| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 763, 14 May 2018
Welcome to this year's 20th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
Last week we talked briefly about the launch of Fedora 28 and some of its new features. This week we begin with a review of Fedora, the distribution's Flatpak support and the GNOME 3.28 desktop environment in our Feature Story. In our News section we talk about Ubuntu Studio working around dependency conflicts and Debian supplying the foundation for GNU/Linux compatibility in Chrome OS. UBports is expected to be a supported operating system on next year's Librem 5 smart phone and we share more details on that combination below. We also report on SolydXK moving its website, forum and downloads to a new domain and Canonical removing malware from its Snapcraft repository. In our Questions and Answers column we talk about how to use a file manager to locate text inside files and Debian's multiple kernel ports. Plus we cover the releases of last week and share the torrents we are currently seeding. In this week's Opinion Poll we talk about the various approaches distributions are taking to improve package updates and ask which one suits your needs best. We wish you all a terrific week and happy reading!
- Review: Fedora 28
- News: Ubuntu Studio works around dependency issue, Debian compatibility coming to Chrome OS, details on UBports running on the Librem 5, SolydXK migrating its domain, Canonical purges malware from Snap repository
- Questions and answers: Finding text in files and Debian's many flavours
- Released last week: CentOS 7-1804, ArchLabs 2018.05, Linuxfx 9.0
- Torrent corner: Antergos, ArchLabs, CentOS, CRUX, GParted, Greenie, Karoshi, Linuxfx, Robolinux, Scientific, Sparky, Tails
- Opinion poll: Atomic updates versus live patching
- New distributions: irBSD
- Reader comments
|Feature Story (by Robert Rijkhoff)
Fedora 28 and GNOME 3.28
I should start my review with a disclaimer. I have been using Fedora with the GNOME desktop as my daily driver for about two years. For me, Fedora strikes the right balance between shipping the latest and greatest software and providing a stable operating system. Fedora is a test-bed for Red Hat Enterprise Linux and a pioneer when it comes to technologies like Wayland, SELinux, Firewalld and, dare I say it, systemd. Equally important, all these technologies are thoroughly documented.
I like Fedora better than I like the GNOME desktop environment. The GNOME desktop on my main PC has been customised quite a bit and there are only two GNOME applications I use regularly: Files and GNOME Terminal. For this review I have tried to stick with the default GNOME desktop as much as possible. In last week's newsletter we had an opinion poll about the vanilla GNOME desktop as provided by Fedora vs. Ubuntu's customised GNOME experience, and I want to share some of my thoughts on that discussion in this review.
There are three distinct editions of Fedora 28: Workstation, Server and Atomic. This review is about the Workstation (i.e. desktop) edition, but I briefly want to mention the other flavours. The latest Server release is noteworthy because it introduces a feature called "modularity". Put simply, it is now possible to choose which version of certain applications you want to install. The Atomic edition is similar to Fedora Server but is more geared towards all things containers. I haven't tried either edition but I have heard people talking about them fondly. It seems Fedora has become a serious contender for servers, in particular if you are using Docker and Kubernetes. A year ago I would never have considered running, say, NextCloud on Fedora - if only because of its rapid release cycle - but now I am not so sure.
The latest release of the Workstation edition is interesting for a few reasons. Fedora 28 ships with the latest GNOME desktop (3.28) which has improved Thunderbolt support as one of its main features. For the first time it is also possible to install a number of proprietary software packages via Fedora's software centre. Other changes include improved battery life and the inclusion of VirtualBox Guest Editions (which makes it easier to run Fedora in VirtualBox).
Fedora Workstation is available for 32-bit and 64-bit architectures and the ISO is roughly 1.7GB in size. If you are running an older version of Fedora then you can upgrade your install via the software centre or the DNF package manager. The latest Fedora ships with version 4.17 of the Linux kernel (a release candidate - the latest stable kernel at the time of the release was 4.16.8) and the latest version of systemd (version 238).
Installation and first impressions
Fedora's Anaconda installer has seen some changes. The Btr file system is no longer available and the default file system is ext4 - I think this used to be XFS, but I could be wrong. User accounts are now created when you first boot into your system and there is no longer an option to set a root password. If you prefer using su rather than sudo, you can run "sudo su" in a terminal window and then "passwd root" to set a root password. Other than that Anaconda is still Anaconda: it works and it is quite fast, but the partitioning is scary.
