| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 744, 1 January 2018
Welcome to this year's 1st issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
We have lots to cover, so let's dive straight into our first review of the year with MX Linux 17. MX Linux is a middle-weight distribution with its roots in Debian and with some convenient tools to help configure the operating system. Jesse Smith shares his experiences with the MX project below. In our News section we explore openSUSE experimenting with using the kernel to display the system's boot splash screen and Ubuntu pulling install images over a bug which could affect the BIOS of some computers. We also report on PureOS being endorsed by the Free Software Foundation, FreeBSD considering turning on Wayland support by default, Manjaro continuing 32-bit package support and UBports experimenting with running Android apps. Plus, in our Tips and Tricks column, we share examples of working with multimedia files from the command line. As usual, we share the releases of the past couple of weeks and provide a list of the torrents we are seeding. Finally, in our Opinion Poll, we would like to find out how many distributions our readers tried while we were away on holiday and what was your favourite? Let us know in the comments. We wish you all wonderful new year and happy reading!
- Review: MX Linux 17
- News: openSUSE experiments with kernel-powered splash screen, Ubuntu pulls downloads over BIOS bug, PureOS is endorsed by the FSF, FreeBSD considers easier Wayland access, UBports to run Android apps, Manjaro to continue 32-bit support
- Tips and tricks: Managing multimedia files
- Released in the last two weeks: Endless OS 3.3.5, ArchLabs 2017.12, Slax 9.3.0
- Torrent corner: Archlabs, Calculate, Endless OS, FatDog64, Manjaro, NetBSD, Nitrux, ROSA, Sabayon, Slax
- Upcoming releases: Ubuntu 18.04 Alpha 1
- Opinion poll: How many distributions did you install in the past two weeks?
- New additions: DietPi
- New distributions: Shiba_lnu, LinuxCNC, batocera.linux
- Reader comments
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (31MB) and MP3 (39MB) formats.
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
MX Linux 17
MX Linux is a desktop Linux distribution based on Debian's Stable branch which uses Xfce as the operating system's default desktop environment. MX grew out of a cooperative venture between the antiX and former MEPIS Linux communities. The latest release of MX Linux is version 17 and it is based on Debian 9 "Stretch". Unlike Debian, MX does not use systemd as the system's init software, instead using SysV init.
MX Linux 17 is available in 32-bit and 64-bit builds and the installation media we can download is about 1.2GB in size. Booting from the live media brings up a menu asking if we would like to boot normally or boot MX with VirtualBox support. The VirtualBox option enables MX to integrate with a VirtualBox virtual machine environment and use the host system's maximum screen resolution.
Whichever option we select brings up the Xfce desktop environment. On the left side of the screen we find a panel which holds the application menu (at the bottom), some quick-launch icons and a clock is placed at the top of the panel. The application menu is powered by the Whisker menu, a two-panel menu with a search box for finding specific items. On the desktop we find an icon for launching the distribution's system installer.
MX Linux 17 -- The welcome window
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While exploring the live desktop environment, I found the system had two key user accounts, root (for administrative tasks) and demo for normal user access. Both accounts are password protected ("root" is the password for the root user and "demo" for the demo user).
MX uses a graphical system installer which features several steps and takes a bit longer to get through than Ubuntu's Ubiquity or the Calamares installer popular among Arch-based projects. However, the steps MX's installer puts us through offer a great deal of customization. The installer begins by asking us to select on which disk we will install the distribution. We then have the option of launching the GParted disk utility to set up partitions. When we return to the installer we are asked which partitions will be used for our root file system, swap and /home directories. MX supports formatting our partitions with a range of Linux file systems, including Btrfs, ext2/3/4, XFS, JFS and Reiserfs. The installer then copies its files to our hard drive.
Once packages have been placed on our hard disk, we are then given the option of installing the GRUB boot loader and we can select where GRUB is placed. We are also given the chance to give our computer a hostname and enable Samba file sharing. We are then asked to select our language preference, time zone and our keyboard's layout from drop-down lists. We can even choose whether we prefer our desktop's clock to display in 12 or 24 hour format. The installer has a screen dedicated to enabling services where we can check boxes next to items such as OpenSSH, scanning, CUPS printing, cron and sudo. The final page of the installer gets us to create passwords for our root and regular user account. We can optionally enable home directory encryption and automatic logins from this page. With all these steps completed, the installer exits, returning us to the live Xfce desktop.
While MX's installer is not as streamlined and requires a bit more understanding of the system than some beginner friendly installers, it also provides us with a good deal of flexibility. In essence, a lot of the system configuration is handled up front at install time rather than after the system is up and running.
Booting a fresh copy of MX 17 brings up a graphical login screen where we can sign into the account we enabled at install time. Logging in brings up the Xfce desktop again. In the upper-right corner of the desktop a Conky status panel is displayed. In the middle of the desktop a welcome window opens. The welcome window provides us with a link to the project's user manual in a PDF reader. The welcome window also gives us quick access to the distribution's forum, a desktop tweak tool, the project's wiki, a simple package manager for installing popular applications and the MX Tools panel. I will talk about the MX Tools settings panel later. Once we dismiss the welcome screen we can display it again later by launching MX Welcome from the application menu.
