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KDE

KDE Plasma 5.13 Released (kde.org) 95

jrepin writes: KDE unveils the final release of Plasma 5.13, the free and open-source desktop environment. Members of the Plasma team have focused on optimizing startup and minimizing memory usage. Plasma Browser Integration is a suite of new features which make Firefox, Chrome and Chromium-based browsers work with your desktop. For example, downloads are now displayed in the Plasma notification popup, and the Media Controls Plasmoid can mute and skip videos and music playing from within the browser. Browser tabs can be opened directly using KRunner via the Alt-Space keyboard shortcut. System Settings design has been improved further. Window manager gained much-improved effects for blur and desktop switching. Wayland work continued, with the return of window rules, and initial support for screencasts and desktop sharing. You can view the changelog here.
Debian

Systemd-Free Devuan 2.0 'ASCII' Officially Released (devuan.org) 313

"Dear Init Freedom Lovers..." begins the announcement at Devuan.org: We are happy to announce that Devuan GNU+Linux 2.0 ASCII Stable is finally available. Devuan is a GNU+Linux distribution committed to providing a universal, stable, dependable, free software operating system that uses and promotes alternatives to systemd and its components.

Devuan 2.0 ASCII runs on several architectures. Installer CD and DVD ISOs, as well as desktop-live and minimal-live ISOs, are available for i386 and amd64. Ready-to-use images can be downloaded for a number of ARM platforms and SOCs, including Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone, OrangePi, BananaPi, OLinuXino, Cubieboard, Nokia and Motorola mobile phones, and several Chromebooks, as well as for Virtualbox/QEMU/Vagrant. The Devuan 2.0 ASCII installer ISOs offer a variety of Desktop Environments including Xfce, KDE, MATE, Cinnamon, LXQt, with others available post-install. The expert install mode now offers a choice of either SysVinit or OpenRC as init system...

We would like to thank the entire Devuan community for the continued support, feedback, and collaboration....

The release notes include information on Devuan's new network of package repository mirrors, and they're also touting their "direct and easy upgrade paths" from Devuan Jessie, Debian Jessie and Debian Stretch.
Operating Systems

Canonical Shares Desktop Plans For Ubuntu 18.10 (ubuntu.com) 81

Canonical's Will Cooke on Friday talked about the features the company is working on for Ubuntu 18.10 "Cosmic Cuttlefish" cycle. He writes: We're also adding some new features which we didn't get done in time for the main 18.04 release. Specifically: Unlock with your fingerprint, Thunderbolt settings via GNOME Control Center, and XDG Portals support for snap.

GNOME Software improvements
We're having a week long sprint in June to map out exactly how we want the software store to work, how we want to present information and to improve the overall UX of GNOME Software. We've invited GNOME developers along to work with Ubuntu's design team and developers to discuss ideas and plan the work. I'll report back from the sprint in June.

Snap start-up time
Snapcraft have added the ability for us to move some application set up from first run to build time. This will significantly improve desktop application first time start up performance, but there is still more we can do.

Chromium as a snap
Chromium is becoming very hard to build on older releases of Ubuntu as it uses a number of features of modern C++ compilers. Snaps can help us solve a lot of those problems and so we propose to ship Chromium only as a snap from 18.10 onwards, and also to retire Chromium as a deb in Trusty. If you're still running Trusty you can get the latest Chromium as a snap right now.
In addition, Ubuntu team is also working on introducing improvements to power consumption, adding support for DLNA, so that users could share media directly from their desktop to DLNA clients (without having to install and configure extra packages), and improved phone integration by shipping GS Connect as part of the desktop, the GNOME port of KDE Connect. Additional changelog here.
Operating Systems

Fedora-Based Linux Distro Korora Halts Development (betanews.com) 68

Korora, a Fedora-based Linux distro, halted its development this month, BetaNews' Brian Fagioli spotted Wednesday. The announcement would irk many, as Korora consistently received positive feedback from critics and users alike. News outlet ZDNet once described Korora as "Fedora++", while Slashdot readers, too, spoke highly of the distro.