Fedora 28 -- Partitioning with the Anaconda installer
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The first thing I noticed after I had created my user account was that the GNOME login screen didn't give me the option to use Xorg rather than Wayland. This worried me as there are a few things that don't work properly on Wayland yet. The Shutter screenshot application, for instance, is completely broken on Wayland. I can RDP to Windows machines in a Wayland session but there are small nuisances - using Alt-Tab to cycle through open applications on the remote desktop will cycle through applications on the local machine, for instance. It turns out that the option to choose which session to run is only disabled on the first boot - after rebooting my laptop the GNOME on Xorg session was available (GNOME Classic, a desktop session resembling GNOME 2, is available as well).
Fedora 28 -- A screenshot taken with Shutter in a Wayland session
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The GNOME experience
As already mentioned, Fedora ships with a largely vanilla GNOME desktop environment. The project obviously decides which applications are pre-installed and you get a Fedora-themed wallpaper. Other than that it is up to the user to customise their desktop. Fedora doesn't in any way prevent you from customising GNOME but it doesn't help you either. Applications such as GNOME Tweaks and Dconf Editor are not installed by default and you get just one pre-installed theme (Adwaita) and two wallpapers (you can get more wallpapers by installing the f28-backgrounds-extras-gnome package).
Almost all the pre-installed applications in Fedora 28 are GNOME apps. One good thing about GNOME applications is that they have got sensible names - it is obvious what applications such as Calendar, Contacts, Files, Terminal, Software, Maps, Photos and Videos are. Another common denominator is that the applications follow GNOME's design principles. There are no application menus and just a single toolbar with a few buttons. The aim is to provide a clean, consistent and distraction-free interface.
Fedora 28 -- GNOME's activities overview
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One of the few applications that doesn't follow GNOME's design principles is Evolution. The e-mail client has an abundance of toolbars, buttons and configuration options. It also includes functionality that is already provided by other GNOME applications, such as a calendar, task list and contacts manager. Evolution is, however, nicely integrated with the desktop environment. For instance, events you add to GNOME Calendar will show in Evolution's calendar, and visa versa.
I found that there is an e-mail client available which does follow GNOME's design principles: Geary. It looks like Geary is no longer maintained and although the interface is pretty, the application itself isn't very functional. For instance, the window with settings for e-mail accounts was too tall to fit on my screen and lacked scroll bars. As a result some settings were effectively inaccessible. Geary was also the only application that froze during my trial.
Whereas Geary isn't quite ready for prime time, Photos has replaced Shotwell. Like other GNOME applications, Photos has a straight forward, clean interface. The application automatically retrieves image files from your Pictures directory and displays them in a grid. Right-clicking on an image gives you the option to edit the selected photo or to add it to an album. Like most GNOME applications, Photos has zero customisation options. There is no option, for instance, to display the structure of your Pictures directory. If your photo collection is organised in directories you will have to right-click on each and every image and assign it to an album. Good luck with that if you have thousands of photos.
To illustrate the point, below are screen shots of Shotwell and Photos. In Shotwell, I can easily select all the photos in a directory named alms_houses. In Photos, I have no way of displaying the same collection of images, unless I move each individual photo to an album.
Fedora 28 -- Searching for photos of alms houses in Shotwell
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Fedora 28 -- Searching for photos of alms houses in GNOME Photos
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After exploring Photos a bit more I found that the application didn't display all my photos. For instance, Photos retrieved only five images of a directory containing 18 photos - the other 13 were missing. I wanted to compare the number of photos in my Pictures directory with the number of photos in Photos but alas, to keep the interface clean and simple Photos doesn't reveal the number of images the application is managing.
At this point I should mention Documents. As the name suggests, Documents is a document manager. Like Photos, it finds files of a certain type (such as PDFs and LibreOffice documents) and displays them in a grid, and it is possible to create collections of documents. I have made quite an effort in the past to use Documents. I used to even change the "title" and "keywords" tags in PDFs (using Exiftool) to get everything neatly organised. But then Documents failed me: new documents wouldn't be displayed and tags I had added or changed were suddenly ignored.
The default music player is Rhythmbox. Like Evolution, the application has a more traditional interface. To get a more GNOME-like experience I tried Music. As you might guess, Music tries to automagically retrieve music from the Music directory. At first, it didn't find any music files but after I had rebooted my laptop the application suddenly worked. Once Music was up and running I found the application to be very nice indeed. The application organises your music collection by album, song and artist and has the option to create playlists. That is all I need a music player to do, and in the case of Music I therefore appreciated the minimalist interface.
Fedora 28 -- GNOME Music
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The only non-GNOME applications in the latest Fedora are Firefox (version 59) and LibreOffice (version 6). GNOME does have its own web browser, called Web, but it is not pre-installed in Fedora. I tried Web and kept it as the default browser. It rendered web pages perfectly fine (Web uses the WebKit engine) and out of the box it blocks adverts and other nuisances, such as social media buttons designed to track you. Third party cookies are disabled by default and DuckDuckGo is the preferred search engine (Google and Bing are also available). It is nice to have a browser with sensible default settings. I was also pleased to find that Web can manage GNOME extensions without having to install an addon (in Firefox you need the GNOME Shell Integration addon).