The simple application installer available from the welcome window is a desktop program which displays a list of categories of software. Clicking on a category opens a list of popular programs in that category. For example, Firefox and Chrome are in the Browser category, gFTP is in the FTP category and Steam can be found under the Games category. We can check boxes next to each package we want and click a button to install these extras.
MX Linux 17 -- Adding popular packages
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Earlier I mentioned the Conky status panel in the upper-right corner of the screen. I'm not a fan of status panels in general as I find them distracting. I was happy to note that while some projects make it difficult to turn off Conky, MX has a toggle button to display/hide Conky in the Favourites section of the application menu. If we hide the status panel, Conky will come back the next time we login.
I explored running MX in three test environments. When run in a VirtualBox virtual machine, on a desktop computer or on a laptop, the distribution consistently performed well. The Xfce desktop is very responsive and the system boots quickly. Suspend & resume worked as expected, my network cards were detected automatically and I was able to use my host computer's full screen resolution when running MX in VirtualBox. The distribution tended to use between 280MB and 290MB of memory when signed into Xfce and used approximately 4.5GB of hard drive space.
MX ships with a fairly typical collection of open source software. The distribution offers us the Firefox web browser, the Thunderbird e-mail client and the Transmission bittorrent software. Network Manager and GNOME PPP are available to get us on-line over either high-speed or dial-up networks. MX provides us with LibreOffice, the FBReader e-book reader, a dictionary, the qpdfview PDF viewer and the Orage Calendar app. The distribution covers multimedia playing with the Clementine audio player, SMTube for finding and playing YouTube videos and the VLC media player. I didn't have trouble playing media files, but if we run into a situation where a codec is missing, there is a tool for installing additional media codecs in the MX Tools panel. Xfburn and Asunder are present to help us burn and rip CDs, respectively.
MX Linux 17 -- Running the Firefox web browser
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The distribution further provides us with the GNU Image Manipulation Program, a desktop application for connecting to printers, a few arcade games and luckyBackup, which I will talk about later. We are given an archive manager, text editor, calculator and hardware sensor viewer. In the background we can find the GNU Compiler collection and Java. MX uses SysV init as the default init software. By default the distribution runs on version 4.13 of the Linux kernel, but other versions are available in the project's software repositories.
Earlier I mentioned the distribution ships with a program called MX Tools. This application acts as a configuration panel from which we can launch other, small applications to adjust the operating system. Some of the MX utilities include a snapshot tool for making bootable ISO images of our system, installing all available media codecs and managing user accounts. The account manager, I discovered, can also be used to clean up old temporary files to free up drive space. There is a tool for enabling/disabling Xfce sound effects and another for working with network drivers. I like that the networking tool not only lets us use Windows wireless drivers, but also lets us enable or blacklist drivers which might cause us trouble.
MX Linux 17 -- The MX Tools panel
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There are a handful of other tools for adjusting the look of the desktop and the panel. Plus we can tweak the window manager, enable compositing and adjust a range of window behaviours. I like that most extra features, like desktop sound effects, are disabled by default.
I don't think the MX Tools panel has the same pretty and user friendly approach as, for example, the OpenMandriva settings panel, but the MX panel covers a wide range of functionality. The tools are fairly well arranged and, if we get lost, we can search for a specific settings module through the distribution's Whisker application menu.
MX Linux 17 -- Using the account manager to clean up old files
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MX offers several approaches to package management. The flagship package manager for the distribution is Synaptic, a flexible package manager that allows us to install, upgrade and remove packages by checking boxes next to package names. Synaptic does not make it particularly easy to find types of applications we might want to install, it's more of a low level package manager. If we want to browse categories of software and select popular desktop applications then MX provides the MX Package Installer which can be launched from the distribution's welcome window or from the MX Tools panel. I touched on the Package Installer before and I think it's a pleasantly simple tool to use and it gives us quick access to many popular applications.
MX Linux 17 -- Enabling new software repositories
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When software updates are available a small notification is displayed along with a green box icon in our system tray. Clicking the green icon opens a window where we are shown the command line output from the APT command and asked if we would like to proceed with downloading the available software upgrades. The update utility can work in two modes, the first is a plain "upgrade" which will just update installed software. The second option is to perform a "dist-upgrade" which attempts to intelligently upgrade, install or remove packages as necessary to keep our system up to date. Either approach should be relatively safe since MX is based on Debian's Stable branch which does not see much change during its lifetime. My only concern with the update utility is it is basically just a window for running the APT command line tools, which is effective, but not at all visually appealing and may scare off new Linux users.
MX Linux 17 -- The update manager
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Being based on Debian, some of MX's packages are a bit old, and some were around a year old by the time MX 17 launched. The QupZilla web browser, which is available through the MX Package Installer, is already over two years old. I looked at some portable package options, to see if that would help me get more up to date desktop software. Flatpak and Snap are available in the repositories if we want to try them. I did attempt to use Snap, but found I was unable to download Snap packages. When I asked about this problem on the MX forums, I was told Snap relies on systemd, which is not enabled by default on MX.
