elementary OS looks cool but package management is a pain : Review

elementary OS has received a lot of visibility within a relatively small span of time and introducing elementary OS will be redundant for an average GNU/Linux user. If someone does not have heard about elementary, it is an Ubuntu LTS based GNU/Linux distribution shipping a simple, elegant & responsive user interface which is called as Pantheon. Pantheon features some cool components like Slingshot application menu, switchboard configuration app, a cool dock ..etc.

Source : DistroScreens
Keeping the habit of writing reviews on GNU/Linux distributions, Mr Garry Nevell, author of Everday Linux user portal has published a review of elementary 0.4 Freya, latest stable release of elementary available till date. This detailed review examines different aspects of operating system and reaches in a conclusion that, elementary is good looking distribution, though as Ubuntu and it's derivatives it lacks a good package management system. The default applications are not the application used by masses and applications that comes in use need to be installed explicitly which is not an easy task for a newbie. The elementary operating system is shipping a Software Center however, it does not include popular packages like google chrome.
The fact that somebody has had to go to the effort to create the Ubuntu After Install application shows there is a problem.
Why can't Ubuntu or one of these derivatives grasp the bull by the horns and come up with a solution.
People like to use Chrome yet all we get is Firefox or some basic equivalent. Chrome works with everything. It is by far the best browser and I don't want to settle for second best. 
If you don't want to include it as part of the main package manager add a simple tool for installing this and many other applications including Steam.
For complete review and screenshots, see original review published in Everyday Linux User portal.

Running Arch Linux on a Lenovo Yoga 900

Over the years GNU/Linux operating system has grown to support a wide range of hardware devices. Also, there are some companies like system 76 who mainly focus on building GNU/Linux powered laptops. Most of the big players like HP, Dell, Lenovo has introduced few special laptops to attract GNU/Linux enthusiasts.

The keithcu has published an interesting article which takes us for a journey of running Arch Linux on a Lenovo Yoga 900, a modern laptop introduced by Chinese multinational technology company. This article can be seen as a hardware view. It starts the journey by mentioning source and price of the laptop and explains about different components of laptop in detail. Also it covers compatibility of the laptop with GNU/Linux operating system by taking Arch Linux as an example. Also, he has experimented with some Arch derivatives like Antergos and Manjaro.

I find Gnome classic a streamlined experience. I wish it wasn’t written in the clunky fad Javascript, and they re-enabled a community around custom themes and color schemes. It’s also still missing some nice features from Gnome 2 and Windows 10, and could be a bit more stable. Gnome 3.0 in 2011 was a step backwards, but six years later we’re up to Gnome 3.22, and things are mature again.

Gnome Classic is one of the best GUIs, but there are a number of good ones and all are getting better. This machine is working quite well now and I’m just going to sit back and keep waiting for the HiDPI and other improvements! I’m looking forward to deep learning inside the grammar checker of LibreOffice.
Read full article on keithcu's blog.

Solus Project is adopting Flatpak to deliver 3rd party apps with less pain

Finally, the Solus Project has decided to adopt Flatpak packaging system to distribute 3rd party applications with less pain. This announcement was made by Ikey Doherty, Solus project founder through their official blog.

The Solus project was maintaining a separate system for providing 3rd party applications for a while. This system used to download binaries/source files from respective vendors and build/configure it in way compatible with Solus operating system. This system had a lot of limitations like less reliability, slow processing, and lack of automatic upgrade. It was a lot of pain to maintain such a system. This is the prime reason pointed out by Ikey to adopt another package distribution system.

When it was about to decide a better package distribution system, the project had choose between Flatpak and snap. Though snap is backed by Canonical, and has apparently faster development cycle, the Solus owner Ikey, decided to choose Flatpak, as some of the main concerns of the project such as distribution of Google Chrome is already addressed by Flatpak, it is less pain to integrate with existing Solus system.

Well, enough babbling from me. You get the picture, we’re going with Flatpak. It’s a great solution, and in terms of the future, the most suitable route we can take. There is a responsive, engaging community, and it ticks all the boxes for what we want.

