| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 774, 30 July 2018
Welcome to this year's 31st issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
For the most part, mainstream Linux distributions tend to use variations on the same software. What sets apart most distributions, at least those within the same family tree, tends to be how applications, services and options are presented to the user - the form rather than the function of the operating system. With this in mind, Bernhard Hoffmann reports on his recent experiences with two different flavours of the Ubuntu family: Ubuntu Budgie and Ubuntu MATE. Read on to learn more about these two Ubuntu community editions, their desktop environments and tools. Also in this issue we discuss how to upgrade installed software using source code rather than a binary package manager. In our Opinion Poll we ask how many of our readers install new versions of applications directly from the upstream source code instead of using a package manager. Plus we talk about changes to NetBSD's support policy, Lubuntu's shifting focus and Slackware's struggle to secure funding. We are also pleased to share the project releases of the past week and list the torrents we are seeding. We wish you all a terrific week and happy reading!
- Review: Ubuntu 18.04 -- MATE and Budgie editions
- News: NetBSD changes its support policy, Lubuntu shifts focus and Slackware's financial troubles
- Questions and answers: Upgrading software from source code
- Released last week: Ubuntu 18.04.1, Slax 9.5.0, ExTiX 18.7
- Torrent corner: ArchLabs, ExTiX, HardenedBSD, Kubuntu, Lubuntu, NethServer, Nitrux, NuTyX, ReactOS, RebeccaBlackOS, Slax, Sparky, Ubuntu Budgie, Ubuntu Kylin, Ubuntu MATE, Xubuntu
- Upcoming releases: Ubuntu 16.04.5
- Opinion poll: Building software updates
- New distributions: AccessDV Linux
- Reader comments
|Feature Story (by Bernhard Hoffmann)
Ubuntu 18.04 -- MATE and Budgie editions
On 26 April 2018 Ubuntu 18.04 "Bionic Beaver" was released in various flavours and editions. Install media are available for server and desktop use, with each desktop edition featuring one of the main desktop environments in use today - readily and supposedly tastefully set up, polished and with a sprinkling of Canonical's own tools. The live editions can be used for testing as well as to install from. Behind the scenes some software is now distributed as Snap packages since 16.04 which means that some applications can be kept updated for the entire supported life-cycle of the distribution instead of falling behind due to outdated libraries, forcing users to use obsolete versions of LibreOffice or GIMP, for example, but this detail will be of little interest to most end-users. Perhaps more interesting will be the fact that the latest update to Canonical's distribution introduces a new "minimal installation" option which will only install a graphical desktop with a few basic packages to enable power users to build their own system. Ubuntu 18.04 is using Linux kernel 4.15 under the hood in all its editions.
Ubuntu MATE 18.04 -- The MATE desktop
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Usually I don't use systemd-based distributions but I had tried and liked the MATE edition in the past and the Budgie desktop intrigued me. Not to mention that a long-term support release will be around for years. Budgie is a relatively new desktop environment that only recently has been included in Ubuntu releases and the Ubuntu Budgie spin has not been reviewed so far, to my knowledge. I am going to test these on relatively old, but I suspect still heavily in use, equipment as it is still good enough for many, thus providing what should be a real world testing scenario.
The images of 1,909MB (for MATE) and 1,525MB (for Budgie) were quickly downloaded and copied to a USB pen drive with the dd command as I do not have access to a tool like Startup Disk Creator. I have also found the command line way of copying utterly reliable where copying with the help of GUI tools sometimes failed, resulting in unreadable images that wouldn't boot or get stuck early in the boot process. So to exclude the possibility of the image being corrupted I used the slightly more involved method. Let's look at the MATE edition first.
* * * * *
Ubuntu 18.04 MATE
The live session booted fine and without any unusual delay and showed the familiar Ubuntu graphic, this time of the MATE variety and on a drab but business-like grey background. This does a good job at hiding the, for some, unusual scrolling text in the boot process of most distributions so as not to scare off newcomers right away and underlines Ubuntu's reputation to be easy to use. Upon reaching the desktop a panel opens inviting you to either try the distribution or install it. Even at this point my wireless networks had already been detected and were available to connect to. The install option will obviously start the installer in the graphical environment. For our purposes I wanted to try the live environment first so clicked on that choice. This set off loading a second stage, during which the screen went black for a moment until I was presented with the proper live session. All this is actually far more responsive and felt faster running from the USB key than on the installed system later with an old fashioned spinning hard drive, so take comments on performance with a grain of salt. Also, I did not encounter any crashes in the live session.
Ubuntu MATE 18.04 -- The welcome screen
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The live session gives you, surprise surprise, pretty much a standard look of the old GNOME 2 desktop it is supposed to resemble, with a trademark green wallpaper. Many distributions have taken to using green as identifiable colour in recent years, but it appears to be associated with the MATE desktop in particular. The other thing that stood out was the Welcome screen that popped up. This proves to be quite a handy tool if you're new to Ubuntu or Linux in general and provides a bit of hand holding, but is just as much a marketing tool it seems. This welcome screen (or centre) provides several menu buttons as shortcuts for an introduction to the MATE desktop, open source and the feature set of Ubuntu, quick access to a selection of browsers, direct access to the Software Boutique package installer, Canonical's preferred way of providing software to Ubuntu users, and several links to the distribution's on-line presence and community as well as buttons for visiting the shop or to support the distribution with a donation. Interestingly the last one is highlighted in green and adorned with a huge red heart just so we know what's important here. Buttons pointing to the various communities on Google+, Facebook and Twitter are also at the bottom of the welcome screen, together with a link to the Ubuntu MATE website.
Perhaps the most useful panel for newbies should be the one for Getting Started, which is the only other one highlighted for us. It provides immediate access to tasks like updating software with Updates and Extras, which also allows us to install additional codecs, customizing and setting language and keyboard layout and shortcuts and even under Troubleshooting to get a profile of the current installation, with information like which kernel and hardware are in use, what drive the system is on, free space and such. This is a convenient one stop shop for new users who wouldn't know where to turn but could also prove useful if actually running in a live environment for longer and actually using it rather than just testing, allowing the user to install codecs for multimedia use in the live session.