Backups and bugs
Earlier I mentioned MX ships with luckyBackup. The luckyBackup tool is a desktop application for creating backup jobs. The utility allows us to set up multiple backup jobs and then run them manually or schedule the jobs to run later. The luckyBackup tool is not as streamlined as some other backup tools, like Deja Dup, but it offers a great deal of flexibility along with the option to test "dry runs" to confirm a backup job will complete successfully.
Like many of the tools MX ships with, I don't think the backup utility is the most user friendly option available, but I do think it is one of the more flexible options available in the open source world.
MX Linux 17 -- Backing up files with luckyBackup
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While I was using MX, I didn't run into many bugs. The distribution was surprisingly responsive and stable. One of the few issues I ran into was about one in five times I would try to logout (or reboot the computer) a message would appear on my desktop saying the requested task could only be completed when the session manager is idle. If I tried to logout again immediately, the same message would reappear. If I simply left the computer alone for about 30 seconds, my account would be logged out successfully.
Having used MX for a week now, I think it is fair to say the developers have done a lot of things well and I believe a lot of their success stems from finding good compromises. MX is based on Debian's Stable branch which gives a good, solid core and a huge collection of packages. While Debian's packages tend to be older, MX updates some key components, such as the kernel and Firefox, to give users the benefit of newer technology. We can downgrade items, like the kernel, if we wish.
MX also finds middle ground in the size and performance of the distribution. MX certainly is not the lightest distribution I have used lately, in terms of memory and hard drive space consumed, but it on the lighter end of the spectrum. MX is smaller and faster than many of the mainstream distributions, such as Ubuntu, openSUSE and Fedora while offering most of the same features.
One of the few areas where I think MX loses out to the big, mainstream Linux distributions is in beginner friendliness. The installer, configuration tools and package management are all (in my opinion) geared toward people who have used Linux a time or two before. MX appears to be aimed at people who already know what packages, window managers and media codecs are. The graphical tools provided are powerful and flexible, but there isn't much hand holding. The installer expects you to know what CUPS is and the desktop configuration tool expects users to be familiar with virtual desktops, APT and compositing. If you understand those concepts and like the idea of a distribution which offers good performance with a little eye candy, then MX Linux is probably a good match for you.
Personally, I was very happy with MX, more so than I have been with most operating systems I have experimented with in the past six months. Not necessarily because MX is an objectively better distribution, but because I think the developers have similar tastes to my own. This shows up in little details. For example, I like my system to be quiet and not distracting. MX features very few notifications and sound effects are disabled. The theme is slightly dark, but not so dark as to make the contrast jarring. There is just one desktop panel, aligned vertically down the left side of the display, just the way I like it. The developers walk a middle road I like on performance, features and visuals. In short, there was very little I had to do to get MX looking and acting exactly the way I wanted and this meant I spent very little time adjusting settings or turning off features I didn't want and more time getting things done.
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Hardware used in this review
My physical test equipment for this review was a desktop HP Pavilon p6 Series with the following specifications:
I also ran MX Linux on a de-branded HP laptop with the following
- Processor: Dual-core 2.8GHz AMD A4-3420 APU
- Storage: 500GB Hitachi hard drive
- Memory: 6GB of RAM
- Networking: Realtek RTL8111 wired network card
- Display: AMD Radeon HD 6410D video card
- Processor: Intel i3 2.5GHz CPU
- Display: Intel integrated video
- Storage: Western Digital 700GB hard drive
- Memory: 6GB of RAM
- Wired network device: Realtek RTL8101E/RTL8102E PCI Express Fast
- Wireless network device: Realtek RTL8188EE Wireless network card
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Visitor supplied rating
MX Linux has a visitor supplied average rating of: 9.5/10 from 360 review(s).
Have you used MX Linux? You can leave your own review of the project on our ratings page.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
openSUSE experiments with kernel-powered splash screen, Ubuntu pulls downloads over BIOS bug, PureOS is endorsed by the FSF, FreeBSD considers easier Wayland access, UBports to run Android apps, Manjaro to continue 32-bit support
Max Staudt has announced a new approach to displaying a boot splash screen on GNU/Linux distributions. The Staudt has published patches which enable the Linux kernel to display a splash screen during the boot process. In theory, this will provide a smoother, more consistent boot image than the one provided by userland tools such as Plymouth. Staudt writes: "This is the initial prototype for a lean Linux kernel bootsplash. It works by replacing fbcon's FB manipulation routines (such as bitblit, tileblit) with dummy functions, effectively disabling text output, and drawing the splash directly onto the FB device. As it is now, it will show a black screen rather than a logo, and only if manually enabled via the kernel command line." Further details and the benefits of moving this functionality into the kernel can be found in Staudt's mailing list post.
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The download links for Ubuntu 17.10 were temporarily removed from the distribution's website while the project's developers responded to a serious bug. The bug in question revolves around a kernel driver which affects Lenovo computers, corrupting their BIOS. The bug prevents users from adjusting and saving new BIOS settings. "Basically on Lenovo Y50-70 after installing Ubuntu 17.10, many users reported a corrupted BIOS. It's not possible to save new settings in BIOS anymore and after rebooting, the system starts with the old settings. Moreover (and most important) USB booting is not possible anymore since USB is not recognized. It's very serious, since our machines do not have a CD-ROM. Lenovo forums at the moment are full of topics regarding this issue." Further information, a workaround and a list of affected Lenovo computers are listed in a bug report on Launchpad.
