| DistroWatch Weekly
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 828, 19 August 2019
Welcome to this year's 33rd issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
Open source operating systems are often customized to fit into a variety of roles. Some distributions are designed to work with server loads, running steadily for years, others run cutting-edge desktop software, and some run on mobile devices. There is a flavour of Linux for any occasion! This week we begin with a look at AcademiX GNU/Linux, a distribution geared toward providing easy access to educational software. Read on to learn Joshua Allen Holm's first impressions of this distribution. In our News section we discuss UBports continuing work on the Unity8 desktop and Debian working with FreedomBox to make a desktop edition. Plus Slackware, the community's oldest distribution, is trying a new, more direct way to raise funds, and FreeBSD is phasing out old versions of the GNU compiler from the base system. We also report on Fedora and CentOS introducing a new package channel for Enterprise Linux users. Then we explore the effects of running a mixture of free drivers with non-free firmware, and we would like to hear about your free (or non-free) hardware drivers in our Opinion Poll. Plus we are pleased to share the releases of the past week and list the torrents we are seeding. We wish you all a fantastic week and happy reading!
- Review: AcademiX GNU/Linux 2.2
- News: UBports testing Unity8 desktop changes, Debian getting FreedomBox desktop spin, Slackware tries more direct method of fundraising, FreeBSD phasing out GCC, Fedora project presents new Enterprise Linux channel
- Questions and answers: Concerns regarding non-free firmware
- Released last week: Emmabuntus DE2-1.05, Neptune 6.0, KNOPPIX 8.6
- Torrent corner: Clonezilla, Emmabuntus, EndeavourOS, HardenedBSD, KDE neon, KNOPPIX, Neptune, Obarun, OpenMediaVault, Raspberry Digital Signage, Redcore, SmartOS, Project Trident
- Opinion poll: Open source drivers and firmware versus closed drivers and firmware
- New distributions: distri
- Reader comments
Listen to the Podcast edition of this week's DistroWatch Weekly in OGG (16MB) and MP3 (12MB) formats.
|Feature Story (by Joshua Allen Holm)
AcademiX GNU/Linux 2.2
AcademiX GNU/Linux 2.2 is a Linux distribution designed for use in education. It is based on Debian 10 "Buster" with extra packages and a customized MATE desktop environment. The project is based in Romania, so the default language language of the project's website is Romanian, but the site is also available in English, Italian, and Spanish. Like Debian, the distribution supports many additional languages.
AcademiX GNU/Linux 2.2 -- The MATE desktop with application menu
(full image size: 200kB, resolution: 1920x1080 pixels)
The AcademiX GNU/Linux 2.2 ISO is 1.7GB. The same image can be used to boot a live desktop environment or launch the installer. I began by trying out the live desktop, which worked perfectly on my laptop. My wireless card was detected and worked great. Everything else functioned as well as it does on any other Linux distribution. Overall, the live desktop performed well and provided a good, but slightly inaccurate, preview of the AcademiX experience.
Installing AcademiX GNU/Linux
After I was done exploring the live desktop, I rebooted my computer and selected the install option from the AcademiX boot menu. Unfortunately, there was only a graphical installer option, which would have been okay, but Debian's installer never seems to detect the touchpad on any of my laptops. I had to use the Tab button to navigate through all the options in the installer and select them with the Enter key. Having a text mode installation option, like Debian has, would have made for an easier keyboard-only installation experience.
If the lack of a text mode installer was the only issue, it would have been okay, but I ran into other issues during the installation process. The biggest issue was that the installer lacked the firmware for my wireless card, which, as I noted above, was included in the live image. The first time I just skipped the network setup and went through the rest of the installation steps, but the installer failed to install GRUB because it needed to download the package from the Internet.
Trying to install a second time, I download the firmware files for Debian 10 from the Debian website and copied them to a second flash drive. This time the installer found those firmware files, detected my wireless card, let me pick a wireless network, and successfully completed the installation process. The successful installation process was near identical to the standard Debian installation process, but AcademiX installs a fixed selection of packages instead of asking the user to select a desktop environment (or no desktop) and other package groups.
The installation process was a major headache. If the distribution developers are willing to ship firmware with the live image, they should include the firmware with the installer portion of the image. Tracking down a firmware archive on a different distribution's website is not very user friendly.
The AcademiX GNU/Linux desktop
AcademiX's desktop environment is MATE 1.20 with a single top panel and some custom theming. The default desktop software selection is fairly typical: Firefox ESR 60, LibreOffice 6.1, various MATE applications and utilities, and few other odds and ends. There is very little pre-installed educational software, but there is a specialized installer included for finding/installing educational applications.
AcademiX GNU/Linux 2.2 -- The default MATE desktop
(full image size: 139kB, resolution: 1920x1080 pixels)
One nice, somewhat atypical, inclusion to the default software selection was a short manual in both Romanian and English. While both versions of this manual are only a couple dozen pages, and focus mostly on the installation process, they provide some nice information for users. I would love to see this manual expanded in future versions, but any easily accessible information is better than making users hunt through a projects website for information.
AcademiX GNU/Linux 2.2 -- The English manual
(full image size: 257kB, resolution: 1920x1080 pixels)
The MATE desktop featured in AcademiX is customized to provide an AcademiX-branded experience. Some of these changes, like the window decorations and cursor used, are okay, but some changes are suboptimal. The top panel is completely transparent, which means that if the user selects a dark background all the black text and icons in the panel cannot be seen. One of the other things that I noticed when I tried switching to a dark background was that there was no easy way to switch back to the default AcademiX background. I had closed the background wallpaper selection window after I had changed to a dark wallpaper, and when I opened the window again the AcademiX wallpaper was not among the options listed. I had to track down the location of the default wallpaper to be able to pick that image using the file selection dialog. Basically, some of the theming (especially the top panel) needs to be more conservative, but other aspects need to be polished more. If I change to something new from the default AcademiX look-and-feel, I should be able to easily get that default setting back.