At the same time, the announcement should come as little surprise to anyone who has been tracking Korora's work. In a blog post, Korora team wrote: Korora for the forseeable future is not going to be able to march in cadence with the Fedora releases. In addition to that, for the immediate future there will be no updates to the Korora distribution. Our team is infinitesimal (currently 1 developer and 2 community managers) compared to many other distributions, we don't have the luxury of being able to dedicate the amount of time we would like to spend on the project and still satisfy our real life obligations. So we are taking a little sabbatical to avoid complete burn out and rejuvenate ourselves and our passion for Korora/Fedora and wider open source efforts. The team had expressed similar concerns earlier this year: For the past few years Korora has released a new version in line with each Fedora version. That means that approximately twice a year we prepare, test and create 5 different ISO versions. This is as well as, among other things, developing new projects, supporting existing releases and planning the future versions. As each team member has different skills some tasks, such as development, can only be done by one person. All this is done in our spare time along side our job, family and personal responsibilities. For a very small team, currently 3 people plus the occasional input from others, this is a lot of work. It means that often Korora has to take a back seat when real life intrudes. This isn't the first time Korora had to abruptly pause its development. In 2007, Christopher Smart, who kickstarted Korora (at the time based on Gentoo Linux), had discontinued the project -- only to revive it three years later.
GNOME

Ubuntu Linux 18.04 LTS 'Bionic Beaver' Beta 2 Now Available (betanews.com) 97

An anonymous reader writes: Ubuntu Linux 18.04 "Bionic Beaver" is almost here -- it is due on April 26. In the interim, today, the second -- and final -- beta becomes available. Bionic Beaver is very significant, as it is an LTS version, meaning "Long Term Support." This is important to those that prefer stability to bleeding edge and don't want to deal with the hassle of upgrades. In other words, you can install 18.04 and be confident that it will be supported for 5 years. In comparison, non-LTS Ubuntu versions get a mere 9 months.

There is plenty to be excited about with Ubuntu Linux 18.04 LTS 'Bionic Beaver' Beta 2, including the GNOME 3.28 desktop environment -- Beta 1 did not include GNOME at all. Of course, all the other DE flavors are available too, such as KDE and Xfce. The kernel is at 4.15, which while not the most current version, is still quite modern. Also included is LibreOffice 6.0 -- an essential tool that rivals Microsoft Office. Wayland is available as a technical preview, although X remains the default display server -- for now.

Ubuntu

Ubuntu Linux 18.04 'Bionic Beaver' Beta 1 Now Available For Download (betanews.com) 101

From a report: This week, Ubuntu Linux 18.04 'Bionic Beaver' Beta 1 became available for download. Ubuntu 18.04 is significant, as it will be an LTS (Long Term Support) version. As was the case when Unity was the primary DE, GNOME is not available in this beta stage. Instead, there are other flavors from which to choose, such as Kubuntu with KDE Plasma and Xubuntu, which uses Xfce.

"Pre-releases of the Bionic Beaver are not encouraged for anyone needing a stable system or anyone who is not comfortable running into occasional, even frequent breakage. They are, however, recommended for Ubuntu flavor developers and those who want to help in testing, reporting, and fixing bugs as we work towards getting this release ready. Beta 1 includes some software updates that are ready for broader testing. However, it is quite an early set of images, so you should expect some bugs," says Dustin Krysak, Ubuntu Budgie team member.