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PureOS is a Debian-based distribution which goes to great lengths to provide free and open source software exclusively to its users. The efforts of the PureOS team have been recognized by the Free Software Foundation (FSF) and PureOS is now one of the few operating systems endorsed by the FSF. Donald Robertson wrote, on behalf of the FSF: "The Free Software Foundation (FSF) today announced the addition of PureOS to its list of recommended GNU/Linux distributions. The FSF's list showcases GNU/Linux operating system distributions whose developers have made a commitment to follow its Guidelines for Free System Distributions. Each one includes and endorses exclusively free 'as in freedom' software. After extensive evaluation and many iterations, the FSF concluded that PureOS, a modern and user-friendly Debian-derived distribution, meets these criteria." PureOS is partially supported by Purism, a company which sells computer hardware designed to work with free and open source software, without non-free components.
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Some FreeBSD developers are discussing whether to make it easier to use Wayland (an alternative to Xorg) to power desktop environments on the FreeBSD operating system. Johannes Lundberg commented, "I want to suggest that we enable Wayland by default. In current state, having some parts of Wayland in ports is basically useless, the end-users themselves re-build GTK30 and mesa-libs with Wayland enabled. libwayland-egl.so from mesa-libs and the extra libraries and headers from GTK30 adds like a few KB, a drop in the ocean compared to Xorg packages." Lundberg points out Wayland has technically been available on FreeBSD for over a year, but needs to be enabled manually, slowing adoption. The discussion on whether to enable Wayland can be found on the FreeBSD Ports mailing list.
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UBports, the project which took over maintenance of Canonical's Ubuntu Touch mobile operating system, has announced a long-awaited feature: UBports may soon be able to run Android apps. If successful, this would allow users to run an open GNU/Linux operating system with a mobile-oriented interface and popular Android applications. The project's blog reports: "UBports, the maintainer and community behind the Ubuntu Touch mobile operating system, is pleased to announce that the long-awaited feature of being able to run Android apps on Ubuntu Touch has reached a new milestone with the inauguration of 'Project Anbox'. Anbox - a shorted form of 'Android-in-a-Box' - is a community effort which allows Android apps to execute in a container in a more native way rather than the more common approach of using an Android emulator, which compromises performance and usability. During the next few weeks, UBports will release a pre-alpha version of Anbox with setup instructions. People have come to depend on certain applications that are not available on Ubuntu Touch. In order to become a full-featured and mainstream mobile operating system, Ubuntu Touch needs to offer its users the proprietary services they depend on, at least until the point when free and open source alternatives are viable." The Android compatibility feature will be an optional component of UBports.
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While Manjaro Linux's parent distribution, Arch Linux, has dropped support for 32-bit packages, members of the Manjaro team have decided to continue supporting 32-bit computers. Manjaro developers, along with some other Arch-based projects, are continuing 32-bit support through the archlinux32 community repositories. Technically, 32-bit support is being continued through a separate effort from the main Manjaro project and will not have the same range of installation options. People running 32-bit builds of Manjaro should be automatically set up on the new repositories, but for those who are not, there are update instructions on the Manjaro forum.
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These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Tips and Tricks (by Jesse Smith)
Managing multimedia files
A few weeks ago we shared some tips for manipulating image files from the command line using a suite of tools called ImageMagick. This week we are going to quickly cover some useful command line tricks for working with multimedia files.
Have you ever found an audio track you liked that was part of a video file and you just wanted the audio? We can extract the audio from a video file and save it separately using the ffmpeg command line tool. This can be accomplished by passing the ffmpeg program the -i flag and the name of the original video file, followed by the name of the file where we will save our audio:
ffmpeg -i video.mp4 just-audio.mp3
The -i flag just lets ffmpeg know which of the files we are specifying is the original input file, in this case it is video.mp4.
In a similar manner, ffmpeg can convert one video type into another. This example converts an .avi file into an .mp4 video file:
ffmpeg -i original.avi new-and-improved.mp4
Also on the subject of ffmpeg, this tool can take screen shots for us from a video file. The following example takes one screen shot 12 minutes and 44 seconds into a video called family-trip.mp4. The image will be saved under the name family-snapshot.png.
ffmpeg -ss 12:44 -i family-trip.mp4 -frames 1 -f image2 family-snapshot.png
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Sometimes I encounter audio files which are difficult to hear due to having a very low volume. We can boost the audio output using the sox command. The sox command will adjust volume up or down using the -v flag followed by a multiplier. The following example doubles (x2) the audio volume of a file.
sox -v 2.0 original-music.ogg louder-music.ogg
We can do the reverse, making a loud file softer by using a multiplier smaller than 1.0:
sox -v 0.25 original-music.ogg quieter-music.ogg
The sox command has other uses, for example it can be used to trim audio files. The following example extracts the sixty seconds from 1:30 to 2:30 in an audio file and saves this to a separate file. The new, shortened file is called just-a-minute.mp3.
sox original-music.mp3 just-a-minute.mp3 trim 1:30 60
The sox package features a second tool called play which can be used to play an audio file from the command line. This is handy for times when we are making adjustments to audio files and want to immediately test our output.
