| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 786, 22 October 2018
Welcome to this year's 43rd issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
Distribution developers need to make some tricky decisions when crafting their operating system. They need to make choices about whether to create something for advanced users or beginners, whether to strive for efficiency or features, whether to hand hold or get out of the way. This week we begin with a look at elementary OS, an Ubuntu-based project which strives to provide a newcomer friendly, streamlined, and distraction-free experience. Check out our Feature Story to find out how well the distribution delivers on these goals. In our News section we talk about DragonFly BSD making it possible to change the amount of memory a virtual machine uses on the fly, KDE neon dropping support for older bases, and OpenBSD making it possible to automatically join familiar wireless networks. Plus we talk about why the init process continues to run after the operating stem has finished booting. We are also pleased to share last week's releases and provide a list of the torrents we are seeding. We wish you all a wonderful week and happy reading!
- Review: elementary OS 5.0
- News: DragonFly BSD introduces flexible virtual machine memory, KDE neon plans to drop older base, OpenBSD makes switching wireless networks automatic
- Questions and answers: Why init keeps running
- Released last week: Ubuntu 18.10, elementary OS 5.0, OpenBSD 6.4
- Torrent corner: blackPanther, Feren, IPFire, Kodachi, Kubuntu, Lubuntu, OpenBSD, Pop!_OS, Robolinux, Ubuntu, Ubuntu Budgie, Ubuntu Kylin, Ubuntu MATE, Ubuntu Studio, Xubuntu
- Upcoming releases: Tails 3.10, FreeBSD 12.0-BETA2
- Opinion poll: Using ARM-powered computers
- New distributions: AcademiX GNU/Linux, Linufix
- Reader comments
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (19MB) and MP3 (15MB) formats.
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
elementary OS 5.0 "Juno"
elementary OS is an Ubuntu-based distribution featuring a special desktop environment called Pantheon. The project's latest version, elementary OS 5.0, carries the code name "Juno" and is based on Ubuntu 18.04. (I will sometimes refer to this version of the distribution alternatively as Juno or elementary in this review.) Juno includes many changes and its release announcement is a lengthy read. Some of the highlights in the Juno release include:
- The software centre allows users to pay what they want for programs, with the option to try a program first and donate to the upstream developer later.
- The Scratch code editor as been renamed Code and integrates better with git repositories to show available code branches
- The terminal, and other core programs, include dark themes and the terminal offers easy font resizing.
- The Epiphany web browser supports Firefox Sync to share bookmarks and passwords across multiple devices.
- Juno includes Night Light to reduce blue light levels in the evening.
- Application windows with shared edges can be resized together.
- Picture-in-picture mode lets us see previews of windows when an application's window is covered.
- We can tap the meta key to see desktop short-cuts.
- There is a new problem reporting tool to help us file bugs with the proper upstream project.
elementary OS runs on 64-bit computers and the live media download is 1.4GB in size. Booting from the media brings up a graphical window where we are asked if we would like to try elementary's live mode or start the system installer. I opted to jump immediately into the installer. The installer appears to be an unmodified copy of Ubuntu's Ubiquity installer. It begins by asking us to select our preferred language from a list and we have the option of clicking a link to open the distribution's release notes. I tried to open the release notes and found it opened a web browser which showed a "page cannot be found" error from elementary's web server.
Undeterred, I continued through screens asking for my keyboard's layout, whether I wanted to install software updates and third-party media support during the installation, and picking my time zone. Partitioning can be handled automatically by the installer or we can manually create partitions. I like the manual options which are easy to navigate and support virtually every Linux file system. I opted to use a Btrfs volume for my root partition. The last screen asks us to create a username/password combination for ourselves. The installer copies its packages to our hard drive and then offers to restart the computer.
elementary boots to a graphical login screen where we can sign into our account to bring up the Pantheon desktop. The desktop features a thin panel along the top of the screen which provides us with an application menu, a clock and the system tray. A dock (called Plank) sits at the bottom of the display, providing us with a macOS style launcher and application switcher. When an application's icon is visible on the dock, we can right-click it to pin the application to the dock for quick access later.
elementary OS 5.0 -- The application menu
(full image size: 1.2MB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
The application menu defaults to showing application launchers in a large grid, however we can click a button to switch to a split menu with software categories on the left and launchers on the right. The launchers are all given names indicating their purpose. Some examples include Mail, Calendar, Files, and Videos. This should make it easy for newcomers to quickly find the software they want to use.
The desktop is mostly empty and relatively distraction-free. When the system wants us to tell us something it generally places a red mark on the notification icon in the system tray, or puts a similar red marker on the software centre icon in the dock. There are some visual effects to liven up the desktop and launched program icons jump up and down a little on the dock, but otherwise the desktop tries to avoid distracting us.
Software management, both installing new programs and upgrading existing ones, is handled by the App Centre. The software centre has two tabs, the first shows us recommended software and categories of programs we can browse. Clicking a category (or typing a search for a program name) brings up a list of available software. Program names and icons are shown on the left side of the page with a brief description. Clicking an entry brings up a full page description with a screen shot.
elementary OS 5.0 -- The software centre
(full image size: 844kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Some applications are listed with a price. Clicking the price allows us to adjust it up or down. This allows us to pay what we want (including nothing) for applications to help support the developers. Most programs are simply listed as free. Generally no-cost programs cannot accept donations directly and we cannot offer the developers money through the software centre.
