolling releases|
|More Tips & Tricks and Questions & Answers|