Additionally, Flatpak supports AppStream, which Solus already makes use of, so it’s an instant fit in terms of integration into our Software Center.
For more details, see original announcement made by Solus project in official blog.

Linux Mint 18.1 KDE beta released

The Linux Mint team has announced availability of Linux Mint 18.1 KDE beta, development release for upcoming Linux Mint distribution featuring KDE Plasma as default desktop environment. Linux Mint 18.x series is based on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS and hence will be supported till 2021.

Notable highlights of Linux Mint 18.1 KDE beta release includes:
  • Plasma desktop 5.8
  • Update manager includes a new column to indicate the origin of update.
  • Update manager highlights Kernel updates a more prominent way.
  • Software Sources tool to choose between different available mirrors for package installation and updates.
  • linux-firmware 1.157.5 and the Linux kernel 4.4.0-53.
  • Linux Mint 18.1 features a superb collection of backgrounds.
For more details, see release notes, release announcement and feature list of Linux Mint 18.1 KDE beta.

Debian 9 Stretch installer rc1 released

The Debian Installer team has announced availability of first release candidate for Debian 9 Stretch Installer rc1. This release is coming after several alpha releases and can expect improved stability and robustness.

This release of Debian installer reverts the switch to merge /usr as the default configuration of debootstrap as it raises a number of serious issues which might not be fixed in time for stretch. In next release cycle, this configuration will come back.

In previous Alpha release (Alpha 6) Debian Pure Blends appeared in Software selection screen. There were some different opinions regarding this. How ever, it was n't addressed during the freeze as freeze is not the phase where critical screens are expected to revamp.

Following are some improvements made in this development release:
  • apt-setup
      - Tweak which images will offer to scan more discs.
  • brltty:
      - Switch to espeak-ng.
      - Add support for LXQt.
      - Improve detection of USB devices.
  • cdebconf-terminal:
      - Switch from ttf-dejavu-mono-udeb to fonts-dejavu-mono-udeb.
  • debian-installer:
      - Add HTTPS support through new ca-certificates and wget udebs
      - Switch from ttf-dejavu-udeb to fonts-dejavu-udeb.
      - Switch from fonts-lklug-sinhala to fonts-noto-hinted-udeb for Sinhala
      - Bump Linux kernel version from 4.7.0-1 to 4.8.0-2.
      - Update theme to softWaves by Juliette Belin.
  • debian-installer-utils:
      - Add checksum verification to fetch-url.
  • espeakup-udeb:
      - Avoid issues with sound board names containing spaces.
      - Fix race conditions when starting espeakup.
      - Switch to espeak-ng (#833658).
For more details, see original announcement published in Debian Development mailing list.

Debian 8.7 released with security fixes

Debian - The Universal Operating System developers has announced release of Debian 8.7, 7th updated snapshot in Debian 8.x Jessy branch. This release includes some security fixes and resolutions for other critical issues reported in previous snapshots.

Debian 8.7 is not a new release, instead an updated snapshot with updated packages. This is just a continuation of snapshots in Debian 8.x series. So you can install any other snapshot in this release and update your system using regular update means to get all upgraded packages and bug fixes as in 8.7 snapshot.

The Debian project is pleased to announce the seventh update of its stable distribution Debian 8 (codename jessie). This update mainly adds corrections for security problems to the stable release, along with a few adjustments for serious problems. Security advisories were already published separately and are referenced where available.

Please note that this update does not constitute a new version of Debian 8 but only updates some of the packages included. There is no need to throw away old jessie CDs or DVDs but only to update via an up-to-date Debian mirror after an installation, to cause any out of date packages to be updated.
For a brief release announcement and detailed list of security fixes, see Debian website.

Ultimate Edition 5.1 Final released with KDE Plasma

The Ultimate Edition development team has announced release of Ultimate Edition 5.1, latest stable release of Ubuntu/Debian based custom GNU/Linux distribution which tries to provide an operating system capable of serving basic computer needs for all kind of users.