Fedora 28 -- GNOME Web and Firefox
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A final application I want to mention is Boxes, which is GNOME's application for running virtual systems. Compared with VirtualBox the interface is very minimalist but it has all the options I need and a few nice extras. For instance, when you create a new virtual machine you can now install various Linux and BSD operating systems without having to hunt for the relevant ISO image - Boxes will download the ISO for you and then create the virtual machine. Among the available ISOs is Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7. To install RHEL you do need to create a Red Hat Developer account, however, which involves handing over an excessive amount of personal data and agreeing to ridiculously long terms and conditions.
Fedora 28 -- Installing Red Hat Enterprise Linux in Boxes
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One of the headline features of Fedora 28 is the option to enable selected third party software repositories from within GNOME Software. Like many other distros, Fedora only includes free and open source software. To install various proprietary applications and codecs you can add third party repositories such as RPM Fusion via the command line. These third party repositories are provided by users and not endorsed or supported by the Fedora project.
When you open Software in Fedora 28 the new feature is clearly advertised and the repositories can be enabled with the click of a button. Alternatively, selecting "Software Repositories" from Software's menu will also let you enable (or disable) the new repositories. The third party software repositories are fairly empty at the moment: the only repos available are for Google Chrome (from Google's repository), PyCharm (from the Copr repos), NVIDIA graphics drivers and Steam (both from RPM Fusion).
Fedora 28 -- Managing software repositories in GNOME Software
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I tried the new feature by enabling the Google Chrome repository and found it didn't quite work. When I tried to install the Chrome browser via Software I got a message to say that I needed to enable the repo I had just enabled.
Fedora 28 -- Software asking if the Google Chrome repository should be enabled
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After double-checking that the repo was indeed enabled already I decided to hit the "Enable and Install" button. That resulted in an error: Software told me that Chrome couldn't be installed because the Google Chrome repo was already enabled. As with the Music application, the solution was "turning it off and on again" - after I had rebooted my laptop I could install Chrome.
Fedora 28 -- Software refusing to install Google Chrome
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In general, GNOME Software felt a little buggy. Installing and removing software from the default repositories worked fine but Software failed to notify me of available software updates. A week into my trial the Updates tab in Software still showed that my software was up to date. Running "dnf update", however, showed that there were in fact 231 updates waiting to be installed.
Fedora 28 -- Software up to date?
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As a final note on the repositories, Fedora includes the Linux Vendor Firmware repository. The repo provides firmware updates for your hardware, provided that the hardware vendor has made updates available to the excellent fwupd project. (Unfortunately, my Thinkpad X220 isn't on the list of supported devices).
Fedora's release announcement failed to mention Flatpak. The package format markets itself as "the future of application distribution" and has close ties with Fedora. I looked into Flatpak about a year ago and didn't find it all that useful. Flatpaks I installed worked fine but always use the Adwaita theme. Unless you use GNOME's default theme your Flatpak applications look rather out of place.
To install Flatpak applications you first need to add the FlatHub repository via the command line:
sudo flatpak remote-add --if-not-exists flathub https://flathub.org/repo/flathub.flatpakrepo
Once that's done you can install Flatpak applications via Software. I installed Gradio (an application to find and listen to on-line radio stations). As I expected, Flatpak applications still don't blend in with any custom theme you might have installed. As I am quite happy with the legacy way of application distribution I decided to remove Gradio and the Flathub repository. To my surprise, though, that didn't work. I could uninstall Gradio but I couldn't get rid off the Flathub repository. When I tried removing the repo in Software I was told that I didn't have permission to do so (and I wasn't prompted for my password). Running the command
sudo flatpak remote-delete flathub
resulted in another error: "Can't remove remote 'flathub' with installed ref runtime/org.gnome.Platform/x86_64/3.26".
Fedora 28 -- The Gradio Flatpak using the Adwaita theme
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For this review I used Fedora Workstation with a vanilla GNOME desktop environment, and I tried to use native GNOME applications as much as possible. I found vanilla GNOME to be a mixed bag. There were many aspects I really liked but there also a few things that made me cringe.
Let's start with the positives. The documentation is quite good - it is well written and covers all the basics. I also quite like how GNOME handles notifications; they are displayed underneath the clock and clicking on the clock brings up a menu that shows recent notifications. The notification area is also used to display calendar appointments and what music is playing. At first I saw the notification area as an ugly, humongous monster but I grew to like it.
