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A weekly opinion column and a summary of events from the distribution world
|DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 742, 11 December 2017|
Welcome to this year's 50th issue of DistroWatch Weekly!
Many of our readers will be familiar with a distribution called Tails, a Debian-based project which strives to keep its users anonymous on-line. This week we begin with a review of a similar distribution, called heads, which shares the same goal, but which is based on Devuan and strips out all non-free software from the operating system. Read on to find out how heads compares to Tails. If you use either of these distributions (or others like them), we would like to hear from you in this week's Opinion Poll. In our News section we further our discussion on privacy-protecting distributions by covering improvements coming to the Tails project. Plus we share details on the Debian project making it easier for people to access the source code used to make Debian packages. We also share tips for using the Void distribution, cover Debian's media update and talk about Ubuntu phasing out Python 2. This week's Tips and Tricks column covers manipulating images from the command line. Plus we share the open source operating system releases of the past week and provide a list of the torrents we are seeding. We wish you all a wonderful week and happy reading!
|Feature Story (by Jesse Smith)|
heads is a live Linux distribution which can be run from a DVD or USB thumb drive. The distribution connects to the Internet through the Tor network. This helps protect the identity and location of the person using heads. The heads distribution is very similar to its popular sibling, Tails, in its mission, but heads has some special characteristics which set it apart. The heads distribution is based on Devuan while Tails is based on Debian, which means heads uses the SysV init software rather than systemd. The heads project is also dedicated to shipping a distribution which features free software only, as the heads website explains:
Non-free software can not be audited and as such cannot guarantee you security or anonymity. On the other hand, with heads you only use free software, meaning you can gain access to any source code that is included in heads, at any time. Using free software it is far easier to avoid hidden backdoors and malware that might be in non-free software.
heads is available in a single edition which is 831MB in size. When booting from the project's ISO, we are given the option of booting heads normally from the disc or loading the distribution into RAM. The latter option frees up our removable drive and can make applications load faster after the initial boot process has completed.
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Hardware used in this review
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Visitor supplied rating
|Miscellaneous News (by Jesse Smith)|
Improvements coming to Tails, Debian makes all package code available on the web, plans automatic updates and updates install media, Ubuntu phasing out Python 2, tips for using Void
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People curious about the components and code which are used to make their applications like open source software because it is possible to review and audit the building blocks of the packages they install. One hurdle to reviewing a package's source code is finding the code in question, which is often tucked away on some obscure server. The Debian project is making code reviews easier by hosting a service called Debian Sources. Matthieu Caneill reports: "We're happy to announce that Debsources, the web application that allows to browse and search the entire source code of all Debian releases, is now hosted on the official Debian infrastructure and available at sources.debian.org. You may already know this service as previously hosted at sources.debian.net . We took the move to Debian hardware as the opportunity to officially announce it here. Debsources is a web service that exposes the content of Debian source packages on the web, both via an HTML user interface and a JSON API." More information on the Debian Sources site can be found in Caneill's mailing list post.
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Matthias Klose has posted an update on the progress made phasing Python 2 out of the Ubuntu distribution. Python 2 will reach the end of its supported life in about two years and distributions are trying to make sure all software packages work with the newer Python 3. "Getting Python 2 demoted has been an ongoing task for several Ubuntu releases, now finally having a desktop CD image in Ubuntu 17.10 which ships without a Python 2 interpreter. The next step is to get Python 2 demoted to Universe, before finally in the far future it can be removed entirely from the archive. To get this done, we need: OpenStack package builds using Python 3. Removing or updating Python 2 packages in the Ubuntu seeds. Fixing remaining packages to use Python 3 instead of Python 2. Make sure that no new Python 2 packages enter Main (now being a topic for the MIR process)." Further details can be found in Klose's e-mail.