AcademiX GNU/Linux 2.2 -- The MATE desktop with dark wallpaper
(full image size: 1.7MB, resolution: 1920x1080 pixels)
Installing additional software
AcademiX GNU/Linux is Debian 10 plus some added repositories. Because AcademiX has no issues adding repositories for Google Earth, Vivaldi, VirtualBox, plus other application-specific repositories, I found it rather odd that the non-free Debian package repositories are not enabled by default. However, it is easy enough to enable those repositories.
AcademiX GNU/Linux 2.2 -- The Synaptic package manager
(full image size: 140kB, resolution: 1920x1080 pixels)
There are several tools for installing packages. Synaptic package manager and GNOME Packages are the two main tools for graphically installing software. There is a notification icon in the top panel that notifies users when updates are available. GDebi is also included for installing individual Deb packages. Because AcademiX is based on Debian, dpkg and apt are the command line tools for package management.
AcademiX GNU/Linux 2.2 -- The EDU package manager
(full image size: 333kB, resolution: 1920x1080 pixels)
What sets AcademiX apart from other distributions is the EDU software manager. This package manager provides curated lists of educational software, which are grouped by subject and by age range. This package manager makes finding educational software really easy. There is software for astronomy, biology, geography, foreign languages, and many other subjects. While there are gaps in the availability of applications covering various subjects, that is a gap in the broader open source application ecosystem, not something specific to AcademiX. While some of the rough edges I noted with the installation process and the desktop customization make me a hesitant to recommend AcademiX to new Linux users, Educational Technology professionals should perhaps try out AcademiX just to use the EDU package manager to explore various open source applications.
While installing and updating software was easy and basically the same experience as any other modern, Debian-based distribution, the fact that some of the packages come from servers in Romania means that some package downloads can be much slower than downloading from the world-wide network of Debian mirrors. For individual packages and small collections of packages this is not too noticeable, but it is still an issue. The frustrating part is the fact that the speeds are not consistent. Sometimes I was downloading at only 40kbps, but other times it was much faster. I experienced the same issue when trying to download the ISO. One download took about 20 minutes for the 1.7GB image but some other attempts took 4 hours.
AcademiX GNU/Linux is an interesting distribution, but it has some rough edges that need to be cleaned up. Honestly, I really, really wanted to like this distribution (good distributions aimed at the educational market are always needed), but found it to be merely okay. AcademiX has a lot of potential, but it is just not there yet. DebianEdu/Skolelinux is far more polished while serving almost the exact same niche. However, if the AcademiX team cleans up some of the issues I noted above, especially the installer issues, I think future versions of AcademiX might turn out to be worthwhile. The EDU software installer is well organized and aids in discovering educational software, so that is one solid advantage AcademiX offers, but overall the distribution needs more work and polish before I could move it from "this distribution is okay" to "you should give this distribution a try".
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Hardware used in this review
My physical test equipment for this review was an ASUS VivoBook E406MA laptop with the following specifications:
- Processor: Intel Pentium Silver N5000 CPU
- Storage: 64GB eMMC
- Memory: 4GB of RAM
- Networking: Qualcomm Atheros QCA9377 802.11ac Wireless Network Adapter
- Display: Intel UHD Graphics 605
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Visitor supplied rating
AcademiX GNU/Linux has a visitor supplied average rating of: 9.5/10 from 43 review(s).
Have you used AcademiX GNU/Linux? You can leave your own review of the project on our ratings page.
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)
UBports testing Unity8 desktop changes, Debian getting FreedomBox desktop spin, Slackware tries more direct method of fundraising, FreeBSD phasing out GCC, Fedora project presents new Enterprise Linux channel
The UBports team has been continuing to work on and improve the Unity8 desktop environment, in particular work is being done to improve the Dash - where applications are launched: "We particularly want to see what people think about the new Dash. The changes beneath the surface are very extensive but they will not be directly visible to users. The Dash will be noticed though. Features such as multibranch and workspace have been made possible by the architecture improvements and those will be introduced later on. Various alternatives to the Dash setup have been suggested but it is generally sensible to reduce complexity. It means that there is less to maintain and less to go wrong. The code for the Dash had already been mostly done by Canonical, so why waste their efforts? There is a search for apps in the Dash, just like desktop. There are already some launcher app alternatives in the OpenStore, so you can customise if you wish." Additional information on work being done to the UBports mobile operating system can be found in the project's recent blog post.
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Sam Hartman, Debian's Project Leader, wrote recently that FreedomBox, a spin of Debian that focused on server software for home users, is planning to also create a desktop build. These spins can be bundled with hardware and sold as turnkey-style solutions for home users. "FreedomBox has recently started focusing more on end users. They have started to sell prepackaged hardware, and have set up end-user facing websites and support channels. I was excited to learn that they are still committed to being a Debian Pure Blend. This will be an interesting challenge for us to work together and see whether the Pure Blends approach can work for an actual end user product. I think the closest thing we've tried so far is Debian Edu."