Most GNOME applications are pretty, and the absence of toolbars and buttons encouraged me to learn various keyboard shortcuts. After a few hours I no longer missed the minimise button on windows - using the Super-H shortcut is quicker and easier than clicking with the mouse on a minimise button. GNOME applications also use a pleasantly consistent work flow. For instance, applications such as Files, Music and Photos all give you the option to mark items as a "favourite", which in effect is a handy bookmarking system. Similarly, to perform a search in applications such as Files, Web and Software you simply start typing. It takes a little time to get used to but it soon becomes second nature. Having to use the Ctrl-F keyboard combination to do a search now feels a little slow.
That said, I don't buy into the "distraction-free" philosophy. The GNOME desktop certainly looks very clean - there is just one panel with a few items. Personally, though, I like to be able to open applications with the click of a button, and I like to see what applications I have got open at all times (whether via a dock or task bar). I can't get used to constantly opening the "Activities overview" to access applications, work spaces and the search menu. It feels like I am using a mobile phone desktop environment on a PC.
My main gripe with GNOME, though, are applications such as Photos. In Shotwell, I can instantly see how many photos I have. I can easily find images by browsing to the relevant directory. I can choose which directories photos are imported from, and if Shotwell's toolbars become too overwhelming I can simply hide them. GNOME Photos has stripped all these functions and assumes that I am happy to spend hours organising my photo collection in a new way, by adding them to albums. And then Photos doesn't even find images in the directory it is supposed to automatically retrieve images from.
Of course, this is my personal opinion, and it is more about GNOME than it is about Fedora. As I mentioned in the introduction, I like Fedora for its release cycle, package manager and because it is at the forefront of many new technologies. I work in a web hosting environment with many CentOS and CloudLinux servers, and Fedora seems a natural fit. Plus: GNOME can be tweaked.
As for Fedora itself (sans-GNOME), it seems Fedora 28 is another solid release. I upgraded one my PCs from version 27 to 28 without any issues. SELinux hasn't thrown any mysterious alerts at me yet. Updates are applied quickly and cleanly and just about all software I want to use is available. It is a pleasantly boring experience.
I also like where Fedora is going with the third party repositories. Fedora's project leader, Matthew Miller, recently talked on the Late Night Linux podcast about how Fedora is trying to find the right balance between software freedom and providing a functional system. He was unapologetic about the third party repos: "[...] being a theoretical, pure freedom distribution that doesn't actually work on anybody's hardware doesn't help anybody." I very much agree and hope Fedora will add more third party repositories. At the same time I would like to see better integration of Flatpak repositories and applications.
Finally, I should mention that there are various Fedora spins. If you don't like GNOME, you have the option to install Fedora with the KDE, Xfce, LXQt, LXDE, MATE, Cinnamon or Sugar on a Stick desktops.
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Hardware used for this review
My physical test equipment for this review was a Lenovo Thinkpad X220 with the following specifications:
- Processor: Intel Core i3-2520M, 2.5GHz
- Memory: 8GB of RAM
- Wireless network adaptor: Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6205
- Wired network adaptor: Intel 82579M
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Visitor supplied rating
Fedora has a visitor supplied average rating of: 8.4/10 from 380 review(s).
Have you used Fedora? You can leave your own review of the project on our ratings page.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
Ubuntu Studio works around dependency issue, Debian compatibility coming to Chrome OS, details on UBports running on the Librem 5, SolydXK migrating its domain
A new version of the GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) was launched recently. The new version, 2.10, includes several improvements that artists will no doubt wish to use. However, library compatibility issues can make upgrading the GIMP package difficult, as the Ubuntu Studio team explains: "Unfortunately for our users that use MyPaint and GIMP, MyPaint (1.2) uses libmypaint 1.2. GIMP 2.10 uses libmypaint 1.3. The two libmypaint versions cannot currently be installed at the same time. This means that, until we devise a solution or MyPaint 1.3 is released (whichever comes first), MyPaint and GIMP 2.10 cannot be installed at the same time. This discrepancy is causing problems in the official Ubuntu repositories and in upstream Debian Testing." In these situations, a portable package format that isolates programs from the rest of the operating system is useful. There are Flatpak and Snap packages of GIMP 2.10 available for people who wish to upgrade and side-step library dependency issues.