What is your favourite audio or video editing command line trick? Leave us your tip in the comments.
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More tips can be found in our Tips and Tricks archive.
|Released Last Week
Endless OS 3.3.5
Endless OS is a Linux-based operating system which provides a simplified and streamlined user experience using a customized desktop environment forked from GNOME 3. The Endless team has announced the availability of Endless OS 3.3.5. The new version makes it easier for multi-language users to switch languages, even before signing into their account. "Here's what's new in Endless OS 3.3.5. Sign-on improvements. We've made it easier for users who mix English and non-English languages in their password to switch languages while signing in to unlock their computer. Improvements to apps. The new version of Flatpak and Flatpak Builder adds new features and fixes many bugs. This means users will see improvements to their apps such as: Missing icons will now appear in some apps like Telegram; prevented a situation where apps wouldn't be able to connect to the internet after changing from one wireless network to another; improvements to language and localization selection." Further information can be found in the project's release announcement. Endless OS is available in multiple languages and the distribution's ISOs are offered through a variety torrents on the project's Download page.
ArchLabs is an Arch Linux-based distribution featuring the Openbox window manager. Matt Dobson has announced the release of new installation media for ArchLabs bearing the version number 2017.12. Early versions of ArchLabs featured the Calamares graphical system installer, but the newest version swaps out Calamares for an alternative installer called ABIF. "The biggest addition to ArchLabs this time around is the removal of Calamares and the re-appearance of ABIF. There are a couple of reasons behind this. Firstly, both Nate and I prefer ABIF as our method of installation and secondly, we managed to trim down the ISO by a few more MBs. ABIF has been fine-tuned to suit ArchLabs needs and is a bit more of an in-depth way of installing ArchLabs. Don't be scared off by ABIF, it is surprisingly simple to use. For those of you who have never used ABIF, you will be able to find a walkthrough in the next coming days at our forum." Further information can be found in the project's release announcement.
Slax is a Debian-based distribution designed to be run from a USB flash drive. The project has released a new version of the live desktop distribution carrying the version number 9.3.0. The new version's major change is the introduction of additional firmware for wireless networking devices. "Lets recap all the changes since previous stable version: First of all, I've added lots of firmware drivers to support various WIFI devices. It is around 40MB compressed, so Slax is a bit bigger now due to this, but I fully understand that a computer without network connection is completely useless, so this had to happen. I spent some time testing Slax to boot from many different file systems and I was able to identify some problems, which are now fixed. Most importantly this includes NTFS and ext4 support, so Slax is now capable of booting from them as well." Further details can be found in the project's release announcement for Slax 9.3.0. ISO images can be downloaded from the distribution's home page.
The FatDog64 Linux team have announced a new stable release of their distribution. FatDog64 is a lightweight distribution which has a similar style to Puppy Linux, but focuses on supporting 64-bit computers. "The Fatdog team (Kirk, James, SFR and step) is happy to announce the next version of Fatdog64, 720 Final. Fatdog64 720 Final is the next iteration of Fatdog64. It is still built on the same base as Fatdog64 710 so it has a high-degree of compatibility with 710 packages; however it has been expanded, improved, and modified to meet today's challenge. Much of the improvements in this release are from SFR and step. We like to thank those who have provided feedback, suggestions, advice, bug reports, bug fixes in the Beta cycle and in the previous releases. You know who you are." A list of key package updates and major changes since the Fatdog64 710 release can be found in the project's release announcement. More specific package information can be found in the release notes.
Soren Jacobsen has announced the release of NetBSD 7.1.1, a security and bug-fix update from the project that develops a lightweight operating system that runs on a wide range of hardware platforms: "The NetBSD Project is pleased to announce NetBSD 7.1.1, the first security/critical update of the NetBSD 7.1 release branch. It represents a selected subset of fixes deemed important for security or stability reasons. The following security advisories were fixed: buffer overflow via cmap for 4 graphics drivers; x86 - vulnerabilities in context handling; Vnode reference leak in the openat system call. Userland changes: dhcrelay(8) - fix bug that prevented proper operation when run in the background; Heimdal - update to 7.1; mtree(8) - don't modify strings stored in hash, otherwise filling up of directory hierarchy stops if the same hash value occurs in directory and leaf...." Here is the brief release announcement, with a detailed changelog provided in the release notes. Installation images of NetBSD 7.1.1 are available for 54 different platforms.
Calculate Linux 17.12
Alexander Tratsevskiy has announced the release of Calculate Linux 17.12, a set of desktop and server distributions based on Gentoo Linux. This release is comes in four desktop flavours, with KDE Plasma 5.10.5, Cinnamon 3.4.6, MATE 1.18.0 and Xfce 4.12.3: "On the New Year's eve, meet Calculate Linux 17.12! This latest release features installation on software RAID and offers still better load and memory balance. Main changes: added SoftRaid support; fixed auto-partitioning problems; third-party overlays supported; the Calculate Utilities server does not run on the background, it is launched by D-Bus; the MuQSS patch was included to the kernel configuration for better application task scheduling; the UKSM patch was included in the kernel configuration for less memory load; PAE binary kernel supported for 32-bit systems; all server kernel settings optimized; GCC updated to 6.4 and the kernel updated to v 4.14...." Read the full release announcement for further details and upgrade instructions.
