Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Stx Linux 1.0 Final Look

Filed under
Linux
Reviews
-s

Stx Linux is a small lightweight operating system for the x86 arch. It is based on Slackware and slackware derivatives. One of the key features of Stx is it's ability to perform admirably on older hardware, and it's minimum requirements are a pentium 1 with 32 mb ram. Tuxmachines has covered some of the developmental releases, RC2 and RC3, but since final was released today, we felt it deserved yet another look.

The Stx site says, "STX Linux is a desktop Linux distribution especially targeted to older hardware. It also works quite well on new PC's." If you already have an older Stx install, Stibs has made some update patches available here. Today, we will report on a clean install as well as how the patch process went for us on our rc3 install.

The Changelog since rc3 includes:

  • 3 packaged Patches from the download page applied

  • Installer corrected for creating an fstab that allows normal users to mount cdrom and floppy drives
  • The usual package updates
  • Included Elleo's hacked eworkpanel with notification area
  • Included recompiled pyfltk (XFT font rendering now also in STXCC) Thx Mike
  • GTK 2 and EDE Themes switched to STX for a more uniform appearance, also Thx Mike Wink
  • Included gnome-cups-manager for printer administration (more common than the CUPS web frontend)
  • Included Requiredbuilder for creating dependecy files for Slackware/STX packages

Upgrading Current Install

My first test was upgrading my current rc3 install with the 3 patches made available on the Stx site. The install of the packages went smoothly and the upgrades were indeed implimented. I could see some new features already. Most noticable was the new login splash, wallpapers, and the incorporation of the Stx ede theme. I stated in my article on rc3 that I hoped the viagra logo didn't make it into the distro, but I knew it would. I was right. The new login screen and wallpapers now feature the new Stx logo. The root desktop wallpaper has a big old stop sign with the warning embossed "Think twice before you hit Enter." As you can see the "file splitter" (or menu entry) is now functional.

        

To patch/upgrade a rc3 install, download the 3 patches from the Stx Linux site and issue the command:
installpkg <stxpatches> It probably isn't necessary to reboot, but I did anyway. The process took less than 5 minutes start to finish. The patches are small to download and take a mere seconds to install.

Fresh Install

The installer has been discussed briefly before here on Tuxmachines, but for the newcomer I'll reiterate that it is what I call ascii-graphical. By that I mean that it's not a full blown fancy frame-buffered beauty like one finds in suse or mandriva, but yet it's not a text install demanding manual fdisks, mountings, and confusing commands. It does offer a 'graphical interface' of sorts, yet one uses the keyboard to navigate. It's one of the easiest and fastest installs to date. Missing is setting up a user account, but one is provided a chance to change the root password and a "demo" user (password: demo) is already setup. Once the system is in-place, you can setup a regular user through the Stx Control Panel.

As usual for Stx, the install went without a hitch and a nice light desktop resulted. For those who don't know, Stx features the Equinox Desktop Environment. It's main goal appears to be ease of use within a familiar environment, perhaps for those coming from Windows. Ede looks very much like a Win98 desktop. The newly included default Stx theme continues to appear very windows-like. I don't recall if this is exactly the same Stx theme that's been available on the Ede site for a while, but probably is. ...Which brings up another subject, there are quite a few nice themes available on the Ede site. But I'm getting off-topic.

The big ugly root stop sign wallpaper encountered in the patched system did not appear on the fresh install, but the viagra pill wallpaper did. It's not particularly repellant, but I prefer something with less of a message. I quickly changed my background to one of the others available thru the background settings module. In fact, ede comes with a control panel of its own in which you can change many settings such as the font, theme, and colors. As an aside, the fonts render much better in my fresh install.

Stx comes with lots of great applications for most popular tasks. One can, for example, listen to music, watch videos, surf the internet, answers emails, chat with friends, write a review, take screenshots and manipulate images, play some games, and even write a webpage.

        

        

Another difference in the patched system and the fresh install was the printer setup dialogue. Now that parellel ports detection was working, I clicked on printer setup in the Stx Control Panel. In the patched system, one is offered the browser based cups admin. In the fresh install, a little setup module opens a more familiar applet. They both do pretty much the same thing and both seem to work, but I like the gnome-cups-manager much better.

        

The Stx Control Panel is a really great thing. From there one can configure hardware, (un)install software, configure a network/internet connection, and set some system settings. It's a wonderful application, nice and light and all the modules seem to functional really well.