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The ability to run GNU/Linux applications will soon be coming to the Chrome OS platform. Chrome OS is itself based on the Linux kernel, but is set up to run a different family of applications, preventing users from running traditionally packaged Linux programs. A write-up on Venture Beat reports: "Support for Linux apps means developers will finally be able to use a Google device to develop for Google's platforms, rather than having to depend on Windows, Mac, or Linux machines. And because Chrome OS doesn't just run Chrome OS-specific apps anymore, developers will be able to create, test, and run any Android or web app for phones, tablets, and laptops all on their Chromebooks. Without having to switch devices, you can run your favorite IDE - as long as there is a Debian Linux version (for the curious, Google is specifically using Debian Stretch here) - code in your favorite language and launch projects to Google Cloud with the command line."
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UBports is a community driven continuation of the Ubuntu Touch operating system for mobile devices. UBports has joined efforts with Purism to create a smart phone that runs fully open source software. The phone, called the Librem 5, is expected to launch in early 2019. As more details of the phone are revealed it seems UBports on the Librem 5 may complete Canonical's original vision of a convergent, entirely open device which can seamlessly act as both a mobile device and a desktop computer. The UBports blog says: "And what about convergence? Does the proposed Librem 5 support the dream of convergence? The answer is: yes! About midway down their store page, it says: 'Enabling the path for a true convergence device, capable to work as a phone, making video and audio calls, encrypted messaging, e-mail, web browser, that can also become a full desktop computer with an option for a compatible keyboard, mouse, and monitor. It can be a desktop computer and phone all-in-one.' This means that, with the successful production of the Librem 5 device, UBports' dream of true convergence will be able to live on in a brand new device as well as remain possible in the Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 devices for those who have already purchased or wish to purchase used."
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The SolydXK website and forums are migrating from their current SolydXK.com domain to SolydXK.nl. A post on the project's blog reports: "Today I've started migrating the solydxk.com domain to Europe. This process can take a few days. It is possible that during this time the solydxk.com site will not be available. Do not worry! I'll probably be working feverishly to get everything in order. The following domains were already migrated: forums.solydxk.com can now be visited at forums.solydxk.nl; repository.solydxk.com is now provided by repository.solydxk.nl. Check the 'Sources.list' page on our forum for further information. downloads.solydxk.com is now downloads.solydxk.nl. Here you can download the ISOs even if the solydxk.com site is off-line."
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A collection of Snap packages have been identified which contain a hidden, cryptocurrency miner. The miner, which was bundled in Snaps such as 2048buntu, would run in the background when a Snap was activated. The Snaps were identified and removed over the weekend. The discovery of the hidden code has raised questions about the verification steps a package needs to go through before being published in the Snapcraft store.
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These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Finding text in files and Debian's many flavours
Peeking-inside-files asks: One thing that bugs me is that I can't find a good file manager. With Windows Explorer, you can set the search engine to go search in the files, and this option is vital for me. I sometimes have to search in my folder to find lyrics that fit with the theme I've decided. So far, I've read a lot on the subject, and I've tried Caja, Konquest and Dolphin (the last two were supposed to be the best) and none of them support this feature. Do you know one that can do that kind of search?
DistroWatch answers: The Dolphin file manager has an option for finding text inside files, though the feature is located in an unusual place. In Dolphin, browse to the folder you want to search. Then select the Edit menu, select Find and then click the Content tab. Type the word (or words) you wish to locate and press Enter. A list of files in the current directory tree containing that text will be displayed.
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Puzzled-about-Debian-in-search-results asks: When I search for BSD-based operating systems on DistroWatch, Debian comes up as the first result. Why?
DistroWatch answers: While Debian is primarily known for being a Linux distribution, the project also maintains special editions which use kernels other than Linux. Debian has one flavour built around the Hurd kernel and another which runs on the FreeBSD kernel. While these flavours are not generally recommended for daily use, they are interesting branches of the Debian family tree.
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More answers can be found in our Questions and Answers archive.
|Released Last Week
Karanbir Singh has announced the release of CentOS 7-1804, the latest update in the CentOS 7 series. The new release is based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5 and includes several bug fixes. "I am pleased to announce the general availability of CentOS Linux 7 (1804) for across all architectures. Effectively immediately, this is the current release for CentOS Linux 7 and is tagged as 1804, derived from Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5 As always, read through the release notes - these notes contain important information about the release and details about some of the content inside the release from the CentOS QA team. These notes are updated constantly to include issues and incorporate feedback from the users." Further information on CentOS 7-1804 and its supported architectures can be found in the release announcement.
