| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 811, 22 April 2019
Welcome to this year's 16th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
There are a lot of Linux distributions, hundreds in fact, and sometimes groups of them look similar, particularly those which reside in the same family or have the same goals. This week we decided to turn our attention toward a project which stands out by doing several things differently: Alpine Linux. Alpine ships with an uncommonly used system library, does not use the GNU userland tools and uses OpenRC as its init software instead of the more commonly used systemd. Alpine also runs on several hardware architectures and is reportedly very lightweight. Our Feature Story has more details on this intriguing project. In our News section we discuss Manjaro's ARM port getting more official recognition, Obarun releasing tools for working with the S6 init implementation, and Ubuntu developers working toward improved ZFS support. We also welcome Sam Hartman to his new role as Debian's Project Leader and talk about Ubuntu Studio extending the life of a past release. Plus we share some tips on how to create backups with the rsync utility. In our Option Poll we ask readers which tools they use for making backups of important files. As usual, we provide a list of last week's releases and we are pleased to share the torrents we are seeding. We wish you all a wonderful week and happy reading!
- Review: Alpine Linux 3.9.2
- News: Manjaro's ARM port now offered through the main project's website, Obarun releases S6 init tools, Ubuntu working on better ZFS support, Ubuntu Studio 18.04 gains longer term support, Sam Hartman becomes Debian's Project Leader
- Tips and tricks: Simple rsync examples
- Released last week: Ubuntu 19.04, Feren OS 2019.04, Pop!_OS 19.04
- Torrent corner: Feren OS, IPFire, Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Netrunner, Plop, Pop!_OS, Ubuntu, Ubuntu Budgie, Ubuntu MATE, Ubuntu Kylin, Ubuntu Studio, Xubuntu
- Opinion poll: Programs for creating backups
- New distributions: Regolith Linux, Asril OS, BlackWeb
- Reader comments
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)
Alpine Linux 3.9.2
Alpine Linux is a distribution designed to be small (in terms of resource usage) and secure. The distribution is intended for use in environments where performance and security are the top priorities, such as servers, firewalls and single board computers. Alpine offers an unusual collection of features, including using the musl C library instead of the more popular GNU C library, using Busybox for command line tools instead of the GNU tools, and it manages services through OpenRC instead of systemd or SysV init. The distribution also provides some added security through position independent executables (PIE) which make some common avenues of attacking memory more difficult.
There are several builds and editions of Alpine. There are specific downloads for running the distribution on physical hardware and virtual environments. There are also different builds depending on whether we want a fully functioning server operating system or a more minimal base. Finally, there are several architecture options for x86 (32-bit and 64-bit), ARM, PPC64, and s390x processors. I decided to download the Extended edition for 64-bit (x86_64) machines. The Extended version offers the most tools out of the box (though it is still pretty minimal by most standards) and loads itself into RAM to offer better performance. The download is 398MB in size.
I want to mention right up front that all of Alpine's editions are fairly minimal and intended for use on servers and embedded devices rather than workstations. The distribution is more of a platform for building something than an out-of-the-box solution or appliance. I recommend having a project in mind, such as setting up a home web server or e-mail solution, before using Alpine.
The live media boots almost immediately and presents us with a text console. We can sign into the root account without a password. The console displays some helpful tips, such as where to find the Alpine documentation on-line and that we can start the system installer by running the setup-alpine command. There are not many tools included on the live media, so once I confirmed my hardware was detected, I launched the installer.
The Alpine installer presents us with a series of text prompts and asks us to type in answers. Some prompts have defaults to help us through. We are asked to select our keyboard layout from a list, set our computer's hostname and then either set up an IP address and Internet gateway or enable DHCP to get a dynamic network. We can then pick our preferred DNS server and create a password for the root account. Next we select a time zone from a list, select which NTP (network time protocol) implementation to use from a list and select which secure shell implementation to enable. We are also asked to select a package mirror from a list.
It was this last step, picking a package mirror, that gave me some trouble. The first time through the installer, I set up networking manually and when I was asked to pick a package server from the list, there we no mirrors shown. This appeared to be due to an error that occurred when trying to download a list of mirrors. At this point I discovered I could not go back to previous steps of the installer to adjust network settings, so I used Ctrl-C to drop out of the installer and started over. The second time through I opted for DHCP networking, confirmed the proper IP and gateway had been assigned and continued through. Again, no mirror list was downloaded, leaving me stuck.
I tried manually adding a mirror to the package manager, but this was not accepted. I eventually asked the installer to pick a random mirror (from a list of none) and that convinced it to proceed. The final steps the installer takes are to ask us whether we want a traditional installation (placing the operating system and data on the hard drive, an approach Alpine calls "sys") or use the local disk for just storing data files and run the operating system from removable media. I went with the traditional (sys) install. The installer asks us which disk to use, the selected disk is wiped and the distribution's files copied. We are then asked to reboot the computer to begin using Alpine in earnest.