Ultimate Edition 5.1 is built on top of Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus core, using Tmosb(Theemahn's Operating System Builder). An updated version of Tmosb is included with this release which can be used to build upto 3000 operating systems. Since based on an LTS release of Ubuntu, this release of Ultimate Edition is also a LTS release which will be supported till 2019. This release is featuring KDE Plasma as default desktop environment.

A Development Preview of Ultimate Edition 5.1
What is Ultimate Edition 5.1?  Ultimate Edition 5.1 was built from the Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerius tree using a combination of Tmosb (TheeMahn’s Operating System Builder) & work by hand.  Tmosb is also included in this release (1.9.7), allowing you to do the same.  Tmosb 1.9.8 has also been uploaded allowing you to build up to Zesty over 3000 Operating Systems.  This release IS a Long Term Supported (LTS) release, supported until the year 2019.  This release is most certainly worthy of the Ultimate Edition title.  I hate KDE.  No news there, but I believe I spent a ton of time refining it to make our users happy.  Did I mention I hate KDE?  Looks too much like that other Operating System.
You can also see the release announcement published in Ultimate Edition blog. 

AryaLinux 2017 released with updated packages

The AryaLinux team has announced release of AryaLinux 2017, latest updated snapshot and installation scripts based on LFS(Linux From Scratch). This release includes complete build scripts for KDE Plasma and GNOME desktop environments.

AryaLinux 2017 is only available in 64 bit flavor and it would be adopted as a practice in upcoming releases. Current release also lacks graphical front end for alps (AryaLinux Packaging System) which is expected to be available soon.

According to official release notes, following are notable highlights of AryaLinux 2017.
  • There is no 32 bit ISO available for download. Going forward Arya would only be released in 64 bit.
  • Kernel updated to version 4.9
  • Mate Desktop Environment upgraded from 1.15 to 1.17
  • Build scripts support building the entire KDE and GNOME desktop environments from source code
  • Libreoffice updated to version 5.2.3
  • Parole Media Player and Exaile are the default media and audio players for the XFCE and Mate Spins
  • Simple Screen Recorder is back with QT5
  • A separate builder disk is released with build scripts to build the entire distribution from source code.
  • The builder script simplifies the process of build further. Only one script needs to be run and the whole system would be built without any intervention.
  • Advanced build options like configuring the kernel can be specified while building.
  • Build scripts can create ISO files and make stage-wise backups if specified.
  • Package updates can be done through alps.
  • Alps features a new command to list all available packages and the list of installed packages.
  • Alps can be used to build packages either from source URL or using the source tarball. This is however not a very foolproof way of installing from source but generally works.
  • alps updatescripts now picks up the latest build scripts from github so when you install, you would be installing the latest packages.

Download AryaLinux 2017
(64 BIT Only)

Manjaro 17.0 Gellivara Alpha 2 released in KDE & Xfce flavors

Mr Philm - member of Manjaro development team has announced availability of Manjaro 17.0 Alpha 2 for testing. As any other official releases of Manjaro, this release also includes KDE & Xfce flavors.

Beginning from this release, Manjaro is planning to have some minor changes in it's release cycle. These changes includes a revised version system. Previous convention was using the month on which the release is expected. As per new release cycle, the project will release 3 major snapshots with new features. In case of any bug, there will be updated point releases in same series.

The major highlights/plans for Manjaro 17.0 can be summarized as follows:
  • We updated the stock kernel to linux49 4.9 LTS
  • We will update the Xorg-Stack to v1.19 series
  • We will enhance and improve Luks and LVM support in CAL
  • We will enhance and improve our Manjaro Tools & Profiles
  • We will enhance and improve our MHWD and MSM
  • We will update our themes
For more information and discussions on Manjaro 17.0 Alpha 2 Xfce & KDE releases, see separate announcements made in Manjaro forums.