Software

The Most Popular Linux Desktop Programs (zdnet.com) 228

The most recent Linux Questions poll results are in. Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, writing for ZDNet: LinuxQuestions, one of the largest internet Linux groups with 550,000 members, has just posted the results from its latest survey of desktop Linux users. In the always hotly-contested Linux desktop environment survey, the winner was the KDE Plasma Desktop. It was followed by the popular lightweight Xfce, Cinnamon, and GNOME. If you want to buy a computer with pre-installed Linux, the Linux Questions crew's favorite vendor by far was System76. Numerous other computer companies offer Linux on their PCs. These include both big names like Dell and dedicated small Linux shops such as ZaReason, Penguin Computing, and Emperor Linux. Many first choices weren't too surprising. For example, Linux users have long stayed loyal to the Firefox web browser, and they're still big fans. Firefox beat out Google Chrome by a five-to-one margin. And, as always, the VLC media player is far more popular than any other Linux media player. For email clients, Mozilla Thunderbird remains on top. That's a bit surprising given how Thunderbird's development has been stuck in neutral for some time now. When it comes to text editors, I was pleased to see vim -- my personal favorite -- win out over its perpetual rival, Emacs. In fact, nano and Kate both came ahead of Emacs.
GUI

Could 2018 Be The Year of the Linux Desktop? (gnome.org) 383

Suren Enfiajyan writes: Red Hat worker and GNOME blogger Christian F.K. Schaller wrote why GNU/Linux failed to become a mainstream desktop OS... "My thesis is that there really isn't one reason, but rather a range of issues that all have contributed to holding the Linux Desktop back from reaching a bigger market. Also to put this into context, success here in my mind would be having something like 10% market share of desktop systems. That to me means we reached critical mass."

He named the following reasons:

- A fragmented market
- Lack of special applications
- Lack of big name applications
- Lack of API and ABI stability
- Apple's resurgence
- Microsoft's aggressive response
- Windows piracy
- Red Hat mostly stayed away
- Canonical's business model not working out
- Lack of original device manufacturer support

Then he ended with some optimism:

"So anyone who has read my blog posts probably knows I am an optimist by nature. This isn't just some kind of genetic disposition towards optimism, but also a philosophical belief that optimism breeds opportunity while pessimism breeds failure. So just because we haven't gotten the Linux Desktop to 10% marketshare so far doesn't mean it will not happen going forward. It just means we haven't achieved it so far.

"One of the key identifiers of open source is that it is incredibly hard to kill, because unlike proprietary software, just because a company goes out of business or decides to shut down a part of its business, the software doesn't go away or stop getting developed. As long as there is a strong community interested in pushing it forward it remains and evolves, and thus when opportunity comes knocking again it is ready to try again."

The essay concludes desktop Linux has evolved and is ready to try again, since from a technical perspective it's better than ever. "The level of polish is higher than ever before, the level of hardware support is better than ever before and the range of software available is better than ever before...

"There is also the chance that it will come in a shape we don't appreciate today. For instance maybe ChromeOS evolves into a more full fledged operating system as it grows in popularity and thus ends up being the Linux on the Desktop end game? Or maybe Valve decides to relaunch their SteamOS effort and it provides the foundation for a major general desktop growth? Or maybe market opportunities arise that will cause us at Red Hat to decide to go after the desktop market in a wider sense than we do today? Or maybe Endless succeeds with their vision for a Linux desktop operating system...."
KDE

Linux Mint Is Killing the KDE Edition (betanews.com) 141

BrianFagioli quotes a report from BetaNews: While both the Cinnamon and Mate versions of Linux Mint are decent choices for computer users, there was one version that was always utterly bizarre -- the KDE Edition. Don't get me wrong, KDE is a fine environment, but Kubuntu already exists. Having a version of Mint using KDE was redundant and confusing. Thankfully, today, the Linux Mint team announces it is finally killing the KDE edition. "In continuation with what's been done in the past, Linux Mint 18.3 will feature a KDE edition, but it will be the last release to do so. I would like to thank Kubuntu for the amazing work they have done. The quality of Plasma 5 in Xenial made backports a necessity. The rapid pace of development upstream from the KDE project made this very challenging, yet they managed to provide a stable flow of updates for us and we were able to ship good KDE editions thanks to that. I don't think this would have been possible without them," says Clement Lefebvre, Linux Mint.