The locally installed copy of Alpine boots to a text console where we can sign in as the root user. The userland tools are provided by Busybox and software is linked against the lightweight musl C library. The distribution uses OpenRC as the service manager and runs on version 4.19 of the Linux kernel. Apart from the OpenSSH service running in the background and the network time synchronization, not much runs on Alpine by default. There is no graphical display, no manual pages, and no compiler. We can turn on and off background services using the service command and get a list of available services by running "service -l". We can enable daemons to run at boot time by running "rc-update add servicename" and disable items with "rc-update del servicename"
Alpine Linux 3.9.2 -- Getting started with the Alpine text console
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I tried running Alpine Linux on a workstation and in VirtualBox. The distribution worked well in both environments, running very quickly and detecting all of my hardware. I was especially happy with how fast Alpine boots and shuts down, its start time is probably less than a quarter of most mainstream distributions. Alpine uses about 33MB of RAM with a default install of the Extended edition and consumes just 675MB of disk space. Another 2GB of disk space is taken over by the distribution's swap space.
Package management on Alpine is handled by a command line tool called apk. The apk tool uses a similar syntax to Debian's APT or Fedora's DNF, with a few minor differences. The command "apk add" installs new software, "apk del" removes packages. I found "apk update" grabbed fresh repository information and "apk upgrade" updated packages. Though "apk search" is not mentioned in the tool's command line help, this command helps us find new packages.
Since trying to set up a package mirror did not work during the install process, I checked the on-line documentation and found a mirror list. The wiki explains how to add new package mirrors and this gave me access to 5,690 packages. I checked for updates and found just one (the Linux kernel) available. This new package downloaded and installed without any problems. I also added manual pages to assist my memory by running "apk add man man-pages". I found a number of command tools I normally use and did not have in the default install could be added to the system through the util-linux package.
Setting up a project
Earlier I mentioned that Alpine is more of a platform for building projects than a pre-packaged solution; we need a project in mind to make the distribution useful for a particular task. With this in mind I decided I would try to set up a Nextcloud installation for on-line file storage and see if I could get a ZFS volume set up to act as a backup/NAS solution.
At first I thought the easiest approach would be to install a Nextcloud package, if it were available, but searches for Nextcloud (and its close relative ownCloud) returned no results from apk. Opting to then take the manual route, I installed Apache (and got the service running) then went looking for a PHP package and did not find one. According to the Alpine wiki, PHP is in a separate repository, which I enabled. I now had access to 9,754 packages in total. Had I been thinking clearly, I might have double-checked the extra Community repository for a Nextcloud package, but I didn't. Instead I went ahead with enabling PHP and followed the Nextcloud install guide. Trying to access the new Nextcloud install resulted in an internal server error.
This is where it occurred to me to check the Alpine Community repository for a Nextcloud package and not only found one, but also a corresponding tutorial for running Nextcloud on Alpine Linux. The tutorial worked beautifully and I was soon able to sign into Nextcloud, upload files and set up a calendar. My lesson was learned: make sure the Community repository is enabled before searching for add-on packages.
Alpine Linux 3.9.2 -- Browsing files stored on Nextcloud
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Enabling a ZFS volume was next on my to-do list. I found a ZFS module in the repositories and downloaded it. The ZFS kernel module was not loaded automatically, but could be enabled by running "modprobe zfs". I was then able to use the zpool and zfs command line tools to set up a new volume. this worked well until I rebooted and the ZFS volume did not get mounted.
With a little looking around I discovered there are a number of ZFS services which need to be enabled at boot time with the rc-update command in order for ZFS volumes to get mounted when the system restarts.
In the end, while there was a little more work involved in setting up extra services than I would usually expect on a Linux distribution, everything did eventually work. I was left with a very fast, lightweight distribution that was running a couple of services. The distribution, with all of my services running, only consumed 75MB of RAM and less than 1GB of disk space.
Alpine Linux is different in some important ways compared to most other distributions. It uses different libraries, it uses a different service manager (than most), it has different command line tools and a custom installer. All of this can, at first, make Alpine feel a bit unfamiliar, a bit alien. But what I found was that, after a little work had been done to get the system up and running (and after a few missteps on my part) I began to greatly appreciate the distribution.
Alpine is unusually small and requires few resources. Even the larger Extended edition I was running required less than 100MB of RAM and less than a gigabyte of disk space after all my services were enabled. I also appreciated that Alpine ships with some security features, like PIE, and does not enable any services it does not need to run.
I believe it is fair to say this distribution requires more work to set up. Installing Alpine is not a point-n-click experience, it's more manual and requires a bit of typing. Not as much as setting up Arch Linux, but still more work than average. Setting up services requires a little more work and, in some cases, reading too since Alpine works a little differently than mainstream Linux projects. I repeatedly found it was a good idea to refer to the project's wiki to learn which steps were different on Alpine.
What I came away thinking at the end of my trial, and I probably sound old (or at least old fashioned), is Alpine Linux reminds me of what got me into running Linux in the first place, about 20 years ago. Alpine is fast, light, and transparent. It offered very few surprises and does almost nothing automatically. This results in a little more effort on our parts, but it means that Alpine does not do things unless we ask it to perform an action. It is lean, efficient and does not go around changing things or trying to guess what we want to do. These are characteristics I sometimes miss these days in the Linux ecosystem.
In fact, while I was using Alpine I kept thinking it felt more like a member of the BSD family in its style. The project offers the same style of platform without extras, the same sort of calm predictability, the same "Do what I say and only what I say" approach to system administration. In fact, I feel the conclusion I wrote when reviewing FreeBSD 12.0 could equally apply to Alpine:
Something which stands out about FreeBSD, compared to most Linux distributions I run, is that FreeBSD rarely holds the user's hand, but also rarely surprises the user. This means there is more reading to do up front and new users may struggle to get used to editing configuration files in a text editor. But FreeBSD rarely does anything unless told to do it. Updates rarely change the system's behaviour, working technology rarely gets swapped out for something new, the system and its applications never crashed during my trial. Everything was rock solid. The operating system may seem like a minimal, blank slate to new users, but it's wonderfully dependable and predictable in my experience.