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For many people, December is a time of winter festivals and holidays. The Void team is celebrating the season with a series of tutorials which cover lesser known programs and features of the distribution. The Advent of Void series begins with a post about the gcal command line calendar. A new tutorial is published each day and all the posts can be read on the distribution's news page.
* * * * *These and other news stories can be found on our Headlines page.
|Tips and Tricks (by Jesse Smith)|
Working with images from the command line
When we think of tasks which are better suited to a graphical environment than a command line, image editing is a natural choice. After all, if we are going to work with images it helps to be able to see the adjustments we are making. That being said, there are command line tools for manipulating digital images and the power of the command line allows us to work with multiple images at once. This week we explore how to tweak images using the ImageMagick suite of command line utilities and how to work on multiple images at the same time.
On the ImageMagick website most commands are prefixed with the word magick, but on my system the equivalent command is named convert. This is why my examples here may not match up exactly with the documentation on the project's website.
In this first example we engage in a fairly simple manipulation of an image, converting it from a JPEG file to a PNG file. This example converts the file yellow-submarine.jpg into yellow-submarine.png:
convert yellow-submarine.jpg yellow-submarine.png
We can adjust the image conversion process slightly and use multiple JPEG images to make one animated GIF. This example takes all the JPEG files in the current directory and turns them into one rapidly changing, animated GIF:
convert *.jpg animated.gifTo slow down the animation of the GIF we can add a delay parameter:
convert -delay 100 *.jpg animated.gif
One common task I often find myself performing is resizing images, particularly screen shots or photos I want to e-mail to people. ImageMagick offers a few different approaches to resizing an image. One method is to shrink (or enlarge) the dimensions of an image to a percentage of its original size. This example creates a new image with the width and height set to half (50%) of the original:
convert original.jpg -resize 50% new-and-smaller.jpg
Should we wish to create a larger image, we can use a resize percentage larger than 100%.
What if we have an existing image and we want to find out its current dimensions and then shrink it down to a specific size, given in pixels? We can do that with a combination of the file and convert commands. The file command can tell us the size of the original image. Here we run the file command and it tells us our original photo is 500x500 pixels:
We can then shrink the file down to 400x400 pixels using the convert command:
convert original.png -resize 400x400 new-image.png
These steps on their own are fine, but it does not save us any time compared to working with our images in a desktop application such as Gwenview or the GNU Image Manipulation Program. Where the ImageMagick command line tools shine is when we use the power of the command line to work on multiple images. We can do this with a for loop. In this example we access every JPEG file in our current directory and shrink it down so its dimensions are a quarter of the original size. The new images are saved with the suffix "-small".
for oldname in *.jpg; do newname=$(basename "$oldname" .jpg)-small.jpg; convert "$oldname" -resize 25% "$newname"; done
A lot is happening in the above command so let's break it down a little. The for oldname in *.jpg part looks for all files with the .jpg extension and, one at a time, processes them using the variable name oldname. The next part, do newname=$(basename "$oldname" .jpg)-small.jpg uses the basename command to strip away the file's suffix, .jpg. Then we add on a new suffix, -small.jpg, that will be appended to the new image's filename. For instance, my-photo.jpg would become my-photo-small.jpg with this step. Then the convert command at the end takes the original file, shrinks it down and saves it under the new name. The double-quotes around the filenames is a way to avoid trouble if there are spaces in a file's name which might confuse our shell.
convert family-photo.jpg -type grayscale family-photo-bw.jpg
Rotating an image is often useful and ImageMagick will allow us to select a number of degrees to turn an image. The following example turns my family photo 90 degrees clockwise:
convert family-photo.jpg -rotate 90 family-photo-turned.jpg
As before, we can mix the conversion of an image with the power of the command line's processing power. In this example we both shrink and rotate all of the images in our current directory with the suffix .JPG, using a for loop. In the process we convert the JPG suffix to lowercase:
for oldname in *.JPG; do newname=$(basename "$oldname" .JPG)-small.jpg; convert "$oldname" -resize 50% -rotate 90 "$newname"; done
Using a command like the one shown above we can tidy filenames, correct rotation and shrink hundreds of images in preparation for transmission or storage in a matter of seconds - a much more efficient approach than working with each photo manually in a desktop application.