Lefebvre further says, "KDE is a fantastic environment but it's also a different world, one which evolves away from us and away from everything we focus on. Their apps, their ecosystem and the QT toolkit which is central there have very little in common with what we're working on. We're not just shipping releases and distributing upstream software. We're a product distribution and we see ourselves as a complete desktop operating system. We like to integrate solutions, develop whatâ(TM)s missing, adapt what's not fitting perfectly, and we do a great deal of that not only around our own Cinnamon desktop environment but also thanks to cross-DE frameworks we put in place to support similar environments, such as MATE and Xfce."

Cellphones

Security, Privacy Focused Librem 5 Linux Smartphone Successfully Crowdfunded (softpedia.com) 82

prisoninmate shares a report from Softpedia: Believe it or not, Purism's Librem 5 security and privacy-focused smartphone has been successfully crowdfunded a few hours ago when it reached and even passed its goal of $1.5 million, with 13 days left. Librem 5 wants to be an open source and truly free mobile phone designed with security and privacy in mind, powered by a GNU/Linux operating system based on Debian GNU/Linux and running only Open Source software apps on top of a popular desktop environment like KDE Plasma Mobile or GNOME Shell. Featuring a 5-inch screen, Librem 5 is compatible with 2G, 3G, 4G, GSM, UMTS, and LTE mobile networks. Under the hood, it uses an i.MX 6 or i.MX 8 processor with separate baseband modem to offer you the protection you need in today's communication challenges, where you're being monitored by lots of government agencies.
KDE

KDE Plasma 5.11 Released (kde.org) 62

jrepin writes: KDE publishes this autumn's Plasma feature release, KDE Plasma 5.11. Plasma 5.11 desktop environment brings a redesigned settings app, improved notifications, a more powerful task manager. Plasma 5.11 is the first release to contain the new "Vault," a system to allow the user to encrypt and open sets of documents in a secure and user-friendly way, making Plasma an excellent choice for people dealing with private and confidential information.
KDE

KDE Plasma 5.11 Beta Released (kde.org) 59

JRiddell writes: The original and best linux desktop has a new version, KDE Plasma 5.11 beta is out. UI improvements include a redesigned System Settings and notification history. Privacy improvements include Plasma Vault, which helps you store your files securely. Progress on Wayland support continues with many people now using it as their daily setup. The full changelog can be viewed here.
GUI

Linux.com Raves About New Snap-Centric 'Nitrux' Distro (linux.com) 137

An anonymous reader quotes Linux.com: What happens when you take Ubuntu 17.10, a new desktop interface (one that overlays on top of KDE), snap packages, and roll them all up into a pseudo rolling release? You get Nitrux. At first blush, this particular Linux distribution seems more of an experiment than anything else -- to show how much the KDE desktop can be tweaked to resemble the likes of the Elementary OS or MacOS desktops. At its heart, however, it's much more than that... This particular take on the Linux desktop is focused on the portable, universal nature of snap packages and makes use of a unique desktop, called Nomad, which sits atop KDE Plasma 5... The desktop includes a dock, a system/notification tray, a quick search tool (Plasma Search), and an app menu. Of all the elements on the desktop, it's the Plasma Search tool that will appeal to anyone looking for an efficient means to interact with their desktops. With this tool, you can just start typing on a blank desktop to see a list of results. Say, for example, you want to open LibreOffice writer; on the blank desktop, just start typing "libre" and related entries will appear...

Skilled Linux users should have no problem using Nitrux and might find themselves intrigued with the snap-centric Nomad desktop. The one advantage of having a distribution centered around snap packages would be the ease with which you could quickly install and uninstall a package, without causing issues with other applications... In the end, Nitrux is a beautiful desktop that is incredibly efficient to use -- only slightly hampered by an awkward installer and a lack of available snap packages. Give this distribution a bit of time to work out the kinks and it could become a serious contender.