The software centre's second tab lists installed items which we can remove with the click of a button. Available software updates are listed at the top of the page. Low level packages, such as command line tools and libraries, are bundled together into one entry referred to as operating system updates. Each desktop program gets its own, separate entry when updates are released. I encountered a few updates during my trial and these downloaded and installed without incident. Some software gets pulled in from elementary's own repositories, but much of the software comes from Ubuntu's repositories.
I found the software centre generally worked well and was easy to navigate. My one serious complaint was that when I had queued multiple programs for installation, there was no sense of the overall progress. A tiny "busy" indicator appeared in the upper-right corner of the window, but it didn't give any sense of how many packages were still waiting to be installed, or how long it would take.
Juno ships with the Epiphany web browser, Pantheon Mail, a calendar and what appear to be custom-made music and video players. The distribution's photo manager also appears to be unique to elementary. We can find a code editor, web cam utility and calculator in the default applications. I was pleased to find the audio player and photo manager both automatically detected and imported files from my Music and Pictures directories, respectively. elementary ships with a full range of codecs for playing music and video files.
elementary OS 5.0 -- Automatically importing pictures into the photo manager
(full image size: 637kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
In the background Juno uses Ubuntu 18.04 to supply the core files, command line tools and manual pages. The distribution uses systemd for its init implementation and runs on Linux 4.15.0.
While playing around with the available software, I made some observations I would like to share in no particular order. The first was that Epiphany used a lot of CPU resources when I ran Juno in a virtual machine. With an empty tab open Epiphany used about 90% of my CPU. When loading a simple page CPU dropped to around 20-30%. These numbers are lower when running Juno on physical hardware, but the trade-off was the X11 process always used about 10% of my workstation's CPU, which somewhat balanced things out. To compare Epiphany to other browsers, I installed Falkon (formerly QupZilla) and Firefox. Falkon used about the same amount of RAM as Epiphany, but about a third as much CPU. Firefox used around the same amount of CPU as Falkon (notably less than Epiphany), but used twice as much memory when visiting the same websites. In short, I found Epiphany was the lightest browser by memory usage, but the heaviest on CPU usage.
Something I found odd about using Juno is there is no plain text editor, a common component of almost all modern operating systems. The Code programming editor can double as a text editor, but its start-up screen, features and default behaviour of numbering lines may put off people who just want to quickly jot notes or make a grocery list. On a related topic, there is no default productivity suite, but multiple ones are available through the software centre. I found that when I installed the LibreOffice package it installed just the LibreOffice greeter. Usually, on other distributions, LibreOffice is a meta package that installs the whole suite, but with Juno we need to install each component of the suite (Writer, Calc, etc) separately. This may cut down on bloat, but it meant I ended up making multiple trips to the software centre for more pieces of the suite.
elementary OS 5.0 -- Setting up a printer
(full image size: 1.1MB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
I had hoped to use Timeshift to take snapshots of my operating system, which was one of the reasons I installed elementary on a Btrfs volume. Unfortunately, Timeshift is not in elementary's repositories. As a result I was unable snapshot the system the same way I could with Linux Lite or Linux Mint, two other Ubuntu-based distributions.
Sometimes I would see a red dot over the notification icon in the system tray and click it, only to find no notifications were waiting. I'm not sure if this meant I had already dealt with the issue or if the notifications automatically clear after a certain amount of time.
Earlier I mentioned running Juno in both a virtual machine (VirtualBox) and on a workstation. When running in the virtual environment, Juno performed fairly well. The desktop was sometimes a little sluggish, but never terribly so. The only time I saw Pantheon really slow down was when there was a lot of disk activity going on, such as when I was installing new applications. When running on the workstation, Juno was pleasantly responsive. The desktop does a good job of being both responsive and visually engaging. The icons and effects are pretty without being overly distracting, in my opinion.
A fresh install of elementary used about 4.7GB of hard drive space and consumed 490MB of RAM when signed into the desktop. This puts elementary comfortable in the mid-range of memory usage when compared against most mainstream Linux distributions.
At the beginning of this review I mentioned the Juno release announcement mentions several enticing features. One is that the default applications generally remember where we were working and bring us back to that point. The virtual terminal and file manager both remember our last working directory and open to that location.
One useful trick the desktop can perform is zooming in and out. Pressing the meta key and the + or - keys zooms our view of the desktop in or out. This can be handy in cases when we would usually want to use a magnification tool, but don't want to open another program.
Application windows that have been moved to the sides of the desktop snap into place. When two windows are placed side-by-side, they share an edge. This edge can be clicked on and moved left or right, changing the dimensions of both windows at the same time.
elementary OS 5.0 -- A video window preview
(full image size: 608kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
One neat feature is the picture-in-picture preview. Pressing the meta key and F lets us click on a window we always want to be able to see all the time. Then, whenever the selected window is covered or minimized, a small preview of the window is visible on the desktop. The preview window can be moved and resized. This keeps it out of the way and makes it possible to monitor progress taking places in other windows.