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Slackware is the oldest surviving Linux distribution, and the project (while long-lived) still faces challenges. We have written before about problems Slackware's creator, Patrick Volkerding, has run into trying to collect funds from the Slackware store. Slackware fans who wish to support the project can now do so through the Slackware Patreon page. Eric Hameleers, a well known Slackware contributor, has posted confirmation that the Patreon account is legitimate and run by Patrick Volkerding. "Everybody who wanted to support Slackware after it became clear that the Slackware Store had not been paying Patrick and family for a long time, but was not prepared to create a PayPal account in order to donate money: there is now an alternative. Patreon is a community site where 'Patrons support the creators they love in exchange for exclusive membership benefits'. I don't know whether Pat will do stuff like 'exclusive benefits' considering the fact that he already gives away Slackware Linux for free since 26 years... anyway, he created a page there where you can setup a monthly recurring payment of one dollar or more - whatever you can spare."
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The FreeBSD team is working toward removing the last dependencies on the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) from the base operating system. Most of the tasks previously performed by GCC are now handled by the Clang compiler and the FreeBSD developers want to finish the transition before FreeBSD 13 is released. "The basic notion is that it's long past time to have a firm plan for EOL
GCC 4.2.1 in the tree. There is ample external toolchain support today for
platforms that need it to build images, though that integration with
buildworld could use some more polish. It's now completely sufficient to
move to the next phase of removing GCC 4.2.1 from the tree." The GNU compiler will still be available as a package users can add to the system post-install. Further details can be found in Warner Losh's mailing list post.
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Extra Packages for Enterprise Linux (EPEL) is a subcommunity of Fedora and CentOS which provides additional packages for Enterprise Linux flavours (such as those provided by Red Hat and CentOS). EPEL packages for version 8 of Enterprise Linux have been published. A new channel, called Playground, is now available too as a way to test new packages. The Playground channel is similar to Fedora Rawhide and is intended for testing rather than general use. "We have added an additional set of channels for EPEL-8 called Playground. It is similar to Fedora Rawhide so packagers can work on versions of software that are too fast moving or will have large API changes compared to versions in the regular channel." Further information can be found in the announcement for EPEL 8.
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These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Questions and Answers (by Jesse Smith)
Concerns regarding non-free firmware
Firmly against non-free firmware asks: Does it matter if my device driver is open source or not if my hardware, let's say wireless, uses proprietary firmware? Do they both need to be open or does having an open driver protect against closed firmware?
DistroWatch answers: I believe there are three ways of looking at such a situation - one in which you have an open kernel driver and a binary-only firmware blob. Whether this arrangement is good or bad will depend on how you are viewing the situation.
For instance, from a purely technical point of view, if you are wondering if it is possible for non-free firmware to do things you do not want it to do (either due to insecure code or malicious intent) when the kernel driver is open source, then the answer is yes. Any time you have a component running on your system where its actions (or inner workings) cannot be audited then there is potential for it to work in ways you do not want. Ideally it would be nice for all components in an operating system to be open source in order to let people audit, test and improve the code.
From a practical point of view one could argue that whether firmware is open source or not only matters if you (or someone you know and trust) is going to read the source code and act on any problems found. One could argue if you do not audit the source code yourself, or work with someone who does, are you personally any better off than if the code was proprietary? This may seem like an argumentative point, but I feel it is worth mentioning because, ultimately, unless we read and understand a package's code ourselves, we end up trusting someone else.
Personally, I feel that running open source code is almost always a better option because it expands the potential pool of people who will eventually read the code. With closed drivers and closed firmware everyone must rely on the original developers completely, there is no chance of anyone verifying their work. With open source drivers and/or firmware at least a few people can read the code and the odds of someone double-checking its workings go up.
Finally, there is a philosophical angle we can explore. Some people view their operating systems and the openness of those systems in black and white. That is, as far as they are concerned, an operating system is either entirely open and free, or it is not open and free. You may hear them make comments along the lines of "Why would I use a non-free driver? I might as well just use Windows." Their philosophy is absolute, either entirely open or effectively proprietary.
My philosophical stance is less binary, less fixed on things being effectively entirely open or closed. I see open source as akin to a light which brightens a room. Where the light hits, it can reveal dirt or objects in our path (the way code audits reveal bugs and malicious software). A little bit of light in the middle of the room is good because it shows us where to step and what to avoid. More light reveals dirt and more obstacles around the room to be tidied or avoided. In a very well lit room there is no place for dirt or hazards to lurk. In other words, having some open source components in the operating system is good, most components being open is better, having all components open is ideal. The more light (or openness) you have, the fewer places there are where problems can hide.
Ultimately, my recommendation is that it is better to have both drivers and firmware open, when possible. After all, the more light that can be shined into the corners of our computers the better. However, when that is not possible, I suggest taking the path that allows the most pieces of the system to be open while still allowing you to accomplish what you want with your computer.
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Additional answers can be found in our Questions and Answers archive.
|Released Last Week
Emmabuntüs is a lightweight, Debian-based distribution designed to run on older computers. The project has published a new update to its Debian 9 "Stretch" branch, Emmabuntüs DE2-1.05. The new release works to reduce install media size, makes it easier to work with light and dark themes, and fixes UEFI mode in VMWare virtual machines. "The Emmabuntüs Collective is happy to announce the release of the new Emmabuntüs Debian Edition 2 1.05 (32-bit and 64-bit editions), based on Debian 9.9 'Stretch' and featuring the Xfce desktop environment. It includes the following fixes and enhancements: based on Debian 9.9 'Stretch'; added Redshift; added the ClipIt utility; added the management of a dark or light theme; added support for languages and localization in the GRUB live mode; fixed automatic partitioning issue during installation; fixed the disconnection by user change within the Xfce action buttons; fixed boot UEFI mode under VMWare Workstation; updated HPLip to 3.19.6, Multisystem to 1.0432, TurboPrint to 2.48-2, Firefox ESR to 60.8.0." Additional information and a screenshots can be found in the release announcement.