The GUI-focused distro even includes Android apps in the menu -- although Linux.com's reviewer notes that "on two different installations, I have yet to get this feature to work. Even the pre-installed Android apps never start."
Operating Systems

Slackware, Oldest Linux Distro Still In Active Development, Turns 24 70

sombragris writes: July 17 marked the 24th anniversary of Slackware Linux, the oldest GNU/Linux still in active development, being created in 1993 by Patrick Volkerding, who still serves as its BDFL. Version 14.2 was launched last year, and the development version (Slackware-current) currently offers kernel 4.9.38, gcc 7.1, glibc 2.25, mesa 17.1.5, and KDE and Xfce as official desktops, with many others available as 3rd party packages. Slackware is also among the Linux distributions which have not adopted systemd as its init system; instead, it uses a modified BSD init which is quite simple and effective. Slackware is known to be a solid, stable and fast setup, with easy defaults which is appreciated by many Linux users worldwide. Phoronix has a small writeup noting the anniversary and there's also a nice reddit thread.
Debian

Systemd-Free Devuan Linux Announces A Second Release Candidate (devuan.org) 122

An anonymous reader quotes The Register: Devuan Linux has released its second release candidate... A 1.0.0 release candidate emerged just under a fortnight ago and today the developers announced Devuan Jessie 1.0.0 RC2. New in this cut of the code is a systemd-free version of network-manager, new versions of reportbug, desktop-base and xfce4-panel. GNOME, KDE, and Cinnamon have been removed from tasksel, but can still be installed although they "are known to suffer from some glitches due to the lack of systemd."
The Devuan web site says this series of release candidates "marks an important milestone towards the sustainability and the continuation of Devuan as a universal base distribution." And their announcement describes Devuan as "the Debian that was and could have been. Our goal is to provide a viable and sustainable alternative...a new path, nurtured with your help and support."
EU

The City of Munich Might Stick With Linux (fsfe.org) 117

Munich's "LiMux" project brought FOSS software to their city's IT administration -- until a vote last month on whether to abandon Linux and return to Windows. "Since this decision was reached, the majority of media have reported that a final call was made to halt LiMux and switch back to Microsoft software," reports the Free Software Foundation Europe. "This is, however, not an accurate representation of the outcome of the city council meeting." An anonymous reader quotes their report: The opposing parties were overruled, but the decision was amended such that the strategy document must specify which LiMux-applications will no longer be needed, the extent in which prior investments must be written off, and a rough calculation of the overall costs of the desired unification... [Only then will the city council make their final decision...] We succeeded thus far in forcing the mayor Dieter Reiter to postpone the final decision, and this was possible through the unwavering pressure created by joint efforts between The Document Foundation, KDE, OSBA, and the FSFE together with all the individuals who wrote to city council members and took the issue to the media.

Although the mandate is highly suggestive in that it suggests that the existing vendor-neutral approach is to be replaced with a proprietary solution, it leaves the door open... The new mandate buys us some time. And we will keep going.

Some politicians said they'd never received this much input from the public before, and the Free Software Foundation Europe says the city's issues were caused "from organizational problems, including lack of clear structures and responsibilities," which should not be attributed to the Linux operating system. "LiMux as such is still one of the best examples of how to create a vendor-neutral administration based on Free Software."
Chrome

Which Linux Browser Is The Fastest? (zdnet.com) 160

ZDNet's Networking blog calls Firefox "the default web browser for most Linux distributions" and "easily the most popular Linux web browser" (with 51.7% of the vote in a recent survey by LinuxQuestions, followed by Chrome with 15.67%). But is it the fastest? An anonymous reader writes: ZDNet's Networking blog just ran speed tests on seven modern browsers -- Firefox, Chrome, Chromium, Opera (which is also built on Chromium), GNOME Web (formerly Epiphany), and Vivaldi (an open-source fork of the old Opera code for power-users). They subjected each browser to the JavaScript test suites JetStream, Kraken, and Octane, as well as reaction speed-testing by Speedometer and scenarios from WebXPRT, adding one final test for compliance with the HTML5 standard.