In the settings panel there is an About module. Opening this module presents the option to report bugs. Choosing to report a bug brings up a window that helps us locate the application which was causing the problem. Selecting a program then opens our web browser to the program's issue tracker where we can file a bug report. This might not be quite as fancy as automated bug reporting, but it makes it easy to file bugs against core components without searching GitHub.
elementary OS 5.0 -- Reporting an issue
(full image size: 1.4MB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Speaking of the settings panel, most of the settings modules are fairly standard and should seem familiar to anyone who has used a member of the GNOME family of desktops. Some features did stand out though. For example, we can fine-tune notifications on a per application basis. This means we can have one application play a sound while another can leave a notice in the system tray. We can silence other applications entirely.
elementary OS 5.0 -- Adjusting notifications
(full image size: 1.2MB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
There is a parental controls module. It offers to limit login times, which websites a user can visit and what applications a user can run. All limitations are set on a per user basis and, we are warned, the limits only work on standard (non-admin) accounts. I tried these features, blocking some domains and restricting access to the software manager on a standard user account. I then signed in as the hapless user and found none of the restrictions worked. I could still visit forbidden websites and run the application store, and even install or remove packages through the software centre. In short, the parental controls did not work at all for me.
elementary OS 5.0 -- Trying to block websites
(full image size: 394kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
The user account module worked for me, but one curiosity is that it lists a guest account as being available and enabled by default. I had not noticed a guest account up to that point, and logged out to check. I could find no way to sign in as a guest, so the guest account options also appears to be broken.
At first I did not notice a firewall configuration tool, but I did find one under the Security & Privacy module. The Security & Privacy module handles the firewall (off by default), location services (on by default), and recording file/application history (on). These are the opposite of the defaults I would prefer, but they are easy enough to change.
While not a technical feature of elementary, I think it is worth noting that the elementary developers are making a solid effort to make their project (and the projects listed in their software centre) financially self supporting. Personally, I see the appeal, especially for application developers. Being an open source developer often means putting a lot of effort into software people want to use for free while receiving timely support, bug fixes and new features. Making it possible for people who want to financially support developers to contribute money, while still giving away the operating system and applications for free, is a goal which would seem to benefit everyone and hurt no one, in my opinion. It has the side benefit of allowing some developers to put more time into their creations, working on open source projects instead of other, possibly proprietary, ventures.
While a lot of Linux distributions accept donations, and many upstream applications do too, elementary seems to receive an unusual amount of criticism for their approach. People often take issue with the donation page elementary displays prior to starting downloads, and some readers insist DistroWatch should remove elementary from our database for being too commercial. (No one seems to take issue with Red Hat Enterprise Linux or SUSE Linux Enterprise also being listed, despite both being commercial products). Personally, I think elementary has found a good balance between making it possible for users to donate without making it a requirement. All we need to do to opt out of paying money, to elementary or upstream developers, is to set the donation field to $0, and that seems like a small hurdle indeed for gaining access to polished, professional software.
I found a lot to like about Juno. The release announcement is detailed and shows lots of examples and screen shots. The operating system is easy to install, thanks to Ubuntu's Ubiquity installer and there is a nice collection of default software that will likely appeal to inexperienced users.
The Pantheon desktop and icons are beautiful. I sometimes ran into sluggish moments with the desktop, but usually only when the disk was under load or I had a video playing. I was really impressed by how Pantheon was put together and I like a lot of the little convenience features. The picture-in-picture preview and the shared edge window resizing are great. I also love that tapping the meta key will show a list of desktop short-cuts. It is little details like these which give the distribution a polished, friendly feel.
I already mentioned the icons look good and it bears repeating. Minimal icon design drives me mildly mad. I don't like functions represented by vague dots or arrows, I want a detailed icon and (preferably) text to let me know what a button does. elementary does a good job of making icons distinct, clear in purpose and typically accompanied by a text label or tooltip.
There were a few problems. Some of them were fairly minor, like Epiphany using high CPU load, especially in the virtual machine, or X11 gobbling CPU cycles on my workstation. There were other little touches like the release notes link in the installer not working, that are perhaps only worth mentioning because the rest of the experience was generally so polished and showed a lot of attention to detail.
My few serious complaints were with user accounts. Specifically, there appears to be a guest account enabled, but I could not find any way to sign into it. It is not a big deal to set up another account for guests, but it makes me wonder if the enabled (and hidden) account could be exploited. I also found it disappointing the parental controls did not work to block application access or forbidden websites.
On the other hand, I think Pantheon includes some great features and I like that it is fairly flexible in its look and behaviour. The flexible notification area and the quick switching between application menu styles were welcome features.
Generally speaking, I think elementary OS looks and feels professional. I hope it gets picked up by more hardware sellers, like System76, as I think Juno feels polished and looks good. I think it will especially appeal to less experienced users, but many of the features and the Code tool will likely be useful to more advanced users and developers too.
* * * * *
Hardware used in this review
My physical test equipment for this review was a desktop HP Pavilon p6 Series with the following specifications:
- Processor: Dual-core 2.8GHz AMD A4-3420 APU
- Storage: 500GB Hitachi hard drive
- Memory: 6GB of RAM
- Networking: Realtek RTL8111 wired network card
- Display: AMD Radeon HD 6410D video card
* * * * *
Visitor supplied rating
elementary OS has a visitor supplied average rating of: 8.3/10 from 181 review(s).