Calculate Linux 17.12 -- Running the KDE Plasma desktop
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ALT Linux 8.2
Michael Shigorin has announced the release of ALT Linux 8.2, a set of independently-developed, RPM-based distributions designed for desktops, servers and educational institutions: "BaseALT Ltd announces the release of ALT Server, ALT Workstation and ALT Education distributions version 8.2, aimed at corporate servers and desktops, educational and personal use. Changes in version 8.2: critical security fixes in Linux kernel, Samba, OpenSSL and other software packages included along with bug fixes; iucode-tool is now used to load updated CPU microcode. ALT Server 8.2 changes: the link to access System management center printed to console; FreeIPA server added. ALT Workstation 8.2 changes: Chromium browser is not installed by default but provided in the image; FreeIPA client added...." Read the rest of the release announcement for further information and links to product descriptions.
Manjaro Linux 17.1.0
Philip Müller has announced a new update to the rolling Manjaro Linux distribution. The new installation media, labeled Manjaro Linux 17.1.0, ships with several package upgrades. "This is our second try with Xorg-Server v1.19.6. This time we also updated our Mesa-Stack and changed the handling of DRI/DRM. Some reported Compiz not working with this. Therefore we had it updated to the latest source currently available. Friends of GIMP may try out the latest development edition of this fantastic graphical art app. Again we have the latest Firefox and WINE added. Also linux49 and linux414 got updated to their latest point-releases. This marks the last update of Manjaro in 2017. We wish you all the best for next year. Have fun and celebrate with family and friends!" The release announcement mentions Manjaro Linux will no longer officially support 32-bit packages, but 32-bit support can be found through the related Manjaro32 project.
Ferdinand Thommes has announced the availability of a new snapshot of siduction, a rolling release distribution based on Debian's Unstable branch. "Today we are proud to release siduction 2018.1.0 with the flavours KDE, LXQt, GNOME, Cinnamon, MATE, Xfce, LXDE, Xorg and noX. The released images are a snapshot of Debian Unstable, that also goes by the name of Sid, from 2017-29-12. They are enhanced with some useful packages and scripts, a brand new installer and a custom patched version of the Linux kernel 4.14.10, accompanied by X-Server 1.19.5 and systemd 236. KDE Plasma stands at version 5.10.5, while GNOME comes in at 3.26 with some packages still at 3.24. LXQt ships at 0.12.0 and Xfce at 4.12.4, while Cinnamon comes in at 3.4.6 and MATE at 1.18.3. Sadly, right now, GNOME, MATE and LXDE are largely unmaintained. If no one steps up to keep them in a releaseable state, we might have to drop these flavours with our next release. The corresponding packages will stay in the archives." Further information can be found in the project's release announcement.
siduction 2018.1.0 -- Running the Cinnamon desktop
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
The table below provides a list of torrents DistroWatch is currently seeding. If you do not have a bittorrent client capable of handling the linked files, we suggest installing either the Transmission or KTorrent bittorrent clients.
Archives of our previously seeded torrents may be found in our Torrent Archive. We also maintain a Torrents RSS feed for people who wish to have open source torrents delivered to them. To share your own open source torrents of Linux and BSD projects, please visit our Upload Torrents page.
Torrent Corner statistics:
- Total torrents seeded: 689
- Total data uploaded: 17.1TB
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
How many distributions did you install in the past two weeks?
Our last issue of DistroWatch Weekly was published two weeks ago and, in the gap between then and now, we have been looking at several projects and exploring operating systems on our waiting list. We would like to find out if you have been exploring new distributions too. How many distributions have you installed in the past two weeks? Let us know which ones in the comments.
You can see the results of our previous poll on running a dedicated computer for playing media in last week's edition. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
How many distributions did you install in the past two weeks?
|0: ||816 (48%)|
| 1: ||266 (16%)|
| 2: ||269 (16%)|
| 3-5: ||270 (16%)|
| 6-10: ||67 (4%)|
| 11+: ||24 (1%)|
New projects added to database
DietPi is a Debian-based Linux distribution, primarily developed for single board computers such as the Raspberry Pi, Orange Pi or Odroid. DietPi also supplies builds for 64-bit x86 personal computers and virtual machines. DietPi ships with a number of menu-driven configuration tools which can be run from a terminal.
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Distributions added to waiting list
- Shiba_lnu. Shiba_lnu is a distribution based on the Slackware-based flavour of Puppy Linux. The distribution ships with the Openbox window manager.
- LinuxCNC. LinuxCNC is a Debian-based distribution for working with computer numerical control (CNC) machines.
- batocera.linux. batocera.linux is a distribution for personal computers and single board ARM computers (like the Raspberry Pi) which runs classic console games through RetroArch.