Leszek Lesner has announced the release of Neptune 6.0, the distribution's first stable release based on Debian 10, featuring the KDE Plasma desktop with assorted desktop improvements: "We are proud to announce the release of Neptune 6.0. This new version is based upon Debian 10 "Buster" and it comes with the typical Neptune tweaks and configurations. The base of the system is Linux kernel in version 4.19.37 which provides the necessary hardware support. Plasma 5.14.5 features the stable and flexible KDE-made desktop that is loved by millions. New in this version is an improved display handling which allows switching between different output methods and can be handy for presentations. The lockscreen is now invoked when changing users. Plasma Discover is now able to upgrade firmware and features a more modern and polished look and feel. New improved desktop effects and handling of compositing in the KWin window manager result in a better and more fluid user experience. In terms of applications, version 6.0 uses Chromium 76 as the default web browser." Continue to the release announcement for further details.
Neptune 6.0 -- Running the KDE Plasma desktop
(full image size: 1.2MB, resolution: 1920x1080 pixels)
Klaus Knopper has announced the release of KNOPPIX 8.6, a new stable version of the project's Debian-based live CD with a choice of LXDE (default desktop), KDE Plasma 5.14 and GNOME 3.30. Interestingly, the distribution comes with a custom init system called "knoppix-autoconfig" which replaces systemd present in earlier public releases. (There is no mention of this in the release notes; however, the author's rationale is explained in this article of the April 2019 edition of Germany's Linux Magazine.) "Version 8.6 of KNOPPIX is based on Debian 10 'buster', with some packages from Debian 'testing' and 'unstable' for newer graphics drivers or desktop software packages. It uses Linux kernel 5.2.5 and X.Org 7.7 (core 1.20.4) for supporting current computer hardware. Both 32- bit and 64- bit kernel supporting both old and new computers, the 64-bit edition also supporting systems with more than 4GB of RAM and chroot to 64-bit installations for system rescue tasks. The bootloader will start the 64-bit kernel automatically if a 64-bit-capable CPU is detected."
Redcore Linux 1908
Redcore Linux is a Gentoo-based, rolling release distribution which ships with two editions featuring pre-configured desktop environments: KDE Plasma and LXQt. The project's latest release, Redcore Linux 1908, is based on Gentoo's Testing branch to provide more up to date packages: "Starting with this release, Redcore Linux is based on Gentoo Linux's Testing branch and as such it is now a cutting edge distribution. However, to avoid the cutting part as much as possible we have our own Testing branch and Testing binary repository. We do our resync with Gentoo on a weekly basis, in our Testing branch, then after a while of Testing we push the changes to our Master branch. This works under the following scheme : Gentoo Testing -> Redcore Testing -> Redcore Stable. One can ride on our Testing branch (sisyphus can change the branch for you), and if you do so, please report any issues you find so we fix them before merging to master." A complete list of changes can be found in the distribution's release announcement.
Redcore Linux 1908 -- Running the LXQt desktop
(full image size: 1.6MB, resolution: 1920x1080 pixels)
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Development, unannounced and minor bug-fix releases
The table below provides a list of torrents DistroWatch is currently seeding. If you do not have a bittorrent client capable of handling the linked files, we suggest installing either the Transmission or KTorrent bittorrent clients.
Archives of our previously seeded torrents may be found in our Torrent Archive. We also maintain a Torrents RSS feed for people who wish to have open source torrents delivered to them. To share your own open source torrents of Linux and BSD projects, please visit our Upload Torrents page.
Torrent Corner statistics:
- Total torrents seeded: 1,561
- Total data uploaded: 27.3TB
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements
Summary of expected upcoming releases
|Opinion Poll (by Jesse Smith)
Open source drivers and firmware versus closed drivers and firmware
In this week's Questions and Answers section we talked about free and open source drivers and firmware. Open drivers allow the code that makes the computer's hardware work to be audited and fixed when problems are discovered. While most Linux drivers are open source, many video and wireless drivers are either closed or rely on non-free firmware. We would like to hear from our readers as to whether they are using entirely open source firmware and drivers or if they rely on non-free code to make their hardware work.
You can see the results of our previous poll on methods for finding files in last week's edition. All previous poll results can be found in our poll archives.
|Website News (by Jesse Smith)
Distributions added to waiting list
- distri. distri is a minimal, experimental Linux distribution used to test fast package management concepts.
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DistroWatch database summary
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This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 26 August 2019. Past articles and reviews can be found through our Article Search page. To contact the authors please send e-mail to:
|Linux Foundation Training
|Reader Comments • Jump to last comment
1 • Open or closed? (by DaveW on 2019-08-19 00:36:44 GMT from United States) |
My computer has an Intel Sandy Bridge CPU and uses the onboard GPU. The OS is Linux Mint 18.3 with the default kernel. How do I know whether the firmware and drivers are open or closed source?
2 • FOSS vs closed source drivers & firmware (by TuxRaider on 2019-08-19 00:49:34 GMT from United States)
i always prefer to use Free Open Source drivers & firmware, and will only use closed source drivers & firmware as a last resort to avoid tossing good computer hardware out,
3 • Open or closed (by Jesse on 2019-08-19 01:37:12 GMT from Canada)
@1: "How do I know whether the firmware and drivers are open or closed source?"
There are a few ways you can check this. The Mint Additional Drivers tool, in your case, will probably tell you if the drivers you are using are open or third-party/closed. There is a more precise method for checking drivers and firmware that I can cover in a future issue if people are interested?
4 • Open or closed? (by DaveW on 2019-08-19 02:21:50 GMT from United States)
@3 Jesse "There is a more precise method for checking drivers and firmware that I can cover in a future issue if people are interested?"