Have you used elementary OS? You can leave your own review of the project on our ratings page.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
DragonFly BSD introduces flexible virtual machine memory, KDE neon plans to drop older base, OpenBSD makes switching wireless networks automatic
A DragonFly BSD developer, who goes by the nickname "ddegroot", has created a special driver which allows the user to increase or decrease the amount of memory available to a guest operating system in a virtual machine. The driver uses what is called a "memory balloon" which expands or shrinks to change the amount of RAM available to the guest operating system. Richard WM Jones explains: "First of all, what is a balloon driver if you’ve never even heard of the concept? It’s a way to give or take RAM from a guest. (In theory at least), if your guest needs more RAM, you can use the balloon driver to give it more RAM. Or if the host needs to take RAM away from guests, it can do so. All of this is done without needing to pause or reboot the guest..."
* * * * *
The KDE neon distribution mixes a stable Ubuntu base with cutting-edge packages of the KDE Plasma desktop environment. The KDE neon team is dropping support for versions of its distribution that are based on Ubuntu 16.04 in order to streamline maintenance. "Upgrades to 18.04 are working well but maintaining twice as many builds as normal is taking its toll on our time and team of guinea pig packagers. Neon on 16.04 (Xenial) base will reach End of Life on Monday [October 22, 2018]. Please update to 18.04 base to continue receiving updates."
* * * * *
People who use OpenBSD on laptops and other portable computing devices will be happy to know the new release of OpenBSD 6.4 offers a new feature which will allow the operating system to automatically connect to recognized wireless networks. A post on the project's Twitter feed reports: "The upcoming OpenBSD 6.4 release features significant improvements in its IEEE 802.11 wireless stack! ifconfig(8) now has "join" - this keyword configures the kernel to automatic switch between different wifi networks."
* * * * *
These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Why init keeps running
Wanting-to-stop-init asks: I've read that init is the program which starts the operating system. So why does it still show up in my task monitor after I login, can't it be stopped after the distro boots? Or am I missing something?
DistroWatch answers: You are correct that init (whether it is SysV, systemd, runit, or another implementation) is used to bring the operating system on. The init process is the first userland program to be run and it is responsible for getting the rest of the operating system started. Since init is the first program run, it is sometimes referred to as process ID #1 or PID 1.
If all the init process did was kick-off the remainder of the boot process, then it would be entirely reasonable for init to terminate itself once the operating system had finished booting. However, init has a couple of other tasks to perform.
When a program terminates, it signals its parent (the program that created it) that its work is done. The parent program then gathers some information about the terminated process. Once that information has been collected, the child process is entirely removed from the system. But what happens if the parent process shuts down before the child process is finished? The child program's information needs to be collected somewhere before it can be wiped from the system. This is where init comes in. The init process adopts child programs who no longer have running parent processes. When a child process terminates and does not have a running parent, the init process steps in and collects its information. If init did not do this we would end up with a bunch of zombie processes cluttering the system, waiting to be cleaned up.
The init process may be involved in other tasks too, such as shutting down the operating system. While the implementations of init vary in their behaviour, PID 1 is often involved in telling programs to clean up and terminate when the computer is being rebooted or powered off.
Some init implementations may have other jobs too, but virtually every init program will perform at least these three tasks (starting the operating system, cleanly shutting down the system, and adopting terminated programs which do not have a running parent process). This is why PID 1 is always running in the background, even if it does not actively appear to be doing anything at the moment.
The good news is most implementations of init do not require many resources. PID 1 tends to sleep most of the time, only waking up to take care of adopted children or shut down the system. Memory usage tends to be low for most flavours of init too, so there is little cost in keeping it in memory.
* * * * *
Additional answers can be found in our Questions and Answers archive.
|Released Last Week
IPFire 2.21 Core 124
IPFire is a Linux distribution for firewalls which offers a range of security tools and is designed to be easy to set up. The distribution's developers have released IPFire 2.21 Core Update 124 that features kernel and network hardening for improved security. "We have updated the Linux kernel to version 4.14.72 which comes with a large number of bug fixes, especially for network adapters. It has also been hardened against various attack vectors by enabling and testing built-in kernel security features that prohibit access to privileged memory by unprivileged users and similar mechanisms. Due to this, the update requires a reboot after it has been installed. Peter has contributed a number of patches that improve security of the SSH daemon running inside IPFire. For those, who have SSH access enabled, it will now require latest ciphers and key exchange algorithms that make the key handshake and connection not only more secure, but also faster when transferring data. For those admins who use the console: The SSH client has also been enabled to show a graphic representation of the SSH key presented by the server so that comparing those is easier and man-in-the-middle attacks can be spotted quickly and easily." Additional information can be found in the project's release announcement.
elementary OS 5.0
elementary OS is an Ubuntu-based distribution which features the Pantheon desktop environment and a custom application store. The project's latest stable release is elementary OS 5.0 "Juno". There are several new improvements to the desktop, file manager and software centre in the new version: "We're happy to debut a brand new Night Light feature with both a manual timer and an automatic Sunrise to Sunset option. Night Light reduces the blue light output of your display, which may help to reduce eye strain and sleeplessness after using your device. When enabled and during the set time, a new Night Light indicator appears in the Panel which can be used to adjust the display temperature or snooze Night Light until the next day. And like all Indicators, it provides a quick way to jump straight into the relevant screen in System Settings." The release announcement lists several additional features along with screen shots.