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More tips can be found in our Tips and Tricks archive.
|Released Last Week|
Puppy Linux 7.5
Philip Broughton has announced the release of a new version of Puppy Linux. The new version is Puppy Linux 7.5, code name "Xenialpup". The new version of the lightweight distribution is built using packages from Ubuntu's 16.04 "Xenial" release and Puppy maintains binary compatibility with Ubuntu packages. "Puppy Linux is small, runs in RAM, is lightning fast, very versatile and good fun! It has everything a novice will need while allowing full control to the experienced user. It comes in both 32-bit & 64-bit versions that can boot in both BIOS and UEFI enabled computers. The 32-bit version has kernel 4.4.95-noPAE for better compatibility with older hardware while the 64-bit has kernel 4.9.58 for better modern hardware support. True to Puppy Linux tradition both versions come with a full range of communications, productivity and entertainment applications as well as a wide range of the unique puppy-specific utilities and applications. The 330MB ISO includes: JWM window manager and ROX file manager. Palemoon browser and Claws mail client. FTP, torrent and chat applications. MPV media player, Simple Screen Recorder and Deadbeef audio player. Abiword word processor and Gnumeric spread sheet application." Further information can be found in the project's release announcement.
Puppy Linux 7.5 -- The default desktop
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Uruk GNU/Linux 2.0
Uruk GNU/Linux is a completely free software distribution based on Trisquel and featuring the MATE desktop. The project's latest release, version 2.0, includes an updated Linux-libre kernel, version 7 of the GNU Compiler Collection, MATE 1.12 and a new welcome screen. "We grew up, and the project grew up with us. At this time we worked a lot, and we made great changes. The big change came today, yes today, it's Uruk GNU/Linux 2.0 "lugalbanda". We use "lugalbanda" as a code name for this release, Lugalbanda is a character found in Sumerian mythology and literature in ancient Iraqi history. It's come with many changes like: Build new repository for Uruk GNU/Linux 2.0; Linux-libre 4.9.66 LTS; GCC 7; MATE 1.12.1; Abrowser 57; new welcome screen; replace MDM with LightDM as a default DM; new control center; Guix Installer; new customization with new themes, cursor and wallpapers; comes with many useful apps as default... Further details can be found in the project's release announcement.
Vladimir Potapov has announced the release of ROSA R10, the latest stable build of the desktop-focused distribution with support for KDE 4 and Plasma 5 desktop environments: "ROSA Desktop R10 is the second release based on the ROSA 2016.1 platform. The distribution is targeted mainly at the Linux advocates eager to try new software versions. According to the updates policy, the ROSA 2016.1 platform will have four years of technical support. Technical changes in comparison with ROSA R9: many system libraries, system and software packages were updated to their latest versions; Linux kernel 4.9.60 LTS is used by default, other kernel versions and variants are available in special repositories; the proprietary NVIDIA drivers have been updated to new versions - 384.90 and experimental 387.12 for the relatively new video cards, 340.104 for GeForce 8 and 9, 304.137 for GeForce 6 and 7; MESA has been updated to version 17.1.6 with OpenGL support up to version 4.5...." See the release announcement (in Russian) and release notes (in English) for more details.