5 • Open or Closed (by Ken on 2019-08-19 02:48:31 GMT from United States)
I had to vote for "Mix", because I have two computers. One is a Libreboot x200 with Parabola GNU/Linux that runs entirely free software from the boot firmware to the software I install. Because it's my work computer, I want it to be as secure as possible, so I chose an FSF-approved distro and a computer that uses Libreboot to ensure this.
On my desktop though, I went for practicality. The mobo isn't Libreboot-compatible. I use Manjaro GNU/Linux for the same up-to-date software, but because I use it for gaming, I use the NVIDIA proprietary drivers and the regular linux kernel instead of linux-libre.
Ideally, I'd be able to completely free my desktop, but as that's not possible, nor practical for its use, I use what I can.
6 • Call me a pragmatist (by bigbenaugust on 2019-08-19 02:49:42 GMT from United States)
I use whatever firmware is required to make the wireless work on my laptops, just so they work. But I'll use the nouveau driver over the Nvidia proprietary driver because it works well enough and requires far less shinanegans to function.
7 • Both open and close (by Roy on 2019-08-19 03:36:42 GMT from United States)
I haven't had to use the NVIDIA driver with Feren but glad the Intel Microcode was there. My Unified Extensible Firmware Interface seems to work better with it.
8 • Confused by Need of Educational Distros (by jridgers on 2019-08-19 03:53:38 GMT from United States)
It appears that AcademiX GNU/Linux makes this a distro "designed for use in education" by the inclusion of the EDU package manager. If the EDU package manager was available as a downloadable software repository, could it not be added to any (compatible) distro and therefore make said distro a distro for educational purposes? I don't understand what educational distros are and what they bring to the distribution smorgasbord.
9 • FOSS vs closed source drivers (by Sanjay Prasad (Kolkata India) on 2019-08-19 06:41:33 GMT from India)
I have some issue with Printer Driver, Using EPSON L220 but I have to use EPSON L210 driver to take Print Out, I always prefer to use Free Open Source drivers & firmware and will try Closed Source if I don't have any Option ...
10 • Closed source firmware (by Daylight Linux on 2019-08-19 06:54:17 GMT from Switzerland)
I use closed source and open source firmware. If it was possible I will use only open source firmware and a 100% linux free OS.
11 • Open Source drivers against obsolescence (by Ed on 2019-08-19 07:20:53 GMT from South Africa)
Hardware is often supported by the manufacturer less than two years after coming to the market. With open drivers there is a better chance that you can use your hardware longer when you other software evolves over time.
Not quite to the point: with LineageOS I have the latest Android version on my old Galaxy S5 phone
12 • Open source, or...? (by OstroL on 2019-08-19 08:51:36 GMT from Poland)
Well, as I can't buy an open-source computer, I am not that interested, whether the drivers or apps are strictly open source. Just like some people stress -- I too did that a decade or so ago -- that all software should be open source, I stopped thinking that way a long ago. The developer has the right to give away the source, if s/he wants or needs, but otherwise, s/he can close it. As far as the app is useful, I don't care. If the useful has to be paid for, and if I can afford it, I'd pay.
I pay for bread, water, electricity etc, so I have to pay for someone's effort, if one demands it. Of course, one can not use such closed source apps, if one is so "closed" on thinking of payments and rights of other people. But then, s/he should buy a open source computer to use those open-source-only apps in it. And, create one'sown electricity to run it. (Sun rays, wind etc are free, but the rights to the devices that create the electricity are owned by others.)
13 • educccational OSs (by Dave Postles on 2019-08-19 09:07:46 GMT from United Kingdom)
Personally, I'm always interested in educationally-focused OSs. The problem is that some are evanescent (e.g. Uberstudent - which was very good, IMHO) as they are not supported by educational authorities. Those which persist have been produced by educational authorities (particularly in Spain). There are, of course, levels of educational interest: Most are directed towards early years learning. Others are very specialized (OSGeo). Some are intended really for deployment as networked systems (really Springdale). It might (or not) be useful to have a comparison of the available educationally-focused distros - with details of their deployment and support (which the review initiates). Just a thought.
14 • Closed source (by Richardv2 on 2019-08-19 10:26:34 GMT from Australia)
I've taken to improving on the Stallman model, not only do I not use any closed source software/firmware, but I now only eat open source food, or in other words, open recipe meals.
No longer will mcdonalds and kfc taint me with their closed recipes. Does anyone else want to join my foundation? The Free Open Recipe Meals foundation or FORM as I call it.
15 • @10 (by Kim on 2019-08-19 10:29:12 GMT from Austria)
"A 100% linux free OS." Would that be Windows?
16 • Closed/Open Source (by kc1di on 2019-08-19 10:35:06 GMT from United States)
I use what ever it takes to get the hardware working. Sometimes there is no choice. But the choices are getting better. It will all depend on the hardware on this machine it's open source :)
17 • open vs proprietary software (by Jim on 2019-08-19 10:35:34 GMT from United States)
First, if the OS installs it, that is what I use. Second, if the OS does not install it I use what the OS offers, (example, Broadcom wireless driver on Debian). Third, if neither of the first two, I use what I can find, and what works.
18 • Open & Closed (by César on 2019-08-19 11:02:38 GMT from Chile)
I use both, my HP all in one works only when i turn it ON, recognize and Voilá!, but the laser Brother needs the driver propietary (sometimes doesn't work...pfff...).
Saludos desde Santiago de Chile.