elemetnary OS 5.0 -- Running the Pantheon desktop
(full image size: 1.6MB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
OpenBSD is a security-focused operating system with a design that emphasises correct code and accurate documentation. The project has released OpenBSD 6.4 which includes many driver improvements, a feature which allows OpenSSH's configuration files to use service names instead of port numbers, and the Clang compiler will now replace some risky ROP instructions with safe alternatives. Perhaps the most interesting feature is the unveil() system call which allows applications to sandbox themselves, blocking their own access to the file system. This is especially useful for programs which operate on unknown data which may try to exploit or crash the application: "New unveil(2) system call to restrict file system access of the calling process to the specified files and directories. It is most powerful when properly combined with privilege separation and pledge(2)." Further details can be found in the project's release announcement and in the changelog.
Adam Conrad has announced the release of Ubuntu 18.10, a version which will receive nine months of security updates and support. The project's new version ships with several key package updates: "The Ubuntu kernel has been updated to the 4.18 based Linux kernel, our default toolchain has moved to gcc 8.2 with glibc 2.28, and we've also updated to openssl 1.1.1 and gnutls 3.6.4 with TLS1.3 support. Ubuntu Desktop 18.10 brings a fresh look with the community-driven Yaru theme replacing our long-serving Ambiance and Radiance themes. We are shipping the latest GNOME 3.30, Firefox 63, LibreOffice 6.1.2, and many others. Ubuntu Server 18.10 includes the Rocky release of OpenStack including the clustering enabled LXD 3.0, new network configuration via netplan.io, and iteration on the next-generation fast server installer." Further details can be found in the release announcement and in the release notes.
Ubuntu MATE 18.10
Martin Wimpress has announced the release of Ubuntu MATE 18.10. The new version ships with version 1.20.3 of the MATE desktop environment and will receive nine months of support. "Curiously, the work during this Ubuntu MATE 18.10 release has really been focused on what will become Ubuntu MATE 18.04.2. Let me explain. The upstream MATE Desktop team have been working on many bug fixes for MATE desktop 1.20.3, that has resulted in a lot of maintenance updates in the upstream releases of MATE desktop. The Debian packaging team for MATE Desktop, of which I am member, has been updating all the MATE packages to track these upstream bug fixes and new releases. Just about all MATE desktop packages and associated components, such as AppMenu and MATE Dock Applet have been updated. Now that all these fixes exist in the 18.10 release, we will start the process of SRU'ing (backporting) them to 18.04 so that they will feature in the Ubuntu MATE 18.04.2 release due in February 2019. The fixes should start landing in Ubuntu MATE 18.04 very soon, well before the February deadline. Ubuntu MATE 18.04.2 will include a hardware enablement stack (HWE) based on what is shipped in Ubuntu 18.10...." Additional information can be found in the distribution's release announcement.
Ubuntu MATE 18.10 -- The application menu
(full image size: 195kB, resolution: 1920x1080 pixels)
Ubuntu Studio 18.10
The Ubuntu Studio team has announced the release of version 18.10 of their multimedia-focused distribution. The new release enables the automatic use of JACK for removable USB audio devices and introduces PikoPixel for editing pixel part. "Ubuntu Studio Controls has historically been the app to run to get initial audio configuration set for your system. This release, Ubuntu Studio Controls has undergone a major rewrite, and has the following features: Option for changing the CPU governor; configuration of JACK, including any attached USB audio devices; configuration of the JACK-PulseAudio Bridge; configuration of the JACK-ALSA MIDI Bridge. Ubuntu Studio Controls now, for the first time ever for any JACK configuration GUI, configures JACK to automatically detect hot-plugged USB audio devices and allows you to use more than one audio device at a time. This is something you will find in no other such utility. Future plans for Ubuntu Studio Controls includes configuration of WACOM Tablets, which is something currently not available in our default Xfce desktop environment." Additional details and future plans can be found in the distribution's release announcement and in the release notes.
Ubuntu Kylin 18.10
The development team behind Ubuntu Kylin has announced the availability of a new version of the project's official Ubuntu flavour designed specifically for users in China. The new version comes with updated MATE 1.20 desktop and it also provides a number of desktop improvements: "We are glad to announce the release of Ubuntu Kylin 18.10 'Cosmic Cuttlefish' which comes with a series of updates in kernel, basic services, desktop environment and software to provide a newer and better desktop experience. Ubuntu Kylin 18.10 ships with a brand-new Login and Lock programs, adding functions, fixing bugs and providing a cozier and easier user experience. Notable features include: new Login and Lock programs supporting biometric identifications technologies; Start Menu - modify the loading mode of Normal Menu and support a third-party category, support special characters, add feedback; Sessions - add a new Setup wizard; Notifications - add U disk management; Panel - redesign task layout when opening too many tabs on the panel...." Read the full release announcement (available in Chinese and English) for more information and screenshots.