Ubuntu MATE 18.04 -- Introduction
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Once booted into the proper live environment you can explore the system that Ubuntu offers and any installations you might have on your other drives. Access to them is restricted to read-only by default, which is good practice, but might throw some people expecting a rescue session. That is not Ubuntu's purpose, but it will give you a pretty good idea as to what the installed system will look and behave like and the software that will be installed, only the installer icon beneath the home directory folder on the desktop will later disappear when the system is installed.
Ubuntu MATE 18.04 -- Partitions in system monitor
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All this looked pretty neat and the desktop is sort of clean and professional, in particular when in use with the subdued grey instead of the green wallpaper chosen. There's a good choice of the usual MATE wallpapers we have become accustomed to in the theming section as well as some specific to this new edition of Ubuntu MATE, with a link to get more on-line from the community pages. It has to be said that this links to the Ubuntu MATE community, not to the MATE community.
Ubuntu MATE 18.04 -- More backgrounds
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Wireless networks were detected as before, connected and worked. Suspend and resume worked in the live session, too. A Hibernate option that had been present right at the start of the session before the loading of stage two was gone but this had not worked anyway, as pressing the power button had simply restarted the computer. CPU use idled around 4-5%, with the odd spike to 8-9% or even 12%. Clicking the appropriate icon launched the graphical installer from the desktop.
Let's see if this good behaviour carries over when Ubuntu MATE is installed.
Installation was pretty much the same as years ago, I won't be going over this again as Ubuntu's installation process is well documented. The option of setting up an encrypted home folder has been dropped in favour of a fully encrypted drive installation.
During the installation my networks were discovered and I provided the installer with my credentials after which it connected without a problem. There would be little point in this if not to take advantage of getting the latest updates right away and having codecs from the start so this is what I did. All proceeded as planned and hoped and it was time to reboot.
Time to explore the desktop and software
By default the system does not auto-log you in, it rather traditionally presents us with a login screen the same colour and style of the desktop wallpaper for consistent theming in which you have to enter your password. In case of a single user that's fine, in case of multiple user accounts on the system I assume a user will have to be specified or there will be a list of users to choose from before the text box for the password pops up. The developers opted to activate one of the sound themes by default and this can quickly get tiring as it provides audible feedback on every task including every menu item one scrolls through. And no, this is not an accessibility feature. Deactivate it in Preferences -> Sound or in the MATE Administration panel.
First thing I did was to connect myself to the Internet again with the familiar network-manager applet in the panel and this of course as indicated by the live session went fine. I got good speed and the connection never hung up on me or slowed down considerably in a good two weeks of testing. Sometimes there were issues when waking up from suspend as these days I connect through a VPN provider most of the time, so this would have been down to the need to re-establish a connection.
I didn't get any update prompts which is fine considering I had just opted to receive all updates during the installation process. However, updates were issued about a week later and they all installed without a hitch once authorized with the usual password prompt. You also get a chance to deselect unwanted updates.
Ubuntu MATE 18.04 -- Installing browsers from the welcome portal
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When you first boot up the Welcome screen's main menu pops up again, same as in the live session. This can be quite handy and I installed a range of browsers, the FileZilla FTP client and a few others directly from the interface and then proceeded to install the latest version of my VPN client with the binary file from their website. Again, running the install script worked as intended. With time the Welcome window can get a bit naggy, one can easily turn it off unchecking a box at the bottom. After this it can still be found in the menu under Administration if needed.
Ubuntu MATE 18.04 -- Installing non-native VPN package
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One of the more curious aspects of this distribution is the fact that there are three tools for managing software, but the perhaps best known and arguably quite easy to use Synaptic package manager is missing. However, if you like it the old-fashioned way, apt and apt-get are still available on the command line. Software & Updates hides the administrative interface of Synaptic that specifies sources for example behind an easier name. The Software Updater reliably notifies of updates as I have found. And then there's the Software Boutique. It is one of the better points of this distribution release, with the various software categories outlined on top, each category representing a pick of or, if you will, recommended programs. This makes it easier for new or not so well versed users to find programs they may actually want and that will work in a more mainstream way, so to speak. A clever idea for people that would otherwise feel overwhelmed by the sheer onslaught of Synaptic, with software and libraries sorted in alphabetical order but without much of a clue as to what they are actually doing.
Ubuntu MATE 18.04 -- Resources in use while updating
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I remember reading a lot of descriptions in Synaptic the first six months or so running Debian back in the day. It helps to discover useful or interesting stuff like Ambient Noise which I certainly would not have found or looked for on my own. This neat little tool plays various background sounds for the insomniacs of today, from coffee shop chatter to fire crackling, to wind and rain and thunderstorms and various other nature sounds. Complete with a little icon to visually resemble each theme. More can be found on-line, simply clicking the button in preferences will take you to a selection of theme packs and if you're into the sound of motor boats to fall asleep to, there you are. The Software Boutique allows us to bulk queue items for install and a news section most users will probably not look at gives us updates on fixes, removals and new applications added to the repository.
Ubuntu MATE 18.04 -- Software Boutique and Anoise
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I installed a couple more applications from here like Ardour, uGet and Wire and their required dependencies without any problems. For those who download .deb packages from websites Gdebi is also installed and I added a copy of FreeOffice 2018 to the system without any problems. Not that this would have been necessary. By default we get the full MATE desktop with all its utilities and plugins including an image viewer, text editor, PDF reader, the full LibreOffice suite, Firefox and Thunderbird, Shotwell to organise our photos and more. Enough to take care of the usual tasks. I had removed Firefox and added Chromium, Vivaldi and the Brave browser instead, the last two are some of the finest browsers and refreshingly different to the crop we are used to, both in layout as in options and privacy features, and they would both merit separate articles. Both are utilising the engine used in the Chrome and Chromium browsers but are quite different apart from that. Brave in particular is a new browser that is heavy on ad and tracker-blocking and anti-finger-printing methods, with built-in HTTPS Everywhere and anti-malware checking. These features are called shields. It also pioneers the unique concept of paying websites one enjoys as they will not be earning money from ads blocked with Brave and starts us off with a small fund of about $3 to distribute. It also comes with a set of extensions like a password manager, secure wallet, a really fast torrent client and a sync account option. The Pepper Flash plugin was disabled by default.