        

Through the Stx Control Panel one can install software. Stx includes slapt-get and the nice front-end gslapt. Already configured to use a Slackware 10.2 repository, one can, as an example, install jre, eog, or even KDE. I tested it installing jre, eog, and Fluxbox. I wanted eog because the image viewer provided couldn't seem to handle .pngs. In fact, I'd suggest to Stibs replacing Xfi with eog. Slapt worked wonderfully. I didn't even have to restart my browser for java to start working, eog rendered the images with no problems, and Fluxbox started right up. I'm not sure if KDE would go smoothly, perhaps I'll test it later. One needs to be cautious with gslapt/slapt-get as some things listed as installed aren't. Some things listed as not install are. So I "which binaries" and "locate libraries" before each installation to make sure. I'm guessing the "installed software" list slapt-get is using is left from Stibs' development system and it's not exactly accurate. Just a bit of caution is required. For example, gslapt states the kernel-source is installed, but it isn't. One can build a vanilla kernel from kernel.org (if they slapt-get --install diffutils) if desired to build any drivers you may need like nvidia. But it'd just be better if the ones matching the default kernel were included in the iso.

        

Several browser plugins worked out of the box such as the gxine movie player, flash, and javascript.

        

Then after installing java through gslapt:


Conclusion

So, as delivered Stx is a very capable yet light weight desktop system that has lots of personality and functionality. As installed one can accomplished most of their day to day tasks. Stx is ultra-stable and blazingly fast. As I've said before, I really like Stx a lot. If I mention it needs this or that, it's because I like it and plan to use it. The patches work fine, but I found the fresh install much cleaner and saw a few improvements not readily apparent in the patched system.

Stx is available for download primarily from ibiblio.org, but there are also two mirrors listed. They are the one in Germany and one in Bulgaria. I had the best luck from the one in Germany as ibiblio is always slow for me in my part of the world. For those who prefer bittorrent, they have that option available as well. Further, Stibs even offers the iso in 29 15 MB parts for those users on dial up. In addition, some Arabian Fonts are offered.

Previous coverage: RC3, RC2, RC Screenshots.

Current Screenshots.


More in Tux Machines

Python: Security and NumPy 1.20 Release

  • Python Package Index nukes 3,653 malicious libraries uploaded soon after security shortcoming highlighted

    The Python Package Index, also known as PyPI, has removed 3,653 malicious packages uploaded days after a security weakness in the use of private and public registries was highlighted. Python developers use PyPI to add software libraries written by other developers in their own projects. Other programming languages implement similar package management systems, all of which demand some level of trust. Developers are often advised to review any code they import from an external library though that advice isn't always followed. Package management systems like npm, PyPI, and RubyGems have all had to remove subverted packages in recent years. Malware authors have found that if they can get their code included in popular libraries or applications, they get free distribution and trust they haven't earned. Last month, security researcher Alex Birsan demonstrated how easy it is to take advantage of these systems through a form of typosquatting that exploited the interplay between public and private package registries.

  • A pair of Python vulnerabilities [LWN.net]

    Two separate vulnerabilities led to the fast-tracked release of Python 3.9.2 and 3.8.8 on February 19, though source-only releases of 3.7.10 and 3.6.13 came a few days earlier. The vulnerabilities may be problematic for some Python users and workloads; one could potentially lead to remote code execution. The other is, arguably, not exactly a flaw in the Python standard library—it simply also follows an older standard—but it can lead to web cache poisoning attacks. [...] [Update: As pointed out in an email from Moritz Muehlenhoff, Python 2.7 actually is affected by this bug. He notes that python2 on Debian 10 ("Buster") is affected and has been updated. Also, Fedora has a fix in progress for its python2.7 package.]

  • NumPy 1.20 has been released

    NumPy is a Python library that adds an array data type to the language, along with providing operators appropriate to working on arrays and matrices. By wrapping fast Fortran and C numerical routines, NumPy allows Python programmers to write performant code in what is normally a relatively slow language. NumPy 1.20.0 was announced on January 30, in what its developers describe as the largest release in the history of the project. That makes for a good opportunity to show a little bit about what NumPy is, how to use it, and to describe what's new in the release. [...] NumPy adds a new data type to Python: the multidimensional ndarray. This a container, like a Python list, but with some crucial differences. A NumPy array is usually homogeneous; while the elements of a list can be of various types, an ndarray will, typically, only contain a single, simple type, such as integers, strings, or floats. However, these arrays can instead contain arbitrary Python objects (i.e. descendants of object). This means that the elements will, for simple data types, all occupy the same amount of space in memory. The elements of an ndarray are laid out contiguously in memory, whereas there is no such guarantee for a list. In this way, they are similar to Fortran arrays. These properties of NumPy arrays are essential for efficiency because the location of each element can be directly calculated. Beyond just adding efficient arrays, NumPy also overloads arithmetic operators to act element-wise on the arrays. This allows the Python programmer to express computations concisely, operating on arrays as units, in many cases avoiding the need to use loops. This does not turn Python into a full-blown array language such as APL, but adds to it a syntax similar to that incorporated into Fortran 90 for array operations.