This might make Alpine less attractive to newcomers or to desktop users, but I think it is a strong argument for using Alpine Linux on servers and embedded devices where reliability is more important than convenience.
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Hardware used in this review
My physical test equipment for this review was a desktop HP Pavilon p6 Series with the following specifications:
- Processor: Dual-core 2.8GHz AMD A4-3420 APU
- Storage: 500GB Hitachi hard drive
- Memory: 6GB of RAM
- Networking: Realtek RTL8111 wired network card, Ralink RT5390R PCIe Wireless card
- Display: AMD Radeon HD 6410D video card
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Visitor supplied rating
Alpine Linux has a visitor supplied average rating of: 8.2/10 from 22 review(s).
Have you used Alpine Linux? You can leave your own review of the project on our ratings page.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
Manjaro's ARM port now offered through the main project's website, Obarun releases S6 init tools, Ubuntu working on better ZFS support
The ARM port of Manjaro Linux has gained more recognition from the Manjaro project and its latest release, Manjaro ARM 19.04, is now available for download from the official Manjaro website. The ARM port provides images which run Manjaro on Raspberry Pi 3, ODroid C2, Pinebook and Rock64 devices. Meanwhile support for older ARM architecture is being dropped. "Firstly, I have already stopped making images for armv7h devices. No new images will be made. From today I will also stop all the Manjaro package updates for armv7h. Packages directly from Arch Linux ARM will still get updated. From June 1st, all package updates will stop for armv7h. That means, no more package updates for armv7h at all from June 1st." Details on the ARM port and its range of supported hardware can be found in this forum post.
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Obarun is an Arch Linux-based distribution featuring the S6 init software in place of systemd. The project has published a collection of tools for working with S6 services and service files. The collection of tools is called 66 and the project's website describes it as follows: "Sixty-six is a collection of system tools built around s6 and s6-rc created to make the implementation and manipulation of service files on your machine easier. It is meant to be a toolbox for the declaration, implementation and administration of services where separate programs can be joined to achieve powerful functionality with small amounts of code." Source code and install instructions can be found in the 66 code repository.
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While many people were downloading the latest version of Ubuntu this week, some were already looking ahead to Ubuntu 19.10 and new features which may arrive in the next release. One set of notes in particular which caught attention was ZFS, an advanced filesystem which Ubuntu may be planning to use as an optional root filesystem at install time. Some Discourse notes mention running ZFS as the root partition, installing a ZFS volume alongside ext4 and adding ZFS entries to the boot menu. ZFS provides (among other features) built-in support snapshots, automatic repair of damaged files, and multi-disk volumes.
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The Ubuntu Studio team have made an unusual decision to retroactively extend the supported life span of Ubuntu Studio 18.04. Though the additional support time is only available if users of the distribution enable a personal package archive (PPA). The a post on the project's blog explains: "Back in April 2018, Ubuntu Studio 18.04 was released as a non-LTS (Long-Term Support) version, which limited its support cycle to end January 2019. This was due to a number of factors, from the involvement of the team members at the time to the number of team members. In January 2019, the team came up with the idea for a Backports PPA of certain software to eliminate certain bugs and update the main packages (the ones that make Ubuntu Studio what it is). It was officially announced in February 2019. As such, the Ubuntu Studio team no longer supports Ubuntu Studio 18.04 unless the Ubuntu Studio Backports PPA is added. Adding the Ubuntu Studio Backports PPA increases the support length of Ubuntu Studio 18.04 to three years total, with support ending in April 2021."
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The Debian project concluded its election for the position of Debian Project Leader over the weekend. The winner, from a field of four contenders, was Sam Hartman. Hartman ran on a platform of trying to improve communication within the Debian project and to streamline the decision making process to avoid having contributors bogged down in debates. We congratulate Hartman and wish him the best of luck in his new role at Debian.
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These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Tips and Tricks (by Jesse Smith)
Simple rsync examples
One of my favourite Linux (and BSD) command line tools is rsync and I often regret not using it sooner. The rsync program is a command line utility for copying or backing up files. Usually it is used to archive directory trees or keep folders synchronized between multiple computers. Earlier in my Linux journey I had used more awkward and less flexible backup solutions for my files and it made my work harder than it needed to be. One of the reasons it took me so long to adopt rsync into my system administration toolkit was each time I would see people talking about rsync the examples they offered were always long and unusually complex. I was aware rsync was a useful and powerful tool, but it seemed unusually cryptic. Here are two of the first examples I found when I did a web search for rsync tutorials:
rsync -avzhe ssh backup.tar.gz email@example.com:/Archives
One of those two lines is one of the few examples provided by rsync's own manual page. I'm sure it is understandable why not many people want to immediately dive into using rsync after seeing the above two examples as they are long and use a lot of options.
rsync -av --filter=':e /.rsync-filter' --delete host:src/dir /dest
It's unfortunate rsync is often presented in this way because the tool is very powerful and, as an added bonus, usually is not nearly so complex to use as the above examples suggest. This week I want to explore some more simple examples of using rsync to show how it can be useful on a regular basis.