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DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 8 January 2018. Past articles and reviews can be found through our Article Search page. To contact the authors please send e-mail to:
- Jesse Smith (feedback, questions and suggestions: distribution reviews/submissions, questions and answers, tips and tricks)
- Ladislav Bodnar (feedback, questions, donations, comments)
- Bruce Patterson (podcast)
If you've enjoyed this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly, please consider sending us a tip.
(Tips this week: 1, value: US$7.90)
|Linux Foundation Training
|• Issue 776 (2018-08-13): NomadBSD 1.1, Maximum storage limits on Linux, openSUSE extends life for 42.3, updates to the Librem 5 phone interface|
|• Issue 775 (2018-08-06): Secure-K OS 18.5, Linux is about choice, Korora tests community spin, elementary OS hires developer, ReactOS boots on Btrfs|
|• Issue 774 (2018-07-30): Ubuntu MATE & Ubuntu Budgie 18.04, upgrading software from source, Lubuntu shifts focus, NetBSD changes support policy|
|• Issue 773 (2018-07-23): Peppermint OS 9, types of security used by different projects, Mint reacts to bugs in core packages, Slackware turns 25|
|• Issue 772 (2018-07-16): Hyperbola GNU/Linux-libre 0.2.4, UBports running desktop applications, OpenBSD auto-joins wi-fi networks, boot environments and zedenv|
|• Issue 771 (2018-07-09): Linux Lite 4.0, checking CPUs for bugs, configuring GRUB, Mint upgrade instructions, SUSE acquired by EQT|
|• Issue 770 (2018-07-02): Linux Mint 19, Solus polishes desktop experience, MintBox Mini 2, changes to Fedora's installer|
|• Issue 769 (2018-06-25): BunsenLabs Helium, counting Ubuntu users, UBports upgrading to 16.04, Fedora CoreOS, FreeBSD turns 25|
|• Issue 768 (2018-06-18): Devuan 2.0.0, using pkgsrc to manage software, the NOVA filesystem, OpenBSD handles successful cron output|
|• Issue 767 (2018-06-11): Android-x86 7.1-r1, transferring files over OpenSSH with pipes, LFS with Debian package management, Haiku ports LibreOffice|
|• Issue 766 (2018-06-04): openSUSE 15, overview of file system links, Manjaro updates Pamac, ReactOS builds itself, Bodhi closes forums|
|• Issue 765 (2018-05-28): Pop!_OS 18.04, gathering system information, Haiku unifying ARM builds, Solus resumes control of Budgie|
|• Issue 764 (2018-05-21): DragonFly BSD 5.2.0, Tails works on persistent packages, Ubuntu plans new features, finding services affected by an update|
|• Issue 763 (2018-05-14): Fedora 28, Debian compatibility coming to Chrome OS, malware found in some Snaps, Debian's many flavours|
|• Issue 762 (2018-05-07): TrueOS 18.03, live upgrading Raspbian, Mint plans future releases, HardenedBSD to switch back to OpenSSL|
|• Issue 761 (2018-04-30): Ubuntu 18.04, accessing ZFS snapshots, UBports to run on Librem 5 phones, Slackware makes PulseAudio optional|
|• Issue 760 (2018-04-23): Chakra 2017.10, using systemd to hide files, Netrunner's ARM edition, Debian 10 roadmap, Microsoft develops Linux-based OS|
|• Issue 759 (2018-04-16): Neptune 5.0, building containers with Red Hat, antiX introduces Sid edition, fixing filenames on the command line|
|• Issue 758 (2018-04-09): Sortix 1.0, openSUSE's Transactional Updates, Fedora phasing out Python 2, locating portable packages|
|• Issue 757 (2018-04-02): Gatter Linux 0.8, the UNIX and Linux System Administration Handbook, Red Hat turns 25, super long term support kernels|
|• Issue 756 (2018-03-26): NuTyX 10.0, Neptune supplies Debian users with Plasma 5.12, SolydXK on a Raspberry Pi, SysV init development|
|• Issue 755 (2018-03-19): Learning with ArchMerge and Linux Academy, Librem 5 runs Plasma Mobile, Cinnamon gets performance boost|
|• Issue 754 (2018-03-12): Reviewing Sabayon and Antergos, the growing Linux kernel, BSDs getting CPU bug fixes, Manjaro builds for ARM devices|
|• Issue 753 (2018-03-05): Enso OS 0.2, KDE Plasma 5.12 features, MX Linux prepares new features, interview with MidnightBSD's founder|
|• Issue 752 (2018-02-26): OviOS 2.31, performing off-line upgrades, elementary OS's new installer, UBports gets test devices, Redcore team improves security|
|• Issue 751 (2018-02-19): DietPi 6.1, testing KDE's Plasma Mobile, Nitrux packages AppImage in default install, Solus experiments with Wayland|
|• Issue 750 (2018-02-12): Solus 3, getting Deb packages upstream to Debian, NetBSD security update, elementary OS explores AppCentre changes|
|• Issue 749 (2018-02-05): Freespire 3 and Linspire 7.0, misunderstandings about Wayland, Xorg and Mir, Korora slows release schedule, Red Hat purchases CoreOS|