MX Linux 16 keeps a good balance between performance and elegance : Review

MX Linux is a Debian stable based GNU/Linux distribution grown as a cooperative venture between the antiX and retired MEPIS communities. It makes use of best tools and technologies from both distributions. In terms of resource usage, it is expected to be a midweight(somewhere between lightweight and heavy distributions) which combines a beautiful and efficient Xfce desktop with Debian to provide a highly stable, solid operating system.

Courtesy : Distrowatch
Latest release of distrowatch weekly dated 9th January 2017, features a review of MX Linux 16 as cover story. The review concludes that, the developers of MX Linux were able to keep a fair balance between performance and elegance. The distribution is lightweight, highly responsive with modern technologies. However, the reviewer does not recommend MX Linux for absolute newbies as it expects some kind of prior Linux experience to play with. Though it is a good choice for people with outdated computers and people who care the most about performance and resource usage.

I like that while MX is light on resources, it provides a lot of popular software for us to use. We are treated to good multimedia support, a full featured productivity suite and web browser. The software included in MX is more modern than Debian Stable and we have access to a Backports repository if we want to access up to date applications.

I ran into just a few rough edges, like the theme changer asking me to restart Firefox and the update manager not refreshing its package information before downloading new updates. Earlier I mentioned some frustration with the many overlapping configuration tools, but I acknowledge what I see as clutter could be another person's convenience. 
You can read complete review and other open source related news in distrowatch weekly news letter.

Deepin Technology gets a new community website

The Deepin Technology team has announced launch of new community website for the deepin technology - a Chinese firm doing innovative development on free & open source technologies.

The newly announced website is coming with a revamped layout and design. The site mainly includes community related content and announcements from deepin technology. The home page lists recent community announcement and provide links to various community channels of project, including facebook, twitter, weibo, telegram and other local community channels.

Courtesy : Deepin Community
As per official announcement, main highlights of community website can be summarized as follows:
  • Mainly shows the contents of the homepage, especially version information, community news and updates, etc;
  • Added column for projects to show Deepin Desktop Environment, Deepin Original Applications and Deepin Cooperative Applications;
  • Added column for documents to show community related documents, mainly wiki and installation process;
  • Integrated blog and make the existing sub domain blog a news center, to show news and updates at once;
  • Added app center to show apps for Deepin Store(to show the latest apps on web) and to show the entry for delivering apps(deliver to community for now, will deliver to the backend of the Deepin Store in the future);
  • Added developer community, mainly to let more developer join the development process and show version planning, howtos(make plugins for dock or control center, etc.) and how to join i18n project, etc;
  • Shows the community culture and put recruit, contact us and commercial cooperative to Deepin Commercial Website;

Lumina Desktop 1.2.0 released; Prime focus is on enhancements

Celebrating the beginning of new year, the TrueOS developers has announced release of Lumina Desktop 1.2.0, latest updated release of lightweight, fully functional desktop environment for unix like systems.

Past year, 2016 was a eventful year for Lumina Desktop as the first release of project 1.0 was released and an updated bug fixes release 1.1 was released later. 2017 is also expected to be another big year for Lumina as the there are several tasks on queue such implementation of own window manager. The release of v1.2 can be seen as an indication of upcoming events in 2017.

Lumina Desktop 1.2 is mainly focusing on enhancement of current system in terms of bug fixes, performance and stability improvements. It also includes some new plugins and other updated packages. By keeping inline with main focus of minimalism, this release eliminates several unused things.
First, the LuminaUtils library has been completely dismantled and is no longer installed or required as part of the Lumina infrastructure. Instead, the files within the library are broken into small, nearly standalone modules within the source tree so each tool can build or incorporate just the necessary class(es) directly into the utility itself. This results in faster and more stable binaries without the need to load any additional libraries on the system.  Second, we are putting a lot more work into depreciating external utilities and moving toward using the same libraries that Qt itself requires or uses (such as the XCB libraries on X11 systems). This phase is not yet finished, but we are making significant progress and expect to announce a large reduction in runtime dependencies later this year.
For more details, see release announcement published in projects website.