In its simplest form, the rsync command accepts one or more options followed by a source directory where we have files we want to copy, and a destination directory where we want those files to go. Typically the "-a" option is used, which bundles a bunch of commonly desired options together. The "-a" flag is short for "archive", but I also think of it as standing for "all" since the flag does all the things I usually want. Here is a quick example of us copying all of the files from my Documents directory into the Backup directory:
rsync -a Documents/ Backup/
If we want to see a list of files rsync is copying from the Documents directory into Backup, then we can also specify the "-v" flag. The "-v" flag stands for "verbose" and it keeps us posted on what files are being transferred.
rsync -av Documents/ Backup/
You might look at the above examples and wonder why we are using rsync here when the copy (cp) program would work just as well. The reason is rsync does not copy files which already exist in the destination directory. unless we have newer versions in the source location. If we only wanted to copy the files one time, the copy command would work just fine. However, if we want to synchronize the files between two locations multiple times, perhaps once a week, then rsync saves us a lot of time as it only copies the data it needs to keep the two locations in sync.
Quite often rsync is used to transfer files between computers. Assuming the remote computer has the OpenSSH service running, is it fairly straight forward to send files to the remote computer. In this example, we copy the local Documents directory to a remote computer's Backup directory. The remote computer's hostname is Vault and we separate its hostname from the name of the remote directory with the ":" symbol.
rsync -av Documents/ vault:Backup/
The above example works if we have an account on Vault with the same username. For example, if my username locally is "jesse" and it is also "jesse" on Vault. But what if locally I am "jesse" and on the remote server I am "jsmith"? We can handle that by adding my username to the destination, followed by the "@" sign:
rsync -av Documents/ jsmith@vault:Backup/
Later, if we want to restore the remote files back to the local computer we can fetch our files back by simply swapping the source and destination:
rsync -av jsmith@vault:Backup/ Documents/
You may have noticed that in all of these examples, the trailing slash ("/") character appears after the directory name. The trailing slash is important when specifying the source directory to rsync. With the slash character, rsync copies all the files inside a source directory to our destination. If the slash is omitted then the source directory and its files are copied. For instance, let us assume I perform the following command:
rsync -av Documents Backup/
Now, inside the Backup directory, I will have a new sub-directory called Documents. Usually we do not want to do this as it buries our files one layer deeper. My original file "Documents/example.txt" would become "Backup/Documents/example.txt". By contrast, when we leave the trailing slash in place, the new file is named "Backup/example.txt".
By default rsync does not delete files, it only copies new files to the destination location. This is usually good, but it means over time the destination directory can fill up with all sorts of data we no longer need. The destination can fill up, over the course of multiple synchronizations, with old copies of files or documents we no longer want. We can clean up the destination directory using the "--delete" flag.
When run with "--delete" as an option, rsync removes any files in the destination directory which are not in the source directory. This makes the destination a mirror of the source rather than an ongoing archive of the data from the source location. In the following example, I backup my Documents directory again, this time removing any old files from the Vault server:
rsync -av --delete Documents/ vault:Backup/
One more flag I find useful, when transferring many large files, is the "--progress" flag. It simply shows how much of the current file has been copied so far.
rsync -av --progress Documents/ vault:Backup/
Though not strictly related to rsync, performing a large file copy between computers can slow down the system. We probably do not want our system becoming sluggish while backing up our files. With this in mind, I suggest running rsync using the ionice command. The ionice utility tells a specific program to avoid using the hard drive while other programs are accessing the disk. This makes everything operate more smoothly. Here is an example of using ionice that keeps rsync from impacting the local computer's performance while making a backup:
ionice -c 3 rsync -av Documents/ vault:Backup/
There are more things we can do with rsync, but the above examples cover about 95% of how I use the utility. Having rsync run once a day or once a week is a handy way to keep files backed up. I especially find it helpful when I want to send copies of projects to my laptop before travelling. It's much faster than going through my Documents directory manually to see which items I need to take with me.
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Additional tips can be found in our Tips and Tricks archive.
|Released Last Week
Feren OS 2019.04
Feren OS is a desktop Linux distribution based on Linux Mint's main edition. The project's latest snapshot introduces new wallpapers, new themes and a new installer for the 64-bit build. "Feren OS 64-Bit with Cinnamon now has a new installer and a new OEM Setup Experience. Both now make use of the Calamares system installer and now provide a much faster installation experience from beginning to end. For instructions on how to make use of the new OEM setup experience, click here. Theme improvements: With this snapshot, you can also see some noticeable adjustments to the Feren OS Light Theme, including but not limited to: A re-done GTK2 theme based on the latest Arc GTK2 theme that now matches with the overall theming of Feren OS once more. A darkened GTK3 theme making the light theme more neutral. Backend changes to the Cinnamon themes to make them more consistent as well as changing the theme slightly to match better with the new darkened light theme. Metacity/Window Borders updates to make the title bars consistent with the new theme. WinStyle and macStyle Window Borders (Metacity themes) have been re-done to support accent colour-dependant colourisation for supported GTK3 themes." Further details can be found in the project's release announcement.