Ubuntu Budgie 18.10
David Mohammed has announced the release of Ubuntu Budgie 18.10, a new and improved version of the distribution that features the Budgie desktop (originally developed by the Solus project): "We are pleased to announce the release of a new version of our distro, the fourth as an official flavor of the Ubuntu family. Based on 18.04 experiences, feedback and suggestions that we have received from our users, the new release comes with a lot of new features, fixes and optimizations. Here is what you can expect in the new release: showcasing the latest Budgie desktop developments, re-working some of our most used applets to be more efficient and faster; adding new productivity applets; integrating all of this together with the major GNOME developments of GTK+ 3.24 and Mutter 3.30. New features and enhancements: Budgie Desktop 10.5 (almost) - we are pleased to promote the latest available capabilities made available by the Solus project; due to overwhelming vote (75%), Firefox now becomes our default browser; we have dropped TLP from the default install as power savings in kernel 4.18 are significant for newer computers...." See the release announcement and release notes for further information.
Continuing the Ubuntu release day news, here is the announcement of the release of Kubuntu 18.10, an official Ubuntu flavour featuring KDE Plasma 5 desktop: "Kubuntu 18.10, featuring the beautiful Plasma 5.13 desktop from KDE, has been released. Code-named 'Cosmic Cuttlefish', Kubuntu 18.10 continues our proud tradition of integrating the latest and greatest open-source technologies into a high-quality, easy-to-use Linux distribution. Under the hood, there have been updates to many core packages, including a new 4.18-based Linux kernel, Qt 5.11, KDE Frameworks 5.50, Plasma 5.13.5 and KDE Applications 18.04.3. Kubuntu has seen some exciting improvements, with newer versions of Qt, updates to major packages like Krita, Kdeconnect, Kstars, Peruse, Latte-dock, Firefox and LibreOffice, and stability improvements to KDE Plasma. In addition, Snap integration in Plasma Discover software center is now enabled by default." And some good news for the disappointed users who had hoped for the inclusion of Plasma 5.14 in Kubuntu 18.10: "Users who wish to test the latest Plasma 5.14.1 and Frameworks 5.51, which came too late in our release cycle to make it into 18.10 as default, can install these via our Backports PPA." Read the release announcement and the release notes for more information.
Kubuntu 18.10 -- The KDE Plasma desktop
(full image size: 1.2MB, resolution: 1920x1080 pixels)
The Xubuntu development team has announced the release of Xubuntu 18.10, the latest version of the official Ubuntu variant with Xfce as the preferred desktop environment. This is Xubuntu's first release that uses a development build of Xfce 4.13, an upcoming version that will deploy GTK+ 3 as the default toolkit: "The Xubuntu team is happy to announce the immediate release of Xubuntu 18.10. Highlights: several Xfce components and applications were updated to their 4.13 development releases, bringing us closer to a GTK+ 3-only desktop; elementary Xfce icon theme 0.13 with the manila folder icons as seen in the upstream elementary icon theme; Greybird 3.22.9 which improves the look and feel of our window manager, alt-tab dialog, Chromium and even pavucontrol; a new default wallpaper featuring a gentle purple tone that greatly complements our GTK+ and icon themes. Known issues: at times the panel could show two network icons - this appears to be a race condition which we have not been able to rectify in time for release; in the settings manager, the mouse fails to scroll applications in settings manager (GTK+ 3 regression)." Read the release announcement and release notes for further information and screenshots.
We conclude the Ubuntu release day with Lubuntu, a popular Ubuntu variant which, until recently, featured the lightweight LXDE desktop. Starting with version 18.10, the distribution has finally completed its intended switch to LXQt: "Thanks to all the hard work from our contributors, Lubuntu 18.10 has been released. This is the first Lubuntu release with LXQt as the main desktop environment. The Lubuntu project, in 18.10 and successive releases, will no longer support the LXDE desktop environment or tools in the Ubuntu archive and will instead focus on the LXQt desktop environment. You can find the following major applications and toolkits installed by default in this release: LXQt 0.13.0, with many bugfixes and improvements backported from upstream; Qt 5.11.1, which is the first point release in the Qt 5.11 series; Mozilla Firefox 62, which will receive updates from the Ubuntu security team throughout the support cycle of the release; the LibreOffice 6.1.2 suite with the Qt 5 frontend; VLC 3.0.4 for viewing media and listening to music; Featherpad 0.9.0 for notes and code editing....." Read the detailed release announcement which contains a long list of interesting changes.
Following the release of Ubuntu 18.10 earlier this week, Pop!_OS, an Ubuntu-based distribution which ships on desktops and laptops built by Linux hardware specialist System76, has also been updated to version 18.10: "Your favorite Pop!_erating system has leveled up with Pop!_18.10. Most of the new updates will also be rolled into Pop!_18.04. Here's what we've been working on since our last Pop!_OS announcement. New kernel, graphic stack, and GNOME desktop environment for Pop!_18.10: 18.10 will have lots of updated packages from upstream Ubuntu that 18.04 won't get; theme changes and visual tweaks to widgets give your favorite OS some extra Pop! Pop!_Shop: application previews now load faster; improvements to the UI to prevent it from freezing, like a down jacket sewn from phoenix feathers; oh, and before we forget, there's also some resolutions for outstanding memory leaks. CUDA and TensorFlow: we keep CUDA and TensorFlow up to date and easy to use, now, you can take CUDA + cuDNN + TensorFlow installation from 100 lines of code to a single command." Continue to the release announcement for more information and screenshots.