19 • Firmware (by cykodrone on 2019-08-19 11:13:56 GMT from Canada)
When I buy hardware, I always try to find Linux compatible (some Mac/BSD compatible hardware will work in Linux). Some hardware, like a cheapo wifi card, actually works better WITHOUT its firmware installed, newer kernels (2.6 and up) handle it just fine. Whatever works best, FOSS, proprietary, or none, that is my rule. If the hardware box says it's Android compatible, research what Linux kernel version is used in that Android version, you should be good. Just my 2% of a dollah. :)
20 • Poll (by dragonmouth on 2019-08-19 11:49:17 GMT from United States)
I don't let open/closed ideology get in the way. I use whatever makes my hardware work.
21 • I’m using whatever works (by SuperOscar on 2019-08-19 11:53:50 GMT from Finland)
I don’t think it’s entirely fair to question whether one should use open or closed device drivers and firmware. Of course given a choice I would choose free software if possible, but if I have a computer that I need to get working I may not have that choice.
22 • Poll (by Carlos Felipe on 2019-08-19 12:05:01 GMT from Brazil)
I use whatever makes my hardware work. I have intel atom bay trail and my sound doesn't work
23 • @15, It was but not now. (by Garon on 2019-08-19 12:45:40 GMT from United States)
Now we have the Linux subsystem in Windows 10. MS trying to drag people into their ecosystem. I use a mixture of open and closed firmware, drivers and such. @11, just because something is opensource doesn't mean you shouldn't pay for it. Money really has nothing to do with it. We're talking about the freedom to audit or not.
24 • Open source (by akoy on 2019-08-19 14:16:23 GMT from United Kingdom)
"We're talking about the freedom to audit or not."
We buy bread, but we can't edit it. We buy a car, still we can't edit it. We bu a laptop, tablet, but we can't edit it. We cannot create our open-source CPU, GPU, rams, roms, monitors, wifi, ethernet chips etc. Aha, open-source software. Those, who actually got rich with that, from developers working in their free time, without pay are those, can make money out of it, the business.
Open source software, without something on which to use it, is just worth the paper its written on. Success came from ideas that made money. Of course, Linus makes money, but from companies that use his "invention" to make more and more profit. It is the money that fuels the open source to make more money for those that fuels it. Except for very few known developers, the rest of the open source creators gets nothing out of it, and later they go away.
25 • Drivers (by CS on 2019-08-19 15:24:44 GMT from United States)
Question: Drivers downloaded from shady google drive links because your wireless adapter doesn't even show up in a mainstream Linux distro even in 2019, does that count as open or closed? Personally I'm firmly in the "give me a system that actually works" camp. When ideology gets in the way of basic needs, throw it out. This open/closed driver debate was tiresome 10 years ago and getting more so with each passing year.
26 • Open/Closed (by Bill S on 2019-08-19 16:06:14 GMT from United States)
I try open whenever a new Mint Mate version comes out, but I always end up using the closed NVIDIA driver because I like a lot of eye candy and Compiz features and the open source just doesn't do what I want or need. But I feel certain open will be adequate any day now.
27 • Open Source vs Closed Source drivers (by JediKnight on 2019-08-19 16:49:01 GMT from United Kingdom)
First and foremost I want maximum performance out of the hardware I've paid for.
If that entails closed source drivers or software then, so be it.
My laptop has an Nvidia GPU which just doesn't play well with Nouveau. Plus I want all the non-free codecs etc.
I'm looking for utility, not purity. And as Jesse has said that may carry risks in terms of vulnerability.
Having said that I am deeply grateful to the Linux developer community for an OS and free software of astounding quality.
28 • Firmware/driver update (by cykodrome on 2019-08-19 16:49:32 GMT from Canada)
I am an AMD guy (cpu and gpu, Intel broke my trust way back, but that is for another forum), but am not sure if the cpu firmware (definitely makes the cpu run better) is proprietary or not, I believe it is not. Also, not sure if the gpu firmware (not the driver, the driver has never worked properly) is proprietary or not (not for lack of research), but can't live without it. Can't live without either, actually. Another 2% of a dollah = my 4 cents, cha ching. :)
29 • Concerns regarding non-free firmware (by Tech in San Diego on 2019-08-19 17:14:35 GMT from United States)
Jesse's article was spot on!
After reading the article I reached out to System 76 to see if they use entirely open source, or a combination of both open and closed source. Their response was that they use a combination of both open and closed source on their "Custom ' built for Linux hardware.
They did state that they are working with various hardware companies to close the gap between open and closed software for their hardware and have started an initiative to work with vendors, including NVIDIA and Intel on the Thunderbolt 3 standard, among others.
You can read their post at https://blog.system76.com/ (The announcement is towards the end of the post.)
All the Best!
Tech in San Diego
30 • @ 29 (by OstroL on 2019-08-19 17:40:19 GMT from Poland)
The hardware companies that sell the "custom" built for Linux hardware to System76, also sell the same hardware to those, who install and sell Windows hardware. Clevo would sell you hardware configured any way you like. (https://clevo-computer.com/de/laptop-computer-konfigurator/?p=1)
"They did state that they are working with various hardware companies to close the gap between open and closed software for their hardware and have started an initiative to work with vendors, including NVIDIA and Intel on the Thunderbolt 3 standard, among others."
Well then, System76 would've done some magic!
Anyway,System76 is small US company. Most users in the world have never even heard about it, while NVidia is very well known. And will not listen. TK!
31 • OPEN vs CLOSED (by edcoolio on 2019-08-20 01:09:17 GMT from United States)
The question is somewhat nonsensical.
If you are stuck with hardware that will only run with closed firmware, then you will either use the closed firmware or not use the equipment. That's not really much of a choice, in particular if you do not have money to spend and "you got what you got"".