Adam Conrad has announced the release of Ubuntu 19.04, codename "Disco Dingo". The new release ships with GNOME 3.32, version 5.0 of the Linux kernel, and offers fractional scaling through both X.Org and Wayland desktop sessions. "Codenamed "Disco Dingo", 19.04 continues Ubuntu's proud tradition of integrating the latest and greatest open source technologies into a high-quality, easy-to-use Linux distribution. The team has been hard at work through this cycle, introducing new features and fixing bugs. The Ubuntu kernel has been updated to the 5.0 based Linux kernel, our default toolchain has moved to gcc 8.3 with glibc 2.29, and we've also updated to openssl 1.1.1b and gnutls 3.6.5 with TLS1.3 support. Ubuntu Desktop 19.04 introduces GNOME 3.32 with increased performance, smoother startup animations, quicker icon load times and reduced CPU+GPU load. Fractional scaling for HiDPI screens is now available in Xorg and Wayland." Further details can be found in the distribution's release announcement and in the release notes.
Ubuntu 19.04 -- Running the GNOME desktop
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Ubuntu MATE 19.04
Martin Wimpress has announced the launch of Ubuntu MATE 19.04 which ships with version 1.20 of the MATE desktop and updated video drivers. "Ubuntu MATE 19.04 is shipping with MATE Desktop 1.20. Albeit, the latest maintenance release of MATE Desktop 1.20 with some of the bug fixes and new features from MATE Desktop 1.22 included. In fact, the version of MATE Desktop being shipped in 19.04 is derived from the same MATE packages that will feature in the upcoming Debian 10 (Buster) release. You may be wondering why we're not shipping MATE Desktop 1.22? The answer: stability. MATE Desktop 1.22 introduces some underlying API changes in core components and while all first party MATE Desktop applications are compatible with the changes and completely stable, some third party applications are not. Some third party applications are big crashers now and we've not been able to fix them in time. So, we are playing it safe and sticking with MATE Desktop 1.20 and working with upstreams so we can land MATE Desktop 1.22 early in the Ubuntu MATE 19.10 development cycle." Further information can be found in the project's release announcement and in the Ubuntu release notes.
Ubuntu Studio 19.04
The Ubuntu Studio team has published a new release, Ubuntu Studio 19.04. The new release is supported for nine months and ships with a new audio plugin host called Carla. "Officially released on April 15, 2019, Carla 2.0.0 has been added to Ubuntu Studio to replace the outdated jack-rack and add more functionality. Carla is an audio plugin host that can handle many different types of plugins, from Ladspa to DSSI to LV2 to VST. In fact, if you install the WINE bridge (not installed by default), Carla can host Windows-compiled VST plugins. Carla can also act as a plugin itself, allowing your DAW to use any audio plugin. Carla also includes a patchbay, which is functionally similar to that of Patchage. Ubuntu Studio Controls has been upgraded to 1.7 with many bugfixes, and is now the preferred method for starting Jack. As such, we ask that you discontinue use of QJackCtl for starting Jack. QJackCtl remains a good way to monitor Jack’s performance and logs." Further details on the project's latest version can be found in the distribution's release announcement.
Ubuntu Budgie 19.04
The Ubuntu Budgie team has announced the release of Ubuntu Budgie 19.04 which received nine months of support. The new version includes a number of bug fixes and swaps out the Nautilus file manager for Nemo. "19.04 is supported for 9 months; our 18.04 LTS is supported for 3 years. Based on 18.04 and 18.10 experiences, feedback and suggestions that we have received from our users, the new release comes with a lot of new features, fixes and optimizations. This release is a big step towards our 20.04 LTS. Here is what you can expect with the new release: showcasing the latest Budgie desktop developments Budgie desktop v10.5 is now officially available; showcasing the latest budgie-applets available; replacing Nautilus for Nemo - retains desktop-icons capability with all the features of Nemo such as dual pane etc + integrated catfish search - lookout for our nemo-extensions in budgie-welcome recommendations; stylish reworking of our desktop together shipping a new theme QogirBudgie which can be chosen together with Pocillo and Arc; integrating all of this together with the major GNOME developments of GTK+3.24 and Mutter 3.32." Further information can be found in the project's release announcement and in the release notes.
Ubuntu Budgie 19.04 -- The welcome window
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The Kubuntu team has published Kubuntu 19.04, a new release which ships with KDE Plasma 5.15, Qt 5.12 and Linux 5.0. The new version includes nine months of security updates. The release announcement states: "Kubuntu 19.04 has been released, featuring the beautiful Plasma 5.15 desktop from the KDE community. Code-named Disco Dingo, Kubuntu 19.04 continues our proud tradition of integrating the latest and greatest open source technologies into a high-quality, easy-to-use Linux distribution. The team has been hard at work through this cycle, introducing new features and fixing bugs. Under the hood, there have been updates to many core packages, including a new 5.00-based kernel, Qt 5.12, KDE Frameworks 5.56, Plasma 5.15.4, and KDE Applications 18.12.3. Kubuntu has seen some exciting improvements, with newer versions of Qt, updates to major packages like Krita, KDE Connect, Kstars, Latte-dock, Firefox and LibreOffice, and stability improvements to KDE Plasma. For a list of other application updates, upgrading notes and known bugs be sure to read our release notes."