ArchLabs is an Arch Linux-based distribution featuring the Openbox window manager as the default graphical user interface. The project's latest release, ArchLabs 2018.05, removes LightDM and swaps out the deprecated gksu software in favour of pkexec. "LightDM has been completely removed, as a result you will be auto-logged in to your desktop. For those who prefer to use LightDM, you can reinstall this from AL-Hello. Openbox has been set as default but you can change this by editing your ~/.xinitrc and changing your session to your preferred WM/DE. All ArchLabs related packages have been refreshed. Jgmenu especially has had an update and is in fine form. We are really happy with jgmenu, it is developing into one of the best menu utilities out there for Linux. We have a new default wallpaper, created by Karl Schneider, considerable inspiration (as usual) comes from BunsenLabs and this time Manjaro and their new Openbox spin had an influence on the outcome as well. Neofetch has been removed and replaced with Al-Info, this can display an ASCII ArchLabs and your system information." Additional information can be found in the distribution's release announcement.
Linuxfx is a Brazillian distribution based on Ubuntu. The project's latest release, Linuxfx 9.0, is based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and features the KDE Plasma 5.12 desktop environment. The project's latest release ships with WPS Office for working with documents in place of LibreOffice; multiple web browsers, including Chrome, Firefox and Tor Browser are available for browing the web; Skype and Thunderbird are installed for communicating; K3b is present for burning optical media; VLC and Deadbeef are providing for watching videos and listening to music; and TeamViewer for providing remote assistence. The Sentinel ctOS software and the embedded Soundfx audio processor are also included. Information on accessing these programs can be found in the release announcement (in Portuguese) along with additional information on Linuxfx 9.0.
Linuxfx 9.0 -- Running the KDE Plasma desktop
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Scientific Linux 7.5
Scientific Linux is a distribution built by re-compiling the source code for Red Hat Enterprise Linux and providing some additional packages and features. The project has announced an update to the distribution's 7.x series, Scientific Linux 7.5. The release announcement states: "Major differences from Scientific Linux 7.4: sl-release is updated to use the 7.5 repos; OpenAFS is now version 22.214.171.124; the kmod was published with the 7.5 security kernel; Anaconda crashes no longer offer to open a bugzilla with TUV; NetworkManager.i686 is no longer packaged for SL7. Known issues: If you have NetworkManager.i686 installed you must 'yum remove NetworkManager.i686' before upgrading. Applications which depend on exiv2-libs may need to be rebuilt. Users of ZFS On Linux should review."
Fredrik Rinnestam has announced the release of CRUX 3.4, a new stable version of the distribution's lightweight, x86-64 optimised Linux distribution designed for experienced Linux users: "We are happy to finally announce the release of CRUX 3.4. The toolchain has been updated to include glibc 2.27, GCC 7.3.0 and Binutils 2.29.1. CRUX 3.4 ships with a 4.14.40 installation kernel and X.Org 7.7 with X.Org Server 1.20.0. The ISO image is processed with isohybrid and is suitable for burning on a CD and putting on a USB drive. UEFI support is available during installation with dosfstools, efibootmgr and grub2-efi added to the ISO image. Important libraries have been updated to new major versions which are not ABI compatible with the old versions. We strongly advise against manually updating to CRUX 3.4 via ports, since these changes will temporarily break the system. Please note that there may still be packages that need updating which are not included on the ISO imgage. These packages will need to be updated/rebuilt manually." See the release announcement and release notes for further information.
SparkyLinux is a Debian-based distribution featuring three different development branches and multiple editions. The project has released a new update to its Stable branch, based on Debian 9 Stretch. "New live/install ISO images of SparkyLinux 4.8 'Tyche' are out. Sparky 4 is based on Debian stable line 'Stretch' and built around the Openbox window manager. Sparky 4.8 offers a fully featured operating system with a lightweight LXDE desktop environment; and minimal images of MinimalGUI (Openbox) and MinimalCLI (text mode) which lets you install the base system with a desktop of your choice with a minimal set of applications, via the Sparky Advanced Installer. Sparky 4.8 armhf offers a fully featured operating system for single board mini Raspberry Pi computers ; with the Openbox window manager as default; and a minimal, text mode CLI image to customize it as you like." A list of changes can be found in the project's release announcement.
Greenie Linux 18.04
Greenie Linux is a Slovak desktop distribution based on Ubuntu MATE and optimised for users in Slovakia and the Czech Republic. The project's latest version is Greenie Linux 18.04. "The new version of the Greenie operating system is here. Greenie 18.04 is based on Ubuntu MATE 18.04 LTS. Kernel 4.15, LibreOffice 6, GIMP 2.10, MATE 1.20 and much more packages are included. A good selection of programs will allow beginners to use this system immediately. It includes the OpenTTD game (including expansion packs), terminal tools and aliases, add-on fonts or pre-installed WINE. As opposed to Ubuntu MATE, the system is cleared from language packs, fonts, or documentation in languages that are useless for users in Slovakia, Czech Republic or Poland." Further details can be found in the rest of the release announcement, which is written in Slovak (an English translation is included at the bottom of the page).