4 Best Free and Open Source Graphical MPD Clients

MPD is a powerful server-side application for playing music. In a home environment, you can connect an MPD server to a Hi-Fi system, and control the server using a notebook or smartphone. You can, of course, play audio files on remote clients. MPD can be started system-wide or on a per-user basis. MPD runs in the background playing music from its playlist. Client programs communicate with MPD to manipulate playback, the playlist, and the database. The client–server model provides advantages over all-inclusive music players. Clients can communicate with the server remotely over an intranet or over the Internet. The server can be a headless computer located anywhere on a network. There’s graphical clients, console clients and web-based clients. To provide an insight into the quality of software that is available, we have compiled a list of 4 best graphical MPD clients. Hopefully, there will be something of interest here for anyone who wants to listen to their music collection via MPD. Here’s our recommendations. They are all free and open source goodness. Read more

LWN on Kernel: 5.12 Merge, Lockless Algorithms, and opy_file_range()

  • 5.12 Merge window, part 1 [LWN.net]

    The beginning of the 5.12 merge window was delayed as the result of severe weather in the US Pacific Northwest. Once Linus Torvalds got going, though, he wasted little time; as of this writing, just over 8,600 non-merge changesets have been pulled into the mainline repository for the 5.12 release — over a period of about two days. As one might imagine, that work contains a long list of significant changes.

  • An introduction to lockless algorithms [LWN.net]

    Low-level knowledge of the memory model is universally recognized as advanced material that can scare even the most seasoned kernel hackers; our editor wrote (in the July article) that "it takes a special kind of mind to really understand the memory model". It's been said that the Linux kernel memory model (and in particular Documentation/memory-barriers.txt) can be used to frighten small children, and the same is probably true of just the words "acquire" and "release". At the same time, mechanisms like RCU and seqlocks are in such widespread use in the kernel that almost every developer will sooner or later encounter fundamentally lockless programming interfaces. For this reason, it is a good idea to equip yourself with at least a basic understanding of lockless primitives. Throughout this series I will describe what acquire and release semantics are really about, and present five relatively simple patterns that alone can cover most uses of the primitives.

  • How useful should copy_file_range() be? [LWN.net]

    Its job is to copy len bytes of data from the file represented by fd_in to fd_out, observing the requested offsets at both ends. The flags argument must be zero. This call first appeared in the 4.5 release. Over time it turned out to have a number of unpleasant bugs, leading to a long series of fixes and some significant grumbling along the way. In 2019 Amir Goldstein fixed more issues and, in the process, removed a significant limitation: until then, copy_file_range() refused to copy between files that were not located on the same filesystem. After this patch was merged (for 5.3), it could copy between any two files, falling back on splice() for the cross-filesystem case. It appeared that copy_file_range() was finally settling into a solid and useful system call. Indeed, it seemed useful enough that the Go developers decided to use it for the io.Copy() function in their standard library. Then they ran into a problem: copy_file_range() will, when given a kernel-generated file as input, copy zero bytes of data and claim success. These files, which include files in /proc, tracefs, and a large range of other virtual filesystems, generally indicate a length of zero when queried with a system call like stat(). copy_file_range(), seeing that zero length, concludes that there is no data to copy and the job is already done; it then returns success. But there is actually data to be read from this kind of file, it just doesn't show in the advertised length of the file; the real length often cannot be known before the file is actually read. Before 5.3, the prohibition on cross-filesystem copies would have caused most such attempts to return an error code; afterward, they fail but appear to work. The kernel is happy, but some users can be surprisingly stubborn about actually wanting to copy the data they asked to be copied; they were rather less happy.

Banana Pi BPI-M2 Pro is a compact Amlogic S905X3 SBC

Banana Pi has already designed an Amlogic S905X3 SBC with Banana Pi BPI-M5 that closely follows Raspberry Pi 3 Model B form factor, but they’ve now unveiled a more compact model with Banana Pi BPI-M2 Pro that follow the design of the company’ earlier BPI-MP2+ SBC powered by the good old Allwinner H3 processor. BPI-M2 Pro comes with 2GB RAM, 16GB eMMC storage, HDMI video output, Gigabit Ethernet, Wifi & Bluetooth connectivity, as well as two USB 3.0 ports. Read more