Ubuntu MATE 18.04 -- LibreOffice and FreeOffice in the menu
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Last but not least I added SeaMonkey, a continuation of the old Netscape Communicator/Mozilla suite, because I find it more useful to have e-mail and browser in one application instead of having to start two programs that will eat resources and because in my book it has proven more reliable than Thunderbird. Unfortunately it's not in the Ubuntu repositories any more so I had to download it manually from Ubuntuzilla and again use Gdebi. This installed fine but with "SeaMonkey Mozilla Build" as the menu entry. Fortunately there's a menu editor to shorten that. After that importing my old profile was just a copy away. Here I noticed the first visual bug though - the e-mail notification area only ties to Thunderbird and if you have set up SeaMonkey to minimise to the tray you end up with two envelopes in the indicator applet, unless one removes Thunderbird.
Using the desktop and its applications worked generally well and while it wasn't the most responsive desktop I have used when compared to say Debian with Fluxbox it was acceptable. Applications were often slow to start, even a file manager like Caja often required five seconds and more just to open a window if not still cached in memory. All browsers took a notoriously long time, heavy pieces that they are. But at least we didn't have any non-starters and time-outs. Exceedingly slow in responding were also dialogs and save file windows coming up and multi-tasking under heavier load, for example when uploading to Google Drive in Chromium and at the same time connecting with FileZilla while also editing a document in LibreOffice. I've had better performance before from some distributions that shall remain unnamed in this review. The limit is quickly reached in Ubuntu and when it comes, an "Ubuntu has encountered an unexpected error" box often appears. Not as sturdy a system as one would hope.
Apparently new in 18.04 is the inclusion of Redshift, which will change the colour temperature of your monitor in the evening for more comfortable reading and to prevent eye strain. However, it appears to depend on location to know what time it is and did not do anything for me when unable to determine this. When it worked, a slight red hue at night was actually quite nice, although a bit distracting when watching a movie with VLC. Other accessibility or usability features are the inclusion of an on-screen keyboard and a screen magnifier but no text-to-speech tool like the Orca screen reader.
The other major highlight for desktop users of the MATE edition is the inclusion of MATE Tweak, a tool that enables us to easily set the icons visible on the desktop (something that once required delving into the GNOME registry), window behaviour and fonts but most of all change between various panel layouts with the ability to save our own layouts. Here we can also enable a pull-down Quake-style terminal, a dock or the HUD as we see fit. Layouts on offer are the traditional GNOME 2 look with upper and lower panel included. the usual applets for Trash and switching work spaces, a Redmond theme that arranges one panel in a familiar style, a space saving Netbook style that places a panel at the top, one to resemble the Pantheon desktop which in my book looks quite slick and is basically the Mac theme without global menu, and the Contemporary layout which is just like the Traditional but with a modern menu plugin. Occasionally things go wrong though and you're left with something looking less than stellar, like having two panels on top or suddenly having two notification trays jumbled together in the upper panel.
Ubuntu MATE 18.04 -- Mutiny overlap
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The Cupertino theme landed me with just the Plank dock and with no top panel and no global menu after a while, which I am sure it had before. This one also moves the window buttons to the left, as does the inclusion of a Mutiny theme which seeks to replicate the look of the Unity desktop and such give refugees a new home with the MATE edition. Here the global menu works with some applications like LibreOffice and it may be coming close to the original. Trouble is it did not always work, not with SeaMonkey and not with the staunch part of the MATE desktop that Pluma is.
The distribution logo fits more comfortably now in size next to the launcher icons than in the beta, with the Ubuntu icon of equal size to the one for Chromium. It is genuinely one of the more interesting layout choices available and guarantees a lot of screen space. For somebody who has generally not used Unity much this is very intuitive. The only visual problem is that the upper left corner, where the window buttons are normally placed, remains strangely empty if no application is maximized but we can overlook this small flaw. More serious is that after using this layout for a while Chromium did not show up in the side panel anymore when minimized, whereas minimizing LibreOffice continued to work. I had to start another instance of Chromium for the already open window to re-appear after a while. This is a really annoying bug. When no application is maximized the top bar provides access to places in your home folder, to the desktop appearance panel and the unified GNOME/MATE Control Centre. This is easily the most productive layout, perhaps besides the netbook style.
Ubuntu MATE 18.04 -- Mutiny with fullscreen window
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To me the ability to switch between different tried and tested layouts of other operating systems and desktop environments at the flick of a button is the killer feature of MATE at this moment in time. The drop-down terminal can be invoked with F12 and expanded to full screen with F11 once open.
One thing that jumped at me was that although four different menus are included, two being more modern attempts at innovating the menu with the Brisk Menu and the MATE menu, while these have search options only the old GNOME 2 era so-called Main Menu and the three pane menu bar offer access to recent documents, while the Brisk Menu doesn't even offer a shortcut to Places. Anyway, choices, choices, so take your pick.
The distribution had correctly recognised my Dell keyboard and reacted well, both multimedia keys as well as the Fn key combinations worked.
Ubuntu MATE 18.04 -- CPU with only LibreOffice open
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Suspend and resume worked fine as did power management once unplugged, getting a hefty 4.5 hours out of my newly replaced 6 cell battery and 7.5 out of the new 9 cell one with average use. But I did notice the laptop running very hot on AC power and during multimedia usage, something I noticed with all recent Debian based distributions using a 4.x kernel. MATE provides plugins to monitor the CPU frequency and this revealed that even when changed to Performance mode in user space the governor would default back to On Demand after a short while, with the On Demand setting acting very conservative and generally not being responsive to the actual CPU load.
Typically the processor was idling at around 8% to 10% with an instance of Chromium open, spiking to 16.9% when taking a screenshot. 1.3GB of memory was in use after waking from suspend with one tab in Chromium open. CPU utilization was slightly lower at 4.0% to 7.8% with two cores with only LibreOffice and system monitor open, about equal to the system running freshly booted with only the VPN client started.
Ubuntu MATE 18.04 -- Visual artefacts
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A sore point was that after working for a while visual artefacts would show up in form of black squares, sometimes flashing in quick succession when scrolling through documents. Perhaps a regression in the Intel video driver? Whatever the reason, the point is that I haven't experienced this in any other distribution so far including older versions of Ubuntu on this laptop.