Truthfully, others here have pointed out the correct way to think about this:
1. Attempt to buy only buy hardware that has open source drivers/firmware.
2. Use the software that performs the best.
3. Use closed source only when necessary, or (see 2 above).
32 • Open vs. Proprietary Drivers (by CaptZapp on 2019-08-20 02:29:08 GMT from United States)
I always prefer open source drivers. Unfortunately, I also prefer to use current generation motherboards and CPUs. So, I always end up having to use some proprietary drivers. My problem is that I haven't been able to find a good resource that will help direct me to motherboards that are FOSS friendly. With my current motherboard, it won't even recognize my SATA devices unless I use a non-free driver. Since its a desktop, I can ignore that the WiFi, Bluetooth and a few other things don't work, but I kinda need SATA. I'm due for another upgrade next summer, maybe I'll have more luck then!
33 • Drivers (by zykoda on 2019-08-20 07:27:50 GMT from United Kingdom)
Proprietary (Nvidia) drivers are currently necessary to run GPU code. PGI (Portland) compilers are in advance of the current GNU gcc collection commonly available in repositories. Stellar performance is thus obtainable at an economic cost. Such promised parallel performance is still a few iterations down the line for stable open source software.
34 • Proprietary apps/drivers, Linux dedicated computers... (by OstroL on 2019-08-20 08:12:21 GMT from Poland)
I am writing from the only Linux dedicated computer that runs Ubuntu, but Windows cannot be installed in it, as with System76 computers. It is interesting that there are 12 devices that can do it. The other interesting fact is that, these devices run two Linux based OSs, completely different to each other. And, that you can have one OS in one device, while the other GNU/Linux distro, Ubuntu on the external monitor or TV, using the same device.
I couldn't afford it for some time, and ow that I've bought it, I am quite happy and waiting for more devices, and more GNU/Linux distros working with it. If the other distro makers, Fedora, OpenSuse, etc don't want to port theirs to it, cant help it. Ubuntu is quite good enough for me.
This feat couldn't be achieved with open source drivers/firmware, for too many cooks...
35 • Open and Closed Drivers (by Chris on 2019-08-20 12:35:33 GMT from United States)
I run Nvidia graphics for games, so I use the Nvidia proprietary drivers. They work the best, in my opinion, for gaming. In fact, I rarely run into any issues with the Nvidia proprietary drivers in about 10 years running Linux. The rest of my hardware runs out of the box on open source drivers, even most of my WIFI adapters and printer, so I use a mix of the two.
Number of Comments: 35
|• Issue 828 (2019-08-19): AcademiX 2.2, concerns with non-free firmware, UBports working on Unity8, Fedora unveils new EPEL channel, FreeBSD phasing out GCC|
|• Issue 827 (2019-08-12): Q4OS, finding files on the disk, Ubuntu works on ZFS, Haiku improves performance, OSDisc shutting down|
|• Issue 826 (2019-08-05): Quick looks at Resilient, PrimeOS, and BlueLight, flagship distros for desktops,Manjaro introduces new package manager|
|• Issue 825 (2019-07-29): Endless OS 3.6, UBports 16.04, gNewSense maintainer stepping down, Fedora developrs discuss optimizations, Project Trident launches stable branch|
|• Issue 824 (2019-07-22): Hexagon OS 1.0, Mageia publishes updated media, Fedora unveils Fedora CoreOS, managing disk usage with quotas|
|• Issue 823 (2019-07-15): Debian 10, finding 32-bit packages on a 64-bit system, Will Cooke discusses Ubuntu's desktop, IBM finalizes purchase of Red Hat|
|• Issue 822 (2019-07-08): Mageia 7, running development branches of distros, Mint team considers Snap, UBports to address Google account access|
|• Issue 821 (2019-07-01): OpenMandriva 4.0, Ubuntu's plan for 32-bit packages, Fedora Workstation improvements, DragonFly BSD's smaller kernel memory|
|• Issue 820 (2019-06-24): Clear Linux and Guix System 1.0.1, running Android applications using Anbox, Zorin partners with Star Labs, Red Hat explains networking bug, Ubuntu considers no longer updating 32-bit packages|
|• Issue 819 (2019-06-17): OS108 and Venom, renaming multiple files, checking live USB integrity, working with Fedora's Modularity, Ubuntu replacing Chromium package with snap|
|• Issue 818 (2019-06-10): openSUSE 15.1, improving boot times, FreeBSD's status report, DragonFly BSD reduces install media size|
|• Issue 817 (2019-06-03): Manjaro 18.0.4, Ubuntu Security Podcast, new Linux laptops from Dell and System76, Entroware Apollo|
|• Issue 816 (2019-05-27): Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.0, creating firewall rules, Antergos shuts down, Matthew Miller answers questions about Fedora|
|• Issue 815 (2019-05-20): Sabayon 19.03, Clear Linux's developer features, Red Hat explains MDS flaws, an overview of mobile distro options|
|• Issue 814 (2019-05-13): Fedora 30, distributions publish Firefox fixes, CentOS publishes roadmap to 8.0, Debian plans to use Wayland by default|
|• Issue 813 (2019-05-06): ROSA R11, MX seeks help with systemd-shim, FreeBSD tests unified package management, interview with Gael Duval|
|• Issue 812 (2019-04-29): Ubuntu MATE 19.04, setting up a SOCKS web proxy, Scientific Linux discontinued, Red Hat takes over Java LTS support|