The results? Firefox emerged "far above" the other browsers for the everyday tasks measured by WebXPRT, but ranked near the bottom in all of the other tests. "Taken all-in-all, I think Linux users should look to Chrome for their web browser use," concludes ZDNet's contributing editor. "When it's not the fastest, it's close to being the speediest. Firefox, more often than not, really isn't that fast. Of the rest, Opera does reasonably well. Then, Chromium and Vivaldi are still worth looking at. Gnome Web, however, especially with its dreadful HTML 5 compatibility, doesn't merit much attention."

The article also reports some formerly popular Linux browsers are no longer being maintained, linking to a KDE forum discussion that concludes that Konqueror and Rekonq "are both more or less dead."
Open Source

LinuxQuestions Users Choose Their Favorite Distro: Slackware (zdnet.com) 145

ZDNet summarizes some of the surprises in this year's poll on LinuxQuestions, "one of the largest Linux groups with 550,000 member". An anonymous reader quotes their report: The winner for the most popular desktop distribution? Slackware...! Yes, one of the oldest of Linux distributions won with just over 16% of the vote. If that sounds a little odd, it is. On DistroWatch, a site that covers Linux distributions like paint, the top Linux desktop distros are Mint, Debian, Ubuntu, openSUSE, and Manjaro. Slackware comes in 28th place... With more than double the votes for any category, it appears there was vote-stuffing by Slackware fans... The mobile operating system race was a runaway for Android, with over 68% of the vote. Second place went to CyanogenMod, an Android clone, which recently went out of business...

Linux users love to debate about desktop environments. KDE Plasma Desktop took first by a hair's breadth over the popular lightweight Xfce desktop. Other well-regarded desktop environments, such as Cinnamon and MATE, got surprisingly few votes. The once popular GNOME still hasn't recovered from the blowback from its disliked design change from GNOME 2 to GNOME 3.

Firefox may struggle as a web browser in the larger world, but on Linux it's still popular. Firefox took first place with 51.7 percent of the vote. Chrome came in a distant second place, with the rest of the vote being divided between a multitude of obscure browsers.

LibreOffice won a whopping 89.6% of the vote for "best office suite" -- and Vim beat Emacs.
GNU is Not Unix

KDE Plasma 5.9 Released (softpedia.com) 89

KDE has announced the release and general availability of the KDE Plasma 5.9 desktop environment for GNU/Linux operating systems. While it only took a few months to develop and isn't a long-term supported (LTS) version like KDE Plasma 5.8, the update does have several new features and improving Wayland support. Softpedia reports: Probably the most important one, which will make many KDE users upgrade from KDE Plasma 5.8 LTS or previous versions, is the return of Global Menus, a feature that was available in the KDE 4 series of the desktop environment. Only now, after numerous requests from users, did the KDE developers manage to implement Global Menus again in KDE Plasma 5.9. Quite a multitude of improvements have landed in the KDE Plasma 5.9 desktop environment for those who use the next-generation Wayland display server. These include the ability to take screenshots, support for using the color picker, implementation of borderless maximized windows for full-screen support, and support for dragging apps by clicking on an empty area of the user interface using the Breeze style. KDE Plasma Wayland support allows users to set color schemes for windows, which may come in handy for accessibility, implements auto-hide support for panels, and properly displays the window icon on the panel when using X11 apps. Moreover, there's now a new settings tool for configuring touchpads, which you can see in action in the second video attached below. Wayland users can also set up gestures and relative motions. KDE Plasma 5.9 also adds several cool new tools that promise to enhance your productivity. For example, you'll be able to drag a screenshot taken with the Spectacle utility from the notification pop-up straight into a web browser form, chat window, or email composer. There's also a brand-new drag and drop functionality that lets you add widgets directly to the system tray area, and it's now possible to add widgets directly from the full-screen Application Dashboard launcher. KRunner actions like "Open containing folder" and "Run in Terminal" are now displayed in the application launchers for search results powered by KRunner, of course, and there's now a new applet that lets users group multiple widgets together in a single one. You can read the announcement and download KDE Plasma 5.9 via their website.

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