Conclusion for the MATE Edition
Running Ubuntu MATE 18.04 was generally fun, but often bogged down by slowness, visual inconsistencies with menus and Tweak layouts, by the system becoming unresponsive for several seconds, by the issue of heating up during prolonged multimedia use to the point of causing it to slow down due to impending overheating, by unexpected errors throwing a tantrum, panel applets exiting and requiring reloading and the dreaded shutdown delays caused by systemd, informing on ESC that a "c2 stop job" is running for 1.30 min before it can exit, as well as by the already mentioned visual artefacts. I even installed Kodi just to confirm that overheating during multimedia playback was not due to viewing in the browser. It did not take long and Kodi would get increasingly choppy as well. This became just too annoying and in the end I was glad to be able to wipe the hard drive and move on. Just looking smart is definitely not enough.
Ubuntu MATE 18.04 -- Too many errors too many times
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This sort of quality in a long-term LTS release is just not on, and I'm not the only reviewer coming to this conclusion. I encountered far too many times an "unexpected error" to be able to recommend this distribution at this time. Twice at start-up from a cold boot the desktop even failed on me, showing only a black background and no icons. The lack of ironing out these niggles is particularly poor for an LTS release. MATE remains a very nice and extremely capable and fully-fledged desktop environment that will leave hardly anyone wanting, all while presenting elegant and quite simple to use at the same time. And now it also offers several different layout options that should satisfy most people. It's just that the Ubuntu spin suffers from issues related to the underlying base. The Ubuntu base and I suspect the level of quality assurance being the same, here's hoping the Budgie edition will be more reliable.
* * * * *
The Ubuntu Budgie edition
For the Ubuntu Budgie team this is only their third release, and their first LTS release, as they have only recently been added to the officially endorsed flavours. In a sense we are comparing desktops of the wider GNOME universe against each other, one built on the once great and elegant GNOME 2 to carry on the legacy and another definitely more modern looking one inspired by the disaster that is the GNOME Shell, another GTK offshoot just like Unity and Cinnamon. This Ubuntu Budgie runs on GNOME 3.28.1. As I have not used the Budgie desktop before let's see what gives. It looks great, but as we have seen looks can be deceiving.
Running the live session
The system started up as expected, only the colours being different this time with a white logo on the same grey background. After an uneventful and quick boot from USB key we are presented with the Budgie desktop, with the welcome centre opening up pretty much like its MATE counterpart. Only two things: the desktop screams shiny and modern and the welcome centre is slightly different in terms of layout, buttons and looks. So much for consistency between the different Ubuntu spins.
Apart from this the whole experience of booting and loading up the desktop was the same. Networks were detected before and after we opted to Try instead of Install in the greeter, and suspend and resume also worked fine in the live session.
Ubuntu Budgie 18.04 -- First impressions
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It all rather reminds of the GNOME 3 stack this is built on, from the slightly and unnecessarily oversized application window bars and panels to the clock and calendar plugin in the middle of the single panel at the top. On the left we find a modern all-in-one menu similar to the Brisk menu, the Whiskers menu in Xfce or the menu in the GNOME Shell, with several plugins in what could be called the tray to the right. These are plenty and one of the strong points of the Budgie desktop it appears, and we'll come back to them later. We also get a nice clock and date applet on the desktop which could save many people from setting up Conky just for this.
Ubuntu Budgie 18.04 -- Budgie system information
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On the left of the screen is a tiny GNOME Shell style dock which turned out to be Plank again, where size, applets and on-screen position can be changed by clicking on the dock and then choosing Preferences. By default this has launchers for Chromium (yes, no need for me to install Chromium and remove Firefox this time), LibreOffice Calc and Writer, the Tilix terminal application of the Budgie desktop which is actually quite capable and allows for Terminator style split windows, Rhythmbox music jukebox and the Software Boutique. And just to make the point about GNOME Shell heritage, the crippled Files application of that desktop environment has been included as the default file manager here as if there weren't a myriad of better ones around. I guess we should be thankful that we're given a way to access our files at all. Chromium presented with annoying demands for me to generate a password over and over again.
Another difference I found was that while screenshots were stored in Snaps in Ubuntu MATE in Budgie they were stored in the Pictures folder, although a Snaps folder also existed. This folder is housing the files for the welcome application in both editions. Which brings us back to the welcome centre. So how is it different from the MATE edition?
Ubuntu Budgie 18.04 -- Budgie Welcome screen
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Well, for a start it's actually called Budgie Welcome and I had some trouble finding it again after I tried the install option from within and exited it because I was looking for W as in "welcome centre". In the menu it can be found under All or in System Tools. The other thing is that there seems to be no way of disabling it at start-up, at least there is no tick box for this like in the MATE edition. The Budgie centre also has the annoying habit of spinning the logo, which sits above a fairly prominent Install Now button in the middle, every now and then to entice you. I'm really not a fan of marketing gimmicks and I will install a distribution when I see fit so this attempt at grabbing attention is hugely off-putting.
On the left we get buttons for an introduction to Ubuntu Budgie and its features, which is quite similar to the one in the MATE edition, only adapted for the Budgie desktop. The Getting Started section includes recommended system specs as well as a link to analyse one's own hardware to see how it stacks up but it is very basic. Other subsections offer help and tips for installation, which the Installation Help button also links to, and on how to customize the Budgie desktop and settings. It also includes a very useful section on common keyboard shortcuts as they are configured in the Budgie desktop. On the right we get links to the on-line store, to get in touch with the community including a chat channel and the main Ubuntu forum, to get involved and to donate just as before. Various smaller buttons at the bottom link to the various social networks and the Discourse forum specifically for the Budgie edition. I didn't see a way here to install multimedia codecs to the live mode, in Budgie the welcome centre seems more focused on helping users install the distribution and how to prepare for it. The installation can of course also still be started from the usual icon in the upper left of the desktop. Once installed the help section on getting started actually changes, with an emphasis on the choice of browsers and post-installation configuration steps for drivers and updates.
Ubuntu Budgie 18.04 -- Backgrounds
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Only one wallpaper is included by default plus a choice of two desktop themes, a lighter one with transparent panel and a dark one which gives you a matte black menu and panel. At least that's what it looks like at first. Only clicking in settings on the wallpaper or the login manager background to be used suddenly reveals a gallery with several others to choose from. This really needs to be made more obvious.