|• Issue 748 (2018-01-29): siduction 2018.1.0, SolydXK 32-bit editions, building an Ubuntu robot, desktop-friendly Debian options|
|• Issue 747 (2018-01-22): Ubuntu MATE 17.10, recovering open files, creating a new distribution, KDE focusing on Wayland features|
|• Issue 746 (2018-01-15): deepin 15.5, openSUSE's YaST improvements, new Ubuntu 17.10 media, details on Spectre and Meltdown bugs|
|• Issue 745 (2018-01-08): GhostBSD 11.1, Linspire and Freespire return, wide-spread CPU bugs patched, adding AppImage launchers to the application menu|
|• Issue 744 (2018-01-01): MX Linux 17, Ubuntu pulls media over BIOS bug, PureOS gets endorsed by the FSF, openSUSE plays with kernel boot splash screens|
|• Issue 743 (2017-12-18): Daphile 17.09, tools for rescuing files, Fedora Modular Server delayed, Sparky adds ARM support, Slax to better support wireless networking|
|• Issue 742 (2017-12-11): heads 0.3.1, improvements coming to Tails, Void tutorials, Ubuntu phasing out Python 2, manipulating images from the command line|
|• Issue 741 (2017-12-04): Pop!_OS 17.10, openSUSE Tumbleweed snapshots, installing Q4OS on a Windows partition, using the at command|
|• Issue 740 (2017-11-27): Artix Linux, Unity spin of Ubuntu, Nitrux swaps Snaps for AppImage, getting better battery life on Linux|
|• Issue 739 (2017-11-20): Fedora 27, cross-distro software ports, Ubuntu on Samsung phones, Red Hat supports ARM, Parabola continues 32-bit support|
|• Issue 738 (2017-11-13): SparkyLinux 5.1, rumours about spyware, Slax considers init software, Arch drops 32-bit packages, overview of LineageOS|
|• Issue 737 (2017-11-06): BeeFree OS 18.1.2, quick tips to fix common problems, Slax returning, Solus plans MATE and software management improvements|
|• Issue 736 (2017-10-30): Ubuntu 17.10, "what if" security questions, Linux Mint to support Flatpak, NetBSD kernel memory protection|
|• Issue 735 (2017-10-23): ArchLabs Minimo, building software with Ravenports, WPA security patch, Parabola creates OpenRC spin|
|• Issue 734 (2017-10-16): Star 1.0.1, running the Linux-libre kernel, Ubuntu MATE experiments with snaps, Debian releases new install media, Purism reaches funding goal|
|• Issue 733 (2017-10-09): KaOS 2017.09, 32-bit prematurely obsoleted, Qubes security features, IPFire updates Apache|
|• Issue 732 (2017-10-02): ClonOS, reducing Snap package size, Ubuntu dropping 32-bit Desktop, partitioning disks for ZFS|
|• Issue 731 (2017-09-25): BackSlash Linux Olaf, W3C adding DRM to web standards, Wayland support arrives in Mir, Debian experimenting with AppArmor|
|• Issue 730 (2017-09-18): Mageia 6, running a completely free OS, HAMMER2 file system in DragonFly BSD's installer, Manjaro to ship pre-installed on laptops|
|• Issue 729 (2017-09-11): Parabola GNU/Linux-libre, running Plex Media Server on a Raspberry Pi, Tails feature roadmap, a cross-platform ports build system|
|• Issue 728 (2017-09-04): Nitrux 1.0.2, SUSE creates new community repository, remote desktop tools for GNOME on Wayland, using Void source packages|
|• Issue 727 (2017-08-28): Cucumber Linux 1.0, using Flatpak vs Snap, GNOME previews Settings panel, SUSE reaffirms commitment to Btrfs|
|• Issue 726 (2017-08-21): Redcore Linux 1706, Solus adds Snap support, KaOS getting hardened kernel, rolling releases and BSD|
|• Issue 725 (2017-08-14): openSUSE 42.3, Debian considers Flatpak for backports, changes coming to Ubuntu 17.10, the state of gaming on Linux|
|• Full list of all issues|
|Random Distribution |
BeaFanatIX was an Ubuntu-based mini live CD with utilities borrowed from KNOPPIX. It was developed by a small group of developers who have forked the successful, but discontinued BeatrIX distribution and added new features and scripts. The main purpose of BeaFanatIX was to provide a small, installable live CD, with good documentation and easy-to-use applications for a variety of desktop tasks.
|Tips, Tricks, Myths and Q&As |
|Questions and answers: The source of Ubuntu's packages|
|Questions and answers: Creating a swap file|
|Tips and tricks: Command line weather, ionice, rename files, video preview snapshot, calednar, ls colour settings|
|Questions and answers: Debian, systemd and forks|
|Questions and answers: All about cron jobs|
|Questions and answers: Keeping laptops cool with cpufreqd|
|Tips and tricks: Shell switching, battery charge, getting the system's IP address and dealing with stubborn processes|
|Tips and tricks: Running the Linux-libre kernel|
|Questions and answers: Running GNU/Linux on tablet computers|
|Tips and tricks: Running openSUSE "Factory"|
|More Tips & Tricks and Questions & Answers|