The Lubuntu team has published a new version of their distribution. Lubuntu 19.04 provides nine months of support and ships with version 0.14.1 of the LXQt desktop environment. Unlike most other community flavours of Ubuntu which use the Ubiquity installer, Lubuntu uses the Calamares system installer. "This is the second 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 0.14.1; Qt 5.12.2; Mozilla Firefox 66, which will receive updates from the Ubuntu Security Team throughout the support cycle of the release; the LibreOffice 6.2.2 suite, with the Qt 5 frontend; VLC 3.0.6, for viewing media and listening to music; Featherpad 0.9.3, for notes and code editing; Discover Software Center 5.15.4, for an easy, graphical way to install and update software; the powerful and fast email client Trojitá 0.7 to get you to inbox zero in no time." Further details can be found in the project's release announcement.
The Xubuntu developers have announced the release of Xubuntu 19.04. The new version ships with version 5.0 of the Linux kernel and provides nine months of support. This release ships with some components from Xfce's development branch to improve the desktop experience. The project's release announcement states: "Highlights: Xubuntu 19.04 features a wide range of bug fixes for issues identified in previous releases, many of which have already been backported to the stable releases. AptURL, The GIMP, and LibreOffice Impress have been included to provide a more complete and user-friendly desktop experience. New keyboard shortcuts make it easier and faster to get work done. Shift + Print Screen will capture a screenshot for a specified region. Press F4 in Thunar to open a terminal window in the current path, or press Ctrl + Shift + F to search for files. Many Xfce 4.13 components have been added or updated, providing an updated snapshot of Xfce 4.14 development." Further details can be found in the distribution's release notes.
Ubuntu Kylin 19.04
The team behind Ubuntu Kylin has published a new version of their distribution which introduces a new visual style. The project's new release, Ubuntu Kylin 19.04, introduces transparency effects to the application menu, adds a preview function to the file manager and provides nine months of support. "In April 19th, 2019, We are glad to announce the official release of open source operating system Ubuntu Kylin 19.04 (Disco Dingo). In this version, OS stability is our first goal to obtain. In order to provide a better experience for users, a series of improvements are made on system kernel, basic service, desktop environment and specialized apps. In addition, other open source distribution such as Ubuntu 19.04、Lubuntu 19.04 and Ubuntu Mate 19.04 are released in the same time. We are bringing a whole new visual experience in this distribution, from system choice, boot up animation, log in program to system desktop, a unified style is presented. Amazing transparency effect is utilized on start menu, taskbar and notification area, give your desktop a sense of technology. Practical functions are provided to simplify your daily operations." Further details can be found in the release announcement (Chinese, English).
Ubuntu Kylin 19.04 -- The default desktop and application menu
(full image size: 655kB, resolution: 1280x1024 pixels)
Pop!_OS is an Ubuntu-based distribution developed by System76. The company's latest release is Pop!_OS 19.04 which ships with GNOME 3.32 and offers a number of visual enhancements. "It's spring again! Leaves are budding and updates are blooming for Pop!_OS. Here's what's new in Pop!_OS 19.04: The Slim Mode option maximizes your screen real estate by reducing the height of the header on application windows. Dark Mode gives your applications a relaxing ambience for nighttime viewing. Both Dark Mode and Slim Mode can be activated in the Appearance settings menu. Refresh Install allows you to reinstall Pop!_OS without losing Users and any data in your Home directories. This feature is available from the recovery partition on new installations (not upgrades). Pop!_OS has been updated to use version 5.0 of the Linux kernel. GNOME has been updated to version 3.32. In addition to these features, you'll also notice design changes to your icons. The icons for Pop!_OS applications, files, and folders have been redesigned to complement GNOME's icons under their new design guidelines. We've also removed custom icons for third party applications, keeping the authors' design choices for those applications intact and maintaining the intended identity for the project." Further information and screenshots can be found in the project's release announcement.
Netrunner 2019.04 "Rolling"
Netrunner has announced a new snapshot of the distribution's Arch Linux-based Rolling branch. The new snapshot, Netrunner 2019.04 "Rolling", features KDE Plasma 5.15.3 and runs on version 4.19.32 LTS of the Linux kernel. There have also been changes to the distribution's look and feel: "Like its cousin, the Debian based version, Netrunner Rolling also ships a dark Look and Feel theme including the Kvantum theme engine. Using the Kvantum Theme engine plus the Alpha-Black Plasma Theme allowed us to create a more 3D-looking design. Moving the mouse into the lower right corner now visibly activates the Minimize all Windows to show Desktop function by a light glow. For those who prefer the classic look, going back to the well-known LNF is a three-button click and explained under Tips in our current Readme Section." Further details and screenshots can be found in the project's release announcement.
NomadBSD is a 64-bit live system for USB flash drives, based on FreeBSD. The project's latest release, NomadBSD 1.2, is based on FreeBSD 12.0. The new version includes on-disk documentation, enables TRIM support and fixes a number of issues related to video drivers. "We are pleased to announce the release of NomadBSD 1.2! We would like to thank all the testers who sent us feedback and bug reports. The base system has been upgraded to FreeBSD 12.0-p3. TRIM has been enabled by default. A vt(4) color theme has been added. The dialog(1) based setup has been replaced by a Qt GUI which supports dynamic translation. Currently available translations are German and Russian. In order to reduce the number of implicit package upgrades and possible inconsistencies, the pkg(8) default repository has been changed to Quarterly. A recent copy of the NomadBSD handbooklet has been added to nomad's home dir. A new option has been added to the boot menu which allows users to set hw.syscons.disable." Further details can be found in the project's release announcement.