Ubuntu Budgie 18.04 -- Budgie desktop settings
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We can download and install more themes and desktop applets from within the respective applications from their Budgie Themes and Budgie Applets menu entries. Six more themes are available at present and the applications provide good-sized screenshots of what the themes look like. Same goes for the interface to install additional applets. Things can be further configured in Budgie Desktop Settings which also lets us change the icon set or apply another desktop theme in case it did not switch automatically after download, as happened on one occasion. Here we can also adjust fonts, icons on the desktop, panel look, behaviour and position or add another panel. There's also an Autostart entry where I was finally able to turn off the welcome centre later on. Only Plank and something called Caffeine Indicator are also set to load at start time.
The right-click shell menu is very useful and reminds a lot of the old GNOME 2 menu. From here you can open a terminal, change the desktop background and create new folders and new documents. Choosing to change the background actually gives us access to a whole lot more options including region and language, universal access, on-line accounts, notifications, power management and how devices are handled and more so this innocent entry actually provides access to the entire system settings panel. The GNOME system monitor is also on board and this confirmed both cores idling between 5% and 7%, sometimes spiking to 12% and even 16% with an instance of Chromium open but not busy, about the same as the MATE edition.
Ubuntu Budgie 18.04 -- Demonstrating on-line accounts
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Same as before. The typical install process. As before, I opted to install codecs and updates right away.
The Ubuntu Budgie session
As before, the boot process showed the logo on a subdued but clean and professional looking background. For convenience I had enabled auto-login this time and was briefly dropped out of the graphical boot for a short text only login sequence running in the background before the desktop loaded.
As before, my time zone, keyboard language and layout had been detected correctly, multimedia keys worked fine. The setting for the wi-fi network used had carried over and I was already connected.
Ubuntu Budgie 18.04 -- CPU and RAM usage
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The two CPU cores idled at around 7%-18% in the minute immediately after a cold boot with only a system monitor open. Unfortunately this also showed a hefty 1GB of RAM in use, also immediately after boot with not even a browser open. This seemed to confirm my reading in the live session of 1.6GB RAM in use with only two tabs in Chromium open. Blimey, light is something else but this is what Ubuntu Budgie is advertised as, apart from the more accurate claim that it provides an alternative desktop experience utilising GNOME 3 technology.
In the course of my observations the note-taking applet, one of the applets included by default and sitting in the upper right, came in handy which brings us to the topic of panels available in Budgie. Again, this makes it quite similar to MATE and its rich choice of applets. I remember the discussion at the time around the GNOME team ditching the many applets so many people had come to rely on and how they love to make the Shell more distraction-free. Obviously the Budgie developers have a different philosophy and are making good use of the extensibility of their desktop panel. Apart from the network and note-taking applets you get an applet called Night Light with the same functionality as Redshift which allows for a more fine-grained adjustment of the colour temperature of the screen, applets for places, notifications, battery charge and volume. There's also a pop-up menu for removable drives that shows up upon insertion. On the far right are the usual options to shutdown, lock the screen, hibernate and suspend and one to invoke a side-panel which at present shows a calendar and input and output options for sound. If playing music or videos the players will show up here as well. Some functionalities seem a bit redundant as one can also shut down the system or lock the screen from here or access the Budgie desktop settings.
There's a plethora of applets for often used tasks available to install, such as for screen brightness, a shell style drop-down calendar, different time zones, global menu, window previews, random wallpaper, system monitor and more. They can all be installed from the central interface of Budgie applets but this requires adding a PPA. Installation in my case took forever and when it finished there was no clear way to launch it as it didn't appear in the panel and one cannot right-click to add it. I eventually checked the desktop settings but it did not show up as available applet.
In terms of looks, you can also set your own background from the Pictures folder once installed. I also tried to apply the different themes on offer to change the appearance a bit. They first have to be downloaded and installed. The Material Design theme failed to install completely and the Ant theme continued to show a dark instead of the advertised grey panel and took forever to apply, with seemingly never ending hard drive activity. Switching back to the default Pocillo theme seemed to work best. Most themes are a bit too colourful and pop-art style for me.
Installed software and additional software installation
There's a good bunch of software installed already and I'll let you, interested reader, discover that for yourself, if you are interested following this review.
Ubuntu Budgie 18.04 -- LibreOffice and Rhythmbox media jukebox
(full image size: 176kB, resolution: 1280x800 pixels)
Perhaps a more uncommon aspect will be that as Mozilla Firefox is not present and has been replaced by Chromium there's also no Thunderbird e-mail application, instead Ubuntu Budgie gives us Geary, an e-mail app I've never heard of but that is fine. This is how we're discovering new and sometimes better things. Even if you're set in your ways, try a new distribution now and then. Apparently Geary is a project under the GNOME umbrella. There are presets for the three more prominent webmail providers: Gmail, Yahoo! and Office 365, which continues the theme of the Budgie spin's refreshing approach compared to more traditional spins, with its integration of on-line accounts and different tools for the main tasks. It's not quite Chrome OS but getting there, while also giving us a fully-fledged OS that is actually able to generate SSH keys and provide us with a terminal. I don't know whether Geary supports encrypting e-mails with GPG though. While on the subject of Internet tools, Chromium constantly bugged me about creating a key for the GNOME password manager, something it did not do when running the MATE desktop. Although annoying, this is quickly remedied by providing a password, even an empty one.
GNOME Weather did at first not appear to work and did not detect my location, but showed weather information once a location had been set and the program restarted.
The Budgie edition comes, just as its MATE sister, pre-installed with most software the average desktop user could want so there isn't that much we need to add to it unless you got some special needs or prefer another browser or torrent client.
The software centre on offer here is actually not the Software Boutique but GNOME Software. It's quite bare bones and you don't get a news or info section like in Software Boutique.
Ubuntu Budgie 18.04 -- Sections in GNOME software
(full image size: 580kB, resolution: 1280x800 pixels)
I installed a couple of applications from here like FileZilla, bareFTP, Unity Mail notifier, Htop and Kodi. While mail notifier at first did not show in the panel until after a reboot, bareFTP did not show in the menu at all, not even when doing a search for FTP. FileZilla is all I got. Kodi installed and started fine. One aspect I liked about GNOME Software is that it lets you launch an application from a button right after the install but it really only provides a couple of sections with programs in no particular order and not very intuitive. Instead of buttons entitled Networking, Internet or Browsers we have Communication & News and the games section is completely devoid of any first person shooters. No Urban Terror, OpenArena or Nexuiz for you here.