Feren OS 2018.10
A new stable version of Feren OS, called "October snapshot", has been released. Feren OS is a desktop-oriented Linux distribution based on Linux Mint, shipping with Cinnamon as the default desktop environment. The latest release comes with a number of desktop tweaks and it is also available for 32-bit computers: "Changes-wise, there isn't that much to talk about regarding the Feren OS frontend, as most of the work has been done improving the backend of many applications Feren OS has of its own. Here are a few of the noticeable changes: new background set and a new desktop environment supporting the easy viewing of this and newer background sets; Feren OS is now upgradable to non-LTS Ubuntu versions; the Feren OS theme has also seen some noticeable tweaks - gradients are now colour-neutral, using some transparency tweaks and scrollbars are now designed after the Breeze theme using the code from the Breeze GTK+ 3 and GTK+ 2 themes; theme colouriser will now support community-made theme colouriser scripts; backend fixes and changes." Besides providing detailed information and screenshots, the release announcement also hints at continued development of a new "KDE" edition of Feren OS (currently available as an "experimental" release).
NuTyX is a French Linux distribution (with multi-language support) built from Linux From Scratch and Beyond Linux From Scratch, with a custom package manager called "cards". The distribution's latest release is NuTyX 10.4 and ships with updated versions of the cards package manager, the Linux kernel, Firefox and LibreOffice. "I'm very please to announce the new NuTyX 10.4 release. NuTyX 10.4 comes with kernel LTS 4.14.78 (4.9.114 in 32-bits), glibc 2.28, gcc 8.2.0, binutils 2.30, Python 3.7.0, xorg-server 1.20.1, Qt 5.11.2, GTK+ 3.24.1, GIMP 2.10.6, Plasma 5.12.6 LTS (in 64-bits) , kf5 5.50.0 (in 64-bits), MATE 1.20.1, Xfce4 4.12.3, Firefox 62.0.3... A second kernel is proposed for people who want to use the very last version of the kernel 4.17.11 NuTyX 10.3 user's are invited to upgrade." Further details and upgrade instructions can be found on the project's news page. NuTyX is available in two editions, a minimal ISO and one with the MATE desktop environment.
* * * * *
Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
The table below provides a list of torrents DistroWatch is currently seeding. If you do not have a bittorrent client capable of handling the linked files, we suggest installing either the Transmission or KTorrent bittorrent clients.
Archives of our previously seeded torrents may be found in our Torrent Archive. We also maintain a Torrents RSS feed for people who wish to have open source torrents delivered to them. To share your own open source torrents of Linux and BSD projects, please visit our Upload Torrents page.
Torrent Corner statistics:
- Total torrents seeded: 1,078
- Total data uploaded: 21.6TB
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Using ARM-powered computers
Computers running ARM processors are becoming more common these days. ARM CPUs power a lot of single-board computers, like the Raspberry Pi and the Pinebook.
This week we would like to find out if any of our readers are using an ARM-powered computer as their primary computing device (desktop or laptop).
You can see the results of our previous poll on attending LUG meetings in last week's edition. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
Using ARM-powered computers
|My main computer (workstation/laptop) has an ARM CPU: ||33 (2%)|
| I have a secondary computer that runs an ARM CPU: ||650 (35%)|
| Both my primary and a secondary computer run ARM CPUs: ||11 (1%)|
| None of my computers run ARM CPUs: ||1146 (61%)|
| Unsure: ||28 (1%)|
Distributions added to waiting list
- AcademiX GNU/Linux. AcademiX GNU/Linux is a Debian-based distribution which features educational programs for students ranging from primary classes through to university. The distribution can be installed or run as a live DVD.
- Linufix is a distribution with two editions. One edition is for centralized financial technology and payment software while the second edition runs decentralized blockchain technology.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 29 October 2018. Past articles and reviews can be found through our Article Search page. To contact the authors please send e-mail to:
- Jesse Smith (feedback, questions and suggestions: distribution reviews/submissions, questions and answers, tips and tricks)
- Ladislav Bodnar (feedback, questions, donations, comments)
- Bruce Patterson (podcast)
If you've enjoyed this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly, please consider sending us a tip.
