Editorials and informational articles Linux distributions

Two advantages of open-source software: code sharing and community involvement

In this article I will provide you a bunch of advantages of FOSS (free and open-source software). Often, when an open-source project adds useful features, they get adopted by other similar projects.

Also, the community has a big impact on the development of software and often adopt projects that are dropped by their creators.

Code sharing:

As you may know, Ubuntu and Debian use deb packages, while Red Hat, CentOS, Fedora and other derivative systems use rpm packages, which are not compatible on DEB-based systems and vice versa. Until now, if you wanted to install a piece of software that does not had pre-compiled packages for a certain distro, you had to compile it from sources, which is an operation for power users.

Recently, Canonical has created the snap packages, a package format that comes with all the required dependencies built-in, so they are not distro-dependent like the deb or rpm formats.

Due to the fact that these packages are distro-independent, they have been adopted by other Linux distributions as well. If the snap package format was not open-source, it could not have been adopted by other systems.

Another good example is Wayland, a display compositor developed by the Red Hat team that will be adopted by Canonical, starting with Ubuntu 18.04. The Ubuntu coders have ditched Mir and Unity, their own display compositor, to adopt Fedora’s Wayland and GNOME.

Community involvement:

A lot of projects that are abandoned by their own developers get adopted by third party developers which work for free in many cases, donations being the only means of getting money.

Canonical has decided to drop the development of Unity, Mir and Ubuntu Touch, so the Meizu and Bq phones that shipped with Ubuntu Touch as default do not receive official system updates.

Fortunately, UBports, a group of independent devs and community members, have decided to adopt and maintain the project. The same developers released Anbox, a framework that permits installing Android apps on Linux systems.

If you ask me, open-source projects will always get traction due to the community involvement, but from the lack of money, they will not compete with proprietary and expensive specific software.


Linux distributions News

Tails 2.11 Amnesic Incognito Live System has been released

As you may know, Tails is a free, open-source Debian-based incognito Linux live system. Its popularity has increased since Edward Snowden used it to stay hidden online, after leaking the NSA private data.

The latest version available is Tails 2.11, which has been recently released bringing improvements and updated packages. It updates the I2P anonymizing network software to version 0.9.25, adds a notification that informs the users that the Tails 3.0 Live CD will not work on old computers with 32-bit (x86) processors and another one that warns the users that I2P will be removed, starting with Tails 2.12 because the Tails developers are all hands on deck and do not afford to work on integrating I2P into the distro.

Also, Tails 2.11 upgrades Tor Browser (anonymous web browser that uses the Tor network) to version 6.5.1, disables the dccp module in order to fix the local root privilege escalation issue and upgrades the Kernel to version 4.8.15 to fix a bunch of GNOME desktop bugs.

The distribution can be downloaded from here. For more information, read the official announcement here. This Linux live system is ideal for hackers and paranoid users that want to have control and anonymity over the internet.

Linux distributions News

Alpine Linux 3.5.2 (security-oriented Linux distribution) has been released

Alpine Linux is a free, open-source security oriented GNU/Linux distribution that is based on BusyBox and musl libc. It uses its own package manager called apk-tools and can be installed as a run-from-RAM distribution. It is very helpful for x86 routers, firewalls, VPNs, VoIP boxes and servers.

Recently, Alpine Linux 3.5.2 has been released, shifting to Linux Kernel 4.4.52 and updating main components: PHP 7.0.16, lighttpd 1.4.45, Chromium 56.0.2924.76, PostgreSQL 9.6.2, nginx 1.10.3, ZoneMinder 1.30.2 and RackTables 0.20.12, OpenSSL 1.0.2k, Zabbix 3.2.4, ownCloud 9.1.4, Borg Backup 1.0.9, GNU Screen 4.5.1, Mozilla Firefox 45.7.0 ESR, Ansible, Salt 2016.11.2, WavPack 5.1.0, Wireshark 2.2.4, Postfix Admin 3.0.2, BIND 9.10.4-P6, Vim 8.0.0329, FFmpeg 3.1.7 and WebKit2GTK+ 2.14.5.

From the official changelog:

“The Alpine Linux project is pleased to announce the immediate availability of version 3.5.2 of its Alpine Linux operating system. This is a bugfix release of the v3.5 musl based branch, based on linux-4.4.52 kernels and it contains bugfixes. The full lists of changes can be found in the git log and bug tracker,”

Alpine Linux 3.5.2 is available in different versions:

  • Mini root filesystem – usable in containers
  • Standard
  • Vanilla – includes a vanilla (untouched) kernel
  • Extended – with most packages included
  • Virtual – standard, but optimized for virtualization
  • Xen – includes build-in support for Xen Hypervisor
  • Raspberry Pi – includes Raspberry Pi Kernel
  • Generic ARM – includes ARM kernel

If you already have Alpine Linux installed, you can upgrade it to its newest version by installing the packages from the official repositories. If you are new to it and want to give it a test drive, download the version you want from the official website.