Ubuntu Budgie 18.04 -- Available software
(full image size: 178kB, resolution: 1280x800 pixels)
The major drawback about GNOME Software as I see it is that it restricts the user to a selection of the most popular desktop programs and a few codecs. You also get apt to install from the command line and the Software Updater which of course provides the usual notifications about new updates and offers to install them. Neither Gdebi for local installation of packages nor Synaptic are installed.
I tried to install my updated VPN client but ran into an error. As I was unable to search for Ruby in the graphical interface I installed this with apt, only to run into the same error. Obviously Ruby had not been missing. Going back to the previous version of the client yielded the same "permission denied" error which is odd because this standard installation has so far always worked on my boxes and over various distributions.
Ubuntu Budgie 18.04 -- Kodi windowed mode
(full image size: 506kB, resolution: 1280x800 pixels)
Behaviour during multimedia playback was the same as before, with the CPU quickly heating up under strain. Again this happened with playback in the browser as well as in Kodi. Last but not least I also encountered the "square black blocks" graphics regression of the Intel driver here again.
There's no application tray but applications can be minimised to the dock which pops out under the cursor and is much smaller than the dock in GNOME Shell. In addition, it can be moved to anywhere on the desktop. There's also no workspace switcher by default and no indication that we have four workspaces available. The Ctrl+Alt+left or right arrow key combination to my great relief works in both MATE and Budgie and this helped me switch around.
Conclusion for the Budgie edition
On the whole Budgie looks more modern and seemed slightly more responsive and not falling over its own feet when compared to the MATE desktop, it didn't slow down quite as much after being in use for a while and under heavier load but make no mistake - on this hardware they were both slow when taxed. Watching a full length movie was impossible on this hardware. Considering I was able to watch several videos at the same time and still open other applications without delay just 10 years ago on less powerful hardware with a 900MHz AMD processor this is a huge step backwards.
Ubuntu Budgie 18.04 -- Final happy setup
(full image size: 881kB, resolution: 1280x800 pixels)
Budgie is a nice take on the GNOME 3 desktop though and if you have the right hardware I can recommend it. It's easy, pleasing on the eyes and has more options under the hood for power users than is obvious at first. Less advanced users can just leave it alone and go with the defaults.
As stated already, I experienced a distinct feel of lag when using both these editions of Ubuntu 18.04. Everything took just that little bit longer and one felt a bit stuck when compared to other, more efficient distributions and environments. Both installing and starting applications, even when in use before, were often painfully slow, with some programs needing up to 30 seconds to start, especially when multitasking. Thing is, Linux distributions used to be very good at exactly this. Even more concerning is that this is the very same laptop that ran my comparison of 10.04 versus 12.04 in 2012.
Lag and an overall feel of heaviness has been present in Ubuntu since day one, but not to this extent. I remember switching from Ubuntu 5.10 to Debian Etch at the time, both using GNOME 2, which had been the base for that release of Ubuntu, yet it felt so much leaner and faster. I would do the same again in a heartbeat just to eliminate unnecessary overhead. This screenshot of Htop belies how laggy it really is.
Ubuntu Budgie 18.04 -- Htop: consumption when idle
(full image size: 1MB, resolution: 1280x800 pixels)
The Budgie desktop, at least in Ubuntu, is a curious thing. On one hand it appears to cater to relative novices to Linux with all the emphasis on install help in the beginning. On the other, there's quite a reliance on keyboard shortcuts. Despite MATE upping its game with the various layout options in tweak tool, Budgie appears more modern, stylish and has kept the focus on on-line integration of the GNOME Shell. With the Raven side-panel on the right it reminds me of early mock-ups of GNOME 3 which featured a side panel with notifications, a calendar and all sorts of options.
The Budgie edition appeared more solid for everyday use. I did not experience the crashes or weird behaviour of panel applets that had plagued the MATE desktop, probably induced by frequent layout changes. The Budgie edition also did not throw as many unexpected error messages at me and hibernate worked.
Budgie also suffered from the delayed shutdown of systemd jobs but not as frequently as the MATE edition. It has been suggested this is due to the operating system not being able to find swap or a missing swap partition. I cannot confirm this. I completed both installations the same way as a custom setup and while the hibernate option was available in Budgie it was not in the installed MATE edition. Hibernate and resume from swap worked in Budgie but still stop job delays occurred here as well. This was mostly the case after running for longer periods of time under heavy load and when the laptop had been running hot, through multimedia use or with browser tabs like Google Drive or Google Docs open which alone topped 225MB use of RAM. Power and CPU usage were about equal for given tasks, but Budgie consumed far more memory from the start.
As to the choice of desktop, you will know your preferences. Budgie seems more integrated and, with that, more stable at the moment and overall this edition made a better impression. It also presents a lot of options under the hood of which I could only scratch the surface for this review. I for my part am not going to keep any release of Bionic Beaver around for long although I like both desktops. It is just too buggy and running too hot to be used as a long-term stable operating system.
* * * * *
Hardware used in this review:
- Dell Latitude 4300, 13.3″ notebook display with 1280x800 (WXGA)
- 2 GiB DDR3 RAM
- 80 GiB WD 7200rpm spinning hard drive (non-SSD),
- Intel Centrino Core2Duo 9300 @ 1.6 GHz (up to 2.26 with Boost)
- 1066MHz FSB, USB 2.0
- Intel Mobile 4 Series Chipset integrated graphics
- Intel Corporation Ultimate N WiFi Link 5300 wireless
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
NetBSD changes its support policy, Lubuntu shifts focus and Slackware's financial troubles
The NetBSD team, having just released NetBSD 8.0, have announced changes to their support policy which should simplify the situation for both users and developers. "Beginning with NetBSD 8.0, there will be no more teeny branches (e.g., netbsd-8-0). This means that netbsd-8 will be the only branch for 8.x and there will be only one category of releases derived from 8.0: update releases. The first update release after 8.0 will be 8.1, the next will be 8.2, and so on. Update releases will contain security and bug fixes, and may contain new features and enhancements that are deemed safe for the release branch. With this simplification of our support policy, users can expect: More frequent releases; better long-term support (example: quicker fixes for security issues since there is only one branch to fix per major release); new features and enhancements to make their way to binary releases faster (under our current scheme, no major release has received more than two feature updates in its life)." More details can be found in Soren Jacobsen's e-mail announcement.