(Tips this week: 0, value: US$0.00)
|Linux Foundation Training
|• 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 18.104.22.168, limiting process resource usage, converting file systems on Fedora, Debian turns 25, Lubuntu migrating to Wayland|
|• Issue 776 (2018-08-13): NomadBSD 1.1, Maximum storage limits on Linux, openSUSE extends life for 42.3, updates to the Librem 5 phone interface|
|• Issue 775 (2018-08-06): Secure-K OS 18.5, Linux is about choice, Korora tests community spin, elementary OS hires developer, ReactOS boots on Btrfs|
|• Issue 774 (2018-07-30): Ubuntu MATE & Ubuntu Budgie 18.04, upgrading software from source, Lubuntu shifts focus, NetBSD changes support policy|
|• Issue 773 (2018-07-23): Peppermint OS 9, types of security used by different projects, Mint reacts to bugs in core packages, Slackware turns 25|
|• Issue 772 (2018-07-16): Hyperbola GNU/Linux-libre 0.2.4, UBports running desktop applications, OpenBSD auto-joins wi-fi networks, boot environments and zedenv|
|• Issue 771 (2018-07-09): Linux Lite 4.0, checking CPUs for bugs, configuring GRUB, Mint upgrade instructions, SUSE acquired by EQT|
|• Issue 770 (2018-07-02): Linux Mint 19, Solus polishes desktop experience, MintBox Mini 2, changes to Fedora's installer|
|• Issue 769 (2018-06-25): BunsenLabs Helium, counting Ubuntu users, UBports upgrading to 16.04, Fedora CoreOS, FreeBSD turns 25|
|• Issue 768 (2018-06-18): Devuan 2.0.0, using pkgsrc to manage software, the NOVA filesystem, OpenBSD handles successful cron output|
|• Issue 767 (2018-06-11): Android-x86 7.1-r1, transferring files over OpenSSH with pipes, LFS with Debian package management, Haiku ports LibreOffice|
|• Issue 766 (2018-06-04): openSUSE 15, overview of file system links, Manjaro updates Pamac, ReactOS builds itself, Bodhi closes forums|
|• Issue 765 (2018-05-28): Pop!_OS 18.04, gathering system information, Haiku unifying ARM builds, Solus resumes control of Budgie|
|• Issue 764 (2018-05-21): DragonFly BSD 5.2.0, Tails works on persistent packages, Ubuntu plans new features, finding services affected by an update|
|• Issue 763 (2018-05-14): Fedora 28, Debian compatibility coming to Chrome OS, malware found in some Snaps, Debian's many flavours|
|• Issue 762 (2018-05-07): TrueOS 18.03, live upgrading Raspbian, Mint plans future releases, HardenedBSD to switch back to OpenSSL|
|• Issue 761 (2018-04-30): Ubuntu 18.04, accessing ZFS snapshots, UBports to run on Librem 5 phones, Slackware makes PulseAudio optional|
|• Issue 760 (2018-04-23): Chakra 2017.10, using systemd to hide files, Netrunner's ARM edition, Debian 10 roadmap, Microsoft develops Linux-based OS|
|• Issue 759 (2018-04-16): Neptune 5.0, building containers with Red Hat, antiX introduces Sid edition, fixing filenames on the command line|
|• Issue 758 (2018-04-09): Sortix 1.0, openSUSE's Transactional Updates, Fedora phasing out Python 2, locating portable packages|
|• Issue 757 (2018-04-02): Gatter Linux 0.8, the UNIX and Linux System Administration Handbook, Red Hat turns 25, super long term support kernels|
|• Issue 756 (2018-03-26): NuTyX 10.0, Neptune supplies Debian users with Plasma 5.12, SolydXK on a Raspberry Pi, SysV init development|
|• Issue 755 (2018-03-19): Learning with ArchMerge and Linux Academy, Librem 5 runs Plasma Mobile, Cinnamon gets performance boost|
|• Issue 754 (2018-03-12): Reviewing Sabayon and Antergos, the growing Linux kernel, BSDs getting CPU bug fixes, Manjaro builds for ARM devices|
|• Issue 753 (2018-03-05): Enso OS 0.2, KDE Plasma 5.12 features, MX Linux prepares new features, interview with MidnightBSD's founder|
|• Issue 752 (2018-02-26): OviOS 2.31, performing off-line upgrades, elementary OS's new installer, UBports gets test devices, Redcore team improves security|
|• Issue 751 (2018-02-19): DietPi 6.1, testing KDE's Plasma Mobile, Nitrux packages AppImage in default install, Solus experiments with Wayland|
|• Issue 750 (2018-02-12): Solus 3, getting Deb packages upstream to Debian, NetBSD security update, elementary OS explores AppCentre changes|
|• Issue 749 (2018-02-05): Freespire 3 and Linspire 7.0, misunderstandings about Wayland, Xorg and Mir, Korora slows release schedule, Red Hat purchases CoreOS|
|• Issue 748 (2018-01-29): siduction 2018.1.0, SolydXK 32-bit editions, building an Ubuntu robot, desktop-friendly Debian options|
|• Issue 747 (2018-01-22): Ubuntu MATE 17.10, recovering open files, creating a new distribution, KDE focusing on Wayland features|
|• Issue 746 (2018-01-15): deepin 15.5, openSUSE's YaST improvements, new Ubuntu 17.10 media, details on Spectre and Meltdown bugs|
|• Issue 745 (2018-01-08): GhostBSD 11.1, Linspire and Freespire return, wide-spread CPU bugs patched, adding AppImage launchers to the application menu|
|• Issue 744 (2018-01-01): MX Linux 17, Ubuntu pulls media over BIOS bug, PureOS gets endorsed by the FSF, openSUSE plays with kernel boot splash screens|
|• Issue 743 (2017-12-18): Daphile 17.09, tools for rescuing files, Fedora Modular Server delayed, Sparky adds ARM support, Slax to better support wireless networking|
|• Issue 742 (2017-12-11): heads 0.3.1, improvements coming to Tails, Void tutorials, Ubuntu phasing out Python 2, manipulating images from the command line|
|• Full list of all issues|
|Random Distribution |
SuperX is a desktop-oriented computer operating system based on Linux, using a highly customized KDE desktop environment. Originally developed in India, SuperX is published by Libresoft, a startup with a free and open source software business model. SuperX is available in multiple variants, from a freemium variant for home users to a professional variant for enterprise users. SuperX strives to be "Simple User friendly, Powerful, Energetic and Robust eXperience".