* * * * *
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: 1,363
- Total data uploaded: 25.2TB
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Programs for creating backups
There are a lot of solutions available for people wishing to archive and copy their files to another storage medium. This week we would like to hear which backup programs our readers prefer.
What drew you to your preferred solution? Is your backup program simple to use, flexible, does it support a lot of destinations like network shares and cloud services? Let us know in the comments.
You can see the results of our previous poll on reviewing an Ubuntu editions in last week's edition. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
Programs for creating backups
|Back In Time: ||66 (4%)|
| CloudBerry: ||1 (0%)|
| Deja Dup: ||71 (5%)|
| luckyBackup: ||95 (6%)|
| rsync: ||433 (29%)|
| tar and cp: ||137 (9%)|
| Timeshift: ||251 (17%)|
| Other: ||415 (28%)|
Distributions added to waiting list
- Regolith Linux. Regolith Linux is an ubuntu-based distribution featuring the i3 window manager with GNOME's system configuration tools.
- Asril OS. Asril OS is a Linux distribution that features the Cinnamon desktop and locale information for Indonesia.
- BlackWeb. BlackWeb is a Debian-based distribution used for testing security and penetration tests. It uses the LXDE desktop environment.
* * * * *
DistroWatch database summary
* * * * *
This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 29 April 2019. 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 840 (2019-11-11): Fedora 31, monitoring user activity, Fedora working to improve Python performance, FreeBSD gets faster networking|
|• Issue 839 (2019-11-04): MX 19, manipulating PDFs, Ubuntu plans features for 20.04, Fedora 29 nears EOL, Netrunner drops Manjaro-based edition|
|• Issue 838 (2019-10-28): Xubuntu 19.10, how init and service managers work together, DragonFly BSD provides emergency mode for HAMMER, Xfce team plans 4.16|
|• Issue 837 (2019-10-21): CentOS 8.0-1905, Trident finds a new base, Debian plans firewall changes, 15 years of Fedora, how to merge directories|
|• Issue 836 (2019-10-14): Archman 2019.09, Haiku improves ARM support, Project Trident shifting base OS, Unix turns 50|
|• Issue 835 (2019-10-07): Isotop, Mazon OS and, KduxOS, examples of using the find command, Mint's System Reports becomes proactive, Solus updates its desktops|
|• Issue 834 (2019-09-30): FreedomBox "Buster", CentOS gains a rolling release, Librem 5 phones shipping, Redcore updates its package manager|
|• Issue 833 (2019-09-23): Redcore Linux 1908, why Linux distros are free, Ubuntu making list of 32-bit software to keep, Richard M Stallman steps down from FSF leadership|
|• Issue 832 (2019-09-16): BlackWeb 1.2, checking for Wayland session and applications, Fedora to use nftables in firewalld, OpenBSD disables DoH in Firefox|
|• Issue 831 (2019-09-09): Adélie Linux 1.0 beta, using ffmpeg, awk and renice, Mint and elementary improvements, PureOS and Manjaro updates|
|• Issue 930 (2019-09-02): deepin 15.11, working with AppArmor profiles, elementary OS gets new greeter, exFAT support coming to Linux kernel|
|• Issue 829 (2019-08-26): EndeavourOS 2019.07.15, Drauger OS 7.4.1, finding the licenses of kernel modules, NetBSD gets Wayland application, GhostBSD changes base repo|
|• Issue 828 (2019-08-19): AcademiX 2.2, concerns with non-free firmware, UBports working on Unity8, Fedora unveils new EPEL channel, FreeBSD phasing out GCC|
|• Issue 827 (2019-08-12): Q4OS, finding files on the disk, Ubuntu works on ZFS, Haiku improves performance, OSDisc shutting down|
|• Issue 826 (2019-08-05): Quick looks at Resilient, PrimeOS, and BlueLight, flagship distros for desktops,Manjaro introduces new package manager|
|• Issue 825 (2019-07-29): Endless OS 3.6, UBports 16.04, gNewSense maintainer stepping down, Fedora developrs discuss optimizations, Project Trident launches stable branch|
|• Issue 824 (2019-07-22): Hexagon OS 1.0, Mageia publishes updated media, Fedora unveils Fedora CoreOS, managing disk usage with quotas|
|• Issue 823 (2019-07-15): Debian 10, finding 32-bit packages on a 64-bit system, Will Cooke discusses Ubuntu's desktop, IBM finalizes purchase of Red Hat|
|• Issue 822 (2019-07-08): Mageia 7, running development branches of distros, Mint team considers Snap, UBports to address Google account access|
|• Issue 821 (2019-07-01): OpenMandriva 4.0, Ubuntu's plan for 32-bit packages, Fedora Workstation improvements, DragonFly BSD's smaller kernel memory|
|• Issue 820 (2019-06-24): Clear Linux and Guix System 1.0.1, running Android applications using Anbox, Zorin partners with Star Labs, Red Hat explains networking bug, Ubuntu considers no longer updating 32-bit packages|
|• Issue 819 (2019-06-17): OS108 and Venom, renaming multiple files, checking live USB integrity, working with Fedora's Modularity, Ubuntu replacing Chromium package with snap|