* * * * *
Lubuntu is a lightweight, community edition of Ubuntu running the LXDE desktop which is often regarded as a good operating system for older computers. The project is shifting its focus slightly and working to provide a distribution featuring the LXQt desktop and modern technologies. A post on the project's website lists the upcoming changes. "This means that Lubuntu will stay light, and for users with old systems, should still be usable. But we will no longer provide minimum system requirements and we will no longer primarily focus on older hardware. This is a large endeavor as you might expect, and we're still working on catching up to other distributions in terms of feature parity, but with 18.10 being the first LXQt-only release and 20.04 being the first LTS LXQt-only release, we are confident that Lubuntu will be ready for whatever the future holds."
* * * * *
Earlier this month we celebrated Slackware Linux turning 25 years old. Unfortunately this week we have less pleasant news from the world's oldest surviving Linux distribution. In an on-going discussion thread on Linux Questions, Slackware's founder, Patrick Volkerding, described the financial problems he and the distribution are facing. One of the key issues appears to be that the Slackware Store, which was run by a third-party, has not been forwarding Slackware's share of the profits to the developers. Volkerding has announced plans to set up PayPal and Patreon accounts for Slackware fans who would like to help keep the project afloat. Updates to the situation are being posted to Slackware's ChangeLog page.
* * * * *
These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Upgrading software from source code
Updates-right-from-the-source asks: I have read and seen many tutorials about installing software from source, but I have never seen one on how to update that software when newer source code becomes available. I would greatly appreciate a Q&A on that topic. It's not really OS specific, but with distributions like Ubuntu and Debian I have noticed that some software found in the repositories can be quite dated as compared to what is available from source. I recently installed Motion on Ubuntu 16.04. The repository had version 3.2.12, while the source code from SourceForge was at 4.1.1.
DistroWatch answers: In most cases the process of upgrading software from source code is the same as installing the original source package. When we upgrade packages, whether they originate in source or binary format, we are really just overwriting the existing program with a new copy. This is good news for people running an operating system which is designed to work directly with source archives as the system will do most of the work for you. On a Gentoo system you can install a package with "emerge <package-name>" and then upgrade it later with "emerge -avu <package_name>". On other source-friendly systems, such as FreeBSD, ports can be upgraded through a number of methods. One of the simplest ways is to synchronize the ports tree and run "make reinstall" from the port's directory. Other source-focused distributions will have similar, short commands to update installed packages in an automated fashion.
On distributions where working with source code and ports frameworks is not the norm, it is a bit more tricky. Generally to upgrade a package without a framework we need to do three main things:
If you already have a copy of the application installed, hopefully most the required dependencies will already be on your system and you will not need to perform step two. However, sometimes your distribution will not have the necessary development libraries installed or will have out of date versions and then you'll need to track down these dependencies one at a time.
- Find and download the latest copy of the source package from the application's website.
- Track down and install any missing dependencies the application needs.
- Attempt to compile the source code and install it.
Often times upstream application developers will list the required dependencies and compile steps in their README or INSTALL files, included with their source code. This greatly speeds up the process of finding the necessary files.
The easiest way to address getting the necessary dependencies on Debian and Ubuntu is probably to use Debian's built-in tools to build the latest version of an application available in the distribution's repositories from source code. This is mostly automated and will pull in the necessary dependencies for you. Then, when you download the new version of the source package from the developer's website, the dependencies are already in place. You will just need to compile and install the new version of the application.
Let's look at an example. Debian's Stable branch has the Links web browser, version 2.14, in its repositories, but I want the latest (at time of writing) which is 2.16. The first thing I need to do is enable Debian's source repositories. I can do this by adding the source repository to my APT configuration:
echo 'deb-src http://ftp.ca.debian.org/debian/ stretch main contrib non-free' > /etc/apt/sources.list
Next, I update the package manager's information and download all of the dependencies for Links:
At this point I should have everything needed to build the newest version of Links available in Debian's repositories. I can start that process by running:
apt-get build-dep links
apt-get -b source links
When this process is over, I have a copy of Links 2.14. Which is good, I have the program I want, but it's the older version. I want the latest, Links 2.16 update. The latest version can be found, along with detailed compiling instructions, on the Links website.
We can download and unpack the new source archive using the following two commands:
Now we need to run the configuration and build steps for Links:
tar xf links-2.16.tar.gz
Now we have the latest version of Links installed! The exact steps used here will be a little different on other distributions, but the concepts are the same. We should install the latest version our operating system offers, then download the newer version from the application's website. That will take care of most of the work and dependencies for us. Then follow the upstream documentation to build the latest version of the source code. Usually, this will give us a working approach to having the latest software available through source code.
* * * * *
Additional tips can be found in our Questions and Answers archive.
|Released Last Week
Tomáš Matějíček has announced the release of Slax 9.5.0, the latest build of the project's minimalist and modular desktop Linux distribution based on Debian's "stable" branch: "Slax 9.5.0 released. I am happy to announce that a new version of Slax Linux has been released. Slax is a minimalistic, fully modular operating system. As usual, this version incorporates all upstream improvements from Debian stable, and fixes a few small known bugs. I am happy to announce that it is now possible to purchase Slax pre-installed on an USB flash drive with hardware-based AES encryption. This device is universally usable because encryption is performed directly on the drive and no trace of the PIN is left anywhere. Once disconnected, the USB drive automatically locks itself again. Payment is possible only with Bitcoin. You can download Slax from the project's home page. Enjoy!" Here is the brief release announcement with a screenshot and a photo of the above-mentioned USB drive.