Greenie Linux 18.04 -- Running the MATE desktop
(full image size: 1.2MB, resolution: 1600x900 pixels)
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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: 850
- Total data uploaded: 19.5TB
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Atomic updates versus live patching
In recent months we have seen mainstream Linux distributions move to make package upgrades better. In this case "better" can take different forms. Fedora and openSUSE have been working on atomic updates using off-line updates and file system snapshots, respectively. This will hopefully make updating either operating system more reliable. Meanwhile, Ubuntu is focusing on live kernel patching which will allow administrators to apply security updates without a reboot.
In this week's poll we would like to find out which approach our readers prefer. Do you like the improved reliability and atomic nature of Fedora's and openSUSE's approach? Do you like the idea of being able to keep a system running after applying kernel security updates as Canonical and Red Hat are offering? Let us know what your preferred update process looks like in the comments.
You can see the results of our previous poll on distributions shipping vanilla GNOME versus a customized GNOME desktop in last week's edition. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
Atomic updates versus live patching
|I want live updates (no rebooting): ||455 (41%)|
| I want atomic updates (that require a reboot): ||186 (17%)|
| I want transactional updates (using snapshots): ||107 (10%)|
| I do not have a use for any of these features: ||371 (33%)|
Distributions added to waiting list
- irBSD. irBSD irBSD is a digital forensic suite based on the NetBSD operating system for cryptography, penetration testing, data recovery, reverse engineering, privacy and other security tasks with pkgin package management and Ratpoison as the default window manager. irBSD is configured for USB mediums and x86_64 platforms.
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DistroWatch database summary
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This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 21 May 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)
|Linux Foundation Training
|• Issue 828 (2019-08-19): AcademiX 2.2, concerns with non-free firmware, UBports working on Unity8, Fedora unveils new EPEL channel, FreeBSD phasing out GCC|
|• Issue 827 (2019-08-12): Q4OS, finding files on the disk, Ubuntu works on ZFS, Haiku improves performance, OSDisc shutting down|
|• Issue 826 (2019-08-05): Quick looks at Resilient, PrimeOS, and BlueLight, flagship distros for desktops,Manjaro introduces new package manager|
|• Issue 825 (2019-07-29): Endless OS 3.6, UBports 16.04, gNewSense maintainer stepping down, Fedora developrs discuss optimizations, Project Trident launches stable branch|
|• Issue 824 (2019-07-22): Hexagon OS 1.0, Mageia publishes updated media, Fedora unveils Fedora CoreOS, managing disk usage with quotas|
|• Issue 823 (2019-07-15): Debian 10, finding 32-bit packages on a 64-bit system, Will Cooke discusses Ubuntu's desktop, IBM finalizes purchase of Red Hat|
|• Issue 822 (2019-07-08): Mageia 7, running development branches of distros, Mint team considers Snap, UBports to address Google account access|
|• Issue 821 (2019-07-01): OpenMandriva 4.0, Ubuntu's plan for 32-bit packages, Fedora Workstation improvements, DragonFly BSD's smaller kernel memory|
|• Issue 820 (2019-06-24): Clear Linux and Guix System 1.0.1, running Android applications using Anbox, Zorin partners with Star Labs, Red Hat explains networking bug, Ubuntu considers no longer updating 32-bit packages|
|• Issue 819 (2019-06-17): OS108 and Venom, renaming multiple files, checking live USB integrity, working with Fedora's Modularity, Ubuntu replacing Chromium package with snap|
|• Issue 818 (2019-06-10): openSUSE 15.1, improving boot times, FreeBSD's status report, DragonFly BSD reduces install media size|
|• Issue 817 (2019-06-03): Manjaro 18.0.4, Ubuntu Security Podcast, new Linux laptops from Dell and System76, Entroware Apollo|
|• Issue 816 (2019-05-27): Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.0, creating firewall rules, Antergos shuts down, Matthew Miller answers questions about Fedora|
|• Issue 815 (2019-05-20): Sabayon 19.03, Clear Linux's developer features, Red Hat explains MDS flaws, an overview of mobile distro options|
|• Issue 814 (2019-05-13): Fedora 30, distributions publish Firefox fixes, CentOS publishes roadmap to 8.0, Debian plans to use Wayland by default|
|• Issue 813 (2019-05-06): ROSA R11, MX seeks help with systemd-shim, FreeBSD tests unified package management, interview with Gael Duval|