ROSA R10 -- The application menu
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ReactOS is an open source operating system which strives to be binary compatible with Microsoft Windows and is capable of running many Windows applications. The project has released ReactOS 0.4.7 which introduces improvements to application skins, better disk usage reporting and a smoother experience when sending files to the Recycle Bin. "James Tabor has put in a great deal of effort into getting the ReactOS painting process as close to Windows as possible. Furthermore, Katayama Hirofumi MZ has fixed the anti-aliasing text when a button was grayed out (and which was impossible to read before this fix). Another major achievement brought to you by Giannis has been to solve the Clipboard and Recycle Bin bugs. Now, in 0.4.7, ReactOS won't crash due an invalid/empty clipboard as it did previously, copy/pasting multiple files and pasting folders in the background should work well and now follows the Windows specs more closely. In 0.4.7, ReactOS now correctly manages file deletions when dragging them to the Recycle Bin thanks to a patch from Serge Gautherie. Add to that numerous fixes regarding Drag and Drop and the whole user experience now feels much more polished for end users." Further details and screen shots can be found in the project's release announcement. ReactOS is available in two editions, one for installing the operating system and a LiveCD edition for testing.
Peppermint OS 8-20171130
Mark Greaves has announced the release of an updated build of Peppermint OS 8, a lightweight distribution based on Lubuntu (the long-term support branch) and featuring the LXDE desktop: "Team Peppermint is pleased to announce the latest iteration of our operating system, Peppermint 8 Respin, which still comes in 32-bit and 64-bit variants, with the 64-bit variant having full UEFI and Secureboot support. Whilst a respin is generally a minor release intended as an ISO image update, the Peppermint 8 Respin does contain some significant changes: Nemo 2.8.7 updated to 3.4.7 which seems more stable during large file operations and now has a separate process for controlling the desktop; OpenVPN updated in the repository to version 2.4.4 to support mixed mode IPv4/IPv6 VPNs; switched to slick-greeter, a much prettier login screen and a GUI utility in the menu called 'Login Window' for login screen settings, including the ability to add, change, remove an auto-login user; added a desktop right-click 'Open Peppermint Settings Panel' context menu item...." Read the rest of the release announcement for a complete list of changes.
Bodhi Linux 4.4.0
Jeff Hoogland has announced the release of Bodhi Linux 4.4.0. Bodhi Linux is based on Ubuntu LTS and features the Moksha desktop environment, a fork of Enlightenment. The new version of Bodhi Linux features several package updates, including version 4.13 of the Linux kernel. The project's release announcement states: "Today I am pleased to announce the release of Bodhi Linux 4.4.0. This is a normal update release and it comes three months after the release of Bodhi 4.3.1. Existing Bodhi 4.x.y users do not need to reinstall as the primary goal of this update release is to simply keep the current ISO image up to date. This release image includes EFL 1.19.1, Terminology 1.1.0, Ephoto 1.5, and Linux kernel 4.13. As with every release in the 4.x.y Bodhi series it is built on top of the rock solid foundation that is Ubuntu 16.04." Bodhi Linux is available in three editions: Standard, AppPack (with additional applications), and Legacy for older computers.
* * * * *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.
|Upcoming Releases and Announcements|
Summary of expected upcoming releases
Moving to HTTPS only -- Part 2
Last week we reported that, following two years of serving up DistroWatch over both plain HTTP and secure HTTPS connections, we would transition to using the secure protocol only. HTTPS has become standard for the web over the last few years, to the point where sites offering both options are sometimes flagged with warnings by security software. We have also found some search engines still link to our insecure HTTP option, which is not ideal for most of our readers.
On Friday we flipped the switch and now all connections to DistroWatch.com are handled by the secure HTTPS protocol. This transition should be seamless for virtually everyone, nothing needs to be done by people visiting DistroWatch to take advantage of the offered security features.
After last week's announcement about the pending change, some readers expressed concern that people on very slow network connections and people running operating systems from removable media would have trouble reaching DistroWatch.com over the secure connection. In an effort to avoid cutting off anyone's access to the site, our backup domain, DistroWatch.org, will continue to be served over the classic HTTP protocol.
* * * * *DistroWatch database summary
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This concludes this week's issue of DistroWatch Weekly. The next instalment will be published on Monday, 18 December 2017. Past articles and reviews can be found through our Article Search page. To contact the authors please send e-mail to:
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