|• Issue 811 (2019-04-22): Alpine 3.9.2, rsync examples, Ubuntu working on ZFS support, Debian elects new Project Leader, Obarun releases S6 tools|
|• Issue 810 (2019-04-15): SolydXK 201902, Bedrock Linux 0.7.2, Fedora phasing out Python 2, NetBSD gets virtual machine monitor|
|• Issue 809 (2019-04-08): PCLinuxOS 2019.02, installing Falkon and problems with portable packages, Mint offers daily build previews, Ubuntu speeds up Snap packages|
|• Issue 808 (2019-04-01): Solus 4.0, security benefits and drawbacks to using a live distro, Gentoo gets GNOME ports working without systemd, Redox OS update|
|• Issue 807 (2019-03-25): Pardus 17.5, finding out which user changed a file, new Budgie features, a tool for browsing FreeBSD's sysctl values|
|• Issue 806 (2019-03-18): Kubuntu vs KDE neon, Nitrux's znx, notes on Debian's election, SUSE becomes an independent entity|
|• Issue 805 (2019-03-11): EasyOS 1.0, managing background services, Devuan team debates machine ID file, Ubuntu Studio works to remain an Ubuntu Community Edition|
|• Issue 804 (2019-03-04): Condres OS 19.02, securely erasing hard drives, new UBports devices coming in 2019, Devuan to host first conference|
|• Issue 803 (2019-02-25): Septor 2019, preventing windows from stealing focus, NetBSD and Nitrux experiment with virtual machines, pfSense upgrading to FreeBSD 12 base|
|• Issue 802 (2019-02-18): Slontoo 18.07.1, NetBSD tests newer compiler, Fedora packaging Deepin desktop, changes in Ubuntu Studio|
|• Issue 801 (2019-02-11): Project Trident 18.12, the meaning of status symbols in top, FreeBSD Foundation lists ongoing projects, Plasma Mobile team answers questions|
|• Issue 800 (2019-02-04): FreeNAS 11.2, using Ubuntu Studio software as an add-on, Nitrux developing znx, matching operating systems to file systems|
|• Issue 799 (2019-01-28): KaOS 2018.12, Linux Basics For Hackers, Debian 10 enters freeze, Ubuntu publishes new version for IoT devices|
|• Issue 798 (2019-01-21): Sculpt OS 18.09, picking a location for swap space, Solus team plans ahead, Fedora trying to get a better user count|
|• Issue 797 (2019-01-14): Reborn OS 2018.11.28, TinyPaw-Linux 1.3, dealing with processes which make the desktop unresponsive, Debian testing Secure Boot support|
|• Issue 796 (2019-01-07): FreeBSD 12.0, Peppermint releases ISO update, picking the best distro of 2018, roundtable interview with Debian, Fedora and elementary developers|
|• Issue 795 (2018-12-24): Running a Pinebook, interview with Bedrock founder, Alpine being ported to RISC-V, Librem 5 dev-kits shipped|
|• Issue 794 (2018-12-17): Void 20181111, avoiding software bloat, improvements to HAMMER2, getting application overview in GNOME Shell|
|• Issue 793 (2018-12-10): openSUSE Tumbleweed, finding non-free packages, Debian migrates to usrmerge, Hyperbola gets FSF approval|
|• Issue 792 (2018-1203): GhostBSD 18.10, when to use swap space, DragonFly BSD's wireless support, Fedora planning to pause development schedule|
|• Issue 791 (2018-11-26): Haiku R1 Beta1, default passwords on live media, Slax and Kodachi update their media, dual booting DragonFly BSD on EFI|
|• Issue 790 (2018-11-19): NetBSD 8.0, Bash tips and short-cuts, Fedora's networking benchmarked with FreeBSD, Ubuntu 18.04 to get ten years of support|
|• Issue 789 (2018-11-12): Fedora 29 Workstation and Silverblue, Haiku recovering from server outage, Fedora turns 15, Debian publishes updated media|
|• Issue 788 (2018-11-05): Clu Linux Live 6.0, examining RAM consumpion, finding support for older CPUs, more Steam support for running Windows games on Linux, update from Solus team|
|• Issue 787 (2018-10-29): Lubuntu 18.10, limiting application access to specific users, Haiku hardware compatibility list, IBM purchasing Red Hat|
|• Issue 786 (2018-10-22): elementary OS 5.0, why init keeps running, DragonFly BSD enables virtual machine memory resizing, KDE neon plans to drop older base|
|• Issue 785 (2018-10-15): Reborn OS 2018.09, Nitrux 1.0.15, swapping hard drives between computers, feren OS tries KDE spin, power savings coming to Linux|
|• Issue 784 (2018-10-08): Hamara 2.1, improving manual pages, UBports gets VoIP app, Fedora testing power saving feature|
|• Issue 783 (2018-10-01): Quirky 8.6, setting up dual booting with Ubuntu and FreeBSD, Lubuntu switching to LXQt, Mint works on performance improvements|
|• Issue 782 (2018-09-24): Bodhi Linux 5.0.0, Elive 3.0.0, Solus publishes ISO refresh, UBports invites feedback, Linux Torvalds plans temporary vacation|
|• Issue 781 (2018-09-17): Linux Mint 3 "Debian Edition", file systems for SSDs, MX makes installing Flatpaks easier, Arch team answers questions, Mageia reaches EOL|
|• Issue 780 (2018-09-10): Netrunner 2018.08 Rolling, Fedora improves language support, how to customize Kali Linux, finding the right video drivers|
|• Issue 779 (2018-09-03): Redcore 1806, keeping ISO downloads safe from tampering, Lubuntu makes Calamares more flexible, Ubuntu improves GNOME performance|
|• Issue 778 (2018-08-27): GuixSD 0.15.0, ReactOS 0.4.9, Steam supports Windows games on Linux, Haiku plans for beta, merging disk partitions|
|• Issue 777 (2018-08-20): YunoHost 22.214.171.124, limiting process resource usage, converting file systems on Fedora, Debian turns 25, Lubuntu migrating to Wayland|
|• Full list of all issues|
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