|• Issue 812 (2019-04-29): Ubuntu MATE 19.04, setting up a SOCKS web proxy, Scientific Linux discontinued, Red Hat takes over Java LTS support|
|• Issue 811 (2019-04-22): Alpine 3.9.2, rsync examples, Ubuntu working on ZFS support, Debian elects new Project Leader, Obarun releases S6 tools|
|• Issue 810 (2019-04-15): SolydXK 201902, Bedrock Linux 0.7.2, Fedora phasing out Python 2, NetBSD gets virtual machine monitor|
|• Issue 809 (2019-04-08): PCLinuxOS 2019.02, installing Falkon and problems with portable packages, Mint offers daily build previews, Ubuntu speeds up Snap packages|
|• Issue 808 (2019-04-01): Solus 4.0, security benefits and drawbacks to using a live distro, Gentoo gets GNOME ports working without systemd, Redox OS update|
|• Issue 807 (2019-03-25): Pardus 17.5, finding out which user changed a file, new Budgie features, a tool for browsing FreeBSD's sysctl values|
|• Issue 806 (2019-03-18): Kubuntu vs KDE neon, Nitrux's znx, notes on Debian's election, SUSE becomes an independent entity|
|• Issue 805 (2019-03-11): EasyOS 1.0, managing background services, Devuan team debates machine ID file, Ubuntu Studio works to remain an Ubuntu Community Edition|
|• Issue 804 (2019-03-04): Condres OS 19.02, securely erasing hard drives, new UBports devices coming in 2019, Devuan to host first conference|
|• Issue 803 (2019-02-25): Septor 2019, preventing windows from stealing focus, NetBSD and Nitrux experiment with virtual machines, pfSense upgrading to FreeBSD 12 base|
|• Issue 802 (2019-02-18): Slontoo 18.07.1, NetBSD tests newer compiler, Fedora packaging Deepin desktop, changes in Ubuntu Studio|
|• Issue 801 (2019-02-11): Project Trident 18.12, the meaning of status symbols in top, FreeBSD Foundation lists ongoing projects, Plasma Mobile team answers questions|
|• Issue 800 (2019-02-04): FreeNAS 11.2, using Ubuntu Studio software as an add-on, Nitrux developing znx, matching operating systems to file systems|
|• Issue 799 (2019-01-28): KaOS 2018.12, Linux Basics For Hackers, Debian 10 enters freeze, Ubuntu publishes new version for IoT devices|
|• Issue 798 (2019-01-21): Sculpt OS 18.09, picking a location for swap space, Solus team plans ahead, Fedora trying to get a better user count|
|• Issue 797 (2019-01-14): Reborn OS 2018.11.28, TinyPaw-Linux 1.3, dealing with processes which make the desktop unresponsive, Debian testing Secure Boot support|
|• Issue 796 (2019-01-07): FreeBSD 12.0, Peppermint releases ISO update, picking the best distro of 2018, roundtable interview with Debian, Fedora and elementary developers|
|• Issue 795 (2018-12-24): Running a Pinebook, interview with Bedrock founder, Alpine being ported to RISC-V, Librem 5 dev-kits shipped|
|• Issue 794 (2018-12-17): Void 20181111, avoiding software bloat, improvements to HAMMER2, getting application overview in GNOME Shell|
|• Issue 793 (2018-12-10): openSUSE Tumbleweed, finding non-free packages, Debian migrates to usrmerge, Hyperbola gets FSF approval|
|• Issue 792 (2018-1203): GhostBSD 18.10, when to use swap space, DragonFly BSD's wireless support, Fedora planning to pause development schedule|
|• Issue 791 (2018-11-26): Haiku R1 Beta1, default passwords on live media, Slax and Kodachi update their media, dual booting DragonFly BSD on EFI|
|• 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 126.96.36.199, limiting process resource usage, converting file systems on Fedora, Debian turns 25, Lubuntu migrating to Wayland|
|• Full list of all issues|
Star Labs - Laptops built for Linux.
View our range including the Star Lite, Star LabTop and more. Available with a choice of Ubuntu, Linux Mint or Zorin OS pre-installed with many more distributions supported. Visit Star Labs for information, to buy and get support.
|Random Distribution |
BitKey is a Debian-based live distribution containing specialist utilities to perform highly secure air-gapped Bitcoin transactions. It contains a swiss army knife of handy Bitcoin tools that support a wide range of usage models, including a few very secure ones which would otherwise be difficult to perform. The system boots into one of the three available modes: "cold-offline" - for creating a wallet and signing transactions; "cold-online" - for watching the wallet and preparing transactions; "hot-online" - standard usage but less secure as the private keys are known to the computer which is connected to the internet. BitKey also provides tools for generating "brainwallets", for the most paranoid of Bitcoin users. The live CD provides a simple desktop based on the Metacity window manager with quick links to the Bitcoin tools and Chromium for web browsing.