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FOSS Week in Review: Window Maker Live Adopts Systemd, New Tails on the Down Low, and Google-Free /e/OS

In this week’s news roundup we look at the release of three Linux-based operating systems — one focused on privacy, one on the desktop, and the third for going mobile.

Tails Linux logo

While most of the world bakes under the hottest temperatures since people have been keeping track of such things, in my part of the world we’re having one of the mildest summers in memory, which has followed what was also one of the mildest winters I’ve experienced in these parts. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this doesn’t mean a shoe is about to drop.

What I am going to do is take the Scarlet O’Hara approach, which is appropriate since I live in the South. Remember, she was the one who used to say over and over and over again: “I’m not going to worry about that today. I’ll go crazy if I do. I’ll worry about that tomorrow.”

That being said, let’s get to the news roundup.

New /e/OS Release

For those of you who like your Android de-Googled, Gaël Duval and the rest of the folks at Murena have come out with /e/OS 1.13, which is the company’s LineageOS-based take on Android. This is basically a bug fix release, but this new version does come with a few improvements under the hood. For example, new categories in App Lounge mean users can now discover “way more apps.”

Speaking of apps, one of the things I really liked about /e/OS when I took it for a test drive several years back, is that not only have the developers come up with free, open, and privacy-respecting ways to do everything that people do on phones, they do so while respecting their users’ freedom to do what they want with their devices, even things that don’t match /e/’s stated values.

I was surprised, for example, to discover that through /e/’s app platform, I could download and install just about any Google app I might want if I were a Google sort of gal.

Given the company’s commitment to giving its users a de-Googlefied experience, I was surprised by this and asked Duval, the company’s founder and CEO, to ‘splain it to me. He basically said that Google’s apps are in the App Lounge because it wasn’t the software project’s job to tell people what they can or cannot install on their devices — an opinion I really appreciate because of my thoughts on software freedom.

Some of you might know that I sometimes get grief from some open-source purists because I say it’s OK with me if you want to install proprietary software on your Linux machine. It’s your machine; do with it what you want.

If you’re interested in looking into /e/OS, you can download it and install it yourself, or Murena (the company behind /e/OS) will be happy to sell you a phone with the OS preinstalled. You can look at the release notes here, or find out about supported devices and download options here.

Window Maker Live 0.95.9-0 Released with Systemd

Those of you who prefer to run Debian using a tightly integrated window manager instead of a full-blown desktop environment should be happy to know that Wednesday saw the release of Window Maker Live 0.95.9-0, based on stable Debian version 12.1 and using the current Window Maker version 0.95.9. Starting with this release, the window manager is the distro’s exclusive desktop session option, as the Xfce desktop option has been removed.

Fans of Xfce shouldn’t fret, however, as “selected components and utilities of xfce4, Mate, and LXQT were seamlessly integrated with Window Maker” for this version, so there are still Xfce goodies included. The default web browsers are Pale Moon and Surf, and the default email client Claws-Mail.

In a move that will undoubtedly upset some users, but which might bring others into the fold, with this release Window Maker Live is swapping sysvinit for systemd.

“As it turned out, systemd has become the defacto standard init system over time,” the distro’s developers explain in the release notes, “and trying to circumvent and replace it with sysvinit while maintaining the same levels of functionality has become increasingly difficult and laborious.”

Release notes, download links, and install information can be found here.

Tails 5.16 Released

While it might be a good thing when all the folks who hang out at your neighborhood bar know your name (like the folks on the old TV show “Cheers,” if you catch my drift) the folks behind Tails, who released version 5.16 of the distro on Sunday, figure that when it comes to your operating system, it’s better that it not know, and if it does, to claim it can’t remember — which is pretty much why Tails stands for The Amnesic Incognito Live System.

In other words, when the cops come around with a couple of pages of photos and one of them is you, Tails won’t recognize any of them. And if they want to know where you were visiting last Saturday night while you were online, Tails won’t remember.

Not only that: If the cops are trying to follow you, Tails will make sure they don’t, so they’ll never be able to use the MC5 download you bought on Amazon against you — even if it was the dirty version of Kick Out the Jams — because they won’t know that you bought it, unless Amazon rats you out.

Unlike most other “live” distros, which most people run live just long enough to see if they want to put it on their hard drive, Tails is designed to run live all of the time, to leave no trace behind.

You’re also not likely to be followed (or to leave a digital trail with your ISP that can later be followed) because all internet is routed through the all but impossible to trace TOR network, in this case using the latest and greatest version — 12.5.2 — of the TOR browser.

Worried about your hardware giving you away? Tails tries its damnedest to help you out there as well. For this release, for example, the amd64-microcode package, containing microcode patches for all AMD64 processors, has been updated to v20230719 from the Debian security repository.

If you want more information or assurances, check out the changelog. Wanna go incognito for real? You can download it from the distro’s official website.

Incognito or not: have a great weekend.

And until next week in review, may the FOSS be with you.

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