ReactOS is an open source operating system which strives to provide binary compatibility with Microsoft Windows as well as a visually similar user interface. The project has released a new version, ReactOS 0.4.9, which offers a number of small improvements that enhance stability, allow the operating system to self-host itself and Zip files can now be opened natively as Zip Folders. "Several quality of life improvements have come to the shell, the first of which is a built in zipfldr (Zip Folder) extension by Mark Jansen. While Windows has long possessed this capability, now ReactOS can also uncompress zipped files without needing to install third-party tools to accomplish it. ReactOS's implementation is indeed very zippy. And of course with such new extensions it would probably be useful to be able to manage them, something that Katayama Hirofumi MZ has been working on, along with plenty of other improvements to the shell." Further details and screen shots can be found in the project's release announcement.
The ExTiX project provides an Ubuntu-based distribution which features alternative desktop environments and applications. The project's latest release is ExTix 18.7 which features the LXQt desktop instead of Ubuntu's default GNOME environment. "ExTiX 18.7 LXQt DVD 64-bit is based on Debian 9 Stretch and Ubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver. The original system includes the desktop environment GNOME. After removing GNOME I have installed LXQt 0.12.0. LXQt is the Qt port and the upcoming version of LXDE, the Lightweight Desktop Environment. It is the product of the merge between the LXDE-Qt and the Razor-qt projects: A lightweight, modular, blazing-fast and user-friendly desktop environment. The system language is English. My special, kernel 4.18.0-rc5-extix, corresponds to kernel.org's unstable kernel 4.18-rc5... Firefox has replaced Google Chrome as Web Browser. It's now possible to watch Netflix movies also in Firefox (while running Linux). I have replaced Ubuntu's installer Ubiquity with Calamares Installer. Calamares is an installer framework. By design it is very customizable, in order to satisfy a wide variety of needs and use cases." Additional details can be found in the project's release announcement.
ExTiX 18.7 -- Running the LXQt desktop
(full image size: 1.5MB, resolution: 1920x1080 pixels)
Adam Conrad has announced the release of new and updated installation media for the Ubuntu distribution and its community editions. The new media carries the version number 18.04.1 and includes security fixes and improvements available to the latest LTS release since 18.04.1 was launched in April 2018. "The Ubuntu team is pleased to announce the release of Ubuntu 18.04.1 LTS (Long-Term Support) for its Desktop, Server, and Cloud products, as well as other flavours of Ubuntu with long-term support. As usual, this point release includes many updates, and updated installation media has been provided so that fewer updates will need to be downloaded after installation. These include security updates and corrections for other high-impact bugs, with a focus on maintaining stability and compatibility with Ubuntu 18.04 LTS." Further details can be found in the project's release announcement and the release notes.
TurnKey Linux 15.0
Jeremy Davis has announced the release of TurnKey Linux 15.0, a large set of single-purpose server appliances for various specialist tasks: "I am overjoyed to announce stage 1 of the TurnKey 15.0 stable release is now available. Stage 1 includes nearly half the library (47 appliances to be precise), albeit only in ISO format so far. We are busily preparing updated Hub builds, as well as Amazon MarketPlace builds which I hope to announce very soon too. All the other build types (i.e. VM/OVA, OpenStack, Proxmox/LXC, Xen and Docker) will follow soon after. The relevant 15.0 ISOs are all available for download via the '15.0' links on their respective appliance pages. Updated appliances for this stage include Core LAMP, WordPress, Joomla 3, Drupal 7, Drupal 8 and more. 15.0 changes worthy of particular note include a new Debian base operating system, inclusion of PHP 7, MariaDB replaces MySQL, a new Webmin theme, Reproducible Packages and website upgrades...." Read the comprehensive release announcement for a full list of changes.
* * * * *
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: 959
- Total data uploaded: 20.8TB
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Building software updates
In this week's Questions and Answers column we talked about upgrading software to its latest version using source code instead of pre-built binary packages. We would like to find out how many of our readers use this option, compiling new software using source archives or ports.
You can see the results of our previous poll on using web apps in last week's edition. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
Building software updates from source
|I build software from source archives: ||157 (12%)|
| I build software from ports: ||39 (3%)|
| I use binary packages to stay on the cutting edge: ||189 (15%)|
| I just use whatever is available in the package manager: ||834 (65%)|
| Other: ||74 (6%)|
Distributions added to waiting list
- AccessDV Linux. AccessDV Linux is a Debian-based distribution for French speaking users which ships with accessibility features such as a screen reader.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 6 August 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 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 22.214.171.124, limiting process resource usage, converting file systems on Fedora, Debian turns 25, Lubuntu migrating to Wayland|
|• Issue 776 (2018-08-13): NomadBSD 1.1, Maximum storage limits on Linux, openSUSE extends life for 42.3, updates to the Librem 5 phone interface|
|• Issue 775 (2018-08-06): Secure-K OS 18.5, Linux is about choice, Korora tests community spin, elementary OS hires developer, ReactOS boots on Btrfs|
|• Issue 774 (2018-07-30): Ubuntu MATE & Ubuntu Budgie 18.04, upgrading software from source, Lubuntu shifts focus, NetBSD changes support policy|
|• Issue 773 (2018-07-23): Peppermint OS 9, types of security used by different projects, Mint reacts to bugs in core packages, Slackware turns 25|
|• Issue 772 (2018-07-16): Hyperbola GNU/Linux-libre 0.2.4, UBports running desktop applications, OpenBSD auto-joins wi-fi networks, boot environments and zedenv|
|• Issue 771 (2018-07-09): Linux Lite 4.0, checking CPUs for bugs, configuring GRUB, Mint upgrade instructions, SUSE acquired by EQT|
|• Issue 770 (2018-07-02): Linux Mint 19, Solus polishes desktop experience, MintBox Mini 2, changes to Fedora's installer|
|• Issue 769 (2018-06-25): BunsenLabs Helium, counting Ubuntu users, UBports upgrading to 16.04, Fedora CoreOS, FreeBSD turns 25|
|• Full list of all issues|
Star Labs - Laptops built for Linux.
View our range including the Star Lite, Star LabTop and more. Available with a choice of Ubuntu or Linux Mint pre-installed with many more distributions supported. Visit Star Labs for information, to buy and get support.
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Feather Linux was a Linux distribution which runs completely off a CD or a USB pendrive and takes up under 128MB of space. It was a Knoppix remaster (based on Debian), and tries to include software which most people would use every day on their desktop.