|• Issue 818 (2019-06-10): openSUSE 15.1, improving boot times, FreeBSD's status report, DragonFly BSD reduces install media size|
|• Issue 817 (2019-06-03): Manjaro 18.0.4, Ubuntu Security Podcast, new Linux laptops from Dell and System76, Entroware Apollo|
|• Issue 816 (2019-05-27): Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.0, creating firewall rules, Antergos shuts down, Matthew Miller answers questions about Fedora|
|• Issue 815 (2019-05-20): Sabayon 19.03, Clear Linux's developer features, Red Hat explains MDS flaws, an overview of mobile distro options|
|• Issue 814 (2019-05-13): Fedora 30, distributions publish Firefox fixes, CentOS publishes roadmap to 8.0, Debian plans to use Wayland by default|
|• Issue 813 (2019-05-06): ROSA R11, MX seeks help with systemd-shim, FreeBSD tests unified package management, interview with Gael Duval|
|• Issue 812 (2019-04-29): Ubuntu MATE 19.04, setting up a SOCKS web proxy, Scientific Linux discontinued, Red Hat takes over Java LTS support|
|• Issue 811 (2019-04-22): Alpine 3.9.2, rsync examples, Ubuntu working on ZFS support, Debian elects new Project Leader, Obarun releases S6 tools|
|• Issue 810 (2019-04-15): SolydXK 201902, Bedrock Linux 0.7.2, Fedora phasing out Python 2, NetBSD gets virtual machine monitor|
|• Issue 809 (2019-04-08): PCLinuxOS 2019.02, installing Falkon and problems with portable packages, Mint offers daily build previews, Ubuntu speeds up Snap packages|
|• Issue 808 (2019-04-01): Solus 4.0, security benefits and drawbacks to using a live distro, Gentoo gets GNOME ports working without systemd, Redox OS update|
|• Issue 807 (2019-03-25): Pardus 17.5, finding out which user changed a file, new Budgie features, a tool for browsing FreeBSD's sysctl values|
|• Issue 806 (2019-03-18): Kubuntu vs KDE neon, Nitrux's znx, notes on Debian's election, SUSE becomes an independent entity|
|• Issue 805 (2019-03-11): EasyOS 1.0, managing background services, Devuan team debates machine ID file, Ubuntu Studio works to remain an Ubuntu Community Edition|
|• Issue 804 (2019-03-04): Condres OS 19.02, securely erasing hard drives, new UBports devices coming in 2019, Devuan to host first conference|
|• Issue 803 (2019-02-25): Septor 2019, preventing windows from stealing focus, NetBSD and Nitrux experiment with virtual machines, pfSense upgrading to FreeBSD 12 base|
|• Issue 802 (2019-02-18): Slontoo 18.07.1, NetBSD tests newer compiler, Fedora packaging Deepin desktop, changes in Ubuntu Studio|
|• Issue 801 (2019-02-11): Project Trident 18.12, the meaning of status symbols in top, FreeBSD Foundation lists ongoing projects, Plasma Mobile team answers questions|
|• Issue 800 (2019-02-04): FreeNAS 11.2, using Ubuntu Studio software as an add-on, Nitrux developing znx, matching operating systems to file systems|
|• Issue 799 (2019-01-28): KaOS 2018.12, Linux Basics For Hackers, Debian 10 enters freeze, Ubuntu publishes new version for IoT devices|
|• Issue 798 (2019-01-21): Sculpt OS 18.09, picking a location for swap space, Solus team plans ahead, Fedora trying to get a better user count|
|• Issue 797 (2019-01-14): Reborn OS 2018.11.28, TinyPaw-Linux 1.3, dealing with processes which make the desktop unresponsive, Debian testing Secure Boot support|
|• Issue 796 (2019-01-07): FreeBSD 12.0, Peppermint releases ISO update, picking the best distro of 2018, roundtable interview with Debian, Fedora and elementary developers|
|• Issue 795 (2018-12-24): Running a Pinebook, interview with Bedrock founder, Alpine being ported to RISC-V, Librem 5 dev-kits shipped|
|• Issue 794 (2018-12-17): Void 20181111, avoiding software bloat, improvements to HAMMER2, getting application overview in GNOME Shell|
|• Issue 793 (2018-12-10): openSUSE Tumbleweed, finding non-free packages, Debian migrates to usrmerge, Hyperbola gets FSF approval|
|• Issue 792 (2018-1203): GhostBSD 18.10, when to use swap space, DragonFly BSD's wireless support, Fedora planning to pause development schedule|
|• Issue 791 (2018-11-26): Haiku R1 Beta1, default passwords on live media, Slax and Kodachi update their media, dual booting DragonFly BSD on EFI|
|• Issue 790 (2018-11-19): NetBSD 8.0, Bash tips and short-cuts, Fedora's networking benchmarked with FreeBSD, Ubuntu 18.04 to get ten years of support|
|• Issue 789 (2018-11-12): Fedora 29 Workstation and Silverblue, Haiku recovering from server outage, Fedora turns 15, Debian publishes updated media|
|• Issue 788 (2018-11-05): Clu Linux Live 6.0, examining RAM consumpion, finding support for older CPUs, more Steam support for running Windows games on Linux, update from Solus team|
|• Full list of all issues|
Star Labs - Laptops built for Linux.
View our range including the Star Lite, Star LabTop and more. Available with a choice of Ubuntu, Linux Mint or Zorin OS pre-installed with many more distributions supported. Visit Star Labs for information, to buy and get support.
|Random Distribution |
BinToo GNU/Linux was a full-featured binary distribution based on Gentoo Linux.